One Foot On a Banana Peel, the Other at Kentucky Fried Chicken (a post about answering our calling at the age we are)


“The days you work are the best days.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Four blog posts ago, I wrote “Choose Well” about sitting still so as not to miss the magic. This week’s post is about working, and for the same reason … so we don’t miss the magic.

A phone conversation gave me the idea for this post when a friend almost half my age said, “I’m afraid I’m going to be in my 40s, look back, and realize I haven’t accomplished my goals.”

I wanted to interrupt, but I didn’t, and say, “And your problem is? You’re not even mid-thirties.”

They finished, “I’ll end up feeling like a failure.”


Before I gave into lecturing about accomplishments and age and having time on their side, my thoughts jumped to fried chicken. You know, the fowl that was fried up by Harland Sanders, the colonel of chicken and founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 62 (after he retired and drew his first social security check). He may have something to say about purposely planning not to work and being without purpose at any age.

I wanted to lecture because, like my friend on the phone, I’m afraid of getting too old to accomplish what I want. If I’d started on my spiel, I would have been talking to myself. I’m happy Colonel Sanders stopped me, and even happier he’s a reminder we’re never too old to dream and live it. We’re never too old for magic. 

In the meantime and because I’ve been back and forth on this topic for several years, I met with my financial advisor to review our retirement plan and several options for moving forward with retirement faster. Even though friends who recently retired from teaching said they’d absolutely find something to do besides sit around, I figured my husband and I needed a plan in place for full retirement. I secretly held onto the idea of wanting a lot of time off until I wrote last week’s blog post, “Called to What?,” about finding work we love and working it to the end. We can’t be irresponsible about getting older, but it’ll undoubtedly make our “retirement” plan easier to save for if we don’t plan to retire.



All that said … 

We’re rethinking everything. We want one week off a month for the rest of our lives, and, once in a while, two so we can travel. We want something to do, and we want to love it daily. We want purpose. We want to spend time with kids and grandkids, but not end up poster parents for codependency. We want to tap into creativity and maybe tap dance. Wait, I meant line dance. We want to continue most of what we’re doing now. I want to write. John wants to work on our houses.

A friend’s comment on last week’s blog post confirmed what we’d already envisioned for our lives (minus having a baby), but we started changing it up the more often clerks gave us senior discounts and the more often we thought about retirement looming. Sybil wrote, “The Bible does not use the word retire. Moses was 80 going strong. Sarah was 100, giving birth. Watch out world, there is a generation of great people wanting to fill their passions.”

Her comment reminded me of one of the quotes I shared last week. It’s by Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The world needs us to come alive before we retire and die. Once we’ve come alive, there’ll be no time to retire. 

Writer Richard Feloni put together an article about “People Who Became Successful After Age 40.” I thought it’d be fun and inspiring to share some of the personalities he wrote about.

Fun & Inspiring 

Jack Weil founded a popular cowboy brand, Rockmount Ranch Wear, and stayed its CEO until he died at age 107.

Rodney Dangerfield’s break as a comedian didn’t happen until he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show at age 46.

Julia Child wrote her first cookbook that launched her career as a celebrity chef when she was 50.

Ray Kroc was a milkshake device salesman before buying McDonald’s at age 52 and making it into the world’s biggest fast-food franchise.


Vera Wang didn’t get started as a designer until she was 40. Gary Heavin was the same age when he opened the first Curves fitness center. Henry Ford was 45 when he created the Model T. My two favorites on the list are Laura Ingalls Wilder who published the first of her Little House books at age 65 and Grandma Moses who started her painting career at 78. Who is your favorite?

#GettingYourOwnLife can happen at any age, and it doesn’t have to be a fancy career like Vera Wang’s or a moneymaker like McDonald’s. It just needs to be work that gives us purpose. We can’t afford to get tired and retire before we figure it out, before we find our magic.

Where are you headed besides retirement?

In This Together,

I’m not sure it’s accurate about Colonel Sanders receiving his social security check, but I included it just in case it is since it makes a great story.

Thanks for the pics,


19 responses »

  1. In every manual of small unit tactics, there is one thing that’s consistent:

    If you find yourself ambushed, attack into the ambush. It’s the only way to survive, and I am proof positive of that. Several times.

    Time may be the enema…sorry, enemY, but the truth’s the same.

    Pitch the calendar from the wall, burn the ‘memory lane’ scrapbooks, and start today as if it’s the First Morning Of The World.

    Sixty isn’t the new thirty, or any other mod-speak-BS. Where-ever you are, it’s NOW.

    Get to work, and be ruthless in the sentimentality you cull.

    • I love, love, love “Where-ever you are, it’s NOW.” I love it and try to live by it, but, as you can read, I’ve had my ups and downs. NOW and I are working it out slowly. I also appreciate ” … be ruthless in the sentimentality you cull.” Strong message I hope to abide by.

