Yesterday, I eavesdropped on Dame Judy Dench and Maggie Smith. “How many new lives can we have?” asked Ms. Dench. She answered her own question with the best five words I’ve heard in a long time: “As many as we’d like.”
Lest you think I hang out in such royal company, I don’t. That question comes from the movie, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Have you seen it yet? I haven’t – my efforts yesterday were thwarted by some circumstances beyond my control – but I can’t wait. In preparation for sequel, Alan and I watched the original, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, on Netflix last Friday night. I smiled through much of the movie, with so many familiar themes resonating.
Curious? You can watch the trailer here.
When nothing is sure, everything is possible.
And nothing is sure about this so-called midlife, is it? I mean, we think we’re prepared…but are we?
When you’re younger, days can sometimes seem so long, but then suddenly you turn around and realize that much of life has gone by in a dizzying blur. I think this is especially true when our children are small – at least, for me it was. Childrearing was an all-consuming position, the details and daily rituals so specific and draining. The only predictable thing about it was its unpredictability.
There were a few things, though, that were sure: I’d be on mommy duty 24/7. My children depended on me. I not only served up meals, comfort, discipline and lots of love, but I served as a role model to usher my children into adulthood.
And then, one day, when my children were in high school, thoughts of their departure for college soon turning into realities, nagging thoughts poked at me:
- “How did I get here?”
- “Do I want to stay here?” (not in the literal sense, but in the figurative one)
- “Now what?”
- They’re all grown up…now is it my turn?
My life, with my children racing toward independence, would no longer resemble a well-planned out daybook; still, I had the feeling – or should I call it an optimistic yearning? – that anything was possible. I was young enough, energetic enough with a large measure of curiosity thrown in to go out and explore new territory.
And so, I embarked on something new. No one has made a movie about me – not yet, anyway – but if they had, here’s how its synopsis would read:
It was the impending empty nest that spurred Sheryl Kraft into action. After dedicating herself to full-time motherhood following a cancer diagnosis at 34, years later she came to realize that once her children left for college, she’d be searching for new meaning in her life. Though the thought of returning to college was at times daunting and even terrifying – complicating matters was the fact that she had not been in college since she graduated in 1976 – Sheryl forges ahead, eager to be an author, and most importantly, the author of her own life. It all culminates three years, countless sleepless nights and take-out dinners later, at age 50, when she accepts her MFA diploma at a moving graduation ceremony at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where, on an unseasonably chilly day in May with her family cheering her on, she throws her (graduation) hat into the sky, then later, into the ring, becoming a full-time freelance writer. Her new life would not just usher in a new career, but new friends, new freedoms and new memories to build on for the second chapter of her life.
Author’s Note: And with that came the realization that we can, indeed, have as many new lives as we please.
P.S. The real movie, The Second Best Marigold Hotel, is in theaters March 6, 2015.
P.P. S. Stay tuned for MY sequel.
AND ONE MORE THING…A GIVEAWAY! LEAVE A COMMENT AND TELL THE WORLD YOUR HOPES, DREAMS AND REALITIES TO MAKE ANYTHING POSSIBLE. A WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN RANDOMLY AND NOTIFIED BY EMAIL. WE’LL NEED A RESPONSE WITHIN 24 HOURS, OR YOU’LL MAKE SOMEONE ELSE (THE SECOND RUNNER-UP) VERY HAPPY BY PASSING THE PRIZES TO THEM.
WINNER WILL RECEIVE:
· $25 Visa gift card to inspire your next move
· Hotel Key Chain
· Copy of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on DVD
This post is courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures (but opinions are strictly my very own!)
Estelle Erasmus says
Sheryl, I love your midlife story. My hope is to continue to flourish in my second act as the midlife mom of a young daughter while continuing to write–and eventually write a novel.
A midlife mom of a young daughter who is able to continue to write and plan on a future novel: now that’s a wonderful second act story! May you continue to flourish, Estelle.
You are an inspiriation Sheryl. With my own children leaving, I’m on the precipice myself right now. It feels as if everything and nothing is possible, all at the same time. It’s nice to hear how other got through it.
Thanks, Brette. I know you’ll figure out how to get off that precipice!
