Meryl Streep Got All My Best Parts

Meryl Streep at the 19th Annual Critic's Choice Movie Awards Arrivals, Barker Hangar, Santa Monica, CA 01-16-14

A QUICK STORY.  Forever. Since I was eight and a half and I played the sailor in the school production of  The Wishing Moon,  I wanted to act.  Every day for a week (and twice on Saturday), I got to do my little sailor dance and eat the rosiest red apple as part of my performance.  Imagine my excitement  each day as our next-door neighbour Margaret (Mrs. Kelly to me) popped by to make up my stage face with the most blissfully scented creams and cosmetics.  By the time I’d slipped into my silky blue bell-bottoms, sailor top and  pill box hat, I was transported into character and on the stage.  I was hooked.  It was the acting life for me.

Ah yes. The madness of an eight and a half year old!  So I got on with real life and Meryl Streep got all my parts.

Then one day last year I made my baby cry (youngest never stops being baby right?) Katie was helping me clear out the attic.  We came across an old handbag stuffed with photos from ‘the olden days’  which yielded a small square snapshot of me in costume and stage ready for the school production of The Wishing Moon.  I’d forgotten all about those days and as the memory came flooding back I recounted my childish excitement and short-lived passion for the stage.  Something shining within my words though caught Katie’s observant eye.

“Why don’t you take up acting Momma?”   she asked me.  And then I said it.  The words that made her cry.  “Oh it’s too late now sweetheart.”  

Her eyes scanned my face as she tried to make sense of the words and the saddest look crossed hers as she glanced back at the photo.  “Don’t say that please Momma”.  In that moment, I realised that those three words – it’s too late – were a story I told myself.   A story handed down through the ages and I was about to pass it on to this beautiful young adult again.   IT’S TOO LATE meant I’d given up.  And the story I was perpetuating is that at a certain time in life, we must begin to suffer little deaths of joy and of long held passion so that we turn into what? Acceptably aged?

Every time we say the words  “It’s too late” we do a little bit of dying.​

My daughter cried because she saw through my it’s too late and heard my grief.

WHAT AGE WILL YOU BE IN SEVEN YEARS TIME?

To make the point let me share with you this little gem.  Bear with me – another short story.

A caller to a radio chat show shared her sorrow at discovering her dissatisfaction in her chosen career –  a school teacher.  She explains that it was a toss-up between teaching and medicine when it came to her college studies many years earlier and she’d grown to realise, too late,  that she really wanted to be a doctor.

Now the host of this talk show was the most positive and enlightened man I’ve ever come across,  Dr. Wayne Dyer who is sadly now deceased (but there’s a wealth of life- enhancing/changing resources available on his website www.drwaynedyer.com ).

During this call, he listened with sympathy and he asked the caller her age.
“I’m 47”,  she replied.

“And how long will it take you to become a doctor?” he asked.
“About 7 years”  she replied with a deep sigh of resignation.
“So what age will you be in 7 years time?” asked Dr. Dyer.
“I’ll be 54” caller replied, more deep sighing.
“And what age will you be in 7 years time if you don’t study to become a doctor?”  Ah the canny Dr. Dyer!!

“I’ll be 54” giggled the caller.
“So whadda ya  wanna be?” he cried.  

“A 54 year old disenchanted teacher or a 54 year old doctor passionate about medicine and healing the sick. It’s your decision!”

IT’S SHOWTIME!

So after the attic conversation with my daughter, I booked some acting lessons.  Turns out all the kids loved me for improv.  They needed:  An alcoholic Landlady.  An immigrant storekeeper.  A silent psychotherapist.  My wealth of life experience came into its own and guess what?  I got all the best parts!  Not too late at all.

For a brief time I enjoyed exploring my thespian leanings but I was drawing closer and closer to my real passion.  I’m a story teller and a memory-keeper but there is no story worth telling or passing on, if we live another person’s version of our life or the life ‘society’ expects of us.

Stories are made when we follow our heart, lead by the spirit and allow the magic take it from there.  No matter what age we are, once we realise this, it’s a golden wink from the universe to cast our own epic from there onwards.

So I set up UpStarts …….for new beginnings as life advances and run workshops and free online programmes on the sacred soulcraft of self-nurture. The surprising thing is that out of this came another kind of stage – a regular radio show contribution – Sunshine 106.8fm on presenter Carol Dooley’s Saturday Live show where we talk about living magically in midlife and beyond.  I produced the Wise & Ageless Goddess guide to Living Magically and that’s the title show host Carol has given me – Wise & Ageless Goddess. One I think fits Meryl Streep so beautifully too!

I know a businessman who, as he approached his sixties, hung up his briefcase and returned to an old passion from his boyhood.  He took up his graphite pencils and charcoal and taught himself to draw hyper-realistic portraiture.  In a very short time his passion has produced many beautiful works some of which are in private collections all over the world and in other public institutions and offices.  He’s about to open his first solo exhibition at age 63 at the United Arts Club in Dublin. See details here www.aka.ie

Alan, the artist,  believes that every new piece of art he creates is begun with a fresh spirit and an open heart.  This is the secret to ageless living.  “Our bodies may grow older” Alan says “but our creative spirit is unaffected by the length of time we have inhabited the earth.  It’s timeless.”

When we follow our passion and seize our joy, it gives others permission to do the same.  That should be our legacy and the most powerful story to pass on to our children.  Our children in turn have a lot to teach us.  After all, it was my child who made me realise that it’s never too late to begin making your dreams come true.

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