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!! 

Posted in 70candles | 24 Comments

Old with purpose and gratitude

Bobbi Fisher,  Age 77

I’m old. Not in the physical ways of a person age 77, but I’m old in years, and that very fact guides the sense of meaning that I feel and experience in my life. Put succinctly, more and more my age is becoming the filter through which I lead my life. Now that I’ve said that, let me go on to say that I continue to live fully.

I’ve had a rich life. Wonderful parents, great husband for 54 years, two children, four grandchildren. My teaching career was rewarding; I published six books for teachers describing my experiences as a kindergarten and first grade teacher. When I retired I earned a divinity degree and became the spiritual care counselor for a local hospice.

I ask myself if now I am really retired. Well, yes and no. Yes, in that I have more free and unscheduled time to satisfy my longing for silence, solitude and simplicity, which I blog about in www.acottagebythesea.net and more time to attend to my spiritual life, which I blog about in www.aprayerdiary.net. I have more time to spend with family and friends, to help at my church, to read for pleasure, to travel, and to write.

No, I am not retired because, as I just described, I still have purpose. For most of my life this quest for meaning was unconscious, but as my 80th birthday looms just two years away, I notice I am more conscious of, and at times less certain of, what I am doing here on the planet. And yet, I know that with purpose I am able to accept physical changes, acknowledge new ways of being and doing, and embrace my ending as it comes ever more vividly into view.

As a person who looks to the future, I’ve had to adjust my purpose to fit the limited number of years ahead of me. My mom lived to be 101 years of age. I was 71. A few years before she died, we talked about what she could do to be helpful now that she was limited physically.
“Well,” she told me, “I can always smile at people.”
She filled her life with meaning right up to the end.

Thanks, Mom. As I wrote in “Very Grateful: The Story of My Hundred Year Old Mother And Me,” I, too, am very grateful.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Goals ahead, Gratitude and Spirituality, Looking ahead, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ageless Authors

For all you writers out there, I recommend you take a look at the Ageless Authors  website. It’s a contest for writers 65 and older.

Full disclosure…I am a contest judge again this year, but be assured, I’m not able see the names of submitting authors.

This year’s deadline is December 15, 2017, and  all entries will be through the Submittable portal. Winners get cash awards and will be included in a published anthology. See the contest rules at http://www.agelessauthors.com

This might be your chance to get your writing ‘out there.’

Good Luck!

Jane

 

Posted in 70candles, Poetry, Read Stories, Share your story, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Hopes and hazards of dating after 70

Gloria, Age 74

Lately I have been ‘meeting’ men who have contacted me via an online dating site. My experiences have been so enlightening, and so funny, I feel compelled to share them with other women. I’ll start with one, and continue later.

Of course, I maintain the safety of only meeting in a public place and my last name is not known. I’m seeking men with whom I can share a dance or two, not looking for a mate.

The first date I accepted because the man stated he liked to dance and wanted to meet me at a local Italian restaurant. He called the morning of the date to ask if I minded that he had a cane…being a very accepting type of person I said, of course not. In reality, he had difficulty approaching me in the restaurant waiting area, even with his cane, and during dinner, he described that he recently returned after a stay in a rehab facility due to a back surgery, he had recovered from cancer and had also suffered a heart attack last year. As we departed the restaurant, since he could barely walk, I asked what type of dancing he could claim. As he headed toward his 1980 white Cadillac, he replied, ” of course I can slow dance.”

So be aware that some men our age are in denial of their health issues. So far 4 have needed canes, one was having dialysis 4x a week, one suffers constant vertigo and almost fell on me as he is very tall, I am short, and he bent down for a hug…saved by his cane!

Not easily dissuaded, I have met 14 men so far, for a first date. A few have been “several date worthy.” And I am seeing one weekly, but still “shopping”, and he knows that.

Posted in 70candles, Dating after 70, HUMOR, Men aging, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The New Old Age

Our own Ellen Cole (in the coral jacket) was on a panel in New York, October 4, 2017, organized by The Atlantic.

Watch this discussion about aging in place, or as it evolved, aging in the right place for you.

This topic continues to be a concern of many on our blog.

Let us know what you think.

Posted in 70candles, Caretaking, Family matters, Networking, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Stuck in a rut-help!

