My guest in this week’s episode, Cathy Lawdanski, lost her mom to a stroke early in 2015. Just two months later she left her non-profit executive director position to take care of her ailing father, who passed away a short five months later. Life can hand us the unexpected, in seven months Cathy had lost both her parents.

With the realities of aging parents, becoming a caretaker and similar loss is something many of us will need to face.

After the loss of a loved one, it’s common to be in a hurry to get back to our “regular” life. The feelings of grief are overwhelming and being busy is a natural way to distract us from the reality we are now living. And that was Cathy’s first response as well. But with the encouragement of a friend she decided to take the time that she needed and in the process her blog, My Side of 50, was born.

Through her writing, Cathy has been able to heal as well as make unexpected connections. I would also guess her humor and sharing has also inspired others.

Cathy’s story isn’t just about loss; it’s also about gain: Gaining a new sense of place during midlife, new confidence, and a new purpose.

Being Brave and Learning New Things with Cathy Lawdanski

Her motto is, “be brave”, and starting the blog wasn’t her only act of courage. At age 57, Cathy does Crossfit, and she even ventured to try aerial yoga. She realizes the importance of taking care of her own health. She has taken a photography class and is actively learning new technology and methods to promote her blog. In April 2016 without any blogging experience or knowing anyone, she hopped a plane to Las Vegas and attended the BAM (Bloggers at Midlife) Conference. But maybe most courageous was recognizing this time in her life to be one of possibility.

Brave indeed.

It’s easy to stay in our comfort zones of not trying new experiences or learning new things. When was the last time you intentionally tried something or learned something just for yourself?

Researchers at UC Davis published a study in 2014, concluding that learning that was motivated by curiosity stimulates dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is considered a messenger and allows nerve cells to talk to one another. As we age, though, dopamine levels decline but learning through curiosity may help to offset this. Quoting from the blog on the study:

“Brain circuits that rely on dopamine tend to decline in function with aging, or sooner in people with neurological or psychiatric disorders. Understanding the relationship between motivation and memory could stimulate new efforts to improve memory in the healthy elderly and new approaches for treating patients with memory disorders. And in the classroom or workplace, learning could be enhanced if teachers or managers can engage students’ and workers’ curiosity about something they are naturally motivated to learn.”

I can’t help but wonder how adopting an attitude of curiosity, trying and learning new things, like Cathy, can be helpful as we age. Plus it provides a larger, exciting and more fulfilling world we live in.

Want to learn a new language? Try Rosetta Stone or even pick up a conversational dictionary at the library. Want to know how to knit? Go to YouTube and type in “how to knit” in the search bar. Seriously. Don’t get caught in thinking our endeavors need to be big and expensive. They don’t.

We live in a world today where knowledge is at our fingertips. It’s the curiosity that opens the doors not the dollars.

I challenge you this week to be curious and look for something new to learn. Adopt Cathy’s attitude of being open to new opportunities. Then, be brave and take the first step to making it happen.

Now over to you

What new things have you always wanted to learn or have an interest in now? Let me know in the comments below and let’s brainstorm on ways to make that happen.

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Connect with Cathy

Facebook Group –

Twitter –

Instagram –

Website –

Bloggers at Midlife Conference (B@M) –

Links from my intro

Find out more about Whole30 –

Ulla, to help you stay hydrated –