Are You Too Old?

See this message in German – Siehe Deutsche Version

In a bookstore in Sheridan, Wyoming, after a signing for one of my books, a woman came up to me and said, “I wish I’d met you long ago. My husband died when I was 43 and his family ranch is a very special place historically. I’ve always wanted to turn it into a kind of museum for everyone to see how things once were. Now it’s too late.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, I’m too old now.”

She looked fit and healthy to me. “How old are you?” I asked.

“60,” she said.

“Are you ill?”

“No, I’m not ill,” she said with a question in her face.

“Well, you’re going to feel like damn fool in 20 years when you realize how young you were today. You’re not old enough for a rocking chair. You’re exactly the right age to do this. If age is your only obstacle, you don’t have an obstacle.”

She looked surprised and didn’t answer. Then others came up to speak to me and I half-forgot about her. When the event was over and I thought everyone had gone, she was still there. She walked up to me and said, “You know what, I’m already a damn fool. You’re right. I’m going to do it now. I’ll start making calls tomorrow.” She shook my hand and she left.

You don’t get people’s names at book signings and I never found out what happened to her, but I remember that she had a strong grip in that handshake, and I have a hunch she turned her late husband’s ranch into a museum, just as she had longed to do.

It’s time to rethink age if it gets in the way of your dreams. It’s another one of those unchallenged assumptions we make that stops us before we even start. What exactly is it you think you’re too old for? Being a quarterback in the NFL? Prima ballerina at the Met? Probably. But having a great time and doing a great job at what you love? Never.

Video in English and German! – Video auf Englisch und Deutsch!

And while we’re on this subject, here’s a letter I found in my files that you might enjoy:

Hi Barbara

We are in a coastal town outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We have several more years of work here before we move back to the US. Though I’ve kept my day job, my life-long love for dance has always carried me through most anything that life throws at me. So last year, at age 45, I started taking a jazz class again in the evenings.

Yes, I was trying to blend in with other dancers in their 20s and I was way older than the teacher too, but it was pure joy once I got myself to class and got myself out of isolation. At the end of the year we had a performance, a jazz/tango number. Afterwards I was told that some of the moms of the younger dancers said they wanted to be in the class too because they saw someone on stage that was their age. This year I´m going to do another show, that´s my dream. I love the challenge and the beauty of working as an ensemble.

I have to keep setting aside the obstacles for me, like the fear of being judged for dancing at this age. But the more I get to class and am around the power of the group, the more I begin to leave the fear behind and I just feel the love.

Denise

If these three items didn’t completely convince you that it’s possible to do what you love at any age, think about this: it’s selfish not to do what you love. Brave, generous people like these two women are giving us historical museums of their ranches and wonderful performances in dance groups. Now it’s your turn. What are you going to give us?


German Fuer deine Traeume ist es nie zu spaet Buchclub linkIt's Only Too Late If You Don't Start Now Book Club link

Learn how to live your Second Life in the Book Club now. We’re running two of them, one in English, one in German. You can join only until midnight, March 11. Just click on one of these books – German or English – to find out more!!

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36 thoughts on “Are You Too Old?

  1. If you actually share this with some friends, tell me. I did a cartoon booklet about this subject which I’ve shown almost no one – but the one or two who saw it laughed a lot. We’ll use it some day in some campaign I guess, but not yet. But if you help me bring the news about this book club to a lot of English and/or German speakers, I’ll secretly send you a private pdf. Don’t tell.

        • I found your email address too, Arndt! Look in your inbox today for the pdf of the cartoon booklet. You’ll be the 4th or 5th person to ever see it. (Forgive the scratchouts, I’ve never cleaned it up because I did it just for myself.) Tell me if it makes you laugh. And thank you for helping spread the word about the book clubs. Only 4 days to go before the doors close for maybe a couple of years!

    • Just got this from Patty – Okay. I will do this, and if you want to do some FB sharing, you can do it too:

      “…mention in those German FB sites that you are sending them to a *bilingual video.* Of our 1250 visits to this page, only 335 have watched the video.

      • In fact, we not only did that, we translated the whole thing into German and English and the links are all over the place. Take a look if you’re curious: Here’s what I put on Twitter just now. Click the link:
        Are you too old for that dream? Did you wait too long? Here’s a totally new view on that question. Take a look: http://bit.ly/1aTecEW

  2. If any of you get a chance to share this link with your Facebook friends, or email it to anyone you think might be interested, that would be just great! We have only 5 days until registration closes and I’d love to fill up the book clubs because they are so incredibly great to be in! This book is called (by many on amazon.com) my masterpiece. I’m proud of it. And it’s important. It makes a huge difference to people who are giving up on themselves so early in life!

    And reading it in a book club run by either of these great people – Patty in English, and Matt in German (and me peeking in because I can’t stay away) – is 100 times better than reading it alone. I mean, you read it on your own, and do the exercises, but then you come in a talk to each other about what you’ve discovered. Watching people change is — I can’t believe I’m about to use this word (it never comes into my mind!): Awesome! Yes. Awesome, dammit!! 🙂

    And it kills me when people show up too late and say they didn’t know about it! (Oh. Just got a headache thinking about it – I know it will happen.)

  3. Barbara,

    I love it when you say it is selfish not to do what you love. It is so easy to convince oneself that the opposite is true.

    Even though I am actually quite good at encouraging others to do what they love and have helped many do exactly that..I still keep trying to make myself the exception to the rule and feel guilty doing or trying to do more of what I love.

    Is it too late? I heard recently that it is only too late if you don’t start now…LOL….another great pearl of wisdom…thanks Barbara! I am happy to have the chance to start “now” again with this next bookclub!

    P.S. thanks to Patty also – your online barbara sher bookclub facilitation skills clearly show a genius at work…or should I say play!? : )

    • As I have found – and need to tell my coaches over and over – being able to help others is so much easier than trying to help yourself. The two processes are so different they’re hardly related. You don’t get 1000 muffled memories from infancy through childhood and adolescence when you show someone else who he is and why he should do what he loves to make his contribution and be happy, or when you make is safe for someone to do what she really loves without feeling selfish.

      When it comes to helping ourselves, it’s exponentially harder, maybe impossible. A totally different process and one I advise that you ignore. If, when you read my stuff, it makes you feel safe to do what you love for a while, that’s great! Read it more often!

      Otherwise, forget it. The more people you help, the easier it gets — almost unconsciously – to do what you love, too..

      • Thank-you so much! More great insights that make a lot of sense and looking at things from the perspective you provided makes me feel a lot better!

        And by the way…I think the combo of “read it [Barbara Sher stuff] more often” and continuing to help others is a great little plan for me. I am also finally inching closer to a good enough or better-than-good enough job which will help a lot too.

        • The specialist that I want to work with is an Surgeon that selciapized cosmetic and reconstruction. When I was taking my nursing degree in my homeland. I always wanted to become a OR nurse or working inside the operating room assisting the surgeon. I saw different kind of surgery procedure that interesting and inspired me. For example you are working with a cosmetic and reconstruction surgeon, I admired the surgeon who specialist cosmetic and reconstruction because they have work hard and plan very well how will the procedure will successful, but the most part that I always wanted to see is the out come and how does the patient happy and affect or change their life after the procedure.

    • Thanks, LisaMancelyn! These book clubs are indeed like play. Such great people and such wonderful exercises and readings.

  4. Barbara – you inspire me like no other person. I love your common sense approach to finding out who we are & your sense of humor is wonderful & reminds me to not take myself so seriously! Thank you & many blessing to you, Marie

  5. Hi Barbara,

    This may be a long shot but…
    I was signed up for your book club in the fall, and never actually did it because I had an accident, then surgery (ankle fusion), then percocet and just couldn’t focus to do the class.
    As you are doing the class again, would be possible to register at a discount?
    ~Elaine

  6. barbara, I’m a perfect example of what you’re talking about. I went back to school for a bachelors degree at 55, got anMSW at age 63, first job in social work at 64 (clinical in a child and family clinic), passed my LCSW at 67 and just went into private practice ( my goal all along) at age 68. Way back there I realized that I’d been gifted with good health and energy and felt a calling to use my experiences and wisdom to help others overcome life’s challenges and keep myself vital and productive. Just thought I’d share. I’m always encouraging others to reconsider the I’m too old excuse and to try something they’ve always wanted to do. Thanks. I’ve always appreciated your work. Carol Williams LCSW http://www.opendoorscounseling.com

  7. Thank you for this… Only today was I sitting on a train, thinking about my dreams, and wishing I had been brave and gone for them 10 years ago, and feeling ‘too old’ (I am 31…)

    • Can I use this line in today’s newsletter, Angelique? “Only today was I sitting on a train, thinking about my dreams, and wishing I had been brave and gone for them 10 years ago, and feeling ‘too old’ …”

      It’s a perfect example of what people really think – when they’re as young as you are, but also when they’re so much younger than they realize, like 45 or 60! I’ve never seen it said better.

  8. Thanks for the great article. I am 63 years old and have just started a new business making upholstered headboards with very little money. I studied interior design in Australia 16 years ago and just as I was beginning my new career I fell backwards off a mezzanine floor and ended up with all kinds of upper body injuries. I then went on to recover slowly with fibromyalgia. I could not continue with what I had been doing so I then studied NLP, mind body connection, therapy etc.
    I met a man who had a business making beds and his clients asked if he made headboards, so he asked if I could make one. And so started my new venture.
    Despite some physical handicaps I am amazed that slowly I am finding that I can do many jobs I thought were impossible. I am doing repetitive work and lifting big heavy boards ( I am under 5 foot tall and very small) I am back doing what I was created for, making beautiful design pieces and working with colour and fabrics. I am in heaven.

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