Finding and Pursuing a New Passion at Age 59!

In my blog of two weeks ago about the value of outstanding coaches, I wrote that my December blogs would be a little more personal, and in writing about my figure skating coach Paula McKinley, I promised to follow up with this blog “Finding and Pursuing a New Passion.”

As I approach my 60th birthday I could not fathom that I would start something totally new. I already have plenty of hobbies and activities including my new consulting practice. But indeed I took the chance to try something new and frankly outside my comfort zone, and discovered something that is giving me unbelievable joy.

A real highlight of my skating journey has been skating with American icon Olympic Champion Dorothy Hamill at her skating camp

A real highlight of my skating journey has been skating with American icon Olympic Champion Dorothy Hamill at her skating camp

With retiring from full time work to being a part-time entrepreneur, I had the time to start attending the entire week of the US Figure Skating Nationals every year and I even traveled to Finland to watch an international competition. Earlier this year, I thought I might want to get off the couch (or out of the stands) as a spectator and try figure skating myself. I am in good health, do a lot of hiking and have a slender and somewhat flexible body conducive to skating.

In May I was fitted for custom skates and secured a private coach at the Central Carolina Skating Club in Hillsborough, NC. I also signed up for the week long Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp in October, which provided me extra incentive to get serious about starting lessons so the camp experience would be more worthwhile.

The figure skating journey started in May with getting fitted for the boots.

The figure skating journey started in May with getting fitted for the boots.

From those first extremely tentative steps on the slippery ice as a beginner skater, I have made fast progress and am now very comfortable on the ice. My coach Paula McKinley taught me the correct basics and prepared me for the week long camp where we would spend five hours each day on the ice. I was a little nervous about the length of days and the advanced skills of the other skaters, but by the second day I was discovering the sheer joy of skating and after 5 hours did not want to leave the ice at the end of the day! Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill and the other world-class coaches were very encouraging and told me I had a real talent for skating and was learning very quickly.

Now I am very comfortable on the ice, and hate to leave once I start!

Now I am very comfortable on the ice, and hate to leave once I start!

The week culminated in performing for the local people where the camp was held, and I discovered that skating while hamming it for an audience was great fun. I was in tears by the end of the week, realizing that 6 months short of my 60th birthday, I have found a new love, a new passion! I cannot wait to get on the ice for practice and lessons, and I look forward to jumping and spinning, and even competing in the adult ranks in the future as well as participating in more ice shows.

NOTE: This week my coach and I are skating a duet number at the Central Carolina Skating Club’s annual production of Nutcracker on Ice Dec 19 and 20th after which I will start training for my first competition in May.

Recognizing the Value of Outstanding Coaches

In the month of December, I have decided to write from more of a personal perspective rather than about my normal topics of diversity and career development. In this blog, I want to recognize the recent tremendous impact of some outstanding coaches in different areas of my life.

A good coach instructs, prompts and inspires people to achieve significant goals

A good coach instructs, prompts and inspires people to achieve significant goals


What is a coach? Instead of quoting Webster’s dictionary, I want to offer my own definition. To me, a coach is someone who instructs, prompts and inspires a person to achieve aggressive results and maximize accomplishments in a targeted area.

During my long career, I had some great managers, mentors and sponsors, but it has only been in the past few years where I am understood the role and value of engaging various people in the true role of a coach. Let me discuss four coaches who have greatly assisted me in achieving goals in the areas of business, sports and personal health and well-being.

BUSINESS: I have actually had two coaches, with two very different personalities and styles, to assist me in starting Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer after my 31-year IBM career. Initially upon retiring from IBM, Right Management provided me with vocational transition coach Vickie Bevenour of RDW – Results Driven from Within. She inspired me with her own example of leaving corporate America to successfully forge her path as an entrepreneur. She was a tough coach who taught me that discipline and planning were key to starting and running a business. She gives her students rigorous homework assignments so we uncover the steps we need to take to succeed, but also provides warmth and encouragement that inspires.

People most often think of coaches in the realm of sports, but coaches can also work in areas of business, financial, dating, retirement planning and general life management

People most often think of coaches in the realm of sports, but coaches can also work in areas of business, financial, dating, retirement planning and general life management


I later transitioned to a second coach, Nancy Heller currently with Right Management, who has a soft-spoken almost laid back style. She has a creative mind and she frequently challenges me to look at business issues in different ways to find innovative solutions I would not have noticed without her coaching. And like Vickie, she always offers an encouraging word which inspires me to work harder. The mix of two different style coaches in the business area I believe led to the best possible results!

SPORTS: Five months ago I decided to move from being a spectator to a participant in a sport I really enjoy – figure skating. I sought a coach who was willing to take on a relatively old adult starting with no experience. My skating coach is Paula McKinley of the Central Carolina Skating Club in Hillsborough, NC. She has patiently worked with me from my first shaky steps on the ice to teach me correct form and basics, and she skillfully deduced how fast to push me so I could grow and achieve without being discouraged. Because of her, I have developed the basic skills and gained confidence on the ice and now discovered I love skating with a new-found exciting passion that has even surprised myself! I am having the time of my life – look for more about my skating journey in my next blog titled “Finding and Pursuing a New Passion!”

HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Because of hunching over a computer for hours at end year after year at work, I have developed some physical issues in my shoulders and upper arms. My physician referred me to physical therapy with the Trinity Wellness Center in Raleigh. I view my outstanding and cheerful physical therapist Caitlin Espy as more than a physical therapist; I recently told her that I consider her as more of a health and strength coach! She has been so helpful is helping me understand that physical therapy is a process where things improve over a longer period of time with diligence and exercise … it’s not like taking a pill where a medical issue is gone in day or two. She assigns me a few new and increasingly difficult exercises each session, along with cheerful encouragement, resulting in increasing upper body strength and mobility.

So … thank you Vickie, Helen, Paula and Caitlin – my life is so enriched in many aspects through these four wonderful coaches!