Irene S. Levine says
What a beautiful and inspiring post! My midlife story is to take each day one-at-a-time and treasure each one!
I like your story, Irene; that is such a valuable lesson to us all.
Nancy Monson says
I agree, Sheryl. I can’t wait to see the sequel and I love the message that we can keep evolving until we die.
As I know you are evolving every day, too, Nancy!
Carol Cassara says
I’ve lived my life in an attempt to make all my dreams come true and for the most part, they have. I saw the movie yesterday. I won’t spoil it for you!
That’s a fabulous way to live your life, Carol – and thanks for not spoiling the movie for me! Hoped you liked it.
Lisa at Grandma's Briefs says
You are amazing and inspirational. Thank you for sharing your midlife story. I love the quote you included here: “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” I’m posting that on my desk along with my other fave inspirational quotes.
Oh, and thank you for the giveaway! Love Ms. Dench and the gang, and I cannot wait to see this second film.
Cheryl Nicholl says
Yes. Yes, and YES. I felt the same way and have reinvented myself many times. Current incantation: Blogger/Writer/Woman Warrior. Not bad….
Not bad, at all…I like it, Cheryl!
Ruth Curran says
Another line from the original movie sticks with me: “Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.” I too am eager to see The Second Marigold Hotel and I am so thrilled to be on board for Sheryl the Sequel as well!
I agree, Ruth – that line stuck with me, too~
Helene Cohen Bludman says
You are such an inspiration, Sheryl, and a role model as well. I can’t tell you how much I admire your determination and strength. You deserve every ounce of success.
That is so nice to hear, Helene. THanks for your lovely comment!
I didn’ t know you had gone back to school. That is so impressive. You describe this so well, the second act.
Thanks, Alexandra. We all deserve a second (or third, or fourth) act, if that’s what we desire, don’t you think?
My empty nest came with the loss of my MIL and my one and only parent after lengthy illnesses, about a year apart. I still don’t quite have my footing, but spring is coming and that always helps my mood and motivation.
I’m sorry to hear of your loss, Roxanne, and hoping your footing will return with the thaw!
I’m really looking forward to the sequel especially after your review. Lovely and inspiring for sure. Now that I’m in my 50’s…and late 50’s might I add, it can at times be a bummer. I will take inspiration from where ever I can get it! Thank you!
Thank YOU, Carolann! I am glad you found some inspiration – we all need it, at times.
Love the idea of writing my own movie trailer! Love yours. Can’t wait to see this movie – anything with Richard Gere is a must see!
Lou xoxo says
Sheryl, You never cease to amaze me. This may be your best post yet…it really makes me think about what if anything I’d like to do with the time that I have left…
My favorite line of yours is “The only predictable thing about it was its unpredictability.” I love it!! And, I adore you!!
Thank you, Lou, for your comment~ I hope I gave you lots of food for thought!
Jane Boursaw says
I’ll have two kids in college this fall, so this post really resonates with me.
And I actually focused on that line in my review over at Reel Life With Jane – “How many lives can we have? As many as we like!” That makes me so happy!
I have no idea what to do with the rest of my life. I’d like to do something where I don’t sit all day. Maybe I’ll go back and work on my family’s farm, where I started my work life when I was a teenager!
Returning to the family farm sounds fabulous, Jane…a nice second act, for sure. Being outdoors and active sounds good to me!
Your title says it all. I think you should use it as a title for a book you will write, Sheryl.
That could be my third act, Merr!
ruth pennebaker says
I love this, Sheryl. My day just got a little better, reading it. You have such a wonderful gift for inspiring us all.
Lisa Brown says
My hopes and dreams are met, for the most part: great loving marriage. I keep open to change and reinvention to make life interesting and allow for those changes that are necessary.
Holly Murs says
Hi Sheryl! I’m so inspired by your story. It can be tough to go through major life changes because it means a huge adjustment on our daily schedules. But your story provided a different perspective on changes. This made me realize that we should embrace opportunities that allow us to learn more and enrich ourselves.
Thanks for sharing this story and for telling us about The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I hope to watch it soon. Also, we featured this post in our Weekly Digest. You can read it here https://www.ltcoptions.com/weekly-digest-financial-tips-cost-of-aging-and-social-security/.