Friday, October 21, 2016

Your 60s. It is about change, making the best of it

"Just because you're grown up and then some doesn't mean settling into the doldrums of predictability. Surprise people Surprise Yourself." - Victoria Moran, author "Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Body and Revitalize Your Spirit."
 
BY JULIA ANDERSON
“WOW that was exciting!”
In the decade of my 60s that is just ending, I experienced the deepest losses and the most triumphal gains of my life.
Readers here at sixtyandsingle have followed along as just about everything that could happen, happened:

A late in life divorce that brought me to my knees.
The end of my long-time job at the newspaper.
The death of my best friend.
A new beginning as a freelancer from home. Launching this blog.
Reinvesting my 401(k) nest egg and signing up for Social Security, then Medicare.
Remarrying!!! Building new relationships and embracing new family. (I had no idea that riding on the back of a motorcycle could be fun.)
Being caught up in family financial turmoil surrounding my mother’s final years and her death at age 98.
Saying goodbye to the family farm.

And at the end of my 60s, accepting a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis that has sharpened my focus on health issues and on end of life planning. (This year I updated my will and wrote instructions for dispersing my tangible assets.)

There were practical aspects to my 60s focused on retirement planning, money management and family finances. The emotional side of it meant adjusting to loss -- of my marriage, my full-time job and certain friends. It meant embracing a new 60-and-single world, walking through doors and embracing new opportunities. As the decade ends, I say, wow, you name it, I have lived through it. (And written about it).

Friends have experienced their own trauma. Spouses have died. Others have struggled to care for husbands with Parkinson’s, mental illness and heart disease.

Two friends endured foot surgery. Another spent more than a month lying face-down on a bed because of an eye problem.
Our 60s… it is a big decade!

My dog died.

By the end of it, I am coming to terms with the aging process. Nevertheless, each morning, as I pluck a mini-forest of hairs out of my chin, I feel like I have a lot left to do. Leaving a legacy. Writing a book. Dispersing certain collectibles. Downsizing (but not too much). Traveling. And giving love to those closest…family and friends.

While working at the daily newspaper was an engrossing and rewarding way to make a living, I don’t miss the job, the grind of it.

True heaven is staying in bed with a second cup of coffee, reading the online Wall Street Journal on a Monday morning with no deadlines.

Everything changes in your 60s. Some of my friends have slipped into new orbits centered on children and grandchildren. I miss them but not as much now as before.

There are new interesting people in my life … step-children, grandchildren and new friends whom we have met on the same journey.

Women I know, see 70 as the new 50. No one seems ready to give up being creative -- painting, gardening, cooking, raising money and giving.

Both single and re-married, I appreciate my 60s for what I know now about myself.
This decade asks us to dig deep at a time when we thought things were supposed to get easier. Ha!

As a writer, I feel lucky that my 60s gave me a chance to make sense of life before my higher cognitive powers slip away.
It bothers me that Annie Dillard has quit writing. That Nora Ephron is dead. (I loved “Heartburn.”)

Thank you, Anne Lamont for continuing to enthrall me with your take of the world, on life and love. You have never given up.

I have a friend in her mid-80s who not long ago wrote a great story based on her girlhood during World War II. She gives lectures about it.

My freelance work allows me still to report and write. I continue to passionately share information with women about money, retirement and making the best of it in our 60s.

I worry about the women who have worked most of their lives but have not saved enough to live comfortably in retirement. I lament that women are not more interested in their own financial literacy. None of this long-range planning stuff is complicated.

My most popular topics: traveling solo, remarrying after 60, five steps to retirement planning, financial planning, adjusting to life as a single woman over 60, pre-nups, wills, estate planning, bank trusts.

Some of these posts will soon air on TVCTV, the public television channel in Beaverton, Ore.
And I still report for KXL 101.1 FM.  I am the Smart Money columnist for the Portland Tribune. All fun.

For me, a new relationship has meant the world. Maybe that is because I was so unceremoniously dumped at age 60. Breaking new trail (as a friend recommended, early on) has provided wonderful experiences and memories to dilute those of the past. Unfortunately how relationships end is how they are remembered.

Best advice from my grief counselor: “Cry with your eyes open.”

As much suffering as I did over the end of my long-time marriage, I rejoice in the companionship and comfort gained from this new man in my life.

Loving someone it turns out does not have to be a lot of work. That loving someone can be comfortable, fulfilling. No topic is off limits. Thank you, God (and only you know what I’m talking about).

Love in all its forms is more important than ever to me. You just keep giving it away.
As Jane Austen wrote, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.”

At the end of my 60s, I wake up every morning feeling blessed.
That second cup of coffee helps.
 

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