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N e a t    A r c h i v e s

As anyone who has visited here a few times knows, "EVE"rywoman is essentially the star of the show. We have previously promised (or threatened, depending on your perspective), to tell you more about her over time. In the event you’ve ever encountered difficulty thinking about yourself and Need Expert Advice Today (or any day) on how to pay attention to your own hopes and dreams, we offer the following:

When EVE was 42, she took piano lessons. She could not remotely read music, never had instructions on any instrument and the first time she sat down at the keyboard and the teacher asked, "Can you find middle C?" EVE knew she was facing more of a challenge than she had anticipated. After all, the word "middle" provided a big hint but in all matters musical, EVE was clueless. Nevertheless, she struggled along, tried to find the time to practice each week but frankly, never succeeded in devoting adequate attention to her exercises. After six months, she concluded there was little hope, given her schedule, that she ever would be able to squeeze in the necessary hours. In addition to having two school age children, attending classes part time to finish her BA degree, and doing volunteer work at a senior center, she was an elected official—County Legislator, also known as a County Commissioner in many states. Plus, she acknowledged it was highly unlikely she would ever master anything more complicated than "Mary Had a Little Lamb," so she stopped attending classes.

wpe100.gif (8868 bytes) When EVE was 44, she took fencing lessons. She was notorious for having two left feet, virtually no coordination and was obviously a bit past the age when most people would tackle such a sport. Her instructor was young enough to be her son but very patient. After six months, she faced the fact that her athletic prowess or lack thereof, was a serious handicap. She admitted that her legs, knees especially, had not suffered this much punishment since her days of running up and down the aisles in spiked heels at 35,000 feet. She had worked as a stewardess for five years in her early twenties. So, she stopped attending classes.

wpe101.gif (23637 bytes) Several years later she went on a Caribbean cruise—alone (her husband did not do boats). She selected a luxury liner that was particularly unique at the time. It was a 440-foot sailboat with only 100 passengers and 80 crewmembers on board. She did not leave the ship to visit St. Bart’s, St. Kitts, or any of the other ports of call because sightseeing was not her agenda. She had been a slave to her job and considered her family the top priority in her life. She made all the arrangements annually for her husband and children to enjoy wonderful holidays but simply didn’t make time for herself. When she took this trip, her children were grown and off to college and she left her husband with enough homemade meals and clean laundry to last until she returned. The outing was sinfully expensive and any financial expert would have insisted she could by no means afford such a luxury. But, she had begun to realize at that point, she couldn’t afford not to get away for a complete rest. She had not taken a vacation in ten years. All the other travelers were lovely company but respected her desire for solitude. She still cherishes the memory of that time as one of the most treasured events in her life.

At this point, you’re probably wondering, so, what’s the advice? For "women of a certain age," taking time for ourselves and thinking about our personal goals, is often an acquired skill—we do not necessarily come by it naturally. In fact, in some respects, we are socialized to feel guilty about even entertaining such notions. After we have taken care of our families, our friends, our community or career responsibilities—then, and only then can we be comfortable with the notion of sitting down and saying, "What would I REALLY like to do?" More often than not, the time simply never presents itself or if we having a passing thought about a personal ambition or dream—it remains just that—a passing thought.

wpe102.gif (13225 bytes) The significant feature of these three vignettes is that, in spite of feeling self indulgent, (which she did) EVE screwed up her nerve and did "go for it." As for the piano and fencing—she didn’t give up or quit.

She simply moved on, feeling satisfied that she had done what she wanted to try at the time. If she lives to be 100, she’ll never have to say, "I wanted to give that a shot but never got around to it." Furthermore, when she and her husband saw the movie, "The Mask of Zorro" with Antonio Banderos and Catherine Zeta-Jones, she was able to say knowingly, "Watch their legs—it’s all in the knees." As for now—she’s planning to learn to tap-dance—honest! So, the moral of this story is the following advice:

"If you have a DREAM, don’t let it go, no matter what others might tell you to do. Grab ahold of the reins and take that first step. In the final accounting, it’s all up to you. Through all of the good and what might seem bad, hang on ‘til the end, until you succeed. No matter how distant the end may appear, if you want it enough, JUST FOLLOW YOUR DREAM!" By Lee Miller