The View from 65

by Bonnie

It IS possible to have a life you love after 60. I know this for sure!

As the founder of Savoring Your Sixties, I hear  from a lot of you who are in the “neighborhood” of 60.

You tell me the stories of your pain. Struggles within yourselves about growing older. Deaths of loved ones. Divorces. Depression. Physical limitations. Illnesses. Financial struggles. Problems with children, parents, siblings. And more.

You also tell me the stories of your hopes and joys. You speak of how you are on the path toward or already living rich, fulfilling, fun, and happy lives. Sometimes this has been fairly easy. Other times you’ve overcome difficult challenges along the way.

For most of us, it’s some mix of the hard stuff and the good stuff. And, in spite of the hard stuff, many women do find ways to create lives they love after 60.

Happy 65!

 

My View from 65

I turned 65 on November 14, 2014. Yep, 65!

This milestone had me thinking about the last 5 years. I’ve been one of the lucky ones for whom it has been fairly easy to create a great life in my sixties. But I didn’t know that 5 years ago!

May I tell you a bit about my journey from 60 to 65 and some of what I’ve learned (and am still learning!) along the way? I hope you’ll find it helpful for your own journey.

I Dreaded Turning 60

The year of my 60th birthday I felt anxious for months before the day. For the first time in my life, I did not want to tell people my age. Somehow it felt like the end of the world, or at least my world as I knew it. I thought big, bad scary changes had to be just around the corner.

It was painfully easy for me to see all the possible problems, difficulties, challenges, and troubles the next decade could hold. I consumed a great deal of time and energy in my agitation about the coming event.

I thought 60 was old and I did not want to be old. Nor did I want anyone else to think I was old.

Our culture’s messages are so negative about aging. Especially for women. It’s not surprising that I feared becoming old, invisible, cast aside, unwanted, marginalized.

In spite of all that angst, I find myself half way through my 60s, alive and well.

Lessons Learned and Still Learning

  • You can’t predict your future so it’s best to turn your attention away from the worries and fears and towards living in the present moment.
  • Whenever you’re looking to other people or to the media to define you, you’re going to get in trouble. Feeling good about who you are is an inside job.
  • As you grow older, your attitude is more crucial than ever. It’s all too easy for  your Monkey Mind  to criticize, scare, depress, and worry you. Deliberately and intentionally shift your focus to the good in your life.

The Not So Bad of Being in My Sixties

Yes, there are some things that are not so fun about being older but it’s not that bad.

1) I’m older. And I’m still here! I’m clearer than ever that not everyone has the privilege of living this long. It might sound like a cliché and it’s the truth – being alive is a gift.

2) I’m still healthy. Yes, I’ve got more physical “conditions” than this very healthy woman has ever had before. And they are minor, nothing limiting, life changing or life threatening.

3) I’m sure I have a few more wrinkles but I don’t see them. I notice sun/age spots on my legs but so be it. (On my 65th birthday – what timing! –  I noticed a spot on my hand I hadn’t seen before. Sure to become more visible over time. Oh well. )

4) Savoring Your Sixties didn’t turn into the thriving coaching business I’d dreamed of and worked so hard toward. That has been painful for me. Yet I enjoy the connections and interactions with women that I get from this and I feel happy when I hear that I’ve helped someone even without coaching them.

Not Everything is Worse!

Surprisingly, in some ways, my life is better at 65 than it was at 60.

1) I dropped some activities that were draining the life out of me. These choices dissolved the last of the  depression I’d been struggling  with for a year or so.

Lessons Learned and Still Learning:

  • Do what you love. Do lots of that and do it often.
  •  If something is sucking the life out of you, stop doing it!
  • Get help if you need it! Struggling too much or too long makes it way harder to dig yourself out.

2) I lost 20 pounds, eat better, and do a mostly regular mix of walking and yoga. I’m healthier, as a result, and have improved my chances of staying healthy longer. Plus I look and feel better and that’s a nice boost.

Lessons Learned and Still Learning:

  •  Be kind to your body. As far as we know, it’s the only one you’ll get. Nourish it. Move it.

3) I’ve been having fun learning. Baking pies and making bread have been two of the highlights here, efforts that have been very popular with my family and friends. 

Lessons Learned and Still Learning:

4) I’ve been well blessed with my husband, family, and friends. In the last few years, I’ve reconnected with my father’s side of the family and my aunts and cousins have added bountiful love and laughter to my life.

Lessons Learned and Still Learning

  •  People matter! Chores, tasks, and to-do lists can seem so important but they’re really not. It is people who are the source of so much of the joy, love and laughter that life has to offer. Enjoy them!

No Guarantees

So far my sixties haven’t at all been the horror I anticipated. I’m living a rich, full, wonderful, happy life.

I’m well aware I’m one of the very fortunate ones. Life isn’t fair and hardships are not equally distributed.

I haven’t faced most of the tough challenges I mentioned earlier that my readers tell me about. For me, the difficulties were primarily in my own mind, in how I thought about turning 60. My anticipation of that dreaded event was painful and once I got through that milestone and did some work on my attitude, life just went on, mostly as it had done before.

I do know my path may not always be easy. My life could change in a blink of an eye. I’m aware of that and do my best not to dwell on it. That would only make me miserable. Instead I do my best to appreciate where I am and what I have now.

A Confession

I admit there is still something about the numbers that start with 6 that are hard for me. A “How could this be?!?!” A resistance to this aging thing. A slight hesitation, a bit of a gulp to admit publicly that I’m this age.

But unlike the year I turned 60, I’m now clear that’s just my Monkey Mind (armed by our youth-obsessed, ageist culture) talking and I turn away from that negative chatter.

Turning 65 isn’t a big deal to me at all. And that’s very good news!

What About You?

I know it’s possible to make peace with 60 and love your life in your 60s. I’ve done it and so have many of you.

I also know that many of you are on the way to that but not there yet.

And  I know that some of you are so deep in the struggles you can’t imagine ever getting there.

Tell us. How are you doing on your path to 60 and beyond?

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