Fear of Retirement Overcome: How Donna Friess Found Purpose and Joy in Post-Retirement Life

Episode Overview:

In this episode, host Wendy Green welcomes guest Donna Friess to delve into the topic of fear of retirement and living in gratitude. Donna shares her own experience of initial apprehension about retirement but ultimately finding purpose and joy in this new chapter of life.

Donna emphasized the importance of having a plan for your retirement. She became a life coach for women dealing with loss. She started to write books about the history of Southern California. She became a docent at the San Juan Capistrano mission. Donna engages in volunteer work and is taking on exciting adventures. Donna’s uplifting journey serves as a reminder that retirement is a time to appreciate life’s blessings and fulfill dreams.

Episode Takeaways:

1. Overcoming the Fear of Retirement: Donna shares her initial anxiety about retirement and leaving behind her responsibilities as a teacher. She explains how she was able to work through her fears and embrace retirement as a new opportunity for growth and adventure.

2. Finding Purpose and Meaning: Donna’s journey highlights the importance of discovering purpose and meaning in retirement. She shares how she became a life coach and volunteered to support those dealing with loss, finding a renewed sense of fulfillment and joy.

3. Embracing Adventure: From hiking the Himalayas to participating in half marathons, Donna proves that age is just a number. Her inspiring stories remind us that retirement is a time to push boundaries, step out of our comfort zones, and seek new experiences.

4. Living with Gratitude: Donna emphasizes the power of gratitude in retirement. She shares her personal encounters with gratitude and highlights the importance of appreciating life’s blessings, even in the face of challenges.

Call to Actions:

1. Connect with Donna Friess: Visit Donna’s website, drdonnafriess.com, to explore her articles and learn more about other things she is involved with.

2. Support our sponsor: roadscholar.org/heyboomer


Wendy Green [00:00:15]:

Well, hello, and welcome to Hey Boomer. My name is Wendy Greene, and I am your host for Hey Boomer. And at Hey Boomer, we are changing the conversation about retirement. Rather than seeing it as an ending, we see it As the opening of an exciting new and vibrant chapter, a time for exploration, self expression, and fulfillment. Every once in a while, you meet someone and you think, when I grow up, I want to be like her. Not that I have that far to go to be like Donna Friess as far as age, but she is Just such a person that you would want to model your life after. She has the most beautiful outlook on life. Donna chooses to focus on the beauty that is around her.

Wendy Green [00:01:11]:

She chooses to focus on being grateful for the people and the opportunities in her life. I doubt that she tells herself that she cannot dream another dream or set another goal. She continues to dream And find new ways to express herself. I have said many times on this show that we are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream. But I have to admit that there are times it does seem more difficult, like turning 70 this past Summer, it was a wonderful thing, and I celebrated with so many wonderful friends. And yet, I'm aware of the aches and pains that I'm experiencing and that they're not resolving as quickly as they once did, does that mean I will stop dreaming? Does it mean that I will let this put a negative outlook on my life? Oh, heck no. But it does mean That there are times I might modify my dreams to fit my reality a little bit. I'm gonna be curious to learn how Donna Experiences aging and dreaming, and I know that we are all gonna be inspired by her today.

Wendy Green [00:02:26]:

But before I bring her on, I want to talk about Road Scholar, the not for profit leader in educational travel For boomers and beyond. You know, I have taken 4 trips with them, and I have another trip coming up in July. We're going to Quebec. Rose Scholar handles all the details, makes it super easy to just show up, and I have made new friends on my travels. I know that sometimes we think that group travel is not our cup of tea, but I am here to tell you to get over that idea. Traveling with Road Scholar has been some of the best travel experiences that I have had. Check out all that they have to offer atroadscholar.org/heyboomer. And look at all of the trips and all of the opportunities.

Wendy Green [00:03:21]:

It's road, r o a d, scholar.org/heyboomer. Alright. You ready to meet Donna? Hello, Donna.

Donna Friess [00:03:34]:

Hello. Let me just follow-up. I travel about Three big trips a year in a group, and it's so fun. I'm gonna go with you. I'm Rhodes Scholar. Oh, yes. Come with us. Summer, I'm going to Africa, but maybe next Yes.

Donna Friess [00:03:49]:

Oh, Africa sounds good. My commercial.

