By Judy Tacyn
Approaching the “big 5-0” has been known to trigger a panic attack for even the most accomplished, successful and fulfilled people. In her fourth book, “50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life,” Maria Leonard Olsen shares an intimate look into her own collision course with this life milestone. On Thursday, March 14, at the Broadneck Library, the Bethesda-based lawyer and author will remind the audience that there is a lot more living to do once we can get our mind past the number.
“In our society, 50 is a reckoning point for most people,” Olsen said. “Our children, if we have them, are usually launched or nearly adults, we have a greater sense of self and our careers and financial situations are more likely to be stable. Actuarially speaking, we are in the third-third of our lives once we pass 50. Increased access to good health care has increased longevity, so people are starting new careers and other exciting ventures in mid-life.”
At 49, Olsen was in the midst of a divorce after drinking away her problems during a 25-year marriage. The recently sober empty-nester realized she had to change almost everything about her life. For her 50th birthday, she challenged herself to try 50 new things to design how she would like to live the next chapter in her life. The challenge would be the best birthday present she ever received.
“I experienced much pain in my life but found ways of moving beyond it and thriving after setbacks that included sexual assault, racism, addiction and divorce,” Olsen said. “I derive joy and purpose by sharing my hard-fought lessons with others and seek to help others and to spread hope.”
The author will share concrete ways to drink fully from the cup of life. For the younger set, this book and poignant conversation may serve as a compendium of things to know earlier in life.
“At my book events, at least one or two people approach me in tears about things I have said that have helped them,” Olsen said. “I tried 50 new things to help me become the best version of myself. Many people of all ages have bought this book for friends who need a boost in life or encouragement with specific tips on how to improve their lives.”
Olsen will share how she made her 50-to-do list — which included physical challenges, travel and adventure, and the rewards of each new activity — in the hopes she might help readers spark a passion to find joy in their life and treasure themselves.
“There will be something for everyone,” Olsen said. “It’s your life and it’s up to you what you do with it. Come learn how to be intentional with one of our most precious and uncertain commodities: time.”
Olsen’s conversation will begin at 6:30pm. For more information, visit the Anne Arundel County Public Library website at www.aacpl.net.
Visit www.marialeonardolsen.com for more on the author and her previous three titles: “Not the Cleaver Family: The New Normal in Modern American Families,” “Healing for Hallie” and “Mommy, Why’s Your Skin So Brown?”
Olsen also hosts writing and empowerment retreats for women, and is a co-host of the “Inside Out” radio show on WPFW-FM, 89.3, in Washington, D.C.
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