The idea for this site—this community—was born a few years ago as I sat in a treehouse in Thailand sipping tea, listening to the dainty chirp of nearby birds and the soft, uneven cadence of the stream below. That morning I had climbed a waterfall—actually waded up through the rocks, water splashing over and around me, and picked my path, stone by stone, to the top.
I was 54 years old, two years into redefining my life, and just getting started.
In my mid-forties I made a career change that, in the end, signaled a change in everything. I needed a less conventional career, and so I left my middle school teaching job, attended a program for tour management, and started leading small-group travel in Italy and beyond for a small tour operator. Married, two of my three children had already flown the nest, and the 2 to 5 tours a year I led in the beginning were perfect for me. The company brought me in as land operations manager, and so I had interesting work to do between tours.
But life was about to change even more.
My 30+ year marriage ended. It had been coming for a while, and despite the agonizing devastation, I found that I could breathe again. By this time all the chicks had flown the nest, and I led 10, 12, 14 tours a year, mostly in Italy.
The sale of my home netted me about $20K. I divested myself of nearly every possession except my mother’s wooden hope chest filled with photos and other precious memorabilia and headed to Italy with nothing but two suitcases and a carry-on.
Italy made sense, didn’t it? In addition to leading tours, I had started my own travel consulting business a couple of years beforehand, and going abroad was just the thing to help me restart my life and grow my work in travel.
Honestly, what was I thinking?
Somehow, I passed through the fog, the floods of tears, the devastating loneliness, the surprising devaluation an older single woman sometimes experiences. I made it through the struggle to learn more than the basics of a foreign language. I led travel with a ready smile and boundless energy despite the ravaging effects of my personal life. I figured out how to fend off insincere men and make friends out of good and diverse people.
I’m still passing through some of those phases; they keep coming around like pesky mosquitoes. But bit by bit, day by day, life gets sweeter and more beautiful. I’m finding hope and adventure. I’m finding me.
I’m over fifty. Female. And I’m off and running.
Ready to run, too?