I just celebrated a major milestone birthday…70! Since my birthday comes at the end of the year, I have the added impetus to reflect on the past and prepare for the future with the beginning of a new year. I find myself very appreciative and filled with gratitude as I think about my seven decades. Seven decades! It sounds much longer than my life feels. Maybe time has played tricks on me and skipped a decade or two. But as I think about each decade I do remember the highlights and some of the lows as well. So as many have suggested, time is just speeding up and 70 years have gone past very quickly!
Here are 7 thoughts of gratitude:
- Good Health: Perhaps some of my good health is from good genes, but both of my parents died in their early sixties when I was in my mid-twenties. So I have my doubts about the contribution of genes. When my parents died, I began to pay close attention to what I ate and to exercise. At 70, I find myself without any of the usual afflictions of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, over-weight or heart disease. I am grateful everyday as I take my walks, stretch and lift weights.
- Fulfilling Life: I have a beautiful daughter who has brought a charming son-in-law and two delightful grandsons into my life. For 35 years I loved my work, finding purpose and opportunity to contribute in my practice as an organization and management consultant. I have made many good friends who are still active, caring supporters in my life. I found a life-partner who delights me and offers me love, companionship and comfort.
- Planning makes a difference: I planned both financially and emotionally for retirement. I gradually slowed down my consulting practice and transitioning my skills and expertise to create the program we call The 3rd Act. Launching an entrepreneurial project turned out to be more work than I anticipated; but I am proud of our website, blogs, newsletter and offerings of coaching and workshops for individuals and couples over 50 who want to plan for this time traditionally called retirement. I have been busy, content and fulfilled in the last decade.
- Giving Back: Most of life, I have followed my father’s teaching about giving back to those less fortunate. I have given my time and financial resources to individuals, organizations and causes that I cared about. My current passion is the Horizons Foundation Board which is focused on expanding the resources for the LGBT community. I have met many wonderful friends, learned and grown within myself and gotten much more in return than I ever imagined. I have found that giving to someone or something beyond myself has offered me meaning and focus.
- Writing: I have begun to think of myself as a writer. I entered my 60’s with a successful professional book , “Consulting on the Inside” and ended the decade co-authoring a second edition with my good friend and colleague, Kim Barnes. I also enjoy writing the blogs for The 3rd Act. Last year, I began learning about writing fiction and doing some historical research. Now, I have finally dedicated this year for a major writing project…writing an historical novel based on the lives of my grandparents.
- Precious Time: I am aware that I don’t have the energy nor am I as strong as I used to be. My body is clearly aging and I need more sleep and more down time. I recently had a frozen shoulder I needed to attend to. And although I bragged above about my good health, my eyes and my teeth are aging too. I am more selective in how and with whom I spend my time. I am conscious that my life is finite and I want to choose well how I use the remaining precious moments.
- 4 Generations: I cherish the experiences of life and wisdom with four generations of family in my life. My daughter, son-in-law and grandsons bring the perspectives and experiences of two younger generations and help keep me young in outlook and in spirit. My baby-boomer partner, who is nine years younger, adds another view from my own “traditionalist” generation; and I love the role model my 90 year-old mother-in-law provides with her delightful sense of humor and her continued interest in life around her.
Many people tell me that I don’t look 70. Although intended as a compliment, I am a bit disturbed by these comments. It is as if there is something wrong with being 70, so I am being reassured that I since I don’t look 70, I am acceptable and don’t need to worry. I remember a comment by Gloria Steinem several years ago, when someone suggested she didn’t look her age. She responded by saying, “This is what xx looks like.” And that is how I feel about 70. The image of 70 from thirty or forty years ago no longer fits for us today. We need to re-think and over turn that old view; take off the blinders and recognize the glorious change that has occurred for us. We look younger and have more vitality today, thanks to good nutrition, medical care and exercise. So I say, this is how 70 looks and I am grateful and celebrating!