Early last year I was rather out of sorts.
My husband still works full-time, and no one in my small circle of friends was available for weeks, even for just a cup of coffee. During the winter months I tend to spend too much time indoors to begin with, and now I was spending more time alone than I wanted.
Inspired by Bridget at the Non-Smoking Ladybug, I began to seek out like-minded groups in my area, and ended up joining one called The Seniors For Nature Outdoor Club. They are a non-profit organization run by volunteers with the purpose of keeping seniors physically active.
At first I was uncertain that this was going to be a good fit. I’m not particularly comfortable meeting new people, especially in groups where everyone seems to know everyone else, and I don’t make new friends easily.
My life philosophy is supposed to be about reaching beyond my comfort zone, so I persevered, even though I would much rather have sat at home moping about how bored I was.
I have a high need “to belong” and decided that the best way to embed myself in a new group was to dive in head first. As a newbie member, with only a month under my belt, I boldly approached the President of the Club and asked if there might be a role for me.
Timing can be everything, because they had an urgent need for a new Secretary on their Board. I shrugged my shoulders and thought ‘why not?’ (actually there were many reasons ‘why not?’, but I chose to ignore all of them).
As a result, over the past year I’ve been busy. Sometimes too busy – this is a very active group. Their calendar of activities is full, and constantly growing with new outings scheduled on a regular basis.
I’ve been out hiking and cycling with them on numerous occasions. They inspired me to learn how to kayak last spring, and put on skates for the first time in 30 years. At the rate I’m going, it will likely be cross-country skiing next.
This energetic group of both men and women are redefining ‘old’. These seniors are not moulding away quietly in a comfortable chair. They travel extensively on multi-day hiking, canoeing, or cycling trips, and our 80-year-old President went downhill skiing last winter for the first time.
The secretarial role has turned out to be much larger than I expected, but it has made the monthly meetings much easier for me. In a group with almost 200 members, I’m constantly meeting new people, but this formal role has given me a purpose for attending these general meetings … meetings for which I would likely have found a reason not to go. Did I mention the part about needing to belong?
The more time I spend with these people, the more I like them. I’m slowly starting to think of these strangers as friends, and the best kind of friend – the kind who inspire.
Sometimes I feel like a slacker in comparison, but if this is the new version of senior-ism, I’m all in.