Relationships

Three Women Share Their Later-in-Life Accomplishments

As you know, I’m always on the side of the late bloomer, so I got curious about people who had done something extraordinary at older ages. We talked to three women who did just that…

Who: Evelyn
Where: Owasso, Oklahoma
What: Got a Ph.D. at age 51

“I’ve always loved academia — I feel like it stretches me. When I was growing up, my aunt Geraldine had a doctorate and started a charter school. She went to sit-ins and was always picking apart societal norms. I connected with her more than anyone else in my family. So, I decided to start on my doctoral degree once my son left for college. I’m now getting my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, because I know I have something to offer in leading people and helping make big decisions. There are major ways education needs to change, including being more inclusive of people with different backgrounds. There’s a lot of movement in that, but I want to make sure it gets done. For example, I never learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre in school, but students are starting to learn more about their own histories now. I’ve had this yearning to sit at the table where decisions are made that affect students of color. I want my students to know that I see them and that whenever they have an interaction with me that it meant something, that if we’re both human beings on this earth, living in the same moment in time, then we both deserve each other’s respect.

“Right before I presented my thesis, people were telling me, ‘Once you get to the point of presenting, it’s easy.’ But I wanted to blow their socks off! Black people have been taught you have to do twice as much to be considered half as good, so I knew I couldn’t do it half-heartedly. I’d done the work and the research, and my voice was shaking a little bit at the beginning, but I still did it. Afterward, they said it was one of the best presentations they’d ever seen. It made me think of my first day of class. I was trying to be on time, and I was out of breath from climbing the stairs, and I couldn’t find the right room. I kept telling myself, ‘Can you even find the classroom? What are you doing? What are you DOING??’ Then I finally said, ‘I don’t care if I feel crazy as all get out, I’m gonna keep going.’ Be scared, but do it while you’re scared!”

Who: Sandi
Where: Arvada, Colorado
What: Became a professional triathlete at age 60

“When I was 55, I realized I’d lost a spark. I wasn’t athletic at all and wanted to change my life. One day, I met a fellow speech therapist named Mark; we struck up a conversation, and before long I learned that he had won Iron Man Hawaii in his age group. I didn’t even know how to swim or gear a bike, but Mark and I started going on bike rides together. He introduced me to all his triathlete friends and that was the beginning of risk-taking for me. In my head, I had an excuse for not wanting to do something, but I just did everything. I had to learn how to run, which is just walking 100 steps and then jogging 100 steps. I joined a women’s triathlete group, and even though I was among the oldest in the group, it was so much fun. I was anxious, but I was no longer watching someone else play. I had a group of women I would swim with, and after practice we’d go eat Mexican food, with our wet hair slicked back. At age 60, I competed in my first triathlon, in Silverthorne, Colorado, up in the mountains. I didn’t want Mark to come watch me because I wanted to do it on my own. I won my age group — and even beat someone who had the reputation of winning in the thin air of the mountains. I was hooked. One morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to drive to a competition, and I rolled down the windows and cranked up the music and thought, ‘This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. It’s just for me.’ I had been taking care of people all my life, but now I wasn’t on the sidelines anymore. From ages 60 to 70, I competed as a professional triathlete, and I’ve never been happier. It was like I had a secret inside me the whole time. I suffered a stroke a few years ago, so I can’t do what I once did, but I bought a recumbent bike and go up the mountain roads near my house. I can still be free, and that’s what it’s all about — the feeling of being free.”

Who: Gail
Where: Columbus, Ohio
What: Joined the Peace Corps at age 58

“When my husband and I graduated from college in the 1970s, we applied to the Peace Corps. We ended up being sent to the Bahamas for two years. After that, we returned home. Mike worked as an advisor for small businesses and I was a dental hygienist. We had kids and work and a normal life. But after our kids grew up, we looked around and said, ‘We don’t need this big house anymore. What’s out there in the world?’ The Peace Corps doesn’t have an age limit for serving, so at age 58, after my husband retired, we decided to go for it again. We were placed in Swaziland (Eswatini), Africa, and after three months of training they determined where we’d be the best fit. We served at a locally-run HIV orphanage on a working dairy farm, teaching and tutoring. I also launched an income-generating project for some rural women who had connections to the orphanage. We would go back to America on our vacation days and visit our grandbabies and kids. After four years in Africa, we came back to the U.S., and I became the Peace Corps recruiter at Ohio State University for three years. In the meantime, we still went back and forth to Swaziland to volunteer, this time on our own. Since 2018, we’ve gone back twice a year, every year. We both just got both our vaccines and booked our tickets back! If I could give anyone advice, I’d say, listen to your heart. You can do way more than you think you can.”

Thank you to those who shared their stories with us. What’s something you’ve accomplished that’s made you proud?

P.S. 7 women on deciding not to have kids and 11 brilliant women share what they learned about themselves.

  1. Caraline Auckland says...

    I absolutely adore this post and would love this to be a continuing series. Gail got my right in the heart with her parting phrase… “Listen to your heart. You can do way more than you think you can.” Don’t mind me just here sobbing :)

    • Michele says...

      +1 please repeat!

  2. Marion says...

    Love this post. Please continue to do more like it. So inspiring!

  3. Meg K says...

    I once went to a spoken word performance in Kenya. The poet was a woman in her late 40s who had never once written a poem prior to the age of 40 and then decided one day to try. She is now an acclaimed Kenyan poet and a magical human being. I was very inspired by her example.

    I am turning 40 this year and am in the midst of a PhD program and just wrote a screenplay. I hope to never stop trying new things and having adventures!

  4. K says...

    This resonates…I’m working on the courage to grapple with “sunk costs” and strike out in new and invigorating directions. It’s wonderful to be reminded that every day offers the potential of a new iteration for the wonderful self that got this far.

  5. I just published my first book at age 39! It’s a dating book for cisgender heterosexual girls in middle school and high school. It made it to the number one
    New release spot in the teen and young adult dating category on Amazon! This was something that took me at least 8 years to finish and for someone who never finishes ANYTHING, I’m
    So proud of myself and thankful for the push I’ve gotten from my husband and all my friends. You can take a peek here if you’re interested!

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/r.html?C=2EIU1YSKTC6SW&K=QJPG2QKOIB08&M=urn:rtn:msg:20210421094312a90d682b76e0467dbd72b9248ae0p0na&R=2CMLYX0H09A6B&T=C&U=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fdp%2FB092P7711V%3Fref_%3Dpe_3052080_397514860&H=SIF8BX47Q5AIQK3NXY7BIXNGFCIA&ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

    • Rebecca says...

      This is so awesome Midori, congratulations!

  6. dawn says...

    As everyone else has written, these women are amazing. I’m grateful to them for sharing their lives with us. I returned to school at 50. My immediate family was supportive but other relatives and *friends* were, like, why are you doing this? I turn 60 in May and, for the past few years, have been working in Food Policy. As you can imagine, the past year has been overwhelming. I’m so grateful to have been part of a team of people who are making sure there are policies in place to help those in need. Not only that but I’m energized. My husband talks about retiring and I’m, well, not!

  7. JAK says...

    Oh, I love this article, I hope it can be the start of a series! We have a lot to learn from others who do things at later ages. It is so valuable for younger and older folks to see that not everything that is meant for you will happen by 25.

    This was also a timely read for me, as I’m in the midsts of shifts, seriously considering getting a phd, doing a lot of research and meditating on it, but one concern initially was “oh, but I’ll probably be the oldest one in the program when I start in fall 2022 & am I ready to potentially move to a new country/city for this?” which in retrospect of reading this article seems like such a silly reason not to do something. The fact that all these women made these decisions for themselves and no one else is empowering. They created opportunities for themselves.

    One thing my mentors have said to me as I work through this PhD decision that resonates with me, “if you don’t like yourself without a PhD then you will likely not like yourself with one. It won’t change who you are at your core, it will only intensify the aspects of yourself you do or don’t like. In the end the only one who should actually care about cultivating the life you imagined is you..” I’m pretty certain you could replace the word, PhD, with anything, and the statement would still stand…

    • Laura says...

      Love this! I say go for it. I started a PhD at age 31 because I just love biology and dreamed of being able to study nature in the deepest way possible for me. It’s hard work, but it’s surprising how many grains of sand can build a mountain! You can do it!

    • “not everything that is meant for you will happen by 25” – A-MEN :)

    • T says...

      Doing a PhD is like having children – you shouldn’t do it unless you really, really want it. It is incredibly hard even for people like me who found undergraduate and my Master’s education to be easy. You will feel like a million bucks when you finish and like you can take on anything. Getting there tested me in ways I could not have anticipated, but it was well worth it in my case. Good luck!! I’m rooting for you :)

  8. Hannah says...

    Love these stories! This gives me hope I can always start another career. I was thinking of going back to school to become an NP or PA, but now I’m having a baby in a few months so that’ll have to wait. . .

    So encouraging to see it’s never too late to try something new!

    • Meghan says...

      Hannah! After spending my 20s trying to find a career that felt like a calling I returned to school to become an NP. I love my career and am grateful for the all the years and jobs that ultimately got me to where I am now. Three cheers for NPs!! Meghan

    • Hannah says...

      Meghan, thanks for sharing! I’m 31, so that gives me hope there’s still time. Did you go straight to NP schooling or become an RN first?

  9. Tiffani says...

    I needed this. My 20s and 30s were mostly consumed by having an unplanned baby in my early 20s and then single parenting while working a series of high stress, low to lower middle wage jobs. I also had an abusive marriage and subsequent divorce that wiped out a lot of financial gains I’d been able to make and put plans for starting my own business indefinitely on hold. I haven’t had the time, energy, resources or the emotional bandwidth for accomplishments much beyond keeping us safely housed and fed. I’m turning 40 this year and there are a lot of narratives that make it seem as if I should have achieved a lot more by now, single parenting notwithstanding, and if I haven’t, I probably won’t now. It can be very discouraging especially when all the people in your social group seem to be much more accomplished and settled. I’ve been thinking a lot about goals for the fourth decade of my life and this is exactly what I needed to see.

    • Laura says...

      Hugs!! It’s a huge achievement to raise your kids and give them a loving home. I bet it’s so exciting to think about what’s coming next in your life!

  10. Tammy says...

    So inspiring! I’m 45 and I feel like so many people around me are narrowing their lives, defining what they can or can’t do, not learning anymore, not pushing themselves. I feel the opposite pull. The knowledge of how quickly time passes makes me wish I had five extra hours in every day. In the past year I have started getting up at 4:50 a.m. (almost) every morning, writing my first novel while my family is asleep. This stolen time to work on a dream sustains me through the rest of the day. I refuse to look back and see any wasted time in my one wild and precious life.

  11. Anne says...

    I love this! I’m in my late thirties and aallllways have been late with everything. This feels like a confirmation in a society where especially very young people who fulfill big accomplishments (which is great, btw) get the spotlight. And it makes me excited for the future, too: hello forties, fifties and beyond!

    • Kim says...

      Me too!
      I’m 39, turning 40 in October, as this has been a very stressful couple of years. I set myself up with goals of having a kid, a house, a master’s by…40. As you can probably guess, despite good intentions and planning, I have none of those things and have been feeling so behind and discouraged lately.
      Here’s to big moves for my fellow late bloomers, and hello to forties, fifties and beyond! xo

  12. Jen says...

    At 47, I haven’t done a big thing, but I’ve done a little thing. I got back to working out regularly late last year. I was pretty good about it 2009 – 2018 but 2019 rolled around and I quit. 2020 wasn’t much better. But now I’ve done it! 6 days a week. The trick for me is to alernate hard days with lighter days. I’m proud as hell of myself.

    • Jenni says...

      Good for you, Jen! I’d be proud as hell of myself, too.

  13. Ann says...

    Thank you so much for talking about accomplishments later in life. I’m no longer a spring chicken and am heading towards 50 rapidly. I like knowing there is a whole lot of living left to do and adventures to be had. Please keep stories like this coming. I’ll soon have an empty nest and I’m ready for some adventure.

  14. Merritt W. says...

    This was such an inspiring article! And as a mom of two kids who will soon enter the public school system in Oklahoma, I’m very thankful for Evelyn’s hard work and commitment to education and ensuring students know the *full* picture of our state’s history. We talk about difficult subjects at home, but it’s important for all kids to learn about events like the Tulsa Race Massacre (and the generational implications it has) in a school setting, too. Enjoyed reading about all three of these women and their accomplishments!

  15. J says...

    After reading for years, I think this is my all-time favorite post. Amazing women!

  16. Lynn says...

    I love this post!!! As someone who gave birth for the FIRST time at 40, I’m now 60 and definitely do not feel my life is over! There is so much I want to do, see, accomplish! Make this a series! So inspiring!

  17. I love this so much! I couldn’t help but think while watching Biden’s speech last night that its never too late to live out your dreams. I think we all need constant reminders of that!

    • Rebekah says...

      Please make this a series. This resonated deep, wide and loud. I needed Gail’s closing thoughts today… I’ll now carry those words forever.

      Forward we go, my friends!

  18. Ashes says...

    I desperately needed this today … Thank you! I have been feeling burnt out and really stuck. At 37 and with two kids I know I’m not “old” but making a major lifestyle or career change seems nearly insurmountable. I am going to need to read this post a few times and gear myself up to get over my fears.

  19. Agnes says...

    I started my bachelors in psychology at 30, got my masters in counselling by 38 (working full time all the while – no kids ;) and have been a practicing therapist for around 8 years. I would do this job for free, which tells me it was all worth it. I can work as long as I’m able and I know I will look back and say I used my life well. Super hard but WORTH IT, and the years are going to pass whether you follow your dream or not! Go for it! :)

  20. jen says...

    this gave me all of the feels. thank you to these women for sharing their bravery with us. so helpful to zoom out and look at the big picture through the lens of those older, wiser and more experienced than ourselves.

  21. Anne S says...

    Wow. I connected so strongly to Sandi’s story. I’m in my early 20’s and have PTSD that makes it really hard for me to get out of my house and just go places. I don’t feel free. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder wherever I go and don’t feel comfortable until I’m back in the house with the door locked. I’m always supporting other people’s journeys and I celebrate their ability to go do what they want, but I never feel like that’s for me. Sandi makes it seem possible that I can have that freedom someday, even if it’s after my youth has gone, and that gives me a lot of hope.

    • Jamie says...

      Thank you for sharing, Anne. Keep doing what you’re doing to feel safe, to grow, to mourn, to be. Your time will come.

    • D says...

      Anne S, living with PTSD is a journey in and of itself! You are so strong to be walking it and not just giving up. Each day that you walk out of the house to go somewhere is a victory, and each day that you choose to stay in the house so your brain and body can relax is a victory. PTSD is a beast and freedom comes slowly, but slowly does not mean never. Be gentle with yourself. Cheering you on tonight!

  22. SN says...

    My dream is to send my kids off to college and join the peace corps with my husband. I love this so much.

  23. Heather says...

    This is so wonderful! I’m a stay at home mom, but I’ve always anticipated getting my masters degree once my youngest was in school full time. My oldest is 13 and my youngest just turned 4. One more year and she’ll be in kindergarten! I always thought I’d know what I wanted to do by this point and jump right in. But I just get busier the older my kids get and I’ve progressively become more enmeshed in my volunteering. (I help run a website that links prospective volunteers with agencies in their communities and I host several blood drives each year.)

    I’ve really really struggled with the idea that I might not be applying to masters programs next year, but posts like this remind me that I can take the time I need to figure out what I really want to do with my valuable time and growing talents, and it’s never too late to start something new.

  24. Brandy T says...

    This is just the dose of inspiration I needed today, loved this.

  25. Sandra says...

    OMG…I in my 50s and am not sure I can read this since I don’t feel “later in life” or a woman of “older ages.” This is a label we tend to put on women. I think Joanna’s husband is around my age, and if he had some big, new accomplishment I don’t think we would label it the accomplishment of an older/later in life man.

    • carole says...

      Agree!

    • Janna says...

      I get that, and also I don’t think that Joanna is saying 50 is old. She linked to an article about going on a date for the first time at 30- 30 isn’t old, but it’s typically considered old for your first date. I think the spirit of this article is more about going back to school/starting athletics/trying things for the first time when you are older than the average age for those things – not about accomplishing things as a woman in your 50s.

    • AN says...

      1000% this. Why, WHY do we play these tapes in our heads and for each other?

    • Teresa says...

      Along the same lines, I think it’s interesting how alot of the responders are saying how inspirational and “bad ass” these women are. No doubt, their accomplishments are awesome, but it’s like we are surprised by it! I think if this was a series, it would show that it is actually quite common for women to continue to do amazing things their entire life.

    • D says...

      Yeah, I had a similar feeling. I actually love this article and all of its content, but I am hesitating about sending it to my mom (who is early 60s) because of this “older age”/”late in life” labeling.

    • Sharon says...

      I understand what you are saying, but getting away from the men vs. women aspect, let’s get real. If you are in your 50s, you are not young…you feel young and probably look and act younger than your mother did at the same age, but in your 50s you are closer to the end than to the beginning. I will be 70 in 2 weeks. I don’t look it or feel it (most days.). But, I am much closer to the end. It weasels its way into my mind on occasion…I don’t ignore it nor do I let it dictate my activities.

      I remember someone complaining about getting a card from AARP when she turned 50…she threw it out. I told her that was fine…but she was still turning 50, and she had to come to terms with that fact…of course, the terms were totally up to her!

    • K says...

      For me, I would for sure, and am, just as impressed when older men pick up something new in life as I am when older women do. I found it super inspirational that my uncle completely changed his lifestyle habits after heart surgery. He seemed like he became more in tune with himself physically, more at peace mentally. I’m just as impressed when an aunt became a CPA in her 50s after a decades-long career in a different industry.

      We’ve all been younger, and we’ll all be older. Our body *does* age and we’re all here a finite amount of time. It’s always inspirational when someone goes after what they want as the end of the lease becomes gradually but steadily acute, whether it’s something new, or just unturned.

    • Deb says...

      Teresa I think your point is bang on. I do think these stories are inspiring but your comment made me wonder why and (to my mind) it’s because we don’t hear them. You’re so right – people must be doing amazing things all the time. Maybe those people don’t think they are doing noteworthy things or that people would be interested? Who knows. I would love it if these stories were commonplace – and I really don’t think they’d lose their charm. More inspiration, more celebration, more LIFE please :-D.

    • EmBed says...

      This is a reply to Sharon: THANK YOU for saying that. Let’s get real, indeed. No, 50-something isn’t OLD, but, unless you are Jeanne Calment, once you reach 60 your life is more than halfway over. I think it’s wonderful when people stay active and curious and contributing to society as long as they can and, like many of the commenters here I find these women’s stories inspiring and nothing to get offended about. I feel that our culture has a really hard time accepting that we are all going to DIE and, except in pretty rare cases, even those who do live until 100+ are going to see some pretty significant physical and mental decline from about the age of 80 onwards. (In this vein, a book I highly recommend is:Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast). So, as the song goes: Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.

  26. Katie says...

    Love these stories! Trying to start seriously writing fiction at age 36 and feeling ancient and like I’m fooling myself to think I can do anything other than my day job. Such a good reminder that, sure, there are obstacles and limits on us in the world, but we don’t have to create new ones for ourselves unnecessarily.

    • AN says...

      @Katie, please listen to the Lisa Congdon Sessions podcast, episodes 1 and 2 (late-start artist!) and PLEASE start writing, seriously or not, I’m here for it!

    • paisley says...

      If you haven’t already, check out Beth Pickins! I highly recommend her & her homework club (an actual accountability club) for getting art done!!! Make Your Art No Matter What just came out! Your Art Will Save your life is my FAV Book <3 https://www.bethpickens.com/

  27. Celine says...

    Absolutely love this post! More inspiring posts like this one please!

  28. Abbiemirand says...

    Wow. How powerful and inspiring are these women?! And all of you, who are sharing your own stories. Thank you for the reminder that women are not static beings that simply age and fade away. We are made to evolve, transform and grow. This resonated with me so deeply, as a 31 year old mother of two, I feel there is hardly any space for me in my own life between taking care of our children, managing our household and supporting my husband who is so busy and overwhelmed with his start up.Since his business has grown, and we have had children, I feel like I have just faded into the background, while he receives so much praise for being brave, taking risks and following his passion. It hurts! I also feel like I took a bold step to leave my career to stay at home while our children are young, and raising them is so satisfying and beautiful but that sense of accomplishment can feel so invisible to the outside world. These stories inspire me to savor this special, intense time and actively plan for and seek adventure for myself when life inevitably shifts again.

    • Andrea says...

      Wow I am completely in awe of you! It takes a lot to leave a career to becoming a working mom (especially with the pressure to ‘have it all’ and keep working these days). Sounds like you did what was right for you and your family. Your husband could not do what he’s doing without you <3

    • Ashley says...

      Well said Andrea!

      Abbie I also stay home with kids and manage the household while my husband crushes a family business. I spent too much time in the past worrying about what could have been or what I could be accomplishing and letting go of that was life changing.

      In Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please she says “good for her, not for me.” I really clung to that. Comparing my situation to people with different needs and wants will always lead to discontent. I bet to your kids and husband you are the whole world, no matter what the outside world thinks.

    • Sage says...

      I see you. <3

      I agree wholeheartedly re: the invisibility. A running thread through some of these comments is that they were raising their children instead of doing "big things." Raising our kids mindfully to be kind, thoughtful, peaceful world citizens is a VERY big thing. (Not the *only* thing, naturally!) There is absolutely no need to diminish the important role we play and work we do as mothers. :)

    • Laura says...

      Yes!! You will not regret it. I stayed home with my daughter until she started preschool, then went on to pursue my professional goals.

    • Jess says...

      Abbie I feel this so deeply and I see you. Cheering you on from my home filled with 3 kids and 1 more (totally unexpectedly) on the way. My youngest started kindergarten last year and it felt like my time to decide what to do with my life..however virtual school made that impossible. And now..back to the drawing board :)

    • C says...

      You are not invisible to the 2 people who matter the most, you are exactly what they love and cherish. So whenever you feel invisible (and I understand you will) remember that. You are inspiring and an inspiration to so many.

    • JE says...

      Abbie,
      I know how you feel. Although my spouse and I are both very ambitious, educated, and have strong work ethics, he selected the more lucrative career. When I became pregnant with our first child at 30, I was ready for a career change so I quit my job. It also didn’t make sense for him to be the stay at home parent because we grew accustomed to his salary and I was making such a small salary. I wanted to be a stay at home parent for a little while at least, but I still struggle with wondering what I want to accomplish when I get back into the work force or whatever it may be for me. Since college (ever since we’ve been together), so many people have been so fascinated by my spouse because he was able to do so well financially at such an early age, have a great relationship with me, have good friends, and be such an interesting, nice guy. And even though I realize that I am very lucky to be with him (and I also think he is very lucky to be with me:), I sometimes get frustrated because many people we meet are only interested in his opinions of things and wouldn’t think twice to ask me what I think. Throughout the years I’ve stopped caring as much. I think it has to do with me coming into my own with motherhood and gaining more confidence in my abilities and who I am as a person. But I still sometimes become annoyed that most people think I’m just a pretty face and don’t ask about my accomplishments or the depth of my knowledge. It seems like a silly thing to vent about because I have a wonderful life, but sometimes I wish I was the one people wanted to brain pick. These stories were inspiring, and a good reminder that even though I’m an at-home parent right now, I can still take the world by storm when our kids start going to school.

  29. cl says...

    if this isn’t the best post ever! amazing. what a full heart i have after reading these.

  30. Alex Pearl says...

    Please please more like this!

  31. Katie says...

    I love this post!! Several years ago on a trip to New Mexico I met a woman of 72 on the bus from Albuquerque to Santa Fe who had recently retired from years of working as a city hall clerk in a small town. She had then learned to play the harp and become trained in playing for hospice patients which she was doing professionally in a hospital. I was in awe of her bravery and the beauty she was creating with her second career. There’s are so many women like this I think this topic could become a series!

    • Marie says...

      This is so beautiful and moving! Thanks for sharing.

  32. Keeley says...

    I read a post on here a few months back that basically said that the world would be a better, less oppressive place once the baby-boomers and their outdated ideas were gone. I wondered how many other younger people felt that way; it knocked me down for a bit, and I thought about it a lot over the next few weeks. As a widowed, empty-nested 60 year old whose kids and grandkids don’t live nearby, I feel it myself sometimes. I struggle to find myself useful or of value. Thank you for this post and the reminder that life doesn’t end after 60. It is possible to be relevant, useful and productive as we get older.

