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 | 15 Comments

Open to suggestions

Anonymous,  Age 70

I turned 70 recently, and that thought visits me more often than I would have expected. Neither good nor bad, it just jumps into my consciousness, and makes me stop and reset my head, so to speak.

I’ve been retired for a number of years, am in good health, though the body is aging in all the ways you might imagine. Got a new knee last January – an imperfect fix to say the least, but my physical stability is restored, and I can hike easy trails without pain again.

70 is supposed to be old. I don’t feel old in my mind. Maybe a little slower, but a lot wiser is all. I am a child of the 60s, and have maintained a progressive, intellectual outlook all this time. I know that people see me as older, but I just don’t care. Like most women, I noticed that I was invisible to men once I moved into my 50s. Their loss. Now, I have many younger friends and family members ranging from 7 to their 30s. I love them all, enjoy their company, and give them every opportunity to keep me up to date on the world they inhabit.

I divorced young after a nightmare marriage. No kids, which is really the only regret I have from my life besides that marriage. Personal freedom, solitude when I want it… I love this life at 70 more than I did at 50!

Right now, at 70, I am looking for more to do. I volunteer with kids, run book, hiking, and progressive discussion groups, and belong to a couple of others. Also have a little eBay shop. However, I still have a bit too much spare time. (No grandkids leave lots of time!) I’m open to suggestions!!!

Unless one has very poor health, I think our 70s are the gift of a lifetime! Freedom, wisdom, time to spend with loved ones-human and animal, our beautiful earth, listening to music, reading good books, and so much more.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Family matters, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Networking, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Share your story | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Our book is here!

70Candles Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade                                      by Jane Giddan & Ellen Cole—Just out!
We are proud to announce the arrival of our book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade. It’s offered by Taos Institute Publishing and is available in paperback and as a Kindle download.
Here’s a brief description:
As we turned 70, we, Jane and Ellen, friends since childhood, set out to investigate how women our age and older were living their lives. We sought role models for ourselves and messages for the droves of baby boomers on our heels. We were curious about the challenges and joys of our age-mates, their work and retirement status, living arrangements, family and social connections, and more. It was clear they were not like their own grandmothers who sat in rocking chairs knitting. But what was the new normal?
This book, informative and even inspirational, describes what we found in our reading, our ongoing 70candles.com blog, and in the 70candles conversation groups we held in various parts of the U.S. Although we’ve have taken somewhat different paths, we agree that turning 70 and entering their eighth decade has, indeed, been momentous. “Welcome to old age.” We and our peers have found this new era exciting, sometimes scary, but full of opportunity. As developmental psychologists speak of life’s stages and phases and rites of passage, the purpose of this book is the recognition that 70 is something important, part of an intriguing new stage of life, not just a birthday like any other.
70Candles! is aimed at all women approaching 70 and in their 70’s and those interested in this journey—men, women, family and friends.
We hope you will check it out and pass this news on to others who might find it of interest.
Some early reviews:
“It may be strange to say this about a practical guidebook on woman and aging but this one is pure delight ― uplifting, engaging and alive with the voices of wise women. My favorites are the 95-year-old who has a martini every night and goes barefoot as much as possible, and Nina, the futuristic woman whom the authors conjure as the strong, self-sufficient oldie all of us can become with the aid of technology. In 2016, the baby boomers start turning 70. No woman should take that leap without 70Candles! at her bedside.”
―Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author of Getting Over Getting Older
’70Candles! offers wonderful wisdom, advice, and practical tips for making the most of life after seventy. In stark contrast to gloomy media portraits of aging, the authors show us how the later years can be filled with joy, excitement, and vibrant living. A book for every older person – and everyone who will become one!”
―Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., author of 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans
To order: www.taosinstitute.net/70candles
E-Book (Kindle) version available at the above link also.
A Taos Institute Publication, Tempo Series

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Ageism anecdotes, Family matters, HUMOR, Looking ahead, Networking, Our bodies, our health, Poetry, Read Stories, Resilience, Stories, Technology and contemporary culture, What do we do with our time?, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moving on-seeking advice

Mary,  Age 73

Here I set at age 73 in an isolated location because my Husband has decided that the safety of his dogs is more valuable than my happiness. I am a people person and need to have people to interact with. I will be leaving soon by myself (My poodle dog will go with me). I plan on being closer to my Boy’s in Florida and trying to pick up the pieces of my life, or what is left.
If anybody has had like experience or advice. I would really appreciate it.

