At 50 there was a growing sense of getting older but still the body was in good shape. As women, most of us had already started dyeing our hair. Many women are dealing with menopause in this decade and that is no easy thing, physically or emotionally. Turning 50 is a marker. We are most likely past ‘middle age’ as it is unlikely we will live to be 100.
I did not like turning 60, it was a crisis birthday. I felt like I was starting to look old. My hair was not only turning white but also beginning to thin. The eyebrows were beginning to thin. Everything was thinning except the waistline. It was hard to keep the stomach muscles switched on, they were tired and just wanted to be let loose. Wrinkles were everywhere. I didn’t feel quite as robust as I once did physically. It was the beginning of the really noticeable physical changes that come with ageing. But the crisis passed, I adjusted and turning 61 was no big deal. By 62, I was loving being in my sixties. I became comfortable in my own skin, wrinkled as it was.
Throughout my sixties, I had a sense of freedom that I had never experienced in my younger years.
I was still working in paid employment but I was no longer ‘career focused’. I was accepting of what I had and had not accomplished. I cared about enjoying the work I was doing as much as I cared about the pay cheque. I appreciated being valued for my work skills and ethics and if I was receiving that, it was enough to keep me from looking for a higher paying job.
I became more accepting of my imperfections, and those of others. I quit becoming so critical of myself, and others. I realised that a lot of my disappointments came from having expectations that turned out to be unfair or unrealistic. So, I slowly learned to drop those expectations, instead accepting that I would make mistakes and that I couldn’t predict or control how others would behave.
I became much more committed to finding out who I really was, finding out what impulsed me, what fed my thoughts, what spurred me into action? I quit caring what others thought of me and my decisions, caring, instead, about how I felt about my thoughts and actions – did they feel right to me? I fell in love with being 60. I was secure in myself about who I am. I also had the good fortune of being somewhat financially secure. At least the house was paid for.
Now at 69 I’m feeling a little like I am going to miss being in my sixties because it has been such glorious fun. I’m going to be 70 in a few months and I’m not sure if I want to go there.
I’ve heard from my friends who have already turned 70 that there is a noticeable change in the physicality when the body turns 70. The muscle tone definitely begins to change and aches become more prominent, we may become hard of hearing and have to start wearing a hearing aid or have cataract surgery to clear the cloudy vision. I don’t like the sound of any of that.
But it is the way of it. So, do I resist? Get bummed out? Complain?
Or do I embrace it as yet another phase of life where I am drawn into a closer relationship with this marvellous, miraculous body that has carried me through 70 years of living on planet earth?
Yesterday I was making a road trip with some friends, going up the coast to make our way out to an island off the Australian seaboard. I asked to stop after about two hours because I needed to use the loo AND I needed to get out and stretch because I could feel my hips were getting pressed down by the seatbelt. As I stepped out of the car, I immediately felt how stiff my hips were so my first few steps out of the car, I was very present in my body, making sure I had my balance.
I am sensing that it is this deeper connection with my body that will be the gift of being in my seventies.
I will be called to be present in my body all the time, always listening to the messages my body is sending me, such as pausing at the top of every stairwell to make sure I am paying attention before descending the steps. I will be more committed to my exercise programs, because I feel better after doing them. I won’t be sitting for hours in a car or at the computer, without hearing my body calling for a stretch. It will be like having a new best friend, always with me, always sending me messages about what is needed. Maybe being in my seventies won’t be so bad after all – perhaps it will be a gift and an amazing decade to be enjoyed.
Gayle C., Australia
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read:
Ageing – to be feared or lived?
Self Care – Nurturing and Loving Your Body