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 40 Over 40 for 2023
Tara McMilin



"Live from a place of deliberate love...starting with loving yourself. Nourish the ties with those who see you and value who you are. SHINE so those around you may be inspired to do the same! Absorb every moment of life at all stages!"

AGE: 60

PROFESSION: Educator/Actor/Director/Aspiring Writer/Retired English & Theatre Teacher

What is the best thing about being your age?

I love that, at this enlightened, mature age, (tee-hee) I have internalized the freedom of being unashamedly, transparently, and authentically who I am without the imagined necessity of impressing anyone–which means I can see and appreciate others more clearly, too!


Another blessing of being at this stage in life is the lack of pressure to succeed. That doesn’t mean that I no longer create and achieve; it simply means the demand is absent, and I have the flexibility of schedule to explore uncharted territory (a.k.a. bucket list stuff) and creative expression. I have time to focus on myself: my health, my interests, my spirituality, my family, my friends—I am able to address, in a balanced way, all domains of my wellbeing. I get to visit and assist others because required work isn’t filling 10-15 hours of my daily calendar.


An especially beautiful bonus of being the age I am now is enjoying the company of my adult children and their partners. What a privilege!

What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?

In a word: LOSS. I suppose that loss, in its many various forms, is the hardship all of humanity must endure as we age and experience existence in this realm. Fortunately, pain from loss has come relatively late in my life. While I grew up the eldest child of a young, single mom, never knowing my father, I was an optimistic sort, who kept my eye on the blessings rather than the hardships of life. I saw the best in everyone and everything–I habitually found the roses among the thorns. I even found spiritual meaning and strength in the loss of my middle child–my stillborn daughter–and counseled and comforted others who had lost children.


It’s only been in the last ten years or so that LOSS has begun to sting deeply and cause profound pain: loss of my partner of 33 years (divorce followed by their death), loss of celebratory ceremonies due to Covid, loss of homes, and loss of several close friends to various traumatic events (cancer, heart attacks, accidents, disease). Also, in 2020, someone for whom I cared deeply had a mental health condition and the manifestations of their state of being negatively impacted their relationships in our community--including our personal connection. Circumstantially, I lost some of my innocent faith and trust in the good intentions of people. Admittedly, I’m now a bit disenchanted. That hurts.


I believe, though, that all hardship can strengthen us and equip us to empathetically serve others. As we say in theatre: use it! Losing (people, places, prosperity) is a reminder to be present in each moment and to boldly embrace loved ones.

What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?

One favorite bucket list adventure that was achieved in December 2019, just before Covid hit, is taking my sons to NYC for a Broadway extravaganza. Forthcoming: skydiving and writing/publishing.

What is your most treasured possession?

Possession? Hmm. I feel like anything I own is really temporary (and not really mine), yet if I were to pick anything at all it would be my file of love notes from my sons, my students & their families, my lovers, and my friends. Any other items would be gifts from loved ones because of who and what they represent.


What is your greatest extravagance?

Occasional massage, professional hair care once every 3-6 months, periodic meals out, Farmers' Market shopping, attending a show as a paying patron (rather than a performer or volunteer).

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

While just being alive, with its ups and downs, brings contentment. Happiness comes in moments. Here are some of my favorite moments of happiness:

*Giving birth to my children and nursing them!

*Rainy afternoons playing board games with family or friends.

*Philosophical conversations with my grown sons.

*The sound of applause from a standing audience while I’m downstage center.

*Long, deep, belly laughs with loved ones—the kind that make us snort and lose our breath.

*Productivity and accomplishment: checking all the boxes on my To-Do list. *Watching a movie with my sweetheart and pausing to comment/discuss/explicate.

*Girls’ night out!

*Witnessing my sons’ accomplishments and performances.

What is a trait you are most proud of?

I am proud of my positive perseverance and my interpersonal skills.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

While I like to think I have the ability/power to change almost anything about myself, I have struggled to overcome hereditary chronic pain. It sucks! I’m doing all I can to treat it…

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

*Facilitating the growth and creative intelligence of my children (i.e. raising them).

*Completing my graduate degrees.

*Fulfilling my career in education.

*Sharing my theatrical skills on stage, radio, and in film.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Listen. Observe. Know that everyone is dealing with something and treat everyone equally–including yourself. No one deserves less or more than another. Trust the process. Trust the universe. Boldly believe in yourself without apology. Go for the crazy opportunities that come to you through the open doors of your youth because reason and logic will be there waiting when you’re done with your adventure. Have FUN with everyone and everything! Respond rather than react…and let it always be from a place of deliberate love.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

"What we vividly imagine, ardently desire, and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass." (Colin P. Sisson)

"80% of success is just showing up." (Woody Allen)

"This, too, shall pass." (Neither the bad, nor good, moments in life ever last indefinitely).

“Friends are God’s life preservers.”

Words of wisdom to younger women…

*Save the heels for photographs & special moments; they’re not meant for walking. Your feet will thank you later in life.

*Move decisively based on intuition rather than from outside pressures.

*Be authentically YOU without trying to please others.

*Get to know your talented inner muse and let her out. Everyone benefits from your art, especially you!

*Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t; practice thanking rather than complaining.

*Nourish the ties with those who see you and value who you are.

*Love yourself! When you shine, those around you may be inspired to do the same!

Additional thoughts about aging…

When my children were growing up, I was intensely cherishing every moment I had with them knowing that they wouldn't be in my home forever; now, I'm intensely cherishing every moment that I have remaining on this earth, knowing that I won't be here forever. I guess the lesson is: absorb every moment of life at all stages!


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