It was the seventh mile of a hilly bike ride and I paused in the middle of going up a long hill. It had been several years since I rode a bike and I was trying to keep up with 65-year-old Joann O’Connor. The moment I got off the bike, my legs turned to jelly.
“Why don’t you head back to the cottage and I’ll ride to your van and bring it back,” she suggested. Part of me wanted to keep going until the end. I mean, come on, a 65-year-old woman was kicking my 48-year-old butt on a bike ride. The other part of me just wanted to sink into the hammock and have a cold drink.
Not too long after sinking into the hammock I fell asleep. Because you see, the night before, we rode a slalom ski across the lake. The last time I got up on a slalom ski was back in my 20’s. I bought a new ski four years ago and rode it…once. So I was more than happy to get up on the ski and ride across the wake a few times. I was nowhere near the elbow-to-the water lean that I had in my teen years, but I was thrilled just to get up and swerve back and forth. Then it was Joann’s turn. The woman rode and rode and rode that ski around a three-mile lake. I got tired just driving the boat. She did it again the next morning–around and around the lake on a ski–the same morning of our bike ride.
Joann and I met four years ago on Facebook. We connected over the sport of barefoot water skiing. That very summer, Joann invited me up to her cabin on a lake six hours from my home. I jumped in the car and drove up through the woods of northern Wisconsin to meet a woman I knew only through Facebook. We hit it off from the start and formed an instant friendship. We’ve been barefooting together ever since.
On the third morning, we woke up to a very windy lake, much too rough for any water sports behind the boat. We decided to go windsurfing. We laid out the board, sail, and a few other parts.
“How do we assemble it?” I asked. Joann shrugged.
“I don’t know.” Somehow, she managed to figure out all the parts and we pushed it into the water.
“Now what do I do?”
“Just stand up on the board, pull up the sail, and hang on,” she said. Joann had done it once before a few years ago.
So we spent the morning climbing on, falling off, and laughing our hearts out. Then we managed to catch some wind and sail across the lake. Joann, the Titan, sailed and sailed. She sailed longer and further than I did. My legs were jelly and my arms were aching from holding up the heavy sail when I called it quits. Once again, I got my butt kicked, but I loved every minute of it. You want to know why? Joann gives me a glimpse of what the future can be like with the right attitude. She embodies the Growing Bolder spirit. When you hang with vibrant, energetic people who are further down the life path yet living it to the fullest, you see the future ahead with a whole different set of eyes. You see the future in terms of possibilities and abilities instead of limits. That’s the gift Joann gives me every time we do something together.
“I’m really glad we windsurfed,” Joann said as we put the equipment away. “I would have never tried it again without you pushing me along.”
Ah, a 48-year-old kicked some butt after all.
(Oh, but not so fast… Shortly after arriving home, Joann informed me she completed a 30-mile bike ride.)