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Starting a New Chapter: Meet Rhonda Snider Collins

How would you describe yourself?

I’m recently retired and looking forward to writing the next chapter. I’m currently focusing on reminding myself – as well as discovering – my strengths, interests, values, and the legacy I want to leave.

What is your proudest achievement thus far in life?

I set a goal to travel to all 50 states before I turned 50 years old. I went to my last three states a few months before my 50th birthday. I also lived abroad for nine months and learned to speak another language.

Interestingly, I struggled with answering this question, as I imagine other women might. I thought of several other accomplishments that I am proud of, such as my 24-year marriage and some academic and career achievements, but I kept rejecting them because I felt the hard work and successes were shared with others, and maybe I shouldn’t brag about them.

What is the best thing about being an older woman?

I find I am more patient with people and situations, and have less interest in engaging in arguments or gossip. Family conflicts, community controversies, and national issues bother me less. I think this is because I have a longer-term perspective on life. I know from many experiences that relationship issues can be scandalous and hurtful for a time, but we nearly always get past them. Difficult situations generally are temporary and will resolve themselves--or, if they don’t, we find a way to leave them behind or move forward with limitations. Bottom line: I don’t get sucked into the drama vacuum like I did when I was younger.

What has been the most challenging thing about growing older?

I think the physical and mental health challenges have been greater than I expected. I’m very grateful that I haven’t had the debilitating diseases or ailments that a few of my friends have experienced. Still, little things, such as a recently sprained ankle or a cold, take longer to heal and slow me down more. I believe I am wiser than I’ve ever been, but my mind is not as quick as it once was. I also don’t have the emotional resilience I did in the past. Little irritations or a bit of sad news that used to bother me for a few minutes can set me back for hours before I get back on track. I also don’t have the self-discipline and focus I once did.

What has been a life-changing moment?

The Importance of Doing Nothing Important

Getting married to Ricky, my husband of 24 years. In my mid-30s and never married, I was very happy being single and focused on my career, education, and volunteer work. I had kissed a lot of frogs, and wished for a life partner, but was unwilling to commit to someone who wasn’t the right fit. When friends introduced me to Ricky, I still wasn’t sure he was the one – until I looked back at a long-ago-made list of the 10 qualities I wanted in a husband. He had all 10!

We had a whirlwind romance and were married less than a year after we met. Ricky told me things would slow down after the wedding. He lied. He is a gypsy at heart. We’ve lived in 10 different cities – including three states and a foreign country – and countless homes. But I have enjoyed every minute of the adventures we have had – from living abroad to obsessing over everything Harry Potter. My life has been enriched in ways I never imagined.

What's one thing you've become more passionate about as you've aged?

Helping others find their passions and career satisfaction. I’m also recognizing the importance of self-care, especially exercising and eating better, in living my best life as an older woman.

What is one thing you want to do in this season of life?

Help, encourage, and comfort others. Connect more with family and long-time friends. And, travel!

What would you tell your younger self about aging?

Talk to your mother while you still can! Ask her about menopause and her challenges with aging. Get in the habit of eating healthy, fresh foods when young to make it easier to maintain weight and energy.

Aging is a privilege. Some of your friends and family won’t make it to old age. It may be a bumpy journey but try to enjoy the ride because there are so many wondrous things to behold along the way.

What's your best beauty tip as you grow older?

Stop worrying about what other people think about your looks. Also, a good concealer is great for hiding age spots and under-eye bags!

Who is a person you admire and why?

My mother. She helped build airplanes during World War II – a real-life Rosie the Riveter. She moved across the country for a job in the early 1950s – something women rarely did at that time. When my dad got a job overseas, she held down the proverbial fort, working full-time, keeping up with household bills and maintenance, and taking care of the needs of three teenagers. After my dad died, she maintained their home and handled all her own finances for another three decades. She was a leader in her church and community organizations. In short, she was a strong, independent woman who was a great role model for my generation.

What's one thing you've left behind?

Purses. My phone has a stick-on pocket for a credit card and driver’s license. I put it in my pants or jacket pocket, and I’m good to go!

What's your best health tip as you grow older?

Keep moving.

Describe the rest of your life in five words.

Peaceful, awe-filled, laughing, loving, adventure

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1 Comment

Brenda Riojas
Brenda Riojas
May 22, 2023

Rhonda, thank you for your insights. You are so correct: "Aging is a privilege." Because of this I need to stop making excuses and get back to an exercise routine.

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