Early Sunday morning, I was standing in line in a field near Sequim. I was waiting my turn to pick up my race number to participate in my first ever duathlon (3 mile run + 22 mile bike ride + 3 mile run). As I glanced down at the registration list, I found my name and next to it was a number under the “age” column that said 52. My first reaction was “hey, you got that wrong, I’m not…” Oh, wait. But, I am 52. Really – 52? How the heck did that happen? I don’t feel 52. Lots of people tell me I don’t look 52.
When Gloria Steinem was 40, she told a reporter “This is what 40 looks like!” It was a bold move in an age where women were valued more for their looks and their household skills than their brains and their intellectual abilities. It was a time when 40 was “beyond old” and not something that a single woman would readily admit to. Ten years later, Gloria held a fabulous party for her 50th birthday – and two years ago, she turned 80! She is still vital and relevant and influential and fabulous.
More than ever, age is just a number. However, I’ve noticed that there is a line that people cross, somewhere in their early 40s. A line that divides between those who have taken care of themselves and those who haven’t. A line that divides between those who embrace life and realize that every new day can bring a new blessing, challenge, or experience and those for whom every day is just like the day before and the day that follows. Regardless of the age of people on each side of that invisible dividing line, there is a difference that shows on their face. The people on the side of the line that have settled in and given up, worn down by the tedium of their lives look worn and unhappy, often regardless of their age. While, folks on the other side of the line have a glimmer in their eye, a spring in their step, and an endless list of activities and engagements. They embrace life and know that, regardless of their age – and sometimes because of their age, life is a wonderful journey to be embraced and savored and shared with friends.
Today, people are living longer, fuller, more engaged lives and pushing the envelope beyond what we thought was possible for people who had achieved “a certain age.” The latest viral video right now is a Nike ad featuring Ironwoman Sister Madonna Buder. She is 86 years old, has completed over 45 Ironman triathlons, and is a Catholic nun. Her nickname? The Iron Nun. Google her. She proves that anything is possible.
So…how was that duathlon? Well, I was the 3rd fastest woman in the entire race. The woman who got 2nd was 66 years young!! Deborah Nelson
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