Carol Stanley’s weekly life is filled with exercise — like a new stand-up board class — getting together with friends and family, volunteer work of providing Sandtray Therapy, yoga and meditation with her husband Jim, 78, and following her passion for nature.
The 77-year-old retired elementary teacher and clinical counselor doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
“When we retired, we had a goal to continue to feel alive and to be present in the moment,” says Stanley during an interview at her home in the Laurel Lake Retirement Community in Hudson. “I believe in life and more life.”
As teachers — Jim was a college professor of international relations and political science — both always seemed to have a sense of adventure.
The couple, who has lived in Ohio since 1979, often traveled and even lived in Hong Kong for a short time when Jim participated in a exchange program.
Stanley says at age 30, she decided to become healthier. She started exercising, studied to improved her nutrition and got more spiritually connected.
“Being in nature is essential since I was about age 40 when I went on a 10-day wilderness canoe trip in Algonquin National Park in California and heard my first loon and hugged my first tree,” she says.
This passion for nature carried on throughout her retirement, as she is known to hike or bike around area parks, as well as take out-of-state trips to explore new trails — to places such as Switzerland, Norway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Stanley says they have found creative ways to be active.
The recent trip to the Smoky Mountains provided an opportunity for her to do an eight-mile hike and for her husband to participate in a photography workshop, which is a hobby he loves.
To help cover costs of the trip, she agreed to listen to a two-hour presentation, after which she received three free nights at a Holiday Inn near the Smoky Mountains park area.
“We were in education and neither of us made a lot of money,” she says. “We just believed that to get in touch with your passions and what you love to do — make it happen. That’s what we have done.”
Stanley doesn’t only travel, she also is regularly active with many classes — from aerobics and yoga to hiking groups.
“I like to be active and participate in a kind of exercise every day,” Stanley says. “That, combined with my spiritual beliefs — honestly, I feel young again.”
She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and family, but also makes time for friends.
In fact, after retirement she wanted to stay in touch with the people in her life so she created a book group, which meets five times a year, and a Oneness Circle that meets monthly.
“Meeting with spiritually like-minded people really supports my beliefs,” Stanley says. “I think receiving and giving support to one another and having that community of relationships is really important.”
CHANGE IS GOOD
Stanley and her husband decided to sell their home four years ago as they realized they didn’t have the energy to give to the house what it really needed. “We value change and are not afraid of it,” she says about the decision to move. “I said OK, another adventure. I had been to Laurel Lake to take classes. It just felt right.”
She adds her husband’s social life has improved since they came to the community.
“It’s a joy-filled life and I choose joy,” she says. “It’s not based on monetary possessions. We consider ourselves blessed and that’s what gives us energy.”