Am I insane for taking all this on, or should I just keep on trucking?

Noel,  Age 70

I must be in complete denial. I am 70, will be 71 in December. I have broken my femur, two wrists, a pelvic fracture 11 years ago, and breast cancer when I was 57.

This week, I will graduate with a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and I expect to work part time as a therapist until I am 80. I am single, was married briefly in my thirties(no children) and started my own business when I was 49. Fortunately, I did well so I have been able to put aside some money (not a fortune) but enough to see me through until my demise. I am estranged from the only family I have, two sisters, but I do have friends. I own a horse, who is boarded 7 minutes from my house and I anticipate riding again when I return from moving out of a recently sold house (lost money on it) upstate New York.

Recently, I have become a little frightened. I look much younger than my years, but my accidents coupled with aging skin, has weakened my fortitude. I love Jane Fonda’s talk on Ted that we are not going to sink into decrepitude but I am beginning to feel like I am on shaky ground and that maybe I should move in to a one bedroom retirement community and scale back big time.

Am I insane for taking all this on, or should I just keep on trucking? Would love to hear from similar type a ladies.

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33 Responses to Am I insane for taking all this on, or should I just keep on trucking?

  1. Mireille says:

    Of course you’re insane! Good for you. I had an accident a year ago, two large dogs tackled me and cause major leg damage. But I am walking again 3 miles every day. So if you feel you will ride again, you very well might. It does not sound like to me that you are ready to scale back. Do it when you’re ready.

    I wish I had your clarity of purpose. I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

  2. Diana says:

    Noel, as a mental health professional you’re surely aware of the flat feeling that accompanies the completion of an involved project – the expected joy that fails to materialize after completing a thesis or passing oral exams or graduating. It’s the ‘now what?’ feeling that comes with achieving a goal.

    Is there any chance that this is what you’re feeling? Can you give yourself time to try out the new life you’d planned before giving up on it?

    After all your work and perseverance, it would be a shame not to give yourself a chance.

    • Fran says:

      Diana, great point. Certainly that ‘flat feeling’ is part of what Noel is going through.

    • Noel says:

      Hi Diana,

      I thought of that, also thought that sort of thinking is reserved for people that have a bit more time. Am I allowed to feel flat between gigs at this age or is really just time is running out. What I have figured out since this blog is it’s all about acceptance and you just keep on truckin. Noel

  3. karen gardner says:

    Although I have not had any major injuries, I am 77 years old and also questioning how much longer I can be as active as I am. When asked by my nieces when I think I might scale back, I reply “and what else would I be doing?”. I have 13 acres, a very large garden and I spend several hours of each day working hard physically. I am really tired at the end of each day. But I’ve decided it is OK to slow down and continue to do what I am doing. I have no interest in moving to a retirement apartment; I will try to find help with my chores as I age but an active life is important to me. More than trying to live longer as a matter of fact!

  4. Fran says:

    Noel, I have to leave shortly, but I just want to say this right now: No matter what, you should scale down and move into a 1- or 2-bedroom active retirement community. Sell your horse, sell whatever properties you still have — simplify, simplify, simplify — and you’ll have more time and energy to focus on your new career. I just want to put this in perspective: only 12-13% of the Americans who were born in 1937 are still alive. Half of that 12-13% are in nursing homes, assisted living or living with family because they can no longer function on their own. I was going to go to law school (I’m 68) and become a lawyer — my whole background is the legal system — I’d love to be a poverty-law lawyer. But over the past couple of years, I’ve broken my shoulder, broken an arm (severely), and shattered a wrist. Altho’ I’m quite recovered, the recovery months gave me a time to think: My strength and stamina go down each passing year. Every year goes by more and more quickly. I’m not going to be around much longer, and I want to really enjoy the time I have left. I decided I just wanted to simplify, slow down, and enjoy it all to the max — and I did and I do. I focus on exercising, reading, and I have a huge project re the aging, dying and death that I am working on at home (and I’m seeing some success with it). Go for your new career! Congratulations! But there is absolutely nothing wrong with simplifying and slowing down in our old age. We aren’t young anymore. We aren’t Jane Fonda. We are old. What would you REALLY want to do with your remaining years IF there was no one around who you wanted to impress?

    • Mary Lou says:

      Hurray! I second what Fran wrote!
      Congratulations on completing your Masters in Mental Health Counseling, Noel! So needed today! At 75, I myself have looked to talk about issues I’ve encountered as I age and have found it very helpful. Doing this part-time would give you a real sense of purpose.
      Simplify is key! Each time I’m faced with a reality of life I do a check of what’s most meaningful for me at this time. It’s all about the process of letting go and moving forward.

    • Noel says:

      There is no one to impress right now, except my horse (not kidding). You are so right about simplifying but that takes work – hate purging. Yes, we are old but I think we are the young old. I honestly believe we are not really old until we are 90. Those numbers are a bit bleak but the majority seems to be truckin. Why can’t we be Jane Fonda? You have given me good advice and I appreciate it.

    • Beverly M says:

      I cannot possibly be the only reader who would like to know where you got these statistics of only 12 to 13% of Americans born in’37 presently being alive and that half that number…etc, etc, etc. I have great trouble grasping that although it may be true.

      Looking forward to your response.
      Thank you……. brm

  5. Dede Ranahan says:

    Hi Noel! As I was turning 70, I kept a diary – a time capsule to leave for my children and grandchildren. I wrote for a year and as I wrote, I didn’t know I was capturing the last year of my son’s life. He died, unexpectedly, on a hospital psych ward where I thought he’d be safe. My diary morphed into a more meaningful account than I’d anticipated. A year ago I started a blog – Sooner Than Tomorrow – A Safe Place to Talk About Mental Illness in our Families. And a month ago, I began blogging my book, Sooner Than Tomorrow – A Mother’s Diary. You can subscribe and read it on my website. Going to post it in two week increments for a year. On my website, you’ll find lots of stories, mostly from mothers, about the heartbreak of mental illness and our crappy mental health system. These stories may inspire you to use your degree somehow – as little or much as you can. I’m now 73 and feel like I’ve undertaken the most sacred effort of my life. Listen to your heart. Love, Dede

    • Fran says:

      Dede, my daughter was schizophrenic. She committed suicide at the age of 28. It was 20 years ago. I was in therapy at the time (thank goodness). I recovered relatively because, with a schizophrenic, one always knows that suicide is a possibility. Her death was not a huge surprise. Still, now that I am getting older, I find I have some unresolved issues. I’m going to your web site! Thanks you for posting.

    • Noel says:

      What a wonderful insight and I will pursue it. I love what
      you are doing and will look into your website. Thank you. Noel

  6. Sandi says:

    Congrats on your Masters degree. That is an accomplishment. Please don’t rush the year away. I am also a December birthday — December 25th. I turned 70 last December 25th. Honestly, I didn’t go gently into being 70. It took a moment. As I’ve read your post and some replies, I am going to suggest that you and others check out With broken bones and fracture, have you & others in this thread been diagnosed with osteoporosis? If not, please consider a dxa, and if found that you have bone loss, NOF has a very good discussion community for osteoporosis.

    In my opinion, it would be best to be sure prior to riding again. There are hip protectors that may be helpful in case of a fall off of the horse. Because the possibility of falls with bone loss should be avoided, but in many activities, there are alternatives in order for us to continue with our loves. I’m an osteoporosis advocate. You’ll find me on discussion community (Inspire).

    Honestly, once I got past the reality of being 70, I was fine. It’s certainly better than the alternative, and not all women get to celebrate their 70’s. I’m also blessed from my parents to look younger than my actual age. I exercise, have a good nutritional plan and keep stress at a low level. And I do have osteoporosis which hasn’t changed my daily life except I don’t round my spine or do deep twists. You’ve gotten through so much in the past with health issues. Why doubt yourself now.

    If you want to downsize to a smaller residence, then do so. But if you are functional, meaning you can pay your own bills, manage feeding yourself, bathing, brushing teeth; etc, consider living where you want without taking age 70 into consideration. Who knows? We may live well into our 90’s. Should we spend the next 20 yrs or even any amount of time in worry or that we are on shaky ground. Scale back big time? Oh no …. I mean we need to consider the way we want to live, but our 70’s, in my opinion, is not the time to throw in the towel.

    • Noel says:

      Encouragement is so wonderful to share! I do have osteo and got my first prolia shot this summer. Taking Bone Up by Jarrow and Vitamin D. So busy with grad school my wellness plan fell short but getting back on track this week. I love to be healthy most of the time and look forward to reading what I want to read and spiralizing my veggies. Thank you, Noel

  7. Blog Mavens says:

    Hi Noel,

    With no education or experience in filmmaking I decided to make a feature-length documentary in my mid-70s. I am 78. The film is finished. It has won awards. I am taking it on the festival circuit, even as we speak. It is, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done.

    Compared to filmmaking, going to law school as a single mom with 4 kids and working part-time was a piece of cake. I kid you not. No one on the ‘outside’ of indie filmmaking understands what goes into it. I have never in my life had to make hundreds of decisions every single day, wear so many hats, and be on a learning curve that goes straight up.

    So to finally get to your question: you do what you are pulled to do. You wrestle with it, you argue with it, you slog through the jungle, and eventually you come out the other side. I’m just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but eventually I’ll get to where I can relax and stop working so hard every day. There are satisfactions along the way, of course. And there will be more as I get this project to where I want it to be: out there in the world.

    I’d say the question is not: am I crazy? The question is, what am I being called to do?

    Good luck,

    Jennifer Townsend

  8. Blog Mavens says:


    I am in somewhat similiar circumstances..just turned 70, still work part time as a teacher and have just this evening enrolled in a four course Autism Spectrum Disorder endorsement program (even was awarded tuition monies :).

    Like Noel, I anticipate working until I am 80 because I love my teaching and I need to work, financially.

    My suggestions are to keep on trucking, with these caveats–staying healthy is number one. An excellent diet, plenty of exercise, including yoga/meditation, quality sleep and supportive friends seems crucial to keep on keeping on. Stay in touch with a primary care MD who cares about your well being is critical. Also, wise energy management and being organized helps to simplify life.

    Go Noel, go!!


  9. mary hirsch says:

    Hi Noel,
    Congratulations on your latest achievement; you are an achiever, for sure. And my best wishes for not having your bones “talk to you” (arthritis) since you’ve had so many mishaps! You sound pretty special, dear heart… and have an incredible, unstoppable spirit. People like YOU should live forever – or at least be cloned!

    After reading all of the wonderful, sincere and well-meaning comments from our sisters, I tend to agree, on some, level, with each and every one, except for any emphatic negativity on our natural stage of aging instead of the pounding “we are old; we are old, it’s “over,” slow down, already”… Fran, if you ask 1,000 women for our suggestions, you’ll get 1,000 answers and you’ll end up more confused than ever…. MY suggestion(s) for starters, but this, humbly, is my own:

    1)Take a little time to process the “letdown” feeling of your latest accomplishment, for that feeling is real 2)Take a little vacation to a quiet, beautiful spot where you can rest, watch the clouds go by and nurture your soul and spirit; let the HEAD rest and be quiet; pamper your body 3)Hire a life coach and lay out a plan; SHE is an expert and will know exactly what YOU really want to do; she will ask the right questions and the answers will just FLOW out of you 4)Don’t make any drastic moves until your mind/body/soul – and HEAD are all in harmony and then you knock down your pins, one by one…. while teaching part time all along and, 5) MOST IMPORTANTLY, take care of your body (exercise, healthful eating, rest and non-toxic friends, meditate and consider Yoga, which will change your life). HEALTH IS #1. With that, you can do ANYTHING.

    And, at 70, you’re still a baby and a Babe! Don’t, don’t, don’t listen to the “old lady” speeches; a 94-year-old woman, cancer survivor, just ran 1/2 marathon in San Diego (a “shorty” for her), started marathoning in her 70’s and has run 48. YOUARE NOT OLD, emphasizing YOU.

    Take your time with your decisions and live each day to the fullest. Make your doctor(s) your best friends and work with them. Don’t give up your horse just now; make your moves gradually, wisely and with PROFESSIONAL advise, well meaning as we, your sisters are. We want the best for you but only YOU know what’s best for you.

    I, for one, am betting on you, fellow-sister Thoroughbred! You are my kind of girl; and you go, go GO!!!

    • Fran says:

      Sorry, Mary — WE ARE OLD. The problem is you still think that being old is a bad thing. It’s not at all. American society thinks being old is bad, and we believe it. We buy into it because American society disgards anything that is old, unless it’s an antique. //// Considering Noel is 70, she is hardly a “baby”. //// As for the woman who started marathoning in her 70s and just ran a half-marathon at the age of 94 — she is NOT AT ALL THE NORM. Which is why she made the news. //// And considering that most of us who have posted here are going to die before we are 85, it’s time to get real. It’s not time to “go, go, go” — we’re the only developed country in the world that pretends that being old and elderly is all in our heads. //// Carl Jung said: ‘What satisfied us in the first half of life will not satisfy us in the second half of life.’ Spending the last years of our life, pretending that death simply doesn’t exist for us, is not at all wise. //// And, just for the record, I am not at all depressed — I love who I’ve become and I love my life. So I go back to my original question: If you weren’t out to impress others, how would you live the rest of your life? Because that’s what we do almost all our lives — we live our lives to get as much admiration from others that we can possibly get. In our older age, we should be free from that, as much as possible.

      • mary hirsch says:

        I think you completely missed my point about aging!
        Just for the record – I’m turning 72 in a few weeks and LOVE ageing: I LOVE the wisdom of the years, the experience under my belt and how things are beginning to fall into place. And, I am eternally grateful, every day, that at this age, I still (while doing daily Yoga) stand on my head, ice skate, roller blade, teach Pilates and Tai Chi, swim daily and work out with weights and on machines every day at my health spa. And I walk and jog (no marathons any more!) by Boston’s Charles River every morning. On weekends, I go dancing with my younger friends who “humor” me and disco, disco, disco – which I LOVE!

        I have NOTHING against “getting old,” how could I? It’s the defeatist attitude with which I cannot relate! We start ageing the very second we are born and accumulate the years as time goes by. We all age differently, for we are all different, have difference genes and have different lifestyles! My healthy lifestyle (nutrition and exercise) have paid off and continue to; I do the best I can. But, perhaps, the MOST important thing of all is my ATTITUDE: I am the most positive (if realistic) person around, challenges and all (and I have plenty; I just choose the silver lining; not the dark) and keep truckin’ the best I can.

        I know teenagers who are “OLDER” in attitude than my 96-year-0ld neighbor, Mary Ann, a former WAC, pilot, world traveler, writer, painter and guitar player. Her hearing is gone and her mind, sometimes wanders, but her SPIRIT AND ATTITUDE are positive and fabulous. She brightens everyone’s life just by being around her. When you tell her you’re in your early 70’s, she LAUGHS and calls you a “puppy!” At 96 – and going STRONG – she knows what she’s talking about.

        Attitude is EVERYTHING! I love, love ageing and am proud and GRATEFUL. I’ll forever do my part to stay healthy, happy, busy, alert, helpful, loving and positive as long as I can. Most of all, POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE!

        Namaste to all my sisters! You, GO, girls!!!


        • Frances says:

          Ok, I read my previous post and your most current one — and I don’t know how you think that people who slow down are — well, very obviously, we are not communicating. You may have read my posts — I’m not sure you understood them. And I wish you well, in spending the rest of your life doing things to impress people with how young you are. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. LOL I do know people who have died long before their physical death. I live with a lot of them — not for much longer. But I’m not at all one of them. And I really do wish the very best, no matter what you do.)

        • Noel says:

          Mary I am going to frame your reply.

          • mary hirsch says:

            Dearest Noel,
            You honor me and I humbly thank you. You have been on my mind, daily (and your horse!) and I’ve been wondering how you are, sending good intentions toward you in my meditations. I KNOW you will prevail; you have what takes, beginning with the HUMILITY to put yourself out there asking for others’ viewpoint. And, to THAT, point, this is where I seem to “differ” – to a large extent, from most of my same-age sisters whose points of view I honor and respect: just “differ,” for the most part. I believe in the 1/2 full, Silver-lining way of thinking and, with EVERY challenge ask myself: “What COULD be good about this?” “What can I LEARN?” “How can I make it BETTER?” Always, but ALWAYS POSITIVE. And, THAT is forever the point of view, HUMBLY – and from lots of experience at my almost 72 years of age. OLD? You decide; I’m AGING daily and LOVE IT, no kidding: I LOVE the wisdom, knowledge, confidence; the peace and love I have WITHIN and WITHOUT for others. No judging; just sharing what’s worked for me and others who CHOOSE to be POSITIVE.

            It’s this POSITIVITY that keeps me going, despite the many challenges life has brought my way, including life-threatening CHALLENGES that ditto most of our sisters, excluding cancer. I’ve almost died a couple of times with health issues but you won’t hear ME dwelling on that: it’s between my Maker and my doctors. In the meantime, I keep plugging along, DAILY, with excellent nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. I won’t deny that at my FABULOUS age (72 on 8/27), it’s rather an ALONE (sometimes “lonely”) existence in terms of my contemporaries because 95plus% dwell on what’s WRONG; I choose what’s RIGHT, and give thanks.

            Noel, YOU keep on truckin’ and pick the POSITIVE in everything; only the POSITIVE! Matter of fact, have a heart-to-heart with your horse; he might know something you don’t… but I bet he’d LOVE to have you ride him again if you are up to it and your doctors give you their blessing.

            For what it’s worth, dear Noel, you have mine; daily. Keep trucking and let us know how you’re doing. Stay POSITIVE!


  10. Blog Mavens says:

    Dear Noel,

    The problem with those retirement communities is that so very few people are your age. Mostly they are in their eighties and nineties. If you think you have infirmities, just try talking to some of them! (I have experience at my ninety-four year old mother’s retirement community where I can only tolerate one dinner downstairs per visit.)

    Why scale back? You have just reached a major accomplishment, and your plan to work part time until age 80 sounds like a good one. Maybe a townhouse or condo where you don’t have any responsibility for indoor or outdoor repairs and landscaping would be nice. Then you could spend your free time riding or having fun with friends. There are also some co-housing options, but not too many yet.

    At times it is discouraging since I think most of us feel so much younger than our chronological age– until we have to face a health challenge. Share with wise friends who can advise you better.

    Laurie, age 72

    • mary hirsch says:

      Laurie, you are a wise woman and your advice is thoughtful, practical – and positive (spend free time with friends instead of worrying about home repairs, etc.) Everything you said is true; thanks for sharing with ALL of us!

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