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Breaking Limits, Learning from Our Younger Sisters

breaking limits

Midlife Reinvention Thought Leader: Yvonne Marchese

It was a cold morning. I drove to the beach, bundled up, expecting to walk. I wanted to skate, but I thought it might be too cold.

As I sat in the car looking at the sun sparkling on the water I decided, “What the hell, I’m gonna go put my skates on and see how it feels.”

I parked the car in my usual spot and put on my skates, my pads and my helmet. I turned on my favorite music and started to skate around the empty parking lot. That’s when I saw her. 

As I skated over to the brand-new skate park, I was surprised to see a young woman on roller skates like me. I had expected her to be on a skateboard, but there she was cresting the top of a four-foot ramp on her roller skates, her long black hair flying out from under her helmet.

I told her that I was amazed to see her going up the ramp on roller skates and she invited me to join in. In addition, my first thought was, “No way, no how!” I thanked her, but told her that I didn’t do the ramps. She asked why in a tone that clearly indicated her surprise.

“I started to tell her I was “too old” to do that. I was afraid of falling and breaking a bone.”

I started to tell her I was “too old” to do that. I was afraid of falling and breaking a bone. 

That’s when I remembered that this is the sort of thinking I’ve been working so hard to change (to encourage breaking limits), and I stopped myself from speaking those words. But the thought was there, loud and clear in my mind.  

Push Myself To Do The Uncomfortable Turns:

I can’t even remember what I told her, but she wasn’t accepting my excuses. She said she was sure I could do it, and why not give it a try. I thanked her again, and said I was just gonna skate around the flat part of the skate park. I told her I would think about it, though. 

Then, I went back to my music. She went back to jumping ramps. Sometimes she fell, and sometimes she didn’t. (I was watching her out of the corner of my eye.) 

I practiced skating backwards. Then, I practiced going into turns counterclockwise instead of clockwise. For some reason, it’s easy for me to go clockwise into a turn, but I get wobbly going the other way, so I always try to push myself to do the uncomfortable turns.  

After a while, we started talking again. She asked me if I was ready to try one of the ramps. At first I said no, but then she pointed to a smaller ramp, and said “Well what about that one?” It was a much smaller ramp than the one she had been on. I looked at it and thought Tthat little ramp? Yeah, I think I could do that.”

How You Can Improve:

It was only about one foot up from the ground. There were two ramps on each side of a raised flat spot, so I skated up one side and down the other. Skating up the ramp to the flat gave me the wobbles. I had to get enough momentum to get up the ramp, and by the time I was up there I had to come down the ramp on the other side. I almost fell, but I managed to come down without wiping out.

She said, “Good, but you need to bend your knees.” I didn’t know my knees were straight. It helps to have someone there to point out how you can improve. So, I tried again. Sure enough, bending my knees on the way down really helped. I did it a few more times.  

She returned to the larger ramp, skating halfway up and then skating backwards down using her toe stops to catch herself from falling. I said, “Wow, you went backwards!” She explained that she hadn’t meant to. She just hadn’t gotten the momentum to make it to the top of the ramp.  

“It helps to have someone there to point out how you can improve.”

And then she asked if I was ready to try the bigger ramp. I laughed and said, “Hell no!” She pushed me again, saying, “Why not?”  

What part of “No” didn’t she understand?!  

You Can Totally Do It!

She said, “It’s easy. You go up a little, and then you go backwards, and you use your toe stoppers to stop at the bottom.” She showed me. I thought okay, okay. I’ll try going just a little bit up the ramp.  

Moreover, I went up just a little bit. I almost wiped out.

She reminded me to bend my knees more and to stagger my feet with my dominant foot in back. It worked! The more I did it, the more comfortable it felt.  

I asked myself, “Isn’t this what I’m always talking about on my podcast?”  

Breakthroughs are always on the other side of discomfort and fear. 

We talked for a little while, getting to know each other. I confessed that I didn’t want to try the ramps because I’m 55 years old and afraid of breaking something. She said, “Why?! You’ve got all the protective gear. You can totally do it!”

She asked me if I knew anyone else in town who liked to roller skate. I don’t. She said she wished there were more of us women who liked skating. I said, maybe we’re the beginning of a skating community! She said that would be amazing. We exchanged Instagram handles and followed each other to stay in touch. Both of us had to get to work. 

“I can tell you now, I’ll be heading back to that skate park to challenge myself a little bit more. “

Breaking Limits Of Age:

I thanked her for the push and she laughed. She said, “I’m always pushing people!”

Today, I learned a lot because I decided to put my skates on even though it was cold.

  • I made a new connection with a younger woman who wasn’t buying into my story about being limited by my age. In fact, she didn’t seem to care how old I was. I let her teach me.
  • I realized that I still have a lot more work to do to change the story I’m telling myself about what I’m capable of.  
  • In conclusion, I am not truly limited by my age. I am only limited by my assumptions and beliefs.

I can tell you now, I’ll be heading back to that skate park to challenge myself a little bit more.  

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Yvonne Marchese

About the Author:

Yvonne Marchese is the host of the Late Bloomer Living Podcast, a professional photographer, mother and wife. At the age of 48, she realized that she’d bought into a story about getting old that was adversely affecting her health and relationships.Changing her story about aging inspired her to start the Late Bloomer Living Podcast where she is on a mission to redefine society’s ideas on aging and exploring how to live a life by design. Yvonne believes that midlife is filled with possibility, that it’s never too late to pursue a dream and that the stories we tell ourselves have tremendous power. Who knew that midlife could be so much fun? Follow Yvonne on IG –@latebloomerliving