Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lifelong Learning Thursday

Nancy Merz Nordstrom, author of Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret of Making the Most of Your After 50 Years will share the benefits of Lifelong Learning on Thursdays.

The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.

…a Health Club for Your Mind. Body and Spirit!


Follow your bliss! At age 63, I never thought I’d be living these famous words by Joseph Campbell. But when I realize I’m doing the work I love on my own terms, sharing my life with a wonderful man, and being surrounded by loving family - well, to me that’s bliss!

As a first-time author, I guess you could say my whole life, and certainly the last 15 years in particular, have set the stage for this bliss. It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure. There were times when I wondered what I was doing, but I kept going. Persistence does indeed pay.

In order to look at the concept, benefits and opportunities of Learning Later, Living Greater, however, we need to take a short trip down memory lane since my story demonstrates where a journey of learning later and living greater can lead.

I married my high school sweetheart and by the time we were both in our early thirties, our family was complete (one son and three daughters). Over the next 15 years we raised our children in Boston, and made plans for the future.


How does that old maxim go? Life is what happens when you’re making other plans, or something like that. Well, our plans for the future came to an abrupt halt early on a warm August morning in 1993, when I found my 48 year-old husband dead of a heart attack.

The shock and grief kept me in a kind of fog for the next several years. I tried all the usual routes for coming to terms with his death – grief therapy, life counseling, immersing myself in my work as an administrative assistant. Nothing, however, seemed to help put the pieces of my life back together, or really help me wrestle with the idea of no longer being a wife, part of a twosome. As someone who was raised to believe a woman’s primary role in life was being a wife and mother, the loss of my identity as a wife was a very difficult adjustment.

Slowly, however, the fog began to lift, which is what the passage of time can do if you give yourself half a chance. As I struggled for a way out of my grief I slowly gravitated toward the support of other women, a very new thing for me. I began attending workshops, support groups, conferences and getaways, all run by and for women.


I fully expected this would be my life from now on, and I threw myself completely into this wonderfully creative and supportive environment. The work I’ve done over the years with women’s groups has been a powerful cathartic for me.

Then, early in 1996 I found myself thinking about travel. What I had noticed, much to my chagrin, was that ads for travel and vacations all placed heavy emphasis on “couple-hood.” It was very off-putting, to say the least, especially for someone who was still trying to come to terms with her new status as a single woman.

One day, however, I came across an ad in a women’s newspaper for educational travel programs – programs where single women could feel safe and included. It sounded very interesting, and I sent for literature.

I spent hours pouring over all the program offerings and finally decided on a trip to the Austrian and Italian Alps. Why? I think because I loved the story of Heidi as a child. And, this particular program did not have a “single supplement,” that unfair charge assessed to single travelers.

Now I had never traveled alone anywhere, much less outside the U.S. I didn’t even own a passport! So this decision was, for me, a very big step outside my comfort zone. Little did I know at the time where taking that one step would lead. Today, I look back and can easily see that it was the start of my new life. More next week…

Educational Travel programs… where the world, as Elderhostel says, really is your classroom. What a wonderful vehicle for our continued exploration of ourselves and all we have to offer to society. Such programs help us understand and appreciate different cultures. They also change us by broadening our perspectives and teaching us about new ways to measure our quality of life.

To learn about Elderhostel’s 8,000+ U.S. & International programs visit
For more information on Learning Later, Living Greater visit
You can purchase Learning Later, Living Greater at

Till Next Time…


Sage said...

What a lovely post; I was so impressed with how she picked up and kept going. They say life is what you make it, not always that easy when STUFF happens.
Thank you for your kind visits.
Happy Easter to you and your followers.

Seniorpreneur said...

I agree that Travel to foreign countries can provide an excellent educational learning experience. Also, will someone start a group to combat the negative attitude towards single travelers. I am one myself, and I am constantly frustrated about the lack of planning for single rooms on any educational trips.

Finally, have you thought about becoming a Senior Entrepreneur? Usually a book is the vehicle that Seniors could use to build an entrepreneurial career. I am also working on a book myself hoping to empower Seniors to become senior entrepreneurs.


Joe Wasylyk