musings, life lessons & poetry from Theresa Jarosz Alberti

Poetry Challenge Day 12: “Not Too Late”

No poem yesterday. In an attempt to slay my own perfectionistic tendencies, I’ve decided to relax my goal of doing a poem a day, if a particular day doesn’t work out. To be honest, my drive to be accountable makes me cringe and feel anxious at the idea of NOT achieving the goal I publicly committed to, and yet when I finally let myself off the hook, I was able to relax. So this is progress for me! I still want to try to write a poem a day this month, but if it doesn’t work out, I’m not going to beat myself up.

That said, today’s poem is actually one I wrote in the poetry challenge of 2018. It has recently been popping its head up and I’ve had a few people express interest in hearing it. So I will post it here– it’s a message that I myself need to be reminded of again and again. I hope it may be helpful to others too.

Not Too Late

Toni Morrison and George Eliot published their first novels at 40.

Grandma Moses became an artist in her late 70s and painted for over 20 years.

Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t write until she became a columnist at 44. She wrote “Little House in the Big Woods” when she was 64.

After 30 years of teaching, Frank McCourt wrote “Angela’s Ashes” when he was 67 years old. It won a Pulitzer Prize.

Painter Paul Cezanne didn’t have artistic and professional success until his 50s and 60s.

Bill Traylor didn’t start drawing until he was 85 years old and homeless. He created over 1000 works of art.

At age 68, Mary Delany started making intricate paper cutouts of plants and flowers to help her cope with loss. These cutouts are now part of the British Museum’s collection. She created over 1,700 pieces of art, working until age 88.

James Michener wrote 40 books after the age of 40.

Anna Sewell started writing “Black Beauty,” her only published work, when she was 51. She died at age 57, shortly after it was published.

I tell you this
I tell me this
because I need it to sink in:

It’s okay,
it’s never too late to start
(or start again, and again)
while you are alive.
The pen waits, the brush waits, the notes wait, the
blank paper/screen/canvas/space waits
for you to begin
in the smallest steps forward.
Forget regrets, recriminations, ruminations.
All of it has brought you here,
to today,
which is the perfect day to start,
imperfectly, rusty, slowly, unsure.
Don’t think, just start

See how many have gone before you,
paving the way?

Honestly, truly, most sincerely,
it’s okay to let that tight curled bud
of hope unfurl.
Guard it tenderly,
pick up the pen,
and begin.

Photos courtesy of Thom Milkovic, Tabitha Turner, and Anne Nygard at


  1. Shari

    I needed this today. Thank you, Theresa.

    • Theresa Alberti

      Oh good! I’m so glad it’s helpful to you, Shari!

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