Turning 60 will be awful. Or so I thought. For months, I dreaded that birthday. When I woke that morning I discovered what was different: absolutely nothing. Grateful for my health, family, friends, job and all the other good things in my life, I embraced my new decade as unruffled as possible by my age.
Anticipating turning 65, however, was different. Bring it on! Sixty-five came with choices. I could retire, or not. Follow my dream of freelance writing, or stay in the workforce. Continue living near the beach, or move anywhere. Whatever, I would call the shots because I could. I had planned for this.
By now, I realized that the 60s don’t carry the elderly stigma they once did. Back in high school, my perception of women in their 60s was old—gray hair, chubby, rocking chair old. My baby boomer friends rock, for sure, but not on creaky porches. Sure, we acknowledge that we are officially senior citizens (ouch!) and we gladly accept senior discounts. But we’re … well … hip, for the most part. Life is good.
Genuinely looking forward to this era of opportunity, I devised a personal countdown. On Feb. 23, 2011, my 64th birthday, I moved the blue pottery “retirement fund” jar I received as a joke years ago from an obscure shelf to my coffee table. Next to it, I placed 12 stones—blue, green and gold—in a butterfly-shaped crystal dish. On the 23rd of each following month I moved one stone from the dish to the jar. That July, my grandchildren visiting from Pennsylvania performed the ritual. My friends got into it, too, frequently asking how many stones were left in the dish. Just as the years do, the stones disappeared fast.
I celebrated my 65th birthday with close friends and champagne. They cheered as I plunked the 12th stone in the jar. Thus, the name of this blog and my logo.
My desire is to blog about anything that affects people 65 and older, which is everything. Health, money, family, relationships, activities …
Four months after turning 65, I retired. It was time. I knew it. Now, I smile more often. I say, “Thank you, God” a lot—for my new life and the health to appreciate it. For years too busy to a fault, I find slowing down unnatural but exhilarating. Moving back to Pennsylvania, and most of my family, flittered through my mind. I’ll continue to visit often. My heartstrings remain firmly attached there. But retirement is when people move to warmer, not colder, climates. I’ve come to relish the Florida lifestyle and cherish my Jacksonville friends, many of whom share these 60s issues. Lots to write about!
Video: 12th Stone Ceremony