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 | 40 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 , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Technophobe in action

Launching a Book During a Pandemic Is No Walk in the Park

by Barbara Greenleaf, Age 78

With all the other barriers to drawing attention to a new title—the million other books on Amazon, general information overload, and the November elections, to name just three—I am now contending with stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. With no bookstores, club meetings, or face-to-face interactions of any kind to help me get out the word about my latest effort, Parents of Adult Children: You Are Not Alone, I have to rely completely on technology. The is the kiss of death for a technophobe such as I. 

Technophobes are born, not made, and I am one of those who was born technologically challenged.How challenged am I? Well, I have to summon my husband to turn on the TV because I can never figure out which gizmo brings in cable, which one turns on Pandora, and which one probably could blow up a battleship. 

​As another case in point, several years ago I took a full-time job at a local university. I felt like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle who had gone to sleep in the age of the Selectric typewriter and pink “While you were out” slips and woke up to a world full of sophisticated software. The university put me through an intensive orientation to familiarize me with the school’s donor-tracking system, which consisted of an elaborate set of numbers and codes.  I botched it every time. The university finally threw in the towel and gave me an assistant to do my inputting for me.

​How I wish I had that assistant now! I’ve read Facebook for DummiesFacebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies, and Social Media Marketing for Dummies. My college degree and seven other books notwithstanding, I am still a dummy. Yet I soldier on. To debut Parents of Adult Children in the age of COVID-19, I’m learning how to make shortvideos on my computer (while trying hard to ignore the fact that the camera is not kind to people of a certain age). I’m gingerly feeling my way around LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For five minutes I thought I’d have to create content for TikTok and K-Pop, too, but then I saw that their audience was only 12 years old. Whew!  I’m also learning that the social media beast demands constant feeding in the form of posts, links, likes, tags, and follows. Indeed, some days my fingers seem to belocked in the thumbs’ up position. For the record, I am not now nor ever will be “trending,” but, hey, at least I’m in the game.

Am I fit to live in the virtual world? Tune into my free, one-hour book launch party on Thursday, August 6th, at 11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern time, and let me know. You’ll be joined by a cast of thousands–in the control booth to avert one of my disasters. Or is that in the cloud? Register here: 

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pNiINz-mRACuORyKsp5d2g

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Parenting, Stories, Technology and contemporary culture | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Arianna Huffington turns 70!

As posted on Instagram
Posted in Stories | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

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Jane turns 80

This bears practicing.

It’s been ten years since Ellen and I started this blog as a way to ease ourselves into our 70’s. Now here I am 80 years old. 

On the day of my birthday, July 3rd, my grown children and grandchildren who live not far away, brought gifts and cheer to my front stoop and decorated our doorway for all to see.

I felt well loved and celebrated. 

But the best was yet to come. That evening we had nationwide Zoom gathering…people important in my life, from every era and geographical setting, all in the same space at the same time! It was a wonder of modern technology and of pandemic necessity. What a heartwarming experience that was, and  what memories were unfurled. The follow-up continues as many are continuing our conversations online.

Fireworks…on TV this pandemic year… began that night. I’ve always welcomed 4th of July festivities as a continuation of my day. 

I went through boxes and albums of archival photos as I created a montage for the Zoom event. More memories evoked, reminiscence in high gear. I thought about the people I’ve known and cared about and the impact each has had in my life. I looked forward to seeing them on screen that evening. 

I admit, the day before my birthday I felt rather anxious. As I pondered this approaching milestone, I imagined I was approaching a precipice that one could easily fall off…a flat earth with the end in sight. My usual anticipatory anxiety. The day of, that feeling morphed into excitement, about the celebration ahead. The day after, I relaxed as I saw it wasn’t a precipice after all but the same gentle slope I’d been use to.

I feel fortunate that I’ve had a good life, I’m near my family, and even as we hunker down to stay safe from COVID-19, I am well occupied and comfortable. I’m a little creaky when I start the day, but thankful any time nothing hurts badly. We’re at home, now in week 18 of sheltering from this world-wide medical crisis, but doing okay. I’ve gotten used to being the old and vulnerable ones, as neighbors, family and friends have kindly delivered food. It’s strange to be on the receiving end, but I’m appreciative and have found ways to reciprocate. My dear husband of 57 years now requires more of my care and attention, so being at home actually suits our current needs.

The world beyond appears unsafe, unsettled and unpredictable. I worry for young people deprived of their social networks, their expected education and the life they should be enjoying in high school and college. I feel bad for those who have lost jobs and livelihoods in an economy that appears doomed. I feel some terror at the rate at which this virus is spreading and about how long this might go on. I watch too much news and read too many newspapers. The outlook appears bleak.

To help myself feel better, I stay involved in political action from home. I keep exercising in Zoom classes, and painting in my Skype class. I float in the pool under the blue sky and beneath bright pink crape myrtle blossoms, I read and write and try to stay connected to people I love, by phone, FaceTime and Zoom. I listen to music. I knit hats. I wear bright colors, not black.

I do household tasks and even try to purge old work files and closets. This part is slow going, but I persist, gradually.

So on to my 9th decade. I wonder what my 80s will be like. I’ll try to make the best of each day in the time ahead.

July 3, 2020
Posted in Aging, Attitudes about aging, Family matters, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Men aging, Older women connecting, Stories | 20 Comments

A new era for me

Kathy, Age 70


I read about this website in the book “70 things to do when you turn 70”, a birthday gift from my sister. A birthday card from another friend said “I’m sorry you’re birthday was ruined by a global pandemic. It sort of was ruined. I had a beach trip planned with my daughters and their families which was cancelled. A celebration trip with my sister was cancelled. Birthday lunches with friends were cancelled. A family party was cancelled. I did not handle my self-imposed quarantine well. I drank and ate too much and binge-watched endless tv series. My disabled son, who lives in a group home, was in lock-down, and I couldn’t take him out for lunch and a walk like we always did.
I was dreading turning 70 and it was worse than I could have imagined. I feel terribly old, especially since I let myself get in worse shape in quarantine than I already was. However, I got the biggest birthday present of my life, a house!
Having thought about it for a couple of years, my daughter and I, along with her husband, bought a house together that had an apartment for me on its lower level. We moved in 3 weeks ago and now I enjoy life with my precious 7 year old grandson, my 24 year old grandson, and dinner each night with all of us together. It’s a new era for me. I can relax about trying to maintain my living space or worrying about being alone if my health fails. Mostly, though I love being part of my family!
I feel loved and have people around me to love, life is good.
Posted in Stories | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Curiosity about the new normal ahead

Ann Fox, Age 70


Hello Jane & Ellen,

First let me say I hope you’re both doing fine wherever you may be hunkered down.  I’m in central Ohio and am doing fine . . . this is just a long time to go without spending much time with real people . . . 

On to my curiosity.  I read ’70 Candles’ a couple of years ago now as preparation for becoming 70 last fall.  I was very intrigued by the last section of the book, the story of Nina and her life in the future.  I’m wondering just how far into the future your vision of Nina’s life takes us.  (I haven’t read Michio’s book yet.)  I can’t help but think if we were moving ahead faster with the robot/android technology, the load for front line workers during this virus pandemic might have been lessoned.  

I’m really looking forward to what changes in life will stick with us after we’ve been distanced for so long and will likely be distanced from strangers for a while longer.   Now that we’ve learned to “like” the way we look on camera courtesy of Zoom and Skype and now even Facebook has a new conferencing capability, will we not feel the urge to go out as much?  Will we get dressed even less often – i.e. want to be able to stay at home in our comfy pants rather than even put on jeans to go out?  Will we bring the restaurant to our house and have friends over for take-out nights?   Here in Ohio the restaurants can deliver mixed drinks with your order.  

Anyway, I was just wondering if in your mind the story of Nina was a 2030 vision or a 2040 vision?

Make it a great day!

Ann Fox

Longevity Coach, Explorer & Guide

afox2069@gmail.com

Aging is Living

Posted in Stories | 13 Comments

Hunkering down

What a strange development. All of us are at home….could be for weeks and weeks. Some will be ill, and some lives will be in danger. We send our thoughts and very best wishes to all, for your health.

Many hunkering down at home, while concerned about this pandemic and the people we love, will remain well. Oddly, this a great leveler for 70Candles women, as that which seems to differentiate us in ordinary times has to do with health status, mobility, and involvement in the world beyond our nests. What to do while we’re at home and not sick, to make the most of this new ocean of time?

Easy choices to start the day are the ever present meal prep, dishes and laundry routines. But what to follow? I thought I’d become restless, but lo and behold, a world of online options is opening daily. Beyond the TV movies I’ve always meant to see, are the newly emerging public streaming programs I can access on my iPad.

The Metropolitan Opera is streaming great performances nightly at Metopera.org. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is offering an outstanding concert each day at MyDSO.com. At Playbill.com Broadway shows can appear on my screen, My painting class, usually at a local Senior Center is converting to Skype, so we can work with our talented instructor from home, and my favorite exercise guru is setting up a private FaceBook group for a variety of video classes she’s creating. (I’m encouraging her to offer a set for women like us, so let me know if you’d be interested.)

The political activities I’ve been involved with during this important election year, can be advanced from home.

I promised myself I’d take a long walk each day, thinking that out in the fresh air is surely the safest place to be. And I speak on the phone to someone I like everyday.

It’s strange to be the old lady who needs help, but I do appreciate the neighbors and friends who have offered to shop for us when we need food. I’ve finally acknowledged that yes, I am in the vulnerable group of seniors who should stay out of stores.

How are you doing? Let us all know how you feel about this historical moment. How are you spending your time, and what are you thinking?

Maybe we can exchange ideas and offer some comfort to each other as we all travel through this almost unthinkable, world-wise disaster.
Jane


Posted in Stories | 18 Comments

I turned 70 in October and I am so unhappy.

Anonymous


My friends have died and my children wish I would die. I was a psychology Professor and retired 21 year ago. I live alone and can’t find things to do. School was my whole life but now they want younger people.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Aging, Death and dying, Loneliness, Sad about aging, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Sharing

Mary Ellen Age 70

I’m elated I’ve found this blog (or whatever they call it)! Hoping I will be able to participate and listen to all of our stories. Been searching (books, magazines, internet) for a long time as 70 was approaching. Exactly what I was hoping to find. Not so alone anymore.
Thank you!

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Networking, Older women connecting | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments