I try to be as in tune with nature as someone who lives surrounded by pavement and skyscrapers can be. So during my morning walks, I become downright giddy when I see the first early buds peeking through my neighbors’ postage stamp size gardens.
As the season wears on, I start to wonder about happens to those first blooming plants. By the time all the other flowers have caught up to them, they’re shriveled and brown and nearly unrecognizable as those first, feisty harbingers of springtime.
Early Bloomers? Late Bloomers? Rebloomers!
I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of early bloomers as compared to late bloomers- not physically, but emotionally and in personal development. Some people start early and enjoy a meteoric ascent, while others who take the slow burn until they find themselves.
Personally, I’ve always been precocious. I spoke early – and several languages at that. I started babysitting and working weekend jobs while still in elementary school to fund my questionable fashion splurges. I enjoyed a series of successful careers while my friends were still trying to figure out their college majors.
More recently, though my life came to something of a screeching halt. Over the past few years, life threw me a series of particularly cruel curveballs and for all intents and purposes I’m starting from scratch again.
So am I an early bloomer or am I now a late bloomer?
These days, I prefer to think of myself as a rebloomer.
Fully Blooming at Any Age
In his book Late Bloomers (Artisan), Brendan Gill offers portraits of 75 famous people ranging from artist Edward Hopper, to James Bond creator Ian Fleming, who found astounding success in the second half of their lives.
There doesn’t have to be a specific age related epiphany or right time to bloom to start again or start over better.
“Starting to bloom when younger is no guarantee of flourishing, just as getting a late start is no guarantee of failure,” says cognitive psychologist and New York University professor, Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD. “Blooming at any age requires mental endurance. Facing life’s twists and turns is an inevitable part of the blooming process. The person who can withstand the harsh environmental forces with their self-belief intact, is the one who has the greatest chances of fully blooming– whatever the age.”
Good Girls Don’t!
Julie Sturgeon, a travel agent and owner of Curing Cold Feet, is a self-described extremely late bloomer who got married at the age of 20 and though dissatisfied, tried to live her life in the way that she thought good wives did, which carried over to her professional life, as well.
While she can’t define the specific moment that she knew she’d changed, Sturgeon realized that “the person I was trying to be was not the person that was buried in me.” She knew she needed to change to find happiness. “It’s too difficult to live long-term with a direction that is not suited to your God-given personality. I think at some point, people who are not matched to their lifestyle break. You wake up in the morning and you’re tired. It is work to be somebody you’re not.”
Ageless and Fearless
Joan Price is herself a force of nature. She teaches both line dancing and dating classes. She is an advocate for ageless sexuality and the author of Naked at Our Age (Seal Press).
Price is also 68 years old and puts lie to the recent survey that declared people at their happiest at the age of 33. Though widowed now, Price met the love of her life at the age of 57, an age when society can make most women feel invisible.
She laughs off her media nickname as a “wrinkly sex kitten,” who recently received a standing ovation while speaking at a conference by declaring, “I’m not doing this to show off my body. It doesn’t matter what it looks like- I own it and I love the pleasure it gives me and that isn’t going to change no matter how many wrinkles I have.”
It was that sense of confidence that allowed her to bloom again and seek out love at an age when most people seem content to “lock myself in my happy monastery again.” When asked for advice on how to start again or rebloom, she offers an analogy from her dating classes, “A first date is not the audition for the rest of your life – it’s only the audition for a second date.”
And, while you’re at it, “Take all of the heavy weight off of it. It’s a chance to meet people, talk with people and then go about your life.” And change. By allowing new people into your comfortable life, you allow yourself to evolve and continue to find ways to make life better and more interesting.
Businesses in Bloom
When you think about early bloomers or late bloomers, it can be easy to focus on people or plants. But neighborhoods change, too. Williamsburg in Brooklyn was once the exclusive enclave of Hassidic Jewish families, these days it’s better known as a haven for the hip. Glasgow, Scotland was once a dark industrial city, and is now known for its art and nightlife.
It isn’t only individuals or cities that find ways to bloom again, but some companies find creative ways to breathe new life into their brands. The owners of Ellington Handbags decided to repurpose the leather they had sitting in their warehouse from the last 5 years and created a brand new series of pouch bags to hold iPads, electronics, and more. In this way, not only are the colors and textures paying homage to seasons past, but the scraps are made useful and once again relevant.
The uber-hip, newly renovated Lola Hotel in New York was actually built in 1903. In its previous incarnation as the Martha Washington, it was a respectable women’s residence that played host to screen starlets including Louise Brooks and Veronica Lake.
The hotel’s designer Susan Jaques says that she used the property’s storied history as inspiration. She says, “I created Lola, a playful and provocative character to embody the property’s personality and serve as inspiration for the redesign.”
When asked about the notion of the hotel’s personality and makeover, Jaques talks about the need to be constantly updating oneself to remain relevant. “I think we all need to update constantly in order to grow and be part of the changing world. If I could, I would redesign my homes each year. I would change my art and update my entire whole wardrobe to start each year with a fresh approach.”
Be a Perennial
An informal survey of my friends and colleagues had a healthy assortment of people declaring themselves to be either early or late bloomers. World traveler Sheila Callahan, an American expat currently living in Poland, describes herself as a “bud,” always on the cusp of something newer, better and more innovative.
The overall general consensus was that the best floral metaphor for a life in transition is to be a perennial.
So whether you’ve started early or aren’t there yet, there’s always time to rebloom. As Sturgeon puts it, “I don’t think there’s anything right or wrong about when you bloom, it’s just something that will happen in the right time for you.”
She continues, “It’s also made the aging process something I feel excited about, rather than dreading. This made my 30s so much better than my 20s. It keeps getting better; I can’t wait to see what’s coming. It’s got to be something spectacular.”
Rachel Weingarten is a style expert, marketing strategist & personal branding consultant for CEOs, politicians and celebrities and the creator of MintStyle. She is the award-winning author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Rachel writes for top media outlets including CNN, Fortune, Forbes Life, MSN, USA Today, Yahoo Finance and many others. She is a regularly featured expert on TV shows including Good Morning America and The Today Show. Visit her online at http://racheletc.com or on Twitter @rachelcw