Wendy Green [00:03:52]:

Okay. Alright. Well, let me do a brief intro, of of your background. So doctor Donna Friess is an author, a professor emeritus, and a certified docent at Mission San Juan Capistrano. She is a trained oral historian and a nationally recognized social advocate for women and children. In 2009, Donna was selected as Orange County teacher of the year by Cypress College. She's authored 10 books, including her autobiography, Cry the Darkness, which was published in 7 languages and which landed her on the Oprah Winfrey show as well as a psychological novel, The Unraveling of Shelby Forrest, Published in 2014. And like Donna is, she's working on another book now.

Wendy Green [00:04:45]:

Since her retirement in 2010, she says she feels like a kid in a candy store as there are so many wonderful and intriguing activities available. For the 1st 9 years, Donna volunteered once a week for 2 hours as a grief counselor through the city of San Juan Capistrano. But right now, retirement finds her walking her dogs, riding her 3 quarter horses, riding her books, and painting portraits of her grandchildren and her friends' grandchildren. Donna cannot believe she was ever so terrified about life after Retirement. I was. Well, we're gonna hear about that. But first, tell me a little bit about your teaching career, what you liked about it, and and, you know, what you taught, those kinds of things.

Donna Friess [00:05:33]:

Oh, gosh. We won't spend the whole show on that, Wendy, but If there was anyone ever cut out to teach college students the art of communication, a lot of public speaking, a lot of psychology of relationships, a lot of intercultural communication. It was Donna Friess. I loved it. And I just happened to hire on at a college that it was its 1st year. So I got to be a founding Faculty member of a brand new community college. We grew to 17,000 students. I think since COVID, we're at about 15,000 students.

Donna Friess [00:06:15]:

Beautiful, big, gorgeous, new, facility when I started, and my classes were filled In those days with Vietnam vets, and Oh. They would be injured. We were the only community college in our County, which, because it was new, was handicap, keep had handicap capabilities. So, Veterans would be rolled into my classroom on gurneys with IVs. They're watching. They roll in in wheelchairs. It was a very powerful thing to help them to become educated so they could take care of their families. Eventually, that era passed.

Donna Friess [00:07:04]:

And so for 45 years, I continued on thrilled. But around 42 years, I thought, I have full retirement. It it's it's time to go, Donna. And, so I said to my husband, I think I could be brave enough to go. I was terrified because what seriously could be more fun than teaching community nothing. I mean, there's nothing more fun than that. Right? So I told my husband I'm gonna do it, and this was summertime. And, So that decision was made, and we were on a family vacation at Avalon, an island off of, Southern California.

Donna Friess [00:07:47]:

Now I had swum out to the float in the harbor. I was fine. Swimming along, climbed up my boat, Nice to there. I'm ready to do my big dive, and I looked down at the little 6 or 7 year old little blonde boy next to me, And he climbed up, and he was getting he was getting ready. He too was gonna dive in, but it was a really big deal for him. Oh, he was so terrified. Really big deal, and I burst into tears. Oh.

Donna Friess [00:08:18]:

I burst into tears. I'm on a float. I'm on a family vacation, And now I'm sobbing. So the little boy made his dive.

Wendy Green [00:08:26]:

And Wanted to get away from this sobbing woman.

Donna Friess [00:08:30]:

I was more settled than that. I got out of the ocean, went up to the room to my husband Who is reading his novel and said, Ken, I can't retire. I can't retire. He's like, what's wrong with you? And I said, I can't leave him Because that little boy reminded me how terrified my college students were. Fast forward 10 or 11 years when he was 18 or or 20, and I just felt I couldn't leave him. I I could see how vulnerable he was, and, so then I talked for a few more years. So then when I finally decided, alright. I'm really brave enough now.

Donna Friess [00:09:09]:

Then my colleagues got me over, like, in the corner of the piazza. Do you have cancer, Donna? Were you terminally ill? Because you would never no. I, no. I don't have Cancer. I'm fine. I got great enough to retire. That was my story, Wendy. I got great

Wendy Green [00:09:27]:

enough to retire.

Donna Friess [00:09:30]:

I'm your number 1 terrified guest of it. But I've done Terrified. Yes. I

Wendy Green [00:09:34]:

know. So you were not necessarily terrified about what Retirement went. It was more terrified about leaving your students, and what would they do?

Donna Friess [00:09:42]:

Well, but that would be retirement. I would not have those beautiful Faces in front of me every day. My vision in my mind was that I'd be sitting here at this computer in in the fog in the fall, all by myself writing books and writing poetry, or I'd be all by myself that I just cocoon myself. I'm I'm very good at playing alone. That's what I was Afraid of. And so somewhere in there, I thought, well, maybe I'll just go on even 50 years. That's a nice number. God will love me even more if I teach Fifty.

Donna Friess [00:10:22]:

No, Donna. Come on. So so that's what I thought. I thought I would isolate, but it turns out I have not isolated.

Wendy Green [00:10:31]:

Well, yes. That is definitely for sure. And and so we talked about this before we came on the air. So did you have a plan For what you were going to do, so you didn't isolate?

Donna Friess [00:10:46]:

I did have a plan, and and it was kind of fun. I have just A wonderful husband, and he like he and I like to take long hikes and walks. So, we both have a degree doctoral degree in psychology, he's a good one to talk to. And, of course, he shared my and he understood. I just love the life that I had. And so we would walk along and and then we flushed out after, really, a lot this is preretirement. We flushed out a plan, and the plan was that I would become a life coach using my doctoral degree in psychology. And We came up with the name, your time now, and I'm all about this is our time now.

Donna Friess [00:11:33]:

And so I brought the rights to the website, and, I began life coaching. And then I was invited to be the reinvent your Self life coach for woman sage, that gave me a I started having a body of people. And so then I started writing up An inspirational post for him, and it grew. And and that's that was wonderfully, satisfying. But that wasn't the only thing I did. That coaching, the very 1st January, I retired December 10th Of, 2010, the very first thing I was invited to be a speaker at essentially Renew Yourself. It was January For a community center with a big, nice big audience, and that was lovely. Be all you can be, the stuff I talk about.

Donna Friess [00:12:25]:

And then 3 women helped me carry my many visual aids out to the car. And so as we walked to the car and we lingered at the car, They were all recent widows, and they were struggling terribly with This change in their life. And so we talked. I talked about them, but I always commuted 70 miles, 35 miles each way. So I knew I really, I couldn't just keep up this commute. And But it it came to me driving home. How about if I offered a loss of a loved one as a volunteer free through the city? My husband had been involved in city politics. He knew just who to contact.

Donna Friess [00:13:12]:

I contacted him. And by a month later, I was up and running. I have a I have a place to meet. I had the the city provided insurance, so I wasn't at risk. And so then, for 9 years, I offered that, and it was a very powerful way to give back to to the community and keep myself doing something which felt really important to me.

Wendy Green [00:13:41]:

It it you know what? It sounds like to me is, like, you You and your husband talked, and you fleshed out a plan. Like, I'm gonna life coach. And We set the plan. Got reinvention, but you also were So aware of other possibilities, which is how you able you were able to transition into now I'm going to coach People that are dealing with loss and

Donna Friess [00:14:03]:


Wendy Green [00:14:03]:

It's like one door opens and you saw it.

Donna Friess [00:14:06]:

It did. Yeah. But that was a few hours a week. I still had Plenty of time. Before I ever retired, I'd be walking down the trail with my 3 dogs, and I will tell you I had a fantasy. What if I could keep walking? What would happen if I didn't need to get on the freeway and go to school? What would happen? Well so I retired. And you wanna know what happened? I have. Walking.

Donna Friess [00:14:33]:

I've been walking. So My husband's a marathoner. My grandkids are marathoners, and 5 of them were at a marathon and a half marathon this weekend at At back at Catalina. And so they inspired me, and then I started doing half marathon site. But you were tough.

Wendy Green [00:14:53]:

What what age did you start doing a half marathon?

Donna Friess [00:14:55]:

I retired at 68. So I'd say by amount 72, I was doing half Marathon. All my prosthetic hip, mind you. Oh my goodness. I really appreciated what you said earlier about Aware of aches and pains and making adjustments. So, Wendy, I didn't do a full marathon. I made adjustments. And right now, at age 80, I'm really wanting to do a half marathon, but I have my left knee is a little Sensitive.

Donna Friess [00:15:26]:

I had to quickly get off an elephant in India. We were in the river, and she was blowing water at me. And, then she started to roll over. And, woah. I've had my leg crutched here if I don't quickly get into the lake. But then my sandals Stuck to the mud in the bottom of the river, and I had to really twist to get that leg off. So I have a sensitive knee. So I am not doing half marathons No.

Donna Friess [00:15:49]:

I just want you know, I want to, but I'm not. But but I did a 5 k in the last, year and a half. So

Wendy Green [00:15:57]:

So that's fabulous. That's fabulous. And you, you know, I have a question about your trip to Nepal and the elephants and all because I was reading that in your blog. So would you go into a little more detail about that trip?

Donna Friess [00:16:11]:

Well, so let me back up A little bit. So I did sit in the classroom for 45 years. And in my public speaking classes, they got to speak. And we had a map the size of the wall of the world. And I will confess there might have been a moment here and there During the 45 years when I looked at that map, and I imagined going to all those places. Yeah. I have gone to all those places. And so the minute I retired, then I had more invitations to go more places.

Donna Friess [00:16:45]:

And so That trip, I went with my son in law's mom, and we hiked the Himalaya with the Sierra Club. So we have 10 miles a day, and we stayed in barracks from World War 2. And And then part of it was a 3 night river raft trip when we stayed in tents. And then eventually, we had an experience Where we had a safari on an elephant, and then the guide said, well, do you want to bathe the elephants? And do you want elephants to bathe you? I had no idea what any of that meant. But I sure sure. I'll do that. Whatever it is, I don't know what you're talking about. I'll do I was the first one in our group.

Donna Friess [00:17:33]:

I always travel in a group. I felt safer, and it's it's easy for me. And so I got on there and all my if there were, like, 9 other, travelers, and they're all taking pictures. And And then she's blowing at me, and it's just oh, it's wonderful. But then as I said, she started rolling. So, But then that part came so then the others got on, and they were splashed. And so then the guide said, well, do you wanna wash it? I still didn't know what that meant. So we by now, the elephants were there were, 3 or 4 of them all on their So I there were big 5,000 pound elephants with pink spotted ears.

Donna Friess [00:18:15]:

Beautiful. So I'm I'm next to her, And I'm rubbing and and not her back first, and and then I I'm brave enough to get a little bit closer. And now I'm up by her ear, And she's just I can't I oh, there was only just 1 big eye there. And I could tell she loved it, and she had these beautiful eyelashes. And I confess. I I just got into a zone, such a zone. And, I mean, this is oh my goodness. The enormity of her.

Donna Friess [00:18:47]:

And and I'm in this river in Nepal, and this Elephants flooding me. I've never been that close to an elephant. Certainly not the

Wendy Green [00:18:57]:

Right? Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.

Donna Friess [00:19:00]:

We're all going. Donna. Donna, do you wanna come? Or do you wanna stay? And I said, Can I and he left and let me stay, and they all left? And,

Wendy Green [00:19:14]:

That was brave, Donna.

Donna Friess [00:19:15]:

Well, I didn't feel brave. I was in a zone, but then I got lost coming back. I don't know. And some some late negative ladies were, they were picking the crops, and they laughed at me. And they kinda put their arms around me, and They just thought I was pretty funny and turned me around and put me on the right path, but they were so kind to me. You know? They understood, and they could see that I was like, Oh, man. She really got a kick out of those outfits.

Wendy Green [00:19:44]:

Yeah. Yeah. So what a great takeaway, though, to have that kind of Intimate experience, you know, with another living creature, and then to have right? And then to have these kind women who you you didn't even speak their language, they were able to

Donna Friess [00:19:59]:


Wendy Green [00:20:00]:


Donna Friess [00:20:00]:

And I didn't realize I'd tweaked in my knee until the next morning, and then, like, woah. Wow. Yep. So then my 2 people took my suitcase and and helped me in. You know? It was broken. But we didn't Go to surgery and tie sew up the meniscus. There was some of that going on later when I got home.

Wendy Green [00:20:22]:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, let's see. There's a couple other things that I wanted to talk to you about. 1 is that little apple tree that you mentioned that you I have developed another relationship with another living thing.

Donna Friess [00:20:37]:

I'd like to show this. So can I tell about the flood? Yes, please. So I'm in Southern California, Orange County, and we don't have hurricanes. But a hurricane was coming up from Baja, And we were warned extensively on the news. And by the time it got here to Southern California, it was a tropical Storm. We're still warned, all of the news. And I have a a house in the mountains. There are 12 homes On a large river, it's the Santa Ana River on the headwaters of it.

Donna Friess [00:21:12]:

Well, let me tell you. They did say evacuate, But that storm got stuck between 2 mountains and rained at least 5 inches in an hour down On the headwaters of the Santa Ana River where our house is houses are. And The next day, it was all over the news, the pictures. My friend's house was terribly hurt, and it's in the river. And 5 houses above us in a a resort above us washed away. A lady washed away with her house, never had with her cat. I mean, just Heartbreaking devastation. We were without power there for 25 days.

Donna Friess [00:21:55]:

I was there this weekend, and the, Helicopters for the electric company world in the air bringing us in poles and huge bags of gravel. They're Polling that we're doing, our whole, River Valley, the resort above us where 32 or 34 people live, It still is without power. This event was August 20th, and here we are clear into November. Anyway, so it was a few the roads were wiped out. So it was a while later, 11 days before we could even Access and hike in. So my daughter and my son-in-law and I hiked in, my husband and and other grown grown. Of course, they're grown. They're really grown like my middle aged children.

Donna Friess [00:22:48]:

My son, Dan and my husband had hiked in the week before. They knew I was safe enough. I did use big, hiking poles to cross the river. I mean, the only way to get across the river was to there wasn't bridges, everything.

Wendy Green [00:23:05]:

Oh, god.

Donna Friess [00:23:06]:

Just it was a catastrophe wiped out. And so on that day, I I hiked up the hill And across the river from where our cabins are. And do you know I encountered a fruit bearing apple tree? And I realized that that apple tree was planted about 1915, and what happened to that tree As there was another significant flood in 1938, it was the worst flood of the Century of the 20th century for Orange County, and it was certainly bad for our mountain community. And This tree was planted in our caretaker's yard. It would the caretaker had lived in a stone cottage, And that river came so violently, it wiped out the entire bank, and the caretaker's stone cottage In 1938, fell into the river. And later, the the, caretaker's wife's Panel keys were found on a tree way downriver.

Wendy Green [00:24:17]:

Oh my gosh.

Donna Friess [00:24:18]:

All that was left was this apple tree, And it was bearing fruit. So it hadn't been tended in 85 years. It was bearing this beautiful fruit. And, my daughter and son-in-law moved down, and I stayed with the tree. And I didn't exactly talk to it. I'm not sure I did. I told I can't believe you're still bearing fruit after All these years, so you were planted like a 107 years ago. And since 1938, no one's even known you really that you are here.

Donna Friess [00:24:55]:

And so then I did the history of the club from the point of view of the apple tree. And this last weekend, we went up to Put the sign circa 1915, the Wow. Tree, and that beautiful tree is no longer forgotten.

Wendy Green [00:25:12]:

That's That's so nice.

Donna Friess [00:25:14]:

A little a little thing, but, it was a very, it was very fun for me to, Right about it. This was the devastation, from the 1938 flood, that house. And my best friend and college roommate lives in that house now, but it's down farther, and a whole lot of the bank Went away. It was not a good thing. But a good thing came out of it. That apple tree now knows that he's for it. I don't know if it's a he or a she we have. No.

Donna Friess [00:25:48]:

We have another discussion.

Wendy Green [00:25:50]:

Right. Right. Right. But but what these stories show is how you are living with such gratitude, gratitude for the elephant, gratitude for the apple Tri, gratitude for your family. Can you talk to me a little bit more about living in gratitude?

Donna Friess [00:26:07]:

Well, I've lately Been talking a lot about my gratitude lens. I was invited to speak at my grandson's wedding At the rehearsal dinner, 2 weeks ago. And my gratitude glass, vision came out. And I'd also said there's no way to start a marriage using rose colored glasses. It's no way to start retirement Using rose colored glasses, we absolutely have to have a plan. And I think a plan for living life, whether it's A new marriage or it is retirement, I just think I just love that I'm alive. And so when people are so, I don't know, so maybe ungrateful for the fact, That they got to be alive in the 1st place. And I used to share with my students, and I won't get graphic about it, but the little tiny chance of going up and dating this and then growing up and getting I mean, really, we had, like, 1 in And 10,000,000 chance to get here.

Donna Friess [00:27:21]:

And my students would always laugh at me. Not too bad. But I mean, when you think the phenomenal gift to be alive in the world and those of us with our health, when I was, coaching the reinvent yourself, it was during one of these Pressions. Remember in 2018 to 2011, we there were a lot of businesses went out, I think, around 2011, That a lot of workers in where I live, a lot of people lost their jobs. And so they reinvent yourself. Ladies would come Jobless and and not in very good shape. And they'd sit around the table on the beginning, And I'd open with, can any of you drive? We have they can all drive. Can you see? Well, these people often see.

