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 | 42 Comments

The Bathing Suit

Judi Meirowitz Tischler

Swimming is our Family Sport. My three kids love it as do their children. Some families bike, hike or play football together. We swim. My parents, brothers, and I grew up without much disposable income, swimming was a good choice, requiring no equipment other than proper swim attire. Even that can be improvised or dispensed with altogether.

We prefer lakes. Ocean is ok but too much to contend with especially the sand and the absence of shade. Pools, in the colder months are a poor substitute. We are not fond of chlorine and smelling like laundry. Swimming in a lake feels like an adventure, especially if an occasional fish glides by or tadpoles and frogs show up near the shore.

I traveled abroad in my 20’s. Having gotten her first passport, my mother joined me for a week. It was summer and of course in planning our time together we each packed a bathing suit.

Mom splurged and got an expensive one at an upscale New York Department Store. We rented a car and laid out a three-day road trip. Our goal was to see some countryside and to hit two lakes a day. Using a paper map, it was easy to see the lakes and their proximity to the roads. It went swimmingly. For the rest of my mother’s life, we fondly recalled our only vacation together as mother and daughter.

Not all swimming adventures go as smoothly.
In my 30’s I was married to a clergyman with a stodgy congregation.
I was the mother of a four-year old and we moved into our new community during a heat wave. The town’s tourist material boasted a lake.
Daughter in tow, I found what I would generously call a shallow swimming hole. It would have to do.

Into the water we went. We splashed around and played in the mud.
I had not yet been introduced to the congregation members but someone had spotted us. An emergency meeting of the Board of Directors was called. It was reported that the Pastor’s wife was seen at the lake in a green two -piece bathing suit. “We can’t have this level of immodesty representing our congregation”, was the rallying cry.

The item described was barely a two- piece: no cleavage, no belly button but two pieces nonetheless. This scandal followed me throughout my husband’s tenure. I heard that it was retold when considering his replacement years later.

Now in my 70’s, I live in an empty nest that is too large to maintain, but I have no plans to downsize. It is a three-minute walk from my front door to the lake. This summer I have been going early in the morning. A few other older ladies gather at that time. Confidently attired in our one-piece suits we grin and say: “Good Morning”. Gracefully someone steps forward to be the first. In she goes, up to her knees, then to her waist. Each in turn, we plunge beneath the surface and with a kick and a stroke emerge in the deep water. No one peers at us, no one reports us. We can float free and belly up, grateful for a beautiful day.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Attitudes about aging, Older women connecting, Our bodies, our health, Traveling | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Embracing Old Age

By Amy Bryant

“Oh, Amy, you don’t look your age. I would have taken you for _______ (here they insert a number 15 years younger than my number),” and I beam with pride over the compliment. We live in a youth-oriented society in which age-related compliments always refer to being young looking. Except, of course, when a gentleman calls you “young lady.” What he really means is, “I can see you’re an old broad, but I want to make you feel good.”

My grandmother was a plump old lady, who stood four feet eleven inches tall. She looked like the grandmothers in my storybooks. Gram didn’t mind being called plump or old, it was a revered part of her identity; a status that had been earned. I remember curling up in her lap, nestled against her big bosoms. She wrapped her fat arms around me with pride. Gram never heard of abs or triceps.

She did wear a corset, not the twenty first century lacy kind accompanied by stilettos. Hers had small metal strips called stays. The purpose was to hold the ample body in a bit to prevent jiggling. It’s what made it possible for her to eat the second piece of bread pudding, totally guilt free. She didn’t go to the gym. Her exercise consisted of cleaning an eight-room two story house, and walking up and down to the basement to do laundry, which was then hauled outdoors to dry on the line.

Somehow, plump elder pride skipped my generation. When I only had 70-plus candles, it was easy to keep up the youthful image. I really did look much younger than my age, and with boundless energy, I had no problem upholding the image. But now, with 80-plus candles on my cake, the image is more of a struggle. I have aches and pains, as well as hidden wrinkles, that were not present with 70 candles. As I talk with friends who are my 80 candle peers, I don’t want to be compelled to deny the aging process.

In years gone by, and in other parts of the world, there have been cultures that embrace the elder status. I would like the greater society to admire more than my youthfulness. How nice it would be for our society to honor my elder status.

