October is one of the most beautiful months in this part of the world. The mountainsides erupt in a blaze of color that is truly breathtaking. Bright and beautiful yellows, reds, and oranges take the place of the tranquil green that dominated the view all summer long. Those of us who have enjoyed this extravaganza all our lives can tend to take it for granted. There are, however, many places where the forests do not put on this annual show. In the American West, for example, the mountains are much taller, majestically reaching much higher, with many of them remaining covered with snow throughout the year. The towering conifer forests are impressive in stature yet remain green throughout the year. No blaze of color for them. The aspen groves that spring up so readily whenever the conifer forests are disturbed have leaves that turn color in the fall. Unlike our trees here in the Blue Ridge Mountains all their leaves turn yellow. Nothing like the multicolored display that our forests here produce. I do believe that the fall colors around here are some of God’s finest handiwork.

            You may be wondering what any of this has to do with seniors or housing for that matter. It seems to me that if the leaves on the trees can put on such a show as they are nearing the end of their life, we can learn a lesson from them. The idea that at 65 or 70 years of age our productive years are behind us and we should just coast through the rest of our lives is ridiculous. With a lifetime of experience and wisdom behind you, you might be just getting started. Many people have their greatest successes late in life. Laura Ingalls Wilder of “Little House on the Prairie” fame didn’t write her first book until the age of 64. Benjamin Franklin was 70 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence and 81 years of age when he signed the U.S. Constitution. Grandma Moses started painting at the age of 76. Over the next 25 years she painted every day, producing more than 1,000 paintings. Colonel Sanders started KFC after he turned 65. He traveled around the country trying to convince restaurant owners to use his recipe and pay him a small commission on every piece of chicken sold. Legend has it that he was turned down 1,009 times before the first person said yes. Most people would have given up! But not Colonel Sanders. Oh, and by the way, he sold the company nine years later for $2 million dollars. (Worth approximately $16.2 million dollars in today’s dollars) 

            You are never too old to follow your dream. Whatever you would like to do, get out there and do it. If you have been reading Housing Matters and believe, as I do, that aging in place represents a rapidly growing opportunity and will provide a valuable service to many people over the coming years, you may want to consider becoming a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS). I will be teaching the three-day certification course on October 23-25 at the Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association offices located at 1626 Apperson Drive in Salem. Call 540-389-7135 for more information. Follow your dream relentlessly. Remember, you are never too old to pursue your dream. You never can tell, you might be the next famous author, or artist or fried chicken aficionado. You will never know unless you try. As William Wallace said in Braveheart, “All men die. Not all men truly live.” Be one of those that truly live.

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DEDICATION: TO SUSANNA