Most of us have a bucket list of things that we’d love to try, but so often in life we sell ourselves short with the notion that we’ve let the moment pass, or missed the boat. Novelist and poet Margaret Deland once wrote:
“As soon as you feel too old to do a thing, do it.”
These inspirational Elders of past and present will show you that Deland was on to something – it’s never too late to begin a new adventure, and life is more fun when we jump in and live it fully!
“Maybe I can influence someone that would never dream of doing something they never thought they could by just saying, ‘If she can do it, so can I.’”
Betty Goedhart was awestruck by elegant trapeze artists as a child, but didn’t get around to trying it herself until receiving a gift voucher for her 78th Birthday. Putting more kick into the “it’s never too late” mantra than most, Betty has taken on Skydiving and Rock Climbing in her twilight years, but her aerial skills are what brought her to the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest performing trapeze artist. She teaches others her signature move, the “Razzle Dazzle”!
James Arruda Henry
“Don’t be afraid to go ahead and try.”
James Arruda Henry, a retired Lobster Boat captain, published his autobiography at the age of 98, which would be a noble feat in itself, but his story is particularly extraordinary because Henry had lived his entire life unable to read. Henry began discreetly practising his own name at the dinner table at the age of 92, and determination carried him from there to releasing his book “In A Fisherman’s Language” and striving to attract others to literacy.
“Age is nothing but a number.”
Ernestine “Ernie” Shepherd lived a sedentary life as a secretary until her mid-50s when she and her sister Velvet vowed to get fit after a shopping trip to buy bathing suits left them both laughing at how out of shape they were. The two sisters began their journey with aerobics and weight training, but tragedy struck when Velvet died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Ernestine was devastated by the loss, but Velvet had left her with the mantra “Determined, Dedicated and Disciplined” and with this in mind she chose to finish the journey she had begun with her sister. She enlisted the help of former Mr. Universe, Yohnnie Shambourger, and began training. At age 71 Earnestine stepped on stage for her first bodybuilding show to win first place and subsequently the Guinness Book of World Records named Ernestine the world’s oldest female bodybuilder in 2010. Now, at 82 years old Earnestine doesn’t compete any more, but she continues to train herself and others, and inspires her fit community in the gym and online with her joyful approach to life and wellness.
“Why worry about these small, small things? I don’t stress. You never hear of anyone dying of happiness.”
Fauja Singh earned his nickname as the “Turbaned Tornado” in a big way. A British Sikh of Punjabi Indian descent, Singh took to running in his 80s as a way to fend off depression after family bereavement. His passion ignited, he entered the London Marathon at the age of 89 beginning a monumental presence on the international Marathon stage. Singh went on to compete all over the world, raising money for many charities and advocating religious and racial tolerance and animal rights. He carried the Olympic Torch at the tender age of 101 and in 2013 he announced his retirement from competitive racing, wrapping up an extraordinary career with the Hong Kong Marathon at 102 years old.
“You have to try it. You only have one trip; you’ve got to remember that.”
Iris Apfel and her late husband Carl began their legacy in the 1950s with Old World Weavers, a fabric manufacturing company that took them all over the world in search of extraordinary design and even into the White House where Apfel earned the title “The First Lady of Cloth”. It wasn’t however until her hair was silver that Iris became a household name. Iris’s status as a 97 year old fashion icon is easy to understand as we witness her incredible sense of style, and above all else her impassioned attitude to life. Iris continues to lecture and consult on style and the Museum of Modern Art in New York exhibited a collection from her wardrobe in 2005. Discover more about her in Magnolia Pictures feature length documentary; “Iris”.
I’ll leave you with one last quote from Polish poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lec:
“Youth is but the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.”
Whatever your age, ask yourself, what’s stopping you? Each day brings a brand new start. Have these inspirational elders inspired you to take the plunge and do something outside of your comfort zone?