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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Boston gathering – do you live near here?

Mary, Turning 71

I’m Mary Hirsch of Boston, (turning a youthful 71 tomorrow) with an UPDATE for the pending FIRST 71Candles get together as soon as our HOT/HUMID “peasant weather,” as my tiny, aristocratic French grandma called it) passes. I share her view on the nastiness of heat/humidity, sans judgment on the “peasant” business. Grannie was an aristocrat, bless her little heart. I moved to Boston from Santa Monica eight years ago not only because Boston was on my bucket list (and I love crossing out stuff on my list) but because I absolutely LOVE snow, cold abd rain: the more the merrier, so “let it rip, dear Lord!” My body loves it.

So here’s the scoop: In the last couple of months, I’ve heard from a few women in the surrounding area of Boston and they all sound wonderful. One, in particular, sounds like a kindred spirit: retired from a professional she loved, exercise lover, POSITIVE, active, engaged in life and a woman with a purpose besides being a grandma, baking cookies, obsessed with ailments and feeling sorry for herself because she’s “aging.” WE ALL ARE! Please do NOT misunderstand and sense any judgment on women who opt for what I described (do your thing; it’s YOUR life!) it’s just that some of us (minority, probably) opt for other choices and it’s ALL good; all good. I just hope that as we move along in Boston, we might be able to put a group of women with COMMON interests beside “aging.” I just want to be perfectly clear of where I, personally am coming from.

Tomorrow I’ll be 71 – and rocking it. No biggie. Like most of us, I have my health challenges which I call “hobbies,” but REFUSE to dwell on. Suffice it say I’ve had my share and am presently being “challenged” with a particular one but I’ll be the first NOT to bore you; I’ll save that for my doctors – they get PAID to listen! Instead, I’m doing ALL I can to jump this hurdle and most excited about my MAIN present to myself: treat myself ALL AUGUST with gifts to myself: (I’ve already hit Tiffany’s, a trip to La Jolla, CA, and can’t wait to get the snazziest pair of RUNNING SHOES and the best sports bra! I’ve already hit the hairdresser to trim my pageboy, had my mani/pedi. The spoiling continues! And I don’t wait for my birthday to spoil this Princess, as I do it all year long. I just crank it up a few NOTCHES during August!

So sisters, IF your thinking veers in my direction, we’ll have a great time. Life, as we all know, is life: unpredictable, challenging – and not for “sissies.” We are ALL given our challenges and we have CHOICES to make: give in, surrender, feel sorry for ourselves or like warriors, MARCH ON! I CHOOSE to be a warrior and sometimes think of life as a bowling lane, knocking off one pin (challenge) at a time, jumping up and down when I get a strike. And with that attitude, you can be sure, I manage to get a few.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “I may not be able to control the wind, but I surely can control my sails! IT’S ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE – AND GRATITUDE!

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On The Other Side

Natalie, Age 65+

ON THE OTHER SIDE is a living portrait of the aging woman as her “youngness” slips away.

Based on a poem by Natalie H. Rogers, the film interweaves voice, animation and music to lay bare the essence of a woman’s vanishing youth; her aging process is irrevocable revealing a deeply fragile and touching reality.

I would like to share with you my recent short video:

(please click on the link below)

https://vimeo.com/139826082

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Book Group Discussion Questions – now avaiable

We’ve found that our book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade is an excellent catalyst for rich conversation among women in book groups. Inevitably, each participant finds at least some topics, among the many in the book, that are personally relevant.

We’ve just added to the Kindle/Nook edition, a set of Book Group Discussion Questions that will be useful in those settings. We’ll let you know when they appear in the the print edition as well.

We hope you’ll let us know if your book group has adopted 70Candles! …and our blog readers would love to hear how the session went.

Warmly,
Jane and Ellen

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What aging is teaching me

Lois, Age 73

Back in 2008 I decided to start a website offering my art knowledge to all for no cost. It is http://www.free-online-art-classes.com and ranks well in the internet.

