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Monday Moment: We have enough time

Emma Grey

I huddled under a blanket on the sidelines of netball on Saturday with the grandmother of one of the girls in my daughter’s team. We got talking, and she said she hadn’t made it to many games because she’s recently taken up drumming and plays in a garage band on Friday nights.

She’s 66 and she’s wanted to do this since she was a teenager. She’s having formal lessons and also teaching herself with tutorials from YouTube. She found a band happy to let her jam with them once a week and she’s having the time of her life.

Inspired by this story, a friend told me her nearly 69-year-old mum now spends about six months a year teaching English in random countries. She calls it her “retirement career” and has taught in Russia, China, Vietnam, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Ecuador, Japan and Italy (as well as summer schools in the UK and Ireland – she’s in Glasgow now).

Another told me about her grandmother picking up a PhD in her seventies. She also started a modelling career at that age.

When we were in London a few years ago, we came across a festival in a park where you could graffiti your thoughts on a wooden wall. The quote that stood out for me was “I’m a banker, but I want to be a guitarist.”

When we’re ‘in the trenches’ with careers and young families it can feel like there’s no time to feed our passions. There’s always something ‘more important’ to be done.

But life is a whole book, isn’t it? We don’t have to cram all of the action into one chapter…

My friend Rob works in the educational field and has two teenage kids, and has always wanted to be in a rock band. He plays in one now, and loves it, and in 2014 they toured to the towns of Tingha and Coonabarabran in New South Wales where they performed for school kids and community groups and shared their love of music.

Another friend has taken up bookbinding.

Another loves scrapbooking.

Another fell in love with salsa dancing.

Another is training (from a standing start) for the New York Marathon and recently went skydiving.

Another has started cello lessons.

Another is doing karate.

I love writing fiction.

And many more are not chasing a passion right now because it’s not the right time, but it will be…

Perhaps we’ll do something now, or we might do it later. We might have done it when we were teenagers. We might do it in our seventies.

Our timing doesn’t matter and feeling hideously pressed for time won’t help.

Brian Andreas said, “Everything changed, the moment she realised she had enough time for all the important things in her life.”

And we do. Now. Later. It’s never too late.

What’s your ‘late bloomer’ story? Do you have a passion or hobby that you’ve pursued late in life? Share it with us in the comments below… 

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

  • Jane Quick

    How do you balance the need to live in the moment and not put unnecessary pressure on yourself with the reality that none of us know how much time we have left – or what shape we will be in for our remaining years. I’m now in my mid-30’s – the same age my mother was when she was diagnosed with a life altering, debilitating illness that eventually robbed her of everything. I try to tell myself that I still have plenty of time to achieve my goals and that it’s ok to put something on hold for now because you can’t do everything at once but I still feel frustrated and slightly panicked that I am not getting anywhere and the clock is ticking.

    • Emma Grey

      Hi Jane,

      It’s a great question. None of us knows how long we have. Here are a few thoughts:

      I think dealing with ‘uncertainty’ can be hard. (By the way, there’s a good book that you might already have discovered called ‘Embracing Uncertainty’ by Susan Jeffers.)

      I wonder whether the kinds of questions we can ask here are things like:

      – Am I enjoying deep relationships right now?
      – Am I healthy?
      – How do I spend my spare time? (Is it fulfilling/interesting/relaxing?)

      Sometimes striving to reach goals quickly (in case we run out of time) can put a big dent in those important aspects of our lives in the here and now. I think it’s best to try to reach for our goals driven by the enjoyment of the process itself and the sense of accomplishment, rather than through the fear of running out of time.

      Brendan Burchard is an author and entrepreneur who survived a near-death car crash. He said the experience helped him to think about these things, and he now believes that, at the end of our lives, we’ll ask three questions:

      – Did I live?
      – Did I love?
      – Did I matter?

      When I think of those three questions now, I can see how this might shape my choices this week. For example, I’ll take some risks (I’ll submit my manuscript to another publisher). I’ll tend to relationships (I’ll call in and see my mum). And I just said ‘yes’ to helping a young man write a magazine article, as he’s raising money for a good cause (that feels like doing one very small thing to help the ‘greater good’).

      One of the things I’ve realised in the last few years is that there’s a real knack in being able to let opportunities go. There are so many things that we COULD do. I like to have a ‘Could Do’ list instead of a ‘To Do’ one (it’s so much less stressful and seems to involve more freedom and choice). Saying ‘no’ to some things gives greater meaning to our ‘Yes’.

      Lastly, I think there is a lot that can be done in baby steps, or 15-minute chunks, in all areas of our lives (of course, that’s where our My 15 Minutes program came from). Most of us don’t have the luxury of long stretches of time to devote to things, so it’s about adapting to being able to make small amounts of progress that add up in the long run.

      If we focus on the progress we’re making (even in tiny steps), more than on the sense of overwhelm we’re feeling, it can make a difference.

      Hope this helps!

  • Love this article.

    I set myself goals every year on my birthday… one for my year of age, so this year it’s 35 things to achieve at age 35 (35 at 35). Some are large, some are small, all are measurable; and I think it’s important to do. Last year I only achieved 19 of my 34, but that’s 19 things I really wanted to do and I was proud to get done within my busy life. I have down-time, I just don’t WASTE time.

    “Everything changed, the moment she realised she had enough time for all the important things in her life.” Indeed.

    • Emma Grey

      Love this, Dean! I have heard of things like ’40 things to do before you’re 40′ but your take on this is really cool!

      Even if you only completed ten things on your list, that’s ten wonderful things.

      Reminds me of the time I did the NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) challenge in November a couple of years ago. You challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in a month. I got to about 30K, and was 30K words ahead of where I’d have been if I didn’t try.

      🙂

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