by Nancy Amos
Sometimes a pivotal life event will trigger major changes in one’s outlook or perspective. This happened to me in 2009 when I experienced a bad car accident. It stopped me in my tracks of working long hours and put me in the ICU for a week. I was off work for seven weeks. I broke with my routine life for two months just before my 60th birthday.
As I returned to work, I did so with enthusiasm to get back at it, but I was determined to make time for fun too. As I talked with my boss about my approaching 60th birthday, he flippantly said, “You should celebrate by doing 60 new things in your 60th year.” And I liked the sound of that. That was the beginning of my “60 New Things in my 60th Year” journal. I kept notes about the new experiences, and I am sharing several of them here.
Two weeks after my accident my friend flew into town to go to the Texas Rangers Baseball Team Opening Day with me. It would have been our 12th opening day together. Because I could barely walk, we modified our plan. We staged a few photos outside of the ballpark the night before, and on opening day she went into the park and bought all our regular food and souvenirs we get each year. Then she brought them back to my house, and we watched the game together. Since that date we have celebrated 14 more together, but this one was unique.
Although my birthday is in August, seven of my high school classmates had a group birthday slumber party and dinner at Truluck’s restaurant in Southlake, Texas at the start of the summer. All of us would be 60 that year. When we told the waiter that we were celebrating birthdays, he asked whose birthday it was. We all raised our hands, and he brought eight tiny cakes with a glowing candle on each.
I set a goal to visit five Fort Worth museums and find at least one thing I liked in each museum. I didn’t do them all in one day obviously, but it was a fun adventure for a person who hadn’t made museums a very big part of her life. My daughter, granddaughter and I visited the Museum of Science and History’s CSI exhibit, and we solved the crime. There was an Andy Warhol exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. I had never seen his work in person, and I will never view a soup can in the same way.
I developed a heightened appreciation for “events” as they occurred. My four-year-old grandson called me in January to tell me that he could “read a little.” I am happy to have his reading to his little sister as one of my fun new things for the year.
Some of the changes were very small. After years of wearing the exact same color of rose fingernail polish all the time, I tried brown. It was a radical change; but I will confess I still like the pink better.
Here are some of the other “things” I would not ordinarily have done without the impetus of “60 New Things:”
- I enrolled in a Wellness Program at work and won a prize.
- I met the author Ron Hall, who wrote “Same Kind of Different as Me,” and learned from the book about the Union Gospel Mission that was located just down the street from my work.
- Although I had been to Washington, DC, for business many times, in my 60th year I went to the Visitors Center for my first time ever. It was a fascinating place.
- I had never bought an original piece of art UNTIL my visit to Galveston that year. I bought a wooden bowl that had been created from a downed tree when Hurricane Ike tore through the city.
- As I got more adventurous, I enlisted a friend to attend our first opera
- I attended the Paul McCartney concert at the then-new Cowboy Stadium.
- I volunteered to be on the planning committee for the Women’s Policy Forum’s Celebrity Breakfast. We brought financial writer and radio personality Terry Savage to Fort Worth. Two amazing things resulted from this new “thing:” First, I made new friends who are still my friends today. Secondly, the topic of financial literacy triggered my efforts to better plan for retirement.
- Women’s Policy Forum also introduced me to a micro-loan program called KIVA that year. I initially decided to try it with a $25 investment. When that loan was repaid, I reinvested the $25 repeatedly. I stayed with it and have made more than 24 loans over the last ten years.
- This was also the year I started what is now a tradition for me. To celebrate my August birthday, I buy and donate school supplies.
- Perhaps as monumental as anything I did that year was a multigenerational family trip to Big Bend. I had never been to my husband’s favorite place in the world, and my 60th year seemed to be a good year to go. Five of my family members with different politics, tastes in music, and ideas of what is fun travelled in one vehicle. It was a very memorable experience.
In July before my 61st birthday I made my very first trip to NYC. Two friends invited me, and in the spirit of new adventures, I said yes. This started an amazing love affair with the City and an annual birthday trip for ten years. This August would have been my 11th trip.
Just before my birthday I realized that for the first time in my more than 25 years of watching Rangers baseball, my beloved Texas Rangers were “in the hunt.” Yes, we went to the World Series for the first time ever. And I was able to attend every home game of that World Series.
I saved little souvenirs and photos to document my 60th year. When I made the book, I realized the impact that the attitude of “looking for good things” had had on me. Now, as I have written this article, I realize how that time has influenced my reaction to the COVID-19 quarantine. Perhaps I will note 70 new things in my 70th year, including one pandemic!
New to the stay-at-home constraints of Covid19, Nancy Amos worked more than 35 years in the public sector. She is about to celebrate her 52nd anniversary with her high school sweetheart. They have a daughter, a son and five grandchildren (ranging in age from two to 22!)
Nancy loves photography, reading, movies, nature and people (not in that order). She is suffering withdrawal symptoms from some of her very favorite things: grandchildren, shopping, eating out and travel. To compensate, she has a tribe text group with three other women who are in daily contact with each other. Facetime with the youngest grandkids is also special.
She lived in Germany for two years as a newlywed, and loves to facetime and share gardens with her friends there. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Wesleyan University and a master’s in urban management from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is getting through the pandemic with much curbside dining, field trips to area parks to photograph nature and lots of Facebook. Thankfully, baseball season is starting again. Look for her DoppelRanger behind home plate.