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Millennials Get Inspired by Adventurous Boomers

Challenging Yourself Has No Age Limit

For many Boomers, the later years of adulthood are a time of possibilities, reinvention and adventure. Post-retirement, and sometimes much earlier, it's a time of reengaging oneself in personal passions or searching for meaningful activities for the very first time. In fact, it's not uncommon to see Boomers pick up brand new hobbies, start over in their careers or even revisit past passions that they once set aside.

Take Barb Odanaka, who reinvented both her career and lifestyle after a challenging transition into motherhood. Seeking activities that brought her joy, Odanaka decided to revisit her childhood hobby of skateboarding, which she gave up at the age of 13 to focus on running track. Soon enough, Odanaka found so many moms interested in joining her at the skatepark that she started Moms Who Skate, a club for women in their 40s, 50s and older who enjoyed skating. Despite the scrapes, bumps and bruises that come along with skateboarding, the women cheer each other on and support each other to overcome their fears.

Though, it wasn't just daily joy and a renewed passion that Odanaka rediscovered through skateboarding — the hobby also inspired her second career as a children's book author. Formerly a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, she soon found her self publishing Skateboard Mom, her first book. By combining her love with skateboarding with her experience as a writer, Barb was able to reinvent herself.

She explains, "I know my passion, and I try to make my passion not only my lifestyle but also my profession."

Similarly, Barbara Hannah Grufferman became a runner for the first time after turning 50. Facing changes in her body, health and lifestyle, Grufferman turned to running to manage her growing stress. Of course, having been physically inactive for years, she worried about the strain on her body. After finding a running plan designed to help transition walkers into runners, she bought herself a new pair of running shoes and running outfit — and she was hooked! In fact, she ran the NYC Marathon to celebrate turning 55.

For Grufferman, taking on a physical hobby and tackling her fears about running head on enabled her to find "new found physical and mental power." Initially as a way to take back control, she says, "Now, I run to think, solve problems, feel good, burn calories, and burn off steam. I run to be alone and to be part of a community. I run to look good in my jeans and feel good in my heart. But most importantly, I run . . . because I can."

For Boomers, physically empowering activities and passion-driven careers are a way to open themselves to new possibilities and, rather than focus on their age, focus on themselves for the very first time.

AARP and AARP Media properties support and empower those 50+ to Reimagine Life, and show Millennials that aging can be active and fulfilling.