August 5

This is My Story and I’m Sticking to It!

I’m Skeeter Austin and I’ve been around the block a time or two, in a good way, of course.

Seriously, though, I am presently in my 5th or 6th pivot (I lost count) and about to go ‘round the block’ towards another – Creative Calendar and Accountability Coach.

I grew up in the small New England ski resort of Stowe, Vermont, and I have spent my entire life here. My first trip “around the block” occurred around the age of 9 or 10 when I decided life at home was boring, packed a tiny suitcase, and headed out on my old, recycled bike to the village where my Gram lived six miles away!

I don’t remember anyone being particularly worried about me at the time, but it was a scary adventure for me as there were dogs along the way that tended to chase any moving target. I discovered decades later that when I arrived at Gram’s, she would call my mom and let her know that “Claire Ellen has arrived.”

These forays became a harbinger of countless others, and now at 74 I still experience a frisson of excitement when I consider what I will find on my next stroll around the block.

During the 7 1/2 decades I’ve spent on Planet Earth, I’ve had several occupations, been married almost 47 years, had two children, three grandchildren, worked for an attorney for 40+ years, and never lost the spark that “one more adventure” brings.

In my 40s, I signed up to be a researcher on a dolphin expedition in the Bahamas for a week on a trimaran having never snorkeled in my life. The exhilaration of coming “face to face” with a spotted dolphin and feeling the echolocating vibration they use for locating objects (human in this case) was thrilling beyond words.

In my late 40s and early 50s, I experienced the excitement of working “behind the scenes” during live TV broadcasts with renowned sportscasters such as Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett, and Buddy Baker while travelling to many states and many racetracks.

The mantra heard when working in the “broadcast booth” was first and foremost -- “Stay Out of The Shot!” This is easier said than done in a small booth working alongside the many other technical peeps required in the production of live play-by-play broadcasts. I remember one time crawling beneath the table near Ken Squier just to make sure he was handed the correct soundbite for a specific ad during the show.

While working with Ken in the Lone Star State of Texas, Ken’s assignment was to call the race from the top of the infield media building at the racetrack. Of course, this meant that it became my assignment as well. My laptop, backpack (with racing stats), and exterior monitor as well as the production equipment were all ‘man-lifted’ to the flat roof of the building for the duration of the race (usually 3-4 hours). Then the operator took us up, we hopped over to the roof and there we remained throughout the production… in the sun with our own birds-eye view (literally). It should be noted, I am not a fan of heights and go out of my way to avoid them.

I consider myself fortunate because just when the dust settles, another opportunity has always come along, and I’ve taken advantage of most of them.

I have had several friends and family members ask me when I’m going to settle down, take advantage of being retired, or take a much-needed rest. When my boss of 40+ years passed away, I closed up his office and decided to go to graduate school. My brother’s comment after I told him, was “you’re pushing 70, ya’ know.”

Good news, I’m not pushing up grass yet, so here’s to what’s around the block.

Since then, I have discovered I’m not alone on this journey. There are countless women out there who believe you don’t have to be 21 to have your whole life ahead of you – there’s always ‘something more.’

After retiring from a ministry career, 88-year-old author and poet, Ione Grover, has published two books of poetry and one spiritual book entitled No Matter What Happens. In her most recent book entitled Old, A Time for the Soul to Flourish (2021), she writes about “the grace of being old.”

Lin Bruce, cross-country cyclist, and motivational speaker, at 60 years old biked across the U.S. with 26 other women aged 45 to 70. In two decades since then, she has ridden to her 50th and 60th high school reunions from her home in Minnesota to Cheyenne, Wyoming!

After earning my master’s degree at the age of 72, I made the decision to pivot yet again and enrolled in a Coach Certification Program with The Life Coach School. Three and one-half months into the 6-month certification program on my 73rd birthday, I suddenly came face to face with thoughts like ‘I’m too old for this’, ‘I’ve run out of time’, and ‘I should have done this when I was younger.’

As luck would have it, I received The Life Coach School’s monthly bulletin in my inbox, and Janet Archer was the ‘Featured Coach of the Month.’ Wait, what! She is just a year or so younger than me, she found life coaching after a career of teaching mindfulness and yoga, she has written two books, An Invitation to Pause, musings from a mindfulness teacher and An Invitation to Pause…Again and has earned over $100,000 in revenue as a Master Certified Life Coach! Inspired, I was back on track and certified as a Professional Life Coach two months later.

I now have my own coaching business called Balancing Act Coaching at the tender ‘young’ age of 74. A bonus in this latest adventure is that I get to ride shotgun with my clients along the path to their dreams and goals.

So, what’s next?

I keep my door ajar, and my antennae finely tuned just in case another adventure wanders in.

In the meantime, happily, I continue to work with women entrepreneurs who may be in their 3rd or 5th pivot to help them grow, look for new possibilities, and create strategic solutions for managing their time, being more productive, and finding their inspiration.

Join me next month for another stroll Around the Block with Skeeter as I explore the Power of Why (or as my friend would say “why do you put yourself through this?).”

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