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It's never too late for change or adventure

Published May 28. 2011 09:04AM

The other day at a luncheon with friends, someone asked me about learning to kayak.

"I always wanted to try it," said one woman. "But I'm too old to start now."

She's 62.

I hear that so often. People talk about wanting a particular adventure or change in their life. But they conclude, "It's too late now."

Or, they allow themselves to make excuses rather than reaching out to try something they've been wanting to do.

Simply put, it's easier to stay with the status quo than it is to make a change of any kind.

I wanted to kayak for years before I actually tried it. I would probably still be making excuses about why I couldn't do it if it weren't for my newspaper colleague Al Zagofsky.

One day when we were having lunch Al asked what I didn't do that I always wanted to try. I immediately said kayaking.

That night, he made it easy for me by sending me an email with a link to kayaking classes. All I had to do was click on the link and sign up. Thanks to Al, it opened a whole world of pleasure.

There are often big, unexpected rewards when we embark on a new adventure or when we're brave enough to embrace change of any kind.

My friend Tom Minnich is a perfect example of someone who learned it's never too late to try a new adventure or make a significant change in lifestyle.

At 83, he says he is having more fun than he ever thought possible at any age. "I'm doing things I never did before and when I think about it, I'm amazed to find myself trying so many new things at this stage of life," he says.

When he lived along the Delaware River near Stroudsburg, his passion was fishing. Occasionally, he would canoe the river with family members.

But when he retired as a pharmacist and moved to Florida 34 years ago, all his time became devoted to community service.

He found himself attending meetings six and seven times a week to work on his many community improvement projects and environmental causes.

It took until he was in his late 70s before he embraced his fun side. He says until five years ago, he didn't know he had a fun side.

He became more adventurous, more eager to try things he never did before. One of his new adventures was kayaking. At 80 years of age, Tom took his first kayaking trip, doing extremely well on the water.

But perhaps his most significant adventure began when he attended a home association meeting.

"One particular woman stood out and caught my eye. I knew I wanted to talk with her," he says.

Much to his delight, Tom discovered he and Wanda had a lot in common. Both had lost their spouses after long marriages and both thought it was hard socially not being part of a couple.

"You get left out of suppers, dinner parties and a lot of things. As a single person, you are often not included in group activities," he says.

Wanda agrees. "It's tough to be single in a couples' world," she says. But she also admits she was "scared to death" to date again.

So Tom and Wanda agreed to just get together as friends. They went to plays, concerts and dinners and found they really enjoyed each other's company.

Tom says his entire life became fun as Wanda led him to try new things, including ballroom dancing.

"He never danced before. His daughter told me that at her wedding when they were supposed to share the father of the bride dance, he walked off the floor and left her there. He said he didn't know how," says Wanda.

When Tom and Wanda joined the local ballroom dancing classes, they discovered a lot more than the ability to dance well.

"What I really love is the social aspect of the dancing couples. We all tend to bond together and our dance instructors are always planning special events," says Tom.

One of those events was a dancing cruise to the Caribbean.

In between dancing, socializing and taking side trips, Tom decided to sneak off by himself to the ship's jewelry store. He was going to surprise Wanda with an engagement ring.

Part of the surprise was on him. What he didn't know was that the ship's photographer was videotaping him as he "sneaked away" to buy the ring.

Everyone had a good laugh over that one.

"That's the thing about being with Wanda. I laugh more than I ever did in my life and I'm having more fun than I ever did," says Tom.

Last September 4, Tom and Wanda were married after their five-year friendship/courtship.

"It's the best thing that ever happened to me," Tom says.

While he jokes and pretends to gripe about all the changes she is making in his home and his life, he is quick to tell everyone he has never been happier. "I couldn't live without learning to do the Cha-Cha," he quips.

New adventure - new activity - a new lifestyle - all can enrich life in unimagined ways.

And Tom is proof positive that we are never too old to discover new pleasures.

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