To an observer, University of Dayton graduate Westina Matthews has mastered the art of reinvention, but she begs to differ.
“I wouldn’t call it reinvention,” says Matthews, who traded a fast-paced corporate executive life in Manhattan for a quieter one of reflection, prayer and writing along the Wilmington River in Savannah where she lives with her husband, Alan.
“I’m living into the call.”
Her life’s journey has wound through an elementary school classroom in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where she counts comedian Dave Chappelle among her former students, to the Wall Street boardroom of Merrill Lynch, where she holds the distinction of being the first woman and person of color to be elected as a trustee of the foundation.
Upon “retirement,” she came back for a curtain call — researching women and girls of faith in Burundi as part of a Harvard University fellowship, awarding scholarships to minority youth as the chief program officer at the Jackie Robinson Foundation and hopscotching the country offering spiritual retreats and inspirational talks.
Through it all, she’s kept a journal — often tapping out her thoughts on her iPhone on a plane — for weekly email reflections she shares like clockwork with friends on Tuesday mornings. Today, her poignant essays have turned into a new book, Dancing from the Inside Out: Grace-Filled Reflections on Growing Older, published by Church Publishing Inc.
The book’s 80 short essays, told with wit and warmth, run the gamut from discovering God at a Starbucks to appreciating simple, everyday moments during the last days of her 99-year-old great aunt’s life. At a certain age, Matthews observes, some purposely choose to live joyfully in the moment, “dancing to the beat within.”
The book has received early praise: “Matthews provides a candidly honest outline of life’s lessons in these reflections as she lovingly weaves her engaged readers from beginning to end,” says David N. Dinkins, former New York mayor.