    • Tenley says...

      Oh Keeley, sending you some love from this 24 year old who is grateful for you and what you bring to the world each day. I think a lot can be said about women handing down wisdom, but as I think about the older women in my life, I realize that they’re also just my friends. Your thoughts and dreams and trial and error are just as important as my less practiced ones, and I’m so glad you see that too!

  33. Annie says...

    I’ll echo all the others in saying that this is the kind of content that has made Cup of Jo my internet haven for well over a decade. Thank you for this.

  34. Jennifer says...

    THIS!! So inspiring! Thanks for writing this piece and including these women. As a mom about to turn 50 this year, I needed to read this. Congrats to these 3 women for their bravery, hard work and determination!

  35. Elisa says...

    Loved this post and NEEDED it. Thank you!

  36. julie says...

    LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I have to chime in that I’ve just (virtual exhibit went live last Friday!!) completed a 2-year full-time diploma in photographic arts and I’m 51. I had stayed home with my kids until they were in high school, and when a chance came to do this program – I jumped. Unexpectedly fun thing: as my teenagers were finishing big projects and writing essays – so was I! and we could commiserate!! I’m also happy to say that in our small class, there were half who were younger than me, and half who were older, and it was such an awesome mix, and we learned a lot from each other! If anyone would like to check us out https://spao.ca/exhibition16 and if you are thinking of doing something similar – just go for it!!

    • Diana says...

      How fantastic! I checked out that virtual exhibition link that you provided and I just loved the shot of that lego collection before organizing and after. It was so satisfyingly to see them organized by color and so interesting to see what I noticed when they were all in the group that had not been organized by color.

  37. CS says...

    Great post. Thanks for sharing these much- needed inspiring stories!

  38. Sarah says...

    This was beautiful. I loved this post so much! One of my favorites on CoJ ever!!

    • Andrea says...

      Agree!

  39. Lalit says...

    That is marvelous!!! They melt my heart and give me hope.

  40. Elizabeth Catlin says...

    YES YES YES!!! We are so limited in seeing what women do after 40 (except in politics and sometimes entertainment) and it is past time to burst out a new narrative with these stories of vision, purpose and adventure! I’m 53 and lucky to have mentors 10-20 years older who are vibrantly living their Third Thirds (a great term for age 60-90). We need to hear more and more!

  41. Samantha says...

    This may be my favorite Cup of Jo post of all time! Thank you for featuring these inspirational women!!

  42. Elizabeth says...

    I was a Peace Corps volunteer right after college (Azerbaijan) and have often dreamed about doing a second time after I retire, so it is so cool to see Gail’s story. I didn’t necessarily relate to the older volunteers when I was a young one but I could see how much they had to offer their communities and how they could relate to a broader range of community members, whereas I struggled to be “respected” by older teachers at my school. I think as a young volunteer, I got more out of the experience than my community did–there might have been a reason why the older teachers didn’t look to me a teaching expert!–so I would love to do it again with more experience and more humility.

  43. J says...

    Go you! Cheering you on from afar <3 <3.

  44. A says...

    What a great article and I love the women and their stories! So inspiring!
    This post made me think about my mother-in-law, who immigrated from India in the early 1970s. She raised two amazing kids, and then when her youngest went off to college, she started a political career, first the school board, eventually becoming one of the first Indian American State Senators , was appointed as an Ambassador in the Obama administration and is now running her own consulting company at age 70. I love to think that we have different life phases, and focusing on one thing in your 30s doesn’t mean you can’t have a totally different experience at another time.

  45. florence says...

    Wow, Evelyn, Sandi, and Gail are so inspiring! Please make this a series! I had a roommate while I did a year of Americorps in NYC. I was 22 and Mary B. was 61. She had raised 4 or 5 kids, and after her dear husband had passed from cancer, she went back to school and got her PhD in Clinical Psychology. And after she retired, she signed up to do year of Americorps where she worked with foster kids. She has since passed, but I’m eternally grateful to have known someone like her. Miss you and love you Mary B!

    • Joey says...

      ❤️

  46. Meggie says...

    I LOVE this! Thank you!

  47. Wonderful post! Please more like this!

  48. Jenny Sze says...

    OMG, these are so inspiring and one of my FAVORITE posts EVER. It’s such a good reminder that it’s never too late, especially with all the languishing I’ve been doing the past year about so many things. Please keep this type of post coming!

  49. Nigerian Girl says...

    I needed this. I needed to read this today for my sanity. Thank you, Cup of Jo.

  50. Beth says...

    Thank you so much for this! I’m 43 and this feeling that I’ve missed out on making big changes and chasing any dreams I may have had has been looming large- especially stuck home during the pandemic trying to keep my family financially and mentally afloat. Please keep showing us women of all ages that inspire! Also- to these women- you rock!

  51. Mallory says...

    Just here to echo all the comments, loved this post and reading about these 3 women, so inspiring, more please!!!

  52. aj says...

    My partner took a circuitous route to where we find ourselves. Sometimes they feel “behind” that they’re just starting their career at 40, just having a baby at 40 – but I remind them that we all take our own pace + there is still so much life still to come. Thank you for this lovely reminder of all we can achieve throughout our lives.

  53. Jess says...

    SUCH an inspiring, needed post…thank you! After a pandemic year of bleh, paired with the upcoming milestone 4-0 birthday…this gives me hope and encouragement!

  54. Dana says...

    HOORAY! Longtime CoJ reader and Gail’s daughter here – thank you Kim for sharing my mom’s story (as well as Evelyn and Sandi – badasses all of you!) and to everyone for the sweet comments. An inspiration for sure. Grateful for this blog and community!

    • Agnès says...

      how cool!!

  55. Rose says...

    THIS is why I’ve returned to Cup of Jo almost every day for about a decade! Thank you.

    I wonder whether we could have more of these kinds of articles. I’m currently looking at a career change after 9 years in academia and stories about mid career changes are thin on the ground once entrepreneurship (not my cup of tea) is excluded.

    • Ivy says...

      A grad school friend/colleague now focuses on helping people with this:
      Fatima Willams, Beyond the Tenure Track. She’s fantastic and inspiring.
      Best of luck.

    • Sam says...

      Rose—SAME! If you include grad school, I’ve been in academia for 10 years this August. I want to move closer to family, but especially after the pandemic, that means a mid career change. I’m a humanities professor. I have loved teaching, but I don’t know what to do with myself outside of the classroom, in what way I’d be valuable, or how to convince anyone else that I am.

      Anyway, cheers! And good luck!

  56. Emma says...

    This is one of my favorite posts EVER! I’m turning 30 later this year and leaving my current field to pursue my dream of becoming a therapist. Seeing so many other women switch careers and accomplish things throughout their entire lifespan has been a huge motivating factor for me to pursue my own dreams. Women are simply the best!

    • Mackenzie says...

      Congrats, Emma! I’m also turning 30 later this year, and also leaving my current field (marketing)–I’m starting an environment- and sustainability-focused master’s program in the fall. Sending good vibes and good luck as you embark on this exciting new chapter!

  57. Mwis says...

    Love this! So inspiring

  58. Meg says...

    This post is exactly what I needed today—thank you! They’re so inspiring. I would love to see more posts like this ❤️

  59. Omaya says...

    This is my favorite post from CoJ ever!

  60. Cece says...

    I love this so much it’s brought me to tears. I feel so bogged down in the world of parenthood right now, and even though I willingly make career and lifestyle compromises to be there for my kids during their early years, it’s so liberating to think that there are so many adventures and opportunities still to come.

  61. Nicole says...

    I loved this post so much! I’m 33 and pregnant for the first time and having a lot of anxiety that I haven’t accomplished enough yet work-wise, haven’t gone to grad school yet and now it will be harder, etc. so this was perfectly timed.

  62. Natalie says...

    Thank you, this is just what I needed to hear. I turned 40 last fall and a lot of self reflection comes with that milestone, especially during a pandemic. I keep telling myself that the only dream I have fulfilled in my life is having a baby, and gosh I love that little girl more than I can express. Being her mama really IS a dream come true. But I do have other dreams and hitting 40 can make one feel like it’s too late. It’s so false! I know that intellectually but emotionally, not so much. These women give me hope that someday soon, I can say to myself “I know I have something to offer.” That hit me hard. I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager and that negative voice in my head always said quite the opposite. It’s time to turn that around. Thanks COJ for always inspiring. I love this community.

  63. Emerald says...

    Thank you very much for this post! I am 42 and have been back in college, starting at the VERY beginning, since last summer. I can only go half-time because I’m also raising two little girls and being a spouse. Honestly, there are days when I look around at all these 18 year old faces (on Zoom) and wonder if they think I’m old and gross or why the heck I’m there. But, I mostly feel so proud of myself and how much I’ve changed this past year. These young women, professors, and advisors have opened up a world for me that I have always been too fearful/not good enough to consider myself welcomed in.

    • Maire says...

      You are an incredible example to your girls! My mom decided to go to college when I was in the 5th grade and I remember how nervous she was that she wouldn’t get in, but how proud she was when she was accepted. She graduated college the same year I graduated high school :)

    • Natalie says...

      Two of my favorite friends in grad school were forty-ish-year-old women. They were so fun and had so much life experience. (Cliche but true!) I thought they were so cool and I loved chatting and hanging out with them.

  64. Katie says...

    Great post! I’ve made some good friends that are 25-30 years older than me. They manage to both ground me and inspire me. Keep stories like this coming!

  65. Allie says...

    Needed this article today.

  66. D.L. says...

    Thanks for writing this inspiring piece. And thanks, too, for helping Cup of Jo to become more age-inclusive. (We “older ages” women still have most of the same concerns/interests/enthusiasms as those of our younger sisters!)

  67. Sarah says...

    LOVE THIS! Would be thrilled to read even more of these types of posts. :) Thank you for putting together such inspiring, encouraging content!

  68. Molly says...

    this is a great post! My mom was such an inspiration to me in this regard. She was a stay-at-home mom of 5 kids who spanned 13 years. When my brother (#5) was in 10th grade, mom went back to school for a degree in marriage and family therapy. She was already “counseling” so many women and couples, but by the time my brother was in college she was able to open her own practice. And it was quite a change from her pre-kids career of being a math teacher. I often feel like I’m not doing enough as a stay-at-home mom of 3. But when I look at her life I am reminded that I most likely have plenty of time ahead of me for another career, and that right now I am fortunate to be able to stay at home with my kids. Thinking about possibilities for the future and all the time I have enables me to be present in the current moment and enjoy time with my young ones.

  69. Janey says...

    LOVE this! Evelyn, Sandi and Gail are inspirational. Life is short and I don’t want to have regrets. Thank you for this

    • Jo says...

      Love this comment.

  70. Julie says...

    This is so wonderful and empowering!!! <3

  71. Rachel says...

    I love this post almost as much as I love the Motherhood Around The World series…and that’s saying something! These kinds of posts just change how I think. Thank you, Kim and COJ, and most of all, thank you Evelyn, Sandi, and Gail!

    • M says...

      Maybe the new series could be called Womanhood across the lifespan or womanhood of all ages

  72. Bridget says...

    I love hearing about the accomplishments of older women. All of those “40 under 40” lists can sometimes make me feel like I missed my chance to go after something big. I had a big career, than had a baby at 43 and decided to stay at home. I’ve just this year returned to part-time work. The job is perfect for now — but I like to think I will still be able to do something I’m passionate about when my daughter is older — even if I’ll be nearly 60 when she begins high school. Saying that makes me feel old — and I like reading things that assure me that there is still room for my “next act”

  73. Jennie says...

    This might be one of my all-time favorite posts. I am tired of the media edging woman out after 30. At 47 I am about to reinvent myself for the umpteenth time, but all of the prior experiences are feeding this moment and I have never felt stronger, or more prepared and energized, for what is next.

  74. Jill says...

    I love this post! I’m only in my 30s, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about women doing great things in their older years. So often in the past I think society has written off older women, but times are changing!

    My aunt is in her fifties and has dedicated her last few decades to raising three (amazing) sons who are nearly all grown up – and now she’s ready to do something bigger for herself. She finds that lots of older women like her are in the same boat of wanting to spread their wings, travel and adventure, and make like-minded friends. So she’s gone and set up her own business, a global homestay community for solo women travellers (sort of AirBnB-meets-Meetup for women aged over 50). I think it’s such a brilliant idea, and I’m so proud of her for bringing it to life. And btw it’s called SisterStay – check it out!! ;)

    • d says...

      What an incredible idea. Thank you for sharing this resource. My mom and MIL will both love this.

  75. Anna Si says...

    Thank you! Thank you! Give us more of this!

  76. Robin says...

    Kim – thank you for this beautifully written piece. These inspiring stories about women celebrating and achieving in later chapters of life reminded me to feel connected and powerful at any age. I truly appreciate coming to A Cup of Jo and finding myself represented. Well done!

  77. Jennifer Steele says...

    I am hoping to finish my degree within the next two years (I am 53), so 41 sounds young to me! You got this!

  78. Candice says...

    Thank you for this, COJ! I came into the job market in the years of Mark Zuckerberg being a sensation for the age at which he was revolutionizing the world. It really clouded my outlook about myself and it took way too long to realise that his story was big because it was the exception, not the norm. I often think about my friends’ moms who spent their 20s/30s/40s raising their kids while also preparing for their futures. A lot of them didn’t do ‘big things’ until later in life.

    I recently stepped back into the working world after 6 years at home with my kids. I had a vision in my mind that I would go back to work with a step-up from where I left it and it worked! It was so incredible to see myself put in the work and find what I was looking for. It made me realize that I have the power to get what I need, and that at 36 I still have so much time to do big things. I’m not sure what those things are but I’m keeping an eye out!

    • Tesia says...

      Candice, your comment is so encouraging! I’ll be looking for a job early next year after also spending 6 years at home with my kids (I’ll be 35 ;) ) and am very excited about it, but also worried that I will have forgotten how “work” goes. Your comment makes me feel a lot more confident that I’ll be able to swim instead of sinking.

  79. Catharine says...

    First of all, congrats to all of these amazing accomplishments!
    This is probably one of my favorite posts of all time here. This really sticks with me, “ because I know I have something to offer in leading people and helping make big decisions.” I am currently eyeing a dual DNP/MPH program, and I know this will not be something I can complete until my mid to late 40s. However, outside of logistical constraints, I believe I will have ripened into my career in a way that I will be able to contribute in a deeper way than I would if I were to pursue this in my 20s.

  80. c says...

    Beautiful and so inspiring! I am 40, a mother of two children, and a lawyer but have wished forever that I had taken another path and become a psychologist and academic. My career just isn’t authentic to who I am but a change has always seemed so far away and impractical but recently, I’ve been thinking about a change. Hearing about other woman who did huge things later in life is so wonderful. Thank you.

  81. Agnès says...

    I LOVE that post! I have so much admiration for all of you guys! And I relate, a lot.
    When I was in my 30s, my partner and I left our settled life for a one year adventure; it was an important envirnmental project but also a long trip in difficult conditions and it was very risky career wise, and money wise. Our friends our age would tell us we were crazy, but ALL our friends who over 60 would tell us absolutely to go for it. I never forgot that.
    I’m 48 and about to start a Master in Creative Writing; I’m scared as hell, but I’m going for it. With age comes confidence and freedom, I can see that in my partner also and there is nothing sexier!

  82. Elizabeth says...

    I LOVE THESE WOMEN SO MUCH.

    I just bought my first house and moved in last weekend. Toddler running around, 7 months pregnant, facing suburbia down. I think it is the right move for us for now but I definitely feel some panic at “is this all there is?!” – thank GOD for these women to remind me no, no, no! There’s so much out there waiting for when I am ready for it!

  83. Lynn says...

    I want to be all three of these women when I grow up! I’m 40 and in a treading-water phase right now. I just need to get to shore.. have a small rest.. and see what else I can do. Thanks for the inspiration!

  84. Heidi says...

    This post is so wonderful. More of this, please. It’s inspiring and encouraging as I approach 40 next year with a heart and brain full of dreams half realised!!

  85. Julie says...

    This is all so inspiring! All of them!

  86. Clare says...

    This is one of the best and most inspiring posts I’ve seen on Cup of Jo – thank you so much for making this 30-something full of hope for future decades!!! Kudos to these three ordinary/extraordinary women on their perseverance and curiosity.

  87. GG says...

    These are wonderful!

    Not related directly, but someone posted about perimenopause the other day and it made me think it would be awesome to get an interview/profile/whatever with everyone’s favorite style icon (mine anyway) Stacey London! She has a new menopause brand called State Of, and she’s just such a wonderful breath of fresh air and honesty every time I see her pop up somewhere. I’m in my mid thirties and not thinking about that phase yet but would love to see it normalized…and obvs I made it clear I love her.

  88. sam says...

    more!

  89. kat says...

    This reminds me of a statement I heard years ago, in regards to a woman making a decision for going back to school. “In ten years, I’ll be 50 no matter what. I can either be 50 with a library degree or not.” I think about it often, esp as I’m about to hit 40. When it comes to change, sometimes there’s all this fretting about the time and effort. But time is passing regardless and I love hearing about these women who got on board.

    • Heather says...

      That’s such a smart way to think of it – I need to store that away!

  90. Meg says...

    This post was SOOO wonderful. Please, please, please make this a reoccurring series ❤️

  91. Cecile says...

    This is such a great post, I am so inspired by these women! I started a new degree a couple of years and will be a junior in the fall, at 41. Some days I am really proud of myself, juggling kids, marriage and classes, and some days I feel pathetic that I am so “behind” and wonder “this is so silly, no one will hire me after I get my degree”. So I definitely appreciated to read about these amazing role models, it’s never too late to learn something new and find who you are!

    • Dee says...

      I just want to chime in here and say: don’t listen to that inner doubter! You aren’t waiting around to see if people will take you seriously after you get your degree, you are going to decide what you want afterwards and make sure you figure out a way to get there! So much more than you think is actually up to you. I went back to college after years of being home then part time work after having my daughter, and it completely changed my life. I found my niche (for now, who knows if this will be it or reinvention mark 3 is round the corner!) So will you!

  92. Alicia says...

    I love this so much!! Thank-you for sharing!!!

  93. Laura says...

    Ugh I just adored this story. What a beautiful reminder that life doesn’t ‘stop’ after any particular age or milestone.

  94. Wendela says...

    Love, love, love this. Thank you! (Growth mindset!). It’s a much better take on life to face the middle and later parts with the mindset that there are still possibilities for adventures and for fulfilling dreams—carrying around the idea that those things are over by mid life is a sure fire way to feel old and hopeless. It’s something I have to fight against now, because I feel completely worn down as a working mother stuck home with no break from any of it during this past year (work used to be a break from the pressures of parenting, and vice versa, but this year it’s just about the opposite—I am always behind in work because there are no boundaries from my parenting obligations, which are greater with everyone home all the time…so there is extra stress on all sides—and I’m one of the lucky ones! I have not lost sight of that, we are able to stay home and have been safe and employed, but it’s exhausting and stressful and makes me feel stuck in the quicksand of middle age). Being reminded of people achieving goals and fulfilling dreams at mid life and later is just what I needed. That, and a vacation!

    • Lia says...

      I see you!!!! In the same boat and feeling the same way! All the joy in both worlds is gone and I just spend my days in survival mode.

    • Angela says...

      Same! My therapist reminded me of all the spaces that were lost to me and how much smaller the world was due to Covid. No more work or public spaces, everything and everyone crammed in at HOME. It’s no wonder the year felt so confining. Thankfully the world is literally opening back up now that I’ve got my 2nd shot!

  95. Jen says...

    Thank you for this! I really needed to hear this today. I’ve been so lucky to be able to be home to home school my kids these past two school years with covid, but it was not the plan. I had been trying to get back into the workforce after some years home raising my kids. As we’re starting to see beyond this pandemic (hopefully, at least in the US), I feel so lost and separated from who I was, and wondering what could possibly be next. Thank you.

  96. Abbey says...

    YES! I love this so so much. So many great lines in here: “that’s what it’s all about — the feeling of being free”… “be scared, but do it while you’re scared” … “what’s out there in the world? … you can do way more than you think you can.” These women are brilliant. I love them.

    I just started a master’s program (online) and I’m 39. I was surprised and delighted to find that about half my classmates are older than me, a few of them retirees. The value of experience they bring to the discussions is immeasurable. The richness of our class dynamic is increased so much by people who decided to go for it, without letting ideas about age and its limitations hold them back.

  97. Teresa says...

    I love this! I agree that this topic should be a series. I was so busy in my 30’s building my career, raising little kids, trying to save money, etc that it was hard to imagine another life possible, let alone the energy to pursue one! Now I am 46 and my third (and last) baby is about to start high school. Even with a full time job, I find that I have more time on my hands than ever before, and I am anxious to figure out what to do with it!

    Also I would definitely welcome more stories about being middle aged and aging gracefully. I would love to see fashion posts featuring normal women (i.e. not models) in their 40’s and 50’s who choose to have grey hair. I feel like instagram is saturated with “silver sisters” in their 30’s. While it is wonderful to see so many women accepting their early grey, I would love to be inspired by women who embrace their grey and look stylish even if they have a few wrinkles!

  98. Debbie Labedz says...

    Just want to say that I LOVE this article so much!

  99. Jillian L. says...

    This put the biggest smile on my face!

  100. em says...

    I LOVE this. in our society, we give too much glory to being young and lack appreciation for the wisdom, maturity, and strength that come with age. thank you, thank you.

  101. Kati says...

    I loved these stories so much, and they obviously inspired so many people based on the comments! I am afraid what I say next will be too much of a downer, but this story comes the same week that our 62 year old neighbor suddenly passed away with no warning and no known cause of death. She was healthy and active and then one day her body just…turned off. These things fit together in my mind with the theme: Live The Life You Want to Live, NOW. You’re “old” but want to be an athlete? DO IT. You’re mid-30s with little kids but want to travel? DO IT. Life is so precious and fleeting and there’s just no time to waste. Our neighbor’s husband said he is so happy they didn’t wait to live their lives until they retired – they traveled and gardened and did all the things. WE HAVE TO DO THE THINGS!

  102. Meg says...

    Evelyn’s comment “I know I have something to offer” was so striking for me. I have a very hard time saying those words for myself and it is so wonderful to hear another woman say them. It is a phrase I’ll be meditating on all day. Thank you for sharing these beautiful stories!

  103. E says...

    I want more of these lists instead of “30 under 30” lists! Love seeing people do what they want regardless of age

    • Brittany says...

      E, I love the idea of “40 over 40” lists!

      This is one of my favorite posts. Thank you, and more, please!

  104. Christina says...

    So inspiring! I always wanted to either study or work abroad, and that was my mother’s wish for me too. Then she got sick when I was barely 20 and there was nothing to do but let go of my dreams. Now here I am, 40+ with 3 teenagers and a feeling that life ran away and left me behind. I really loved reading this today. Thank you!

  105. Ruth says...

    Thank you for this post! These women are incredible and give those of us how are hanging out in the middle, wondering if we’re getting stuck, hope that we can always make our own way.

  106. Kim says...

    Thank you for this! I am 44 and about to leave my job as a college professor to be a full-time homeschool mom for the next decade or so. I’m excited for this time with my family, but I’ve been having a bit of an identity crises this week–who will I be when my son is grown and I haven’t worked for ages?

    This reminds me that the road is long and I will be able to find new and wonderful things at every stage of my life.

    I second (or third) that this would make a wonderful series!

  107. Julieta says...

    I have been a long time lurker of the blog and have never commented. I loved these stories! It really made me feel like you can ‘start over’ whenever you put your mind to it, and that 40 years old is not really that old. Congrats on the great content you put on the blog, I really enjoy it!

  108. Kara says...

    Thank you for this! I’m at a point in my life where I am immersed in the daily rhythms of work and parenting young children and boring home maintenance activities, like figuring out how to change the furnace filter. I chose all of it and (most days) love all of it, but sometimes the scope of my life feels… small. It’s so inspiring to hear stories of people who accomplish big things later in life. My own parents have really bloomed in retirement – they exercise, ski, go on road trips, bake fancy cakes, take online classes from our local university. It’s a nice reminder that just because I don’t have time for things like that now, it doesn’t mean I won’t have time again eventually.

  109. A says...

    I have been dealing with some physical issues (migraines, arthritis) that have made me feel a lot older than 37, and have sidelined me from my interests. This post gave me hope. Thank you.

  110. Rachel says...

    Love this SO much! It’s never too late!

  111. fgb says...

    What a bunch of badasses! Thank you for sharing these stories.

  112. Emily says...

    I love love love this post. I’m 36 but pretty much my whole life have felt like I’ve missed out or been too late for things. I do fairly well in my career, but feel like I should be light years ahead of where I am – I see all my younger friends killing it and wonder what happened to me that I didn’t progress at the same rate. I’m about to have my first baby and am so grateful for other “older” moms that are in the same age bracket when most of my other friends started much earlier. It’s so easy to see your life flash by and not feel like you accomplished anything. I LOVE stories of people making changes later in life and make me believe that anything is possible.

  113. Karen says...

    Love this. I’m 51. I had a baby at 43 so now I’m caring for my mom with ovarian cancer and taking care of a 7 year old boy. Just a few days ago I was looking up the Peace Corp to see if there were any age limits. I’d always wanted to do it and life got in the way. It’s great to see an older couple who did it.

    • NH observer says...

      Karen, any chance you might be interested in speaking with a fellow older mother (first/only child at 41, also seven years old now) who is also now facing family medical issues? If so, I wonder if there’s some way for us to connect via CofJ?

    • Agnès says...

      I’m with you guys! I’m 48 with a 7 year old, I’m the mother with grey hair! I can see younger parents have so much more energy and help from their own parents… My parents are too old to take care of my kids. I would not change anything though, and I feel an inmediate link with parents my age. Could that be a topic for a future post?

    • Maya says...

      I love this whole post and all the comments! I had my first child at 37 and my second (and last) child at 41. I love hearing from other women who had their children slightly late in life. I turn 50 this summer, and my youngest is only 8-years old. Stories like these remind me of all the things I want to do in the next decade and beyond. When my children graduate from HS, I’ll be nearly 60 years old, and my husband will be 62. Sometimes it feels a little daunting! I would love to see more articles/posts on CoJ about older mothers. Thanks!

  114. Ashleigh says...

    Thank you so much for doing the work to share this with us. I am so inspired and uplifted.

  115. Amy says...

    This is so beautiful! Thank you Evelyn, Sandi, and Gail. You have inspired me today!

  116. Laura says...

    Wow, so inspiring!!!

  117. Andrea says...

    Yea, this was awesome! So inspiring. I’d love to read a long form post on any of these badass women!

  118. Carole says...

    This is so inspiring!! It’s quite a dreary day here where I live and we’re still on quite a lockdown and this is really the joy I needed today! It’s never too late! Thank you CoJ team :)

  119. Hannah says...

    Love it! Thank you for featuring these bold accomplishments. Life is long and women still have much to do!

  120. Steph says...

    Wonderful! I just turned 50 and it feels like a momentous marker. I’m a late bloomer as well – after having lots of different jobs I finished grad school at 40 and had a baby. Now I’m catching up on math because I want to get another degree when my son is in high school. Age is a state of mind!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That is awesome, Steph!

  121. katie says...

    This post is everything! Thank you so much Kim and contributors!!

    I’m 41. I’ve worked at the same company (although there have been a couple buy-outs and a move from FL to IL) since graduating college in December 2002. OMG, 18 years. I do well. I’m respected. I’m comfortable. I’m good at my job. I met my husband here. Although burnout comes a lot faster now than it used to.

    I often wonder, what else? Do I want to do this for the next 20 years, until I retire? Am I motivated enough to keep doing a good job and advancing in this career? I’m not a rock the boat kind of person. This piece truly makes me think. So, thank you.

  122. MRM says...

    Wow, ok. This is amazing. It makes my heart swell hearing about these bad ass people. Thank you. It is also the *second* thing that brought me to tears today. (In case you’re interested, the first thing was this NYT article about cellists playing music for cows: https://nyti.ms/3nurFcD)

    • Maddie says...

      This article is an absolute delight, thank you! I usually skim articles but I read every word on this one and then sent it to my whole family. :)) My cello loving heart is so full now and I just turned on Dvorak – it’s going to be a good morning!

  123. BeckyB says...

    I’m CRAVING these stories! Please please please do more! Can you make it a series??

    At 41, after nearly a decade of being a stay-at-home to three kids, I’m on the precipice of a major life transition. I don’t have answers yet, just a lot of questions. Reading these narratives empowers me to push through the discomfort of the unknown.

    • Caroline says...

      Becky, buy “what color is your parachute” and do the flower activity. Really give it time (multiple days, weeks, months) and you can gloss over some of the other stuff. It helped me, at 30, realize my depression was not COVID or being a single parent or inherently me, but that I have a career that is fundamentally not for me (I don’t talk to anyone all day, and WCIYP helped me identify my favorite skills in other jobs have been teaching, tutoring, and communication in person). It helps just clear the fog a bit, and I’m making the jump (back) into teaching in 2022-2023 and leaving behind this lucrative career that I just plain don’t like and isn’t for me and that’s okay!
      Good luck! Keep exploring!

  124. Rachel says...

    Thank you thank you thank you for this:) I really needed to hear Evelyn’s amazing story today. I am a 33 yr old mom of two young children trying to return to school and get my nursing degree. I finished my prereqs, took entrance exams, and applied to start a program in fall 2021, but due to Covid-related reasons (financial, lack of childcare, stress, uncertainty) I am delaying my return. I have felt really defeated the past few weeks, but Evelyn’s story is a beautiful reminder that I can and will still achieve my goal. Bonus connection: my youngest daughter’s name is Evelyn too:) Thank you for the motivation!

    • Kate says...

      I am so proud of you, Rachel! I just started a grad school program at the age of 35 and I’m 13 years older than almost all of my classmates. I was working full time while sloooowly taking my prereqs, one or two classes a year for about 6 years. You can TOTALLY do this, and this complete stranger is cheering you on from the Midwest. You got this!

    • Caroline says...

      You will get there, you will. A stranger on the internet (me!) told you so, so it must be true, too!

    • Jo says...

      Hello fellow mid-30s woman going back to school for a nursing degree! I am still working through my pre-reqs but should be ready to apply this time next year. I finally went for it after realizing I’d been telling myself “I’m too old” for so long that I could have completed the whole damn process three times over. I just want to say that I can imagine how defeating this setback must feel, and at the same time I hope it will feel like a mere bump in the road when you’re an RN looking back on the process. Completing pre-reqs and passing entrance exams while raising kids is evidence that you’re tough and awesome. You can do it!

  125. Laura says...

    These are all amazing, but Sandi’s retelling of these moments made me burst into tears. I have young kids right now, and I love my life but I also find myself looking forward to a moment in the future when I can be just mine again, and I can surprise myself. Sandi, you gave me hope! Raising a cup (of coffee–haha!) to you.

  126. S says...

    Wow so inspiring! I especially loved Sandi’s story – maybe because I’m also a speech therapist and know what it’s like to take care of people all the time – but I also just loved the part where she rolled down the windows, cranked the music and savored life!! Thanks for these wonderful stories of life well lived!

  127. Lindsey says...

    This is amazing. I’m turning 31 soon and for the past few months I’ve been feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything, and that I’m wasting my life. This is so inspiring.

  128. Sara B says...

    What a great reminder that we can still do big things no matter our age. I live in Arvada, CO and I was pleasantly surprised to see my hometown listed here!

  129. SJ says...

    Wow, this is one of the most inspirational posts I’ve read on COJ. I turned 29 in February and I’ve been feeling like my golden years are slowly fading. I guess I’ve hit a mid-life crisis of some sort. I’m signed up to run in my first half-marathon this Saturday, and throughout the week I’ve been going in and out about whether or not I’ll actually go. On my morning walk, I decided to commit and I feel Sandi’s story is another confirmation.

  130. Scarlett says...

    Triathlon has always stirred something inside me! That and starting/working a CSA. When I graduated high school I went right into college because that’s what you were supposed to do, and I got a job right away in a field that I’m not passionate in because it was “safe” and again, just what you’re supposed to do. Then I got married and had 2 babies so my desires have definitely been put on hold for the forseeable future. I love my spouse, my children, and my life but I definitely feel like something is missing. It’s so reassuring to see that it won’t be like this forever!