Anonymous,  Age 68

Hello,
Please help…I am stuck in a life rut and desperate to change my lifestyle. I hope there is someone out there who can offer some helpful advice. I am shy that’s why my letter is short but I do have a lot to ask and hope you can help me change my life and start enjoying it.

Posted in 70candles, Networking, Older women connecting | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Up from Down Under

Eleanor,  Age 69

I live in Adelaide, South Australia. For the first 21 years of my life I lived in a religious cult. I was born into that cult. When I left I walked into a huge social change taking place with the Vietnam War protests, the advent of the pill, Women’s Lib and a little later equal pay. I was also very fortunate that at the time of my foray into another world, our PM made university free for all.

I married, had two children then started and completed my BA. This was very important as education was withheld from me before I left home. Later I was diagnosed with life threatening Wegeners’ Granulamatosis. I recovered then my husband and I divorced. I studied for my Grad Dip Ed which qualified me as a senior English teacher. I taught for 10years. During that time I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and had a cystectomy.
Health issues forced me to retire at 63. I went back to university to take Honours and this year I have finished my M.Phil.

I belong to a post graduate writing group where young people accept me unconditionally. I also go to Core Pilates twice weekly. I have a group of close friends. No grandchildren which doesn’t bother me. I am mobile and very fortunate to have found excellent medical care.

So I will be 70 next year. I love life and try not to think about the road ahead.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Share your story, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wonder and enthusiasm at independent bookstores

 

Remember the pleasant bookstores of our youth? Most are gone, but not forgotten. Now, independent bookstores are beginning to emerge once more, in cities across the country. They are comfortable places to browse and learn about books from knowledgeable booksellers, to hear authors speak, to bring children for storytime, and to meet and share with other book lovers.

I recently attended the opening night, well-attended reception, of a new independent book store in Dallas, called Interabang. It’s named for a little known punctuation mark that combines a question mark with an exclamation point, communicating both wonder and enthusiasm.

To my delight I discovered our book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade for sale on the Body/Mind shelf in the non-fiction area.

There’s our book!!

Guest of honor for the evening was best selling author Ann Patchett who owns Parnassus, her own independent book store in Nashville. I gave her a book to take home with her. Fingers crossed that she’ll order it for her Nashville bookshelves. It currently is available from the Parnassus on-line site

Ann Patchett at Interabang opening reception

70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade can be ordered from Ingram by bookstores, and is now designated “returnable,” which should make purchasing a more attractive option for stores. If you have a local independent bookstore, stop in and explore it, chat with the staff…and we would be most grateful if you would introduce them to the 70Candles! book. We’d love to see it available in stores everywhere.

Let us know how it goes.

Many thanks,
Jane

Posted in 70candles, Older women connecting, Stories, What we're reading | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Life is not easy to sort out

My husband of 48 years passed away almost 5 years ago. My friends and family comment on how well I have done moving forward and living independently. My choices are: look forward with optimism or backward with grief. Being human, there are certainly times when grief is overwhelming but I am fortunate to have a loving family and network of friends.

I try to stay open to new ideas and experiences. I did move to a new city in Michigan to live near my son. My previous retirement location with my husband had been in the backwoods of Michigan and that no longer worked for me. And when he was alive we bought a condo in Fl. and had 5 years to develop a social network. So I now live in Michigan 6 months and Fl. 6 months. I love my little house and neighborhood but miss my old friends.

My health is good and I joined the local YMCA and go to various classes. My love is ping pong and in Fl. there are opportunities to enjoy this activity with my age group….not so much in Michigan. I love gardening and am content with my own company which helps.

I think it is very important to surround yourself with optimistic people or find things in your life that keep you directed on a positive course. This age sneaks up on all of us and dwelling on an uncertain future is nonproductive.

I stumbled upon this website from a book I am reading: 70 things to do when you turn 70…edited by Ronnie Sellers. It is an enjoyable read. And this blog is such a good idea. Good luck to all my fellow “age mates”. Life is not easy to sort out and dealing with loss and physical debilitation is not for the weak of heart.

Posted in 70candles, Dealing with loss, Older women connecting, Resilience | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

No longer shy about retiring

Ellen, Age 76

I’ve long been afraid of my own retirement, partly because I’d lose what I love to do, and I couldn’t imagine who I’d be if I weren’t employed. Most of all, I wondered and worried how I’d know when the time was right. And then it happened.

