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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27 Responses to Flourishing in the Eighth Decade!

  1. Renee says:

    You are both an inspiration!

  2. Just discovered your blog and love it! I posted about growing older a couple of years ago: http://onekentuckywriter.blogspot.com/2008/05/coming-out.html.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Charlotte says:

    How ’bout flourishing in your TENTH decade? Check THIS out!
    http://bit.ly/k4Gb6U

    Love to all,

    Charlotte

  4. Bev Scott says:

    Here is a piece I wrote recently about turning 70:

    Seven Thoughts of Gratitude on Turning 70

    I just celebrated a major milestone birthday…70! Since my birthday comes at the end of the year, I have the added impetus to reflect on the past and prepare for the future with the beginning of a new year. I find myself very appreciative and filled with gratitude as I think about my seven decades. Seven decades! It sounds much longer than my life feels. Maybe time has played tricks on me and skipped a decade or two. But as I think about each decade I do remember the highlights and some of the lows as well. So as many have suggested, time is just speeding up and 70 years have gone past very quickly!
    Here are 7 thoughts of gratitude:
    1. Good Health: Perhaps some of my good health is from good genes, but both of my parents died in their early sixties when I was in my mid-twenties. So I have my doubts about the contribution of genes. When my parents died, I began to pay close attention to what I ate and to exercise. At 70, I find myself without any of the usual afflictions of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, over-weight or heart disease. I am grateful everyday as I take my walks, stretch and lift weights.
    2. Fulfilling Life: I have a beautiful daughter who has brought a charming son-in-law and two delightful grandsons into my life. For 35 years I loved my work, finding purpose and opportunity to contribute in my practice as an organization and management consultant. I have made many good friends who are still active, caring supporters in my life. I found a life-partner who delights me and offers me love, companionship and comfort.
    3. Planning makes a difference: I planned both financially and emotionally for retirement. I gradually slowed down my consulting practice and transitioning my skills and expertise to create the program we call The 3rd Act. Launching an entrepreneurial project turned out to be more work than I anticipated; but I am proud of our website, blogs, newsletter and offerings of coaching and workshops for individuals and couples over 50 who want to plan for this time traditionally called retirement. I have been busy, content and fulfilled in the last decade.
    4. Giving Back: Most of life, I have followed my father’s teaching about giving back to those less fortunate. I have given my time and financial resources to individuals, organizations and causes that I cared about. My current passion is the Horizons Foundation Board which is focused on expanding the resources for the LGBT community. I have met many wonderful friends, learned and grown within myself and gotten much more in return than I ever imagined. I have found that giving to someone or something beyond myself has offered me meaning and focus.
    5. Writing: I have begun to think of myself as a writer. I entered my 60’s with a successful professional book , “Consulting on the Inside” and ended the decade co-authoring a second edition with my good friend and colleague, Kim Barnes. I also enjoy writing the blogs for The 3rd Act. Last year, I began learning about writing fiction and doing some historical research. Now, I have finally dedicated this year for a major writing project…writing an historical novel based on the lives of my grandparents.
    6. Precious Time: I am aware that I don’t have the energy nor am I as strong as I used to be. My body is clearly aging and I need more sleep and more down time. I recently had a frozen shoulder I needed to attend to. And although I bragged above about my good health, my eyes and my teeth are aging too. I am more selective in how and with whom I spend my time. I am conscious that my life is finite and I want to choose well how I use the remaining precious moments.
    7. 4 Generations: I cherish the experiences of life and wisdom with four generations of family in my life. My daughter, son-in-law and grandsons bring the perspectives and experiences of two younger generations and help keep me young in outlook and in spirit. My baby-boomer partner, who is nine years younger, adds another view from my own “traditionalist” generation; and I love the role model my 90 year-old mother-in-law provides with her delightful sense of humor and her continued interest in life around her.

    Many people tell me that I don’t look 70. Although intended as a compliment, I am a bit disturbed by these comments. It is as if there is something wrong with being 70, so I am being reassured that I since I don’t look 70, I am acceptable and don’t need to worry. I remember a comment by Gloria Steinem several years ago, when someone suggested she didn’t look her age. She responded by saying, “This is what xx looks like.” And that is how I feel about 70. The image of 70 from thirty or forty years ago no longer fits for us today. We need to re-think and over turn that old view; take off the blinders and recognize the glorious change that has occurred for us. We look younger and have more vitality today, thanks to good nutrition, medical care and exercise. So I say, this is how 70 looks and I am grateful and celebrating!

