What does it mean to turn 60? Since I’ve written the book on turning fifty, and am now 59, it seems people want to ask me, what about the tao of turning 60? Will you write that book. If I do, what would I write about?
The celebration of the journey from baby to young girl to youth to young married wife to student and writer and mother, then menopause and wise woman, teacher and facilitator? Might be a place to start, by feeling grateful. Instead of what I have done mostly all my life, complain complain complain about the hardships, the curves thrown at me, the things that have not turned out the way I wanted.
It was not without adventure that I set out on this journey, born eldest of eight children in a small house in the country that quickly grew too cramped. Little mother, helper and caretaker, house cleaner, house mother, secretary, poet, writer and proofreader, volunteer and organizer, communicator… oh the roles I have played, cook and breastfeeder, birther and nurse, playful sister and overarching boss of everything.
But turning sixty is not to look forward in fear and loathing of getting older, but in celebration of all that came before. Failures as well as successes. Forks in the road, unexpected turns, returns and circling back as well as moving sideways and forwards, crab-like. Ok there are wrinkles and aching joints and stiffness, but some of that is within my control and there’s no point complaining.
I want the comfort and grounding of the continuing present, as the circular spiral path of my life continues; I am not looking ahead so much (although there is a part of me that is reassured by money in the bank account once my husband and provider retires). Physically I want to remain strong and active, so I know there is work to do, or ‘fun’ to have, in yoga, walking, zumba and dance. Some stretching and relaxing of overused muscles, some breathing and centering in meditation and yoga. A lot of letting go.
My heart has grown and stretched too – to the new babies that come along in the extended family as nephews and nieces marry and grow their families. We are 25 on each side! And still growing.
My heart also stretches towards new friendships and women I meet in classes, lectures and retreats. I am learning, still taking classes, stretching my inner growth in rites of passage training and women’s circles and creative exercises. Life is too short to stand still and become cemented in one spot. My roots move with me, I am a dancing tree who feels connected by my underground spores to all the trees around me.
Sixty may bring health challenges, but I am conscious and aware of how my diet, exercise and movement or lack of it affect my health. I can only do what I can do, stay in the middle ground, not get caught up in extreme health fads, but listen to my body’s guidance. My emotional health needs care to – can I listen and embrace sorrow, sadness, joy, grief and happiness? Conflict with children and spouses or friends? It gets easier the older I am. I know that I am flawed, and fabulous, but can I allow others their flaws too, without hope of changing them? Acceptance and compassion are life lessons I am learning, loving kindness not only towards the self but to others, less judgment (oh that is an easy trap to fall into), less shame and blame, and more laughter and reassurance.
Good company, flexibility and awareness. I don’t know what else I want – a bit of travel, but not too much. New vistas, but mostly, a comfortable home that reflects colours and fabrics and spaces I love to be in, and the added comfort in knowing my own center travels with me everywhere.
I am enjoying this 59th year, and am in no rush to move ahead, but as life is moving, always, I need to stay flex and move along with the current of this river – with curiosity and awareness, alert, relaxed and trusting. One day at a time.
I do look forward to seeing grandchildren, to growing older with my ‘chum’ and husband, to seeing more family added to our tree. A bountiful harvest then, that is what turning 60 means to me.
A bountiful, beautiful orchard full of ripe trees and juicy fruit. And feeling loved and held in the center of it. Community, family, and love.