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100 Mile Bike Race? Sign Me Up – Janet, 51

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This is Janet Hankins. I cannot even imagine launching Kuel Life without her story.

This woman has been in my life for over 25 years, is the godmother to my son, my weekly jump rope partner, my sounding board, and I love her deeply.
There is power in storytelling. There is power in the community. There is power in sharing. The more we know about one another; the more we understand; the more powerful we become.
We invite all of the KuelWomen out there to share their stories with us.

Here Is Janet’s:

KUEL LIFE: What are you pursuing now, in your 50s, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it’s come out of left field?

JANET: I do activities that are physically challenging that not many people would choose. For example, in 2017, I completed a 100 mile mountain bike race in Colorado and in 2016, I completed a solo Appalachian Trail segment hike. Some people in my life think I live on the edge, some think my activities are crazy, and others think it’s in the realm of normalcy; but, everyone is generally supportive.

“It is rare during the week that we go out to dinner or just catch something to eat on the run.”

KUEL LIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?

JANET:  Most days, I exercise, work on my business, have time with my husband and children, and connect with friends. Our family sits down for a dinner together most nights, even if it is a simple dinner or fairly short because of evening activities. It is rare during the week that we go out to dinner or just catch something to eat on the run.

Out Of My Control:

KUEL LIFE: With what do you struggle?

JANET: So much of life is outside of my control and I recognize this but don’t like it. I struggle with not being in control of outcomes to the extent that I would like.

KUEL LIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

JANET: I set goals on an annual basis and determine how I am going to achieve those through daily, weekly, and/or monthly activities. It helps me to choose new activities and events that I haven’t done before.

KUEL LIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?

JANET: Find activities and interests that energize you. Take care of yourself, get good sleep, eat well, and exercise.

“I feel vulnerable when I have to ask for help.”

Emotionally Open:

KUEL LIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?

JANET: We can skip this question because I don’t like to feel vulnerable…  Haha… OK. Vulnerability typically means being emotionally open to and not shutting out those closest to me. I feel vulnerable when I am ill or injured. I feel vulnerable when I have to ask for help. I feel vulnerable when I fear failure when I feel like someone is judging me, or I fear rejection.

KUEL LIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?

JANET: Attending Purdue University for 2 degrees, moving to California with my fiancé, and having children

Sounding Board For Instrumental Decisions:

KUEL LIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?

JANET: My parents influenced me the most. When I was growing up, they provided a stable foundation that grounded me and allowed me to grow and contribute. As I was growing up, they prioritized family time and made themselves available. They were loving and supportive but also let us know when they thought we were off course or making bad decisions. My parents have also played a role in my adult life; I’ve been able to connect with my parents on a different level from when I was young. They’ve been a wonderful sounding board for instrumental decisions.

KUEL LIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?

JANET: I think this is an amalgam of advice over the years: Collect information, get input from those who you think can give insight or a completely different perspective, and trust that your choices are the best decision for you. In the end, don’t second guess whether you made the right choice and ignore what anyone else thinks about those decisions.

Challenges In Everyday Lives:

KUEL LIFE: What woman inspires you and why?

JANET: There are many women and types of women who inspire me.  Women who were pushing the envelope inspire me, women like Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, and Meg Whitman.  I’m also inspired by women who surmount significant challenges in their everyday lives, who don’t have the advantages that the previously described women have, women such as the single mother who effectively raises her child(ren) by herself while being the sole breadwinner for their family.

KUEL LIFE: Are you a grown-up?

JANET: Most of the time, but, I also include activities that are youthful and involve playtime. I am much happier when I make time for activities like mountain biking in the woods, getting away for a long weekend, baking, playing a board game, or sharing a bottle of wine, bread and cheese with a close friend or family. I’m probably able to be more grown-up because of these fun activities.

“I include in travel that could be their own bucket list item.”

Bucket List:

KUEL LIFE: What do you do for self-care?
JANET: I take a significant amount of time for myself, to sleep, eat, and exercise well. I make sure to have social time, too.

KUEL LIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?

JANET: Travel, travel, and travel. There are elements I include in travel that could be their own bucket list item, such as learning other languages; but, in the end, it all comes back to experience other cultures, including the language, but also the food and drink, the lifestyle, the daily activities, the landscape, etc.

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