Donna Friess [00:28:22]:

Do you have your health? Most of the hands went up. And then By the end of that 2 hours, they were so really, I can drive, and I can see, and my health is good. I'm alive in the world, and I let them have a little activity of what what what is right with you, I asked. What is right with you? Well, that thrown for a loop. That's right. Oh my god. Everybody wants to know what's wrong with me. Alright? I focus on what's wrong with me.

Donna Friess [00:28:53]:

And that question is really, it's like a trick question to people. What is right with you? And then they had to talk to a partner for a minute about what was right and then share it. And there was so much right, but it was, again, about Focusing, being grateful for what you have. I'm at a age, Wendy, I don't know how long the state of California will let me drive. Right now, they'll let me drive until 2028, but, how about after that? I don't know exactly. Grateful I could drive, and I can see. Can I tell you one other story? Yes, please. So I'm backing up to December.

Donna Friess [00:29:39]:

And just I'm very involved with my dogs and my dog community, Golden retriever community. And one of my dearest, most best friends unexpectedly passed away in December 17th. It was terrible.

Wendy Green [00:29:57]:


Donna Friess [00:29:57]:

And I was I was broken from it. And the month before, My husband had he'd been after me to get a Corvette. Now don't get too excited. This was a 8 year old Corvette, very shiny and red And very lovely, and I had been saying that, oh, I'm too old for a Corvette. And then finally, for the 80th birthday, he said, no. No. You need you need this. So I had this Corvette, November 8th last year.

Donna Friess [00:30:27]:

And I parked it at Over by the trash can so no one would scratch it. I was loading my groceries in. This man rolls by. And what year is your Corvette? 2014. How many horsepower? 455. Well, how many miles on it? 15,000, 14,800. You should come to our Corvette Club. I'd had lots of corvettes when I was young.

Donna Friess [00:30:54]:

And Considering that I was so hurt I'm still hurt from losing my friend. He said the 1st meeting is like the 4th January at so and so place and such and such. And I came home, and I said my husband I haven't been invited to Corvette Club my life. He said, he is not a car guy. You should go. And so This comes under the heading of get out of your own way. Move out of your comfort zone. And my comfort zone would not be to go to a restaurant full of, Turned out there were about 75 people there, men and women.

Donna Friess [00:31:42]:

I knew not 1 soul. I bet. One soul. But I had filled out my application. I did what I was told, and so a very nice man called and left a message on my phone, a very nice man named Bob with a lovely voice. And so I knew to walk in. My heart is pounding into this big room restaurant, Dark, more kind of a nightclub, and aim for this man with a nice voice was nice and and welcoming. And then he had a wife there who just opened her arms to me, and considering how hard it was having lost A friend in less than a month, and here are these people offering Love, really, and friendship.

Donna Friess [00:32:35]:

And so they had a seat for me, and they welcomed me. And, Obviously, I claw I calmed down, and I had to earn 12 points by doing all these different activities. And I had them within 2 months, and I joined. And I am having the most fun with the Corvette Club. So they saw so many people that were just So wonderful.

Wendy Green [00:33:00]:

What I'm hearing, Donna, is a superpower that you have of, Oh my gosh. This sounds scary. Oh, so scary. I am going to get out of my own way, get Push through my comfort zone. This is a superpower that you have.

Donna Friess [00:33:17]:

Oh, but it was a little scary, Wendy. I know. So so I knew I was alive. My heart was pounding.

Wendy Green [00:33:24]:

I know. But so many people in our generation, Donna, You know, they say, well, I'm too old. I can't do this. You know? What if I don't know anybody? What if I make a fool of myself? How would you advise them? What how do you get through that fear and face it with your bravery?

Donna Friess [00:33:43]:

Well, so the man, who invited me said, hey. We're meeting at the outlets with toys for the marine kids. No. I was swinging by there. We made it. 715 at Carl's Jr. Well, I rolled in to Carl's Jr About 7/16. I don't wanna be the 1st one, and they rolled out about 45 corvettes.

Donna Friess [00:34:08]:

So I went in It went in to orders coffee or something. I thought maybe they hadn't come yet. And And the man little older man behind that, Carl's Junior, said they left. Well, how do you know? Well, he saw me. We don't get Roland. He saw me, and I said, are there any women? He said, yeah. And then I said, am I too old? He laughed. Oh, no.

Donna Friess [00:34:33]:

You're not Too old. And so I knew where they were going, so I took my little cup of coffee with a lid, got my car, and I went down there and And I found them and they moved all the cones and all so that I could display my car with with their 45 or so Corvettes. And so I had an inkling of of what they were like, but I did ask, am I too old? Am I too female? I mean, will I fit in? And

Wendy Green [00:35:00]:

Well, sure. Sure.

Donna Friess [00:35:02]:

I was scared that day too.

Wendy Green [00:35:04]:

But, you know, I think that's not uncommon. I but what's uncommon is then you still went. That's what's uncommon. An officer now. So you're an officer?

Donna Friess [00:35:17]:

Yeah. Then you it I don't I haven't even had a year anniversary. No. All this I only got the car last November. So so they asked who will volunteer for these jobs, And so I volunteered. Sure. I'll be the historian. No one was running against me.

Donna Friess [00:35:35]:

So the meeting last week, I went around to all the tables. Man, Trying to solicit your vote. Well, of course, someone was voting against me, but he gave me an excuse to go around. I mean, I still don't know the 75 people. Of course. And the men had baseball hats on and a lot of gray beards. You know? I don't know all their names. Right.

Donna Friess [00:35:56]:

So I went from table to table trying to get them to vote for me. So that gave me a chance to get a little bit more acquainted. And I unanimously won my office.

Wendy Green [00:36:07]:

So what are what is your what is your Role as an officer now?

Donna Friess [00:36:13]:

I get to take pictures at events and post them on Facebook. We love Facebook. Yes. It

Wendy Green [00:36:19]:

is. That's fabulous. So you heard me mention in the beginning, and you alluded to it, that, you know, Turning 70 was a big milestone and some of the aches and pains and whatever, and you turned 80 this year. Right?

Donna Friess [00:36:33]:

I do.

Wendy Green [00:36:34]:

And so How do you make peace with that? With, like, I still wanna do all these things, but I can't do everything.

Donna Friess [00:36:42]:

No. You can't do everything. And I let myself rest in the afternoon. I hiked a lot this weekend in the mountains with the dogs. Like, they let them off leash. No one was around. But then when this knee would start to talk to me, you know, I rest. Of course, the dogs loved it.

Donna Friess [00:36:59]:

We'd sit in the shade high on a mountain. They know it would cluster around me. I just make adjustments for that. I can't do everything, and I have to respect my health. So, I rest. I rest. But the minute we get off this conversation, I am gonna write more in my flood book because I'm very decided to write on my flood book, and I wanna finish my flood project because I have a painting project I wanna do. So I'm, You know, knitting out my what I could do 1 project at a time.

Wendy Green [00:37:33]:

So going back to your plan, your plan was to coach. Did you think in part of your plan would be to write and to paint also, or is that just

Donna Friess [00:37:40]:

kind of I I was a 25 hour a week painter since, My kids were little. I always I always painted, and I'd written 2 books, before I retired. I had no idea I'd be right more. So can I say about being a docent? I'm a.

Wendy Green [00:37:57]:

Yeah. Yeah. No. We still have some time. We do.

Donna Friess [00:38:00]:

I'm so excited talking to all of you. So, about 7 years, around December of 2016, we have a beautiful, Mission San Juan Capistrano here. It's historic. It was built in 17/76 with a big sign on the wall. Sign up to be a docent. I did not know what that meant. I called. Does that mean 20 hours a week? I don't really I don't wanna get back working as hard as I did when I Worked.

Donna Friess [00:38:30]:

And I ran up by my husband. So you don't wanna do that. You'll have to repeat yourself. Oh, yeah. Because I take school children around me and and travelers, guests, around to teach them about the mission. And I thought about it for about 24 hours, and I thought, wait a minute. I just taught for 45 years. I have been Repeating myself my whole entire life.

Donna Friess [00:38:55]:

I am good at repeating myself. So I made arrangements to be trained, and I And so the training didn't stop there. I became very inspired by California history. I mean, absolutely, Completely mesmerized by it. And so the more books I've read, the more I wanted to write something about California history. But the writers for our mission town, they've been writing a lot of things. Well, I didn't wanna just say what they'd said. What is that? And so I was driving, and we live in one of the last equestrian cities.

