50 OVER 50 PROJECT FOR 2021

23

Wendy Thompson

Age: 62

Director - Young Writers Program, Mentor - New Teachers Project, Teacher, Life Long Learner.

"Aging is an adventure. I have to laugh at myself sometimes about how much I worried about the little things in the past. The older I get, the more capable I am of letting go of these things. Then I go to the beach. So find your perfect place and go there as much as possible, wrinkles and all. Love as much as you can."

Wendy Thompson

What is the best thing about being your age?

I am more comfortable in my own skin, and I accept and love myself and the decisions I make more easily. I also now know how to say NO, if I need to, most of the time.

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

I lost both of my parents when I was a young adult - it was heart-wrenching, but it did make me more self-sufficient. I have lost friends unexpectedly, and have been devastated, but I took it as a sign for my own life to change direction. One of them was my friend Diana’s death, which shook me and made me look at my own life choices and transform them for the better.

What is your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?

See the zipline poem below. Yes, the smallest action, like grabbing the zipline, has changed the course of my life and subsequent actions. More adventures are coming soon.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness, on a personal level, would be that the people that I love are healthy and happy, and able to maneuver through the tough times in their lives. Then, elevating this question to a more global perspective, I would love to have people throughout the world recognize the power of compromise - that would bring me perfect happiness.

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

Now that I am over 60, I find fewer traits that I would like to change. One thing that I know would be a positive change for me would be to stop worrying so much. I am slowly learning how to breathe in and out of my anxieties and find joy in the small things.

What is your most treasured possession?

My most treasured possessions are my health and my ability to connect with children, especially through the lens of writing. We must guide them towards the belief that they can be the conduits for change. I also love my pearl jewelry collection!

What is a trait you are most proud of?

Tenacity - I really, really, really don’t give up on the projects, beliefs and people that I believe in and care about.

What do you most value in your friends?

True friends are not easy to come by, but I have been gifted with many throughout my life. What I value most in them is their truth-telling, their consistency and their transparency. No game playing, no back-stabbin; no one has time for that. I am so glad that I have my support system that I can freely laugh and cry with.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

"You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

– Glinda, the Good Witch, from The Wizard of Oz

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt What advice would you give your younger self?

Wendy, you are beautiful, strong and intelligent. You can stand strong in your beliefs and make your needs clear. Navigate the hard times into your own happiness. Trust that it will lead to the happiness of those around you.

Words of wisdom for younger women

Grab your zipline and don’t let go! Zipline: a Metaphor Over and over again, ruled by fear of judgement It takes on a life of its own Separate from the mind, gripping the heart and lungs The decision a disappointment, another failure, another-- She just can’t do that. Over and over again, stifled by embarrassment and shyness Femaleness is a detriment, her voice tiny. Feeling silenced, needing to step into the fray But the quicksand of her overthinking brain Leaves her sinking, sinking, sinking. Over and over again, stalled possibilities Present themselves for her to grab and run with The shifting of priorities so slow, until a shaky choice Was held on to, not quite turned away from -- She just may be able to do that. Over and over again, listening but not hearing The cinches tighten but the safety is not felt She steps out of the difficulty and sits alone With her weakness - it still Leaves her breathless with regret. Over and over again, balancing across the swinging bridge Mild nausea moving up through the body This time the ladder, narrow and tall Beckons and invites her success - and this time - She is able to do that. Over and over again, dizzy and lightheaded Determined now to grip the cleat hard Last time to tighten the cinches And step off into the green mass, life’s abyss Leaves her cleansed and strong. Over and over again, laughing and screaming in joy The freedom coming to her like a song Exhilaration, independence belongs to her Fear gone, pride replacing it - She is all that, at last. -August 2021

Additional Thoughts on aging...

One thing that I think is really important to know about aging is that it is an adventure. I have to laugh at myself sometimes about how much I worried about the little things in the past. The older I get, the more capable I am of letting go of these things. Then I go to the beach. So find your perfect place and go there as much as possible, wrinkles and all. Love as much as you can.

Wendy Thompson
Wendy Thompson