Carolee Duckworth Named NABBW’s New Independent Travel Assocoiate

by Anne Holmes on June 18, 2014

caroleeduckworthWe’re delighted to announce Carolee Duckworth as one of our newest NABBW Associates, and profile her here.

Carolee has always loved both travel and writing. So it only makes sense that she  recently reinvented herself  as a travel author, penning a series of travel books, “Your Great Trip…” which allows her to blend two loves into a second life career.

After all, Carolee is no stranger to life reinvention, having  spent her long primary career working to empower people to become their own more complete and fulfilled selves. In fact, Carolee has worked with thousands of career changers over the past 30 years, including displaced industrial workers, homemakers reentering the workforce, retraining adults, technology students, and 55+ individuals preparing for new careers.

Her current focus is on assisting retiring Baby Boomers (of which she is one) with their next great career change. An idea person and life-long learner, Carolee lives her life as though all things are possible.

The way she lives is her strongest statement to others that “the sky’s the limit”–or is there any limit after all?

That’s why she co-created the Common Cause Award winning “Center for Re-employment Services,” focused on helping 55+ career changers, stimulate their minds so as to help prepare them to select and enter new careers.

Carolee also designed and redesigned courses and programs for Technical Colleges and industries in order to empower and increase critical thinking and technology-use skills and confidence. She created and launched College Online ( to increase access for students of all ages and life situations, enabling them to enhance their skills and advance their careers “any time, any place, any person, any pace.”

Since she “shifted gears” herself, Carolee has focused on writing articles, courses and books to empower individuals of all ages to reach for their dreams.

We’re delighted that she has made time in her busy life of travel and writing to take on the newly created mantle of  Independent Travel Associate for the NABBW.  (NOTE: NABBW also just named Phyllis Stoller to be our Group Travel Associate.)

Carolee is recently back from one of her overseas jaunts, and just barely recovered from jet lag, but thankfully, she still found time to pen her first set of Associate Columns and answer our favorite blog questions. 

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a wife and a mother, a retired instruction designer and professor, a traveler and writer, a reader and movie lover. I spend every free hour writing and every free nickel on travel.

For the foreseeable future, my main writing efforts are and will be mainly on travel books for the Your Great Trip Series. Also, last year I co-authored a book, Shifting Gears to Your Life and Work After Retirement, with my best friend and former graduate-school roommate, Marie Langworthy.

Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

I live in North Carolina, in a remote area across from a beautiful lake, with my husband of eight years whom I married after eight years as a widow. We have a wonderful life together, travel extensively, love our children and grandchildren madly, and laugh constantly.

I have two grown sons, one married with two sons, and the other single.

My husband has a son and a daughter, both grown. His daughter is married with a brand-new baby girl, and his son is single. We have one living parent, my husband’s sweet mother, who lives about an hour away from us.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

I remember being allowed in the early 60s to take the bus from Princeton (where I grew up) into New York City with my girlfriends (or a date) to visit museums, eat dinner, and go to Broadway shows. This degree of freedom would be inconceivable now. We would feel so grown up, and wealthy with all the options available to us in the big city.

I also loved the many outdoor activities we engaged in back then – ice-skating on the lake, riding bicycles to play tennis on the high school courts, walking in the woods, having cookouts.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?Cameron_Great Trip

I think outside the box, and love solving problems divergently and creatively. And I have loved working– both during my traditional career, and now working after retirement.

Women of our generation have been the ones to discover how fulfilling meaningful work can be. We have questioned any and all limitations placed on us by our mothers and other women of past generations. We have refused to be Cinderella in search of a “prince” to do our thinking for us, take care of us and otherwise treat us as helpless children. But we have measured our independence, and our intentions of finding our own meaningful work with the feminine strengths of compassion, nurturing and interconnectedness.

I believe that I have many of these qualities of our generation of women… I am strong and independent, yet collaborative. I am my own self, yet capable of having a deep, trusting, interdependent relationship with the man I love.

I love and support my children, but have not weakened them by expecting them to be like me. I am hard-working, yet balance intense engagement in work with family life and friendship, relaxation and fun.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by beauty, intelligence, expressiveness, and kindness. I love art and music, drama and literature, sunrises and sunsets, and the awe-inspiring scope and magnificence of the universe. And every spring I am amazed anew at the seeming miracle of budding trees and blooming flowers.

What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

I take supreme pleasure in simple things. For example:

  • Sitting around our fire pit, talking into the night with my husband and sometimes our children.
  • Traveling to new places, or returning to old favorites, and learning a different culture’s ways and views of life, people, and nature.
  • Watching movies and reading, or attending plays, to move beyond my own life experiences into a broader world.
  • Listening to music of all kinds, from classical concerts to bluegrass bands or rhythm and blues.
  • Talking and talking with my husband, family, and friends.
  • Drinking good wine, especially at an outdoor table in France or Italy.

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

Travel is my most interesting hobby. I also love reading, music, art and drama, now mainly as a spectator, although for many years I performed as a clarinetist.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

My favorite movie is Under the Tuscan Sun. I love the story line of a woman discovering herself, and her strength and joie de vivre, while living in Cortona and restoring a lovely old country house. I “had to” travel to both Cortona and Positano after seeing this movie!

