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 | 41 Comments

Embracing uncertainty

Amy Bryant, Age 81

Like many of you in the 70Candles generation, I grew up in an era of certainty. Graduate from high school, and college (if affordable), get married, be capable of working (but preferably spend several years as a stay-at-home mom), get a fulfilling job once the kids are older, relax into retirement, and live happily ever after. With the exception of heart attack, cancer or stroke, which we didn’t plan, but were not unheard of, if we played by the rules of our families, our religions, and our society, we pretty much controlled our own destiny.

Enter Covid-19, an outside enemy who didn’t care about our rules, let alone our plans; and who struck without warning, sparing no cultural group and ultimately, no age group. We 70 candle ladies (plus those of us who have graduated into 80 candles), were suddenly at risk. At any moment, we could breathe in the little covid monsters, end up on a ventilator, and perhaps die without warning.

We listened to the experts, wore masks, stayed away from crowds, stopped traveling, and the only restaurants we frequented had outdoor seating. We followed the experts who, themselves were caught up in a learning curve, so their advice shifted from time to time. All this added up to something our generation was unprepared for: uncertainty.
Can we attend our grandson’s bar mitzvah? Is it safe to go to our granddaughter’s first communion? Is it even ok to hug and kiss our grandkids?

We vaccinate to save our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, but how safe are we with breakthroughs overriding vaccinations, not to mention new strains? As the pandemic has lingered, I notice that telephone visits with friends in my age group have shifted. What used to be an interchange of the good things in our lives, now focuses on long drawn-out descriptions of physical complaints, followed by the doom of covid or politics.
Uncertainty is new for our generation, but many of us are descendants of people who lived through, and survived uncertainty, be it the slave ships, the Holocaust, or abject poverty in their homelands that they fled.

I’ve made a choice not to obsess about uncertainty. My first prayer for the day, is:
“God, give me something for which to be joyful today.”
Then I make it my business to go looking for that something throughout the day. I’ve limited my daily news watching to one half hour, enough to keep me informed, but not enough to feed agitation and hopelessness. And I’ve switched away from the cable news programs that focus more on editorial commentary. My local channel gives me the facts, and I form my own commentary.

I make sure to go outside every day. Luckily, living in in a warm locale with enough open space, I have plenty of safe unmasked time. I have found socially distancing exercise classes, keeping my endorphins flowing, along with much-needed human contact within the six-foot boundaries of safety.
In the past, I was always one for planning ahead, for setting goals, and striving. I find that the luxury of retirement allows me to look at each day as a separate entity unto itself. My mantra
“I am open and receptive for all that I need to know today.”
I’m delving into the calming effects of Yoga breath work, and neuroscience techniques of bringing calmness to the brain.

I find stability in the familiar routines that I now define as rituals: morning prayer/meditation, household chores –nurturing my home; making a ceremony out of mealtime—either in a restaurant or at home; family visits electronically, or in person when possible.
I look back on my ancestors who endured uncertainty, and call forth the strength in my DNA, embracing uncertainty with hope.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Goals ahead, Gratitude and Spirituality, Inspiration as we age, Looking ahead, Resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sit back and enjoy the ride

Jane Hallowell, Almost 72

I tend to freak out when I am creating something. My recent pottery class — case in point.

I just started a six-week hand-building session this past spring at almost age 72 after not doing any pottery for the past 20 years. The class was a small one of five students, three of whom had been taking with this same teacher for the past several years. The other was a woman from India, an engineer, in her 30s, who had never done pottery before.

And what a difference these past 20 years has made for me! Just to wedge the clay alone to get out all the air bubbles took strength that I no longer had. Also, the table wasn’t low enough. Trying to get the right angle to knead the clay is extremely difficult when the table is too high. In fact, this was so strenuous, I took a 1.5 hour nap when I got home after that first class.

Anyway, the reason why I decided to go back to pottery was because I wanted a nice container to house my Dad’s ashes. He had donated his body to science when he died, and a couple of years after he passed, they were returned to me in a depressing-looking box.

I looked online for an urn that I thought my Dad might like, but they all looked so “urn-like.” They were also as costly as $350, and I know Dad would not have been happy to spend so much money, frugal Thoreauvian that he was.

Dad used to love the crazy things I had made out of pottery in years past, so I thought I would make the urn/container myself.

I found an example online that I wanted to use as a prototype. My pottery teacher liked it so much, she chose it as the project for the class. My three seasoned classmates chose different projects to work on, and the engineer and I were the only students who decided to make this piece.

I soon discovered that I had a really hard time processing the detailed instructions for assembling the clay sections. The engineer grasped everything instantly. I was faced with facing the fact that not only had I aged physically, was I aging mentally as well? The freak-out process had started. In fact, during the six-week class session, I was only able to make this one piece, yet the engineer made many others. And she had never even taken pottery before! Not to mention…her pieces looked so precise, and mine looked rough, clumsy, and crude.

The last session where we were glazing our creations was just about the last straw. I had “thrown” my back out during the past week and was struggling in pain. The teacher forgot to have me glaze my piece the color I had requested, and so I just accepted another color she had out and available. Every little movement involved pain because of my back. I was feeling like a demented, useless elderly person.

Needless to say, I left class that day feeling really down and like a total loser.

Thankfully, my back got better, and was fine by the next week’s session. I went to pick up my finished piece, and lo and behold, it turned out beautifully. Granted, it was crude, which I like, but it expressed passion. All the love I put into it was reflected in the final product. And I noticed that the engineer’s pieces weren’t any more special than mine after all…not to mention the fact that the trivets she made had warped in the kiln.

I am using this first piece to store my Nespresso coffee pods. This was the practice piece anyway.

The final piece, engraved with my Dad’s initials and dates, is waiting to be glazed. I sure hope it expresses even more passion than what I just made.

The bottom line is that what started out to be a challenging situation and my feeling so bad and incompetent resulted in something surprisingly positive and exuding in love.

The message? If you become frustrated and upset while creating something in old age, don’t get sucked into negative thinking. Sit back and enjoy the ride, no matter how bumpy along the way. You just may be surprised at the outcome.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Attitudes about aging, Share your story | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Jane Brody on her milestone 80th birthday

Jane Brody Birthday Milestone: 80! – The New York Times 5/18/21, 11:08 AM

A Birthday Milestone: Turning 80!
The secret to a happy and vibrant old age? Strive to do what you love for as long as you can do it.

By Jane E. Brody
May 17, 2021

When a 50ish woman at my Y learned that I was about to turn 80, she exclaimed, “80 is the new 60, and you set a great example for the rest of us!”

At least, I’m in good company:
Dr. Anthony Fauci, national infectious disease guru, is five months my senior, sharp as a tack even under withering political fire;
Nancy Pelosi, 81-year-old Speaker of the House, also stands up well against fierce opposition;
Anthony Hopkins, 83, Oscar winner for “The Silence of the Lambs” and a frequent nominee, won again this year for “The Father”;
Morgan Freeman, also 83, acts with a voice of distinction bested only by his formidable talent. He has four upcoming movies and a TV series.
Bernie Sanders, former presidential hopeful who will be 80 in September, remains a force to be reckoned with in the U.S. Senate;
Paul Simon, a month younger than Mr. Sanders, has won 12 Grammys as a singer and songwriter in a now six-decade career. He recently sold his songwriting catalog to Sony for around $250 million.)
The list goes on. As my late husband, who didn’t make it to that milestone, would have said, “80 — not a record, but not a bad average.”

Indeed, many have done far better. Every day I read or hear about folks in their 90s who are still remarkably active and productive. Check out this recent feature in The Times on the indefatigable architect Frank Gehry. At 92, his latest project is a spectacular development in downtown Los Angeles. When asked if he’d consider retiring, he replied, “What would I do? I enjoy this stuff.”

That to me is the secret of a happy, vibrant old age: Strive to do what you love for as long as you can do it. If the vicissitudes of life or infirmities of age preclude a preferred activity, modify it or substitute another. I can no longer safely skate, ski or play tennis, but I can still bike, hike and swim. I consider daily physical activity to be as important as eating and sleeping. I accept no excuses. And, as you can see, I still write, although it often takes me longer than it used to. In my job as a health columnist, I’m paid to be continually educated and inspired by the research and interviews I do for my weekly column. They keep my brain and spirit alive. And when a word or its spelling eludes me, there’s Google and my editors to fill in the gaps.

The cohort of Americans who have lived for eight or more decades is rising steadily and projected to grow faster than the cohort of youngsters under 18 for at least the next 40 years. In fact, as more of us in the late decades of life continue to thrive, morbidity and mortality were rising among middle-aged men and women even before the pandemic. The average newborn today is not expected to make it to 80, thanks largely to poor diet and exercise and rising obesity.

Assuming most people would opt for a long and fulfilling life, Nature permitting, what does this take? What accounts for the growing number of octogenarians and beyond who are accomplished and still accomplishing?
Many clues have emerged during my decades of reporting on health. I’ve already alluded to the importance of regular physical activity, which supports a healthy brain and body. Assuming you don’t smoke, which was my husband’s undoing, Nature will usually take pretty good care of you for about half a century. Thereafter, it’s up to you.

Without regular exercise, you can expect to experience a loss of muscle strength and endurance, coordination and balance, flexibility and mobility, bone strength and cardiovascular and respiratory function. In other words, a sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for chronic disease and decline.
Abandon all excuses, as Todd Balf did after he became partially paralyzed following spinal surgery for cancer. Though he had long shunned being immersed in water, with a physical therapist as coach, he finally took the plunge and discovered that swimming back and forth in a pool buoyed both his body and soul.

Of course, like any machine, to maintain peak levels of activity the human body requires quality fuel. Growing up, most of us who are now 80 and beyond were largely spared the plethora of ultra-processed foods that now line the shelves of every grocery. My father, the family food shopper, was a big fan of oatmeal and shredded wheat, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eating out was an occasional treat (and for me, still is). Most meals were prepared and eaten family style at home. Fast foods? Maybe a hot dog when we biked miles to Coney Island or celebrated my birthday at a Brooklyn Dodgers game. I was in my early 20s when McDonalds ballyhooed that it had just sold 600,000 burgers! (The company stopped counting in 1994, after it hit 99 billion burgers served.)

But exercise and nutrition are not enough. Studies suggest that motivation, attitude and perspective are equally important to a long, healthy and fulfilling life. I was still in high school when my mother died of cancer at age 49, and her premature loss became a lesson for me to live each day as if it’s my last with a keen eye on the future in case it’s not.
I entered college with plans to become a biochemist and discover lifesaving clues to cancer. But I found working in a laboratory boring and isolating, and in my junior year realized my true love was learning what others discovered and communicating that information to the public. So I married biochemistry with journalism, pursued a fulfilling career in science writing focused on personal and public health and, like a horse with blinders, never looked back.

My advice to students: Try to combine your passion with your talent and you’ll have the best shot at a rich and rewarding career. I also recommend choosing a supportive life partner who’s willing to share the mundane tasks of daily life and step up for extra duty when needed.

Having been raised to save, all my life I’ve shopped sales and bargains and parlayed the monetary rewards into scholarships for deserving students and fabulous nature, hiking and cycling trips for me, family and friends.
Have I any regrets? I regret taking French instead of Spanish in high school and I keep trying to learn the latter, a far more practical language, on my own. I regret that I never learned to speed-read; whether for work or leisure, I read slowly, as if everything in print is a complex scientific text. Although I’d visited all seven continents before I turned 50, I never got to see the orangutans in their native Borneo or the gorillas in Rwanda. But I’m content now to see them up close on public television.

If and when I finally retire, I’d like to work as a volunteer with young children. They lighten my step, warm my heart and enrich my soul. Their joie de vivre and innate curiosity foster hope that the world of the future will be a better one.

Jane Brody is the Personal Health columnist, a position she has held since 1976.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Goals ahead, Inspiration as we age, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Turning 80 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye 70 Candles, Hello 80

Ellen, Age 80

I turned 80 18 days ago, on March 10, 2021, which means I have officially reached my ninth decade. No big deal, you say? I don’t think of myself as a particularly reflective person; I’m more of a doer—always busy, even during Covid, still employed, many projects. But there is something different about 80. Even in only 18 days, I think about death now…not my own, for some reason…but the death of my loved ones, my friends, and particularly my husband’s. He is also 80—a healthy and robust 80 year old who hikes and bikes and just finished writing a book about Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath. He talks about things like artificial intelligence and dark matter and the movement of the sun and moon—topics I consider more or less above my pay grade, but topics that suggest a very good brain. So why does my brain turn to his death now that I’m 80? Because I know the stats. Because I look around and see how many age-mates have lost their spouses. I swear I just about never, maybe never at all, thought about the possibility of widowhood until 18 days ago.
What else feels different now? It’s hard to separate what’s Covid/quarantine-related, and what’s age related, so for now I’ll leave it at that: the dread of losing my husband, of a life without the guy I laugh with every day. And what will I do about this? I will cherish the present and be grateful for what I have now; I will indulge in nostalgia; I will continue to plan for our future together. And I will laugh at myself. I just ordered Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying, by Sallie Tisdale, recommended by a psychologist pal who knows me well. And I’ll probably start a new research project on this new decade to see how others are doing!!

Posted in 70candles, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Death and dying, Family matters, HUMOR, Looking ahead, Men aging, Nostalgia, Sad about aging, Widows’ choices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A change in attitude

Author unknown

A woman who has crossed 70 & is heading towards 80 was asked what sort of changes she is feeling in herself. She sent the following:

1 After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children and my friends, I have now started loving myself.

2 I have realized that I am not “Atlas”. The world does not rest on my shoulders.

3 I have stopped bargaining with vegetable & fruit vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor fellow save for his daughter’s school fees.

4 I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She is toiling much harder for a living than I am.

5 I stopped telling the elderly that they’ve already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.

6 I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.

7 I give compliments freely & generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient, but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment, never, NEVER turn it down, just say “Thank You.”

8 I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.

9 I walk away from people who don’t value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.

10 I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat & neither am I in any race.

11 I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.

12 I have learned that it’s better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas with relationships, I will never be alone.

13 I have learned to live each day as if it’s the last. After all, it might be the last.

14 I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!

Why do we have to wait to be 60 or 70 or 80, why can’t we practice this at any stage and age?

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Attitudes about aging, Gratitude and Spirituality, Resilience | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Broken, Not Defeated

Amy Bryant, Age 80

“Amy, at our age we can’t be doing what we did when we were younger. We have to slow down.”
“Say what!”

I had just told my friend that I was recovering from surgery on a shattered wrist, resulting from a tennis accident, and right away she jumped to the age factor.

Like many of us who became fans of 70 Candles in our seventies, I now light 80 candles on my cake.
Prior to the mishap, I was a lively ol’ gal. Zumba three times a week, tennis three times a week, walking a mile a day in one of Florida’s parks, trails, or bayside streets, and dancing in the club once or twice a week. That makes six active days. On the seventh, I went down to the local resort, stretched out poolside in the sun with a glass of wine, and luxuriated with a free conscience.

Our family is no stranger to broken bones. My daughter’s broken arm at 10 while skating. my grandson’s broken finger at 20 while rock climbing, and then my other daughter’s broken hand at 49 while skiing. Funny, there was no mention of an age factor when evaluating their breaks. Nobody cautioned, you’re ten, be careful, you’re 20 slow down, you’re 49 best find a more passive activity. We’re an athletic family and broken bones come from being athletic at any age.

When I turned 70, I followed the role model and the advice of my mother, make younger friends. About a third of my friends are my age. The rest are in their fifties to mid-sixties. So when they heard of my mishap, their responses were: “You’ve got this, Amy.” “You’re a rock star.” “You’ll be back on the courts in no time.” “Your arm may be broken, but not your spirit.”

Don’t feel sorry for me with my broken bones. Remember:
I’m an 80-year-old athlete . . . and a rock star! I’ll see you on the court.

Posted in 70candles, Attitudes about aging, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Stories | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Seasons Greetings!

Seasons Greetings to all of you in our 70Candles community!

Ellen and I greatly appreciate and send all our best wishes to you who have been with us for so many years, and to those we continue to welcome as new subscribers to 70Candles.com. We value the thoughtful and heartfelt conversations that continue on this blog as you help and support each other through challenges …and joys.

This year of the COVID-19 pandemic and political turmoil is about to end. The virus remains a threat, there’s no hugging as we stay masked, but the new vaccines offer a ray of hope that we will eventually see the end of this epidemic. Many have suffered illness, loss, loneliness and depression. We hope you are all well and safe.

As we look forward to better health, and more kindness and sanity in the world in the New Year ahead, let’s take a moment to look back on the sometimes bleak days of 2020. Let‘s recall what helped us most to endure and carry on to reach this day. Were there some small pleasures, nice surprises, treasured moments you can share?

I recently Zoomed with a group of very old friends, and was amazed to hear several describe their confinement in positive terms. Some who retreated to country or remote woodland homes considered the time with their significant other there unlike any spent previously. They had had busy high powered careers, with little extended down time together. For them, this isolation was an unexpected gift, even a second honeymoon.

As I look back, I count small moments and what ordinarily would be minor changes, as the positive high points for me. My college age grandson and granddaughter each have come by for wonderfully heartwarming chats at our front stoop, when they’ve been home. I feel so fortunate to be part of their lives.

I’ve continued with acrylic painting and find the hours doing that to be pleasantly distracting, calming and even meditative. Frequent walks outdoors have similar benefit.

