Does a story about a writer who published her debut novel at age 53 make your day?
Me, too. I’m Debra Eve and I’ve always been intrigued by people who embrace art and adventure later in life.
Yet when I searched for a central archive of those stories, I couldn’t find one. So I created LaterBloomer.com.
I also write about learning, creativity, longevity, anti-retirement, and cultivating an enduring vision.
Being a Later Bloomer has nothing to do with being late. Like the pomegranate tree that fruits in fall, we all bloom in our own time. For me, it’s about the aha! moment that transforms everything that follows.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell famously said, “Follow your bliss.” But we Later Bloomers often resonate more with sci-fi author Bruce Sterling’s advice—“Follow your weird!”
I’ve always been a late bloomer. I did what others thought I should—especially my parents. They thought I should earn a “decent” living, so I left home at 19 to study business at USC. By age 26, I managed software contracts for a Lockheed subsidiary.
But every day I wondered, Is this it?
One summer night in 1988, I dragged myself home from work, poured a glass of chardonnay, and turned on PBS.
Bill Moyers was interviewing Joseph Campbell on The Power of Myth. Campbell’s belief that each person’s life has its own mythological trajectory electrified me.
According to Campbell, “If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”
I eschewed my next obvious move—earning an MBA.
Instead, at age 30, I entered UCLA to study anthropology. I specialized in archaeology and excavated a Chumash settlement in California, a medieval motte in Wales, and a Neolithic passage tomb in Ireland.
At age 33, I received a prestigious Ahmanson Foundation Grant to help archaeologist Maria Gimbutas, a colleague of Joseph Campbell, bring her final book (The Living Goddesses, U.C. Press 1999) to press.
At 36, I received my master’s degree. While freelancing in archaeology and software training, I
- studied Jeet Kune Do at age 38,
- backpacked solo across Europe at 41,
- bungee-jumped in New Zealand at 43, and
- explored the hero’s journey via UCLA’s Professional Screenwriting Program at 44.
At age 46, I found the love of my life and got married.
Then, in my 50s, I got sick. Chronic, soul-crushing pelvic pain that still plagued me after two surgeries. I lived in constant pain, carried 35 extra pounds, and had accumulated $35,000 in medical debt. Every day I wondered, Is this it?
Between wracking sobs, an inner voice said,
You can be miserable for the rest of your life or you can be something else. Choose well—you could have another 50 years.
Another half-century of illness and self-pity, parked in front of the TV supporting the pharmaceutical industry? No way.
I’m going to be a healthy late-blooming centenarian and I want to inspire you to join me!
If you’d like to catch up with Later Bloomer’s first 35 profiles and support the site, please consider buying my $2.99 Kindle anthology. Thanks!
P.S. I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment on any post or use the contact form in the sidebar and I’ll get back to you. You can sign up to receive posts by mail and other goodies below.