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Are you a late bloomer or a long bloomer?

Orange Hummingbird and Flower

Long Bloomer

Are you a late bloomer or a long bloomer? It seems to be a more common phenomenon these days: thirty-something’s, forty-something’s, fifty- and sixty-something’s finding that it is not until they are embarking on their 2nd, 3rd, or nth career that they feel they are really hitting their stride. It’s a time they wouldn’t trade for the world, but it is also a time when they sometimes yearn for the vitality of younger days. A time of more energy and less creakiness. Late bloomers they get called and maybe I am one too, but is this a fair label, does this give credit to the road they’ve walked? The hard work and exploration of the years spent finding their way?

The other day my girlfriend and I were sitting on the sofa, me with my nose in my laptop and Julie thumbing through a dog lover’s magazine. As she flipped a page an interesting squiggle caught my eye, “wait, go back.” There was a page of delightful cartoons accompanying an article about William Steig. The article focused on a recent collection of his work and featured many of his dog-centric cartoons. I recognized the work, but realized that I didn’t know much about the man, so a-Googling I did go…

I was so inspired by the story I found. Not only was Mr. Steig a talented and prolific young artist, he was a lifelong force of growth and creative exploration. I was wowed to learn that he had over 1600 cartoons and 117 cover illustrations published in The New Yorker. It’s kind of staggering, but it was the product of a lifelong relationship with the magazine. But it was what I read next that made me feel excited, and a whole lot less creaky: W. Steig published his first children’s book when he was 61 years old! He won the Caldecott Medal for his third book, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.

As a doodlist it has always been an ambition of mine to write and illustrate a children’s book and I’ve had many starts in that direction. And also many times when I look at the calendar and marvel at how fast the years manage to go by. Don’t get me wrong, I love the work I’m doing, and I’m proud of my past accomplishments, both in my artwork and in my business life, but I still have itches left to scratch. Yes, my bifocals have been replaced by trifocals and my salt & pepper beard gets saltier every day, but I’m resolved to still hit some of these big to-dos on my list.

I think this is the lesson of William Steig, doodler-divine, that whether we’re early bloomers or late bloomers, we can all be long bloomers. We can put growth and accomplishment on our itinerary for the rest of our lives, and there is no limit to what we might accomplish no matter how late we start. By the way you know what Steig did when he was around 83? He drew a character and wrote a book about him. He called him Shrek! They based a movie on it, I even heard it did well…. 😉

What about you? Are you a late bloomer, an early bloomer, a perennial? I’d love to know what inspires you and how you inspire others. Be a beacon my friends and keep on blooming!

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