Retirement: A time to pursue your passion!

Whether you are retired, semi-retired or just getting ready to make the transition from working to retirement, be sure to include those activities or pursuits you have always dreamed of doing in your planning.

I grew up knowing there were two things in my life that I was passionate about; travel and horses. The travel bug originated from reading National Geographic which arrived at our home monthly and from meeting the great explorer John Goddard as a teenager. My love for horses is a bit of an anomaly as neither my father or mother had any interest or experience with horses.

I was lucky to find a job that combined my passion for travel with the opportunity to promote and travel the beautiful area which had become my home, Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley before going to work for Wells Gray Tours. Both jobs have afforded me opportunities to cross off many of my bucket list destinations and attractions. In January, I will travel with Wells Gray Tours to New Zealand and Australia completing my goal of visiting all 7 continents.

Horses and pursuing my dream to compete have been a part of life since I was 12 but due to schooling, family, children and work, my dream of competing has been on hold for many years. However, age should not be a deterrent to pursuing your passion! If you are in good health and have a dream, I say go for it. If there are health issues, then maybe you will need to modify your dream to work with what you are capable of doing and I speak from experience. Now that I have the time and money but no longer the strength of a 20-year-old I had to adjust my goals. No more young horses or jumping for this old gal.

While I am lucky to have a supportive family and coach, I found that there were many who thought I should look for a quieter, less physically exhausting sport. The idea that when we are over 65 or have reached our 70’s or 80’s and we are generally in mental decline and can’t master new challenges is bunk!  Those who are fearful that they no longer have the mental capacity to learn new activities should be pleased to know that recent research shows that the brain can become proficient at any age. Learn to paint, to play an instrument or take up a new language. Physical strength is challenging as we lose muscle mass but if you look for sports or activities that have age appropriate divisions you will be competing against individuals with many of the same challenges you are experiencing.

In September, I competed in BC’s 55+ Games held in Vernon along with 2300 other competitors in 27 sports. I met wonderful people from all over BC following their dreams, some competing in sports that they have done all their lives and many like me, grabbing an opportunity to follow their dream. I was thrilled to see what a family event these games were. There were sons, daughters and grandchildren supporting and cheering on the athletes in every sport. At the 2017 BC 55+ Games my lovely mare, Landover’s Jewel and I won “Gold” for our division 65+ First Level Dressage. Next year Cranbrook!

Don’t listen to the cliché “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”, because that simply is not true. Instead, seek out those that have a similar interest in your passion, i.e. travel, art, music, theatre etc. Take classes, meet people with the same interests, find a teacher, a coach or join a club or organization that will encourage you to pursue your passion.

Following your dream also has far reaching health benefits:

  • Engages the brain: Whether your pursuit is brand new for you or you are just improving a skill it engages your brain.
  • Challenge: Both physically and mental challenges help to keep us fit.
  • Practice:  The old adage, ‘practice makes perfect,” is true at any age. Make time to practice. Repetition trains both the mind and the muscles necessary to achieve your goal.

Most of all, remember this is your time. Ignore the naysayers and follow your dream.

Written by: Joan Niemeier

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