Cultures that value old age tend to de-emphasize the physical aspects of aging, and to emphasize the values that they bring to the society. Recently, I was introduced to the concept of Blue Zones: countries such as Japan, Korea, India, and Greece. where it is not unusual for people to live until the age of 100, and where old age is honored. In Blue Zone countries, as well as traditional Native American and African cultures, old people are held in high esteem. They are revered for their wisdom (developed by their mistakes, as well as their successes), and their advice is welcomed. They are an integral part of the family, cared for by their adult children, and do not suffer from isolation. Old people are the storytellers, keepers of the family history passed down through the generations.
Our society is at a crossroads. On one hand, ageism portrays the elderly as sad, isolated, senile, wrinkled, and unattractive. By contrast, more and more older adults are pursuing healthy eating habits, fitness programs, and activities that challenge the intellect. Perhaps as we redefine the characteristics of old age, we’ll stop being afraid of using and identifying with the word old.

As I’ve examined my own viewpoint, I’m realizing that it’s not about keeping up a youthful physical image. Instead, I’m pleased when people express appreciation of my wisdom as a writer. Far from being isolated, I am blessed with a circle of friends across age, race and gender. My family is close and loving, and when I’ve been injured, they’ve rushed to look after me.

I realize that I’m feeling vitally alive and appreciated and as such, I live in my own Blue Zone. I don’t have to be afraid to use the taboo word, I can embrace my old age.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Gratitude and Spirituality, Inspiration as we age, Turning 80 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Testing – positive!

Susan

They say in time, everyone will have Covid. Grateful to be fully vaxxed and boostered. Grateful I have masked up and distanced for over two years. Wish everyone else did.

I imagine it was a tough policy decision unmasking the kids in school. It sure has raised the Covid incidence rate, especially in my family as we have no incidence of it before.

My granddaughter got it from school as her close classmates tested positive last week. Then everyone in the family got it but me. That is, until yesterday.

Fortunately, CVS has a Minute Clinic and the anti-viral prescription, Paxlovid, on hand. Not all pharmacies have this. Not all physicians are opened on weekends or even have on-call help these days.

Day two and I am starting my third dose tonight. It is a total of thirty pills, three in the morning, three at night for five days. The intense joint pain seems to be lessening along with my recent allergies. Prior to this, I recently had a few emergency procedures requiring surgery. So it has been two months of doc visits and now this. Now this!

I am grateful that I have a relatively mild case. Attributed to the vaccinations definitely.

One of the side effects of Paxlovid is blurred vision, a sense of being in the fog. Ditto on both. I am listening to a talk on the history and culture of Russia, with my eyes closed. No doubt, I will need to listen to it again because I can’t seem to stay awake long enough to grasp anything. (said laughing).

Please be careful out there!

Posted in 70candles, Health, Stories | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Zest, indeed!

Ellen Cole, Age 81

Just in time for her 81st birthday and in anticipation of her retirement from Russell Sage College where she is Professor of Psychology, The University of Pennsylvania published this interview with 70Candles’ Ellen.
Zest, indeed!

Dr. Ellen Cole (Master of Applied Positive Psychology ‘11) remembers the moment she learned about positive psychology. It was 1998, the year Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) founder Martin E. P. Seligman presented his vision for a new psychology in his presidential address at the American Psychological Association annual convention. Ellen, an established counseling psychologist and longtime APA member, was moved. “It was a turning point for me,” she recalls. “Psychologists had been very good at figuring out what’s wrong with people, but not so good at figuring out how to live fulfilling lives. I wondered, why hadn’t I thought of this?” More than ten years later, while writing a letter of recommendation for a friend and colleague who was applying for the MAPP program, Ellen decided to submit her own application as well. “It was a mission,” she says. “I just had to do it.”

Ellen was 69 years old when she started the program; she had already served as a professor and a dean as well as a sex therapist and sex educator. Yet she felt both challenged by the program—for example, while augmenting her qualitative research background with quantitative skills—and respected by its faculty. “I loved being a student in MAPP,” says Ellen. “It was extremely meaningful to me—still is. The staff is wonderfully warm and I’ve developed lifelong colleagues and friends.” Some of those colleagues include the friend for whom she had written the recommendation letter—they roomed together during the on-campus weekend intensives—as well as her service learning project team, whom she hosted at her home in Albany while they developed their plan to benefit a local school.

When Ellen began planning her capstone project, her 70th birthday was approaching, and she was drawn to the question of how to apply positive psychology principles to aging well. “Age is NOT just a number,” she explains. “Our decades bring different challenges, different rewards, and different expectations.” She interviewed a variety of women in their 70s to identify some of the experiences they had in common, despite differences in religion, region, and racial background. What she learned is that the women experienced different challenges as they aged depending on other aspects of their identities—for example, first-generation Mexican American women worried about their children losing touch with their culture, while Black women found that racism created more pressure on their lives than ageism. But across the groups, older women had similar questions about where to live and what role their jobs and grandchildren should play in their lives. With co-author Jane Giddan, Ellen then adapted her capstone into a book titled 70 Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, published in 2015.

After completing the MAPP program, Ellen has found other pathways to bring positive psychology principles into her work. She reads applications in the MAPP admissions process and incorporates tools such as the character strength assessment into her classroom at Russell Sage College. She published another book exploring aging and quality of life: Older Women Who Work: Resilience, Choice, and Change (2021). She has given talks on topics such as “aging in the right place for you,” an acknowledgment that different aging adults will have different needs in regard to residential living or remaining at home.

Even as she prepares to transition out of her university role—”I hate the word retire,” she adds, “I’m not going to bed!”—she continues to reflect on strategies for older adults to age positively. “Number one is to gather together. Don’t isolate, find your age mates,” she advises. “Number two is gratitude. Staying active is really important. And have pride in who you are! Don’t ever apologize for being 70… or 80… or 90. Honor who we are and love our wrinkles.”

“My number one signature strength is zest,” she says, in regard to her own plans. “I will honor that. I have a million things to do.”

Posted in 70candles, Attitudes about aging, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Older women connecting, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Season’s Greetings 2021

Hello from Ellen.

I am starting this way because our holiday greeting has in past years been written by Jane. We are a close team. We have been besties since we were 14, across many state lines as our lives have changed. This year it’s my turn.

I will begin as Jane has in years past: “We 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 we help and support each other through challenges…and joys.”
YES WE DO!

Last year at this time Jane continued “This year of the COVID-19 pandemic and political turmoil is about to end. The virus remains a threat…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.” I feel demoralized as I think how little has changed. Yes, vaccines, boosters, and home tests are here, thank goodness. But everyone I know is in a dither at this moment about how to have a safe and simultaneously happy holiday season. The headline in this morning’s New York Times is this: Good morning. Ready to give up on Covid? Spare a moment to think about older people. The article presents facts about how much more vulnerable to the impact of Covid people are over the age of 75, vulnerable even to death, even if they are vaccinated and boosted. One study reports the risk of death for women who have been vaccinated and still contract Covid is .45%…very small but very real. And we all know how much more dreadful the stats are for those who, for whatever unsound reason, remain unvaccinated.

Yet…this cannot, must not, dictate the entirety of our lives. My husband and I are uncertain about whether to attend Christmas dinner with nine members of our large family. It’s two days from now, and we continue to dither. And then do we get on a plane and visit close friends for New Year’s Eve as we’ve done for decades—except for last year, of course?
This has been life in 2021 for most of us. Weighing risks and benefits, feeling uneasy about any and all decisions. Dealing with a possibly even escalating political divide in the US that none of us has seen before. And it looks like 2022 will be more of the same.

So what can we do? First is to hope that the newly approved but not yet available Pfizer and Merck pills will live up to expectations. Stay as safe as we can but not sacrifice unbearably (yes we will go to our son’s for Christmas dinner; yes we will travel for New Year’s Eve—maybe). Figure out for ourselves how to address the political climate. Personally I will volunteer at the polls next year, send donations however small to candidates I respect, and continue to stay informed. I am entering my final semester of work, work I love (I am a college professor), but I’ll be 81 in less than three months, and it’s time to pass the baton. I want to savor every moment I have left of a fulfilling career, and then will see what comes next.

And what else? Three things come to mind, and I kinda-sorta see this as advice to myself and perhaps to you, our sister blog-mates, as we begin a new year. (1) Always, always figure out ways to stay connected, even during a pandemic, to those about whom we care—family, colleagues, friends, neighbors, strangers. Research abounds about the dangers of loneliness and isolation. One of my favorite quotes is from a now deceased psychologist named Chris Peterson: “There is no such thing as a happy hermit.” (2) Remember the positive benefits of gratitude and kindness—to ourselves, to others, to the world. I am so excited to see that research from Positive Psychology is spreading to schools, to communities, to countries. The December calendar in front of me at this very moment says, in beautiful flowing script, “Kindness is the Flower of Humanity.” (3) Find inspiration wherever we can.

For the first time in my life I am enjoying TV binging, with shows like “Call My Agent!” and “Ted Lasso.” As an avid life-long reader (did anyone else sneak-read Nancy Drew under the covers as a child?), I continue to find excitement, joy, inspiration from books—fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, mysteries—just as long as they’re not too technical (I save that for work). My as-of-late favorites all relate to aging, and it is my pleasure to end this greeting by suggesting a few.

The Thursday Murder Club, a novel by Richard Osman, is a hoot. Four septuagenarians live in a retirement community and meet weekly to solve cold-cases. Finally they have a real murder to solve, perhaps two. I’m half-way through this one, and I can’t wait to get back to it. The second is The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times, in which Douglas Abrams interviews environmentalist and ethologist, and our age-mate, Jane Goodall. Talk about inspiring. It is not a spoiler when I tell you that Goodall presents four reasons we can be hopeful for the future. They include “the amazing human intellect,” “the resilience of nature,” “the power of young people,” and “the indomitable human spirit.” Truly, I feel hopeful just typing these words. And finally is a book with a title that makes me laugh every time I think about it: Advice for Future Corpses and Those Who Love Them: A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying, by Sallie Tisdale. Comments on the back cover say it better than I can. “…Sallie Tisdale provides a frank, direct, and compassionate meditation on the inevitable.” A New York Times review says, “she invites not just awe or dread—but our curiosity. And why not? We are, after all, just ‘future corpses pretending we don’t know.’” I found the book, as the title suggests, to be wise, warm, and humorous.

And I will end as Jane has in the past. May the New Year ahead be a better one for us all. A toast to 2022!

Ellen

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Family matters, Looking ahead, Older women connecting, What we're reading | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

At age At 72, what words of wisdom would you impart to your progeny? 

Jane Hallowell, Age 72

My sons gave me StoryWorth.com as a gift a year ago. This involves writing answers to questions they ask me once a week. It also allows me to choose my own questions to answer if the ones they send me don’t inspire. I just finished my last entry, below. (It’s rather ironic that so much on this list came from difficult people I’ve had to deal with in my life. They have been some of my best teachers.) Next, I will proofread the book and order the final copy. It’s been a fun project, and I have been able to include photographs with each entry. What a great legacy to leave for my family!

At age 72, what words of wisdom would you impart to your progeny? 

Show compassion for others. It’s normal that many people aren’t going to behave the way you think they should. Accept this, and let it go. You will have a much happier life if you do.

Don’t be afraid to communicate, and confront if necessary. Try to do this in a state of calm rather than anger.

Treat others the way you want to be treated — the good old Golden Rule concept.

When you are walking with someone, walk with them rather than taking off ahead of them. Show some respect. I used to walk ahead of my Dad and told him that I needed to walk faster to get my exercise. I now regret having done this. I should have walked with him and taken my own faster walk on my own at another time. It would have been the kind, selfless thing to do. I know now that it makes me feel bad when people do this to me.

Thank people for whatever gifts they give you. Show appreciation. It’s part of having good manners.

Show appreciation to whoever cooks a meal for you. It’s also part of having good manners.

Rejoice in others’ successes. Don’t be jealous or competitive about it.

Comment about and encourage people when they create something and are especially excited about it. Ignoring this hurts their feelings.

Listen to what others have to say. Ask about them. It’s all not about you.

Don’t make knee-jerk decisions. Think through matters that upset you before taking any kind of action, rather than responding instantly in a state of anger.

Pay attention to red flags in relationships. Things invariably will only get worse in time — unless you are lucky and can talk through tricky situations with your partner and both parties are amenable to change.

Try and think about how the decisions you make in life will affect you and others years later.

Don’t push yourself at people. If they don’t respond, they aren’t interested.

Whether you are a mother-in-law, a father-in-law, daughter-in-law, or a son-in-law, please try your best to avoid the typical stereotypical toxic relationship that so often develops. Read about this subject before becoming one, or talk with others about their experiences with respect to this dynamic, so you can prevent misunderstandings. Find some way to love and respect one other. It will make for a happier family and will be so worth it in the long run.

Remember that there is always enough love to go around.

Show compassion for difficult family members or people. Difficult people are so for a reason and most likely are suffering in ways that you will never know. At the same time, don’t be difficult yourself.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Attitudes about aging, Family matters, Gratitude and Spirituality, Inspiration as we age, Looking ahead, Resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Finding community

Susan, Age 73

In the mid 1990’s I blew the whistle on a couple of health care crooks whose companies I had managed. My then lawyer spouse wanted me to keep quiet and keep my job. In truth, the spouse never backed me up on anything. He was more concerned with himself. Always.

During the administrative law trial my life had been threatened, my car had been sabotaged after I left the court room and I had been followed. A death threat was written on my door. All of these things happened after I became the state’s key witness against these crooks.

After blowing the whistle on these crooks, it was time to look at my marriage. Time to end it. I could no longer live the corporate lifestyle. Both were incredibly empty.

My children finished college and relocated to follow their dreams. I relocated to follow mine.

I moved to the Smokies, bought land and designed a simple house. A friend in law enforcement who was ending his marriage wanted to come with me. He was a fine man. For the first time in my life I felt protected. We lived together for a few years when it became clear I needed to be on my own. We remain friends.

Living in the south, I told no one what I had been through. Honestly, I didn’t know how to talk about it. In my family of origin you kept a stiff upper lip and mustered on. Being independent, I felt I could move beyond all of this.

The small town I selected was the best experience. I lived there for seventeen years on the side of a mountain in the woods. Wildlife was just outside my door and I loved every minute of it. There was really no adjustment. I was so grateful to be there. I was involved in a lot of environmental causes. I felt needed.

Just about to enter my 70s, I knew it was time to live closer to family. Despite flying every 10-12 weeks since the divorce to see them, I was tired of airplanes, exhausted after each trip. My children were now parents and I wanted to be involved with my grandchildren. One lived in Maine. I liked the New England area and thought that might be a good place to live. My daughter’s marriage fortunately ended as it was not a healthy one from the start. Her daughter was two when I relocated to Maine. Both moved in with me when she divorced. Including the large dog.

It wasn’t easy having an entire household after so many years living solo. My house was small and sound carried everywhere. After five months she found her own townhouse and moved. They are doing really well. They’ve been there a year now. She has a nice boyfriend who seems very supportive.

My point in writing this is that I thoroughly enjoy reading what everyone has shared. I admire the deep honesty and willingness to share one’s pain. Throughout my time in the mountains, I always felt essentially alone. I know that is mostly a mindset. I was in more emotional pain than I could admit. Pain that I have no one to share my golden years. Having said that, I am grateful my life is as good as it is. But now it is time for me to fulfill that emptiness.

I moved to New England just before Covid. The first year or so I was sick, depressed and trying to find my comfort zone. I think we find it, then lose it, and find it or move along without it. Covid struck and I managed living without people (except for my family who moved in with me for five months) very well. Fortunately, I got vaccinated and never got the virus. Living in the mountains in a remote area taught me how to be incredibly resourceful and to live solo. But things were different now. I was different. Older.

We are coming out of Covid now I hope. My newly acquired asthma seems under control. At 73, I want a community here. A sense of place which I don’t have just yet. Mainers aren’t easy to know unlike the south. I’m on the outskirts of a city and have woods behind me. There are good services nearby and I can walk to many of them. My small house is wonderful. Easy to manage.

I know it takes time to adjust but the clock is ticking. I miss the mountains terribly, my community there. But we do take ourselves and our history where ever we live. I am grateful that I can finally talk about it.

The quest now is to find community, other than the one within.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Family matters, Loneliness, Looking ahead, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The MIL/DIL dynamic

Mother-in-law, Age 72

I recently moved near my son to be near him and the grandchildren, and I had an incident the other day with my daughter-in-law that was the last straw. She has ignored me for years, despite my every effort to engage her in conversation or treat her to outings, restaurants, and presents. I have tried to honor her in every way I can think of. I have invited her a couple of times for a girls’ day out, and she hasn’t responded to anything beyond saying that it would be nice. Most recently, I treated her and my son and two grandsons to overnights at a vacation cabin to honor her and the wonderful job she has done coping with issues and raising kids during the pandemic, and I continued to be ignored…without even a “thank you.” Sometimes I withdraw; other times I try and engage. I compliment her cooking. I never offer advice. And I never talk about her with my son behind her back.

The last straw was when we all went out together recently. She and my grandson were sitting at a table while we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant, and when I went over to sit with them, she promptly got up, walked away from me, and went over to where my son was, acting all happy and cuddling up to him. This is fine, and I’m glad their marriage is so loving, but it hurt my feelings that she moved away from me so suddenly when I was simply trying to hang out with her. And as if this weren’t enough, every time we get together, most every Sunday, I continue to be ignored.

Consequently, I don’t know what to do with myself, and because I have allowed her to make me feel so nervous, I invariably say stupid things that may even aggravate the situation.

Several years ago, we were at a family reunion, and she was ignoring me, as usual, and I asked my son if she was OK because she seemed so distant. Naturally, he mentioned this to her, and he told me later that she was highly offended by what I had said.

I understand that my son’s allegiance is to his wife, as it should be. But does he not notice how rude she is to me? She constantly reprimands her children about proper manners, yet she doesn’t exhibit them herself to me. Her behavior, in fact, feels cruel.

Why do I have to be involved in such a stereotypical MIL/DIL relationship? How did this happen? It seemed to start when the grandkids were born.

I just don’t know what I did to create such a state of dysfunction. And now that I’m 72, it’s not so easy to up and move. And besides, am I going to move every time an unpleasant situation in life arises? I would be moving on a regular basis if this were the case.

The precious neediness of my dogs and my volunteer work with Hospice make me feel of some value. My grandkids do love me, but soon, they will become adolescents, and I would imagine the relationship will shift when that time comes as it happened between my own grandmother and me. And yet, I have allowed my DIL to make me feel devalued and unappreciated.

My conclusion is that there is nothing I could have done or can do to rectify this horrible situation. I thought I would see a therapist, so I contacted two via email, and they didn’t respond. They were 30 years younger than I am anyway, and part of me felt as if it would probably be more beneficial to connect with someone closer to my age who has had more life experience.

Jane and Ellen recommended I check out Barbara Greenleaf, who addresses this DIL/MIL relationship, so I bought her book, Parents of Adult Children: You Are Not Alone. The chapter on the dynamics of the DIL/MIL relationship was most informative.

Strangely enough, a woman I had met 20 years ago suddenly came to mind. She has been clearing past life patterns with clients for the past 40 years. She’s got to be in her 80s by now. I’m not sure if I really believe in past lives, but I contacted her anyway, and she gave me a session. And so, my energy has shifted dramatically. I feel much lighter. One of the things she recommended was to forgive my DIL as she is — in my heart — and to forgive myself as well.

I also started listening to YouTube videos of BK Shivani. Her teachings have provided a philosophy that resonates with me. Finally, after years of agony, I am feeling a positive shift — a feeling much more productive than getting nowhere while talking about this problem ad nauseam with friends. Some of the things that Shivani talks about are acceptance and that when people behave with meanness and cruelty, this is simply an expression of their own pain. We will add to their pain when we react to their behavior in anger or talk about them behind their backs. We absorb their pain and make things worse. We must live at a higher frequency of compassion. We must love them unconditionally. Eventually, their energy will likely shift, too.

In no time, I have moved forward from my own state of crippling pain to a much higher frequency. I even feel grateful that my DIL has given me this opportunity for growth. In the meantime, I’m going to live every moment and day as if it were the last. I want to break the old toxic family patterns of anger and abuse and be the positive influence on my grandchildren. I certainly hope that this will be one of my legacies.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Family matters, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mesh curtain

Susan, Age 73

It must have been the mid nineties when I took one particular flight. I can’t remember where I was en route. I do remember the mesh curtain.

Flying steerage or non-first class was how I flew most of my life. First class was affordable, I just couldn’t see wasting so much money to be in the front of the plane. Seats were comfortable in the back. The aisles were wider. Restrooms were comfortable. It isn’t that way anymore.

It was the mesh curtain that forever changed how I saw flying. I got up to use the restroom. The one in the back of the plane was occupied. A few people were waiting for it. Not one to be curtailed to a corner, much less to the back of anything, I proceeded to the front of the plane, unsnapped the mesh curtain and used that restroom. It was cleaner and there were hand towels. Cloth ones. As I closed the door to return to my seat a flight attendant stopped me.

“That restroom is for first class. There is one in the back for you.”

Instantly I thought of Rosa Parks. And segregation. But this was economic.

I turned to the flight attendant.

“Are the folks in first class infected? There seems to be a bug screen separating us.”

I couldn’t resist.

Economic segregation. But a bug screen? Really?

My next flight will be in first class. I bought the ticket a while ago. I cancelled the flight due to my concern about being in a populated area during the pandemic. This time, a first, I am in first class because I simply can’t get in and out of these sardine can seats anymore. The seats get smaller, the aisles more narrow, rest rooms super tiny. My 73 year old musculo-skeletal system gets weaker.

Hopefully, this spring I can use the plane ticket. It’s a short flight and I don’t think I will encounter a mesh curtain separating us from the rest of the customers. But if I see one, I will definitely write the president of the airline and a few members of Congress.

I suppose I should be glad it is a bug screen and not a locked door.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Our bodies, our health, Share your story, Traveling | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Older day-by-day

Jane Hallowell, Age 72

I had breakthrough Covid eight weeks ago and still find myself dozing on and off during the afternoon. But two things happened to me yesterday that made me question whether or not they were Covid- or age-related brain fog.

After one of many catnaps, I opened the refrigerator and promptly dropped a glass jar of milk that shattered all over the floor. I don’t even know how it happened, it happened so fast.

As if this weren’t enough, I had received a questionable-looking link from a friend on Messenger. If I had been in my normal state of mind, I would never have opened it. But being in a semi sleep fog (not to mention being addicted to checking messages as they come in), I did. Not only that, I typed in my email address and google password to boot to try and open the link.

After a few minutes, I came to and realized that this was just about the stupidest thing I could have ever done, and so I changed my passwords for my email and facebook accounts. Later in the day, my son helped me check the security features on both accounts. Everything looked to be OK. We shall see down the road if any problems arise. But what made this situation worse than getting hacked was how impatient my son was with me. The more impatient he got, the more I couldn’t follow his instructions. (My brain freezes when I sense anyone is frustrated with me.)

I don’t blame him for being so exasperated. I used to go nuts sometimes dealing with my grandmother and my father and all their senior shenanigans — much as I loved them dearly. I guess it’s my turn now to be the elderly dork. What goes around comes around.

And please don’t think my son is always short-tempered. He has been supportive and has helped me tremendously over the years in so many ways. In fact, not many people have as devoted a son as he has been to me.

What makes all of the above so especially unsettling is that today marks one year that I moved to my own place closer to my son and grandchildren because my partner of 12 years asked me to move out. We had what I would call a “Covid fight.” After having been closed up in the house for a year together, he simply blew up.

So, I left.

It was actually a good thing because the relationship was toxic. Believe it or not, I have never been so happy to have been thrown out, strange as this must sound.

And here I am one year older and getting older day-by-day, and especially after what happened with the Messenger hack, I feel out of sorts. Us elderly folk can be downright frustrating to deal with. And try as we might, we just can’t behave the perfect way we think we should. It’s actually an opportunity for growth as we navigate unfamiliar territory and gradually reach the end of the road. We will all have to face it eventually. But how do we cope with this final stage of life in the meantime as the house of cards gradually collapses?

I struggle every day now to try and figure this out.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Family matters, Looking ahead | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments