“I knew what I wanted to do, and I want to go into space. And I will still go into space. …And if I am a hundred [years old], I’m still going into space. Somehow.” —Wally Funk.
While all eyes were on certain business magnates heading to space, Ms. Wally Funk quietly became the oldest person to ever head out beyond our atmosphere at 82 years old. Her story is incredible. Despite being told she’d never walk again after a childhood accident, she got her pilot’s license at 17 and went on to become one of the first female astronauts as part of the Woman in Space Program. While she excelled beyond her male counterparts, she was repeatedly denied the opportunity to actually go to space despite many attempts applying to NASA and all the qualifications a person could have. That all changed this month, when she took off on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft. She might not be making as many headlines, but from where I sit, her journey is the one to watch.
Wally’s story makes me think about life’s journey and what it takes to accomplish your dreams. While my own road has led me down many paths, I had faith that I would end up where I wanted to be. In some ways, I feel like my entire career path has been leading me to Kindra. I started college planning to be a doctor, but I was sidetracked when I visited the student-run used book store on my first day on campus and was driven to reduce the wait time for check out. I called my parents to tell them I would start pre-med as a sophomore because “this store needs a barcode system to get more affordable books to more kids.” I needed to jump in and figure this out. I needed to find innovative solutions to give more people access to what they needed. And just like that, a journey begins.
We all have a journey, a story, a north star. We look forward to the next adventure or next challenge with hope and trepidation. It’s sometimes hard to see around corners when it comes to our lives. I look at the incredible women of the Olympics. Simone Biles, who followed her north star to profound self-care with courage and grace. Oksana Chusovitina, who, at 46, competed in her record-extending 8th Olympic Games! Oksana says, “I only got better, like fine wine.” I am sure neither of these indominable women imagined their story would turn out precisely this way, but they both followed their hearts and heads to find a place in history—and in our hearts. And as Wally is here to remind us, their stories are also far from over.
All of us are accomplishing incredible things every day. Honestly, balancing a business, kids, a partner/husband and making time for myself can feel like space flight or walking a balance beam. Not to mention all the changes happening in my body. Hot, cold, sleepless, tired … and the lost keys (I know, I mention this one a lot!!). Imagine handling all this AND actually competing in the Olympics or traveling to space! Or continuing to follow your north star through the struggles and the triumphs to wherever it may lead. Because that’s what we’re all doing. It may not be the Olympics, but every day we dream big and take even a baby step toward those dreams is a big victory in my book.
What we see in all incredible women is that it’s possible to manage the stress of change and still excel in new ways—whether it’s finally getting around to planting that garden, sewing that quilt, running the 5K, throwing a killer party, starting a new job or building the business of your dreams. I created Kindra with a vision to not only “get by” in menopause, but to thrive during this new phase of life. We can do it—together.
You are not alone. You are Kindra.