By Maggie O’Neill. Photography by Kelly Andrews

Spring is a metaphor for new relationships, beginnings, and rebirth. During spring, we open the windows, air out the house, and come back to life, much like nature herself. Thus, spring is the perfect symbol for youth. But it lasts only a few short months, and youth passes just as quickly. In the blink of an eye, the wheel of life turns towards autumn. It can be a special time, a chance for renewal, to bloom again, like a September Rose.

Fall has always filled me with joy. I love the first cool night or early morning chill that marks the end of summer. As the Island prepares to slow down, I come alive in the crisp, salty, air. Looking back, I realize I have always been an autumn person, in both mind and spirit.

Through the decades, I have changed course many times. Now, at an age when most people are starting to slow down, I continue to redefine my life plan. And why not? Who is to say that we can only make a mark in the spring of our journey? Why not change course and go in another direction, no matter what our age? We may not have the same level of energy that we did at age twenty or thirty, but we do have wisdom under our ever-expanding belts. We have enough experience to know what we don’t want, which is far more important than knowing what we do want. Life is more finely tuned. Choices and possibilities may be limited, but the target is clear.

The Little House on the Prairie stories, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, weren’t published until she was sixty-five. Morgan Freeman didn’t become a famous actor until he was in his fifties, despite being in the
business for more than thirty years.

The clue to being happy is to never give up and to stay engaged. None of us know how much time we have on this earth. The number of years remaining is not as important as the journey itself. From our known start to the unknowable finish, if we keep redefining our plan and looking toward tomorrow, we still have a shot at our dreams.

No matter where our path takes us, each experience helps us grow. When we get to the AARP years, we should focus on the lessons we have learned. Once we realize where we went wrong and what we still need from life, it’s time to blossom once again. It’s time to take stock of it all, good and bad, and sprint for the finish. Life has shown me that the world can turn to tragedy in an instant. But the opposite holds true as well. It can deliver a miracle at any given moment. I always want to be on the lookout for daily gifts. I don’t want to miss even one opportunity because I thought my time for magical moments had passed. I believe I still have time to bloom in the autumn of my life, just like a September Rose.

If you also feel this late-blooming season, share your journey at

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