As my birthday approaches, I have many thoughts on turning 70. It seems that milestone birthdays — especially those that mark another decade merit reflection.
I’ve now lived seven decades of my life. It’s truly a time for reflection! I’m looking back at old journals as I can’t recall each of these important decade birthdays. I’ve previously written about celebrating a birthday. Thoughts on turning 70 are similar to those described in an earlier post Celebrating 66 Years — Every Birthday Counts.
On my 20th birthday I got engaged. In today’s society, I wonder how I was so sure of a relationship to make a long-term commitment at twenty. Times were different and love dominated all feelings. A few months later, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. Getting a good job and, living my life with a handsome man would fulfill my life’s dream.
By the time I turned 30, my husband and I had moved across the country to Montreal for graduate school. We both completed our first graduate degrees and moved a couple of times before settling into careers and our first suburban house. I had begun my career as a child and family therapist in a children’s mental health center. We traveled at whim, entertained frequently, and partied every weekend. It was a carefree time.
Things changed again by the time I reached 40. We had a bright, talented six-year old son who kept us busy with Suzuki music lessons, soccer, and other sports. Parenthood brought more stability and responsibility. My husband undertook studies for a PhD and my career took off with progressive management positions. I wrote the GMAT exam and began part-time studies for a MBA while continuing at my job.
The years flew past. By age 50, we had moved once more, this time for my career, and into the house where we still reside. I was managing a multi-site provincial agency, a role that involved long hours, travel and much more responsibility. Our son graduated from a specialized arts high school and began university studies in Boston. He played élite level soccer on the provincial and the national team as well as at the NCAA varsity level. Social life changed again. Most weekends were spent travelling to soccer games or tournaments in various cities in Canada or the US.
My 60th birthday found me in another senior executive job with opportunities to influence the public policy agenda for children and responsibility for the policy and funding needs of child welfare agencies in the province. Our son was pursuing graduate studies in Scotland. The empty nest meant that my husband and I could travel again, which we did when the opportunity arose.
Over this weekend, I’ll celebrate 70 years. The past decade, like all others, passed without much notice. Retirement gave me a new ‘freedom to fly’ into the so-called third age. A new identity has emerged through becoming a mother-in-law and a grandmother, writing this blog, developing new friendships, volunteering, and pursuing long-neglected hobbies.
My thoughts on turning 70 have me wondering what the eighth decade will bring. I have enormous blessings including a loving husband and family, enough money to live a comfortable life, and relatively good health. I’m at peace with my age and hope that I have many more years of life as there is still so much to learn.
At twenty, I never thought I would get this old. Sometimes, I look in the mirror and wonder whose reflection stares back. Gravity has taken its toll. I do think of my mortality. I face certain age-related issues as some aspects of ageing have drawbacks. In a youth-oriented society, age stereotypes as expressed in an earlier post ‘Aging ‘Successfully’ , lead to many negative assumptions about me.
I’ve resolved that I won’t let societal expectations haunt me. I won’t let this decade rush past. I plan to lighten up, yet live my remaining years with purpose. I will stay hopeful about the future, confident about my abilities, and aware of my limitations. I will spend less time meeting the expectations of others and take more time to focus on personal expectations. Getting old is empowering — I’m determined to use my experience, wisdom, and strength of character to grow old on my terms.
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Birthday Cake photo courtesy of Laura D’Alessandro