Judy “Old Lady” Myers came into my life in the fall of 2009 via a TODAY Show segment, Barefoot Water Skier is Landing on Her Feet at 66. My husband found the link online and sent it to me. I watched the video over and over, even though it wasn’t captioned. You see, back when I was a teenager, I loved to barefoot water ski. I spent my summer days on Christie Lake barefooting with the guys, because no other female on the lake was into the sport. One day, I turned to cross the lake and took a hard fall. In an instant, I went from hard of hearing to deaf. I abandoned the sport a few years later and took up volleyball. I met my husband Joe in college and we spent several years traveling with deaf teams. Then one by one, three kids popped out and life settled into a routine. By the time I was 44, I had resigned myself to the idea that I’d never barefoot water ski again. That is, until I saw Judy on the TODAY Show. Holy cow–if a 66 year old gal could barefoot water ski, then why not me? Judy took up the sport at the age of 53 and heck, I was only 44! I had a big challenge, though. And when I say big– I mean BIG. I was overweight, out-of-shape, and the last time I barefoot water skied was more than 20 years ago. But that old excitement overcame me. Every time I watched Judy on the water in the TODAY Show video, I could feel the old passion coming back.
I got in touch with Judy through Facebook and she invited me to the World Barefoot Center in Florida to learn how to barefoot again with the instruction of Keith St. Onge, the two-time World Barefoot Champion. Both Judy and Keith welcomed me with open arms and smiles when I arrived at the ski school. I was pretty darn nervous, very intimidated, and a little scared (they have ALLIGATORS in those lakes!) when we walked down to the dock. Getting into the wetsuit was a workout itself. But the moment I put my feet on the water and stood up, I felt like a teenager again. Two weeks later, I went back for another lesson. A few months later, Keith taught me to barefoot backwards on shoes and then on my feet. Judy and I became great friends and we ski together whenever we can. The Growing Bolder crew captured our stories:
Even at the age of 70, Judy kicks my butt on the water and I’m scrambling to keep up with her. Heaven forbid should I dare complain about sore muscles because the Old Lady will just tell me to “suck it up.” Judy has taught me so much about life, both on and off the water. At an age where many of her peers have chosen to slow down, Judy’s out on the water learning new tricks and pushing herself faster over the wakes. She’s not planning to slow down anytime soon. On my 44th birthday, I wasn’t looking forward to becoming older. All I could see ahead of me was the slow, steady creep of age and the eventual etching of wrinkles. Judy changed all of that for me–she showed me a blueprint of life that was entirely different from anything I could have dreamed up on my own. She taught me that I didn’t have to fear the idea of growing older, especially when you can chose to grow BOLDER instead!