I used to be a very serious person. For many years I was an executive in a serious business, drove a serious, and wore serious business clothes. Even my writing was serious. In my first two books,Harvest of Dreams and A Man Like That, my characters faced serious problems and dealt with them in serious ways.
A little over three years ago all that changed.
It started even before the disintegration of my old career. It might have been brought on by my father’s final illness and the realization that life is too short to be wasted on meaningless, unsatisfying pursuits. Perhaps it was the natural culmination of an overload of serious life events. Or maybe just the arrival of wisdom that comes with age. For whatever reason, I began to chafe under the constraints of my serious life. I wanted to find ways to have fun.
I know this will surprise some of you, but I did not choose to take up heavy drinking, wild parties, and cabana boys. I wanted to express my sense of whimsy, not end up on Middle Aged Women Gone Wild.Instead, I started buying fun socks.
Sitting in my father’s hospital room with my mother and sister, I was surprised when I showed them my cheetah socks and my mother said she was glad to see them because she’d thought I’d become very stuffy. Now I never thought of myself as stuffy—reserved maybe, but not stuffy. I always knew that inside I was still fun. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear a pronouncement like that from one’s own parent. Her comment increased my determination to liberate my whimsical self. I bought more socks with monkeys, cats, and chipmunks. My brother even bought me a pair featuring Van Gogh’s Starry Night as a retirement present. Here are a few of my favorite designs:
And it didn’t stop there. When we decided to move to Carmel, I knew I didn’t want to bring my ten-year-old car. The new me needed a new car. It had to be small, economical, and above all—fun. Well, a car can’t get much more fun than my little red Fiat 500.
As soon as we moved into our new house two years ago, I began to indulge my whimsy by creating fairy gardens. So far I've made two, one for me and one for my garden club silent auction. I had so much fun I'm now trying to come up with excuses to make more. Anybody want a fairy garden?
Not surprisingly, even my writing has changed. Starting with my western novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff, my voice became snappy and funny with barely a hint of angst. Unwritten Rules features a cantankerous Chinese grandmother and a neighbor who leaves pennies in the freezer, and my current WIP, Boiling Point, includes a robotic sous chef named GRAMPA (Great Robotic American Meal Preparation Assistant). Naturally mayhem ensues, and I love it.
I believe it's important to keep growing and changing, even as we age, so we might as well have fun while we do it!