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The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work, and Living by Mark Miller

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Chapter 18. Learning and the Path to Brain Fitness

Nancy Merz Nordstrom never planned to be an educator. But the self-described traditional wife and mother woke up one morning in 1993—at age 48—to find that her husband had died in his sleep of a heart attack. After some time passed, she decided to go back to school to help get her life on track. "I wanted to sit down with women like myself and share our experiences. But the only grief programs I could find were in cold, clinical settings like hospitals. I wanted a nice living room setting where younger widows like myself could get together and talk about how to remake our lives. Since I couldn't find one, I decided to start one myself—and then realized I needed to go back to school because I didn't know anything about running a grief counseling group."

With four children to raise, she put education on the back burner for a few years. But at age 51, Nancy did go back to school, intending to become a grief counselor. But she found her focus shifting to the learning process itself. "I found that the sheer act of learning was just an incredible experience. I was at a nontraditional college where the students all were working adults, and we took classes in the evening. We had people with varying amounts of education who wanted to move up in the business world. Seeing what it did for them—and for me—showed me the value of continuing to learn and what a difference education could make in my life."

Nancy's plans changed. She wound up getting ...

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