We know you love to travel. Who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

My annual travel budget is outrageous, and I am unrepentant. Every year since the millennium (and my 54th birthday), I have made plans to take at least one BIG trip (3-4 weeks) per year, but generally have ended up taking two, or even three.

On top of these BIG trips are sprinkled in 3 – 5 mini-trips (5-8 days).

My travel companions of choice are my adventure-loving, history-buff husband, my high-spirited and incurably curious children, and the indomitable, aforementioned Marie.

I especially love to go to France and Italy. But I also like Victoria, Quebec City, London, Amsterdam, the California Coast, Belize and Niagara Falls (from the Canadian side).

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.

I do try to walk, bike and stretch whenever I have the chance. And we do eat very healthy food, with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, and very little processed food, genetically-altered wheat or fructose.

What do you stress about?

Sometimes I create stressful situations for myself, financially and physically, when I plan too many trips one right after the other.

But I don’t tend to do much worrying. I tackle problems head on, come up with a plan (sometimes a fairly divergent one), and then the stress dissipates fairly immediately.

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

I like to look nice, and dress colorfully and in interesting clothes, many of them gathered during my travels. My hairstylist refuses to let me go gray, and I cooperate with her in this regard. Otherwise I am comfortable being and looking like myself.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?shifting gears

Yes I have most certainly reinvented myself. Not only have I done this for myself, I have co-authored a book on the subject (Shifting Gears to Your Life and Work After Retirement), in hopes of helping others through this all-essential process.

The key to the reinvention process is deep self-awareness, and matching your personality, values, interests and enthusiasms to work that is optimally meaningful and engaging for you.

In doing this for myself, I have “shifted gears” from a long career as an instruction designer and college professor, to a full-time retirement career as a writer and publisher. And I have shifted my writing from the subjects that I taught at the college level (mastery learning, technology, web design) to subjects that I am passionate about now, namely world travel.

Do you plan to retire?

My retirement and my re-invention process were one and the same. So, yes, I have retired my former job working as an online college professor. But I have not retired myself. My retirement work is writing and publishing. If anything, my work hours have gotten longer, but I significantly happier in my work.

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

Yes, we do what we can. We recycle everything, give all unused items to Goodwill, keep the heat in our home turned down, and drive a Honda.

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

My life’s work/play at midlife harkens back over 60 years to when my love affair with writing and self-expression began. I can still remember the exuberant feeling I had as a fourth grader, writing my first long essay and getting into a flow of words and ideas that compelled me forward.

All these years since, my experience with writing has had the thrill of a roller coaster ride — combining excitement during the ride with lasting satisfaction afterwards. I love the experience of writing – the challenges of improving upon that writing – the afterglow of having written.

My urge to write has never really left me, but always had to take a back seat to family engagements and a demanding career. Now, as I have “shifted gears” into my retirement career, I have had the luxury of pushing aside any and all distractions in order to focus my energies on what I have wanted to do all along.

This urge to write has now combined with my passion for travel, a pursuit that I have loved for over 45 years.

I’ve had the privilege of experiencing at least 35 major trips throughout the world, plus hundreds of smaller trips on this continent. Group trips. Elderhostel trips. Solitary trips. Riverboat trips. Cruises, including transatlantic cruises. Extended stay trips. Independent trips by car – by train – by boat – by air.

According to Trip Advisor, I have traveled 23% of the world, primarily in North America, Central America, Europe, and Australia. As soon as I return from one trip, I begin planning the next one. And as I travel, I bring home the elements for the next book in the “Your Great Trip” series.

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

My dreams of helping people overcome their barriers and achieve better and fuller lives have been fulfilled completely, and I have happily moved on to other pursuits. My dreams of travel have been fulfilled to a large extent, but I will never get enough of it. My dream of writing books, and, in particular, travel books, is now in progress, with much of the “research” for the “Great Trips” series already accomplished, the first book to be published this Spring, and five additional books also coming out in 2014.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?

My life work so far has impacted thousands of people, men, women and children, helping them to “prove themselves wrong” about the various limits and barriers they perceive to be real about themselves. I know otherwise! My challenge and mission have been to convince them to tackle these perceived limits head-on, and thereby to rediscover themselves and their true capacities in many domains – learning, creativity, problem-solving, thinking, working, relating— and now traveling.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

My father had a huge influence on my life, expecting me to find and carry out meaningful work – to make a contribution. He gave me a sense of mission early on, and encouraged wholeheartedly my development into my own person.

It was my mother who introduced me to the joys of travel. She loved to travel herself, and often took me, and later my children, along on amazing travel adventures.

My major professor in graduate school, Dr. Wallace Hannum, had the most influence over my primary career as an instruction designer, with a specialization in applied learning theory. It was his course on learning theory that stimulated me and got me moving in the direction of what turned into a profoundly satisfying career.

Others who have had a significant influence on my life are my two children, Ken and Brian, two of my husbands, Ben and Barry, and my best friend, Marie.

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

The short version of my mission statement is: “I want to empower people to make their lives better, fuller, and more meaningful – learning, experiencing, creating, traveling, connecting, thriving, thinking, sharing knowledge.”

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