I recently enjoyed a fun-filled luncheon visit with a peppy pretty sparkly gal who has volunteered much of her time over the years helping to raise money to support a number of worthwhile local programs and activities sponsored by Redlands Bowl Associates, Bonne Meres, Rotary Club and Kimberly Crest.
She is Barbara O’Keefe, a former toe dancer and dance instructor who has performed on the St. Louis Municipal Opera Amphitheater Stage — “The Muny” — who went on to enjoy a successful career as a high-tech inventory buyer of electronics for the C-17 plane and missile programs. Barbara is known to her four children and 10 grandchildren as “Dance Gram.”
Why? Because once she retired from her careers at McDonnell Douglas/Boeing and Alomax Tech, she created a new opportunity for herself. She became a reseller of dancewear — a job she adores. “I don’t ever have to sell my dancewear,” she said.
“When the dance studios and conventions throughout Southern California know I’m coming, they can’t wait to buy!” Barbara created an activewear business called KTRNA (pronounced “Katrina”) for herself, and the dance apparel which she sells is called 4 EVER Dansewear. The dance items include tops, chop shorts, tank tops, leotards, leggings, active wear and stretchy clothing for yoga and working out.
So often when we reach retirement, some men and women feel that they never want to work another day in their lives. Others find themselves in search of new purpose, new beginnings and new opportunities. Regardless of how we spend our retirement years, we who are 55 and older still have dreams to fulfill.
Besides, this season in life is meant to be fun. The truth is that we become old when we’re lulled into settling for a quiet passive life and stop inviting new challenges into our lives — not so for Barbara O’Keefe. Barbara describes her life as fulfilling.
In addition to launching a flourishing business that brings her pride and delight, she says she has derived great satisfaction from her 19 years of service as an active member of Redlands Bowl Associates, plus Rotary Club, Bonne Meres and serving as a docent at Kimberly Crest House & Gardens.
Researchers from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and the University of Rochester in New York who followed Americans age 20 to 75 for fourteen years concluded that the people who felt a sense of purpose outlived the ones who were lacking direction in life.
When I asked Barbara about her views on this topic she agreed. “Some of my favorite words as a person are ‘keep moving!’” she said.
“It doesn’t matter how you do it. Involve yourself in new surroundings, smile because it creates happiness, give to others and they will give back to you!” To which she adds one more motto: “Practice kindness!” Barbara still dances.
In fact, she insists that dancing is still her life and that it remains her passion. I suspect that dancing also fuels her soul, ignites her sparkling enthusiasm and creates her c