Guest Blogger: Julie Flanders

Hi, all, and thank you for having me here, Carol. It's a big thrill to do my first ever guest post! I am new to the writing game, and this short story about a strange beach encounter is a reflection of that experience.

I’m at my favorite spot under the Tiki Hut, and I’m drinking a Mojito. No snacks for me, as I’m working on losing those last five pounds. Please, don’t ask how long I’ve been trying to lose them.

I’m staring at my laptop, and imagining my fingers flying over the keyboard, writing perfect prose that agents will fight over. But, my fingers aren’t moving, and I’m not writing anything. Not even a title.

Who am I kidding, thinking I can write? I’m too old for this. Why didn’t I start when I was younger?

I’m distracted from my litany of negativity by a woman swimming towards the shore. Her arms and legs are flailing, and I’m certain she’s not going to make it.

I run to the shoreline and stand there, helpless. I can’t swim. What the hell am I going to do? I look around the empty beach. Where are the lifeguards? The college kids playing Frisbee? Anyone??

To my immense relief, the woman paddles closer, and finally emerges onto the sand.

She drops to her knees, and I run to her. Up close, I can see her grey hair and wrinkles. She must be at least 70.

“Are you okay?”

The woman turns to me, and I see something familiar in her face. She looks like….me?

“I’m fine,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to do that.”

I scowl. Always wanted to drown? Always wanted to give an innocent bystander a heart attack?

“Always wanted to do what?”

“Swim the length of this beach.”

“Really? Why didn’t you do it when…” Remembering my manners, I stop.

“When I was younger? Because I couldn’t swim then. I just learned last year.” She smiles. “When I was 78.”

“You learned to swim at 78?”

“Yes. Why?”

“I would think…wasn’t it too late?”

“No, it wasn’t.” She stands up and brushes the sand from her legs. “It was the perfect time.”

I can't help but notice that her voice sounds suspiciously like mine.

“Who are you?”

“You know me,” she says as she walks away. “I’m Julie.”

“What?? How do I know you? I don’t…”

But there’s no point in continuing. She’s gone.

I sit back down in my chair and wonder how many Mojitos I’ve had. I swear it was only one. Maybe I’m simply crazy.

Had she really been here? Or should I say, had I been here??

I stare at the waves and think about my visitor. Finally, I pick up my laptop, and start to write. I have a  title  for my story. It's called Learning to Swim.

And this is the perfect time to write it. 


Julie Flanders said…
Hi, Carol! Just wanted to say thanks again for having me here on your wonderful blog, I really appreciate it!
Carol Kilgore said…
You're welome. Have fun!
Karen Walker said…
Hi Julie and Carol,
You have no idea how much I love this story. I'm all about "it's never too late." I went back to school in my fifties, took up the guitar at 50, singing lessons at 56. You go for it, Julie.
VR Barkowski said…
Love the story, the title, but most of all the lesson. Thank you, Julie. Great post!
Luanne G. Smith said…
NEVER TOO LATE. Well done Julie. I've been toying with a blog post on this subject as well -- er, without the mojitos and tiki hut.
Julie Flanders said…
@Karen, thank you! I'm so glad you liked the story. Your blog and accomplishments are a big inspiration to me! :)

@VR, oh, thanks so much! Great to meet you, thank you!

@LG, thanks! I'd love to read your post on this subject, even without the mojitos LOL. :D
Elspeth Futcher said…
What a wonderful message! Just remember it's always safer to swim with a buddy.
Linda G. said…
If it was the Mojitos talking, they speak wisdom. :)
Julie Flanders said…
@Elspeth, good point, thank you!

@Linda, ha ha, true, you can't go wrong with Mojitos in my book. Thanks so much!
Randy said…
What a beautiful, inspiring story. Well done! You may be "new to the writing game," but you're obviously well on your way!
Oh, how wonderful! Important message and I enjoyed the twist on it.
Julie Flanders said…
@Randy, oh, thank you so much, that's very kind of you to say! I'm so glad you liked the story, thanks!

@Shannon, thank you!! I really appreciate your comments, I'm glad you liked it.
Write now, swimming lessons at age seventy-eight?
Unknown said…
Amazing! I started writing when I was relatively young (25) but I always wish I had started earlier. But, every year that goes by is that push I need to keep going. That's right, it's never too late to start.
Julie, wonderful wonderful! It's never too late - for anything! Fabulous post. Gonna try some of those mojito drinky-poos. :-)
Julie Flanders said…
@Alex, maybe so! :D

@Clarissa, thank you! I hope you continue to have that push and keep going. :)

@Melissa, thanks so much! The mojitos are fabulous, my favorite! :)
Jules said…
Outstanding post Julie! It is never too late but I think if I meet myself I'll stop drinking. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow
nutschell said…
loovee it! It's never too late to learn. :P
Ciara said…
I got Goosebumps reading it. Wow.
Arlee Bird said…
I like this! Great message for all of us and one that I heartily believe in. As long as we are in this like we might as well keep doing as much as we can.

Tossing It Out
M Pax said…
Hi Julie! Hi Carol!

This was a fun read, Julie, and a great story of how you got your title. Maybe too much sun with those mojitos? :) Or maybe just enough.
Julie Flanders said…
@Jules, thanks so much! Ha ha, I probably do need to lay off the alcohol LOL. :D

@nutschell, oh, thank you, you're so sweet!

@Ciara, wow, thanks, that's so kind of you to say!

@Lee, thank you! Good point and I agree completely. :)

@Mary, thanks!! LOL, yeah, sun and mojitos can do strange things LOL.
Very inspiring! You're right--it's never too late. :)
Lydia Kang said…
Lovely message and wonderful title!
Julie Flanders said…
@Elizabeth, thank you, I'm so glad you liked it!

@Lydia, thanks so much, I appreciate it!
Samantha Sotto said…
LOVE this. Very inspiring message - and SO true. Well done, Julie! :)

*waves to Carol* Hi! :)
j. littlejohn said…
indeed, it never is too late, until it is, but even then it may not be, if that makes sense
Julie Flanders said…
@Sam, thank you, so glad you liked it!

@j. littlejohn, it does make sense, thanks so much for your comments.
Carol Kilgore said…
Thanks to everyone for commenting. Hi to old friends. And welcome to those of you who are new here. Feel free to hang out Under the Tiki Hut any time.

Most of all, thanks to Julie Flanders for guest blogging this week. Julie, I loved your post. The story was unique, and the message was something I need to always remember.

Great job!
Kendal said…
I loved this! I am always beating myself up for not getting serious about my writing sooner. It's important to remember that it's never too late. I should probably write that down and hang it up somewhere.
Jayne said…
Oh Julie-- this was just wonderful, and so inspiring. Just what I needed, really. It's never too late, really, now is it... What do we have but time? And as I grow older, I realize I'd better make the most of it!

Much thanks to Carol for having you post here. Great idea, ladies. Well done. :)
BECKY said…
Great story,Julie! You know that I definitely believe in "it's never too late" for ...Doing what you were meant to do! Learning to do what you didn't think you COULD do, etc!
Julie Flanders said…
@Carol, thank YOU so much for having me here, this has been a lot of fun and a great experience. I'm so glad you liked my story. Thanks again!

@Kendal, thanks! I know just what you mean, I am a master at beating myself up. Here's to both of us stopping that habit!

@Jayne, oh, thank you! I'm so glad you liked it, thanks for your kind words.

@Becky, thank you! I know you are a great example of this, I'm always inspired by your story!
Talli Roland said…
What a fantastic story, Julie! Talk about inspiration.
Carol Kilgore said…
I thought it was cool, too, Talli.
Nicole said…
You know, the mere thought about being too old or it being too late to pursue something of interest is such a downer that this is a very refreshing post to read and can help to uplift those who may believe or may have been told at one time or another that their time has passed for something.

I felt just that last year when I asked a local production studio owner for assistance in obtaining a small entry level job on the set of one of the NBC shows in New York City. After learning that I was in my late twenties, he became less enthusiastic about my opportunities to work on set as an assistant or paid intern. His words were something along the lines of "I thought you would be 22 but NOW..." and he just basically took the conversation downhill for that particular opportunity. Now, he did offer to provide me with some local work on small productions like music videos and such but I never went anywhere with that.

The Madlab Post
Carol Kilgore said…
I've always heard it was like this in LA, but I didn't know it was the same in New York. I think everyone enjoyed Julie's post for it's never-give-up spirit.

Thanks for visiting the Tiki Hut and commenting.
Nicole said…
I've never been to LA but New York is actually delightful, I think. The production guy I was referring to is in Philadelphia but I someone told me that he gets work from out of NYC and has contacts there so I saw it as an opportunity for him to direct me to the right people or places so I could get work in NYC myself.

New York is awesome!

The Madlab Post
Carol Kilgore said…
I love NYC. We lived there several years ago.
Julie Flanders said…
@Talli, thank you!!

@Nicole, thanks, I'm glad you found the story refreshing. I'm sorry you had that experience though, wow! It's unfortunate that guy had that mindset and would be so dismissive of anyone over 22! Glad that you are happy in New York though and enjoy the city, I have family there and I think it is a wonderful place.

@Carol, thanks again for having me here, this has been wonderful and I'm so glad I signed up for one of your spots! :)
Carol Kilgore said…
My pleasure, Julie. You were a great guest host!
Anonymous said…
What a neat, neat story!!!!!

Excellent job of getting your point across!
That story's inspiring. Thanks, Julie and Carol.
Great story Julie! This gives me so much hope as I just started writing earlier this year! You've already accomplished a lot in a short time! I really enjoyed this creative story with a twist! Thanks Julie and Carol! Julie
Julie Flanders said…
@Bryce, thank you!!

@Robyn, thanks, I'm so glad you found it inspiring.

@Julie, thanks so much. It means a lot if my story gave you hope, you're such a great writer!