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 | 12 Comments

My decision to leave my home

Barbara Mott, now 90

Excerpts from Chapter Two written in her 80′s

While I am now blissfully settled in my new home, it was with much deliberation and soul-searching and almost sleepless nights that I had come to the decision that yes, I needed to make a change. It was definitely time to enter Chapter Two and put some new adventure in my life.

It certainly wasn’t easy. In fact, I changed my mind so many times that people started asking me, “What have you decided this week?” It was an agonizing period that I just couldn’t feel comfortable with. I loved my home. I would look around at all of the familiar things that I treasured and felt so comfortable with, and the idea of selling the house and moving was just too much to even consider. It didn’t help that friends would tell me now beautiful my home was. I thought so, too. Was I doing the right thing even thinking about moving? I had a lovely home, all paid for, no problems with the bills and upkeep, and Nickki and I were very comfortable there. And yet, I felt so alone. No matter where I went with friends, day or night, I always came home to an empty house.

…Assisted living/retirement homes are becoming the popular option for a lot of people my age and even younger. They are springing up all over the country and are a real blessing for people who no longer have the choice or desire to maintain the lifestyle to which they have been accustomed. Maybe it’s poor or failing health, or they have lost a mate, or the home is just getting to be too much to manage. It is a real comfort to know you will be taken care of onsite as your needs arise. Yes, it’s expensive, but so is professional personal home care. The locations are many, and if you look around, you’ll find one that will meet your satisfaction and pocket book.

… It’s amazing how much “stuff” we accumulate over the years that we forget about and don’t even need. But downsizing can be a good thing. It weeds out the excesses. My next door neighbor was planning a garage sale soon, so I gave her the remaining boxes of odds and ends to put in her sale. We were both happy.

…Maybe if I tell you how much the move has made my life happier, fuller, and more exciting, you may give some thought about how you would feel in a new environment. Here I have the advantage of all sorts of classes: computer, poetry, painting, exercising, Bible study, balance training, walking, writing. And there is often a special appearance of musical talents in the auditorium as well as book reviews and speakers. There’s a beauty shop and barber shop just off the lobby, also. What more could you want?

…Another treat is that I get the newspaper at my door every morning, and my mail is delivered to the mail room and the outgoing mail is taken by the postman. The bags of trash and garbage I set outside my door are quietly carried away. I’ve got to be careful not to get too spoiled.

…All of this information is meant to give you a different perspective of what life can be like if you can make the decision to let go of the past and face a more fulfilling future. I have not been lonely here, and have not had one moment to ponder if I did the right thing. I know I did…I keep pinching myself and wondering how in the world I could be so blessed and fortunate. My future is secure, and it’s nice knowing this is the last move I’ll ever have to make. I hope you can see yourself enjoying the last few years in a similar happy state.

Posted in Looking ahead, Networking, Where to live | Leave a comment

Alone, seeking connections

Lynette, Age 75

i just heard about this blog in a book i got for a friend – “70 things to do when you turn 70.” this is my first year being alone. when i was healthy, everything seemed ok. i could cope with my house and property. now that i have back issues, it’s harder. i have a wonderful supportive family that live nearby. i volunteer at a dog club, love to play canasta, knit, scrapbook, and read. i’m interesting in others with these same hobbies. i look forward to reading stories from other women in this age group. thank you lynette

Posted in Family matters, Networking, What do we do with our time? | Leave a comment

Now what?

Linda, Age 69

I am so happy I found your site. I will be 70 in August and have been pondering,”Now what?” That’s what I googled and found 70candles. I have taken your advice on makeup and hair, even got a short asymmetrecial haurcut that I had wanted to try since in my twenties. I figured it was now or never lol.

I was married for 27 years to a man who cheated on me for 25 of those years. When our children were 24 and 20 they said,”Mom you don’t have to live like this,” and I thought,”I don’t?”

It took me a while to find the old me and I sure like her. Nine years ago I sold my house and moved to a small mountain town to be near my daughter and two small grandchildren. It is very remote not much shopping or entertainment for 150 miles. It was great for a while, but now the grand kids are older and busy with their friends and sports. My daughter has gone through two divorces in nine years and now is struggling on her own. It is wearing me down and I’m thinking,”Now what?”

I would love to move someplace warm but I have muscular dystropy and use a scooter. Someone has to come every morning to get me up then I am good to go for the rest of the day. My son lived with me until last year and then he married and I am so happy he found such a wonderful woman. They moved back to the city where we lived for thirty five years. Things have gotten hard since he left he is very kind and helpful. They want me to live with them but that is no way to start a new marriage.

I had my home built for me nine years ago with my MD in mind. My daughter had one built across the street which was so nice for both of us. I kept the grand kids while she worked and she helped when I needed it but as I said before that was two divorces ago and she has been long gone from there for five years.

I have great neighbors that help. I’ve tried hired help and have gone through five aides in two years. They either don’t show up or steal. It’s a small town and not many to choose from.

I use the computer to do my banking and pay my bills on line. Have a smart phone, a kindle and keep in touch with old friends and my sisters who all live in different states. I also have two little chihuahuas so I’m not really lonely or bored. But I sure would like to have some fun!!!

So going to be 70 and now what?

Posted in About turning 70, Family matters, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Stories, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Leave a comment

Helpful or overbearing?

Lia, 70something

A gentleman or an old codger?

An incident, which occured earlier today, has made made me ponder over the issue of what constitutes helpful versus overbearing male behaviour.

I was part of a small group of seniour men and women alighting from a small bus, after a happy day’s outing.

As I was about to negotiate the 3 or 4 steps down, a man in his 80′s, and at least 10 years my senior, having already alighted from the bus, positioned himself in the exit and grabbed hold of my hand with the intention of helping me down.  I was not asked if I needed his assistance, and being a very fit and agile woman, I found this demeaning and somewhat offensive.

In hindsight am sure he meant well, but that is not how I experienced it at the time.

Sent from my iPad

Posted in 70candles, Ageism anecdotes, Our bodies, our health | 2 Comments

A glimpse of the big picture

Karen, Age 70

In January, 2014, I spent three weeks in India with two women who are not family members, not of the same nationality, and not in the same age group. Drawn together by a keen interest in the Indian subcontinent, a love of travel, and a genuine enjoyment of each other’s company, we embarked on separate journeys which we took together.

Our hardy band of adventurers was composed of Rolanda (a maid of 30 years), Ritu (a matron in her early 50′s), and me, a crone of 70 years. Ritu and I are university professors while Rolanda is a small business owner. While Rolanda and I are born and bred Midwesterners, Ritu grew up in New Delhi and while she has lived in the US for most of her adult life, still has strong ties to India.

Our travels together gave the me the marvelous opportunity to reflect on my life as a woman by viewing it from three different perspectives at one point in time. I am the crone of the group but have been the maid and the matron, and even though I have the shortest life expectancy of the three of us, I have the broadest perspective. I wouldn’t return to either of the earlier stages if I could because it would mean sacrificing the wisdom, knowledge and contentment I have gained over my three score and ten years. Rolanda and Ritu can only regard their lives only as far a they are along the path, and must have difficulty conceptualizing my thoughts and feeling
s as the older woman.

While Ritu’s role as a “matron” is somewhat similar to what I experienced as one many years ago, Rolanda’s role as a “maid” is much different from what mine was. At 30 years of age, I had 2 children and was a homemaker; Rolanda at 30 is single, doesn’t plan to have children, and owns her own business. The contrast between us reflects, to some degree, differences in personality and temperament, but I suspect it is more a reflection of how young women have changed over the past half century. Will the matron and crone roles change as much over the next 50 years?

I feel so blessed to have had such wonderful traveling companions and had the opportunity to see the big picture of my life rather than the more narrow perspective of my daily life. I wish all women of 70 candles could experience this.

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, About turning 70, Gratitude and Spirituality, Looking ahead, Traveling, What do we do with our time? | 1 Comment

Digging out

Marilyn, Age 73

I am so happy to find this group. It was from buying your book that I found the blog.

We were married for 35 yrs, when 2yrs ago my husband died by suicide. I was devastated and the question of why haunted me…..

That summer, I dug so many holes in the garden and worked so hard to try and kill the pain.

Now, I feel that hard work, walks and exercise (yoga) even if you do not feel like it, is the best thing.

I am currently thinking of building a small bachelor app. for a woman not to be completely alone as I go towards the 80″s.

Keeping hope in the future

Posted in Family matters, Looking ahead, Stories, What do we do with our time? | Leave a comment

Bored at 80

Carmel, Age 81

Life at 70 was wonderful. Life at 75 wonderful. Life at 81 pretty miserable. Everyday living is a problem.

Irish, lost my faith. Can’t garden, which I loved. Loved walking, now it’s a big problem. Bored with life, bored with myself.

Is there a site for 80 and over who want to have a reason to live?

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, Our bodies, our health, What do we do with our time? | 3 Comments

Re-connecting with old friends

Barbara, Age 78

In anticipation dread of retirement to begin this August, I have initiated email correspondence with one special friend from each segment of my life, of which there were three- hence three gals, HS, College, Grad School, after decades of drifting apart. It has been an unexpected joy for them and for me.

Posted in Looking ahead, Networking, Nostalgia, Work life and retirement | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Inga’s story

Inga Wiehl, Age 77

I live in the state of Washington with all the opportunities it offers for a life out-of-doors.  I tend my garden,  hike in the summer and cross-country ski in the winter, play tennis year round and bicycle with my husband and International Bicycle Tours all over Europe, preferring countries south of the Alps where wine flows freely come the end of the day.  I am a first generation Danish immigrant but have had a career as a college English teacher with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington. 
Retirement has given me the time and opportunity to write books about topics that concern me.  When Professional Women Retire: Food for Thought and Palate deals with the “trades” we make as we move from employment to retirement, substituting salaries for coins of time, rethinking social relationships, and moving from professional prompts to self-generated challenges.  Because dinner parties are a vital part of our lives, some favorite recipes and tales of gatherings are included.
Five years later, in 2010, I published Heartstrings: A Tale of Danish Loyalty, Resistance, and Homecoming foregrounding my grandmother as representative of women in Southern Jutland during the First World War.  Southern Jutland, where I grew up, had been annexed to Germany after a devastating war against Bismarck’s army in 1864.  With the outbreak of war in 1914, Danish men from that part of the country were drafted into the Prussian army, commanded to fight “on the wrong side,” so to speak.  My grandfather and six million men with him died in that war.  The women survived to run their farms, bring up their families, “vote themselves home” in a plebiscite conducted in 1920, and grow old among their children.  Heartstrings is their story, and because my grandmother and I were tied to one another by our heartstrings, it is my story as well.
A third book followed in 2013, Reclaiming Our Brains Without Losing Our Minds: Some Hows and Whys From a Reading Group.  I contend that as we age, each day becomes a reclamation project of brains and body as well as an opportunity for being mindful of one another’s needs.  Thirty years ago, I was asked to start a reading group to be conducted like a college English class.  We would read the world classics as well as contemporary works of substance.  The book tells our story, how we conduct our meetings, how we choose our texts, why we keep coming to “Thursday Readers” ten weeks in the  fall and ten in the winter, as well as twenty-nine essays dealing with Readers’ responses to books we have read. We meet in one another’s houses for lunch and conversation before settling down for a lecture and ensuing discussion.

Posted in Networking, Traveling, What do we do with our time?, What we're reading, Work life and retirement | 1 Comment

Another kick at the cat?

Diane, About to turn 71

I felt very depressed on my 70th B Day. I am still working as I tell myself “It keeps me young”…I keep very current, as in fashion,technology, etc. My friends and strangers tell me I look young for my age. I think I really work at it…But the bottom line is how one feels emotionally that counts…We have a lot of history behind us at 70 and have learnt many of life’s lessons the hard way, as well as many happy moments. I think we have to embrace them all and come to a final conclusion. So what is next?? There has to be another “Kick at the cat”

Posted in About turning 70, Looking ahead, What do we do with our time? | 1 Comment