By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
Among my darker days are those when I’ve wallowed in the belief that I’ve wasted my life. I spent my childhood, my teenage and college years, and the decades leading to my 40s dreaming about and preparing to be a mommy.
Joke’s on me, right?
Sure, I’ve had some fun adventures along the way, had some big career wins, made amazing friends, but I can’t help but think about what I might have done with those youthful years if I’d known in advance I wasn’t going to have children. I might have taken more risks (trained as a racecar driver), made bolder choices (I could have lived in New York—or Provence!), pursued different interests (culinary school, Taiko drumming, raising and curing my own olives).
As I continue to grow older (fortunately) and gain more perspective, I’m seeing that most of those opportunities are still open to me. And when I feel discouraged, I’m finding a lot of encouragement in the world around me.
Specifically, let me introduce you to Ms. Willie Murphy. In 2010, she started lifting weights for the first time in her life, beginning with five-pound dumbbells. In 2014, she was named 2014 Lifter of the Year by the World Natural Powerlifting Federation when she deadlifted 215 pounds. Did I mention she was 77-years-old at the time? (Watch an interview with her and see her lift here.)
And even though the world, especially the fashion world, seems youth-obsessed, take a look at the face of French fashion brand Céline’s 2015 spring campaign: writer Joan Didion, looking oh-so-stylish at 80!
“I never used the words ‘I can’t’,” Murphy says. “I would just simply say, ‘I will try.’” And those, my dear sisters, are words to live by.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.