Here’s something wonderful: In the 1950s, ABC aired a show called Life Begins at 80. The show featured a rotating panel of men and women in their eighties. In each episode, the panel would answer questions sent in by viewers, and would talk about how great it is to be eighty or older. Don’t you just love that?
In that spirit, here are three stories of amazing folks who prove that life can, indeed, begin anew at any time, regardless of how many candles are on your birthday cake.
At Age 65, Arkansas Man Becomes Successful Entrepreneur
Jim Butenschoen, 65, of Springdale, Arkansas, was fed up with the corporate world. After spending more than two decades in the IT industry, he wanted to go into business for himself. And so he opened the Career Academy of Hair Design starting with just six employees. Now, eight years later, he has thirty-two employees at four establishments!
“Despite all the ups and downs, I have never done anything more satisfying,” he says.
At Age 72, Woman Has Been Backpacking the World for 10 Years
Meet Sherill, a true nomad. In an interview with the travel blog Nomadic Matt, Sherill says: “At 62, with the kids out of the house and the husband gone, I cleaned out my life and packed up what was left in a Plymouth Voyager van with my cats and two tents (I could not decide which one I wanted), and I headed south from Tacoma, Washington, to Mexico. The plan was to camp on the beaches for the winter and figure out the rest on the way. Ten years, later I am still traveling.”
So inspiring! You can read the rest of Sherill’s interview here.
At Age 103, Grandmother Gets Her First Tattoo
This story is undoubtedly my favorite. At age 103, Dorothy Pollack, of Muskegon, Michigan, went to AWOL Custom Tattooing with her granddaughter and crossed an item off her bucket list: her first tattoo. The tattoo is a little frog, and the parlor did the artwork for free. Afterwards, Dorothy decided to take her first ride on the back of a motorcycle.
She says that the key to a long life is keeping busy.
You can see pictures of Dorothy and read more about her on SunnySkyz.com
I hope these stories inspired you as much as they did me! What are some things you’d like to be doing when you’re seventy, eighty, ninety and beyond?
Okay, I admit it, sometimes I am a sucker for making up words. The term “bibliolit” came to me about three years ago, while I was enjoying my umpteenth read of Diane Setterfield’s exquisite novel The Thirteenth Tale. It occurred to me that “books about books” make up a uniquely wonderful genre which, at the time, was not being given enough credit, and which had never even been given an official designation. So, I indulged myself and came up with the term “bibliolit,” meaning stories about the love of reading.
Biblio – relating to a book or books
lit – short for “literature”
You heard (read) it here, first. 😉
I’m collecting a list of these books on Amazon. If you’d like to browse, you can find it here: Bibliolit (books about books). And if I’ve missed any, please let me know! In the meantime, here are a few bibliolit novels that have been special to me:
The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield
Bibliolit novels are not always romances. The book I mentioned above, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2007), is a mystery of the human spirit. I loved this book so much that I own it in paperback, on Kindle, and in audiobook.
Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of gothic strangeness—featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman
In the past few years, we have seen a delightful rise in the popularity of bookish romances. The first, and most famous, was probably The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman (2019). I loved this book so much I wanted to live in it. (Note: it’s currently on sale on Kindle for only $1.99, so this is a good time to pick up a copy!)
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is more than a little discombobulated. It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.
The Lost and Found Bookshop, by Susan Wiggs
This year, the otherwise-grinchy 2020 gifted us with Susan Wiggs’s lovely novel The Lost and Found Bookshop. Although I have enjoyed all of Ms. Wiggs’s books, this feels like a special treasure. I know I will read it again and again.
In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls, to discovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart.
Eighteen months after Autumn Divac’s husband goes missing, Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort working alongside her mother and aunt at their bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a huge life change and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into the boy who stole her heart in high school, old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.
The Bookshop on the Corner, by Jenny Colgan
An earlier, and utterly charming, example of biliolit romance is The Bookshop On the Corner by Jenny Colgan. (2016) This one is a special favorite of mine, because it combines a love of books with my dream of a tiny house on wheels. (The protagonist doesn’t live in her van, but she does fix it up beautifully, and makes it into a place in which any bookish girl would love to dwell.) This is the first book in Ms. Colgan’s Scottish Bookshop Series. I can’t wait to read books two and three!
Determined to make a new life for herself, London librarian Nina Redmond moves to a sleepy Scottish village. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile — a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.
And what about you? Do you enjoy reading “books about books“? What are some you’d recommend? ❤️
We all feel trapped sometimes. Sometimes it’s because we’re in an off-kilter relationship, or stuck at a job we don’t like, or just because we have bills to pay and our time is not our own. The song “Wildflowers” was made for those situations, when the walls close in and the way gets dark. And so, my friends, here is some wisdom from the great Tom Petty, who gifted us with the universal truth: that you belong somewhere you feel free. ❤️