What is your life’s purpose?
To inform and inspire every generation to move beyond fear of aging and to embrace advancing years as the opportunity to not only grow old but to grow whole.
How are you living your purpose?
As the author of 30 books about adult development, I am a pioneer on the cutting edge of the Boomer generation as we have advanced through every life stage. Now that my own generation is “coming into age,” I continue to chronicle my adventures and share my sources of inspiration with others through my writing. I also walk my talk, taking plenty of quiet time and space to enjoy simply being, finding as many opportunities to give and receive love, and encountering life’s inevitable challenges with as much courage and grace as possible.
How did you find your purpose?
My name Carol means song of joy. I took on the often-daunting challenge of attempting to fulfill this promise by becoming “a seeker” early on and a voracious consumer of wisdom from a wide variety of eras and traditions. I was also a writer, capturing my personal psycho-spiritual discoveries about life and meaning, first in journals, then in books. I found encouragement along the way with a sense of both deepening and progress.
In midlife, I followed my urge to get a formal academic education in theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School and received a doctorate in History and Critical Theory of Religion, specializing in adult development. I began to see older age not as a problem to be overcome, but as a psychological and spiritual opportunity to fulfill one’s full human potential. I came to understand that to experience joy, one must become willing to embrace the shadow as well as the light. I am living my own older age as a life stage with a meaning and purpose of its own and my enthusiasm for all of life is more like water overflowing a dam than any kind of organized effort.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Finding purpose is more a matter of receiving than pursuing. This takes lots of quiet time and space, long walks in nature, reading contemplative literature, meditating, patience, and the like. This is so counterintuitive to the mainstream approach, which often motivates seekers to chase after possibilities, trying things out, taking classes and so on. There’s a place for that too, but it’s a balance. And ironically, you won’t know where the balance lies unless you take lots of quiet time and space to feel your way through. Becoming willing to receive takes a leap of faith!
What resources do you recommend?
You are invited to sign up for a free subscription to Fierce with Age, The Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration and Spirituality. Every month, I share the top 6 to 10 inspirational readings I have encountered over the course of the month, along with links to their source. This includes books, websites, and organizations. You can also search the archives by subject matter and be led to the entire web of the conscious aging movement.
My most recent book is The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older (co-author Dr. Robert L. Weber), winner of gold in the category of Consciously Aging, Nautilus Book Awards 2015. This book not only serves as a basic primer to the conscious aging movement, but has excellent resources and exercises in the appendices.
My blog Older, Wiser, Fiercer captures my real-time writing about my life experiences and discoveries and is available at CarolOrsborn.com. I lead retreats and give talks, and information/access to my offerings is available on any of my websites and social media.
The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older
Fierce with Age: Chasing God and Squirrels in Brooklyn
Vibrant Nation: What Boomer Women 50+ Know, Think, Do and Buy
The Art of Resilience: 100 Paths to Wisdom and Strength in an Uncertain World
Nothing Left Unsaid: Words to Help You and Your Loved Ones Through the Hardest Times
Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., is Founder of Fierce with Age, the free monthly Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration and Spirituality. Carol, who earned her doctorate in religion from Vanderbilt University, is the best-selling author of 30 books, including The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older (co-author Dr. Robert L. Weber), winner of gold in the category of Consciously Aging, Nautilus Book Awards 2015. Carol’s blog Older, Wiser, Fiercer is available at CarolOrsborn.com.