      I also have to tell you, you’ve helped me put something to rest. I threw away some memory lane scrapbooks in 2008 when we were moving and downsizing. I don’t regret much, but I’ve greatly regretted getting rid of them until now. I believe I just heard from God to let go of them and move onto NOW.

      Thanks, Andrew. You do more good in the world than you know.

  2. I needed this tonight. The 40 year olds don’t impress me because life before that is just a warm up. But Cornel Sanders, yes.
    I woke up, in the middle of the night,thinking that I’m never going to accomplish what I want to. My mind moved from there to I’m going to run out of money to every horror that life has.
    (I’m not usually like this–love sleep too much. But even with AC on the air feels so thick–which is strange because I had to turn it off before and was still freezing)
    I think our minds are like thermostats—they usually stay at an even keel but when they go off they stagnate until we push them one way or another. And the only way is to continue doing. (This was the strangest analogy I have ever used–but…)

    • I laughed at “This is the strangest analogy …” I’m doing more of that lately, being strange that is. 🙂 I like having company. I actually thought it was a good analogy, by the way.

      When I read about Colonel Sanders and others like him, it helps me settle down to the task at hand and it keeps my mind from roaming so much, like you were describing. i hate getting into that panicked mood in the middle of the night. I try hard not to go there, but you know how some nights are. I’m glad this blog post helped some. It helped me to write and post it.

      Love. ❤

  3. Kim, I so enjoyed your post about our “calling” or purpose. I am a firm believer that we all have a calling or purpose and I have found mine. I have also found that sometimes our “calling” changes over time but you find it again. Keep writing, Kim.

    • I believe that same thing about our calling changing, Deirdre. We have different seasons, for sure.

      I can tell you’ve found your purpose. You seem happy with your work and you look relaxed even though it’s all relatively new, which is really impressive. I think it’s because you’re doing the work that fits you. ❤

      I enjoyed sitting together at WIN. What a wonderful place to be once a month. Thanks of your comment!

  4. It’s true! I recently turned 70 and have no plans to retire or sell my business as long as my health and brain last. Coincidentally research proves that the longer I stay active in my brain and body, the longer I will live! So it’s a win win. Meanwhile since my business doesn’t take as much of my time as it once did, I’ve returned to an early passio of mine and now paint almost every day. This fall I will have my first pieces exhibited in not one, but two art shows! It’s great to get older and have the freedom to choose your own path.

    • Niki, thank you so much for your comment. You just confirmed everything I wrote in my blog post. I love when that happens because sometimes I wonder if I believe what I’m writing. 😀

      I’m thrilled to hear about your paintings! I’m so excited for you. I know what it feels like to be true to yourself, follow through on a goal/dream, and feel fulfilled by it no matter the outcome. I loved hearing you share it at WIN too. ❤ You're a wonderful example for our group of women.

  5. Love this Kim:
    “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

    The world needs us to come alive before we retire and die. Once we’ve come alive, there’ll be no time to retire.

    • Joel, you’re living this blog post. You really are. 🙂

      Your photography is incredible and getting better by the picture. Your passion comes through and it’s contagious. It makes me want to find more things like it that I do well and love. Thank you for your comment and for being a creative example.

  6. Kim, I love the title of this post, and the concept of not retiring. One of the reasons I started my own business almost 20 years ago was so I wouldn’t have to concern myself with a “final” retirement date. I could ramp the business up or down as needed. As you know, my business has been pretty well ramped down over the past year or so due to hubby’s illness. So now I’m debating the next step in my non-retirement. Your posts always challenge me and my thinking: have I considered all the angles, have I thought about _____? Thank you for another wonderful challenge! There’s so much I want to do other than retire, but I also realize that, to a great extent, I’m burned out from my caregiving duties, so almost nothing lights a real fire of passion in me these days.

    • Whoa, Mary. I’ve never perfectly put into words what happened when I was so depressed, but you did in your comment, except you’re talking about caregiving. This describes exactly how I felt, “There’s so much I want to do other than retire, but I also realize that, to a great extent, I’m burned out from my caregiving duties, so almost nothing lights a real fire of passion in me these days.” Replace depression for “caregiving duties” and that’s what I kept trying to tell my family. I had a list of things In my head, but my heart wasn’t cooperating.

      I hope it helps to hear that my heart is showing up again. I feel cautious, but more hopeful than I have in a long time that I again have a flame. ❤

      I love giving each other things to mull over, and also receiving help with an answer like putting into words a feeling I've had and hoped at least one other person understood.

      Thank you!