    • Blog Mavens says:

      Bev,
      Thank you for your wonderful contribution to our 70candles.com blog. Your thoughts, so eloquently stated, are exactly to the point of our venture, and will be much appreciated by our readers.

      We wonder how your Esalen workshop went in January.
      Coincidentally, we are scheduled for a weekend there this summer, August 17-19, to Celebrate Seventy! It will be for women in their seventies, a we examine ways to flouish in this decade of our lives.

      We hope you will spread the word. We are all part of this longevity revolution, and have much of value to share with each other.

      Our best wishes,
      Jane and Ellen

    • Andrea says:

      You bring up such a refreshing perspective, and I love the idea of challenging people’s ideas about what a certain age “looks like.” Our age is about more than how many years we’ve been alive, but it’s about how we feel, what our lifestyles are like, and how our bodies are doing. You also mention the things that have helped you to “look younger and have more vitality”, and I am sure that those same habits and lifestyle choices will help you remain healthy for many more years.

  5. Lynne says:

    This blog is a great idea…and it’s wonderful that some folks are in a great place emotionally, physically, financially and are grateful for that (as they should be). I hope that this place can also be a site that offers comfort, advice, friendship and empathic “eyes” for those of us who are less fortunate at this time in our lives.

    Lynne

    • Ellen and Jane says:

      Lynne, thank you for your comment. While our original intention–still true–was to celebrate this time of our lives and debunk negative myths and stereotypes–in other words to look at the glass half-full–we want this to be a site for EVERY woman with 70 candles on her cake. We think there’s nothing wrong with sharing woes. It’s a strength of women that we do that so well. How many times have you started out with tears and ended up with laughter after sharing something perfectly dreadful. So yes, this is a blog for all of us, a place to bring our full and true selves, a place to offer friendship and comfort.

      • Janice Myer says:

        Well said! I am a first-time reader of your blog, referred by a friend who also just discovered you, and I am loving what I see. I am a firm believer in the glass-half-full philosophy, but I really agree with your statement here. None of us who have 70 candles on our cake is without a tale or two of woe, and sharing can be helpful for healing.

        I’m going to be checking in regularly. Thank you for this blog and the time it must take you to keep it happening. I love the idea.

  6. NIKI says:

    Noted last entry was March 2012. Hope that is not the end of this because I just found it! I relate in someway to each of the posters. I am 72 and just quit riding my bicycle about two months ago after about my third accident-fall in a period of three years. Decided I was pushing my luck as each time really destabilized my physical system. Miss it terribly, that rush of air in my Lungs as I flew down a hill. Actually, it was the hills and streams that were my Waterloo. I walk with my dogs now. But really feeling the loss of energy past few months. Until a few months ago, I thought I’d be biking into my 80s. I don’t like this at all! I grieve my loss! My little child inside wants to run and play!

    I love my past 72 years – the joys, the woes, that extend over the years even to this day … And I journaled the days almost daily because, when the day comes that I wonder ‘what did I do with all those days of my life?’ It’s right there! There is so much I didn’t write that I wish I had written, especially the happenings and the stories my clients told me as I traveled the out backs of rural Arkansas doing Home Health. But life was so busy and full that I left work at work and wrote of other things at home.

    And like Lynne in previous post. … Well … I feel that too! I relate! I’ve had some tremendous losses – people I dedicated my life too – some people have joyful stories, some people have sad stories. But life goes on and life is good. God is good and he’s been good to me.

    So thank for this blog – hope to read more here. NIKI

    • Blog Mavens says:

      Niki,

      You write so well…Maybe this is the time to recapture all those tales of your Home Health work in rural Arkansas. They certainly would be interesting to read.

      Jane

  7. Mary McPhee says:

    I’m writing to ask if you remember an elderblog of a few years past, Code Name Nora. Using a novelistic style and in third-person voice, Nora wrote about life in her retirement community she called the Twilight Zone, “a hazy, purplish place between bright, vivid life and the utter darkness of oblivion.” (But not to be morbid.) I think many of you read Nora. I just wanted to tell you that the old girl is still alive, still writing, in fact blogging again, but she’s lonely and would love to have you visit. She’s concentrating now on the books she written and published on Amazon’s Kindle program—eight, would you believe it—among which is Code Name Nora. Here’s the blog: http://www.marymacsbooktique.blogspot.com

  8. Blog Mavens says:

    Mary,

    Good luck with your renewed endeavor! and welcome to 70candles.
    We’d love to hear what life was like for you in that retirement community. There’s lots of interest among women our age, regarding the best place to live next.

