Editor's Letter: Reinventing Myself by the Decade

Lesley Jane Seymour on finding inspiration to get more out of life

by Lesley Jane Seymour
lesley jane seymour image
Photograph: Melanie Acevedo

There is definitely something about major birthdays that causes me to stop and take stock. I remember, for example, having a tsunami-ish change of emotional heart during my 30th year. Though I’d been 100 percent sure up to then that I wanted to be nothing but a career girl (husband? Quelle horreur! Kids? Ick!), my biological clock began bonging like Big Ben, and I suddenly craved permanence and a connection that went beyond splitting the cost of a $15 toaster with my roommate, Jeff. Plus, I wanted an answer to the question “Is this all there is?” Jeff and I wed a year later, and three years after that, JJ was born. I quickly discovered that kids aren’t so icky after all, though I remember likening my post-baby life to a neatly packed handbag that had been turned upside down and shaken violently until every last crumb, paper clip and balled-up tissue came tumbling out. When Lake was born four years later, I felt as if fate were challenging me: “Go ahead, just try to put it all back in that handbag. I dare you!”

My forties were spent on the Starship Enterprise, traveling at warp speed. Jeff and I both had demanding jobs, a growing family and almost no time to breathe, much less talk. Each Monday morning I felt as if I were poised at the starting line of an Olympic marathon. The gun would go off, and I would sprint until Friday. On Saturday, glass of wine in hand, I would ask myself, Where did the week go? Along the way there were parent-teacher conferences, exercise classes, recitals, baseball tryouts and lots of laughter. My life was full; I was just moving too quickly to appreciate it.

When I turned 50, I put the brakes on. I could see that I was no longer at the beginning of my Facebook timeline; in fact, I was more than halfway through it! Time to shuck the energy-sapping half-friends and concentrate on the keepers. My children began to explore their own lives, and I got to read books again (yeah!), experiment with new hobbies (seed-to-table gardening, anyone?) and reconnect with people and places I thought I’d left behind. There’s something empowering about giving back to groups and institutions that shaped your younger life by joining their boards or providing them a service in an area of your expertise. For inspiration and ideas like these on how to make your life happier and more successful in every decade, read “Reinvent Your Life at 30, 40, 50, 60” from our February issue. We hope our story shows you how to get so much more out of your life!

Next: Editor's Letter: The Gift of Giving—Really

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First published in the February 2014 issue

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