If we had to choose two words to describe Sheilla Dingus, they would be “digging deep.” Whether it’s in her personal or professional life, this Church Hill, Tennessee resident loves to push boundaries—in the best way possible. Here’s a little more about her.
What is your occupation?
Blogger. I’m technically retired, but don’t feel like it, because the blog keeps me busier than ever since I’m actually now doing several jobs in one.
What are you passionate about right now?
My blog advocacyforfairnessinsports.org. Diving into the intersection of sports and law. Pushing boundaries, Getting the story…and hopefully doing a little good. I fell into this a few years ago and it has merged some of my long-time interests and passions, journalism, sports, and law. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with some truly fascinating people and have learned a great deal.
What is the most important thing you do every day?
I check federal court dockets and read filings on the various cases I’m following. Or if those are quiet, sometimes go on a treasure hunt for an interesting new cases to track. There is so much to learn from reading directly from the filings themselves rather than a pared down version that you may or may not come across in a news story. You see how the justice system works, when it works, and when it doesn’t. I believe in order to fix shortcomings in society you have to understand how they originated, why they exist, and then you can start thinking about how to make improvements.
Who is your role model for Aging Boldly?
Gotta go with Next Tribe editor Jeannie Ralston since she was my editor junior year of high school. I inherited her stilettos for the senior year along with much inspiration. When I discovered Next Tribe I was thrilled to see that she is still living boldly! She’s one smart, chic cookie and I love what she’s doing here!
What’s your personal motto for Aging Boldly?
Never allow yourself to be bound by the limits others seek to impose.
What movie/book/TV show are you loving now?
Currently reading In Praise of Litigation by Alexandra Lahav. Star Trek in all its various incarnations is my all time favorite show, but I dumped the TV a few years ago and love how it has opened up time for me to do other things.
What countries are on your bucket list?
Australia would be fun. I’ve stopped thinking about travel so much as a destination but opportunity to connect with people; therefore the surroundings matter less to me than the company.
If you could live any where in the world where would it be?
Tough question. Here in the U.S.—if things don’t get too much more out of hand. If I had to relocate, perhaps an island in the Caribbean.
How do you cope with the current craziness in our political world?
By trying to focus on ways to encourage positive change.
What will you be doing in 10 years?
Good question. I honestly don’t have it mapped out. I didn’t plan to start the blog, but once I did it took a life of its own and has led me down an interesting rabbit hole. I’ve met some truly incredible people that I’d have never imagined calling “friend” when I started. I think I’m just going to make like Alice and continue to follow the rabbit hole to see where it leads. I feel like post-50 mindset has helped me to eliminate a lot of baggage, focus on what’s important to me, and dump what isn’t. Now that the backpack is lighter I just want to keep exploring.
What would you tell your younger self?
Don’t sweat the small stuff, and stop worrying about the fact you’re not married. You’re going to be both fine and happy on your own. I’d also tell younger me that it’s OK to follow your own path and not to worry about the naysayers. I was strong-headed and determined so I usually wound up doing that anyway, but I’d tell mini-me to lose the guilt trip, to forge ahead, take chances, and try to do things that make a difference—because those are the ones 50+ me cherishes most when looking back on life. Don’t forget to be kind. Don’t resent life’s challenges as failures that you weren’t able to prevent, but rather the tools life tosses your way to keep you on your toes. You can’t stay in a comfort zone too long or you’ll stagnate. The definitely not fun stuff is what keeps you growing and learning.
What did we forget to ask you?
Life seems to be a circle. I left Kingsport, TN, shortly after high school and moved back after over 30 years. I learned the meaning of the adage, “you can’t go home again,” because the people I thought I’d be hanging with and the things I thought I’d be doing are completely different from reality. And that’s OK.
The other circle for me is writing. I had planned to pursue a journalism career, but didn’t go to college right away because of a stand-off with my parents as to which school I was going to. To my parents’ dismay, I decided to pursue dance and made it work for quite a few years. I went back to college in my 30s, scared I’d be the oldest person there and just wanted to stay to myself, take my classes, and graduate as quickly as possible. My time as a non-traditional student turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding chapters of my life! And to think I dreaded it as a necessary evil. After a second career as a project manager and analyst for a software company, I’m back to writing—so there’s the circle.