thoughts on turning 65: choices, options, finding joy

thoughts on turning 65, aging, ageist stereotypes

thoughts on turning 65: choices, options, finding joy

Starting in mid June I began a countdown to my 65th birthday by sharing observations, insights or other tidbits related to what is often considered a landmark age. I’ve been asked to share a summary and my observations about how I feel at this juncture in life and what I want to do going forward.

This is important to me because I decided to create my own definitions of what it could look like to turn a certain age, instead of going with the societal notion that I’m ‘over the hill’ or ‘invisible’ or otherwise about to settle in my rocking chair and just fade away. I posted 30 times; some of them have been combined if they are tied together. You can see them on Facebook , as they are public posts. They’re all have a raspberry background and start with “65th B-Day Countdown” so they’re easy to spot.

The first posting began as a reflection of what turning 65 means for me. Less bound by traditional mores: I want to challenge any preconceived, ageist notions I have about being 65. Have I subconsciously taken an attitude that might limit my options, or cause me to conform or otherwise tone down my life based on ideas of what’s appropriate for a 65-year-old?

In conclusion—no I haven’t.

Traveling alone allows me to really focus on what’s around me. And to act spontaneously—take this street or that? Sit and watch people or explore an enticing side street? I’m free to be and do whatever I want when I travel. No one knows me or has an expectation. I can easily step out of being that person I’ve always been. Plus I love conversations with strangers.

Wiser, softer, open. I have changed, whether that’s because of age or, more likely, working on understanding myself. The softer piece is letting go of protective barriers I erected over the years. I’m confident enough now to let myself be seen. And I’ve finally, mostly, shed the fears of people will think.

Without all the responsibilities (caregiving, mothering, full-time job) and burdens I’m free to explore creative aspects of life. To read more, experience more art. And with that is a desire to have a more woman-focused life, in what I do, read, and in what I share on social media.

As noted above I am not the person I used to be. I’m still working on discarding old stories and healing myself. And a big part of what has changed is a lack of focus on taking care of others and putting my own needs aside. I’m no longer hiding who I am in a desire to be loved. Learning to love myself means learning to say no and deciding which people I want in my life.   If something, or someone doesn’t work for me I can walk away. I know I’ve made some wrong moves but I’m learning from those, not berating myself.

Sex is still an important part of my life. Actually it wasn’t all that important when I was much younger—often driven by a partner’s desire and my sense of obligation and the awareness that being willing to have sex pleases partners. Now I seek it for my pleasure. I know what it’s like to experience intimacy in a deeper way and I am in charge of who gets invited into my life. And my bed.

I feel comfortable with the signs of aging—I have chosen to embrace this time of my life, not fret over it. I am not interested in pretending to be younger, more ‘youthful’ or ageless. More about this in my Pleasures of Aging post.

Giving myself permission to…

I don’t see aging as a narrowing of options. I’m no less  useful, or capable now than before (except maybe the occasional achy knee). I actually feel like there are more options available to me. I am choosing not to place limitations on my life. And it’s all mine to choose.

For too long I didn’t really own my sensuous, sexy side. Because I didn’t fit what society calls hot and sex as a teen and adult  I felt awkward and too large, not pretty enough, not the one that men naturally gravitated towards. But I was wrong. Sexy is an attitude; it’s how we show up. And I love that. I can acknowledge that men find me appealing and that’s gratifying in a way. I suspect it’s less about the boobs and makeup and flirty stuff as it is about the radiance that comes with self-confidence.

Honoring myself and seeing that reflected in my life. I am now/finally making choices to reflect the way I feel about myself and thinking about the life I want to create.

I’m still single because I’ve refused to compromise, to make myself more appealing to men, and have made some bad choices. And, I’m comfortable with that, seeing it as a positive and not a flaw.  I’ve had far too many first dates and brief failed ‘relationships’.  I’m done with those games and I will choose what suits me. Yet, I have to admit that there are times when I wish I had a partner.

With the cancer scare I acknowledged my resilience and in, looking back I could see that I’ve weathered some difficult times in life. I’ve done more than just survived. It’s a good feeling to be able to acknowledge one’s own strength, particularly as a (aging) woman.

Celebrating: We can do it in so many ways. I’m making my own rules, which include celebrating me, every day, in various ways. It can be whatever I want it to be.

Voice. I’ve been a public speaker for years and am quite comfortable in front of an audience but I haven’t always trusted my personal voice. The voice that reflects who I am, not the work or program I’m promoting. The feeling that I didn’t have a right, or would mess up, or look vain or silly. Trusting my voice and being articulate at (almost) all times is relatively new for me. It feels right. Plus, in helping women find their voices I have to be able to do the same.

Choosing how I plan to age. To be gray. To be visible, to experience pleasure and joy. I could just as easily choose fear and self-deprecation. Bemoan my fate as a single woman and all the traumas. Dye my hair, hide my age, instead I choose to be visible and true to who I really am. And I can choose what happens next. Obvious some things are not predictable, but I can take active charge of my life and lead the narrative. This involves healthier choices, a different attitude, a willingness to sit with discomfort and a desire to keep discovering. It all…..

Oh, and yes I’m thrilled to be on Medicare.

 

Photo by Nikhita Singhal on Unsplash

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