Dare to Dream after Middle-Age

Iris Anderson

After watching yet another romantic comedy about twenty-somethings falling in love, starting families and landing dream jobs, I have to wonder: what about older people? Do they have dreams? Judging from Hollywood, the answer is no.

So I asked my Facebook friends: What do people who are middle-aged and older dream of accomplishing? and I got back the greatest answer from my buddy Iris Anderson of Palm Desert, who has carved out a wonderful life for herself:

My three daughters are just past menopause and asking the same questions. They gave me a lot of drama when I was in midlife. How about them visiting the Playboy mansion dozens of times, sitting with Hugh Hefner on the stairs, watching the parade go by; or one serving as a nurse in Africa during a revolution; or in Colombia where the coffee plantation was taken by rebels and family members kidnapped? I did not think I would survive my daughters’ adventures, but I began to find the things that I love to do, and the rest took care of itself.

Now I can do all the things I wanted to, like art and science classes, learn a new language, travel,  change careers, or go back to college for new training. Never too late. Women in 50s can get their LVN license, learn computers, learn finance, or just plain restart. I especially liked travel – my first opportunity in life. I have visited 81 countries on the cheap. Universities have special help for older women. 

As for men, I stayed with mine, but I see women in their 80s finding guy friends, though money and inheritances often get in the way, so they just visit or live together. I am 80 and going to Utah State University Summer Citizens program for classes in Spanish, world econ, genealogy, Westward Migration, How Tea Affected Politics, Geology, Cloning. I would like to be cloned…

Iris, I wish they COULD clone you. You’re such an inspiration. Readers, if you’re middle-aged or older, what are you looking forward to? What dreams motivate you? What horizons draw you onward?


  1. says

    Iris is an inspiration to all women of whatever age.

    Personally, I don’t want to tax my brain with learning for learning’s sake. Anything I study – like creative writing – has to be fun and easy to do. I no longer believe that it only does you good if it hurts.

    I want to be totally self-indulgent. be kind to people only if I like them and ignore the others.

    I no longer worry about doing the right thing, the ‘what will people say’ thing.

    In other words, I want to be me, finally, without guilt.

  2. says

    Iris … you are a joy! That smile says it all. And Lynne, how wise of you to post this … we do need role models that define life for us at certain points in our lives … and we need inspiration, always. Our spirits are ageless, so that must be our focus … not external appearance or cultural stereotypes. By living fully at every age, we honor the timeless within us and that is a lovely way to approach life … with an abundant heart. Thanks again for picking a topic that is meaningful and important, Lynne! — Daisy “happy on the prairie” … but flooding in my lovely hometown (links to photos on my FB page)

  3. says

    Hi Lynn, my first visit to your blog. Iris sounds very wise indeed. The dreams that motivate my are the dream of seeing my memoir in print and “retiring” in a couple of years and moving to be closer to the kids and grands.

    • says

      Hi Linda, thanks for visiting Any Shiny Thing – any future comments will go up instantly without waiting for approval. And best wishes with your memoir. Do you have a working title?

  4. says

    Retire? Never! I am a writer and an artist, all right brained as my husband reminds me since he is a left brain retired physician. But I love creativity. So when I found Osher Lifetime Learning Institute at George Maosn University, it was a perfect fit. I have been acting with Readers Theatre, attending classes in all sorts of things, and I have taught a class myself (with 54 “students”) on Creativity which inspired me as much as my students. I still write (books and magazine articles) and paint (oils) and rescue thoroghbred horses. I am 68. Everyone has a hidden talent just waiting to be exposed and expressed. Retirement years are the best time to let that creative muse out of her box. Iris did!

    • says

      Patricia, thanks for encouraging us to keep dreaming! In a recent post I lamented Susan Jacoby’s downer book about aging. Your comment, and all of the comments from our other friends here, are the sublime antidote. What a simple miracle: to give each other energy! I feel better about life all over again. I hope you’ll stop by often.

  5. says

    For me, at around the age of 60 and taking a sabbatical from corporate america and spending end of life quality time with my parents before they both passed on, I dropped in at our local Community Center’s Drumming Class and fell in love with the drum, the sound it elicited, the connection with community, my heart, and finally, my love of music and rhythm was back. Before long, I was sharing that passion with others by doing drum workshops for women. I stayed one step ahead of everyone else I was sharing it with and soon I was pretty good and expanded the drumming into workshops with poetry and writing activities. Through an article about my drum workshop in the newspaper, another woman found me and we joined up in business to start Blondes Drum 2. She brought years of performance vocals and guitar playing to our circles and now we perform as a duo around town and at open mic events and still do drum circles that include chanting, dancing, sounds, words,etc. We have inspired many other women and men to find their rhythm and use the drum as a tool for discover their own voice, affect their health and stress level, and build community. We are having a blast. We recorded a CD with the songs we have written and performed and one was selected to open an event in St. Petersburg, FL in June. (www.moxywomen.com the Heartbeat Concert)….we have no idea where this magic carpet ride is heading, but we are having the time of our lives. Each day when we meet to rehearse or plan, we are excited about new opportunities. We are wives, mothers, and grandmothers and we are still going strong. Find us at http://www.blondesdrum2.blogspot.com. Thanks for providing this opportunity to share…..we feel at our age, we are leaders for those women that follow.

  6. says

    What an inspiring woman! Reminds us all that age is a state of mind. I can’t wait to retire from teaching. Thanks for sharing this Lynn.

  7. Nanci says

    Lynne and all,
    I turned 60 in April and am retiring in June after 35 years in education. I feel like I am graduating. I went to the meeting that all retirees needed to go to and I felt like I did after college…. excited, anxious and happy. I am looking forward to doing the things I haven’t had time for in many years…. kayaking, yoga, art, quilting, travel, making new friends and finding something I am passionate about. That may have come up after the quake in Japan. I live on the Oregon coast and will join a group that will help our coast prepare for the inevitable slippage along the Juan de Fuca fault. I would love to have been a scientist who studies tectonics, or volcanoes or other earth phenomenon .Maybe I can still do it. I want to be an Iris…. or an Aunt Betty, my wonderful 90 year old relation. Go girls!

    • says

      Loved your comment, Nanci. It’s so full of energy it practically reverberates! I can’t wait to hear your updates on The Retired Life. One of the things my other retired friends say often is “when did I ever find the time to work?!” because they are now so busy (and happy). I love musing over the difference between the two phases of life, and I look forward to your thoughts and discoveries. One issue that fascinates me is the change in our identity. Some people are more than happy to let their work-identity go. Others are really jarred by it. I hardly know anything about Human Resources anymore, but it no longer disturbs me to have lost that expertise. So again, keep me posted. If you ever want to do a guest post about retirement life, you’ll have the floor. Open invitation.

  8. says

    What a delightful story of never giving up on your dreams! Iris is very inspirational,indeed and a shining example to us all that it is never too late to be the person we want to be. Thanks so much for sharing Iris with us!

  9. says

    Iris seems like a jewel! So vibrant, so interesting, so ALIVE! That’s the way we all should approach life — eager to keep learning and experiencing and enjoying, right up until we’re called Home. Thanks for introducing her to us, Lynne!

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