How I’m embracing and discovering myself again after 60

Mar 21, 2023
Be sure you take the time to do what makes you happy. Source: Getty

What will I do after I turn 60?

What did I do before I turned 60?

What did I want to do before 60?

Why does it have to be so different?

Oh yes, that’s right, I’ve aged and can’t quite run up the mountain tops like I used to, and I have different feelings about things and different responsibilities now. Of course, I wouldn’t be human if I hadn’t changed, but – think carefully – are those things enough to stop me doing what I CAN and WANT to do?

Some of us have spent years justifying why we shouldn’t do things for “me”, too concerned about how it will affect those around us.

Is this not the time in our lives that we have the least responsibilities that we’ve had for years? No children at home, house sorted (for now), work a distant thing (for now). I say “for now” as anything can change at any moment – that’s a certainty of life I know now that I didn’t always!

I pondered on this the other day when I was perusing a magazine:

You work 8 hours to live 4.

You work 6 days to enjoy 1.

You work 8 hours to eat in 15 minutes.

You work 8 hours to sleep 5.

You work all year just to take a week or two vacation.

You work all your life to retire in old age.

And contemplate only your last breaths.

I don’t know who wrote that, but I suspect a younger person – a cynical observation of a life spent on this earth.

Well, I am certain you or I, retired or not (I still haven’t decided) are not going to spend our over 60’s precious years, contemplating our last breaths – otherwise I wouldn’t be trying to get your attention in this article, and you wouldn’t be perusing the Start at 60 online magazine!

Going back to my beginning, a long time before I turned 60, I enjoyed adventures and meeting new places and people, and challenges. I travelled the world working and exploring, including a stint on P&0 cruises and crewing a commercial sailing ketch across the top of Australia. Then there was the French-only speaking job in a brasserie in the heart of country France, and the Casino ship in Key West that turned out to be owned by the Mafia. The more remote and unusual the locations, the more I enjoyed the ambiance and easy connections, but I also loved the fast pace of life in cities including London, Sydney, and Mexico.

If I break down the elements and really try to analyse not what I did, but why it appealed to me personally – it was the sense of adventure, the new and constantly changing environments, the interaction and connection of people along the way, the sense that life doesn’t have to be stagnant or still. I felt privileged to be part of other cultures and countries and learned as much as I could from where I was. I’m still in contact with people I met along the way!

But the pace and nature of life changes, and although different, I will always have and treasure those memories.

Then came the wonderful world of family life and settling down, which is still ongoing and changing constantly.

And now – over 60 – some days I feel scared and everything I think about doing seems to be just so futile, knowing that nothing will be the same again, and then the next day I am smugly smiling inside, knowing that the days of figuring out how to get a career going or to impress a boss (after my 20-year career of a stay at home Mum), are over,

So instead of being scared, I decided to make some positive steps toward the life I wanted to be proud of eventually.

In my 61st year, I decided to only drink alcohol-free drinks, that in itself has opened up a world I didn’t know existed, not only of delicious alternatives but a new way of life and new friends and connections.

This also meant I felt fitter, so found new things to try like jogging, pilates, yoga, cycling, and swimming. But some days I don’t feel like doing anything, so I just listen to my body and be kind to it.

In my 62nd year, I challenged an unfair decision of an employer and won a Fairwork tribunal. Felt very proud, a younger me wouldn’t have had the courage.

In my 63rd  year, hearing I was going to become a grandmother for the first time gave me the push I needed to get out of my comfort zone and left a job that had run its course and went to work in a new job, new city, new home, creating new connections and being close to the newly created young family.

In my 64th year, I spent a year in UK to be close to an ageing parent, found a job (several actually, and was amazed at the realisation that we are VERY employable at over 60’s), and discovered house sitting!

Ah, house sitting, so much to say, such little time, I’ll save that for later!

All I am saying is, living more years, means there is less time to ponder or procrastinate over what you may like to do in this wonderful life we have been given.

Here’s a question I ask myself when unsure if I should or shouldn’t do something.

What have I got to lose?

Example one – do I catch a train for a trip I would normally drive? What have I got to lose? Only 20 hours of my life! I have the time, let’s do it. The result is a new experience, a slower pace, connecting with others who you would never meet on a plane, and free cornflakes for breakfast!

Example two – should I leave my family and go look after Mum in the UK for a year? What did I have to lose? Missing my family. The result and the rewards are too many to mention here!

If the answer to that question is something you are not prepared to risk, then don’t!

However, in my humble experience and what I have observed, there is often only fear stopping others from doing something they would like to do. And those fears are usually just doubting our ability, which I would say is usually unfounded.

For fear of using a cliché – here goes anyway – you only know what you know, you don’t know what you don’t know!

Go on, what have you got to lose?

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