Stalling or Starting Out at 60, 70, and Beyond

A few months ago, my friend and writing mentor, Peggy Millin (Clarity Works), wrote a blog entry called “Right Time, Right Path: Now”. In it she detailed and pondered on her feeling of being “stalled,” not just as a writer, but as a woman realizing the many miles she’s already logged on life’s journey and the impact the voyage has made on her physical and emotional stamina. Peggy’s thoughts were provocative and elicited equally honest and wise responses from her audience, which she reacted to in turn. Because I think the entire dialog offers useful perspectives, with Peggy’s permission, I have re-summarized much of it below, .

THE RISK OF NEW FRONTIERS – By Peggy Millin, Clarity Works, Newsletter for Writers, July 2014

What wonderful responses I received from  “Right Time, Right Path: Now.” Such wisdom you sent my way…It’s obvious a conversation is wanting to happen–many of you seem to be at the same juncture as I.

One woman writes of the unfinished manuscripts under the bed. “I can’t seem to get back to them (the manuscripts) and feel them growing old, not unlike myself. It doesn’t feel like “writers’ block,” but I watch myself flitting from one thing to another, and not focusing much on anything, partly in an attempt to squeeze in experience as I approach my 70th birthday.”

Another says she is in the same place and wonders if it’s from recovering from breast cancer and two surgeries.

A mantra like “In this moment, all my needs are met” was suggested on the basis of the experience of another writer.

Peggy’s reaction: This particular frontier, however, has not felt like depression or even discouragement, at which times I find affirming statements most helpful. I feel more like I’ve crossed to a new land and don’t know the territory. The experience is at once exciting and daunting.

Another woman described her life as a “sea of uncertainty.” As a result she began making a list with each item beginning “I am certain…” She equated the exercise with a gratitude list or Oprah’s “This I know for sure.” She ended her response with these words, “…you are not alone in your waiting period. Surely there is grace in waiting and not fixing.”

An author of a book of reflections about modern womanhood said … Her underlying fear was “permanently losing my way, as well as becoming -?-obsolete.” She has moved forward, with little clarity, is flowing with the river, and has “quit trying to swim upstream.” She too returned to reading her own book, particularly a place in which she speaks of the importance of “internal combustion.”

Another wrote that she now believes that whatever road she’s on is the right road, that she’ll understand once she’s traveled it. She sees, when she looks back, that all the pieces of her life, good and bad, come together to contribute invaluable learning and expansion in her understanding. Her suggestion? “Stay awake, say ‘yes’–if not to the experience, to the understanding.”

Another comment: “Lately, I’ve wondered if instead of making a big splash with a book or inspiring article, perhaps it is more about being a living example. My life is all that I have and perhaps I need to be satisfied with a small drop of sharing that gives hope and inspiration to those who cross my path. Thus, I try to live more in touch with my opening heart and watch the people, events, and opportunities for connection that cross my path.”

Peggy adds: I do find that when I’m facing a transition or a quandary that answers and opportunities show up synchronistically. One of these was finding, in exchange for signing up for the author’s blog, the free fifty-page e-book River Diary: My Summer of Grace, Solitude and 35 Geese on Download this book!  I savored every word, as did my husband. Included in Carol’s reveries  are the last two stanzas of “A Morning Offering” by John O’Donohue, from his To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.


May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

That invites me to new frontiers,

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,

To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today

To live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.

Peggy pens her own conclusion this way: a common thread runs through my experience, your comments, the River Diary, and O’Donohue’s poem ~

“Aging triggers a change, physically, mentally, spiritually that invites us to a fork in the road where we must choose between living out our past by hanging onto old images of ourselves and “risk being disturbed and changed” by shedding these images and moving into a new vision of ourselves, truly “growing” old.”  –  Peggy Millin

Okay, my friends, I ask now, “how are you experiencing the aging process?” Are you coasting along still toward desired destinations? Do you find yourself, as I do, feeling decidedly betwixt and between? Mentally I don’t see myself as middle aged any longer, but I’m not “old” yet, am I? Yep, me and my friend Peggy, spinning perilously on the head of a pin, maintaining a willful balance while deciding logically and intuitively what’s next. How about you?

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