Today’s #RealLifeWonderWoman is a writer, podcaster and ’80s music aficionado. Nancy Davis Kho writes about “the years between being hip and breaking one” and celebrates midlife with humor, heart, and a really good beat.
This is a big week for Nancy! She just launched her new book yesterday. It is called THE THANK-YOU PROJECT: Cultivating Happiness One Letter of Gratitude at a Time.
Read on and get to know Nancy. Learn about her side hustle and how she’d use time travel to correct her greatest regret! You’ll be glad you did.
KR: Please tell us about what brings you joy and fulfillment.
NDK: I assume everyone says their family first, and that would be true for me too – especially now that I’m a newly Empty Nester, any time we get to spend with our two daughters is joyful, even if we’re not doing anything special.
Beyond that, I love storytelling in all its forms, and the way stories bring us together. Both on my podcast and blog, and definitely in my new book, I take pride in a story well-told. I can see the impact that it has for someone to say, “I read what you wrote/heard what you and your guest discussed, and I felt less alone.” That, to me, is the whole point of creativity.
Finally, have always been, will always be, a live music fan. I hope I expire in the far distant future, shouting for an encore while standing up in the front row listening to one of my favorite bands. (Not really, I don’t want to traumatize anyone, especially the musicians, but wouldn’t that be a cool way to go?)
KR: We all have inner superpowers. What are some of yours?
NDK: I’m an excellent connector. I love meeting people, finding out what they’re about, and getting the lightbulb moment of “Oh! You know who you should talk to?” then making that connection happen. I have been the originator of 2 count’ em TWO separate best friend duos in just the past few years.
I’m also good at making it easier for people to make a difference. Whether via the Giving Circle I co-founded with friends, where we pool our money a few times each year to support a nonprofit, or via the contribution buckets on the bar at the club where I DJ an ‘80s Alternative Dance night a couple times annually, or just inviting people along with me to a march or protest, I’ve learned that most people want to be helpful. They just don’t always know how to start.
KR: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
NDK: My older sister, Sally, is a huge influence on me. First, as a sister – we’re far enough apart in age that I looked up to her as a kid for advice, protection, and cute hand-me-downs. Then when she became a mom, she was my idol – she raised her three kids to be competent, kind, and hard-working, and I really tried to emulate her approach with my daughters.
Sally’s been an amazing support to my parents and one of our aunts as they have gotten older, generous with her time and an advocate for their care. And finally, she went back to school after her kids got a little older, got an entirely new degree in an entirely new industry from what she studied in college, and worked really hard to reach the point she is now – one of the most influential voices in her field. Anytime I might think for even a second about giving up on anything I’d like to achieve, her face flashes before me to talk me right out of quitting.
I pretty much adore her, if you can’t tell.
KR: If you could have one super-human power, what would it be?
NDK: Time travel. So I could go back whenever I wanted to spend an hour with my daughters as babies/toddlers/tweens/teens, and to talk to my parents in their younger years. I would also travel back to one minute before the time I decided NOT to buy Beastie Boys tickets and tell myself, GET THE TICKETS DUMMY, MCA WON’T BE AROUND AS LONG AS YOU THINK HE WILL.
KR: Aside from rocking out to ’80s music (which I think is fabulous, by the way), what do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
NDK: Reading, hiking, swimming, and baking. And now that we have an empty nest, catching up on all the series that we didn’t have time to watch in the past 21 years!
KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?
NDK: Everything really will turn out ok, it’s not a myth. You can start off on one path, but pay attention to your instincts and don’t freak out if you need to change directions. That’s what will make life interesting.
Oh, and keep an eye out for a guy wearing a striped shirt at a bar in 1990. You don’t want to miss out on meeting him.
KR: So I’ve already pre-ordered your book. I will turn 50 this year and want to do something special (for others) to commemorate this milestone birthday. I love the idea of hand-writing thank you letters. Snail mail rocks! Can you tell us a little more about the idea behind The Thank-You Project?
NDK: The Thank-You Project tells the story of the year that I wrote thank-you letters to 50 people, places, and pastimes that had shaped me, inspired me, and helped me become the person I am. The list of recipients included family and friends, of course, but soon expanded to teachers, bosses, mentors, authors, cities, hobbies and even a handful of ex-boyfriends and former friends. (Don’t worry, turns out you don’t have to mail every letter you write to yield the happiness benefits of gratitude!) It was a wholly unexpected way to find more peace during what turned out to be a trying and turbulent time, and continues to yield benefits years down the road.
Check out Nancy’s podcast – Midlife Mixtape