Late bloomer baby boomer.
Admittedly, I’m on the outer fringe of the baby boomers. But I’m definitely not on the fringe of late bloomers. And I’m in good company.
People laugh and think I’m being insulting when I mention I’m a plodder. I’ve never been a runner. Well, except for maybe that one, short, miraculous time in college when I was a jogger and actually ran a few miles every other day or so. But even then, I was a jogger, not a runner.
My favorite animal is the elephant. But the animal I’m most like is the tortoise. I come by tortoise honest. I may not win the race by hurrying, but I do finish. My win is getting to “done.” And I’m not alone.
I’m in my 50s. But I did some pretty daring new things in my 40s. For one thing, at the age of 47, I learned to ride a motorcycle. Also in my 40s I started my own cottage school and began to focus more on a writing career. Here’s what some other folks did when they were 47:
- Kent Couch decided to fly in his lawn chair by attaching 105 helium balloons to it. He flew 193 miles!
- Marlon Brando starred in The Godfather
- Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin
- Shakespeare wrote The Tempest
- Kate Douglas Wiggin wrote Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
- Mel Brooks co-wrote, directed, and starred in Blazing Saddles
- Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People
In my 50s I went back to college and got a teaching degree and license. I started a new career as a special education teacher and I’m continuing to pursue a master’s degree in education technology. I continue to write because it’s what I do. Ducks swim. I write. It’s simple as that. But getting an advanced degree will help me support my writing career until it can pay me (so far, it hasn’t paid me, I’ve paid it).
What makes me think I can pursue dreams at my mature age? I think it’s my belief in the power of “Not Yet.” Just because I can’t do something today doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t tomorrow. I’m not afraid to try because of my strong belief in the principle of “Not Yet”
Have I become a best-selling writer? Not yet. Am I living in my dream home? Not yet. Are all my children serving God? Not yet. Am I where I want to be? Not yet. But I’m still striving. Having a “not yet” mindset instead of a “that’ll never happen” gives one permission to dream. I still have a lot of dreams because I refuse to accept things will never happen to me. I absolutely refuse to think that because I’m older, my life is over and it’s time to stop dreaming.
Want to hear something funny? All year I thought I was 57. I’m not. I’m 56! Sad thing is, I only have 3.5 more months to enjoy being 56. I was very excited, though, when my husband corrected my error. It was like getting a bonus year! How many people get to do that? Add a whole year??
Here’s what folks did when they were 56:
- Handel composed the absolutely gorgeous and moving Messiah in only 24 days.
- Gustave Eiffel completed his design of the Eiffel Tower
- Toni Morrison wrote Beloved
- Mary O’Hara wrote My Friend Flicka
- Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov composed The Flight of the Bumblebee.
And here’s what some did at age 57:
- George Washington became president of the United States
- Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty (one of my childhood favorites!)
- Jonathon Swift published Gulliver’s Travels
- Earl Cardigan led the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War
I’m in excellent company. There are many, many people who did great things in their late 50s. David Livingston was wandering around the jungles of Africa, Cervantes published Don Quixote, and Hoover invented the vacuum cleaner. I get irritated when I hear people talk about getting “too old” to do something. They might be too old but I’m not.
I will admit, my bones ache a bit more and I get tired sooner than I used to. I used to be able to sleep four hours a night and feel refreshed. Now, I really do need 7.5 hours to feel good. If I’m honest, more like 7.5 + 20 gallons of caffeine. Or, 7.5 hours and two naps. But a lot of people live with limitations and do great things. I’m grateful that I have legs that ache because it means I have legs. I am grateful to have a job I love that allows me to use my creativity and gets me moving. I think working with young people keeps me young.
When Noah Webster was 66-years-old, he completed The American Dictionary of the English Language, and also at age 66, Michaelangelo completed The Last Judgement fresco on the Sistine Chapel. At age 70 both Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel and Dr. William Worroll Mayo founded his famous clinic. At 80, Queen Victoria was famously quoted as saying, “we are not amused,” and also at age 80, Jessica Tandy and George Burns won their first Oscars. At age 90, Bible matriarch Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Sophocles wrote Oedipus at Colonus at age 90, too.
Many, many people lived their lives with the hope of “not yet.” I hope you’ll join them.
You’ll be in good company.