On May 15, 2019, I published our first monthly Boomer Best U Newsletter. My purpose in doing so was to provide information and encouragement for those who wanted to live their best lives beyond fifty. When launching this project, I decided to include a regular feature story about an individual who was an example of positive aging.
I just completed my seventeenth feature story for the August 15th issue of our newsletter. The feedback we’ve received about these stories has suggested that they have encouraged and inspired others. After interviewing women and men from a wide range of backgrounds and interests, I have also learned a couple of things that have surprised and challenged me.
A Sacred Undertaking
When people share some of their stories and life experiences with me, I feel as though it is a sacred undertaking to write about them. I am honored by the opportunity to capture some of what is important to the person I am interviewing. Without fail, I have been moved and inspired by the stories and insights each person has offered. I didn’t expect to experience such strong emotions when working with people to craft their stories.
Often, people will share pages of information with me that I have to cull down to about 850 words. I try to be very careful to retain the essence of what the person wants to be conveyed. I also send an initial draft to my interviewees so that they have an opportunity to clarify anything that I might have misunderstood. Choosing what information that space allows me to share has been challenging for me – so much to tell – wish I could include everything.
Lives that Continue to Unfold
I have read a lot about the importance of finding a purpose in life. Several books and studies have suggested that having a purpose not only contributes to life satisfaction but also is associated with greater longevity. A few books I have read offer strategies and sometimes complex approaches to uncovering your true purpose—that one thing that will motivate you to get up in the morning. Personally, I do not believe that finding our purpose in life needs to be complex or mystical, as some have suggested.
Interestingly, nearly all of the people I’ve written about so far found a sense of purpose by building on earlier life experiences and interests. For example, the child who loved to draw pictures became an artist. The boy who listened to stories about family pioneers found his passion teaching history. The woman who felt as though she was driven in a hundred different directions later realized that all the pieces of her life gave her a sense of completeness and purpose that she hadn’t seen when she was younger.
As I have reflected on what others have shared, I believe that what gives many people a sense of purpose is a sense of self-awareness. When we know who we are, what we value, what energizes us, and what gifts we have to offer others, finding a sense of purpose is something that can unfold throughout our lives. Also, some people lead very purposeful lives without having a single focus – they are guided by their values and beliefs and apply what they hold dear in a variety of ways.
I am looking forward to sharing our August newsletter with you. This month, our feature story is about a woman whose work with the League of Women Voters, her passion for social justice, and her environmental work were all rooted in her childhood.
If you need some inspiration, read some of our previous newsletters and feature storiem