I love the term ‘Growing into Me’ which is the subject of this week’s Guest Post in my Over 50 & Thriving Series. I’m honoured to have Dr Pam Lynch as this week’s guest writer and she certainly is inspiring and motivating. I have only recently met Pam and couldn’t wait to have her as my guest. She is currently on a Walking holiday in the U.K. so be sure to check out her website and social media details at the end of this post.
Over 50 & Thriving: Growing into Me
In my 20s, 30s and even 40s I’d thought my future was pretty much mapped out. I’d married at 19, I had my two daughters by the time I was 23, we worked and saved, built houses and travelled and life was good. I looked into my future during those times and saw my children growing up and leaving home, retirement with the husband and some travelling around Australia and Europe in a campervan as the two of us got older.
Well …the girls did grow up and leave home … and then so did I, and there’s certainly been lots of travel but not of the sedentary type that I’d imagined.
I lived a happy and contented married life for 30 years but somewhere in the middle of that well-ordered life there was a glitch, I began to get restless, I couldn’t put my finger on why, it was just one of those hmmmm, maybe there’s more out there for me, sort of feelings.
I needed to do something about that feeling, scratch that itch if you like, so after much ummming and ahhhing, I made a huge decision that was to have enormous consequences and in my 40th year I returned to study.
At seventeen I hadn’t been ready for university, apparently at forty I was.
Cutting a very long story short (one that involves weddings, grandchildren, divorces – mine included, and death of my mother) I took to the academic life with a passion. I loved the study, the research and writing, the environment and the stimulation that mixing with students of all ages gave me.
I grew into me.
It took 15 years of part time study but I finally emerged from UWA with a PhD in one hand, divorce papers in the other and a future that was so far removed from anything I’d ever imagined that I still sometimes struggle to believe what I’ve achieved since I turned fifty.
The studies were completed, what to do next?
There I was, in my fifties, living alone for the very first time in my life and not really sure where I was going or what I was doing. I’d achieved what I’d set out to achieve fifteen years previously, actually I’d achieved far more than I’d set out to do.
But what came next? What was I doing, where was I going now? As it turns out I’ve gone a long way, both geographically and metaphorically.
I trekked to Everest Base Camp to celebrate my 60th birthday, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally. I’m still not sure why but I then returned two years later to do a more difficult trek that turned into more than I’d bargained for, I was still in Kathmandu when the major earthquake hit Nepal on Anzac Day 2015. That earthquake killed almost 9,000 people and destroyed homes, businesses and ancient monuments and although I came through physically unscathed it left me with a profoundly different outlook on life. For many months afterwards I was questioning the whys and wherefores of the whole episode.
I wasn’t supposed to be there that day, I’d changed my original plans that would have seen me leave Nepal two days earlier and that morning I’d even changed my plans for the day; the plans that would have seen me in the centre of Thamel visiting an ancient tower that was destroyed in the earthquake killing several hundred people.
Since then I’ve completed a long-held dream to write a book and How the Hell Did I Get Here, about my experiences in Nepal, has recently been published. I’ve certainly taken to the hiking lifestyle and apart from the Nepalese treks I’ve hiked in Western Australia and Tasmania and am currently hiking the length of Hadrian’s Wall in the UK. And there are plans afoot for more hikes in more countries in the future.
When financial woes had me deeply stressed last year I once again changed my life. I sold my house, getting rid of the mortgage and the maintenance and the dramas associated with owning a home and am now a full-time house sitter. And I must say it has worked out even better than I imagined and I’m loving the lifestyle I’ve created for myself. So far I’ve stayed around the Perth area but 2019 will see me house sitting in the UK and Europe and who knows where I’ll get to after that. It’s a lifestyle that’s not for everyone but it certainly suits me.
I’ve also become a qualified life coach and mentor, work that I can do around the world as long as I have a phone and internet connection, encouraging other women, particularly those over 50, to believe in themselves, to understand, accept and revel in their amazing and unique potential, to change their mindset and to get out of that little bubble of contentment they’ve settled in.
Basically to create an inspiring vision for their future and then make it happen.
I have a theory, totally unproven of course, that menopause – or ‘The Change’ as it used to be called before we came out and called a spade a spade – is a change in a totally different way to what was intended under that term. It’s not just physical changes that are going on but mindset changes as well, and that’s very often what confuses us.
We’ve grown up believing that we should be doing certain things, we should be thinking of others before ourselves, we should be doing what society expects of us and we shouldn’t be stepping outside of the confines that society.
We believe we shouldn’t but we know we want to. The trick in getting through this is getting rid of that belief system we’ve grown up with and learning to not give a …
And we can do that if we really want to.
When I look back on the very quiet, shy and insecure young woman that I was in my 20s and 30s and compare her with the confident, outgoing and adventurous woman I’ve become, it’s hard to believe I’m the same person. I was so tied up in what other people thought and what I believed I should be doing that I struggled to be me.
But gradually I figured it out
I’ve stretched myself both mentally and physically and I’ve no intention of stopping anytime soon, and the thing is, anyone can do it, you just need to ditch the negative mindset that keeps throwing excuses at you and take a step.
Any step, all it takes is one, no matter how small.
Don’t forget to post your Instagram photos using the hashtag #over50andthriving.