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Richmond Times-Dispatch | The News & Advance
Style | Richmond Mag. | Innovation
Lutheran Women's Mag. | Columbia Star
Rockford III | The Wall Street Journal

85-year-old adventurer encourages seniors to take risks
By Greg McQuade of WTVR CBS 6

An 85-year-old Henrico County woman who says age is nothing but a number stays active every day has an undeniable zest for life.

"I'm a person that loves being retired," Emily Kimball said.

You won't find Kimball passing time in a rocking chair. In fact, she bikes 25 miles a week, swims and walks an hour every day.

"Well I have nothing against shuffleboard, but I got to tell you there are a hell of a lot of people doing a lot more than that," Kimball said.

"I don't like to be called young. I'm not young. I've got wrinkles. I don't want to get rid of them," Kimball said. "I am proud of who I am."

Since retiring 23 years ago, this aging adventurer has accomplished several physically demanding goals.

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A Force of Nature
By Joan Lynch of Northeastern Magazine

You could write a book about the adventures of Emily Kimball, LA'54, but she's already done that. Twice.

The 83-year-old is an ardent environmental, civil rights, and anti-ageist activist who's in constant motion. She hikes, bikes, plays tennis twice a week, participates in three writing groups, and promotes herself as "The Aging Adventurer," an outdoor enthusiast who channels lessons learned on the hiking trail into a motivational public-speaking business that funds her travels.

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THE LYRICAL RISKTAKER (and Remarkable Emily Kimball)
Posted on February 19, 2015 by Martha Mabey
On Older Women Doing Remarkable Things

Whooping and hollering at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, an elated Emily Kimball proclaimed to all who would listen: "We have just ridden our bikes 4,800 miles across America!" She had also achieved one of her dreams, and as she joyfully strolled into the ocean, 62 year old Emily held her bike high overhead like a trophy.

Her ad in Adventure Cycling Magazine for fellow cyclists brought many replies; ultimately five of them started off together. "We were all so different," she says, "yet wedded to biking, and thrilled with anticipation as we started out to cycle across America."

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Emily Kimball is the Aging Adventurer
Posted: Thursday, December 25, 2014 10:30 pm
By REX SPRINGSTON Richmond Times-Dispatch

Emily Kimball is slowing down, but she's not rusting out.

Kimball, who bills herself as the Aging Adventurer, writes and speaks about ways older people — actually, all people — can live their dreams.

"You can take chances in life, and you can fail and you can come back, and you can get sick and you can get better," said Kimball, 83. "People limit themselves, I feel. They have too many fears."

To make her case, she frequently relies on Exhibit A — her life.

A lover of the outdoors, Kimball finally landed her dream job — outdoor recreation manager for Chesterfield County's parks and recreation department — at age 48.

She saved her money, retired at 60, and in several trips over the next decade, hiked the Appalachian Trail, more than 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine. In her early 60s, she rode her bike 4,700 miles across the country.

Other adventures, according to Kimball, have included hiking along the South West Coast Path in England, backpacking on Georgia's Cumberland Island, canoeing roughly 240 miles on the Suwanee River in Georgia and Florida, and making a 10-day wilderness survival trip in the Utah mountains.

On the survival trip, Kimball and others caught small animals to eat, including some sort of wild rat and a snake, she said. "The snake was good. It tasted like chicken." She also survived bouts with breast cancer at ages 71 and 80.

Kimball spoke during a recent interview at her apartment in the Carriage Hill complex in northern Henrico County. A tall, thin, athletic-looking woman with short, brownish-gray hair, Kimball said she tries to do something active at least five days a week, including biking, swimming, walking and tennis.

"You've got 20 or 30 years now from when you retire to when you become frail, and those years are precious," Kimball said.

Kimball owns a lifestyle planning and speaking business called Make it Happen! In 2009, she self-published a book, "Appalachian Trail Stories and Other Adventures: Living Your Dreams at 60 and Beyond."

Sally Chamberlin, who lives near Richmond's Bryan Park, heard Kimball speak at the park's nature center in November.

"Our group was mesmerized by her tales of hiking the Appalachian Trail," Chamberlin said. "Her energy and enthusiasm were inspiring, while her sense of humor kept us in stitches."

"What is special about her is that her joy for life is contagious. One can't help but feel wonderful around her."

Kimball is working on another book about the transitions of her life. And she has had a few.

A native of Boston, she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Northeastern University in Boston and a master's in sociology from Boston University. She married and had three children, now adults. Her early jobs included a stint as a community organizer — "just like Obama" — in South Philadelphia.

In 1970, she came to the Richmond area, where her husband had gotten a teaching job at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kimball and her husband divorced, and she got a job in the mid-1970s as a field representative for the Virginia Office on Aging. She worked there four years. But Kimball longed to be outside. "I wanted to make my passion my work."

She quit her state job and went on a roughly two-year odyssey that included a nationwide job hunt, temp work, no work and the study of ecology and other outdoor-related subjects at VCU.

"I absolutely remember her," Charles Blem, a now-retired VCU biology professor, said by email. "She was very determined to have a career in outdoor education. ... She was a one-in-a-million student."

Why the drive to be outside?

"Being outdoors is sort of my religion," Kimball said. "It just makes me happy to be on the trail. All of your cares kind of fade away when you are out there walking in nature."

Kimball acknowledged that she is slowing down — "You have to lower expectations about how much you can do in one day" — but she is planning more outdoor trips, including a seven-day bike ride in Florida in March.

"I'm still having adventures," she said.

(804) 649-6453

The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Virginia, June 9, 2006
By Cynthia T. Pegram

When Emily Kimball's bike developed two flat tires while on a cycling trip along the Erie Canal, she met one of the "new aging persons" hard at work. The 68-year-old woman's job was to walk 15 miles along the canal and look for debris, downed trees and graffiti. "This is a really good job for me," the woman told her as they spoke - she had osteoporosis and weight-bearing exercise is good for the brittle bone disorder. "It makes me walk 75 miles a week."

Kimball, who at 74 is also one of the new aging persons, spoke Thursday at Lynchburg College at the first day of a two-day conference of the Beard Center on Aging and the Life Course. "I felt so blessed I had the two flat tires, at that time, to meet this energized woman, who was not letting the fact that she had osteoporosis turn her into a couch potato," said Kimball, who at age 62 rode her touring bicycle - 4,700 miles across America.

Kimball's career was in leisure management and she is now a speaker nationwide. Her topic Thursday was a brand-new stage of life dubbed "elderhood" - that 20 to 30 year-span after the busy "middle years" and before frail old age. A time that can be filled with good health and the financial means to enjoy it. "We're the first generation to experience it," she said. "What are we going to do with this gift from God, from medicine and good health?" Society hasn't caught up with it, she said. "They're still talking about how the older people are going to bankrupt Social Security."

Within the culture of new aging persons, "80% of us are out there (are) giving back to society, having a really good time and moving ahead with our lives and trying to stay on top of the inevitable illnesses." Yes, she said, those will come. "I don't want to be a Pollyanna." She developed a stress fracture in her knee. And she's had breast cancer. But her fracture meant she began the writing she'd always hoped to do. And although it crashed her plans to walk the Appalachian Trail in six months, she started a business and completed the 2,168-mile hike a month at a time over years.

"So much is in how you handle and how you move on with your life and get through these things," she said. She urged the audience to think how to think of the 20 years between 55 and 75 - or beyond -as a challenge, and not a time to reflect only what had been accomplished in the past. "This is a new stage of life," she said. "Look at your life and get down that core, that alternative self, maybe you couldn't find in the busy middle years."

Like the transitions of adolescence, the stage of life between leaving employment and frail old age is important. You can have all the money in the world, but if you haven't thought about your lifestyle after retirement, you could be one unhappy cookie." This is a phase of life where people construct their own life course - a post-retirement lifestyle.

She told of her friend who had always wanted to play violin. Her son had taken violin as a youngster. At age 74, a retired psychiatric nurse, she signed up for a Suzuki violin class - with children of 7 and 10 and 12 and college students. "I was so proud of her practicing away. The violin is not an easy thing." She invited Kimball to her first concert -in which she would be playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Kimball went to see her friend along with "tiny kids and tiny violins." "Afterwards she said to me, "Emily I was so embarrassed -you are the only one I invited to attend."

Kimball said that new aging persons should be wary of ageism and of naysayers. Like racism, ageism "is an insidious ingredient in our contemporary culture and it often goes unrecognized." She told of speaking to a group about aging and one woman said, "What if, what you want to do, people will laugh at you?" "All my life I've wanted to roller skate," the woman continued, but she was afraid people would think she was a crazy old lady. Kimball tried to reassure her, when an older woman came from the back of the audience and handed the woman a piece of paper. It said: "Call me. I want to roller skate, too."

1. Style Magazine


Richmonder Emily Kimball says her appearance in a documentary on productive aging is her coming-of-age.

When Emily Kimball's phone rings, she answers: "Emily Kimball, Make It Happen!" The answer refers to the name of her motivational speaking and consulting business. At 72, the retired outdoor recreation manager for Chesterfield County's Parks and Recreation Department is happy to report she's as active as ever. And her efforts to prove it have not gone unnoticed.

On Sunday, April 11, Kimball will be featured in a PBS documentary called "Forward in Time." Airing locally on WCVE Channel 23, the hour-long special focuses on seniors who employ "productive aging" skills to enjoy a better quality of life. It is produced by Parallel Lines Video and is hosted by actress Mercedes Ruehl. Kimball was contacted after a producer for the program saw the Richmonder's Web site: www.theagingadventurer.com.

For the PBS program, Donna Wagner, director of the Center for Productive Aging of Towson University, came to Richmond to interview Kimball. The documentary shows Kimball riding her bicycle along Monument Avenue and hiking in James River Park. She joins actress Doris Roberts and sculptor Bob Berks in examining issues of concern to seniors.

Kimball seems excited, though not surprised, by the exposure. Calling herself the Aging Adventurer, she regularly speaks to audiences about her ideas of "creatively" growing old. She's no superhero, she says, just a senior citizen with a lot of life left and the inclination, if not always the energy, to make her dreams come true.

Apart from tennis, cycling and hiking are her passions. When Kimball decided in 1992 to ride her bike across country and hike the Appalachian Trail, she didn't let her poor hearing or osteoporosis stand in her way.

"I use my adventures as a platform to speak about goals and the risks you must take to make dreams happen," she says, adding: "My message is actually ageless."

It is one that preaches perseverance more than strength or speed. When a stress fracture threatened to halt her dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail in a single trip, Kimball decided to set a different goal. She hiked one month each year and after nine she'd completed the 2,168 miles it takes to reach Maine's highest mountain and the northern terminus of the trail, Mount Katahdin. That was two years ago, when she was 70.

"The last four miles were pure rock and I didn't think I'd get over this one ledge," she says. In a move she calls "miraculous," Kimball learned to use the rock to her advantage. She reached the top, and now says, "You can't let obstacles get in the way of your heart's desire." B.W.

2. Richmond Magazine, January 2002


A rewarding way to spend retirement might be only an idea away. Seniors - or anyone seeking to add some spice to their life - should check out Emily Kimball's booklet, "A Resource Guide for Aging Adventurers: Unusual, Sometimes Inexpensive Opportunities for Volunteering, Learning, Traveling and Adventure."

A professional speaker, Kimball has addressed issues of aging and retirement for 10 years. Her message? Retirement is no time to be wasting time.

"We have a lot of healthy years after retirement," says Kimball, an active senior who recently celebrated her 70th birthday by going swimming with Florida manatees.

Kimball retired at age 60 from her position as outdoor recreation manager with Chesterfield County. She saved her money and then sought out "unusual and unique opportunities." As a "life enrichment speaker," for example, Kimball was able to take three cruises for a nominal daily fee in exchange for her giving an hour-long daily lecture on a topic of her choice. She describes similar opportunities with cruise lines in the booklet.

The Resource Guide also provides information about home stays, travel clubs, home exchanges, caretaking others' exotic properties, traveling as a courier or working in a national park.

To order a copy mail a check for $10.60 to Make It Happen!! P.O. Box 472, Chesterfield, VA 23832.

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3.This article originally appeared in, Issue 4, 2002 of Innovation, A Publication of the National Council on the Aging.

Emily Kimball: The Aging Adventurer

By Donna Childress, Associate Editor of Innovations

NCOA member Emily Kimball is not content just to dream. Since she turned 61, the self-described Aging Adventurer has ridden a loaded bicycle 4,700 miles across America and has hiked all 2,168 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Now 71, she owns her own business, Make It Happen!, and speaks to audiences all across America, sharing her outdoor adventures and urging others to follow their dreams.

A poster child for vital aging she has lived many of her own dreams since she retired, and her conviction that others can do the same is strong. When she speaks to audiences, she often draws on her own experiences from the trail. The ultimate role model, she talks the talk and walks the walk, often while carrying a heavy pack.

While Kimball grew up as a tomboy who loved the outdoors, her pursuit of long adventures began later in life. After raising three kids and undergoing a divorce, she felt she needed something for herself. She took a class called "Backpacking for People over 40" and liked both the physical exertion of hiking and the self-sufficient feel of setting up a tent. Soon her interest spread to biking, and she took a nine-month sabbatical to pedal through England, Ireland, Wales and New Zealand. Then Kimball set two retirement goals: to bike from Virginia to Washington state and to hike from Georgia to Maine.

Next, she made a plan for achieving those goals. She took in a boarder and started counting pennies to pay for her adventures. She searched for companions to make the bike trip with her. When an injury kept her from hiking the Appalachian Trail in one long several-month shot, she divided the hike into segments and, over a nine-year period, backpacked for one month each summer.

Her planning and perseverance paid off. She reached the Pacific by bike at age 62, and completed the Appalachian Trail in Mt. Katahdin, Maine, last August at age 70.

In her 60's she also hiked coast to coast in England and biked around Lake Ontario, Nova Scotia's Prince Edward Island, and New York's Finger Lakes. She has also biked on Washington's San Juan Islands, on Canada's Vancouver Island, and from Pennsylvania to Maine. Her adventures continue even now.

Not all of her memories are associated with travel. Some have been the intergenerational friendships she has developed with fellow adventurers. She tells the story of one young man she met at a shelter along the Appalachian Trail who, after talking with her, watched her pondering the river and wrote a song for her on a torn paper bag. Called "Blue Tickets," the song captures her standing on a bridge looking at the river as though it were both her life and a carnival, and she had a pocket full of the blue tickets and was waiting to see what whimsical fun this river would take her to next. "He really caught my essence," she said.

Kimball suggests the following steps to seniors who often come to hear her speak about her adventures.

  • Be focused. Figure out what is your dream, your priority
  • Be determined. Things may go wrong. There will be naysayers, and often they are your best friends and family. "Of my friends my own age, very few of them understand why I do what I do," Kimball says. Her advice for dealing with naysayers: "Be kind to them, but don't listen to them."
  • Make a plan. Researching how you can achieve your goals will allay your fears.
  • Seek support. "You can do it alone, but you really people to understand." She said. She takes trips with hiking and biking clubs, where kindred spirits abound. She also develops friendships with people of all ages, which connects her to a younger generation.
  • Be willing to take risks. Once you have the focus, the determination, the plan and the support the risk taking is easier.

Being physically active at an older age may be challenging. Still, "your attitude is very important as to how you are aging," says Kimball. The body may change, but the mind must stay open. Emily emphasizes that it is her perseverance, not perfect health that has enabled her to achieve her goals. She has osteoporosis and two hearing aids, and has had a bout with sciatica. "I look like a powerful person, but I am not. I am a determined person."

For more inspiration, visit Kimball's Web site at www.theagingadventurer.com or e-mail her at etkimball@aol.com

4. Lutheran Woman Today, June 2002


By Kathleen Hall

We are all multidimensional beings, blessed with unique talents and gifts. Unfortunately, we don't come with user's manuals to help us make the most of our blessings. I recently caught up with Emily Kimball, the "Aging Adventurer." At 70, Emily is truly an inspiration for making the most of one's life. Her numerous outdoor adventures include riding her bike across the United States at age 62, and continuing to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 250-mile increments.

How long have you been participating in these outdoor adventures?

Since I was a child and went to camp. But it wasn't until I was in my forties and facing a divorce that I really began to actively pursue my passion and love for the out of doors.

So your divorce was a catalyst of sorts?

Stress was, and there are many causes of stress; divorce is just one. Stress can just as easily stem from money troubles, career burn-out, empty-nest syndrome, or retirement. Major life stresses often cause us to stop and re-evaluate. I was a newly single mother with three young children. I realized I had to do something for myself and take charge of my life. So I joined the local bicycling club and met other people who liked the same things I did.

How do you blend spirituality into your adventures?

To me, spirituality is about getting in touch with your core self. It's hard to do that when you are busy all the time. Spending time doing something you love is a way to extend your spirituality outside the formal church service. It involves your whole being and all your senses. There's a difference in the silence I experience in my Quaker meeting where I feel a deep connection with the people, and the silence of the trail, where I feel a deep affinity with nature and the universe.

It is important to find places in life where you are pleased to be, even if it's for just a short period at a time. Find ways to slow your life down - like practicing yoga, or tai chi, or setting aside daily meditation time. When I go on very long hikes, I am able to forget about the day-to-day stuff and become very relaxed. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as it's something you are passionate about and helps you get to a deeper layer of self.

One of my friends is learning the violin, another is gardening, and another travels abroad and paints. The important thing is to allow yourself this time and to claim responsibility for yourself. We get caught up in the fast-moving river of life, but if we pause to take charge, we can shape what's coming by.

This seems to be especially difficult for women.

I encourage women to take time for things that they love. It's not selfish. It makes you a better mother, worker, wife. You become a more interesting and dimensional being. It's important to latch onto things that you really enjoy when you're in your busy middle years. It's good preparation for retirement, when you have the time to take your interests and passions deeper and further.

What are some of your unique gifts, and how do they help you in your life's journey?

Well, I think I have a lot of determination. And I'm definitely a risk taker. My divorce made me take responsibility for my own life. I went back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for eleven years. Then I quit a high paying job because it was too bureaucratic. I changed careers so that I could work outdoors.

I am also a good planner and find ways to make things happen. When I was in my fifties I had a job I loved, but I burned out. I asked for a sabbatical and got it. I rode my bike around New Zealand. It was so wonderful that I began planning for how I could retire. I retired at 60 and rode my bike across the country. When I returned, I still needed to make a living, so I started my business, Make It Happen!. Now I make presentations to audiences around the country, sharing ideas for aging creatively, taking risks, and making the most of your life.

You Make it all sound so easy.

I've found that as you make a change in one area of your life, it opens doors in other areas that maybe you never thought about. I never imagined when I asked for a sabbatical that it would take my life in a new direction. We all have the capacity to take charge, but we don't. We complain or blame others. I see others underestimate what they can do in life. I've had my share of failures, and I've learned valuable lessons from them.

How do you recommend that people stop and grab hold of life?

Find compatible people who share your values and beliefs and support you. Allow yourself time to reflect on your goals. Retreats can provide a good, structured place to reflect and figure out who you are and evaluate where you are headed at different life junctures.

5. Spirituality and Health, Summer 2003, Summer 2001

Emily Kimball ------ Aging Adventurer

Emily Kimball wants everyone to know that she's perfectly average. Sure, over the past ten years she's ridden her bike some 4,700 miles across the country, hiked from coast to coast in England, and backpacked 1,700 miles of the Appalachian Trail. And yes, she's 69. But she explains, "I'm not a rich person, not particularly strong. I'm the slowest biker on the road, the slowest hiker on the trail……I just go out there and love it, and I have stamina. I'm slow, but I can still move forward."

A few years ago when she returned from her cross-country bike trip, she was dismayed that so many people told her they could never do anything like that. "It really hurt me to hear how people undersold the potential they had in their lives," says the self-described aging adventurer. "The challenge of figuring out your life, and doing with it what you want, I find very creative and very fun," So Emily started a business called Make It Happen!! And now leads presentations and workshops in making dreams happen, risk taking, and "creative aging."

As she tells her story, she weaves the threads of her failures into the sturdy cloth of her accomplishments. When a 1992 stress fracture put an end to Emily's dream of hiking the trail in six months, she returned home depressed. But soon she realized "I can do this a different way!" Now she returns to the trail each summer, starting at the place where she left off the year before, doing 200 miles each time. This summer, she will spend her 70th birthday on the trail, which she hopes to complete by the year 2002.

Emily balances spending time with her three grown children, hiking and biking, speaking engagements, volunteer work, and going to Quaker meetings. "To me, religion is acting on your values," she says, and her involvement in the Quaker faith has deepened through work camps and prison-based education programs. While she enjoys the silence of the Quaker meeting, she finds more sustenance in the silence of the trail. "The world is so hectic and just being out on the trail, putting my feet on the dirt, and making my body do the work, fills me with joy and brings back my spirit."

Looking forward to her 70's, Emily has a long list of ideas: perhaps a bike trip in China, more hiking in England or touring Greece. She hasn't decided yet but is sure it will come to her through her own slow, steady progress, and the silence of the trail.

For more information about the Aging Adventurer, write Make It Happen!! 4907 Beaver Lane, #104, Richmond, VA 23228 or email etkimball@aol.com

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6. Columbia Star, November 16,2000

By Dave L'Heureux, Staff Writer

Emily Kimball has backpacked 1,700 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and bicycled 4,700 miles of highway across the United States.

She spent last summer on a lengthy walking tour of England. Next year, she hopes to hike the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

And why not? She's only 69 years young.

"It's Never Too Late to Make It Happen!," she told more than 250 people Wednesday at the two-day S.C. Conference on Aging in Columbia. "It's never too soon to begin."

Kimball, of Richmond, Va., began her search for adventure after retiring in 1991 an outdoor recreation manager for Chesterfield County, Va.

In 1993, Kimball and three women bicycled coast-to-coast from Virginia to Washington in 114 days. They weathered rain and high winds in the Rockies and Cascades, dodged coal trucks in Kentucky and helped harvest wheat in Kansas.

"But to wake up and look out of your tent to see the sun rise over the Grand Tetons is just one of those moments you never forget," she said.

Kimball urged her audience to look beyond the day's obligations to what will truly make them happy. "We suffer from the disease of busy-ness," she said. "And busy-ness is comfortable; it helps us avoid taking risks in our lives."

She advised her listeners to set aside time each day to understand their inner wants, and then to collect information to act on those wants.

"The fear of failure holds us back," she said. "Take the time to focus on what you would like to do. Then set your plans and take the risk."

Kimball said a 75-year-old woman named Loretta answered an ad to hike with her along part of the Appalachian Trail.

"Loretta was very self-conscious of her age, but she still reached out for something new," said Kimball. "Last year, she helped me hike more than 200 miles of the trail between New York and Vermont."

Kimball also spoke of Harold, an 83-year-old friend in a wheelchair who learned to carve wood.

"Harold's wife was so excited when he started talking about woodworking," she said. "We all can still make things happen in our life, regardless of our age."

The two-day conference is seeking to form partnerships between professionals and retirees concerned about the well-being of older South Carolinians.

People over 65 now form the fastest-growing group in the United States. That growth will accelerate in the next 11 years, as the first baby boomers hit 65.

The conference held at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center featured a series of workshops on long-term care, financial services, public policy, diversity and other topics.

At a Wednesday evening dinner, Gloria Bonali of Conway was honored as the year's Outstanding Older South Carolinian

Bonali has been active throughout the state in advocating prosecution of telemarketing fraud, repealing state sales taxes on food and other issues of interest to the elderly.

Other award winners include: Ronald E. Carnes of Darlington, Corona S. Harrigan of Coosawhatchie and the "Senior Lifestyles" quarterly in Sumter.

Esther Canja, president of the AARP, will speak at 10 a.m. today at the Sheraton on "A New Era of Aging…A New Set of Challenges."

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7. Rockford Illinois Register Star

Emily Kimball, Aging Adventurer

Success: Emily completes cross America bike trip

Inspirational hiker and biker Emily Kimball stresses the value of a 'leisure ethic' in her YWCA Leader Luncheon Speech.

When Emily turned 55 she suddenly realized she was "burned out" from her job as leisure manager for Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation in Virginia.

So Kimball asked her boss if she could take a sabbatical to realize her dream of bicycling in New Zealand.

Five years later she backpacked 200 miles on the Appalachian Trail and cycled the coasts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. At 62, Kimball cycled 4,700 miles across America.

The experiences were an eye-opener for Kimball who shared her inspirational coming-of-age story with a packed house at the YWCA Leader Luncheon Monday at the Clock Tower Resort Conference Center.

The luncheon is the YWCA's annual award banquet honoring past, present and future women leaders in the Rockford community.

Kimball, 68, hasn't stopped setting goals. She has hiked 1,600 miles of the Appalachian Trail so far and is eager to complete the remaining 530 miles beginning this summer in Manchester, VT The entire trail runs from Georgia to Maine through the Appalachian mountain range.

I'm not super rich, and I'm really the slowest biker on the road," Kimball said.

But if you're willing to take the risks and have the determination you can make your dreams happen."

Kimball encouraged women in the crowd to immerse themselves in activities that make them happy and to have the determination to follow through on their goals.

It's a sad statement on today's society that I call the disease of business," Kimball said.

If you have a work ethic, then you must also have a leisure ethic. You need determination, planning and the willingness to take risks.

Several audience members lined up to get Kimball's autograph after her rousing speech.

Kimball's philosophy on life dovetails nicely into the YWCA's plans, said director Pam Clark Reidenbach. Workers are putting the finishing touches on the new $2 million YWCA facility at 4990 E, State St., near Rockford College.

"We hope to move in this May," Reidenbach said. "Our focus for the new millennium is programs that look at women's economic self-sufficiency, child care issues and girls' empowerment."

The new building will house the agency's Child Care Solutions programs providing child care referrals from parents and job readiness programs and support services for single parents.

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8. The Wall Street Journal, October, 1997

Spending It

Ok, enough of this leisure thing. Time to get back to work.-By L.A. Winokur

A working retirement?
It sounds like a paradox. After all, work is work, and retirement has traditionally been regarded as the opposite: not working, the endless weekend or worse, the end of the line. But those days, the old distinctions are beginning to blur as people realize all too soon in their retirement that the life of leisure for which they have spent years preparing is the last thing they really want.

Indeed, many people haven't considered what they actually want to do when the time comes. Emily Kimball, a 66-year old retiree who runs Make It Happen!! , a lifestyle-planning business in Richmond, Va., says most people are so busy during the years typically thought of as middle age that they "arrive breathless at the door of retirement and haven't been in touch with who they really are."

Barbara Collins, an account executive in the Philadelphia offices of Drake Beam Morin Inc., a nationwide outplacement firm offering retirement services, among other things, seconds that observation. "Relatively few people do much planning on the activity end," she says. "So when the time comes, they have no clue as to what they're going to do with themselves."

These people for the first time are completely on their own. No structure. No boundaries. No rules. They are utterly free to choose how they pass their time, and the freedom can be overwhelming.

Ms. Kimball says the transition to retirement can be eased if people start thinking about the lifestyle they would like to have well before they are ready to retire, and preferably as early as when they are in their mid-40's. That way they can start trying their hand at things and "won't be all awash when they get there."

However, those who are already there aren't necessarily trapped in a nightmare of enforced idleness. The point, say the experts, is to discard conventional notions of retirement and define it in your own terms. That could mean volunteer work 20, 30 or even 40 hours a week, or continuing education, or an artistic pursuit. Whatever the activity, says Gail Sheehy, author of "Passages," the megaselling 1974 book on the stages of adult life, the secret to a successful retirement "is to find your passion and pursue it with full heart and mind."

That's now more important than ever, since people are living lo0nger and staying healthier longer. A longer life combined with the fact that the typical corporate employee is still expected to retire at age 65 and in some settings is considered over the hill even earlier, gives rise to the prospect of a retirement stretching not just years but decades into the future. For the many people who feel that work informs and gives shape to their lives, and that prospect can be a bleak one.

As Ms. Sheehy puts it, the retirement years have become "too long a time to spend shaving a few strokes off your golf handicap." In fact, she says, "excitement about life" and "feeling useful" are two absolutely nonnegotiable things that keep people full of hope, health and energy in the years after 60. Both of these things are very much involved with what one decided about retirement."

The risk is that without a life focused on the present, a retiree will become consumed with the past, says Allan Fromme, a clinical psychologist who over the years has counseled a number of executives on matters of retirement, as well as retirees in New York and Florida. The ultimate irony, Dr. Fromme and other experts point out, is that the very people who have been too preoccupied with building their retirement nest egg to plan what they want to do with it are those best positioned to enjoy it.

"The ones who don't need the money and can follow their hearts in retirement," Dr. From says, "they are the lucky ones."

Here's a look at a fortunate few who have managed to redefine their retirement.

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Feature Stories about Emily have appeared:

Richmond Magazine, January 2002

Spirituality and Health, Summer June 2003, Summer 2001

Innovations, Issue 4, 2002 (on cover)

Lutheran Woman Today, June 2002

Rockport Register Star, Illinois 2000

Family Circle, September 17, 2002

Columbia Star, November 16,2000

Richmond Times Dispatch Newspaper, 1994. 1996. 1998

Lifestyle Magazine, 1994

Fifty Plus, 1998 (on cover)

Focus 55 Newsletter, Central Fidelity Bank (summer 1997)

Lifestyle Magazine, 1994

Quoted in:
Wall Street Journal, "Retired and Restless," October 6,1997

Emily Kimball
4907 Beaver Lane, #104
Richmond, VA 23228
(804) 358-4959