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Embracing my Third Act: Enter Stage Right

By Stephanie Shea

Ever since moving to the Pacific Northwest with my husband a number of years ago, I have been lucky to have the freedom to explore my wide ranging and somewhat eclectic interests. Teaching, painting, playing competitive tennis, hosting internet chats with mystery authors - it was an unexpected and amazing journey of discovery.

What was also unexpected was that one morning I would wake up and realize that, due to age and circumstances, I was no longer able make things happen on my own. That was when I read about an organizational meeting of a group called Eastside Neighbors Network (ENN). They frequently refer to “The Third Act” which sounded intriguing but I wasn’t at all sure I was ready walk on stage, so to speak. I am, by nature, uncomfortable going to gatherings where I don’t know anyone and usually try to hide behind the nearest plant.

Thinking back on it, what really made me actually do more than just think about broadening my horizons boiled down to a couple of things. After several chats with one of my sons, who is a practicing Buddhist, I began to realize that my circumstances were not going to change and that if I was going to have a “Third Act” I was going to have to change the way in which I reacted to those circumstances.

This may not sound like a much, but for someone who has always been independent and self contained, it means being willing to share the driver’s seat and that was a huge step. I have also come to realize that asking for help is not a character defect.

The other part of the equation was meeting a group of people who are friendly, enthusiastic and eager to make a person feel part of something. I had the feeling that if I reached out a hand someone would be there to take it but no-one was going to push me to do something I felt uncomfortable doing. This is a difficult balance that is really hard to strike and even harder to describe. Suffice it to say, it works. That was over a year and a half ago and, reluctant as I was to take that first step in a new journey, I have never regretted it.

Since then, thanks to the ENN volunteers, it has been easy to get a ride to monthly coffee and conversation meetings and to many other events that have grabbed my interest over the last few months. I have joined a book club, met a Master Gardener, a fellow artist and found all sorts of kind, interesting and generous people who are both good company and willing to lend an ear or a hand whenever needed. Like Angelina, I have no idea what will happen next but I do know that I look forward to it.