Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!!!……This New Years Eve as we are counting down to midnight, I will also be counting down to turning the big 6-0. Yessiree, January 1st is my birthday, and this year is a big one. Whenever you hit a new decade, it’s always somewhat of a big deal, a measure of life that reminds us of our mortality, reminds us that ‘someday’ is now, that we are in certain ways becoming our parents. Remembering when my mother was in her sixties, I thought she was so old, but it may have been more about how she perceived her age and chose to live her life. While a very stylish woman, she was very old-fashioned in her beliefs. As a traditional stay-at-home mom, her self-worth was tied primarily to the lives of her two daughters. She believed in dressing – and acting – ‘age appropriate’. (Ha to that!) She truly hated getting old, and often said that it was all downhill after 50. Yikes. I strongly disagree. Sure, you can’t deny the many joys of youth, but there are different joys to being ‘old’. For example:
- You finally know yourself. By the time you hit 60, you know who you are, and you know what is important to you. No need to ‘fit in’ with the crowd, no need to do things because of other people’s expectations of you. You answer to yourself and you prioritize your life accordingly. It’s time to spend your days doing what makes you feel good, doing what gives you a sense of purpose and passion. Time to socialize with like-minded friends. Time to rethink family traditions of years gone by and decide which ones to keep, which to give up. It is all so liberating! Some people may reach this point at a younger age, but I bet for most it takes more than a few decades.
- Party time. You have finally reached the stage of life to reap the benefits of past efforts. I can remember child rearing years when my checkbook was often in the negative, when my wardrobe consisted of blue jeans, one pair of sneakers, and hand-me-downs from Ginger. Going out to dinner was for special occasions only. The focus was on raising a family and making ends meet. Not always fun. Well, if you worked hard and planned wisely, by age 60 you hopefully have some degree of financial security and the freedom to have fun on a regular basis. Time to start checking off that bucket list.
- You appreciate the small stuff. You are lucky to be ALIVE. Honestly, working in the healthcare industry I see people younger than myself everyday with terminal diagnoses, or with life debilitating illnesses. Some who never have the good fortune of seeing their children grow to adults, never mind their grandchildren. When you really see each day as a gift, the smell of the air, the color of the sky, the feel of your sheets when you finally fall into bed at night – these are all joys, often overlooked when we are younger.
Ok, let’s be honest, getting old is not all fun and games. What I dislike the most:
- The end is near. Really. Once you hit 60, won’t you be lucky to get twenty more good years? Just when we ‘know ourself’, just when we’re hitting our stride, you wish you could put on the brakes and slow down the passing of time, slow down the aging process. You hope to stay healthy to remain active. You might even have those ‘difficult’ discussions with your kids – whether or not to put in the feeding tube, whether or not to be a ‘DNR’. I had a funny conversation recently with my daughter Hayley…she said if I had a stroke or for some other medical reason was unable to speak, she would hold up two different outfits; if my face showed expression that I preferred one outfit, she says that means there’s still life in me, it would not be time to ‘pull the plug’. Haha. Hope she dresses me well…
- Physical changes that affect function. Vision changes drive me crazy. Sure I have my multiple pairs of readers as well as distance glasses for certain situations, but what a nuisance! And how about losing steam when in younger days we stayed out until 2am? Peter says it’s not about our age, it’s more a function of when we get up in the morning – up at 5am to hit the gym then head off to work. Once 8pm rolls around…yawwwn…and add to that the effect alcohol has on us at an older age? Why don’t two martinis interrupt the sleep of twenty-somethings? Why can they have a hangover but still function the next day? That’s ok! These changes are annoying, but no need to let them hold you back. As long as Peter and I are physically able, we will climb our old asses up onto bar stools and put on our glasses to read the cocktail menu. 😉
What about other, more obvious physical changes, you say? Graying hair, wrinkles, loss of skin tone, etc. Yes, all that sure happens, but there are so many things we can do to look our best, from hair color to lash extensions, botox to cosmetic surgery. God knows what I would look like without all the things I do religiously to maintain hair, teeth, skin, weight, nails, etc. Believe me, I don’t go to the gym six times a week because I enjoy it. It takes constant effort when you are older, but to me, the results are worth it. Not that the results make a 60 year old look 30, but there’s a huge difference between someone that puts in the effort versus ‘giving up’ or ‘aging gracefully’. (Phhhft!) Let me add that the difference is not only superficial – when you look your best on the outside it absolutely affects how you feel on the inside.
The big 6-0 will be here soon. I’m not afraid. I’m grateful for these 60 years and all they have taught me. One thing I have learned well in these past twenty is that things will not stay the same. Your life can change in an instant. So I will not waste one single day and I will not pass up on any opportunity to have fun or learn something new.
I will continue to wear high heels, bikinis, and false lashes. I will continue to work hard, seek adventure, enjoy my family, and drink martinis. 😉
Now let’s hear from you! Whether it’s the big 60, 50, or 40, how has getting older made you feel? What’s the best part and what to you is the worst? Would love to hear!