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Finding Fireflies in My Fifties: Hope, Inspiration, and Curiosity After 50

Updated: Apr 27

fireflies in a jar
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Our 50s can feel like a double-edged sword. We've accumulated experiences, wisdom, and maybe a touch of skepticism. But sometimes, that youthful spark of curiosity, the boundless well of hope, and the drive to be inspired can feel a little dimmed.

I’ve recently been digging into the concepts of what ignites those flames within us.  I’ve picked up a couple of books and listened to a few podcasts on this topic.  And in previous articles shared a bit of how I’m thinking about that next phase of my 50s as a RESET.

Here's what resonated most with me about making this RESET in my 50s:

  • The Power of Learning: I don’t know about you, I remember coming home from school and being asked “what did you learn today?”  No one is asking me that question today.  Yet, there is still this curiosity I have to learn.  I’m not a subscriber to the notion of “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.”  One of the topics I’ve been learning about is neuroscience and its impact on coaching.  The research is clear – we can learn new “tricks” and when we do it creates new pathways in the brain.  This learning also helps prevent common symptoms associated with dementia and depression.  I just don’t want my ears and nose to keep growing as I age, I also want my brain to grow as we go. 

ACTION TIP: I’ve started a log of What I Tried / What I Learned This Week.  This helps me to track my progress and keep myself not just learning new things, but also reflecting on what I’ve learned or tried.  

  • The Comfort of Connections: I think most of us know this, yet we spend our 20s, 30s, 40s, and probably our 50s too thinking we can “Go it alone.” This idea of separation and independence is wrong - as humans we are hardwired to connect. We are social beings.  I’m sure this independence is a Western cultural value and a pretty big ego boost, too.  None of us got to this point in life without the connection and help of others.  Growing up gay and not coming out until my 20’s I often kept the people closest to me the furthest away.  There was something to hide. Not share. Not connect around.  While the world is different today, much of what I learned about social connections had to be unlearned as I aged. Today I have been making strides to connect with others – on and off the pickleball courts! – and as a result, have continued to expand my connection circles.  

ACTION TIP:  Join a club (I recently joined the Minneapolis Pickleball Club) or volunteer some time at your favorite non-profit or charity.  Find activities where you can also be with others while doing what you enjoy.  

  • The Spark of Creativity: I remember that first watercolor tutorial I did - painting an ocean - and learning the techniques of wet-on-wet and blending colors.  Being new to watercolors, or painting all of these was NEW to me.  The process of creating the piece and well as looking at the finished project gives me joy. It’s not a masterpiece, but it was “frame-worthy.”  As I’ve continued to develop my painting skills, I’ve continued to grow my collection of paintings that go in a frame, too. It’s not because they get significantly better as much as I am proud to see the outcomes of my efforts when I get to learn something new. 

ACTION TIP:  Create a list of 10 things that interest you to learn more about.  Start to investigate how you might go about learning and creating a new skill or hobby for yourself. Then, go do it. 

My Goal and Hope:  Keep learning, keep connecting, and keep creating.  The world needs our experience, our wisdom, and most importantly, our playful sense of wonder.  Who knows, maybe we'll find those fireflies of curiosity and hope flitting around in the most unexpected places.

Share your stories with us…what have your experiences been? What are the things that keep your own flames burning bright?  Share those in the comments below - or share this article on your social and tag friends you think would benefit from this. 

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