The next decade

Anne, Age 77

I read about your website and book in the New York Times. I see from your initial posting that you two were born about the same time I was (October 29, 1940). I am a very lucky, healthy, active 77-year-old woman . . . happily married to a much younger man, still going to the gym, still volunteering. I didn’t have much angst about 70 or even 75 . . . but I am looking askance at 80. I don’t have any health issues, so I will most likely get there.

How are the women who started out with you . . . the ones who were facing 70 in 2010 . . . faring now? Do we need an 80Candles group?

Anne Cornell

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, Aging, Looking ahead, Older women connecting, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

A book recommendation

Frances, Age 69

I recently moved (from one residence to another, in the same city). While I was packing up, I weeded out my books (again), and I came across “Necessary Losses” by Judith Viorst.

Some years ago, a friend had given it to me saying that it was a ‘must read’. However, all I knew about Mrs. Viorst was that she was a columnist for some women’s magazines — that alone was enough to turn me off. Additionally, the book was written in 1986 — so how relevant could it possibly be, so many years later. However, instead of putting it in a box for the thrift shop, I put it in the box of books for my nightstand. Right after I moved — the first night in my new home, I opened the book at random and read Chap. 18. And I cried. Then I read another chapter at random — and I cried some more.

I wish I’d had this book in my 20s — except it wasn’t even written then 🙂 — and I probably would not have understood it in my 20s. However, by my mid-40s, I would have understood a lot of it. Now that I’m almost 70 — I understand all of it (I think). Too bad. My life might not have been much easier if I had read this in my mid-40s — I mean, events in my life would have unfolded as they did and were going to — but mentally, emotionally and even spiritually, I would not have so ‘tempest tossed’.

This is a great book for us. Stop whatever you’re doing, go to Amazon, and order a used copy. When I start my 70Candles group in the fall, this is the first book we’re going to read and discuss.

I’ve been saying for years that we’re looking at old age completely wrongly, but I’ve never been articulate enough to explain exactly why. This book explains very well why we have been seeing old age incorrectly without directly saying so.

Just for the record, this is not a ‘pop psychology’ book nor is this a ‘clinical’ book and unreadable. Ms. Viorst, who is now 87, spent 6 years at Freudian-based Washington Psychoanalytic Institute (don’t let that scare you), and the notes in the back of the book are voluminous. It is a very well-written and well-documented book.

Posted in 70candles, Dealing with loss, Read Stories, What we're reading | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Poem about aging

Frances, Age 69

I am not old… she said
I am rare.

I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.

I am the retrospective
Of my life as art

I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense

I am the fullness
Of existing.

You think I am waiting to die…
But I am waiting to be found

I am a treasure.
I am a map.

And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey

Ask me
anything.

Author: Samantha Reynolds

Posted in 70candles, Aging, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

So many life stories

Suzanne, Age 69.5

How can a person share just one story when you’ve reached the ripe age of 70?

“All roads lead to Rome” and each quarter of my life made me what I am now. In my 30’s, my husband and I owned a company. We were successful. I traveled the world to shop as part of my job. Had 2 boys, struggled to share myself with them, my husband, and work that was so demanding, but which I loved. We lost that business in our 50’s, went into debt, no income. I had to reinvent myself. My husband couldn’t, he retreated. My 60’s have been so difficult, but I found faith. I have been tested in so many ways including being close to death in a coma. Surprisingly, at one of my lowest points, barely able to walk, age 67….my old boss, a young woman, called and said she knew of a job she thought I’d be perfect for. I interviewed, got the job and then realized that we would have to move to LA. I stayed with friends during the week, sometimes in Airbnb’s. My husband and I lived separate lives until he moved the household. My health improved, loved the job, but was laid off one year later. We stored everything, put the dogs in the back seat and left CA on our new life adventure, driving to find something new….grandchildren pulled us back to LA, I was rehired and at 70, I’m poor in money, but rich in love, faith, work, and life.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Gratitude and Spirituality, Resilience, Share your story, Traveling, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Advice please

Laura, Age 56

Hi there,

I came across your blog in doing a search on Google. I’m grateful for finding it! I was wondering if you would be so kind as to offer some advice.

Here’s the story: My best friend is my ex-partner. She and I were together for 10 years, I moved away for 5 years, then returned to AZ (near Sedona) and we decided to get a home together since we’ve known each other for over 20 years. We are very close and have the best friendship anyone could ask for. She is a solid gem. She is turning 69 next week and is really struggling (I’m 56 so I don’t know what she is going through).

I always celebrate her birthday in a fairly big way but she said she doesn’t want anything done this year at all. I threw her a big surprise party for her 65th and she said she does not want a party…at all. So, I will honor that but I still want to do something but I don’t know what.

What can I do to support her? It breaks my heart to see her sad, especially since she does soooo much for other people and is truly a kind and loving person.

Please help!

Thanks so much!
Laura Geatches

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Older women connecting | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Retired in Florence

Susan, Age 72

Four years ago, my husband, and my miniature goldendoodle dog, Luca, got on the Queen Mary and sailed to a new country, and a new life Italy. It was the reverse trip that my grandparents made over 100 years ago. Sailing past the Statue of Liberty was an emotional farewell to a country I had loved and was prepared to leave.
We made the decision to retire in Italy after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am now more than 7 seven years cancer free, put the diagnosis was an impetus to face the facts of my own mortality.
My husband and I have no children, although we do have 2 nieces that we love very much. We are both former Human Resources executives from Silicon Valley. I continue to do executive coaching over Skype, while my husband is very happy and fulfilled being retired.
We initially came to a small town, about 14,000 people, in Umbria. We were charmed by the country side and people whom we found open, and curious about us. This past year we also have rented an apartment in Florence so we now split our time between the two places.
I find Italy to be a much less youth focused culture than that of California. Older people here are integrated into the families, and are treated with respect and care.
Living in Italy is not all Under the Tuscan Sun kind of experience. It is not for everyone, but for me, I love this country, its food and wine and above all, its people. I seem far less conscious of my age here than when I am in the US. Here my identity is first as the American, then a woman, then on someone who doesn’t cook and way down the list is someone who is over 70.

Posted in 70candles, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Traveling, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

5 Things that surprised me about retirement

Barbara Greenleaf

I retired from a full-time university staff position a year ago to publish my blog, Parentsofgrownoffspring.com. Before this I thought I was good at self-organization. I also thought that writing the blog would give me just the focal point I needed to be as happy and productive as when I went to an office every day. Not quite, at least not right away. While I love this stage of my life, it’s been a learning experience. Here’s why:

1. It takes a long time to find a rhythm. I get up at the crack of dawn. In my office days this was perfect for exercising, showering, getting gussied up, and getting out of the house. Now, I’m neither getting gussied up nor getting out of the house. What to do in the early morning hours? Should I write first thing, when I do my best work, or should I exercise first thing so the day doesn’t get away from me? Should I make lunch dates, which are important for socialization but bad for concentration? Maybe I’ll just take a little nap and that will solve everything. . .
2. I am terrible at most hobbies. Over the years I had so much crafting desire and so little time, that when I retired from the university I signed up for every DIY class known to woman. These included but were not limited to basket weaving, paper folding, quilting, sewing, finger knitting, crocheting, bookbinding, weaving, welding, keyboard, ukulele, calligraphy, and scrapbooking. With the exception of quilting, I stunk! It was really humbling.
3. Doing good is not so good. I was sure that as soon as I retired, I would be magnetically drawn to one charity or another, where I would make a real contribution and get great personal satisfaction from helping those less fortunate than I. It turns out I hated serving on nonprofit boards. They have no choice but to relentlessly raise funds, which I found soul sapping. I mentored kids at a local high school, but then they graduated and the next crop wasn’t as simpatico. It was a disappointment.
4. It takes a lot of energy to have a social life. Once you’re out of the workplace, it’s eerie how the world can get along without you very well. Unless you have regular book club meetings, see the same folks at the gym each day, or get subscription tickets with friends, you have to keep making the effort to stay in touch. I’m gradually learning how to navigate this, but I wasn’t prepared for having to be this proactive.
5. Retirement is expensive and time-consuming. As soon as you step out the door, the tab starts to run. And now you don’t even have to step out the door as e-commerce makes it so simple to buy things right from your couch. I thought that without business attire and the dry cleaning that goes along with it, eating lunches with colleagues or commuting to work, I’d be far ahead of the game. Ha! Moreover, all those chores I somehow fit in nicely after hours or on Saturdays now seem to take up every waking minute. As Miss Piggy would say, “Quelle surprise!”

These are all small quibbles compared to the joy of doing what I love without raising my hand and having to ask, “May I?” Nevertheless, as I look over the list, that nap is looking better and better . . .

What has surprised you about retirement? How does the reality of it match up with your former expectations?

Posted in 70candles, Stories, What do we do with our time?, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Our Gifts

Roseann, Age 70

To All 70Candles Friends,

This coming Sunday, March 18, we will be hosting our second
70Candles Meeting at my home in New Jersey. We are definitely filled with about 15 women coming, and we are so looking forward to a most special Sunday afternoon.

I got to thinking today that it might be a nice idea to invite all of you to join us via this website-this wonderful Home Base we share…

At this next meeting, we thought a great (and positive and enlightening) topic would be for us to talk about our Gifts…Gifts we were born with, Gifts we nourished, created, shared with loved one, strangers, the world…Gifts that perhaps we never gave ourselves credit for or that others may not have appreciated- but they were and are our Treasures, and more than likely, also our Legacy…

If you like, we can start a thread here- where we can all humbly and exaltedly share our Gifts with one another. All kinds of Gifts- Internal Gifts, like the gifts of integrity, commitment, love, listening, insight etc.- and External Gifts, like the gift of ice skating or cooking or scuba diving or writing poetry or music…We can share Physical, Mental, Emotional and/or Spiritual Gifts…We all have so many, seen and unseen…Perhaps it is time to truly reveal them and delight in them together!

By the time we are near or into or passing our 70th year, it is time to give ourselves pause and think of all the wonderful things that have made us who we are…to think about all the wonderful things we have done to make the world a better place than when we came here…It is time to be thankful for our Gifts too- and not take them for granted nor, let them stay hidden under the proverbial bushel…It is time to let our Gifts shine and be shared….And after all is said and done, to maybe truly realize we ARE the Gift we give each day to ourselves and all we love….

So, here is the open invitation to share one another with one another! I will keep in touch and let you know what our gathering unfolds…In the meantime, all of you will be part of it, as we all focus on the Gifts of our Lifetime…

I remember long ago, when my daughter Jessica was about 7 years old and she was valiantly making her way, hand over hand, on the monkey bars at the afterschool playground. Body struggling and swinging in mid air- one bar to the next…And when she finished, she jumped down and threw her arms up in the air and clapped and shouted, “Yea for me!!!!” A moment imprinted in me forever.

I think that by the time we are 70- we may not be able to do monkey bars, but we sure can shout, “Yea for me!!!”

So, welcome aboard this thread…Please celebrate yourself and all your Gifts…It truly is time…

Sincerely,
Roseann

Posted in 70candles, 70Candles! Gatherings - the experience, Gratitude and Spirituality, Older women connecting, Share your story | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

A journalist’s request

Judy, Age 63

I’m a journalist who writes a nationally-distributed column about aging and health. A topic I’d like to cover going forward, either for a column or a story: people in their 70s taking care of parents in their 90s and up. If you’re in this situation and you’d like to talk, please email me at judithegraham@gmail.com. We’re living in a new age and longevity is transforming our relationships and responsibilities. Ideally, I’d like to profile up to 4 caregivers in their 70s and speaking to the person they’re caring for as well. (I recognize that may or may not be possible, especially if dementia is a factor.)

My background: I was the senior health reporter at the Chicago Tribune for many years. I wrote extensively for the New York Times’ New Old Age blog, until the blog was discontinued. Now, I write the Navigating Aging column for Kaiser Health News, distributed through the Washington Post and other media outlets across the country.

Thank you for your consideration. Judith (Judy) Graham judithegraham@gmail.com is the best way to reach me.

Posted in 70candles, Caretaking, Death and dying, Men aging, Our bodies, our health | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Movin’ on

Patricia, Age 64

Hello from upstate NY. I am 64 yrs old. My husband passed away 18 months ago. I have no family here other than my daughter and her family. As much as I love them, they are very busy with their lives, and I don’t get to spend time with them anymore. My son lives in Brooklyn, NY…4 hrs away. I see him approx. 2 times a yr. I have two sisters in Maryland and one in NC. I am not happy in this house full of memories. My husband and I downsized to this home ten years ago from a neighboring town. It was to be our retirement home. That didn’t work out, as he passed one year after retirement. I don’t want to sit around and wait to die. I feel the need to move on with my life. I am putting my house up for sale in a few weeks and planning to move to NC. Of course, I am apprehensive about making such a major move at my age and leaving my immediate family behind. But I’m also excited to be moving nearer my sisters and will be able to see them more often. We do “sister trips” and it’s always been harder for me to participate because of the distance I have to travel. Another selling point is that I won’t have to endure another frigid snowy winter. I’ve hated living in NY since I got married. After my husband passed, I’ve tried getting out of the house, making new friends, and getting involved in the community. But there is not much to do in this little town. I am moving to a rental that is in my sister’s family. Renting has it’s advantages…it will give me an opportunity to see if I like the area; I can take my time and look for a house to buy. I may even rent. Either way, my next home will be one level. I’m ignoring the negative thoughts (many that have been expressed on this page) and forcing myself to think positive. To me, moving south is “going home”. I want to get to know my next to youngest sister better. I want to live in a warmer climate. And I am excited to move to a new area. Bonus: I’ll only be living 2.5 hrs from the ocean. Being lonely isn’t an issue because I’m lonely here. So either way, I need to adjust to this new chapter of my life called “Old Age”. I’ll get back to you a year from now and let you know how things are going.

Posted in 70candles, Dealing with loss, Family matters, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Older women connecting, Resilience, Where to live, Widows’ choices | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments