It’s Never Too Late To Be Great!

by Jen Slayden on · 20 comments

Ironically, I sit down to write this article on the evening of my birthday. Each passing year I become a little more reflective when May 1st comes around, perhaps because I am more aware of how quickly this carnival ride of life starts spinning.

At times, a deep sense of gratitude penetrates through memories of challenges and pain. For in aging I gain the ability to clear the superficial flow that has sometimes been my life, and realize that relationships, family, and living a meaningful life of purpose and harmony are really what I want.

But other times I have a penetrating sense of urgency:

I need to hurry up and figure out how to cross that off my bucket list before I am too old!

Do you ever have that feeling on your birthday?

So the idea of awakening to my own greatness is one I ponder a little more seriously each birthday. In terms of years, I am turning 44. When I looked up the average lifespan of a white, non-smoking female in the USA, the average age is around 81 years old. Now I am not saying that I will live to be 81. That isn't a decision I am ultimately in control of. But it IS interesting to look at my life as barely over half over.

There have been amazing examples in history of people coming into their greatness later in life. Anna Mary Robertson Moses (known as Grandma Moses) started painting in her seventies and produced over 1600 paintings in the next three decades. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't write her first novel until the age of 65, and ended up writing one of the most beloved series of books of all times: Little House on the Prairie. And then there was Ronald Regan, who of course had a successful career as an actor, but didn't hold public office until he turned 55 years old.

What does all this mean to me? And to YOU?

We all have our gifts, our talents. I know that sometimes I box myself in to the life that I think I am supposed to lead, or that someone else may think is right for me. But who's to say that I cannot continue to explore the greatness that may be lying dormant inside? And the particular greatness that I awake to may be something that brings my passion for harmony, love, and a good life more present to me than anything I may have experienced to date?

The other piece to contemplate, friends, is that greatness often times is a collaborative event. This past weekend I had the great fortune to be called in to play for a symphony up north, who needed a few more cellists. At first I hesitated, for it had been a while since I had performed a symphony concert. But I knew that by committing to play I would be accountable to help the orchestra sound their best. For it is in everybody's best interest to show up in spirit and energy to make the whole symphony sing.

And it was a beautiful time, sharing that collaboration of greatness. Life is much like that, when I step up to the plate, so do those around me.

Perhaps awakening to our greatness is simply a segue to awakening greatness in our neighborhoods, our communities and our world.

So, when I wake up tomorrow, one year older, and hopefully a little wiser, I will remember this lesson from the Jungle. Be great. Be open to being great, no matter what your age, your ability, or your past history. It is never, ever, too late to enjoy this carnival ride!

In Harmony,

Jen


by Jen Slayden

Jen Slayden finds her harmony in Western Montana with her husband Mark, their three kids, and an outdoor loving black lab named Cody. Stop by and check out her life in music, words, and education at Find Your Harmony.
Jen Slayden
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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsy at Zen Mama May 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I loved this post Jen! What a wonderful day to have your birthday on, too. I, too, reflect on my birthday about life, how much has been lived and what is to come. The “kid years” are coming to an end for me and the writing years (that I looked forward to as a child) seem to be here. And who knows what else?? I plan to live to 113 years old so that I can see the tricentennial! Congratulations on playing in the orchestra, too. I’m sure you were great!!
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Find Your Harmony May 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Hi Betsy!
I love that you plan on living until 113! And I hopefully will too (given a sharp mind anyway!). So I can’t wait to see what comes next from you. You have so much talent and life experience and wisdom in what you write!
And thanks for the shout out. The orchestra was really great, and made me realize how much I have missed that intellectual challenge the last few years. If there was only one extra day a week, right? (Sigh!)
Thanks for being here, friend!
IN HARMONY,
Jen
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Sheila Burke May 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Well happy birthday ( again, lol) and all I can say is #1 get rid of “the box” 🙂 and #2 Keep your arms and legs inside until the ride comes to a complete stop. Enjoy the ride! Love ya!
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Find Your Harmony May 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Ha! Yes, I think my box just was sometimes built of steel, so it is a little harder to get out of! But I am learning:)

Thanks Sheila. You always make me smile!
Love and HARMONY,
Jen
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Galen Pearl May 5, 2012 at 12:00 am

Happy Birthday! As I get older, I feel much freer to do things I would not have done earlier. I got my black belt in taekwondo just before my 60th birthday. Go for the gusto!
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Find Your Harmony May 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Galen,
Wow! I have always wanted to do taekwondo. Now perhaps I can celebrate that at 60 as well! Congrats to you, and thanks for your voice here.
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jody - Fit at 54 May 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Happy birthday! A great post & one I needed today! Thank you!
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Find Your Harmony May 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thank you Jody! I am glad that you enjoyed this. And I always enjoy having you here and reading your comments. SO thank you for sharing with me:)
In Harmony,
Jen
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Cathy | Treatment Talk May 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Hi Jen,

Happy birthday!! Wonderful reflection in your post. There are many late bloomers and personally I believe people live longer when they are engaged in life. I stopped teaching almost 10 years ago and was just free for a few years. I loved it, but I felt something was missing in my life, so I decided to start writing. It has helped me in so many ways, but mainly it gave me something to be enthused about and gave me a feeling of purpose.
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Find Your Harmony May 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Hi Cathy,
I agree with you about being engaged in life leading to more longevity. And I love how you found new creativity after teaching! Or I should say as an EXTENTION of teaching. Teachers are the most creative and wonderfully motivated people I know! So having had that background makes your writing more alluring. I love your blog, and appreciate you coming here to read my perspective.
Here’s to many many more years of creativity and greatness!
In Harmony,
Jen
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gklof May 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Love.

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David Stevens May 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Absolutely,
I’m a Mid Life fanatic…..always strive to do great things…and more of them…NOW
Thankyou for this Jen
be good to yourself
David
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Find Your Harmony May 7, 2012 at 9:14 am

David, I LOVE this…”a Mid-Life fanatic!” Hope you don’t mind, I am going to start using that phrase! What a great way to look at life!
Thanks for being here, and I continue, and will be good to myself:) You do the same,
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jon Mertz May 7, 2012 at 6:27 am

Happy Birthday, Jen! I just read this weekend, somewhere, that many people find their purpose and accelerate in their 40s and 50s. We are just getting warmed up! Congrats, and keep doing it! Jon
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Find Your Harmony May 7, 2012 at 9:16 am

Jon,
Just getting warmed up…INDEED! I would love to know the name of the article you read. I enjoy all the affirmation that I can get that we are just getting better and better!
May you have a week filled with
HARMONY,
Jen
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Laura May 7, 2012 at 7:19 am

“But other times I have a pen­e­trat­ing sense of urgency” – you are wonderfully describing my feelings here. Loving your choice of words here. I fear the time, when I finally can do things from my things-to-do-before-i-die list, maybe I am going to be too old for doing things by the time I have time/money for them. Happy birthday!
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Find Your Harmony May 7, 2012 at 9:18 am

Laura,
I am glad this resonated with you. It is a tricky irony that time and money thing, isn’t it? RIght now I am in the middle of raising kids, working, juggling. But then I see friends who are elderly, have spent all that time raising kids, working, and juggling, but become ill after retirement, or broke and cannot do what they set out to do. All the more reason to find ways to do what we love every day we are blessed with:)
Thanks for being here, Laura….
In Harmony,
Jen
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rob white May 7, 2012 at 8:33 am

Wonderful message, Jen. And may is the perfect month to remember our potential to continually blossom. The Authentic Self is not interested in the self imposed limits of age. When it comes to the evolution of the human species, we all have our roles to play. We play our roles well when we make a conscious effort to exceed our typical self. This requires choosing the path of higher liberty by overreaching our usual ways.
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Find Your Harmony May 7, 2012 at 9:21 am

Rob, I love this explanation! What encouraging words to reflect on….specifically that we have the CHOICE about how we come into our potential. Here’s to overreaching our usual ways! And, I must say, that actually seems easier as I age!
Thanks for your reflection and addition to this discussion, Rob.
In Harmony,
Jen
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Claire May 7, 2012 at 9:33 am

The Authen­tic Self is not inter­ested in the self imposed lim­its of age. When it comes to the evo­lu­tion of the human species, we all have our roles to play.

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