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 | 31 Comments

Attitudes about aging

Here’s a new article from the Washington Post about the effects of our attitudes about aging.

Let us know what you think about this.
Jane and Ellen


Posted in 70candles, Attitudes about aging, Men aging | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Positive Aging Newsletter-More from the Taos Institute

Happily Ever After: Emotions in Old Age

The stereotypes of aging as a time of regret, loss, and longing are one-sided and need to be challenged. Continuing evidence reveals that emotional well-being improves from early adulthood to old age. The present study adds significant new turn: More positive emotions are life-giving.

The research is based on a sample of 184 men and women spanning early to very late adulthood, and was conducted for more than a ten year period. The sample, carefully chosen to represent each generation, wore monitors for one week. At five random intervals during each day, participants reported their emotional states. This procedure was repeated five and then ten years later. Participants rated the degree to which they were feeling each of 19 emotions. The list of emotions included 8 positive (happiness, joy, contentment, excitement, pride, accomplishment, interest, and amusement) and 11 negative emotions (anger, sadness, fear, disgust, guilt, embarrassment, shame, anxiety, irritation, frustration, and boredom).

As the results showed, with greater age there is higher overall emotional well-being and greater emotional stability. These findings remained robust regardless of differences in gender, ethnicity, and physical health. Contrary to the popular view that youth is “the best time in life,” the present findings suggest that the peak of emotional life may not occur until well into the 7th decade.

Of great interest is also the fact that emotional well-being is related to longevity. Controlling for age, sex, and ethnicity, individuals who experienced more positive than negative emotions in everyday life were more likely to survive over a 14 year period. This does not mean that if you are unhappy now that your life will be shortened. Happiness so often depends on joining in social life, and remaining active. These are daily choices.

From: Laura L. Carstensen, Bulent Turan, Susanne Scheibe, Nilam Ram, Hal Ersner-Hershfield, Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin, Kathryn P. Brooks, and John R. Nesselroade Emotional Experience Improves With Age: Evidence Based on Over 10 Years of Experience Sampling. Psychology and Aging, 2011, 26, 21- 33.


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Positive Aging Newsletter-from the Taos Institute

Life Purpose: Seizing the Days

One problem many confront when they retire is the loss of purpose. The workplace is no longer demanding one’s attention and the nest is empty. Most of the challenges of earlier life – schooling, finding work, finding a partner, and the like – are no longer present. Nor does it seem very nourishing to live out the remaining years just resting and relaxing. So then what? This is no small question, as our lives are held together largely in webs of meaning. Together people generate ideas about what is important or valuable to do – both from day to day and across time. It is important to “win a game” for example, because we have come to agree that it is. Take away the agreement, and who cares? So, moving through and beyond retirement, we may find ourselves heading toward the cliff of “who cares?”

In our last Newsletter we reported on research that is worth revisiting. The research reported that having a purpose in life is literally life giving. In a study of more than 6,000 people, researchers found those with greater purpose were 15 percent less likely to die (over a 14 year period) than those without aims. Those with purpose also slept better, had fewer strokes and heart attacks, lower risk of dementia, and less risk of disability.

There are many reasons for these life advantages. People who have purpose are more likely to be active, thus contributing to fitness. Having a purpose is also associated with being optimistic, and as we have reported in previous issues of the Newsletter, optimism is also a life-giver. Research also shows that those with a strong sense of purpose are also more likely to embrace preventive health services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies and flu shots.

On the positive side, many people find that aging opens a wonderful door to new possibilities. There are all those hobbies, skills, and curiosities – wood working, fishing, painting, gardening, designing, and so on- that had to be put on hold during the demand period of the middle years, now waiting to be rekindled. And there are long-held dreams that can now be made into realities – learning to play an instrument, earning a degree, writing a book, building a house, and so on. We have written much in previous issues about the great benefits that come from voluntary work – in schools, churches, hospitals, and the like. We recently learned of a program run by Experience Corps, an organization that trains older adults to tutor children in urban public schools. Research showed marked improvements in mental and physical health among the volunteers. They also experienced higher self-esteem, and acquired better mobility and stamina. (The children also benefitted.) We are particularly strong advocates of activities in which others participate. As we believe, these webs of meaning making are precious and powerful.

Ken and Mary Gergen

From: Finding purpose for a good life, also a healthy one by Dhruv Khullar, NYTimes, Jan. 1, 2018, online.

Posted in Stories | 4 Comments

The next decade

Anne, Age 77

I read about your website and book in the New York Times. I see from your initial posting that you two were born about the same time I was (October 29, 1940). I am a very lucky, healthy, active 77-year-old woman . . . happily married to a much younger man, still going to the gym, still volunteering. I didn’t have much angst about 70 or even 75 . . . but I am looking askance at 80. I don’t have any health issues, so I will most likely get there.

How are the women who started out with you . . . the ones who were facing 70 in 2010 . . . faring now? Do we need an 80Candles group?

Anne Cornell

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, Aging, Looking ahead, Older women connecting, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

A book recommendation

Frances, Age 69

I recently moved (from one residence to another, in the same city). While I was packing up, I weeded out my books (again), and I came across “Necessary Losses” by Judith Viorst.

Some years ago, a friend had given it to me saying that it was a ‘must read’. However, all I knew about Mrs. Viorst was that she was a columnist for some women’s magazines — that alone was enough to turn me off. Additionally, the book was written in 1986 — so how relevant could it possibly be, so many years later. However, instead of putting it in a box for the thrift shop, I put it in the box of books for my nightstand. Right after I moved — the first night in my new home, I opened the book at random and read Chap. 18. And I cried. Then I read another chapter at random — and I cried some more.

I wish I’d had this book in my 20s — except it wasn’t even written then 🙂 — and I probably would not have understood it in my 20s. However, by my mid-40s, I would have understood a lot of it. Now that I’m almost 70 — I understand all of it (I think). Too bad. My life might not have been much easier if I had read this in my mid-40s — I mean, events in my life would have unfolded as they did and were going to — but mentally, emotionally and even spiritually, I would not have so ‘tempest tossed’.

This is a great book for us. Stop whatever you’re doing, go to Amazon, and order a used copy. When I start my 70Candles group in the fall, this is the first book we’re going to read and discuss.

I’ve been saying for years that we’re looking at old age completely wrongly, but I’ve never been articulate enough to explain exactly why. This book explains very well why we have been seeing old age incorrectly without directly saying so.

Just for the record, this is not a ‘pop psychology’ book nor is this a ‘clinical’ book and unreadable. Ms. Viorst, who is now 87, spent 6 years at Freudian-based Washington Psychoanalytic Institute (don’t let that scare you), and the notes in the back of the book are voluminous. It is a very well-written and well-documented book.

Posted in 70candles, Dealing with loss, Read Stories, What we're reading | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Poem about aging

Frances, Age 69

I am not old… she said
I am rare.

I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.

I am the retrospective
Of my life as art

I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense

I am the fullness
Of existing.

You think I am waiting to die…
But I am waiting to be found

I am a treasure.
I am a map.

And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey

Ask me

Author: Samantha Reynolds

Posted in 70candles, Aging, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

So many life stories

Suzanne, Age 69.5

How can a person share just one story when you’ve reached the ripe age of 70?

“All roads lead to Rome” and each quarter of my life made me what I am now. In my 30’s, my husband and I owned a company. We were successful. I traveled the world to shop as part of my job. Had 2 boys, struggled to share myself with them, my husband, and work that was so demanding, but which I loved. We lost that business in our 50’s, went into debt, no income. I had to reinvent myself. My husband couldn’t, he retreated. My 60’s have been so difficult, but I found faith. I have been tested in so many ways including being close to death in a coma. Surprisingly, at one of my lowest points, barely able to walk, age 67….my old boss, a young woman, called and said she knew of a job she thought I’d be perfect for. I interviewed, got the job and then realized that we would have to move to LA. I stayed with friends during the week, sometimes in Airbnb’s. My husband and I lived separate lives until he moved the household. My health improved, loved the job, but was laid off one year later. We stored everything, put the dogs in the back seat and left CA on our new life adventure, driving to find something new….grandchildren pulled us back to LA, I was rehired and at 70, I’m poor in money, but rich in love, faith, work, and life.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Gratitude and Spirituality, Resilience, Share your story, Traveling, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Advice please

Laura, Age 56

Hi there,

I came across your blog in doing a search on Google. I’m grateful for finding it! I was wondering if you would be so kind as to offer some advice.

Here’s the story: My best friend is my ex-partner. She and I were together for 10 years, I moved away for 5 years, then returned to AZ (near Sedona) and we decided to get a home together since we’ve known each other for over 20 years. We are very close and have the best friendship anyone could ask for. She is a solid gem. She is turning 69 next week and is really struggling (I’m 56 so I don’t know what she is going through).

I always celebrate her birthday in a fairly big way but she said she doesn’t want anything done this year at all. I threw her a big surprise party for her 65th and she said she does not want a party…at all. So, I will honor that but I still want to do something but I don’t know what.

What can I do to support her? It breaks my heart to see her sad, especially since she does soooo much for other people and is truly a kind and loving person.

Please help!

Thanks so much!
Laura Geatches

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

Retired in Florence

Susan, Age 72

Four years ago, my husband, and my miniature goldendoodle dog, Luca, got on the Queen Mary and sailed to a new country, and a new life Italy. It was the reverse trip that my grandparents made over 100 years ago. Sailing past the Statue of Liberty was an emotional farewell to a country I had loved and was prepared to leave.
We made the decision to retire in Italy after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am now more than 7 seven years cancer free, put the diagnosis was an impetus to face the facts of my own mortality.
My husband and I have no children, although we do have 2 nieces that we love very much. We are both former Human Resources executives from Silicon Valley. I continue to do executive coaching over Skype, while my husband is very happy and fulfilled being retired.
We initially came to a small town, about 14,000 people, in Umbria. We were charmed by the country side and people whom we found open, and curious about us. This past year we also have rented an apartment in Florence so we now split our time between the two places.
I find Italy to be a much less youth focused culture than that of California. Older people here are integrated into the families, and are treated with respect and care.
Living in Italy is not all Under the Tuscan Sun kind of experience. It is not for everyone, but for me, I love this country, its food and wine and above all, its people. I seem far less conscious of my age here than when I am in the US. Here my identity is first as the American, then a woman, then on someone who doesn’t cook and way down the list is someone who is over 70.

Posted in 70candles, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Traveling, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

5 Things that surprised me about retirement

Barbara Greenleaf

I retired from a full-time university staff position a year ago to publish my blog, Parentsofgrownoffspring.com. Before this I thought I was good at self-organization. I also thought that writing the blog would give me just the focal point I needed to be as happy and productive as when I went to an office every day. Not quite, at least not right away. While I love this stage of my life, it’s been a learning experience. Here’s why:

1. It takes a long time to find a rhythm. I get up at the crack of dawn. In my office days this was perfect for exercising, showering, getting gussied up, and getting out of the house. Now, I’m neither getting gussied up nor getting out of the house. What to do in the early morning hours? Should I write first thing, when I do my best work, or should I exercise first thing so the day doesn’t get away from me? Should I make lunch dates, which are important for socialization but bad for concentration? Maybe I’ll just take a little nap and that will solve everything. . .
2. I am terrible at most hobbies. Over the years I had so much crafting desire and so little time, that when I retired from the university I signed up for every DIY class known to woman. These included but were not limited to basket weaving, paper folding, quilting, sewing, finger knitting, crocheting, bookbinding, weaving, welding, keyboard, ukulele, calligraphy, and scrapbooking. With the exception of quilting, I stunk! It was really humbling.
3. Doing good is not so good. I was sure that as soon as I retired, I would be magnetically drawn to one charity or another, where I would make a real contribution and get great personal satisfaction from helping those less fortunate than I. It turns out I hated serving on nonprofit boards. They have no choice but to relentlessly raise funds, which I found soul sapping. I mentored kids at a local high school, but then they graduated and the next crop wasn’t as simpatico. It was a disappointment.
4. It takes a lot of energy to have a social life. Once you’re out of the workplace, it’s eerie how the world can get along without you very well. Unless you have regular book club meetings, see the same folks at the gym each day, or get subscription tickets with friends, you have to keep making the effort to stay in touch. I’m gradually learning how to navigate this, but I wasn’t prepared for having to be this proactive.
5. Retirement is expensive and time-consuming. As soon as you step out the door, the tab starts to run. And now you don’t even have to step out the door as e-commerce makes it so simple to buy things right from your couch. I thought that without business attire and the dry cleaning that goes along with it, eating lunches with colleagues or commuting to work, I’d be far ahead of the game. Ha! Moreover, all those chores I somehow fit in nicely after hours or on Saturdays now seem to take up every waking minute. As Miss Piggy would say, “Quelle surprise!”

These are all small quibbles compared to the joy of doing what I love without raising my hand and having to ask, “May I?” Nevertheless, as I look over the list, that nap is looking better and better . . .

What has surprised you about retirement? How does the reality of it match up with your former expectations?

Posted in 70candles, Stories, What do we do with our time?, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments