As women, I believe we are part of a sisterhood that spans the generations. No matter if we are 20 or 60, we can learn a lot from each other’s stories. We can breathe deeply into each others lives and fill our lungs with fresh air for our own journeys. My own refreshing wind showed up in the pint-sized package of a Pakistani neighbor. But don’t let her size fool you, she is the powerhouse of inspiration.
I was having one of those weeks (okay, months) where I was seriously wondering just who I was in life and what’s next for me. It’s a sentiment that each of us feels as varying times — moms home with toddlers, young career women pushing at break-neck speed, women whose nests have emptied who are reigniting their careers and dreams …
I decided to drag myself around the block on a walk, though my lower lip was so low I was sure I’d trip over it. As I trudged along, a perky woman walked up beside me. I plastered on a smile and forced myself to be cheery. It didn’t work. She smiled warmly and asked if I was having a hard day.
I don’t know what possessed me to pour my heart out to a stranger, but I did. Rather than bolting away from me at a fast clip, she placed a hand on my arm empathetically. After listening to my tale, my walking companion, Moona, commented that it was never too late to pursue your dreams. She had a dream of becoming a translator.
She was from Pakistan and had lived and worked part-time in the U.S. for a few years. Now she wanted to return to college full time to get a degree in linguistics. She already has a PhD in economics from a Pakistani university, but since her home country’s government was so precarious, she couldn’t get the necessary documentation to start school in the U.S.
I looked over at Moona’s smooth skin, trim physique and determined expression. This woman, was not dissuaded however. After numerous fruitless phone calls to the dean of the linguistics program at the local university, she had planted herself in his office and told him she wouldn’t move until he admitted her into the program. Perhaps fearing this woman would use his office as her new home, he admitted her into the program. Moona was on her way to becoming a Chinese translator.
I admired this spunky woman. “Good for you, Moona,” I said. Moona looked to be in her late 40s, perhaps 50. If she could go for it, perhaps I could too. “Moona,” I said. “Do you mind if I ask how old you are?”
Without hesitating, Moona replied, “I’m 72.” I nearly fell out of my Nikes!
Moona is 72! Okay, I’m having what Moona is having! For the next 30 minutes, I picked Moona’s brain as we nearly walked around the county and back.
Here are Moona’s tips for being young and vivacious at any age:
- Growth is not optional. If you want your second half of life to be even more dynamic than the first half, never stop learning, growing or changing.
- It is never too late to be the person you want to be. Monna said her family came to the U.S. because this is one of the few countries where you can build the life you want based on hard work and perseverance. There is no date of expiration on that fact.
- There will always be obstacles, as there are at any stage of life. Just keep going and keep stretching for what you want.
Who has shown up in your life lately to inspire you? Go on that walk with them and listen carefully to their story. You might be surprised how their experience intersects with your own.