  7. I enjoy my job for the most part. I do look forward to retirement though. Wont have to wake up via the alarm clock, wont have to accrue PTO hrs to take time off. I could travel when I want, work on my poems and get those books that are in my head published FINALLY. Just so tired at the end of the day as I give each work day 100% and then some. It’s not like I have a super busy social life in my new beginning post divorce.
    Usually birthdays are just another day-but my 62nd will be welcomed five years from now. God willing. As tomorrow is not promised. Whatever social security I can collect by then works for me-I am not greedy for a penny more for a few more years. I know too many who have stayed on the income-train to collect their maximum until they “derailed” permanently. Such a pity.

    • Sylvia, I think your Haikus and your books are your calling, don’t you? You may be surprised what happens when you pursue them full-time. Who knows where they may take you? I sure understand wanting to be out from under a routine. We can retire, shut off our alarm clocks, and still work at the things we’re passionate about. That’s my hope. ❤ Thanks for food for thought!

  8. From Facebook (from Joel Carter’s page) ~

    Your calling, your passion, your life…

    A quote from author Kim Henson in this blog
    “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

    The world needs us to come alive before we retire and die. Once we’ve come alive, there’ll be no time to retire.

    Great article Kim

    Christy Young, Nancy Wanner and 3 others

    Kim Henson Thanks so much for passing this along, Joel Carter! I sure appreciate it.
    Like · Reply · 2 · September 15 at 9:47pm

  9. From Facebook (Kim Henson) ~

    29 Vicki Jacobs, Connie Gardner and 27 others


    Robin McCormick Simmons ❤️❤️❤️
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 6:48am

    Kim Henson Thanks so much, Robin McCormick Simmons! ❤
    Like · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 5:36pm

    Delilah Lewis Love it Kim Henson.💕
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 8:20am

    Kim Henson Thanks much, Delilah Lewis! ❤
    Like · Reply · September 15 at 5:36pm

    Bill Shirley Parmelee Vreeland's photo.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 10:04am

    Kim Henson Hahahaha, Bill Shirley Parmelee Vreeland. That's hysterical! Thanks for sharing. 😀
    Like · Reply · September 15 at 5:38pm

    Donna Feddick Fagerstrom Love, love, love this! Lord willing we'll be actively working full time until 75 and then?❤️
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 10:38am

    Kim Henson That's what I'm hoping for too, Donna Feddick Fagerstrom. I would be bored out of my mind and frustrated if I stopped. But I have to love what I'm doing or I'd be miserable. Such a juggling act. LoL.
    Like · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 5:39pm

    Beth Stallings Odom This is wonderful !
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 12:58pm

    Kim Henson Thanks bunches, Beth Stallings Odom! ❤
    Like · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 5:39pm

    Summer Turner Great post! The Thurman quote is one of my favorites!
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · September 15 at 5:44pm

    Kim Henson One of my favorites too, Summer Turner. I think I've shared it in four or five posts now. I hope they charge me for it. LoL. Thank you!
    Like · Reply · 1 · September 15 at 5:50pm

    Elizabeth McNew I love how you speak truth with humor, Kim!😃
    Like · Reply · September 16 at 12:02am

    Kim Henson What a great compliment, Elizabeth McNew. That's my aim, but I'm not always sure I reach it. I appreciate you saying so. 😀
    Like · Reply · September 16 at 1:17am

    Christy Young Another great post Kim! Your passion for writing shines.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 16 at 8:26am

    Kim Henson That's a big compliment, especially on this particular post. Thanks bunches, Christy Young! 😍
    Like · Reply · 1 · September 16 at 10:44pm

    Sally Smith Oh, Kim, you are hitting me right in the heart with these posts. As you already know, I am constantly searching for God's plan for me and mine. Your writing has hit home. Love you !
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 17 at 8:42am

    Kim Henson Sally Smith, you know I think God's used you during your teaching career much more than you'll ever know. ❤️ I also think He has something in mind for your "retirement." I can't wait to see what it is. I love you and our very long friendship. Thanks so much for your comment!
    Like · Reply · 1 · September 17 at 3:07pm

    Summer Turner He "re-tires" us and put us back on the road to serve His cause.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · September 17 at 4:26pm

    Kim Henson Summer Turner, yes. I like this idea. ❤
    Like · Reply · 1 · September 20 at 2:00am · Edited

  10. From Facebook (from Summer Turner’s Success for Introverted Women) ~

    If you’ve found your purpose and are doing work you love, you probably won’t want to retire. But if you’re nearing “retirement age,” you might want to design a more balanced life so you can also do things that are on your bucket list.

  11. From Facebook (from Sybil Lee’s page) ~

    What is retirement when you are fulfilling your passion?

    Kim Henson I love your question, Sybil Lee. Thanks for giving me the idea for this post. ❤ I appreciate you and your positive spirit.
    Like · Reply · September 15 at 5:52pm

    Kim Henson Oh, and thanks for sharing this! 😀
    Like · Reply · September 15 at 5:53pm

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