Flourishing in the Eighth Decade!

Women everywhere, welcome to our blogspot, a space for sharing experiences, thoughts, and ideas about how to overcome obstacles and thrive as we approach and endure in the eighth decade of life. We hope this exchange will be a source of inspiration for the next generation of seventy year olds. Those baby boomers are hot on our heels, and want to know more about what lies ahead. Nobody gave us a guidebook or shared what this path might be like. As we burn those seventy candles, we can help shed some light on the trail for them.

What has this transition been like for you? Serious, funny, commonplace, unusual, short, long stories, all are welcome. How does it feel to be among the oldest in the crowd? What does it take to thrive in this decade? How do you think others see you? What contributes to well-being and yes, flourishing at three score and ten?

We welcome the comments and reflections of women everywhere. All cultures, ethnicities, socioeconomic status and backgrounds; as diverse a sample as we can reach.

Please contribute brief anecdotes, observations, thoughts, ideas, and life stories by posting them in the comment section below.

Alternatively, you could email longer stories to us at 70candles@gmail.com. Please include information about your age, ethnicity/cultural background, geographic location, education, and work status. We will organize, collate, and share your emailed stories anonymously on this blogspot. Ultimately this may become a book about how our generation flourishes. Spread the word!! 

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A proud accomplishment

Sally,  Nearly 70

I feel like tooting my own horn and I’m gad to find this site to do it.

On May 3 of this year I received my BA degree in Liberal Arts. My plan was to get that done before I turn 70 and turning 70 happens on Thursday, June 16th. I look in the mirror and sometimes wonder who is that woman, but on the inside I am still who I was at 25. (Well, there is some difference) I have issues with clothes so I figure I can wear whatever I want. I can be who ever I want to be!!!!!! Lets do the happy dance!!!!

I want to share my work so please visit me at Mnartists.org/sally-warlick

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Antidote to retirement malaise

Deborah,  Just turned 70

Sometime during the night after midnight, I turned 70 years old! Wow, how did that happen so fast?

In the days leading up to this event, I found myself in a sort of a funk and then I remembered the many female friends over the years who did not make it this far in life–Diane, Jan, Louise, Mary Lu. Quickly, this realization turned to an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I’m in reasonable good health with a loving husband who is also in reasonably good health, four adult children who are productive members of society, 6 healthy, loving grandchildren, a 40-year teaching career behind me, friends, a strong church, and a new place to call home.

My biggest blessing is having a wonderful husband, albeit, 9 years my senior, who at my urging, was willing to pull up stakes and move to Bend, Oregon, after 40 years living in the San Francisco Bay Area. This adventure has turned out to be just what the malaise that came after retirement for us from meaningful careers needed. With several friends and family in the area, it seemed like the best place to move to.

Yes, our lives are full of doctor visits, a few aches and pains from overdoing because we think we are still in our fifties. We exercise, eat healthy, enjoy friends and family, worship regularly and volunteer through our church. I think the perfect retirement if one is able, is one third work, one third volunteering and one third playing! I took up quilting in retirement and find it to be an outlet for creativity after leaving teaching.

The hardest thing for me about aging is difficulty sleeping through the night. I know it is a combination of hormones and a brain that is hard to turn off. I know I’m not alone in this and wonder if there are other 70 year old women out there with similar sleeping issues. The only medications I take are a statin and an anti-acid so I don’t think it is that.

I know the future holds many challenges that will come as we get even older, so I’m really trying to relish each day.

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Living for today!

Sandi,  Age 70

My mother always said, “I don’t feel old on the inside.” The older I get, the more I understand this. The granddaughter of immigrants, the daughter of a disabled father, the first female in the extended family to go to college… I’ve had opportunities women in my family before me did not have. Yet, I still was unaware of what was out here when I left home for college. Life pushed me to change careers, more than once. A surprise divorce after 25 years, an unexpected second marriage that ended with my loving husband in home hospice, moving to my seventh state at 67, and many other experiences made me who I am by how I accepted them (or not!).

My only, dear child lives 3,000 miles away but I don’t feel a loss of family because the special women friends I made on my life journey sustain me. It’s the women who are always there — though new life, death, unbearable sorrow, and indescribable joy.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel at 70. My body has betrayed me but I’m still here, laughing, enjoying, learning. I’ll keep this up as long as I can. I just came back from a cooking class in Italy. I’d never been to Italy! I’m eating on my “good” dishes and drinking bubbly out of my nicest glasses. I finally live for today.

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Involved and challenged every day

Jennifer Townsend,  Age 77

I have worked hard my entire life, beginning as a child, selling my mother’s baked goods door-to-door after school to get money for groceries. I raised 4 children as a ‘single mom’ – only there was no such concept in those days. I began college when my kids were young and later finished law school. This is all a lead up to the present. And to explain why, when I say I am working harder now, at age 77, than I have ever worked in my life, you will understand the context of ‘work.’

