Start Now

John O'Leary
April 30, 2018

John O'Leary

#1 National Bestselling Author & Speaker Expected to Die. Now Teaching Others How to Truly Live.

What the ‘Iron Nun’ Can Teach Us About Active Aging

“To change the world around you, give the world what you have, and serve the world with all you are.”– Printed on medal awarded for the World Harmony Run

At what age is something just no longer possible?

At what age is taking up a new hobby, switching careers, quitting a bad habit, or beginning a passion project simply an impossibility? At what age is it no longer possible to decide that the person you’ve been does not need to define the person you will become?

I’ve met many individuals who have achieved some remarkable successes at advanced ages.

One of the most remarkable lived in Cedar Falls, IA. She was the president of the local book club association and lived in a retirement home. I went to visit with her and was moved by her spunk, charisma, quick wit and passion for new information. All at 109-years-old!

And as exceptional as that meeting was, perhaps my favorite individual who reminds me that none of us are ever too old to start is Marie Dorothy Buder, now known as Sister Madonna Buder, S.F.C.C. Let me explain why.

“Do You Run?”

Sr. Madonna spent decades serving the downtrodden with her community. But a chance encounter at age 48 put her on a path that would change the trajectory of her life – and countless others.

While speaking to a priest friend about the nagging anxiety that engulfed her days, he asked some questions to learn more. He then asked if she ever ran.

After responding that she did not, the priest encouraged her to consider going for run. A simple suggestion with the hope not to eliminate anxiety but perhaps to alleviate it a bit, lead this woman, approaching her fifth decade of life, to lace up a borrowed pair of tennis shoes and go for her first run.

Simply putting one foot in front of the other, she took a short run that evening. Sr. Madonna enjoyed the way she felt, and she made a commitment to go again the following day. And after that run she committed to going again.

In the four decades that have followed, rare are the days when she doesn’t lace up those shoes and still go for a run.

Sr. Madonna Makes History

One foot in front of the next, this late-bloomer ran her first marathon at age 50. She’s run more than 350 in the four decades that have followed.

Seriously. You just read that and didn’t spit out your coffee?!

This little nun has run more than 350 marathons, won dozens of races within her age group, and she didn’t even own a pair of tennis shoes before turning 48.

And she wasn’t finished.

Always enjoying a new challenge, at age 55 she competed in one of the most physically demanding races, an Ironman. The race requires more than two miles of swimming, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run to finish.

Since that first Ironman, she’s run several dozen more and is the oldest person to ever complete one. This Iron Nun successfully completed one at age 82.

With each race she raises money for one specific person, one worthy cause. She’s been featured in a Nike commercial, is actively promoting the World Harmony Run, and has inspired millions with her passion for service, dedication to goals, and example that it’s far better to wear out than to rust out. [Tweet this.] | [Share on Facebook.]

(Still vibrantly alive at 88, I had the great pleasure of visiting with The Iron Nun, Sr. Madonna, on our most recent Live Inspired podcast. Borrow a pair of running shoes and sprint over to the show. We talk about her calling, her first run, her training, her reason behind the runs, her outreach work, and what she thinks about active aging. You’ll love the show…and you’ll love my guest on it. Listen here.)

The Iron Nun Reminds Us It’s Never Too Late to Start

Sr. Madonna runs religiously (pun intended).

But for her that doesn’t mean regularly and it doesn’t mean she does it out of some sense of obligation.

No, for Sr. Madonna it’s always been about responding to the call. Every day provides her a sacred and important opportunity to put to use with absolute passion and gratitude whatever talents she’s received.

And it’s her hope that in observing her life, we’ll be open to boldly responding to calls to serve in our lives, too.

So, go into the furthest corners of the closet. Grab the old, dusty, out-of-style, and seldom worn tennis shoes. Do a few stretches. And then head out for the run of your lifetime.

It’s true that it is never too late to make a pivot in your life.

It’s also true that in doing so, you’ll not only become an even better version of yourself, but you’ll serve as inspiration to those of us cheering as you run past.

Start now.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

Is there anything you’ve wanted to do or try, but now feel like it may be too late? Share in the comments below. #StartNow #NeverTooLate

The post Start Now appeared first on John O'Leary.

John O'Leary

Want John O'Leary for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
Why are you climbing the ladder?
John O'Leary
John O'Leary
April 20, 2020
"Work hard, but make time for your love, family and friends. Nobody remembers PowerPoint presentations on ...
What FDR Would Say Today
John O'Leary
John O'Leary
March 30, 2020
"The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward." [Click to tweet.]– ...
Our Children are Watching
John O'Leary
John O'Leary
March 23, 2020
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You ...
Why are you climbing the ladder?
"Work hard, but make time for your love, family and friends. Nobody remembers PowerPoint presentations on your final day." [Click to tweet.]-- Chetan BhagatMany of us are spending far more time than normal with immediate families, while social distancing from everyone else.While stressful at times, take solace knowing that all of these bonus dep...
Read More
What FDR Would Say Today
"The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward." [Click to tweet.]– President Franklin D. RooseveltDuring seasons of profound uncertainty, it's reassuring to know we've endured mighty storms in the past, weathered them together, and were actually transformed for the better because of them. We recognize thi...
Read More
Our Children are Watching
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world....
Read More
Galvanized by Accountability
Coronavirus helps humanity level up."If anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothi...
Read More
Live Inspired Podcast: Recognizing Greatness During COVID-19 Turmoil (Monday Moments ep. 237)
On this week’s Live Inspired Podcast Monday Moment segment, John O’Leary recognizes greatness during the COVID-19 turmoil.Join me every Monday for a quick burst of inspiration on our "Monday Moment" segment.Subscribe & listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio or listen here:What week, out of any that I can remem...
Read More
JFK's Take on Coronavirus?
With ever-expanding anxiety around coronavirus, it can feel as if the end is near, there is no reason for hope and we are all doomed. Just go home, wash your hands and wait for the end.And yet, it's heartening to remember: This is far from the first time we've stewed in adversity as a nation or as a global marketplace. I wanted to share a brief ...
Read More
John O'Leary Podcast Transcription
Introduction: I'm Brian Lord and on the show today, we have John O'Leary as he shares his story of survival from a fire that left him with burns over 100 percent of his body, what legendary baseball broadcaster Jack Buck did for him and what it was like to return to the Cardinals Busch Stadium. Brian Lord: John O'Leary is a remarkable per...
Read More
2020 Take on Mom's Life-Saving Question
Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don't wish for fewer problems, wish for more skills. Don't wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.– Earl ShoaffCoronavirus.Market drops.Slowing economy.Divisive, bombastic politics.Even the possibility of the Olympics being canceled.Perhaps you've read these headlines from today's news cyc...
Read More
The Best Flight I Ever MISSED
"We get so wrapped up in numbers in our society. The most important thing is that we are able to be one-to-one, you and I with each other at the moment. If we can be present to the moment with the person that we happen to be with, that’s what’s important."– Fred Rogers My last scheduled flight of 2019 was the best flight I ever missed.I was in L...
Read More
Live Inspired Podcast: How a Listener is Healing Her Heart (Monday Moments ep. 231)
On this week’s Live Inspired Podcast Monday Moment segment, John O’Leary shares a Live Inspired community member’s story. Join me every Monday for a quick burst of inspiration on our "Monday Moment" segment.Subscribe & listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio or listen here:Last week on Live Inspired Podcast ep....
Read More