Lori Ann King grew up in central New York, just outside of Syracuse, but spent her adult life living between New York City and Kingston.
With a bachelor’s degree in recreation and a master’s in information management, Lori’s career spanned a variety of jobs. She worked in the recreation and hospitality industries, but also had jobs in marketing and web development. Lori had side hustles, too, as a writer, blogger, author, consultant, and health and wellness coach.
“A lot of the time, the different job changes was me just searching for more passion and purpose,” she explained.
A dedicated runner for more than 25 years, Lori later became a bicyclist. She met her husband, Jim, in a gym where he was teaching a strength training course.
“I kept injuring myself while running and Jim suggested that I try bicycling instead,” said Lori. “Bicycling was a childhood passion and I fell in love with it all over again.”
Drifting through an ebb-and-flow of setbacks and comebacks over the past five years, Lori’s life really took a turn for the worse in 2020. She and her husband both lost their jobs, and their van needed a new transmission just days before moving cross country. Even worse, Jim was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“In 2021, as I was turning 50, we were both going through a healing stage physically and emotionally,” said Lori. “We relocated to a new life in the desert in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.
“Even though my husband overcame cancer, we were really isolated and felt vulnerable, especially during the pandemic. As a result, we generally stuck to ourselves a bit more than usual,” she added.
Yet, that period was one of the most prolific of Lori’s life.
“I wrote three books. Jim and I wrote one together when we collaborated on his memoir. That was a really rewarding partnership,” she explained. “Then I wrote my second and third books that year as well. That process helped me understand more about what I wanted to do during the second season of my life, and to determine how I could use my life to better serve the world.”
Since 2017, Lori has published five books, including:
- Raging Love, the story of Jim’s journey through childhood abuse, racism and bullying.
- Wheels to Wellbeing, which is a self-care blueprint to help someone change his or her mindset.
- Transform: Building the Mindset to Change Your Body and Your Life, which is about achieving life-changing transformation by pursuing balanced wellness.
- Come Back Strong: Balanced Wellness After Surgical Menopause, which offers real-world advice and action steps for women experiencing the effects of menopause, whether it occurs naturally or was surgically imposed.
- Lean In or Lighten Up: Rebuilding Your Mind Toward More Positive Emotions helps men and women take control of their emotions by simply changing their thoughts and words.
“When we specifically talk about transformations, whether it’s a physical transformation or career transformation, there is a lot of advice out there,” said Lori. “For example, authors will tell people how to lose weight, get stronger, or shift from employee to entrepreneur. But, what’s missing is often the mindset changes that are so essential.
“There are going to be setbacks, challenges and wall-kicking moments where you wonder, ‘Am I on the right path?'” Lori said. “We all go through that. But, getting the right mindset involves a combination of faith mixed with our own belief system to become who we want to be.”
The transformation cycle
The problem is some transformations come on suddenly, but often linger as people work their way through all the changes.
“It’s never a straight path. There are always ebbs and flows,” said Lori. “Whether it’s a physical, career or financial transformation, it rarely happens quickly. In fact, if you look at someone who seems to be an overnight success, you don’t see the years of hard work that went into making that happen.”
Abrupt transformations require a lot of grace and kindness toward oneself. Sometimes people have time to prepare for the transition, but other times, change is trust upon them.
“Look at marriage or divorce. Often both happen gradually,” she explained. “Yet illness or surgery can come about very quickly.
“We need to extend grace and kindness toward ourselves by adopting a one-day-at-a-time attitude and not looking too far ahead,” she added. “People going through a transformation must determine what’s the next best thing – or the most important thing – they need to do in the moment.
“Sometimes it might just be spending time with a loved one or with yourself,” said Lori. “That kindness and grace goes a long way in giving ourselves the self-love we really need.”
Many times, people have to go through a healing process in order to move from one transitional stage to the next. They must grieve what they’ve lost before than can being to heal from that experience.
“There is often a physical healing taking place, but our emotions have to catch up, too,” said Lori. “There are challenges in emotional transition. You need to give yourself room to breathe, and to feel everything you’re feeling without trying to suppress it.”
Employee, entrepreneur or both
For most of her life, Lori thought someone had to be either an employee or entrepreneur. However, as she crossed the 50-year mark, she realized it was possible to wear both hats.
“Sometimes you are required to have a job and be an employee because it helps pay the bills,” she explained. “But, for me, when I was lacking any type of passion or purpose, it was important for me to wear the other hat as an entrepreneur as well.
“Right now, I’m still wearing both hats. However, I am hopeful that, someday, I can take some things off my plate,” said added. “For now, one type of work pays the bills and the other fuels my heart.”
Lori said not everyone needs an income-producing side-hustle, but they do need something that refreshes their soul and fuels their passion.
“I grew up surrounded by lakes, rivers and streams. My family had a motorboat and we spent a lot of time on the water. It was just built into my DNA,” said Lori. “I lost sight of that for a while.
“But, in my 40s, I actually started kayaking and paddleboarding again. It was something that really fueled my heart,” she added. “Being outside in nature and around water was a big part of my self-care process.”
Lori’s advice is to think back to what was enjoyable during childhood, and pursue that even as people get older. For her, it was riding a bike and being on the water. Other people may find enjoyment in volleyball, photography, art or writing.
“It doesn’t have to be a side hustle, per se, but just something your heart desires,” she explained. “You can choose to do it. The more our hearts are fed, the greater service we are to the world.
“When we live from our heart and passion, our energy changes. Then, people around us absorb our energy, too,” she added.
The need for solitude, not isolation
Over the years, Lori learned that as much as she needed isolation and solitude to fuel her heart and give her energy, too much of it resulted in sadness and loneliness.
“When I was in my 20s and 30s, I would look at my calendar and think, ‘I work nine to five, but I can do an early morning networking meeting and ride my bike in the evening, then hang out with a group of friends,” she explained. “I would fill my calendar based on the time I had available.
“The biggest life change for me, as I approached 50, was realizing I needed balance to my schedule,” said Lori. “Now I look at my calendar from an energy perspective instead of a time perspective.
“I know if I am going to an event at 6 a.m., then I have to guard my time the night before and not fill it up as well as set aside time the evening following a morning event,” she added.
“I do the same thing if I know I will be at events involving a lot of engagement with people,” said Lori. “As an introvert, that can be exhausting. For my husband, who is an extrovert, being around people works to recharge him.”
The problem is exacerbated by having families spread out, sometimes several states away.
“In the past, almost all your family was in one small community, usually within five miles of each other. Today, that’s not the case for everyone,” said Lori. “My family and my husband’s family are all back east. It’s important that we be intentional in spending time socializing and getting to know people.”
To re-energize themselves, Lori recommends people over 50 think back to what they liked to do when they were younger, and then engage in that activity again.
“Maybe it was something physical, like sports or fitness,” she explained. “If you love football, you can certainly find other people to watch a game with you. If you enjoy art, consider taking a class at a local community center, or simply go to an art event to just get yourself out there.”
As an introvert, Lori admits to scheduling events weeks in advance, but feeling fearful the day it is supposed to take place.
“I try to challenge myself to keep the commitment because, nine times out of 10, it’s always a rewarding experience,” she said. “I meet someone that either needed me to be there, or I needed to hear something someone said that night. Just live in your curiosity.”
There is always a list of things people can do with their time. The bigger question is, should they? Some tasks are more essential and fulfilling than others.
“Sometimes we do things out of the idea we don’t know how to say ‘no’ because we don’t want to disappoint someone,” Lori explained. “I’ve learned that disappointing myself hurts longer and lasts longer than the feeling of disappointing someone else.
“Learning to say ‘no’ is essential to learning what’s going to take the least amount of time to launch you further ahead,” she added. “You need to identify things that must be done today, then determine what can be pushed off until tomorrow or even next week.
“Even then, you need to think about what you’re committing yourself to doing and decide if that is really what you need to do, but also what you want to do,” said Lori.
Wheels to Wellbeing
Lori’s book, Wheels to Wellbeing, uses a bicycling analogy to promote two essential facts:
- You have to keep moving forward.
- You need to maintain proper balance in order to move forward.
“Balance has a lot to do with self-care,” Lori explained. “One spoke can be bent, but when the spoke is applied to a wheel, all the spokes support a tire as well as the rider.”
Some of the individual spokes include:
- Nutrition – What you put in your body.
- Moving – Exercise or simply walking. Even playing Frisbee with grandchildren.
- Faith and spirituality – This helps maintain an eternal perspective about life on earth.
- Finances – Staying out of debt reduces stress.
- Passion – What gets you excited?
- Relationships – This applies not only to your partner, but your family and friends, as well.
“Each spoke matters. However, during different seasons of life, some spokes become more of a priority,” said Lori. “For example, when we were younger, maybe building a career was a major spoke that we were focused upon. Whereas, in our 50s, maybe creating new relationships and maintaining those we already have becomes more important.”
For some people, evaluating all the major spokes in their lives could be overwhelming because so many areas may need special attention.
“There certainly are times when life feels that way,” Lori explained. “It’s important to look at your spokes on a quarterly, monthly and weekly basis. Then, listen to your heart to determine what it needs in order to be more balanced so you can feel as though you are thriving in life.”
Often, one spoke will need more attention than others during a certain period. Perhaps, you are going through a season of major change due to a job loss, divorce or major illness.
“By regularly evaluating your wheel, you can better see how you’re doing at the moment,” said Lori. “It’s human nature to want to progress and move forward at any age. By checking in with yourself on a regular basis, it really helps you to know where you need to focus extra attention.”
Too many people simply allow life to happen to them. It’s essential that people be aware of what’s happening, Lori noted. That way they can make adjustments before small problems become large ones. The self-evaluation also helps avoid burnout and depression.
“Was there a time in your life when you felt happy, joyful or experienced a feeling of bliss?” she asked. “Remember what you were doing and try to make that part of your life right now.”
Doing so requires intentionally taking consistent action over time to make it a habit.
“For example, when I talk about nutrition, someone could make one small change. But, if he or she makes a commitment to doing so consistently, it can have a big result over time.”
When people turn 50, it’s a time for them to be curious regarding possibilities for their lives.
“Explore your gifts and the things you’re really good at doing. Was there something you loved to do as a kid? Then do it,” Lori said. “Age really is just a number. My husband is 71. He’s still growing, serving and discovering.
“There are a lot of stories about people who reached their peak or found success and passion when they were older, like age 76, 81 or even 96,” she added. “It goes a long way when consistently exploring that curiosity and thinking to yourself, ‘What’s next? What do I still want to do?'”
To help discover possibilities for your life and determine whether your life is in balance, visit loriannking.com/balanced-wellness.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.