Trying out new things as we age.
When I was a child I started playing netball and softball. My sister and I also loved to make up disco style dance routines in our very early teens. I believe that from your teenage years through to early adulthood you find your way by trying different things, joining varying activities, sewing the wild oats as we used to say. I expect this is the time that short term interests of which some become long term loves that we continue to do for many years. This was certainly the case for my husband who had a passion for astronomy which has never diminished to this day. My story is a little different. I expect marrying so young took me down a path of responsibility and commitment and I recall my concentration was on my work and my learning how to be part of a relationship. I did retain the sporting bug and continued to play and coach both netball and softball in a minor way. My husband had a couple of casual jobs on top of his full time work. One of those was as a barman at the local rowing club. As he was working I would go to the club with his mum and dad and a few friends for a meal and stay after to listen to the band. A group of us would dance the night away to the latest hit parade. Ken was pretty happy about this arrangement as dancing was not his thing in any shape or form. I did eventually try my hand at some classes for swing, rock n roll and line dancing when it became popular. Another thing I tried in my late teens was making my own clothes. They were certainly not designer outfits but they were wearable and I did have relative success with different styles. It was never something that I was really excited about so the passion dwindled quickly. In my early adult years ie the 1970’s new things to do came about by word of mouth or seeing something in a magazine or on the television. There was always the logistics to consider as I did not drive and we had very little money.Many things were considered but rarely eventuated. Then our first beautiful child came along and her hobbies and interests became mine. In the back of my mind I figured my interests could wait for a few years.Another curve ball and 13yrs later a second gorgeous baby graced our life. Family life would fill the next 20 years and finally reaching retirement I felt I needed to try my hand at something new. In the depths of my thoughts I worried I would end up a very bored person sitting in front of a television for years to come. I worried I would end up like my mother, lonely and idle for hours at a time.
We have to start somewhere.
My first venture was to foster my interest in being part of a team. My idea was that I would be active and I would meet new friends. Of course at our age the body has some say in what activities we can do. My old interests of netball was quickly squashed and along with that some of my confidence. Tennis was an option but my small amount of experience in that area relegated it to the bottom of the pile. A sport I had watched on the Olympics many years earlier presented itself once again. Lawn Bowls became the focus. This would allow me to meet up with local people, to be part of a team and to be active. As it ticked all the boxes the challenge was how and where to start We had two bowls clubs very close to us. My fear around this whole venture was that I would become involved and spend the money on the appropriate gear and clothing and then discover I hated it or I did not feel the friendships were compatible. The Blue Mountains is vast but the villages or towns are small. It is hard to avoid people at the local shops so I was hesitant. We frequently had dinner at the closest club and I learnt they only had a social bowls team and I thought at the time I would prefer the challenge of competition if and when I learnt the skill. I tried the second closest venue but the group of women involved did not immediately appeal to me. I ventured out a few suburbs and settled on a club around 20 minutes down the mountain. Now to the next step, contact and training. I had at this stage no idea whether I could do this or whether I would enjoy it or the even like the people involved. I had to force myself to contact them. There was always a thought in my head of my mother in the few years before she died. She had moved to a new area and was alone. She suffered from ill health and loneliness. She had always appeared to be a social person so I continually encouraged her to join a group or activity so she would have friends to call on if need be. She expressed how hard that was and I did dismiss this a little too quickly only realising now how wrong I was to do that. It is hard to just simply join something you have no confidence in. It does not come naturally to speak to strangers and it is certainly quite hard to learn new skills when you are in your sixties. After some procrastination I made the call. They booked me in for some training and the adventure started. I was told to come down on a certain day and they would introduce me to the group and allocate a trainer. I needed no gear or clothing at that stage, just a pair of joggers and comfortable clothing. I ventured down the first morning, nervous that I would be hopeless. I should not have feared as the women were lovely and the coach was tough but very friendly and very good at what she did. I practised and eventually joined into a game. It really is a great sport and covers a large age group. Some of the women were younger and others were 10 – 20 years older than I but they were fit and happy and social. One woman I learned to respect was 92 years old, she played bowls twice a week, golf 3 times a week, lived alone, and still drove herself everywhere. I aspired to be like her at 70 let alone 90. I remember a couple of years later this same lady sold her home and moved to be nearer to her sister. She had been in her home most of her adult life. She made this massive change on her own. She used her much loved Ipad, put her house on the market, sold it and then bought another home in a completely new area. She organised the moving process. She then drove herself to her new destination in another state. A huge thing to do for anyone let alone someone in their 90’s. I admire her tenacity. I have since left the club so I have no idea how she managed but I have every hope she settled into the new environment and I am sure she is still inspiring many others. I continued on with the bowls and was getting better at it when a knee operation eventuated. I have not gone back at this stage but I it is creeping back into my mind. It will happen and in the meantime new things have happened. More things I have tried in another blog for another day.
We waste a good chunk of our lives pleasing others and conforming to society. We put our own needs on hold for way too long. I am not naïve enough to deny that finance is often a barrier to what we want to do. We have to work and this takes a huge amount of our time. We often have no choice in the type of job we have and often it controls our freedom. If I have learnt anything in my lifetime it is important to try to do something you like even if it is only for one hour a week. We must have fulfilment to enjoy life in general. There is no rule to say we cannot have fun. There is no shame in trying and failing. You will never know if it is what you want if you are not brave enough to give it a go. It is not always easy but once done your sense of achievement is rewarded. We all cannot be good at everything but how will we know what we are good at if do not take the chance to step outside our comfort zone.
What have you tried and how did it make you feel?