    Jane & Ellen

  9. Barbara says:

    Feel really blessed to have found your web site on my 70th birthday, what a gift from God.

  10. Kanani Elaine Kai says:

    I was looking for articles on Seniors, starting over, when I came across 70candles.

    I just turned 70, last month, and recently moved to a wonderful Senior apartment, in downtown Honolulu.

    This is the first move I’ve made, without a child, since I was 20 years old. And the first time I’ve got to live on my own, since age 20. I raised my 6 grown children, then adopted and raised a Grandson, who became my Son!

  11. Rosa Boulenaz says:

    I was thinking of my life and now that I have left work found it hard to adjust to just finding my self in everyday life. I have been so full on being trained nurse looking after people all my life and my parents and my grandchildren, that living and being still is hard for me. I am nearly 70 years old. Still want to do continue caring but find what I do not enough sometimes; writing my thoughts like this helps me see that it is okay.
    Wonderful to find this site and find other women sharing their thoughts. I live in my own home and I would like to paint and draw but can’t seem to get still enough to do these things. I still want to be on the go have a lot of energy which I am grateful for; love to read and go out all the time. I have a dear friend who has cancer that I care for, look after my husband who is still training and helping others who have lost their way and want to commit suicide, so he helps communities to come to terms with this.
    I am grateful to God for good health and to be inspired by my parents who when old enjoyed their life by simple things such a good wine and family. My mother was Italian so hope I will settle down and enjoy that I don’t have to work any more. I only let go of my career few years ago so have to realise I do have another life now. Hope my story helps someone…seems to have helped me in sharing

  12. BellaMia says:

    I feel lost at 74 y.o. It started when I turned 70.
    It was like a light switch went on and I realized that so many of the ones I loved are no longer here.
    I wish I had found this forum sooner because in my sadness I’ve become agoraphobic and no longer go out of my home.
    I don’t have any friends to compare my feelings to as we age.
    I had always been a “people person” who worked in the medical field as well as having become a certified paramedic which was rare for women at that time.
    I need a little boost in my life to change my way of thinking.

    • Blog Mavens says:

      BellaMia, a beautiful name. You say you started to feel lost when you turned 70. Jane and I started this 70Candles project because we understand the tremendous impact of 70–it sounds trite, but it’s like no other age. Who are we when we no longer work, when friends and family die, and so much more. For many of us it’s the age when (I think this may be a paraphrase from George Vaillant) we start to count the years left instead of the years lived. BUT there is something you can do. Jane and I have found–from so many sources at this point–that finding opportunities to gather with age-mates is a magic potion. Senior Centers, YWCA’s, churches and synagogues (even if you’re not religious) might be places to start. Even though I’m still working at 74 (I’ll be 75 in six weeks), I’m in two book groups and I play in what I call “an old ladies tennis group” every week. These are lifelines for me. At tennis this week we talked about Statins, laughed ourselves silly at our common infirmities, and then hit the ball. The best player in our group is in her 80’s. When I think of being sad in our 70’s I think the best medicine is “gathering together.” I hope I don’t sound too preachy; I hope this is helpful BellaMia.

  13. Donna McNally says:

    I just came across this site and it sounded so inspiring. I will be turning 70 the end of this year and always saw myself as a beginning baby boomer. It seemed to me that whatever obstacle I went thru, many people went thru it shortly after me. Now I am approaching 70 and I feel like I am drifting and need some new guidelines.

    Donna

  14. terri ziets says:

    this blog assures me that my intention to reinvent myself is not extravagant or an exercise in futility. “the best is yet to come and babe, won’t it be fine?”

    bring it on.

  15. I was trained….in my early years..as a trappers daughter. As an ..’only’..my father simply chose..to train what he had..moi. The years camping, and family hiking..in the forests of Oregon..simply..interwove..what I was, who..I was..with the grasses, trees, and rocks..around me. Their life..was my life, and..even a rock..was simply..energy..gone still. I watched..my schoolmates..from elem. through college. Have been a teacher, artist and counselor. A wife, a mother and a cancer survivor. My mother..gave me..the directions for a..happy aging..when I was still a pup. ALWAYS..say your age..and ..allow others..to admire it. I am 78..and a half now. ina puustinen-westerholm

  16. Donna Ferreira says:

    I just found this site. What a wonderful thing. My seventy candles came three years ago. I must be honest. Poor health has become a reality to me, but I am determined to continue on. If I remain near my family, keep friends around me, have thankfulness for the simple joys of life.

    I hope I have found a multitude of friends here today!

    • Blog Mavens says:

      Donna,
      Welcome to 70Candles!
      In spite of health issues, you have a positive attitude that will, indeed, carry you forward. Family, friends and gratitude are important ingredients for well-being.
      You are an inspiration to others.

      Our best wishes,
      Jane and Ellen

  17. Laura Vinton says:

    Laura Vinton:

    While starting my day one Saturday morn’
    “What shall I do to “ward off” forlorn?”
    I pulled up this site and read for a while.
    Some posts made me sad and some made me smile.
    But they all were reflections of our stage of life: coping with changes, dealing with strife.
    Written by women seeking to be
    healthy and happy, fulfilled and “age free”
    Yes, 70 candles can often give one a fright but, collectively,
    let’s try to turn “fright” to “bright”.

  18. ina puustinen-westerholm says:

    Two months away from becoming 80 now..see a former post..about being 78..it occurs to me..that I never have felt bored or ..’alone’.
    If it helps..i am not a religious person..but drew all my energy..from the study of the wild life, the plant world, winged things..moving through this world. In my early 30s..i had to have a back surgery..took me one full year to heal. For that time..with 2 young sons to raise..it was a long time..lying flat..on beds/sofa..while the 2 yr. old and the 4 and a half year old..moved around me, and the 2 mothers..in our family..cared for them. Husband was a teacher. Have surgery..to remove the broken disc..or live the rest of my life in a wheel chair. Grabbed the toothbrush..so to speak..and away we went. 15 min. per 24 hours..to be UP. Toileting..or standing for some meal time. One year on..we had made the healing.
    Skipping to..the cancer..almost 7 years ago. Boom baby boom..there it was, right breast and stage 4..just out of nowhere. 3 months..says the team of oncologists..period. No covering by insurance..because..there was NOT..enough time for any treatments..to stop the illness. Ok..write the stories..on the back of photos..and ask the dr. to try a..lab rat situation. I am also a teacher. Use my 3 months to test something..they needed to learn about..but..3 months might add to their news. Damned if I am not here..still, almost 7 years later. No chem nor radiation. They tried..zometia.
    Will go out and hike in a 50 acre neighboring field..with my newfy..this morning. So..i swear it is possible to stare down..ANY sense of sad/bitter/aloneness..by..telling yourself..to do something..right then..and..divert oneself. Find..newness. For me..it was starting knee therapy, about 5 weeks ago..to breakloose the arthritis..scar tissue..in my knee. Just old age..not any huge problem. When I now hike..i ‘allow myself to feel the pain..maybe a 3 or so..but..keep on striding. I have managed..in the midway point of therapy/treatments..to wrench this sucker..back into the better alignment.
    Think of yourself..as a ..lincolon log set. Use the ‘debris’..of the body-health you have now..to..redesign. Simple..and it is a hoot..oftimes..during any day..trust me!@

  19. Carol says:

    Hi, I’m glad I found this site and have spent a little time this morning reading through some of the comments. I put it in my favorites and will come back. But I just wanted to say I am feeling rather invisible and lonely at the age of 70. I have had so much loss in the past five years and I have so much more loss to face that I find myself sad allot. I have spent my life trying to stay positive and flourish amongst all odds against me but never wanting to give up. I am a women of faith but I even dought that lately. I can’t figure out if this is permanent feeling for me or if it is just that I have been through so much heartbreak lately that I can’t see the forest for the trees. I find myself the happiest when I am alone. I feel like my spirit is broken and can not be fixed as I have become very cynical. I pray this is just temporary but I almost feel that this is my life now and I must accept it. Thank you for listening. Carol

    • Blog Mavens says:

      Dear Carol,

      Thank you for sharing your sadness and your loneliness. I describe myself as a “positive psychologist,” which is all about life satisfaction and thriving. But life throws curves, and it sounds like you’ve received more than your share in the last five years. The last thing I want to say to you is “cheer up.” What terrible advice that would be. What I want to offer instead is appreciation–that you write beautifully, that you are real, that you speak your truth. I hope you keep writing and sharing when you’re moved to do so. I’m also a big believer in mental health counseling–for everyone–but that’s a bias of mine, and I realize not everyone is so inclined. You might find it comforting.
      Thank you again for contributing to our blog.
      Ellen

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