A triumph over six months of slow progress…our primary shower is finally useable once more. Leak cured, repairs made, and as a bonus, a new double shower head and a tall unframed glass door. Showering has become a special daily pleasure!

I hope to continue to stay in touch with friends, and will try to notice whatever small moments improve my mood as we enter 2021.

As you think back on 2020, what were some of your best experiences?
Let’s share those here. I think we’d all welcome new ideas to boost our spirits and enhance our well being in the days to come.

May the New Year ahead be a better one for us all.

A toast to 2021!

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Goals ahead, Gratitude and Spirituality, Looking ahead, Older women connecting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On turning 72

Anonymous, Age 72

There has always been something about older people that drew me to them. Perhaps it was their perspective, their stories of a simpler time. I love storytelling so I was an instant student.

I studied gerontology in college, got certified in the field and worked in elder care for a while attending graduate school at night. While I loved working in that field, the corporate side was not for me. I segued into a variety of things including a private geriatric care manager, managed a political campaign, working for a watershed and substitute teaching among others.

Fulfilling a lifetime dream after my divorce in 1999, I moved to the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. I lived on the side of a mountain in the woods for seventeen years. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Living among nature, seeing red wolf, bobcat, coyote and fox in my yard was breathtaking. Hiking, taking flying lessons, exploring watercolors again was invigorating. Living in a small town where “everybody knows your name” fit me to a tee.

Just before I turned seventy, I knew it was time to move closer to family. My daughter was living in Maine so I sold my beloved mountain home and came here. It was a huge adjustment moving to a city, although I was fortunate to find a home surrounded by woods at its outskirts. There are deer, turkeys, coyotes, fox in my yard often. I am grateful.

I had just been in Maine a year when Covid-19 began. It has not been easy to meet people here, to find my group, although my years living solo in the mountains has been invaluable training for these isolating times.

Just over a month ago my daughter, her four year old and the seventy-five pound dog moved in with me. She is going through a divorce. My home here is small by choice. Grateful to be able to welcome my family, this has been a huge adjustment for me. It isn’t just the daily volume of dog hair from the sweetest canine, or the melt downs children go through so often today as much as it is loss of privacy and the quiet to which I became accustomed after my own divorce. In fact, I loved living with self. I never felt alone. Maybe it was the Reiki training, the certification in mindfulness meditation and the years I taught it. It was that act of moving from a fast paced life to one of simplicity, quietude, inner resolve that forever changed me.

I struggle to find the simplicity now, the inner peace. While I know peace is always within oneself, the distractions are huge. In time, I will work this through. At the same time, they will be looking for their own home and I will miss them terribly. It is a paradox and I am glad to find humor in it.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Family matters, Grandparenting, Resilience, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

This second call

Sandi Peters, Age 71

For much of my professional life, I have worked with older people. At 71, I think I should know what the 70ies are about. In fact, I frequently surprise myself. Looking back, I realize that many of the oldsters I’ve worked with had various physical and/or mental challenges. Those who were vibrant had no need for my services. Therefore, I have not had a great deal of exposure to healthy aging.

This is not to say that I have not experienced compromised elders who were alive inside. Despite infirmity, older adults have taught me much of what I know about dealing with old age, sickness and death. Without their wisdom and resilience, it is unlikely I would have written my recent book. Their lived experiences and C.G. Jung’s psychology have mapped the terrain for those times when life demands a reckoning.

So, here I am at 71, finding an enthusiasm and adventurousness that I would normally associate with young adulthood. Yes, there are some physical limitations…I have compromised lungs and a bad knee, yet these are merely conditions I have to find ways of working around.

Last November I traveled to Morocco. I used a volunteer site called WorkAway – mostly for young people – that offers opportunities to work in exchange for room and board. I am not a good traveler; in fact, I dislike traveling, and traveling so far solo was the last thing I wanted to do. Yet, I wanted to go back to Morocco, a country that had captured my heart at 21 years of age and again at 66. I attribute my stamina and ability to undertake this unwanted travel experience to years of meditation practice which has taught me how to connect my feet with the earth and ground my terrified mind. I attribute the desire to return to Morocco to knowing that I am going to die and I can no longer put off what calls me in the present.

Once in Morocco I found myself living with young people – 20ies and 30ies – a novel experience for someone who had no children and spent her working life amongst oldsters. I never thought about what it might be like to find myself in the role of an elder. Nor did I anticipate the needs of an older body living in a Moroccan non-tourist environment. Houses without heat in the winter months, squat toilets, unreliable internet, intermittent water, and intense heat in the summer without air conditioning. Periodically, I found myself stepping out of my daily routine, and being stunned by how I was adapting to this situation. Where did this resilience come from? I barely recognized this person that was moving through her days with such grace and ease. I didn’t see myself as a so-called ‘exceptional’ elder, who undertook new adventure in the later years.

More and more I’m realizing that exceptionalism is not the property of ‘certain extraordinary elders’ but, in fact, is accessible to all of us. Those now in their 70ies are really the vanguard of a whole new approach to growing old. Like me, I imagine that many reading this blog may find themselves stymied by their thoughts about what they can do and what is possible. It requires stamina to push through these initial hesitations. The trick is paying attention to what quickens the heart, heeding the call, and letting it grow in strength until it is bigger than whatever fears and hesitations the mind puts in the way as obstacles. When that happens, a whole world opens up – a world that is not unlike the world of our youth.

Older age is often likened to second adolescence because we must start anew. In my book, I talk about the differences between the first and second half of life. C.G. Jung often said the second half of life cannot be lived with the values of the first half. Whatever values, goals, ambitions or dreams that brought us to this time of life need to be resifted. Some will be discarded and some refurbished. We find ourselves standing on a peak looking at a different valley and mountain. And just as in youth, a new vision, energy and grace becomes available. It feels magical and, it is! What do we want to do with this new life? This last call invites us to grow into who we are truly meant to be. The first call was conditioned by society, history, parents, fears, ambitions and many other factors. This second call must be devoid of all those incentives, inhibitions, and prohibitions. It is both exciting and scary, invigorating and enervating, demanding and sustaining. But it is ours in a way that nothing else we have done has been. It comes from the deepest layers of psyche and offers us this final opportunity to grow into ourselves. I am finding it astonishing, regenerative, engaging and exacting. I hope you are too.

Sandi Peters, MA, is the author of Aging with Agency: Building Resilience, Confronting Challenges and Negotiating Eldercare. She is currently exploring the possibility of building an elder community in Morocco. She can be reached at Sandi4eldercare@gmail.com.

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Attitudes about aging, Goals ahead, Inspiration as we age, Resilience, Traveling | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My story in life’s constant changes

Central, New Jersey, – Joyce, just turned 70

Just found your website as was looking for some perspective on hitting the big 70 and dealing with changes in my life again. Sure not where I thought I would be at this time. But enjoy your blog and ordered your book today. At times you feel alone, even with people around you.

Well, turned 70 this year and find my life this year really turned around. Last time this year my apartment flooded out again and this time it was bad. The complex was taking so long to fix the place and I got sick from it all and thanks to a very good friend of mine, she offered me her upstairs to live in. So with my cat Oscar, I moved in with her and her dog Shyla.

After many years living on my own after a divorce it was quite the adjustment. Lucky we both get along well and have many of the same interests. We had worked together for 14 years and then kept in touch. Even so, it has been a work in progress and once again I downsized some more to live in two rooms.

I have no trouble downsizing as I have done so several times in my life. I find changes nice as it gives a fresh breath to move on. Aging never bothered me as I always knew it would happen, so just never let it bother me. O.K. So the body sure does let me know it is in charge. Ah, what I did when young no longer applies. But this year for some reason I find I feel different about myself.

As I have lost all my family over past few years, living with my friend, and her daughter and husband who live near by, helps me not feel totally alone, but I feel like I am losing myself. If that makes sense.

The biggest change has been with the covid-19, as I have been retired for a few years and was in book clubs at the library, volunteer at a dog rescue and tried to get out and go to events of interest. Now, that has been put on hold. I find I feel at times like I am losing myself. I was always involved in something or other but this time I look and many friends are gone and my large family I came from is gone. Many within the past two years. So I feel a little adrift. If not for living here I would be depressed, but thanks to my friend we try to keep busy. I helped take care of her sick dog Shyla, until she passed and now we have a younger Golden and have had to get her used to my cat. Well no worries, at 4 yrs old she is scared of my 15 yr. old cat, so that works well. (Smile)

I have always worked on the premise that “Life is a Journey, not a guided tour” so just go with it. So here I am trying to adjust my life again as for many a time in the past, and hope it falls back into place in the near future. The body yes has its issues, but I feel my soul has lost something and not sure how to get it back.

Your blog helps me see how others cope and adjust to changes, so glad to have found it. I find it hard to find someone to talk about issues we deal with as we get older. So this was nice to find your site, so thank you for creating it.

Joyce Pearce

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Dealing with loss, Family matters, Loneliness, Older women connecting, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments