Wednesday, October 19, 2011

At 65. What I know now that I didn't know five years ago.

Today, I'm 65. The good news is that I have plenty of company with something like 10,000 baby boomers like me turning 65 every day this year. I've got my Medicare card tucked securely in my wallet, along with the supplemental Medicare Advantage insurance card. Monthly Social Security benefits roll into my bank account every month. I refinanced my mortgage loan.
AARP sends me mail, sometimes three times a week. So do brokerage firms, insurance companies and retirement centers. Yep, I'm 65.
Did we really think about what life would be like in our 60s? For me it was the vague gauzy future where I'd be married, surrounded by successful children and grandchildren, some of them Harvard graduates. I'd be financially secure, active in the community and enjoying a satisfied life of travel and engagement. Some of that has actually come true. Some of it has been dramatically different.
Since marking my 60th birthday five years ago,  I experienced an unwanted and devastating divorce and became suddenly 60 and single. I quit my full-time job of 26 years and moved into semi-retirement as a home-based journalist. My best friend from the second grade died of stomach cancer.
Then I met a wonderful new man and after some discussion, we married. Traveling is a more important aspect of my life. Family is important. New relationships are interesting and revitalizing. Life is rich, hectic and good. But not peaceful. 
Ticking clock
We agree that the clock is ticking as we see friends grappling with serious illness and even widowhood. We are determined to live life as fully as possible. There's some pressure to do that.
At 65, half way to 70, I would say to those coming along behind that your 60s will be filled with changes and challenges. They will be exciting and a bit scary as we sometimes see bad things happen to good people.You will see friends slow down and grow old, mentally, if not physically.
Some friends will drift away as husbands retire and their interests are more centered on family.
Did we really stay up until 11 p.m. on weeknights? Now I can barely make it to 8:30!
At one end of the spectrum we are still worrying about our kids and grand kids. Worrying about our financial profile, income and strategies. On the other, we have aging parents. My 96-year-old mother meets with her doctor tomorrow to find out if she can go home after breaking her hip. I'll be there with her.
We all know that having control of most anything in our lives is an illusion. I count myself lucky to have my health, to have found a wonderful partner that likes to ski, river raft and live in the woods with me. These past five years of being over 60 have been challenging, exhausting and certainly exhilarating. I've learned a lot about life from top to bottom. I expect that the learning process will continue.
Below I'm sharing a few quotes that inspire me. I hope they inspire and cheer you on your journey.

"One of the conclusions I have come to in my old age is the importance of living in the ever-present now. In the past, too often I indulged in the belief that some how or other tomorrow would be brighter or happier or richer." - Ruth Casey

- "The key to reconnecting is to cherish the gift that abandonment has given you, to remain open to your vulnerabilities and to the vulnerabilities of others. Maintaining emotional contact creates a bridge to true relationships," - Susan Anderson, from "The Journey from Abandonment to Healing."

- "The that when we are ready to make a new beginning, we will shortly find an opportunity." - William Bridges from his "Transitions: Making sense of Life's changes."

- "Courage doesn't always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day saying,
"I will try again tomorrow."
- Mary Anne Radmacher

- "It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things." - Theodore Roosevelt

- "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." - Albert Einstein

- "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

- "Forgive yourself for your faults and your mistakes and move on." -  Les Brown

"Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on."
 - Bob Newhart

-"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it, Begin it now."  - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"You can only perceive real beauty in a person as they get older." -Anouk Aimee

"To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent that is to triumph over old age."
-Thomas B. Aldrich

"To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living." -Henri Frederic Amiel

"I'm not interested in age. People who tell me their age are silly. You're as old as you feel."
-Elizabeth Arden

"Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; as we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at midday." -Thomas Arnold

"Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young." - Fred Astaire

"Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life." - -Daniel Francois Esprit Auber

"Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success."  -Francis Bacon

"I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am."  -Bernard M. Baruch

"We grow neither better or worse as we get old, but more like ourselves."  -May L. Becker

"To think, when one is no longer young, when one is not yet old, that one is no longer young, that one is not yet old, that is perhaps something." -Samuel Beckett

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." [2 Corinthians 4:16] -Bible

"To resist the frigidity of old age, one must combine the body, the mind, and the heart. And to keep these in parallel vigor one must exercise, study, and love."  -Bonstettin

"The tendency of old age to the body, say the physiologists, is to form bone. It is as rare as it is pleasant to meet with an old man whose opinions are not ossified."  - J. F. Boyse

"Old men should have more care to end life well than to live long." -Captain J. Brown

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." -Les Brown

"A woman's always younger than a man at equal years." - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"Grow old with me the best is yet to come." -Robert Browning

"Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns to be amused rather than shocked." -Pearl S. Buck

"Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese."  -Billie Burke

"By the time you're eighty years old you've learned everything. You only have to remember it."
 -George Burns

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days."  -John Burroughs

"To me -- old age is always ten years older than I am." - Andre B. Buruch

"A man of eighty has outlived probably three new schools of painting, two of architecture and poetry and a hundred in dress." - Joyce Carey

"It is not all bad, this getting old, ripening. After the fruit has got its growth it should juice up and mellow. God forbid I should live long enough to ferment and rot and fall to the ground in a squash."  - Emily Carr

"Most people think that aging is irreversible and we know that there are mechanisms even in the human machinery that allow for the reversal of aging, through correction of diet, through anti-oxidants, through removal of toxins from the body, through exercise, through yoga and breathing techniques, and through meditation."  - Deepak Chopra

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