My niece and I don’t agree on a lot. Politically, she’s much more liberal. Socially, she’s much more liberal. She’s an atheist; I’m a Christian. Even with all these differences, I respect her and the path she chose to follow….a less traveled path.
A Tough Start to Adulthood
Last year, her mother, my sister, passed away after a hard battle against cancer. I spent a few weeks near the end trying to help out. Kimi put her life on hold to walk this journey with her mother. It’s a tough walk. I remember doing the same, when I was 22. It’s a lonely, agonizing walk. Kimi, though, was a rock. She took charge and showed strength I had not seen before.
When my mom passed, I was anxious to start life. I had just graduated college and moved to Texas. After 3 months, I flew back to Michigan to spend a month caring for her. I recall the juxtaposition of feelings. Glad I could be there to talk with her and love on her. At the same time having occasional thoughts of frustration at having “my” life interrupted (twenty somethings are so self absorbed!).
I never saw this in Kimi. No doubt she had such thoughts, but she never allowed them to poison her caring spirit.
She and I broke away for lunch near the end of her mother’s life. We talked about the future. She said she was planning on moving to Japan. It would be easy to conclude she was just running away from the death of her mother, but she wasn’t. She was getting back to a path she had already chosen. One quite different than most. Kimi and I talked about her ambitions to paint her life with experiences. How she wanted to take a slower journey through life than the traditional American “gung ho” work ethos. She defines a successful life differently.
Kimi has established herself as a world traveler. She’s visited over 20 countries (solo!). Kimi loves Japanese culture and language. She just wanted to move to Japan to get serious about her language studies. You can follow her exploits on her blog sushiyamatravels.com.
A Life Lived Differently
There is a lot us “old folks” could learn from Kimi. Most baby boomers grew up with a script: college, career, marriage, house, kids, college, retirement. It can be a great life, but it’s not the only one.
Now that we baby boomers are nearing retirement, many of us are rethinking what life means. Is playing golf and going on cruises all there is??? What is all this money for?
I contend that we need to look at retirement with fresh eyes and redefine what it means for each of us. Whatever age you are, you have so much more life to live. Be intentional and creative on what you do with it.
Even if we don’t have the same adventurous spirit as Kimi, we can live a greater life by adopting her “pave my own path” adventurous spirit. It just takes the courage to challenge your assumptions and the rails you’ve set your life’s path on. Then the faith to “jump the rails” if you discover the path isn’t what you truly intended. It’s never too late. You are the only one that can define your life.
Kimi’s View of Success
Recently Kimi shared her view of success. No doubt this will evolve as she changes seasons in life. I think what’s beautiful about it is that she is grabbing it and going full throttle. She’s not going to miss a moment living someone else’s definition of success.
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As my move to Tokyo draws nearer, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be successful. Truth be told, I’m scared to move to Tokyo. Not yet knowing what my purpose is in Japan or if it will be of value to my future here, I’m about to spend a lot of money to go to school to learn a second language. I’m taking a leap through the densest fog, and I have no idea where I’m going to land. BUT as I’ve come to learn, the biggest risks I’ve ever taken in pursing my passions/following my fears have always far exceeded my expectations and led to such amazing opportunities.
From a young age, I think our initial idea of success is graduating from a good school, landing a stable career, marriage, and/or maybe a six figure income. Nothing wrong with any of that.
As an adult, however, you learn that everyone has a different definition of success that may even change over time. Yesterday, after taking my first pottery class since high school, I’ve only just realized mine. That is being able to look back and feel fulfilled knowing that I painted my life with a wide array of strange and beautiful experiences and went after what I wanted no matter how crazy the idea. That’s it. The best part? At the ripe age of 26, I already feel that way. I’m a success.