Even Though You’re Not A Spring Chicken, You Can Still Do The Sports You Love. Don’t Let Your Past Hold You Back.

Harriet looks for and usually finds a way. Credit: Laurie O’Connor

To set the stage, I recently broke my wrist, so I’m sealed in a cast. Can’t drive. Can’t swim. Can’t this. Can’t that. Fortunately it’s temporary. Soon I’ll be back to doing the things I love.

Meanwhile, I walk loops in the park, and I’ve met some energetic women my age. But I feel sorry for them. Each is stuck in her own past.

Barb loved to bicycle, and she told great bike ride stories as we walked. But she’s afraid to put air in the tires. Her husband always did it. But he passed away five years ago. She longs to ride again.

When Beth’s kids were little, they’d pack the family and supplies into the canoe and paddle from lake to lake for a week. But the canoe was too heavy for her to handle alone. She gave it away.

Liz loved to ski all over the mountain, but she quit. She blames two things. She hates her ski boots and she’s afraid to use her artificial knee.

These women reminisce the glory days of their past. They wish they could repeat the past. But nobody can go back. So they’re stuck.

Life’s lesson

Long ago, I graduated from college, married my sweetheart, and we moved to the military base where he was stationed. The climate there was sweating hot, there were strange birds I’d never seen before, and locals talked with a slow drawl. My husband’s unit was called up at all hours of the night, and they left abruptly for extended tours. I longed for something I could count on, for something certain.

Through that experience I learned a most valuable lesson: The one thing that is certain is change. Nothing remains static for very long. I learned to how to adapt. I think that’s what keeps me going today.

It’s okay to change

It’s okay to grow older. It’s okay to accommodate arthritis and health conditions. It’s okay to do things differently today than how you did them yesterday. Really.

I’m waving a magic wand and authorizing you to make changes.

Let me give you some examples:

After I had hips and knees replaced, I bought a carbon frame bike. I had two choices: quit riding—or get a bike that absorbs more road chatter than a steel frame bike and that would be kind to all the rigid steel inside me. It was my way of accepting new body parts, adapting, and going forward.

Recently, it became difficult to get a tire back onto the rim after fixing a flat. Too much arthritis in my hands. Again, I saw two choices: quit riding—or get tubeless tires filled with goo that seal themselves when punctured. I got tubeless tires.

When my kids were little, we had a monster-size Grumman war canoe. It weighed a ton, but we heaved it onto the car rack. Now I have a lightweight, inflatable kayak that’s fun to paddle and rolls up to the size of a sleeping bag. I catch just as many fish from it.

You might critique me saying: “Harriet is macho.” But I’m not. I just like to be outdoors and be active even though I’m slowing down. I bike slower than 50 year olds, and I ski slower too. But there’s no reason to stop having fun.

And Liz … I hope she’ll let a pro, not just a salesman, fit her for new boots. Too many skiers buy whatever boots are on sale without a clue how boots should fit. Boots are like dentures! They have to fit right to work right. Then I hope she’ll let her artificial knee show her how great it is to ski without pain.

It’s true that updating equipment has a price tag, but you’re worth it. It’s okay to invest in yourself. It’s okay to make changes so you can enjoy the sports you love. Then tell me about it. I’m cheering for you.

To read more from Harriet click here for her stories on SkiUtah.



  1. Harriet
    As always, I enjoy reading your articles! This one helps me reassess some of my self-imposed limitations. It’s assisting me on my quest to say YES to more things.

  2. Marilyn Edman says:

    Harriet, you’ve done it again! Thanks so much for this wonderful article! See you soon on the slopes!

  3. Thanks for wand wave, Harriet. I’m clicking my heels together right now.

  4. Jan Brunvand says:

    I want to know where you caught that nice trout, and what fly were you using??

    I agree with you 100% that we should buy the best gear we can afford, even if we can’t quite afford it.

  5. Naomi Karten says:

    Harriet, excellent (and important) article but I’m so sorry to hear about your wrist. I hope you’re on the mend and will be back out there in time for ski season. I hear there’s already been some snow in the air.

    Take care and I look forward to seeing you up at Alta!

  6. Patty Frechette says:

    Hi, Harriet. I’m sorry to hear about your wrist. Hoping it heals fast and well. Thanks for this reassuring article as we all face changes. We will have to meet up soon.

  7. Patty Randall says:

    Harriet, you have changed the next 10 years of my life completely. I just had my second total hip replacement and, at 72, was thinking it might be time to hang up my alpine skies after 40 years of amazing downhill. For the last 8 years we have been living our dream. We sold our home and moved to a different ski resort every year for 5 years. Then, after arriving in Sunriver, OR, we bought a home just 30 min. from Mt. Bachelor, access to 2 great pools for lap swimming, bike trails galore, a river, and a gazillion lakes for kayaking, we are in paradise. I was trying to decide if I should keep skiing, and then I read your article. I kind of believe we are given signs like your Spring Chicken story and I am going to definitely follow that sign and keep skiing. Thank you so much for helping me with my decision. Love all your stories and advice.

    • Alison Wallis Rabinoff says:

      I’m glad my Mom could inspire you…she certainly does me! And remember, a long with good boots a strong core and gluts make skiing much more fun!

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