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How To Cultivate Enthusiasm

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"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm." ~ Henry David Thoreau

I am on American Airlines with my husband, Shelly, and my dog, Orchid. We are on our way to sunny California. I wave good-bye to my beautiful Chicago, with its vitality and energy, as I listen to the plane roar up into the sky over Lake Michigan and into the white fluffy clouds. I am off to my tranquil life; to my home away from home, Rancho Mirage, California.

Rancho Mirage is by no means a tranquil community. When I use the term "tranquil," I am referring to a suburban lifestyle. I walk outside my beautiful home and I can hear a pin drop. I don't like the feeling. I don't feel enthusiastic.

When I walk outside the doors of my condo in my beautiful Chicago, I hear all types of sounds and I cannot help but feel the music of life. In Chicago, I experience a rush of enthusiasm as I soak up the energy of this cosmopolitan city.

The word enthusiasm piques my fancy because I view it as an eagerness to live a thriving life.

And so, I challenge you to ask yourself, "Am I living my life enthusiastically or am I lacking the motivation to pick myself up and start all over again with something stimulating as I enter my new lifestyle after 50?"

If you are feeling blah, unenthusiastic, it is time to get yourself back into the game with a plan.

Unfortunately, many women are lacking motivation as they enter this passage of life. Why? Because adjusting to change can be difficult. We know our feeling of enthusiasm is missing; we find ourselves out of sync with our circumstances. This is a common state of affairs, so please don't panic! You have no choice but to motivate yourself into action.

I want to share the true stories of three enthusiastic and motivated people: A girlfriend, a Monk and me, Susan "Honey" Good.

Each made huge and positive life changes. How? They brought enthusiasm back into their lives.

The story of my older girlfriend is remarkable. I met her when I was in my 40s and to this day she is one of my role models. My friend created an enthusiastic lifestyle that required a move across the United States from New York to Rancho Mirage when she was in her 70s! Talk about enthusiasm and motivation. Years later, her story helped gave me the fortitude to take a leap into the unknown when I felt my own enthusiasm faltering.

My girlfriend is, and has always been, a vibrant, warm and wise woman. However, while in her 70s, she began to feel invisible as she walked down Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

She was determined not to grow old before her time and she knew why she was beginning to feel invisible in New York. It was age related. She came to terms with her emotional side and realized she stopped feeling enthusiastic about life. She wanted to continue to kindle what she had always felt...enthusiasm, vitality, visibility and a strong sense of relevancy.

She made a dynamic plan... she would move with her husband to a smaller community where she would feel visible and enthusiastic. And, that is the path my girlfriend took.

She and her husband sold their home in New York and went West... to California! This was a courageous move and her life changed overnight. She became visible, vibrant and enthusiastic once again. She became a jewelry designer. She is now in her upper 80s; her clear blue eyes sparkle and she is still going strong. She is filled with enthusiasm.

The second story was told to me by a close girlfriend who spends a lot of her time in Greece. She loves to hike. One day she hiked up to a famous monastery where five monks make their home. There, she met Simon the Monk.

Simon grew up in Athens, spent his college years at NYU and then returned to Greece. He opened several restaurants in the city and found success at a young age, but then became critically ill with colon cancer. He was told he had a short time to live. He changed his diet, stopped drinking, sold his restaurants and moved into the monastery high in the Greek mountains to dedicate his remaining life to being a monk.

14 years later, he is cancer-free. He is happy. He is enthusiastic about life and loves his lifestyle. He motivated himself into action. He often speaks by phone to my girlfriend and hopefully will visit her in Chicago this summer. I look forward to meeting him.

And now, my own story... the story of

Before, my life was filled to the brim. I was grateful and appreciative for my blessings: A devoted husband, a fruitful family, my mom, my pooch Orchid and a beautiful lifestyle.

I played golf, was involved in charity work, played cards, read, needle pointed and on and on. However, as I entered a new passage in my life, I began to feel somewhat bored with my extra-curricular activities.

As most of you know, I met a writer who encouraged me to keep a journal for three months. I was challenged to no end, but decided to go for it and see where it would lead me. I was motivated to test the waters because I did not want to lose my enthusiastic nature. I did not want to fall into a rut. I wanted to continue to grow. My enthusiasm for living led to a writing career and the creation of a booming dot com... all accomplished in my 60s!

Not all of you are like my girlfriend, Simon the Monk or me. Some of you have hurdles to scale that are sapping your strength. Some of you are ill. Some of you are afraid. Some of you just don't or can't try. I understand. I have compassion. But I beseech you to give it a whirl.

The lesson for today: Without motivation you cannot achieve an enthusiastic lifestyle. Without a feeling of enthusiasm you are not happy. The two go hand in hand. Hold hands with these two words, dear readers of mine.

Because, in the wise words of another great man, Charles Kingsley, "All that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about."

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