“Relationships don’t make you happy; you make yourself happy.”
What do bicycling through the Patagonian mountains, sky diving in New Zealand, and running a marathon in Bordeaux, France, while simultaneously consuming 5 glasses of their famous wines have in common? Diane has done them all. Diane, at 63, has lived an adventurous and non-conforming life.
“From the very beginning, when I was a little kid, I never wanted to sleep because I was always worried I’d miss out on something – I always wanted to go and do and see, and have as many experiences as I could.” She explains of how she started her bold life living around the US and world.
THE PRESSURE OF MARRIAGE
Diane has never married or had children, and I wanted to know (as a 32 year old single woman from Kansas) did she ever feel that pressure like I do? When I head home, relatives are always asking (albeit kindly): “Are you dating anyone?” or “When is the next grandchild on the way?”
Diane says that yes she did feel the pressure. She felt it every time she went home (coincidentally also to Kansas where she grew up in the very small farm town). But she says her driving force wasn’t to get married, it was to be happy.
“Relationships don’t make you happy; you make yourself happy. Slowly my family realized that being married and having children isn’t the key to my happiness. You go through life and some phases are better than others and society makes you think: go to college, have a little bit of a career, find your prince charming, having 2.3 children… but life doesn’t always go like that. As you get older sometimes you realize life is just better creating your own existence.”
LIVING IN PARIS
“I have to tell you, it’s the best time in my life. I’m going to be 63 and I can’t wait to go and do whatever I want and not have to worry about a job or anything.” Diane is moving back to Paris for retirement. She fell in love with it while she was living there for a year. “Ya know I loved the whole existence in Paris. No one knows who you are, so you can create your life. You can start over. You can be whoever you want to be and there’s a certain sense of freedom and excitement about that.”
In Paris, Diane’s favorite thing was waking up. “I woke up every day happy. Every single day.” She’d open her eyes to sunshine, look out the window to the famous Parisian street on which she lived, hear the creaking of the old building, and at the time of her choosing, she’d escape from her queen bed through the double French doors that led to this new and continually fantastic life. After jogging around Paris, she’d visit the café where her adopted family lived… “Diane, Diane! Ce va?” her friends at the café said each day. “We became like family. The day I told them I wanted to go back to the states, they refused to let me, and tried to take my passport, saying, ‘You are not a tourist. You are one of us.’”
A FAST-PACED CAREER
Diane’s also had a fantastic career. After an older roommate turned mentor fueled her already burning sense of adventure, this young farm girl sold her car, got a one way ticket to Chicago and took two suitcases to start her new life out of college. She found a job with an ad agency within a week, and spent the next thirteen years working in media. Diane's career achievements grew impressive year by the year, but her driving force wasn’t success. “I had a job so as to be able to take care of myself and to have the money to feed my sense of adventure, in whatever form that would take!”
GETTING THROUGH THE TOUGH STUFF
“When challenges and difficulties arise, I get through them by knowing the situation isn’t permanent. Things change and things will always get better. It ebbs and flows. Plus, [Diane laughs], my 84 year old mother tells me to get over it whenever I feel a little sorry for myself!” I think about my own travels when I talk to Diane, and how nervous I was at various points, especially when traveling alone. Diane says she didn’t run into that problem really, “It never made me nervous; it was always just thrilling!”
“Well,” she admits, “When I went to Paris to look for an apartment, I woke up really early on a winter morning when it was still dark. I walked around the streets and thought, ‘Can I really do this?’ But as I saw Paris coming to life, with the sounds and smells of the bakeries jut opening, I thought, ‘Oh yeah. I can do this.’”
LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE
Feeling completely inspired, I asked Diane what advice she has for people who want to follow in her footsteps, to step out of the norms and lead their own lives. “Do what you want to do because there are no do-overs. Have faith and confidence in yourself. Don’t worry about things too much. As my mother says, everything has a way of working itself out. If it’s important to you, just do it.”
DIANE's 3 favorite things
A FRENCH MAN
“For conversation!” she adds. Well, we’ll take a French man however we can get him!
“Friends are really truly the people that you choose to be with. My friends are so important to me. They’re the family you choose.”
“I wouldn’t change anything that I’ve ever done. I absolutely cherish the adventures that I’ve had throughout the world. And I still have places I want to go and experiences I want to have. And I think at a certain point that becomes the most important thing.”
Diane’s top will go places with you. The forest green hue blends nicely in any piazza or chateau, and its long sleeves will keep you just the right temperature in case the weather changes. And let’s be honest, the weather will most definitely be changing as this top takes you around the world to destinations both kitschy and chic.
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