The Best Years of Life Are Still Ahead
August 13, 2009, on my birthday, I was feeling a bit down. Forty-four had crept up so fast. I was now the mom of two teenagers and one tween and wondering just where the heck the years had gone. I was also frustrated with the pounds that had piled on over the years. I was sitting on the pontoon at my parent’s lake, looking out at the boats zipping by and thinking back to a time when I, too, was zipping along the water on my own bare feet.
“Good gosh, are the best years over with?” I asked myself as I thought back to the years spent waterskiing on the lake. When I was sixteen, the lake was alive with guys of all ages barefooting– waterskiing on their bare feet. I was determined to barefoot, so I spent a few days trying to learn how to kick off a ski and glide on my feet. Every attempt landed me face first in the water. I went home and pestered my Mom into buying a kneeboard. Three days later, I let go of the kneeboard and found myself barefooting for the first time.
I loved barefooting and spent many days hanging with the guys and barefooting with them. There were no women role models for me and of course, in the days before the internet, there was no way to readily find them.
One day, when I was nineteen, I was barefooting and crossing over the wake when suddenly my foot caught on the wake and I slammed right into the water. My head hit first and I cartwheeled over. There was no time to do a normal tuck and roll like I had done many times before. I climbed into the boat and tried to coax the water out of my ears. Everything sounded muffled. It wasn’t until weeks later that I realized I had lost more of my hearing and had become deaf.
Fast forward through college, through marriage and the births of three kids two years apart. Life became full and incredibly busy. Barefooting became a thing of the past. And there I was, on that fateful birthday, thinking that the best years of my life were gone and it was just an uphill battle of becoming older. Later that fall, the hubby sent me a link that would change the course of my thinking and put a new inspiration in my life.
He sent me the link to the Today show featuring Judy Myers, a 66-year-old woman who first learned to barefoot at the age of 53, on a dare. “Life is too short to spend your time doing something you do not 100 percent enjoy,” Judy said to Lester Holt.
As I watched the video in amazement, a thought entered my head: If a 66-year-old woman could barefoot, then was there really anything holding me back from getting on the water again?
Sure, I had a challenge– I was packing on some heavy pounds. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wanted to barefoot again.
So, this being the age of the internet, it was easy to track down Judy and connect with her. I told her my story and how I wanted to get back on the water. Judy’s response was simple: come on down to Florida and we’ll get you barefooting again!
And that’s exactly what I did on March 29th. I met Judy and Keith St. Onge, a world-champion barefooter who owns the World Barefoot Center and spent the afternoon learning to glide on the water again. On my first try, I placed my feet on the water and felt the same way that I did when I was sixteen.
After our session, Judy invited me back in the fall to join in a women’s barefooting week. You can bet that I’m looking forward to that. I have a long way to go to catch up to Judy, who can barefoot backwards, on one foot and can do tumble turns on her back.
“I want to be just like you when I grow up,” I joked with Judy.
She’s 67 now. So I figure I have 23 more years to catch up to her.
Bolingbrook Mayor, Roger Claar