Posted in Family matters, Looking ahead, Networking, Stories, Where to live | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The secret of longevity

Lynne, Age 71
Every day when I wake up I am surprised. Why is this? Well, both my parents died young. Mom at 49 (breast cancer) and dad at 52 (ruptured aortic anurysm). I had no parents since my early 20’s. Through the years I watched my friends and their children enjoy grandparents. In later years I watched them become caretakers of their elderly parents. They often said “longevity runs in my family” as their birthdays came…and kept coming. I had 3 terrific boys to raise within a very bad marriage. No safety net of parents meant I stayed in the marriage past when I should have left it. Finally, after 20 years of that, I went back to school, became economically independent and left the marriage. I then met the love of my life and re-married. My career flourished and I got the job of a lifetime…teaching Psychology at a local community college. My husband and I worked all we could (he was also in education) to get all 5 of our k ids through college, and grad school. Nothing was easy but we managed to do plenty of world travel on a budget and stay grateful to have each other. Our family was never the Brady Bunch but we managed and no one is estranged from anyone.

My husband (aged 75 now) is retired. I worked until 70 to optimize my social security payout. My first year of retirement, last year, felt kind of traumatic. My identity was gone. I didn’t feel bored so much as irrelevant. The “kids” don’t need us. Two of my sons got divorced. One got married. Then one got re-married. I had a granddaughter (yea!) but 3,000 miles away. Life moves on. Then I applied and was admitted to the Institute for Retired Professionals at the New School in NYC. I found a home at this teaching-learning community. So many courses! No tests or papers! So much new stuff to learn! I’ll be teaching (these are study goups and the teaching is called “coordinating”) my second course this term It is called “LUCK”. I spent a lot of time this summer researching the topic. It was a labor of love. Not for everyone I know, but if life-long learning is your thing then find some courses to take. My husband also became a member this year. We recently went to a lecture given by a well known gerontologist (Dr. Mark Lachs, who wrote “Treat Me Not My Age”). Dr Lachs told us that in terms of longevity genetics count for ONLY 20% of it!!! I was so happy to learn this. I don’t have to be so surprised to still be around! If you want to know what he told us is the #1 factor in how long you’ll live reply to this story and I’ll tell you.

One last thing I learned and I guess most of you know as well…being with friends, laughing , telling stories, sharing angst and joy and lots of wine enriches these years more than anything. I wish I could invite some of you over for some stories and wine. Let me know if you’re in the NYC area…or invite me to your place!

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Gratitude and Spirituality, Resilience, Stories, What do we do with our time?, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Latin American views on aging

From Georgina,  Age 70

In Latin America growing old brings very particular satisfactions.  As we live our years, we are clearer about who we are and what we’re here for.

Society assumes we have this wealth of practical knowledge and wisdom accumulated because we have lived through so much history…the history of our family, of our country, of the world at large…

So, when you’re older, you are listened to, your counsel is sought, children want to know what it was like when you were their age, people seek your company…you embody the oral history that they are also a part of…

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, About turning 70, Read Stories | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What to do about depression?

Bonnie,  Age 70

  I have fought depression all my life and have been on meds for about ten years which has helped. But my seventieth birthday really turned an off switch in my head. My mom, who is 95 does extremely better than me. Her attitude is upbeat and although she doesn’t get out much except when I take her on weekly jaunts, she occupies herself with puzzles, etc. But nothing interests me. I have tried to find a mate unsuccessfully on dating sites and group outings, but I remain extremely lonesome. I do activities as movies, dinners with my gal friends about once a week which I enjoy, and I volunteer two full days a week. But the other times drag on unmercifully. I feel that if I had someone in my life it would really help, even though I know you ‘have to find happiness within yourself’…but obviously, that hasn’t worked for me. So I’d like to know if anyone else is in the same boat? I’m doing everything right, but still alw ays sad and on verge of tears. (Increasing meds didn’t help)

Posted in About turning 70, Stories, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Free to fly

Claudia, Age 74

Well, I am 74. Still feel I have vitality but perhaps it is on the wain! Life is still good but I do have a few issues with my kids and I’m hanging in there, just.

By the time one is 74 you would like to think you are free to fly and do what ever, but sometimes that isn’t possible for me. I am a senior solo traveller and enjoy being off on my own exploring new places. I became a widow 3+ years ago and have coped very well on my own. I need social media as I live in a very small coast town of 2000+ people and find social media takes me to places that are out of my local experience.

Have bought myself a Ford Transit Motor home and have been off touring with my son. It has been fun but I really would like to take off on a big adventure for my 75th birthday.

I have many friends and lots of interests, including making art, politics, movies, am in a book club, gardening, swimming etc. I love coffeeing with cake and don’t mind going off on my own, usually with my ipad or a book.

When budget travelling (youth hostels) I always have a nice dinner and my travel diary is my companion for this. So cheap days, expensive evenings.

I am the Grandmother of 5 boys and 1 girl and have had an enormous amount of pleasure playing with them as often as I can.