Everything I have done prior to now was a piece of cake compared to making a feature documentary. I have never been to film school, so I am learning as I go. For the past 2 1/2 years I have been producing, directing, and helping to edit a film about “Thelma & Louise,” the 1991 iconic Hollywood classic. It’s a bit of a long story and those who wish to learn more are invited to view the trailer on my website and read about it there: www.CatchingSightOf.com .

After I retired about 15 years ago I helped care for my sister who died a few years later. I did varying kinds of volunteer work. And I traveled extensively on as low a budget as possible. I almost always traveled alone and stayed in hostels and homes of people I met along the way. I have lots of great stories about those experiences. My hope is that, the next time I travel will be later this year, to film festivals where my film will be showing. It’s not finished yet. Editing is done and we’re working on an original score. We still have color correction and sound mix to do.

When I discovered your blog today, through a friend’s email, I was inspired to share what keeps me so involved and challenged every day. And, yes, sometimes scared, too. So many decisions to make each day. Am I making the best ones? Am I really up to doing this? How did I ever convince myself to take on such a monumental project at my age? But I know, in the end, it will be so worthwhile and satisfying, I will forget about this uphill battle. Some days I say ‘it’s making me old before my time.’ But it IS my time and I’m already old.

Thank you for doing this blog.
Jennifer Townsend, Producer/Director
Far Beyond Film, LLC

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Resilience, Share your story, Traveling, What do we do with our time?, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Sandra,  Age 68

Today is my 68th birthday – hooray for me.
1. I am thankful that I made it this far. I look forward to the morning each night when I go to bed.
2. I am thankful that I will be travelling with my 13 year old grandson this summer. He and I have shared many wonderful adventures.
3. I am thankful that my son has a wife who loves him. Married at 39 for the first time!!
4. I am thankful for my 4 month old grandaughter. Her mom says she has a “big personality” and I agree.
5. I am thankful that my mom has the resources to live in assisted living which she thought she would hate, but absolutely loves. Thanks to all of the caring people at Sunrise Edina.
6. I am thankful that there are more wonderful books to read than I could ever finish in my lifetime.
7. I am thankful that I created a space to live that warms my soul.
8. I am thankful for some wonderful friendships; laughter and comfort.
9. I am thankful I learned to live with disappointments and adversity and find joy.
9. I am thankful for this day and any more that I get.

Happy birthday to me.

Posted in 70candles, Caretaking, Family matters, Grandparenting, Gratitude and Spirituality, Resilience, Traveling, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My passage as a grandmother

Pat,  Age 71
I’d like to share my latest blog post on my passage as a grandmother, relishing in the joys and learning from the challenges:

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Frances,  Age 78

Dear Ellen and Jane,

I discovered your 70 Candles blog only days ago and am happily working my way through all the postings, starting with December 2010.

My own 70 Candles event was eight years ago, when other factors were starting to change my life, apart from the big seven-o. Now, after devoting several years to caring for my late beloved husband, and having made it through the first couple of years of widowhood, I have been feeling utterly discombobulated to find myself at 78, wondering how I got here. I seem to be missing a few years, which gives a sense of urgency about making the most of what remains. So it’s a delight to find your blog with input from other women. Thank you for creating it!

All the best to you both!


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Wondering where to live next

Anonymous,   Age 71

Reading your book after it was on a reading list at my recent 50th college reunion. I am blessed to have a healthy husband, wonderful friends locally and a family spread out across the country as well as a mid-nineties mother who lives far away.
Interestingly, recently I seem to be fixated on housing options as depicted on my new favorite TV shows: Fixer Upper, Treehouse Masters, and Tiny House Nation. (The latter has triggered an extremely satisfying multi-week clean-out of both of our bedroom closets.) While I would never choose Joanna Gaines’ style of decorating or live in a tree or downsize to 200 square feet, I am spending increasing amounts of time contemplating future housing options and not succeeding in finding any creative solutions locally. Luckily we have no plans now, but I do love to plan ahead.

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Is it too late for me to start a business?

Sandra,  Age 70

I turned 70 in January. I had never been concerned with age but all of a sudden I felt almost desperate. I am running out of time.

Five years ago my husband died after having been ill and needing constant in home care for twelve years. I shut down. No job, no purpose, no husband, no life. I found the sofa and we became close inseparable friends.

Two years ago it occurred to me that the sofa might become the center of my life for the next twenty years. Ouch. I determined to get up and start to move. I started to walk. I lost 100 pounds and now walk five miles daily. I have made a list for myself of everything I want to do everyday, from cleaning the litter box to reading an hour a day. I paint everyday. I read and post on Facebook everyday. I post my art on several sites daily. I pray in our church prayer ministry twice weekly, attend a widows group monthly. I have joined an artists guild last month and have placed twelve paintings for viewing in a doctors office. I volunteer at my church helping to make plastic mats for the homeless. Then today I was looking at a site for selling artwork suggestions and they asked me to answer the question “Where do you want to be in ten years?” That question is what brought me to this blog.

Do I really want to start an art business at 70? Is it my time? When are we no longer relevant?

I have two daughters who are very loving and supportive and three grandsons who live three doors from me. I am very blessed with prefect health and a few good friends. Several of my friends have died in the last 5 years and some of them were in their 70s.

I was looking for an answer from some of your stories. I guess I want to be alive in ten years and active. Does it matter what I choose to do with my time? From your stories it seems not too much. I wish I could be more content to relax but I need to be busy. Do I need an art career? Maybe I just need to do the work and show it but the challenge of building a business in my 70s seems kind of fun in a strange sort of way. It is helping me to learn the computer.

I wish you all peace and contentment and fulfillment.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Caretaking, Family matters, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Resilience, Share your story, Technology and contemporary culture, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our interview by blogger JudiBoomergirl

“70Candles!” Shares Advice on Positive Aging
Posted on May 18, 2016 by Judi
life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomers

Last month, The New York Times journalist Jane Brody wrote an article about “Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond.” I enjoy reading Jane’s weekly columns on Personal Health, but this one was especially appealing. Jane mentioned a blog called 70Candles!, with stories from women in their 70s, and a book by the same title written by bloggers (and now authors) Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole.

While I am fast approaching my 60s, I was intrigued by the advice that these two long-term friends had to share about how women are “thriving in their 8th decade.” I contacted Jane and Ellen to ask if they would participate in an interview for my blog. Their wisdom about positive aging is very inspiring for baby boomer women who are following in their footsteps. It’s great to know that there is much to look forward to into our 70s, 80s, 90s, and maybe 100s! (Note: if you cannot view the video below please click here.)

A Practical and Positive Guide
The book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, is a compilation from the conversations that Jane and Ellen had during gatherings with women of this era and from many of the women who contributed to their blog. The authors do a great job pulling all the pieces together into as they say, “a practical and positive guide to have at your side as you traverse your seventies.” Included are lessons learned from their gatherings, a review of pertinent literature on this topic, and a look at the future. In the back section is a handy reference with relevant web sites and additional readings.

The Taos Institute, the publishers of the book, kindly provided a copy of 70Candles! for a giveaway. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below and leave a comment on how you intend to stay vibrant during your second act.

Now let’s hear more from Jane and Ellen:

70candles.com; 70Candles!; septuagenarian women; septuagenarians
Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole created the blog 70candles.com and wrote the book, “70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade.”

Q: Why did you start the blog 70candles.com?
A: “Dear friends since age fourteen, we visited together in Texas just before turning seventy. We couldn’t believe we were this age. Seventy sounded old to us, but we didn’t feel “old.” We wondered what lay ahead.

Academics that we were, we started reading to see what we could learn. But research we came upon was all about the downside of aging. We called them “sick granny studies.” We then decided to ask women themselves…and so the 70candles.com blog was born. It continues today with women from many countries responding to each other in heartfelt posts and comments. We invite your readers to join the conversation.”

70candles.com; septuagenarian women; reinvention at midlife; retirement

Q: What encouraged you to take the next step and write a book?
A: “We found few books on this subject, so early on we imagined writing one. The 70Candles! project eventually included gatherings of women in various cities. Women in these conversation groups let us know that they wanted to learn more about this period of life, in this era of extended longevity.

With knowledge we accumulated from our extensive reading, from the blog and the conversation groups, and through Ellen’s study in the Master of Arts in Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, we felt we were ready to create a book. We were pleased that The Taos Institute, purveyors of the on-line Positive Aging Newsletter, was willing to publish it. It seemed a perfect fit.”

Q: What are the most important things you learned about septuagenarian women from your work on your blog and book? Any “aha” moments?
A: “We learned above all that women our age enjoy talking about this period of their life, and they welcome opportunities to share with other women. The issues summarized in our book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, are those that struck a chord with women everywhere.”

70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade; septuagenarian women; septuagenarians; positive aging

Q: What is different about women in their 70s versus 50s and 60s?
A: “We found that women turning 70 began to think, many for the first time, about years left to live, instead of years already lived. They began to think about their next step in housing-downsizing, perhaps, one-floor homes, even senior living facilities. And of course retirement was by now a done-deal or very much on their minds, so the 70’s, much more than the 50’s and 60’s, are years of re-creating and re-imagining one’s purpose and daily activities. We found this was especially true for professional women who had long identified with their careers.”

Q: I’m approaching 60 in a few years. Any advice for this decade and into my 70s for living a full life?
A: “Try writing your obituary, or if that sounds too maudlin, call it “My Life in Summary.” This is likely to point you in the direction of your best self in the years to come. Also, find ways to connect with age-mates, as we noted above. This is our #1 recipe for a long life well-lived.”

Thanks Jane and Ellen for sharing your wisdom. For more stories from women in their 70s, I encourage you to check out 70candles.com. And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. One lucky winner will receive a copy of their book!


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This entry was posted in aging, baby boomer women, books, boomer blogger, boomer trends, boomer wellness, boomer women, caregiving, emptynester, grandparenting, life after 50, midlife, rave and review, Raves and Reviews, reinvention, retirement, widowhood and tagged 70candles, aging, baby boomer women, boomer blogger, boomer trends, boomer wellness, boomer women, caregiving, life after 50, reinvention, retirement, septuagenarian women,

Written by Judy Freedman by Judi.

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