Meet NABBW Member Karen Wright, baby boomer extraordinaire, as she shares portions of her life, and how she found the secret to her own happiness. If you’re looking for a lift to your day, or feel you need a dose of inspiration, then Karen’s interview will surely speak to you.
Here is what Karen had to share…
- Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?
It’s interesting how hindsight gives us the chance to really see who we are. I’ve been a seeker my whole life. Until about age 40, my seeking was external. I sought my Self and my happiness in jobs, relationships, residences. But, happiness remained elusive, and I knew myself not one whit better. A prophetic quote in a magazine changed everything. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust. That’s the day I turned my attention away from what I was doing and to who I was becoming. That inner journey has been rocky and convoluted. But, a gift I never knew I had, writing, has allowed me to speak of my journey in a way that seems to resonate with other Boomer women.
- Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.
My Dad was a construction worker and we moved every 2-3 years for work. I’m the oldest of 3 with 2 younger brothers. Mom was our primary parent as Dad worked nights. I’ve been divorced twice, no children. My Dad died 35 years ago and I now live with Mom who will be 78 this year. It’s been a delight creating an adult relationship with her. We did just fine – after I stopped trying to change her!
- What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?
Home town dances with live bands. And imagine my surprise when a local band of 5 boys asked me to be their female singer! We traveled to other nearby towns to play and my parents would drive me and chaperone the evening. Even in high school! Different times.
- What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?
I’ve done the check list…like most Boomer women: got married, had the career, bought the house, etc. I think that stepping outside the norm and challenging my own beliefs and self-imposed limitations, and being willing to be vulnerable, speaks to the Boomer women I’ve heard from. We all long for more meaning and greater authenticity.
- What inspires you?
Seeing someone wake up to a new view of life and self. When the recognition hits that, “Hey, who said I couldn’t…” there is an instant lightness in their energy and gleam in their eyes. It’s exciting to see possibility embodied. There’s nothing I do that is more exciting than helping someone reach that point.
- What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?
Deepening my experiences. In days gone by, life was just too busy and time was too short to really experience anything. It was such a shallow life. We ate too fast to taste anything. We walked too fast to feel the earth beneath our feet. We talked too fast to really consider what we were saying. I’ve slowed down some, but in that slowing, I’ve found such a rich experience of senses and life is just way more pleasurable.
- Do you have any interesting hobbies?
I’m an amateur black and white film photographer. Love the dark room and the entire creative process of seeing a white piece of paper blossom with an image. I also love reading about quantum physics and chaos theory. Both poke enormous holes in what we’ve always believed about this physical life. It’s fun to look beyond our habitual view of life.
- Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.
Dare I say the book I wrote is my favorite! My favorite movie is Out of Africa. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Meryl’s character, at an age beyond accepted marriage-ability, moves from her homeland to Africa to begin a coffee farm. I love the risk she accepted and the bravery she showed in meeting devastating challenges. Reminds me how magnificent we all are when we allow it to surface.
- Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?
I love traveling with women friends. Don’t do enough of it. It just seems that when a handful of women are together, anything is possible and fun is guaranteed. My favorite destination is northern California. Mountains and ocean. Who could ask for more!
- Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.
I regularly see a chiropractor to keep myself ‘tuned up.’ I have a very thin disc in my lower back and frequent check-ins keep trouble at bay. I also have an inversion table at home I stretch in each morning. I exercise every day to keep limber, flexible and toned.
- What do you stress about?
Not as much as I used to stress about! I think now that my main concern is whether I will truly make the contribution to life that I hope to. The path is not clear and has been filled with obstacles so far. Makes me sometimes wonder whether I’m after a mirage. But, that feeling passes and I’m excited all over again to find the right combination to do what I believe I’m here to do.
- Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?
Funny you should ask – I’m now 58 and in this past year I’ve noticed the biggest physical changes of any time. Including creepy facial skin and more wrinkles. I look about 45, so I can’t complain, but it’s tough seeing things slump! Would I have ‘work’ done? Maybe. Eye lift? Neck tuck? We’ll have to see. Could I age gracefully? Would have to get over this ego hurdle first!
- Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?
It’s been a slow evolution maybe rather than a re-invention. I’ve learned to appreciate and rely upon my emotional side more than I used to. All was thought and intellect before. Direct, fast, goal oriented. Now I see a broader and deeper life than I did then. I’ve learned to enjoy my senses. I smell the flowers and watch the river. I notice the birds singing and frogs croaking at night. I don’t get upset as much any more when things don’t go exactly according to my plans. I’ve seen that more often than not, the divergence has led to greater joy. How? I’ve stopped looking for approval as much. I’ve put more faith in my own wisdom and knowing.
- Do you plan to retire?
Why?! I love what I do and it’s never been work. To me, the only reason to retire is to move on to something you love more. I can’t imagine loving something more than what I’m already doing!
- Are you doing anything to GO Green?
I’ve been using cloth shopping bags for years. Mom actually makes mine! I consolidate my car trips to include everything I need all at once. I shut off lights. I turn off water. I shower rather quickly. I grow fruit and veggies. I use space heaters instead of heating the entire house. I recycle everything I can. I compost.
- Do you engage in any faith based practices?
I’ve never found a religion that spoke to me. There’s always this ‘us versus them’ thing going on. I don’t believe that our creator excludes anyone based on the way in which they worship. I’ve studied several religions and what excites me most is the core of truth that they all share. THAT to me is THE truth. I’m spiritual, not religious. I read many spiritual texts and authors.
- Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?
Yes, I broke all the self-imposed rules and quite my corporate job 11 years ago at age 49 to start my own consulting and speaking company. Money had always been my Achilles heel and to leave a great guaranteed income and now rely upon myself to bring money in the door based only upon how well I could represent my talents and value…well, that was huge. It’s been a rocky road, but I’ve never once regretted jumping off that cliff.
- Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?
I want to own a retreat center/home in the middle of 100 acres of forest. I’m a real mountain woman and recluse. I can’t image anything more luxurious than being surrounded by nature. Wearing jeans and boots and no make up! I don’t think that I’ll find this opportunity in the normal real estate way. I think it will come from a gift or a yet-to-be-met friend whose family homestead is being parceled. I keep aware and know that it will come from a direction I don’t expect.
- How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?
I fail out loud and make it okay to not pretend everything is fine. It’s been risky to just let all the cracks show in my life, but people come out of the woodwork to tell me how much my confession meant to them. They are often struggling too and feel like they can’t tell the truth. When I tell the truth, even the ugly truth, others feel like they can too. It’s freeing and bonding.
- Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
Every person who ever told me that I wanted too much; to be realistic and make smart/safe moves; to plan for the future instead of live today. I once was a safety addict too, but now I use those voices to confirm that normal is way over-valued. Every time I take a risk I thank a person who said risk is too risky. Not!
- If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.
JUMP! Seems to me that no matter what I face, that one word is always appropriate and inspiring. It keeps me alive, engaged, and keeps boredom at bay!
You can visit Karen at her home on the net where you can sign up for her e-zine and also checkout her products page where you’ll find a host of items such as Books & eBooks, Sprouts Inspirational Quotes, CD’s, Chakra Cards, and LifeScapes Posters.
Related articles by Zemanta
- “Out of Africa” — and, great shampoo scenes (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- David Dean Bottrell: Streep Tease (huffingtonpost.com)
- Generation B: Reinvention Is the Buzz at Boomer Conference (nytimes.com)