Starting where you are

It is cold here in my neck of the woods.  I have been engaging in the most socially acceptable form of human hibernation I can.  I only emerge to make an appearance at the day job, shop, pick up the kiddies or find food.  Other than that, you can find me having dance parties with my family, hiding under a blanket with the spouse, or chugging away at Orange Belt and Black Belt (sequels to White Belt and Yellow Belt).  I am also preparing a super, duper exciting project I will hopefully be able to announce soon (from inside)!

So, yesterday, I emerged from my hibernation to take my eldest son to his piano lesson.  He is six and awesome.  He plays piano by ear.  We discovered it when he was about four.  He had chord bells and he would play songs he knew without us teaching him.  We thought it was different but we were first-time parents and thought everything he did was pretty darn miraculous so we weren't sure whether it was a big deal. When he started doing it on our keyboard and toy pianos, his teachers advised us to take him straight to the nearest music school.  During his lessons, I try to pay careful attention to his teacher so I can make sure he is practicing correctly at home.  I found myself moving my hands in the air with his and wondering why I had never pursued piano.

Nina Simone
The things is, I am not at all musically inclined.  He totally gets that awesome trait from the hub.  I kind of sound like I'm dying when I sing, and my dance moves are not that much better.  However, I have always been fascinated by instruments.  When I was in elementary school, I begged my mother to enroll me in piano.  I remember going to one lesson and quitting because I realized how much time and effort it would take to become good.  I wanted the teacher to just press that button I knew was buried somewhere in my back that would make me magically play like Nina Simone  Apparently not  only do we not have a button in our back, it also takes more than one lesson to play like Nina ;-).  Lost in my thoughts momentarily at my son's appointment, I found myself loaded with regret.  Why hadn't I tried harder?  Why didn't my mother force me to play? I shrugged it off and continued watching my son.  What's done is done, right? I mean, seriously, how ridiculous would I look sitting in a line of children waiting for my music teacher to call me in for my lesson?  I pictured myself wedged in between two kids with freckles, far too big for the seat, and completely mortified. 
But why?
Why was I so embarrassed? Why, at 32, did I decide it was too late for me to learn something new?  Why is it that we reserve opportunity and dreams for the super young?
Misty Copeland, soloist at the American Ballet Theatre started dancing at a Boys and Girls Club as a teenager.

A few weeks ago, Jane Pauley was on the Katie Couric Show.  Jane was on the show to discuss her book, Your Life Calling: Reimagining The Rest of Your Life to inspire baby boomers to plan for the second half of their lives.  In the seventies, Jane was a Today Show anchor.  She was only 26 when she started and consequently, one of the youngest to ever do it.  She peaked early and when she left, she still had a significant amount of life ahead of her.  She wrote the book to inspire people to reimagine the rest of their lives. The book profiles older adults who start new careers after retirement.  She brought a few of them with her to the Katie Couric show. Even though I am almost thirty years away from retirement age, I found myself identifying with their stories. I think the thing I found most inspirational was acknowledging the possibilities for your life at any age.  The realization that there is no age limit on striving for something.   

Sometimes I find myself wondering why I didn't pursue writing earlier.  Why did I go to law school? Why didn't I just graduate college and get an MFA?  I have a job, a family and a mortgage - what the hell am I thinking? Then I remember how much I gained from becoming a lawyer, how much I learned about myself these past nine years.  I find myself becoming grateful for it all.  There is a sweetness to going after your dreams after you've lived a little.  A tangible pulse to every action you take.  My heart is in everything I do because I know I want it now.  I know I want it in a way I couldn't have known at 21.  Anyone who has worked hard and long for something and subsequently achieves it knows how much sweeter success is when it finally arrives.  If you admit who you want to be and find the strength to go after it, you are made of tough shit.  This I know. 

I don't know if I will ever enroll in piano lessons.  Right now, watching my son is more than enough.  However, I refuse to say it will never happen.  We have the right to dream at any age because we never stop mattering.  And if you are like me and need a reminder every once in awhile, here is a list of people who achieved their dreams later in life (feel free to add names in the comments):

Ernestine Shepherd began body building at 56 (declared oldest body builder at 77 in 2012)

  • Jon Hamm got his breakout role on Mad Men when he was 37. 
  • Andrea Bocelli didn't start singing opera seriously until the age of 34.
  • Phyliss Diller became a comedian at the age of 37.
  • Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, was 43 when he began drawing his legendary superheroes and his partner, Jack Kirby was 44 when he created The Fantastic Four.
  • Julia Child didn't learn to cook until she was almost 40 and didn't launch her popular show until she was 50.
  • Elizabeth Jolley had her first novel published at the age of 56; Mary Wesley was 71 when her first novel was published.
  • Harlan Sanders, Colonel Sanders of KFC, was 66 when he began to promote his secret chicken resume.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder began writing as a columnist in her 40s. The popular Little House books weren't written until she was in her 60s.
  • J.K. Rowling was 32 when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published. 
  • Vera Wang started designing wedding gowns at 40.
  • Ray Kroc joined McDonald's (a small restaurant owned by two brothers) when he was 52 and turned it into the most successful fast food franchises in history. 
  • Charles Darwin published the Origin of Species at 50.
Not sure who this is, but I think we can all agree she is awesome.

Love and Light,


  1. At 40, I too have had a similar conversation with myself. These days I realize that all of my experiences have led me to where I am right now and they were all necessary for me to be able to write that book (or ten), take that Reiki class, start that business and all of the other things I have embarked upon lately… Its never too late, its true. And you already know that every experience is a gift that you can take into the future or leave where it is, thankfully you have had many that are able to travel with you and help usher in your new career!

  2. My mother graduated form college at 48 years old. After my father died, the person who insisted she didn't need to go to school, my mother went to school full-time and worked a full-time AND part-time job to get'er done. She took care of me and my sister.
    I sometimes wonder why I waited to long to do what I really wanted to do; why I farted around (love that phrase) and had five different majors before I became an English major. It's still a fight because I feel so left behind. It's a fight I have with myself!
    Wonderful post that really makes me feel like, "She's talking to me!"

  3. Great observation about achieving our dreams later in life. Very inspirational! I truly believe that it's best not to have regrets. Take advantage of opportunities and embrace new challenges!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts