As year begins, time to discover what’s next

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It's a new year, that annual chance to start fresh. For those in the second half of life, this can take on significance beyond the ritual of resolutions; it's never too late to reinvent yourself. Discovering "what's next" may resonate with you, whether you work or are retired, and it will be unique for each individual.

This is often a time to change your focus from one of success to one of significance, according to Bob Buford, author of "Half Time." He believes that it becomes clear with age that it's more important to make a difference than to make money. He describes those who take on roles in nonprofits, while others respond to a pressing social need, perhaps building wells in a third-world country. Check out www.encore.org, an organization that engages people in later life for "second acts of the greater good." You might find yourself on a plane to Zimbabwe or teaching English to an immigrant, and why not?

Other individuals rework their interests or career experience as they move into a slower pace of life. Chuck Pauley, a Douglas County resident, had a first career in accounting and pursued a second act as a college professor. Now he uses those same skills in retirement, having been elected as treasurer for a non-profit organization. Look for local volunteer opportunities to use your talents, or check out the Retired Senior Volunteer Program through Volunteers of America at www.voacolorado.org.

You may have more time, so use it to focus energy on a neglected passion, something put aside during child-rearing and career-building years. You might resurrect that high school sport at a park and recreation senior league or through your local senior center. Find a way to do what you used to love. For instance, if you once enjoyed poetry, join a writing group in your local community.

Never stop learning. Active Minds has monthly programs throughout the metro area; the topic will be the implications of Brexit at the program at 1 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the senior center in Castle Rock. See www.activeminds.com for more information. The University of Denver's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program has dozens of wonderful learning opportunities. If you want to travel and learn, consider participating in a myriad of trips at www.roadscholar.org, formerly known as Elderhostel.

You'd be surprised at the personal fulfillment achieved when trying something new. Many resources can help you begin the journey. AARP's program, called Life Reimagined, has books and a website, www.lifereimagined.org. You never know where it can lead unless you take a chance and get started.

Elaine Weaver retired from the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock a few years ago and wondered what was next. She went to a senior center art class, and the rest, as they say, is history. Her work is now displayed at the Art of Life Gallery in Denver, and she has exhibited a painting at the Denver Art Museum. Elaine says her house is filled with her artwork. "It brings me so much happiness," she said, still marveling at what she's accomplished, all because she went to an art class to see if she could paint.

No matter your age or your background, opportunities are there for "loving life in the second half," the motto of the Castle Rock Senior Activity Center. Take a chance by taking the first step to the rest of your life in 2017.

Deb Santy is the assistant director of the Castle Rock Senior Activity Center. She can be reached at 303-688-9498.

Deb Santy

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