Snowstorm invites play, even for women of midlife

Snowstorm invites play, even at midlife

“Happiness,” my father often told me, “lies in the difference between being struck by a challenge or being stuck in a challenge.”

I thought about his take on those words when my sister, Rachel, was preparing to return home to Georgia after her recent weeklong visit. Both of us, now empty-nesters, had enjoyed agenda-less days peppered with shopping, make-overs, long lunches and even longer conversations.

She was to leave on Thursday. I was scheduled to fly the next day to Nashville for the debut of a Women of Midlife (WOM) writers’ conference. Months ago I’d discovered this group of writing, blogging, tweeting, posting, mostly empty-nester women who embraced “midlife,” a somber stagnant term I’d avoided even though at 57 I was certainly closer to the end of life than the beginning. However, these midlife women were anything but somber or stagnant. Their online presence was smart, creative, invigorating and inclusive. I could not wait to meet them.

But Mother Nature had other ideas. A steady snow began mid-morning and eventually canceled Rachel’s trip and then mine. Our minds were still churning, checking other flights, airlines and departure cities as we hovered in that any-other-option purgatory.

“Sissy,” I said as she scrolled through the flights on the tablet in her lap and shouldered her phone to her ear, “It’s not safe. Let’s just accept it – we’re stuck!”

She looked up, nodded, and powered both off.

Then we smiled at each other.

I don’t know if it was the nip in the air, the sight of non-stop snow – something we’d only dreamed about as kids raised in the south – or the excitement of more time together, but we did something we hadn’t done in years.

We played.

“Watch this, Sissy,” I said as I showed her my new passion, used far too often this winter. The driveway was freshly covered with a new blast of snow. I scooted out onto the blank canvas, using my wheels to create “wheelchair snow art” by spinning, weaving, and making doughnuts and spirals.

“Go Sissy!” Rachel cheered. “Wait, I need to take a picture.”

“Of course,” I said. “Mom would be proud.” Our mother was ahead of her time, a non-stop shutterbug who believed it didn’t happen unless you had a photo of it, as our bookshelves of photo albums attest. Most of us agree, it seems, given the up-to-the-minute updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

When the snow deepened, Rachel bundled up and plunked down on the far side of the driveway.

“What are you doing?” I hollered as she lay down and disappeared into the snow.

“I’m making a snow angel!” she hollered back, flapping her arms and legs.

“You’re nuts, Sissy!”

“Yep, so are you. Wanna build a snowman?”

And there we were, two sisters – two women of midlife embracing our moment – playing in the snow just like we did as kids.

Far from somber, stagnant, or stuck in our challenge, we were struck by it – and happy – just as Dad predicted.

This column was co-authored and edited by Rebecca Faye Smith Galli, daughter of the late Dr. R.F. Smith Jr., a long-time columnist for The Herald-Dispatch.


  1. Beautifully written. If only all of us (no matter what age) could learn to embrace each moment we are given and just enjoy!!! Thanks for sharing this!