I do think about my mortality and know I should be organising my affairs but am a bit tardy in that regard. Still feel like I am going to be around for a while. Am I right or wrong? That is the question.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Looking ahead, Networking, Resilience, Traveling, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Struggling at 74

Jean, Age 74

Turning 70 was a decade I always dreaded. Not for myself, but the concern of losing people I cared about. My health has been excellent and I am still working as a real estate agent with my own company that I started 4 years ago. This year everything changed. All the grandchildren are off to college and my twin sister died a very quick death from cancer . I took care of her for 4 months. All of a sudden I am aware of age related issues that never entered my mind before. So many deaths and health problems have happened and my own mortality is being questioned. My fears of turning 70 have been realized.

It is a struggle to be in my seventies and I fight it every day. My hobbies and interest such as exercise, gardening, reading and family still continue but changes have occurred. My feeling is that people look at you differently. You don’t feel old but I think family and friends think of you as a much older person. The discussion now is what is going to be the end result for us? Discussions center around retirement communities and Medicare. It seems like such a drastic change from 5 years ago. Are any of you experiencing this?

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, About turning 70, Family matters, Looking ahead | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Taxing tale

Marie-Andrée, Age 70

Ellen you were my advisor at Goddard in 1985…If Picasso had a Rose Period I have my Ellen Period…life was never the same… Here is my story when Mr. Robertson asked me about my retirement…since I am now 70.

For years Mr.Robertson has been my accountant. Today, more intensely than in previous times, his eyes, beady as a gull eyeing a bag full of garbage, scrutinize the scene. Freckled receipts hastily broached together, flocks of post-it cover clippings, paper scrolls of various bookkeepings, stubs, sales slips cover my eight seat dining room table. It is ‘that’ time of the year, income tax time. Mr. Roberston perceives me as an oddity since he discovered that, for me, the term ‘yield’ was directly connected to driving and didn’t mean internal rate of return. He also labels me wicked because I insist on including my traffic fines in my car expenses.

“Have you given any serious considerations to your retirement?”
Mr. Roberston’s words boomerang inside my skull. I feel a ghost of indigestion. Inhale, count to four, hold your breath for four, exhale, count to four. Melanie, my yoga instructor takes over. Zen time, escape to a peaceful and pleasant surrounding. How to express myself to this kind man whose terminology is so foreign to me, a man whose vision of my retirement (an euphemism for old age) is to guarantee me a room with a Plasma TV at the Mount Ever Rest Resort, a golden walker and Mantovani music in the elevator? How could I tell him that retirement is synonymous of ‘pat the due date,’ that I will die but will not retire?

I aim to be one of those astonishingly dressed older women. Young aspiring Quebec designers will call me their Muse. My clothes, inspired by Mohawk and Innu ethnology will be part of the Fashion Collection at the McCord Museum. I intend to hold on and to nourish my sophisticated style. Nowadays, I proudly display a streak of magenta hair. It is easier to be spotted at a cocktail. After all, I am quite a realistic woman, at one meter sixty centimetres, I am no challenge for the Eiffel Tower. Moreover, soon I will be obliged to surrender my stiletto heels. It becomes harder and harder to keep my equilibrium after my third dry Martini.

I will share my downtown penthouse with my Royal Poodle, Remy, for Remy Martin of course. My neighbours, proud owners of Chihuahua and siamese cats will sign petitions to have him removed. My daughter will report me to the local private clinic and send the Cholesterol brigade to confiscate my supplies of almond croissants and pots of Nutella.

I already see talk show hosts fighting to get me on the air. Everyone will want to learn about the Stages of Life viewed through my one of a kind philosophical and existential lenses. I will be their darling guest throwing, here and there, a word in French, another in Dutch, and for exoticism, one of the only fifty Shwahili words I still remember. My quotes will be recited at parties. “Happy feet are essential to the whole well-being.” I will rattle esoteric facts about famous historical figures. “Stalin wore red underwear during the October 1917 revolution.”

My watercolour paint by numbers will hand at the Musée d’Art Moderne. Finally, I will master Martha Stewart’s Art of living. Walls will be decorated with mosaic cit pits of various expired credit cards.

“Maaadam?” Mr. Roberston looks at me as if I am a strange bug discovered in a bathtub.

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, Ageism anecdotes, Financial Challenges, HUMOR, Looking ahead, Resilience, Stories, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Keep on keeping on

Barb, Almost 70

WOW! I guess thinking back I never thought I would get this old. My friend and I will both be turning 70 and we both feel kind of down. We find things getting harder to do but we keep on keeping on. It gets harder to move as my knee’s are bad and her back is bad.

I try to think of good things and say to myself you are 70 yes but you can still do some of the things you like such as planting flowers only they must be done slower. I don’t feel as steady on my feet as I did but walk very careful. Frankly I think it sucks, but what can you do but make the best of it.

I just hope I will still have some good years to do things with my kids and my Grandson. I worry about dieing. I am of faith but it still is on my mind. I don’t like to think of leaving my family some day, and seem to think of it more as I get closer to 70. Well, there is nothing we can do but accept it and move on.

Posted in About turning 70, Family matters, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Share your story | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments