Sunday, July 10, 2011

What women over 60 are doing. Are we busy or what?!

Women that I know who are 60 and older are anything but "retired" in the stereotypical way portrayed in the popular media or on the covers of those retirement planning brochures that our stock brokers keep giving us. No one I know is spending very much time golfing or walking on a beach.
Many women, single or married, are making their own way --- some on limited budgets. The 60-something women I know are active, engaged and really busy. Here's a roundup among my circle of friends at this moment:
- I know a woman who is helping her friend drive a U-Haul truck from the Midwest to the East Coast. They expect the journey will take several days, give them a chance to see new country and spend time together.
- A 68-year-old women is working part-time in real estate even though her hours have been reduced. A former teacher, she is also working as a volunteer fundraiser for a college and keeping tabs on her bi-polar son who lives independently.
- A women, 63, is working full-time as a human resources manager for a small manufacturing business where she (on the one hand) advises the president of the company and on the other hand rewrites the company pay policy. "The good thing for me is that at this point, if they decide they don't need me," she said, "I won't be devastated like I would have been in years past." She's going to work until 66.
- Another woman who has been widowed for just over a year at 59 has just returned from the Calgary Stampede where she helped manage a horse team competing in the event. "A chance of a life-time," she said. She's rebuilding her marketing business, sorting out debt left by her husband and booking wedding carriage rides on weekends using her own horse team.
- A woman, 69, has kept her husband's daily online newsletter business going for more than a year, gained confidence and seems to be moving forward with her life.
- Another in her late 60s has retired from teaching but now serves on her local school board and helps her husband manage his debilitating Parkinson's disease.
- A woman among my larger circle is at the prime of her career as a genetics researcher. She leads a team of 100 people who are looking into the genetic aspects of breast cancer. She travels the world lecturing and meeting with other scientists. She's anything but retired at 64.
- Another woman has just completed a year of radiation and chemo-therapy following breast cancer surgery. She's still working to regain her strength but is getting on with life and family. She just lent me a book about Helga Estby, who with her teenage daughter, walked across America in 1896. The book is called "Bold Spirit."
Hey, it's not like my (our) generation invented courage or determination but the women I know are engaged in life, making a contribution while balancing family and financial challenges, and dealing with health issues.
Wish me luck, next weekend I co-host a fundraiser barbecue for 35 people to benefit Rotary International. We then leave  for a week-long float trip on Idaho's Selway River. I am particularly looking forward to it since my father hunted elk in the Selway and spoke often of its back country beauty. Good fishing, too!
Here's to women, 60 and older who are embracing life, loving the people around them and enjoying the moment, which is all we really have.

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