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Face Forward!

You won’t see future possibilities if you don’t!  The good news is that since we now live longer, late bloomers have more time to blossom and grow.  Are you one of them?  Then relegate expiration dates to meat and dairy, not to yourself.

Had Wally Blume not left his job at age 55 and used his savings to found Denali Flavors, we might not be indulging in oh-so-seductive Moose Tracks ice cream.  Adding 39 more ice cream flavors, within 15 years he was raking in $80 million a year.

Or, consider 52-year-old Carol Gardner, recently divorced, heavily in debt, with no job and two broken legs.  Having little else save an adopted bulldog named Zelda, Gardner created a humorous greeting card and gift company which she dubbed “Zelda Wisdom”, starring of course, Zelda.  Starting in her living room with 24 designs, she sold more than a million cards within 6 months.  Her annual earnings hover around the $50 million mark.

And then there is Sam Teitelbaum, an expert on carbonated air filters. When his wife developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, he created a more effective, cost efficient air purifier, now used for military, industrial, and medical applications.  He was 61.

Late-in-life success stories like these can and should inspire the rest of us to discover what drives us, where our passion lies, and how best to utilize it.

One roadblock to blooming late, says UC Davis Professor and psychologist, Dean Simonton, is not an aging brain, but our “closed-minded culture.”

Forbes Magazine Publisher Rich Karlgaard would agree.  He states, “People have this capacity to blossom at any age. . . There are people of latent skills out there that because they didn’t test well at age 16 or 17, might not have gone to the right school, might have made a couple career mistakes–that suddenly find themselves, and there is this enormous talent to be tapped.”  But, he says, they lack confidence, and society doesn’t realize this process of self-discovery.  He adds, “I think that’s a human tragedy really.”

Karlgaard authored the book, Late Bloomers, The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement.  He himself rose from a mediocre academic career at Stanford University, followed by a series of menial jobs before awaking to an inner motivation which eventually drove him to the success he now enjoys.

Passion springs from within, as much a part of you as your hair and eye color, your sense of humor, your likes and dislikes.  It may be lying dormant, but it’s there to be discovered.

Novelist Frank McCourt wrote his Pulitzer Prize winning, Angela’s Ashes, at 63.  At 65, Harland Sanders cashed his $105 Social Security check to open Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Chef Julia Child debuted her TV show at 50, and Martha Stewart was 40 when she began her catering business.  Remember the thesaurus that carried you through high school English?  Peter Roget didn’t start compiling it until he was 61.  Need we mention Grandma Moses?

There’s room for all late bloomers, whether they ride the tide to fame and fortune or just discover what makes them happy.  So, embrace your possibilities, tardy sprouts, and face forward!

Constance Watkins