Donna Friess [00:39:35]:

Maybe it's maybe there are 1 or 2 other, areas in in Orange County where horses are allowed, but it's been a very big part. We have a big and non motorized horse parade every year. And, I mean, we're all about the horses. So I was driving home, And I had to stop as some horses crossed the road. And then I came to the 3 stables that are across the street from my house. And, you know, I'm starting to think horses, horses. Nobody's been riding. Writing.

Donna Friess [00:40:05]:

We've been riding, but not writing about our horses. So that was the bomb, the the trigger that got me started. And so I spent 2018 Researching and writing a history of San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, the settling of California From the point of view of our equestrian life. And this thing, the Spaniards brought us Horses. We had horses 50000000 years ago. They found a horse fossil, A 190,000 year old fossil here where I live. Well, how much fun with all that to write about? So then our horse community invited me to talk to them, and they were fine about me writing about them. And I don't have a copy of it here, but I wrote Capistrano Trails, and it's the history of the mission as The, explorers came with his, 2 mile long, mule Trained with cows and horses and the settling of California through the missions with the horses.

Donna Friess [00:41:23]:

And Up to current day with our equestrian community, well, that was fun. That was fun. So, I I think one thing has led to another thing. And then we had COVID, and then we got shut down in March. Right?

Wendy Green [00:41:42]:

Mhmm. Right.

Donna Friess [00:41:43]:

So I kept a little busy in March. We couldn't even we weren't allowed to go to the beach to go home in huge neon mud. Right. That's right. So in the 19 forties, when I was a little girl on the beach in Venice, the thing Venice, California, The 2nd biggest attraction next to Disneyland in Southern California, there was a working oil well Pumped night and day. It pumped it. You know? You they they kinda log you to sleep the working oil well.

Wendy Green [00:42:14]:


Donna Friess [00:42:15]:

So I woke up one morning, but, that's a piece of Los Angeles history that's been lost forever. People don't know they were, it was the 3rd biggest, productive oil field in California. I mean, we've really had oil wells. And in fact, it was so toxic at one point that the elementary school, which I ended up attending A few years earlier, it was shut down because it was so toxic. And it was a big everybody wanted the oil rights because they were gonna make 1,000,000 of dollars of

Wendy Green [00:42:50]:

The Right. Yeah.

Donna Friess [00:42:52]:

Of the girls. So they even wanted to put wells on the sand, But there was a movie star named Stone, and he said, no. We cannot be putting oil wells on the sand.

Wendy Green [00:43:05]:


Donna Friess [00:43:06]:

He managed to To stop that. Yeah. So so It's a wonderful thing to keep me out of trouble.

Wendy Green [00:43:16]:

Yeah. And so what what I love about this conversation, Donna, is is certainly your enthusiasm, but Your sense of bravery, your sense of gratitude, all of that comes through, and I think those are really important Takeaways for people listening that, you know out of our comfort zone. Get out of your comfort zone.

Donna Friess [00:43:38]:

Am I to write about Venice? Oh, wait a minute. I grew up there. But How long Cassidy was there?

Wendy Green [00:43:46]:

And Donna has a beautiful website with wonderful, Wonderful articles on it. You can find her at drdonafreese, doctor donnafreese.com. So go look at some of her articles. You'll be inspired by all of them, I'm sure. And certainly, check out our sponsor, roadscholar.org/heyboomer. Use the slash heyboomer so they know you heard about their, their trips from us, and I wanna tell you about, who is coming up next week. So next week, I'm speaking To Michaela Di Carlo, and I'm sure I'm not saying it with that lovely Italian accent that she has. She is a seasoned bilingual lifestyle journalist.

Wendy Green [00:44:33]:

She's the founder and chief editor of crunchytales.com, Which is a popular first solely illustrated online magazine for sassy women over 50 On a mission to reframe midlife as a colorful journey. She focuses her work on inspirational Content to empower women feeling stuck in the 2nd act of their life, highlighting the bright side of growing older. We certainly heard that with Donna today. You know I will have fun talking with Mikaela, so be sure to join us for the live show next week, Monday, November 20th, And continue to embrace this time of your life with exploration, self expression, and fulfillment. Thank you so much, Donna, for your time today and all of the wonderful gifts that you shared with us. My name is Wendy Green, And this has been

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