In May of this year I completed three years at my college. I received a letter from the Dean (I used to be a Dean myself) saying that my third-year review was coming up.

Some may remember the tensions of the third-year review, typically for assistant professors poised to rise in the academic ranks. I thought, “Really?” I asked my department chair and she said, “Really.”

Now this school has an incremental three-year retirement plan. It consists of the first year full-time, the second year three quarters or half-time, and the third-year quarter time. There is even the option of working full-time for all three years. That was it for me. The lightning bolt had struck. The sign, the epiphany. There is no way I would participate at my age, with my experience in a third-year review.

I’ve now announced that I will retire in three years, and I have no regrets. I’m reminded of the woman who chose a yoga class over a business meeting. That was her sign. This was mine. Perhaps I will start to collect stories—when did you figure out it was the right time to retire? Was it your own decision or someone else’s? (Hmmm, I guess I’ll always be a psychologist looking for my next project.)

What have I learned from the books I’ve read and written, the women I’ve listened to? What lessons do I want to bring with me as I am now heading toward my own retirement? Is there a “bottom line” to a meaningful retirement? Here’s what I’m thinking—actually my advice to myself—at this moment:

Combat ageism wherever you find it, and it is everywhere; Stay active in mind and body; Look to the future (Martin Seligman calls this “prospecting”); Identify your meaning and purpose; Expand and nurture your social connections (remember, there is no such thing as a happy hermit—Chris Peterson).

And finally, I want to channel George Vaillant for a moment: Question—Who are you when you no longer contribute to the GNP? Answer—A fourth grader.

Enjoy!

Posted in 70candles, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, What do we do with our time?, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Giving to others brings the best satisfaction

Sherry, Age 69

I am 69, looking forward to any day that Mother Nature allows. I have been a nurse for 42 years and by helping people, I learned that, by giving, I am getting many rewards. I went on “permanent vacation” 2 years ago. I also call it “perpetual Saturday” – my favorite day when still working. Retirement, I say, is for going to bed at night.

I learned, when my Mom died at age 60, that I needed to suck out of life everything I could. She was vital, full of life, fit, and very active, yet stricken by her genetic predisposition to breast cancer. Whatever life held for me at that juncture, I was not going to live in fear of dying young; or old. I learned to ride a motorcycle and bought a Harley and traveled far and wide. I learned SCUBA. I went to cooking classes. I love sewing and reading, joining a book club. I often volunteer at the Elks Lodge as a member and again, find by giving, I get back. I make life a theater, dressing for occasions to celebrate.

I moved to the place I loved: Colorado Springs, three years ago. I have put into perspective my mistakes and have not second guessed my choices, which I thought were right at the time. I sleep very well, tired from making the most of everyday. I have a BIG garden and find joy in watching things grow. I enjoy the laugh of my neighbor’s children.

My Grandmother Kennedy used to say, “who will know in 100 years from now?” That has helped me decide what is really important. I have an attitude of gratitude, thankful for what I have and always consider, “is this what I need or what I want”. It helps clarify my purchases.

I have no children, by choice, and have only two brothers who live States away. I have family of choice: dear girlfriends who sustain me in times of joy and grief. I have dog rescues and cat rescues and caring for them gives me such joy.

I am healthy and do not take it for granted. Yet, I have drinks at night and smoke cigars. I have a mantra: “where there’s a will, there is a woman; and, that would be me”. I don’t pay for anything that I can do myself. I am fiercely independent, yet believe that Mother Nature has it all in control. I do not fear death: Mother Nature has it in control.

My definition of happiness is “peace and contentment”. I have my “blue days” and surrender to it and get busy doing SOMETHING. I have been married twice, not interested in doing that again, but am open to companionship and sharing in mutual interests.

I do not involve myself with negative thinkers or people who are in crisis all the time: “life is too short”, as Mom used to say. I love people, but only those who, maybe selfishly, contribute to my joie de vie.

No one will give me anything, life is for the taking for your own happiness; yet, giving to others is the best satisfaction for me.

Posted in 70candles, Gratitude and Spirituality, Older women connecting, What do we do with our time?, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment