Just show up, a retiree’s new motto for life

Cindy Brewer is just one of those kind of people that you are simply drawn to when she enters a room. Her friendly and bubbly personality attracts people. And although she is enjoying life, and challenging herself to do a number of new things before her birthday in June (86 new things), this high powered approach to life was not always the case.

“Just show up is one of my favorite quotes. Even if you can do just a small part in something, then once you kind of find your mecca or your world then you can explore other avenues. Then you don’t have to be so cautious,” explained Cindy.

As an example, she talked about when she had first moved back to Sioux City in 1990. Her husband had been offered a job here. Cindy had graduated from Morningside College in 1982, she loved and remembered the area, and still had a few friends here. 

“I wanted to join the Junior League because I wanted more than just my career; I wanted to give back to the community. The organization is an excellent non-profit for volunteers. But the people involved there are absolute power houses. For me, it turned into a learning experience. When I first started out there, I was one of those quiet people that always stayed to the back of the room and just watched and took it all in. Then I got involved with one of the committees, and from then on it was game on!” stated Cindy.

So how does one find their mecca or world in which to explore new avenues? The answer may be simpler than you think.

It all goes back to having a conversation. I’m not talking about sending someone a text. That’s an instant way to get in contact with someone, but it isn’t having a conversation and getting to know them and making a personal connection. Its calling and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going down to the Discovery Shop for an hour. Come down and join me’,” explained Cindy.

She sited another instance where she and three of her friends hopped into her car and they took a road trip to Okoboji to go experience a TED Talk. (A TED Talk is an event where the speaker talks about ideas worth spreading to influence and in some cases, change the world.) Being so inspired by the talk, the foursome kept discussing in the car ride back to Sioux City the idea that if Okoboji could hold a TED Talk, then Sioux City should be able to do that, too.

Today, TED Talks are part of the communications program at Western Iowa Tech, in part due to that discussion on the drive back home with one of her friends.

Now after having worked in a number of different careers, and at one time being the President of the Junior League here in Sioux City, Cindy looks at challenges a bit differently.

“I just jump right in and try new things. I’m not always worrying about being a failure because things always have a way of working out, it really does,” advised Cindy.

So, what is it that pushes her to keep thriving, striving, and trying new things in life?

 “When I turned 50, I viewed it as a milestone, and I wanted to do something important. So, I vowed to do 50 new things that year in my life. It was an incredible year! So, the next year, I vowed to do 51 new things. It’s a tradition I’ve kept up,” said Cindy. 

Although the number of things to accomplish in a year doesn’t necessarily correlate with her age anymore, a tool she uses to accomplish that goal is a binder that Cindy keeps with many new things she wants to try in her life.

“My binder is super-thick. I live for it. It’s life changing. It allows me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. I get new experiences, and those are some of the most beautiful parts of my life. That’s what being ALIVE means. How do you find joy, spirituality, and God?  I find joy by doing new things that have a positive impact on people’s lives. One of the new things I did this year was be a guest on a podcast. And I got through it, a normal person,” said Cindy.

Still involved with volunteering in the Siouxland area, Cindy finds herself speaking to groups of people of all ages on a regular basis. Even those opportunities present opportunities to give back in ways you might not have thought of at first.

“I’m a pen-pal now to a fourth grader in Spirit Lake, Iowa. I spoke in her class. She and her classmates wrote me the cutest note thanking me for speaking there, I wrote back to them, and now I have a pen-pal in Spirit Lake. I know I’ll impact that little girl’s life in some way now,” replied Cindy.

Viewing her life in retrospect, Cindy had this as a closing comment.

“Once I retired, I looked back at what I had done in my life. I looked back at my life in my 30’s and my life in my 20’s, and I kept wishing that I would have done more to give back. But then I started thinking, and at that time in my life, I was doing what I needed to be doing. I was getting established in my career, I was taking care of my family, and those were my priorities at that time in my life. I didn’t have the time to be able to give back then. Now that I’m retired, I make the time to be able to give back,” said Cindy.

This article is just a preview of Season 2, Episode 5 of Starting Conversations with Stacie and Tony podcast. Listen to the entire inspiring podcast on your favorite platform, and while you are there, don’t forget to subscribe to catch future episodes. 

By Amy Buster

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