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What Jane Fonda and I Have In Common

In 1981, On Golden Pond came out and won three Oscars. A year later, Henry Fonda died. Five years later, when I was 16, I saw it and loved it (I still do). One of my favorite scenes was when Jane Fonda does a backflip off the diving board toward the end of the movie. At the time, I thought, “She’s 40 (really she was 44). I want to be doing backflips off diving boards when I’m 40. Maybe if I start now and keep doing them, I’ll still be able to do them when I’m 40.” So that summer, at a friend’s pool, I learned to do a backflip, a lousy one, but a backflip. And I did one the next summer, too. And the next. And the next. There were one or two summers I missed when I was living in Europe and didn’t visit home and didn’t have access to a diving board (my sister has a pool where I grew up in Michigan), but I managed to work up the courage the following summer to do it again.

This year I turned 40. I hadn’t done a backflip in two years, but I knew I had to do one this year. I’d spent 24 years working up to it. I was scared, like Jane Fonda, but I did it. (As Jane says, “I did it! It was lousy, but I did it!” And then I did a front flip, which I’m terrible at. And another and another. My brother started giving me tips, and I felt like I was 10 again, in my living room, doing cartwheels and asking my dad to rate them 1 through 10. My flips aren’t great, but it was empowering to know that, at 40, I can still do them. So I returned home to California, I rented On Golden Pond, and it’s still a great movie, even with Jane Fonda’s deep tan and Farrah Fawcett hairdo. And what did I learn from this experience? That it’s really empowering to set a goal and to achieve it. If I can do a backflip at 40, I can finish my book and get it published. And so can you. Even if it takes 24 years.

Here’s a video of my lousy backflip, despite Kristen’s advice that no one over 40 who has kids should be seen in a bikini (note that this is shot from far enough away that my stretch marks, cellulite, and flappy stomach are obscured):

Backflip from Meghan Ward on Vimeo.

11 comments to What Jane Fonda and I Have In Common

  • I remember this movie and this scene. I was under forty when I saw it and not worried about such things. Too bad I didn't work as hard at keeping in shape as you and Jane did!

  • Congrats!! I'm glad you did it. And great metaphor; you can definitely get your book published.

    (Also, my 20 pages may be coming soonish, lol.)

  • Wait! This wasn't supposed to post until tomorrow! I have a video to go with it but am having technical difficulties getting it uploaded. Here's a photo for now. Proof that I really did it.

    KarenG- I was so impressed when I read that Jane was 44 in that movie. She is in AMAZING shape although it really annoyed me the way she pointed her toes while sitting on the dock like she was in a bathing suit ad. I, clearly, do not know how to point my toes when doing a backflip!

    Kristan – You probably weren't born yet when On Golden Pond came out, but it's worth seeing! Looking forward to reading your 20 pages!

  • Sheila

    There was never a doubt in my mind that you would be doing back flips at 40!!!

  • I almost felt the water go up my nose when I watched that! Fantastic. And good for you to set goals. And reach them!

  • Sheila – you have more faith in me than I do!

    Jenna – I think a lot of water went up my nose, too. Thanks for visiting!

  • Amazing!!!!!… as for cellulite etc.. pish-posh – women who think that women over 40 with kids shdn't wear a bikini – are worse than sexist men – we need to give ourselves, our image, our bodies more respect – besides, you look awesome, anyway….

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