Two weeks before the move-in date, her husband died of a heart attack.
“He didn’t make it, so I came up alone in December without a single friend,” she says. “I had to fill the void of what to do with myself.”
She decided the only way to make friends was to try something new. She enrolled in the Academy for Lifelong Learning through Western Washington University. It’s a program designed for adults who want to take college-level classes for their own interest.
“I went to college alone and managed to make friends,” she says. “What’s so hard about going to class by myself now to make friends the same way?”
“I had absolutely no interest in fishing up to that point and just thought there’d be a lot of single men in the class,” she says. “The class was more interesting than I thought. I learned a lot about how fishing impacts the economy up here.”
McGuinness found that as she grows older, she’s going back to books she read in her 20s with a new appreciation. She says people who are retired have more time to focus on truly learning a topic, without the stress of trying to earn a college degree.
“I try to make two big trips per year,” McGuinness says. “What’s different about traveling with this group is that we have professors there with us who can tell us all about the culture.”
“My husband always tried to get me to ski with him,” she says. “We have a mountain in our backyard here, so I was gonna do it. I couldn’t find another crazy soul to try it with me, but I go once a week anyway.”
“I fear it’s in my blood, which is why I take as many classes as I can,” she says. “The Academy for Lifelong Learning is a health club for the brain.”