  131. Sarah says...

    This 34-year-old is feeling so inspired that I am moved to tears! It’s crazy that 34 can feel too late to make a big change. These women are incredible! Please feature more women who are doing big things (and little things in a big way) later in life, I’m in desperate need of their wisdom.

  132. Denise says...

    This was so needed. I just spent the weekend weeping about my mid-life prospects and these women are all inspiring. How do they find the energy though? My lack of energy is appalling. As always, Kim, you’re a fantastic writer. I always love your pieces.

  133. Jess says...

    EVELYN, SANDI, GAIL!

    You ladies are killing it. Thank you for inspiring a 30 year old on a dreary Thursday afternoon.

    xx J

  134. Janine says...

    This was so inspiring! At 34, and working from home part time to stay with my babies, I’m rethinking career paths, but often feel too old to get going. These women’s stories really gave me the kick in the pants I needed to not be resigned the career I started with and set off on a new path.

    Thank you, Kim, and thanks to these lovely ladies!

    • Sarah says...

      Janine, I just wrote a similar post before I read yours. I’m another 34-year-old with a baby who is thinking about a big (possibly irresponsible) career change. It’s so scary! You’re not alone!

  135. Johanna says...

    Hooray for this! And also hooray for the increased visability of over-20 women in the media (Grace and Frankie, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Gloria Bell).

    So many of the role-models and stories I grew up carried an implicit message that “happy-ever-after” should be achieved by around 28 (typically with a marriage and baby). It’s so limiting, pressuring and a bit depressing!

    It’s so inspiring to examples of people continuing to lead rich, multi-layered lives full of growth and exploration. I’m excited for more age-diversity in blogs, magazines, movies and TV.

    • Johanna says...

      Adding to say: may we all be neither late bloomers nor early bloomers, but perennials.

      Each season a new stage.

    • Willow says...

      Johanna I love this. Hurrah for being a perennial! That is my aim in life-but I didn’t have such a nice way of expressing it until I read your comment.

  136. Tricia says...

    This may be my favorite article yet on CupOfJo, and that’s saying a lot! These women are so inspiring and made me teary-eyed. Like many new moms, I’ve had to recalibrate and reprioritize, which in my case has meant taking an indefinite career break while we get our son through a revolutionary program to put his severe food allergies in remission. Hitting “pause” on work is a decision I grapple with every day, with my brain playing mean tricks on me to convince me I’m running out of time to pursue my own ambitions. It’s wonderful to hear how these women have found their passion and run with it, age be damned. Bravo!

    • Julie says...

      Hi Tricia,
      I can relate – I put my career on hold after having my first who also had pretty severe food allergies – and have yet to go back, many years later.
      There is so much hope for you and your little one! My son outgrew almost all of his allergies over the years (he’s 8 now) and the one he didn’t outgrow (peanut), we were able to successfully treat with Oral Immune Therapy (OIT). Not sure if this is the program you are talking about, but if it is, it works!!!!
      All the best to you!

  137. Charlotte says...

    Thank you Kim for sharing these women’s stories! I would love to see more on COJ from women who can share the wisdom of years. We all know how media paints women falling off a proverbial cliff once they pass their 40s, which, as these women show, isn’t at all the case. Of course, this kind of hyper focus on younger years is damaging because it ignores the power and maturity of age, but It ALSO drives me nuts because (at 31) I struggle to picture what my life will look like once I phase out of my youth! Sharing these stories gives me a glimpse into all of the joy and possibility the future holds. And thank you to Evelyn, Sandi and Gail for modeling how to be brave and bold :)

  138. Leah says...

    I love these.. so inspiring. Especially during the relentless sahm years when I dream of doing something for me again one day in the very far future.

  139. Sam says...

    These stories are amazing and so inspiring! We need so much inspiration in this season on life to keep us going and to give us hope for what comes next. Thank you ladies for sharing and for being such absolute rockstars!!!

  140. Rose says...

    This is fantastic! At 28, I’ve been feeling “old” a lot during the pandemic, since my social and recreational life has been so limited and I haven’t been able to take much advantage of the good parts of being young (ish!), single and unattached. I constantly moan on the phone to my mom that I’m wasting my youth! This is such a good inspiration and so motivating that life is long (if we’re lucky!) and there’s so much ahead. Also I have been enjoying all of Kim’s recent articles so much–she tells stories in such an inviting and engaging way, whether from her own life, or in conversation with others. Thank you Kim!

  141. EJ says...

    I needed to read this. I’m starting to feel like I’m approaching workplace irrelevance at the age of 42 and stories of women pursuing more/different/better in the later stages of a career always fill me up.

    • MeMe says...

      Yes! A “project” at work I’ve spent 8 years working on is abruptly ending and I needed to hear some of these stories. It gives me hope and reminds me that I have to push on and seek what could make me happy going forward.

  142. Sage says...

    Right on, to all these women. “You can do way more than you think you can.” Absolutely this, a thousand times over. All the people you see doing things, changing things, creating things, are normal people.

    Want to add, you should also try things even if you’re *never* “good” at it, even if you DO suck at defending your thesis or you NEVER win your age group, etc etc – so long as you enjoy it and feel like you’re growing. :)

    • Kate says...

      Very true!! This is great advice – I joined an Ultimate Frisbee rec league a few years ago and was truly terrible (skills have improved somewhat over time haha) but I don’t mind and just loooove playing so much!!!

    • Amy says...

      A very important addition! Just getting yourself to the place where you’re ready to try almost means more, regardless of the outcome.

  143. B says...

    the strength of these women !!!! F YEAH. thanks, Evelyn, Sandi, and Gail, for sharing your stories, and Kim for bringing them to COJ <3

  144. Maggie says...

    WOW! Just what I needed to read today and to remember for tomorrow and all the days to come. This was so inspiring and real. Thank you for finding these strong, motivated women who are terrific examples of how to live.

  145. Kate says...

    These stories are so inspiring! I know someone who immigrated from Palestine and started her university degree at the age of 34, with the goal of becoming a doctor. She made it happen, and I often think of her and remind myself, “There is so much more life ahead” when I feel like setting out for a goal might take too long. My friend’s mom went to law school in her 50s after all the kids moved out. I think the neatest thing about these stories is that there might be an uncomfortable idea about being the oldest person in the class, at the gym, in the volunteer group and not fitting in but honestly that’s no barrier at all, you can make friends at across age groups and the younger people are usually so enamoured with and inspired by the older folks they meet in these settings.

    • Julia says...

      Thank you so much for this inspiring article.
      I’m a survivor of child trafficking, child pornography and incest and I’m 34 now. Raising three kids and working super hard in therapy so I can be the best mom for them. But, my life was stolen from me, I recently discovered i have an iq of 165 and it explains why I’ve always felt different, it also makes me realise even more that I had so much potential and it just was crushed.
      It feels like I have so much catching up to do, so much opportunities and possibilities but sometimes I feel so overwhelmed because I feel ‘to old’ to start anything or get an education.
      But these stories help me get my focus back. Even if someone’s trying to break you, you can still come back stronger and fulfil your goals and get a life. I deserve a life and an education because I’m worthy and smart. Thank you for this, it’s making me want to fight even more.

  146. Britt says...

    Love these stories! And Kim’s writing :)

  147. B. says...

    Long-time reader and first-time commenter here: I LOVED this post, SO much. The older I get, the more it can feel like doors are closing, and it’s so inspiring to hear stories of women achieving big and different things at a point when conventional paths would say it’s too late or not possible. A reminder not to feel limited! Thank you!

  148. kelly says...

    How wonderful! I too am a late bloomer. Next year I will go back to school (for the 3rd time) to finish my bachelor in Psychology and then on to my masters to become a lic therapist. Although I’ll be a therapist in the back half of my life, it feels like it’s exactly where I should be. Thanks for sharing.

  149. Heather says...

    Oh wow these are really amazing. Especially at a time when I feel so deep in the thick of life with little kids and big questions about jobs and how can we retire (in the far distant future) – this is so inspiring. I teared up reading each one thinking that one day I might do more things for myself again and who even knows what it will be?!

    This is such a good topic and what a wonderful way to start the day!

  150. Rupa says...

    Love these reflections! So moving and encouraging to live a full, bold, purposeful life.