I used to think it was a big deal, turning 50. Age-related surgeries and hormonal events were a challenge (to say the least). Also, I changed careers and tried to rediscover myself. You, too? And then there was all that learning, all that post-menopausal thinking. Like so many older peeps, I learned new truths about myself and about life in general.
But life isn’t static, and now I’m 60. The mysteries of menopause don’t thrill me anymore. Now I’m going somewhere new again, and it’s exciting and a little frightening.
Here’s what’s new about me. See if any of this resonates for you:
- I treasure unfettered time. Whenever I start to feel guilty about having a day in which I have nothing planned, I think about all the young women (and parents generally) who would kill for a little free time. I think of my younger self, who was about ready to have a nervous breakdown due to too much responsibility and too little rest. I actually had a couple of panic attacks that were terrifying. The pressure never let up, and not just for me. In my 40s, I worked with a gal whose hair was falling out. Her doctor attributed it to stress and she needed to take more time for herself. Like she had a choice. Well, now I have a choice.
- My body is weaker, although still strong. I run sometimes on the treadmill, for a minute or so. Just to remind my body how to do it, but not enough to mess up anything. I ran – well, trotted – the other day when golfing. I told Bill to go on in the cart and I’d catch up. Figured it was a good opportunity to up the RPMs. I was careful, but it felt really good.
- I forget words. This is SO frustrating, because you wonder if it’s the first sign of dementia and that makes you worry, which affects your ability to recall stuff…a downward spiral. Instead, now, I’m learning to hurry past the gap with a breezy synonym. Listeners never know I panicked for a split-second. (By the time I’m in my 70s, this will be boring, but for now, it’s new and fascinating.)
- I am more loving. Especially with Bill. I feel like I’m falling in love with him all over again. (Salespeople call this the “takeaway close.”)
- I am more fearful.
- I am more patient (Well, this is iffy. I sometimes feel self-righteous anger boiling inside. Dr. Christiane Northrup and other sages have said it’s a kind of age-related intolerance of injustice and stupidity. And we don’t care if people think we’re behaving or not.)
You know from past columns that I went into counseling a few months ago to, as Jane Fonda calls it, embark on a Life Review (Watch her inspiring TEDx talk here, and if you don’t have eleven minutes, skip directly to the six minute mark.) I think this might be a good thing to do on every Big Birthday.
I recently read The Female Brain by Dr. Louann Brizendine. Fabulous book, except it ends with the menopausal transformation. I was kind of annoyed about that, but today I’m having second thoughts. What if the years after menopause are the only time where hormones don’t mess up our brains? A nice long stretch of peacefulness, when our thinking is no longer affected by the ebb and flow of reproductive chemicals?
It remains to be seen. Neurological imaging is pretty new, and info about older peeps will be slow in coming. Personally, I can only imagine where I’ll be at 70, 80, 90. Still blogging and writing, I hope, and I expect it to be an interesting ride. What about you? How do you see your post-sixty years?