Figuring Out What Makes You Happy

Finding what you loveFrank McCourt published his first book, “Angela’s Ashes”, when he was 66 years old.  The following year he received The Pulitzer Prize and The National Book Critics Circle Award.

A few years ago I found myself wondering what I wanted to do with my life. Yes, I was nearing 50 and, similar to a woman in her 20’s who’d recently graduated from college, I wondered what the future held in store for me.  I never thought I’d be at the same crossroads I visited thirty years ago.  But there I was, holding my yearning in one hand and my self-doubt in the other.

What was a girl to do?

Depending on how you look at it, this time in your life can either be an exciting or an unhappy one.  The power to feel the thrill and challenge awaiting you is within your control.

I was always envious of people who knew at an early age exactly what they wanted to do.   I had floundered between jobs from publishing to real estate to healthcare, always trying to “find” myself.  I managed my work life the way I thought I was supposed to, working nine-to-five jobs that, in the end, ended up being unfulfilling but earned a steady paycheck.

Was this all there was?

Julia Child launched her first cooking show at the age of 51.  F. Murray Abraham received his first good role and won an Academy Award for his work in “Amadeus” at age 47.

Someone recently asked me, “What would your 20 year old self say to you about making yourself happy?”  Surprisingly I didn’t miss a beat.  The answer was already on the tip of my tongue. “Writing!”

There it was.  I said it out loud.  I suddenly felt a release of emotions I’d kept hidden for years.  Why is it that we ignore that little voice that says exactly what we need to hear?

So I decided to rely on my ability to write, and chose to focus on issues that mattered to me most.  Then I jumped full steam ahead and voraciously read everything I could get my hands on about how to create a blog, the use of social media in blogging, and how to reach a targeted audience.

A month or two later I was hired by a reputable health website to write articles and answer questions for my Multiple Sclerosis peers. Then I was hired by another website, and then another.

At age 65, Colonel Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken) took his money from his Social Security check and began to open franchises.  Less than 10 years later he sold the franchise to a corporation for 2 million dollars.

I am sticking with my dream of writing – shaping it, molding it and making it my own.  I am committed to doing it as my life’s work.  It demands a deep respect for the written word, and a dedication and commitment to an audience.

I love every minute of it.

Writing has also been rewarding because it’s allowed me to meet others who are like-minded, generous of heart and ready to offer constructive criticism and high praise.

Rodney Dangerfield was a last-minute replacement on the The Ed Sullivan Show, and became the surprise hit of the show.  He was 46 years old

I am a big fan of Don Miguel Ruiz who wrote in his book “The Four Agreements” about being “impeccable with your word”:

“Your word is the power that you have to create…

Through your word you express your creative power.  It is through your word that you manifest everything…

What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word.” 

What is your inner voice trying to tell you?  Listen closely; it’s waiting to guide you.  Open your heart and soul and listen to the truths of that voice.  Follow your passions. You never know.  Someday I may be writing about you!

 

Cathy Chester

Cathy Chester

Cathy Chester is the author of An Empowered Spirit, a blog that empowers people to live a healthy and vibrant life after the age of 50. During what she calls her “Second Chapter” Cathy wants to pay it forward for those that helped her after her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Writing about being fabulous after 50 AND her life with MS are her true passions. She is a Writer/Administrator for Healthline and a columnist/Health Guide for HealthCentral.com. Cathy has been a Peer Advocate for Teva Neuroscience/Shared Cathy Chester is the author of An Empowered Spirit, a blog that empowers people to live a healthy and vibrant life after the age of 50. During what she calls her “Second Chapter” Cathy wants to pay it forward for those that helped her with her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. She is passionate about writing on being fabulous after 50 AND living a life of quality despite a diagnosis of MS. She is a Blogger for The Huffington Post, a Blogger/Moderator for Healthline and a Blogger/Moderator for MultipleSclerosis.net. Cathy is a Peer Advocate for Teva Neuroscience/Shared Solutions, helping others navigate the difficulties of living with a chronic illness. She is a speaker on behalf of The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, educating caseworkers at nursing homes and assisted living facilities on the treatment and care of patients with MS. She lives in New Jersey with her wonderful (and fabulous over 50) husband, college aged son (when he’s home!) and three adorable cats. 

  11 comments for “Figuring Out What Makes You Happy

  1. July 16, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Great post and very timely. As I celebrate my 51st birthday I ponder what things the future holds for me and my second act. I am lucky enough to love my job because I get to help people who are following their hearts & dreams so, my second act isn’t about career but something I should do on a personal level. You have me thinking….. Thanks!

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman
    July 16, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    It is reassuring to know that reinvention is possible at any age. Your post is inspirational, Cathy!

  3. July 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    I love this post Cathy! Did you know the average age of best selling authors is 50+
    What was I dreading about this age? It has been amazing. And you are so right about the writing community. The absolute nicest, most giving bunch of people.

  4. July 16, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Wow, I just love this! I often think of the same people and their later accomplishments because like you I found my real passion as I got older. Now at 48 I feel as if I’m just beginning in some ways and it feels great!

  5. July 16, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Such an inspiring post! With the baby boomers in middle age now, I think there’s going to be a lot of reinventing and redefining the second chapter of our lives. Can’t wait to see all the amazing things that will happen!

  6. July 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Great post Cathy! Yes I think it is so important for all of us to listen to that voice within us and follow our dreams. We are NEVER too old to start living them. And keep in mind that nearly everyone you used as examples came from a generation before us–so imagine what us baby boomers will come up with. The possibilities are endless! ~Kathy

  7. July 16, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Love this Cathy! Family health issues is what finally forced me into starting my own business – working from home around the needs of my family and on my own terms. And now I feel so fortunate to be able to help others learn to do the same. I hope that my 22 yr. old son (who also has MS) will follow his passion to write as well. You’re an inspiration!

  8. July 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    This is exactly how I’m feeling right now Cathy. While I do write, sort of, for a living as a PR professional, I have found blogging as a much better and mor fulfilling outlet for my writing. I continue to read and follow bloggers like you and others and am trying to learn as I go. It’s been an interesting and fun ride so far.

  9. Carol A. Cassara
    July 18, 2014 at 9:11 am

    The exciting thing about life is you never know what will come next!

  10. pia
    July 18, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Tomorrow I will be an age that feels so alien to me when people ask what I will be (like my sister who really should know) I can only say “Sir Paul wrote a song about it.” Actually that’s probably why I can’t say it. It’s always seemed older than the years that came later–and cute very cute. (Like you song it to your parents when they turned….)

    Yet I have always thought of life as being a continual reinvention probably because I have a basically unknown disability that never ruled my life but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 56 and had been blogging about non-disability matters for 3 years and loving it

    I am on my 4th and a half career. I spent years answering questions about NLD and not getting paid. That stopped yesterday. (When I make a decision like this I stick to it.) I began answering the questions because I am a mental health professional and because I acknowledge that we all learn from each other.

    But it reached a point where it felt demeaning. I was also a newspaper reporter who won incredible awards. My blog meant something. It was fun. It was on a million subjects and for some reason people loved it until I began focusing on disability.

    I’m not complaining–we choose what we do. But I guess poor wonderful Cathy–this is my manifesto. My time is now!

    And Sir Paul’s pretty hot!

  11. July 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I have been following my inner voice as well….it tells me I need to write, to travel and to dive, dive, dive! In the interest of our oceans and species, I am doing volunteer work abroad as well. This is OUR time!

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