As a light specialist I signed on with Home Depot and have been working part time for nine years.

Age 70 was a paradigm shift for me. Suddenly, it seemed, everything was going gravitational, my breasts to my stomach, my stomach to my groin and my limbs sagging with muscles that seem to have deflated.

I found that moving wasn’t the same, even though I walk my dog every day for at least twenty minutes. I signed on with Planet Fitness for exercises for my knees, arms and legs. But another year or two, I had to reduce my hours at Home Depot because I just couldn’t hold up for six hours on my feet any more.

I still kept active, I thought, but four weeks ago, as I was disco dancing while cooking a nice stir fry in my kitchen, my ankle went pop and went down like the Titanic. I am in my fourth week with cast and wheel chair and have made a resolution to honor the exercises my therapists have assigned to me as well as recruiting dear friends to shop, water garden, take out trash, etc. I am on medical leave now.

LIke so many, as a previously independent person, I have had to change my life to adapt. And, I think, there will be more changes to come. Aging is teaching me to accept who I am becoming and what I want to be…strong, independent, creative and willing to share with others, young and old, my knowledge, humor and past experiences.

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Starting a group!

Carolyn, Age 75

Found the book on a whim when I saw the title. From there, the first sighting, came the reading, WOW an answer! Now we are beginning a Seventy Candles (that includes women in their eighties as well) Gathering beginning in September. We will meet regularly once a month and invite any in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Area, or any place close by to join us. Looking forward to an exciting adventure as we learn and share together.

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Feeling guilty – hoping for some insights

Briony, Age 66

66, married for 15 years to a man 18 years younger. But he looks my age, I look his age, and he’s more grown-up/adult than I. And he’s currently getting chemo for colorectal cancer (all cancers run in his family) — so it’s kind of like living with an 80 year old; chemo is debilitating. I envision having to take care of him in future, and outliving him, rather than the expected reverse scenario. This frankly terrifies me. I feel unsafe. I keep waiting for some other shoe to fall.

Like others who have shared here, I feel guilty that I’m struggling to accept my entry into “old age” now that it — and illness, death, loss of control, loss of . . . well, everything one has built over a lifetime — looms nearer. I know it does no good to worry in advance, that only poisons the present. And makes one a boring, depressing companion, especially to one’s own self! I just have always been young, especially internally: this new existence feels foreign, Not Me, I can’t relate. But I’ll have to find or create a way to. Hoping for some insight here among fellow travelers.

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“The Meek Are Getting Ready”

Lisbet, Age 69

In March I’ll be turning 70, along with 2 other gals I know. To celebrate, we’re going to Neskaya Movement Arts Center in NH, for a long weekend of partying and Sacred Circle Dance with friends, colleagues and friends of friends.

Seven is my life number (convert your entire date of birth into numbers and keep adding them up until they become a single digit – i.e. January 1, 1919 = 1+1+2 = 4).
I’ve always been a “7.” Eenneagramatically, Type 7 means “Let’s party! The glass is half full. Why dwell on the negative? Who cares about money? The Goddess will provide.” Born in 47, that’s another lucky number, as is 13 – my Maya number, which means “the Magic.”

I’m a Pisces, the final sign of the Zodiac, that absorbs the energies of all the other signs. It helps in performing (I trained in Opera, Theatre and Dance), and in the helping professions (Zen Shiatsu and Heart Mind Integration Healing). Theatre people are often “extra sensitive” – therefore shy or blustery, shields that save us from overwhelm. When we go on stage, we become “someone else,” so we can be ourselves through another character. In overcoming that phase, I have learned to use my own words.

70 – the beginning of my eighth decade! I so look forward to it! I for one want to change the paradigm of “aging” in America, where we are “death phobic” (Stephen Jenkinson) and our pols and city planners don’t take our huge cohort into account.

But they are starting to. Just read JoAnn Jenkins’ new book: “Disrupt Aging.” She’s the CEO of AARP Foundation. And “The Upside of Aging: How Long Life Is Changing the World of Health, Work, Innovation, Policy and Purpose” by Paul H. Irving, Chair of the Center for the Future of Aging at the Milken Institute in L.A. September 24-28 I’ll be attending the core conference “THE CREATIVE AGE: Global Perspectives on Creativity & Aging,” sponsored in D.C. by the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), “dedicated to building a world where every individual flourishes across their lifespan through creative expression.” Who Knew?

If anyone is going to change the paradigm, it’s we boomers! Despair Not! “The meek are getting ready!”
Lisbet Taylor, 8.2.16

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Worried about aging – thinking 70 is “ancient”

Sandy, Almost 70

I will turn 70 in 10 days. Having a very difficult time emotionally with it, even though I have no ongoing health problems, a good boyfriend (5 years younger), adequate money, two great kids, a lovely apt, and a great life in general.

I feel guilty about having this emotional problem, since I have such a good life, but the fact is that in this society, 70 is considered ancient. I guess the main problem is that I consider it ancient.

I think we Boomers will change that perception since a lot of us are much better educated, in much better health, and much more active at these ages than previous generations. But I am the first year of the Boomers, so I can’t benefit from any change in society’s perceptions, and my own perceptions are based on what my grandmothers and women of my Mother’s generation were like. There probably are a lot of 70 year olds out there now who are like I want to be, but I don’t know it because they don’t walk around with a sign giving their age.

I look about 10 years younger than my age, keep my weight under control, and am very active, which results in most of my friends (who are almost all younger than I am) not being able to understand how hard this birthday is for me. My boyfriend either. They just say Oh, but you don’t look or act 70, so don’t worry about it. But I do. In my 60s, I could convince
myself that I was a stone’s throw from middle age. But 70 is old.

One thing that has helped is that I have made two new friends recently who are 70, and they look fine. They have health problems, but work around them, and are very active. They make me feel good because they are living proof that one does not have to look like a hag at 70. I am hoping to find a 70candles
discussion group near me (Philadelphia area) so I can meet more women like this.

I also have cut out magazine photos of well-known people who are older than I am and who are still attractive and vigorous. Like Jane Fonda. I will never look like her, but it just goes
to show that decrepitude is not inevitable with old age. I also found the photo of Jane that she put on her “Spirit of 76” post very encouraging. She looks great, and so is another counter to
my image of what older women look like.

I also find that getting out in nature raises my mood. Especially in areas with lots of greenery. I read recently that it is something about the greenery giving off negative ions that raises the mood.

And just finding the 70Candles book and this blog site has raised my spirits. And I haven’t even read the book yet!

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Sooner than tomorrow

Dede, Age 72

At 72, I’m setting up a website and blog. My techie daughter is helping me do this and I’m learning as I go. You can find it at
Soonerthantomorrow.com

My purpose is twofold: 1) To provide a safe place to talk about mental illness in our families and 2) To find a publisher for my memoir by the same name — Sooner Than Tomorrow. I could self-publish my book, but I’m seeking a traditional publisher because I believe in the story I’m telling and want it to be widely read. I want it to have maximum impact. Simple as that.

​Okay. Here’s the thing. In June 2013, I was looking at turning 70 in May 2014. I wasn’t thrilled. I decided I wouldn’t shuffle passively into old age. Instead, I’d brace for the inevitable, and record the year leading up to my 70th birthday. I had no clue I’d capture the most poignant year of my life. I didn’t foresee the tragedy about to rip me apart — body and soul.

​In the belief that each of us has a unique, never-to-be-again perspective, I began to write in real time and to describe the view of the universe from my small patch of earth in Lincoln, California. I used the prompts of daily events in my personal life and in the news to talk about now, then, and yet to be. Short stories and longer stories wove themselves into my narrative. Homegrown characters, including family pets, vied for attention. My son’s Black Forest Hound, Lexi, romped through the pages. My black cat, Jazzy, grew impatient with my time at the computer. “You’ve been at this for hours,” she said. “Stop writing. BI need kitty treats.”

​Sometimes, this growing old gig can be grueling — like trudging up a steep hill with a heavy pack. It helps to pause, set down our loads, poke fun at our foibles, and lean into others.

​In the end, more than aging, my memoir turns out to be the love story of an ordinary mother and son who never gave up. In this true tale, the mother grapples with entering the winter of her life and facing her mortality. She struggles to help her adult son without depleting her bank account and her emotional reserves. She tries hard to keep balance and boundaries in her everyday activities. At the same time, the son rails against a long-standing diagnosis — one he would give anything not to have — of bipolar disorder. He puts one foot bravely in front of the other, even as he’s tested for the possible recurrence of a terrifying brain tumor. He dreams everyman dreams of independence, a steady job, and a romantic relationship. Events build to a sudden, unexpected and devastating conclusion.

​In my heart, and now in my book, I hold a special place for my heroes — dedicated mothers and grandmothers of adult children who live with mental illness. Along with my story, I share parts of other mothers’ stories, too. Their ill children are homeless, incarcerated, suicidal or estranged.

​Ten thousand Americans turn sixty-five each day. Many — and due to stigma, they’re often a hidden population — wrestle with aging while trying to cope with debilitating family mental illness. I hope other moms and grandmas (and dads and granddads and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters) like me tell their stories, too, — to anyone and everyone who will listen — until the world no longer ignores us. Until a raucous crowd rises up and roars, “My God! We’re going to fix this. Sooner than tomorrow.”

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A life full of twists and turns

JoAnn, Age 70

I had a brief fling with a fifty year old man. I found myself shocked that he was attracted to me. We look about the same age and it was quite a rush being kissed like I was a kid again.
I have a rich relative who gave me a facelift for my 50th birthday and spent a little last year for a chin lift. Why? My reason was simple, I feel like I’m 15 inside if I’m that old. I like looking in the mirror in the morning and not feeling old.

I was also a Hippie but one who rode around in Limo’s and had back stage passes but definitely NOT a groupie. I worked in the motion pictures business and also the music industry so there were “perks”

I look for a way to laugh about things. It is so easy to fall into the “poor me” syndrome. I seem to attract friends that are about fifteen years younger than I am. I was not looking for another man in my life when this one wondered through the door. He is an architect and I was having work done on my house. It was great having a male friend to go out to dinner with, etc. For a little more drama I am in a wheel chair at this time. He’s got a lot of money so I don’t try to figure it out.

All my friends tell me I’m funny and if they get depressed they call me so I can tell them a funny story. It seems something funny happens every day. My first husband died when I was 26. He was only 28 years old. My second husband and I built houses together. I designed them and he took care of the building process as I picked out all the interior things. He decided to divorce me after 20 years of marriage. I had no idea he was even thinking of it. Not a good surprise. However, I then met the love of my life online! I ran an ad and got exactly what I wanted. We were missionaries and traveled the world together. He passed away over four years ago from brain cancer.

I have written and illustrated some children’s books, am in the process of doing another one with a friend who is an amazing singer, turning my husbands music into a CD and am now facing three months in a Care Center after surgery on my feet. I look forward to walking again by Christmas, 2016 and for my 71 birthday next year. My husband and I wrote a book together.

I’ve had a life full of twists and turns. It is my choice each day to wake up and be thankful and embrace the day or fall into a slump. I don’t stay in a pity party long because one of my friends told me each time I do it should be festive so make it a black tie pity party. I find being around people who only want to talk about their aches and pains is boring, and being around people who are filled with gloom and doom and that’s all they talk about is difficult. I’ve taken a few of them under my wing and tried to sow happy things into them.
Blessings, JoAnn

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, HUMOR, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments