Confessions of a Really Late Bloomer

Late_Bloomer I’m the classic late bloomer.

Picture Saturday Night Live's awkward Catholic girl Mary Katherine Gallagher. Yep. Me. But add braces, freckles, and frizzy hair.

I won’t even delve into the humiliation of non-prom, non-dating, non-social nerd-dom of my high school and college years. Yeah, yeah. I look back now and see God’s protection. I am married to the best man imaginable. And I didn’t have to worry about falling into temptation beforehand. But at the time, it just sucked pure lemon concentrate.

This was followed by years of non-womb blooming, no matter the chemical or surgical interventions. I came to motherhood later than most my friends through adoption. Again, better than I could conceive (literally). But at the time, hard. Still, blooming late is better than not blooming at all.

Now in my way-beyond-birthing-years, I wonder if God may continue with his delayed-time-release, and I will be using my baby’s stroller as my walker.

My late-bloomer bucket list is long: running a marathon, having straight teeth, singing on key. Those skim the surface compared to the most delayed bucket-list desire: writing. I’ve been a corporate and freelance writer for 30-plus years.  But that’s not the kind of writing that’s on my bucket list--writing for myself and whoever may connect with me is. If I had kicked this bucket earlier, I could have been “me-writing” in the pre-blog, pre-social media era. Heck, I could have been in the pre-computer age.

Why not write just for me? Courage.

Diana NyadI watched 64-year-old Diana Nyad’s record-breaking swim from Cuba to Florida after five attempts over 35 years. She first tried this crossing in her swimming prime in 1978. She is not just an endurance swimmer, she is an endurance fail-er and dreamer. I can still see her sobbing in front of millions of viewers as she was pulled out of the water so close to her goal in previous attempts.

As she came out of the water on Florida soil this time, she slurred a shout-out just for me through swollen lips. “I have three messages. One is we should never ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport but it takes a team.”

Upon hearing of my bucket-list desire to write, one of my diplomatic friends said, “You can still do it, but you don’t have as much time.”

With my friend’s words synchronizing with the ticking of my creative-biological clock, I took my first baby step of courage. I quit my day job. Was that courage, or as Forrest Gump’s mama would say, “Stupid is as stupid does?”

Baby step two: I started writing just for the sake of writing.

Baby step three: I joined a writing group. That’s harder than you think. Hearing "helpful insights" (aka critiques) of your words. But as Diana said, it does take a team.  If for no other reason, to know there are other crazy people out there with the same dream.

Baby step four: I bought all sorts of cute domain names for my blog. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. It’s like how I water ski. I rattle in the turbulence behind the powerboat, speeding my aging process through gravity-shaking and hyper-wrinkling, all because I won’t commit to cross the wake. I’m out there but not really out there.

I’ve been safe for too long. My delay-my-own-dreams tactic is to facilitate other people’s dreams. I’m really good at helping other people be courageous. But it’s no fun teeth-clattering behind the boat, or worse just sitting there watching all my courageous, failing, flailing, dreamer friends who are slaloming behind the ski boat.

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Teddy Roosevelt’s famous words about the ‘man in the arena’ serve as a warning, “. . . if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

There are worse things than being a non-foolish, but cold and timid non-bloomer. So I’m posting my first blog to my long-purchased, never-used, cutely named reallylatebloomer.com website. Because crashing is better than never crossing the wake.

And blooming is beautiful no matter how late.

Except for the baby stroller part.

 

A Click of Courage

Medal001 All it takes is a click of the computer. Just press the blasted key.

Publish the blog.  Send that submission. Sign up for that race.

Why is it so hard? Because, then, there are no excuses. You're out there. A good chance of failure in front of multitudes. But the alternative? Looking at the computer screen and seeing all the other blog posts, published writers, photos of  runners at the finish line.

My new resolve is to have a click of courage every day (okay, every week. But that's still 52 times more than I did last year!)

Click. Begin my blog.  (It only took me nine months to do that one!)

Click.  Submit that article, that short story, that book proposal. (And keep on clicking. Publishing is a cold, competitive world filled with creative, courageous clickers.)

Today's click?  Sign up for the Auburn Running Festival half-marathon. (It's Saturday. It's now or never.)

I really don't know if I have it in me to run 13.1 miles. I've done it before but I'm older, creakier, not into pain as much. I'm way beyond a finish-time goal. A t-shirt is fine. I have my iPod nano cranked with audio books and podcasts and you-can-do-it music.  I have folks to yell at me along the course.  And Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream waiting at home. The click to commit to the race is more important than my finish time because it is about the courage to keep being out there.

What "click" of courage do you need to make?

Where have you been hiding? Making excuses? Just afraid? Maybe it's not a click, but a phone call or a step out of the shadows. Calling the friend you've been avoiding. Making that doctor's appointment. Standing on the scale to face reality and deal with it. Interviewing for a new job.

Please let me know I'm not alone in how hard it is to commit.  

Tell me your click of courage.  

I need to hear your stories. Because like the Cowardly Lion, sometime we need community to help us know what we really want and to drag us down the road to get there.

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Maybe the medals that count aren't for winning  but just for showing up and finishing.  (It doesn't hurt if you finish on the 50-yard line at Jordan-Hare Stadium!)

Let's start a Courage Club!  What is your medal for?  Post a photo or let me know!