Enough of me, it’s time to see how others are tackling the milestone of turning 60. From celebrities such as Gary Lineker and Nigella Lawson who have both turned 60 this year to the less well-known like myself and others blogging about ageing.
When you Google ‘Being 60 – how does it feel?’ it seems like it’s a bigger deal for women than men. The search results include a number of blogs by women and the ‘also search for’ side panel includes ‘female body changes at 60’, ‘what does a typical 60 year-old woman look like’ as well as the more ominous ‘turning 60 and feeling depressed’.
Over the next few days I’m going to reproduce and link through to some of those blogs to get fresh perspectives on hitting the milestone.
Today’s article, which I’ve edited, is from the excellent blog: ‘These are the Heydays – Ideas to help you live your life to the full’. Here’s the link to the full article.
“Turning 60 (which at the time of posting this, I do tomorrow), has unsurprisingly given me some cause for reflection. I pretty much sailed through my 40th and 50th birthdays, but I’ve skidded up against 60 in a way I wasn’t expecting to.
It’s both gratifying and flattering that so many people, when I tell the age I’m about to be, say “well, you definitely don’t look it”. (Of course they could be trying to infer that I look nearer 70, but I’m choosing to assume they mean I look younger, not older, than my chronological age. Delusion and denial are increasingly powerful mental tools as you age. I highly recommend both.)
Nigella Lawson who turned 60 a couple of weeks before me (and looks fabulous), wrote a marvellous piece on her significant birthday for the Sunday Times Style magazine in which she said “I think one’s ideas about what ages look like take shape in ones’s childhood, so when I say or write 60, I see in my head a little old lady with a grey bun. It’s disconcerting. Of course that’s not what 60 looks like, or feels like, these days”
I almost entirely agree with her. I am certainly not little (metaphorically or physically), and I choose, thanks to the wonders of highlights, not to be visibly grey. Grey hair can look fantastic, and I don’t have any resistance to it on principle. It’s just that mine doesn’t. Yet. I’m very much hoping – as much for the sake of my bank balance as anything – that it will some time in the not-too-distant future, when the grey properly outstrips the currently still dominant scrubby brunette.
Sixty does feel like getting old
But there is something about turning 60 that feels like stepping over the threshold into being old. Nigella observes that 60 is “undeniably well beyond middle aged” and that’s a truth that I’m still trying to get comfortable with. Tipping into the ‘senior’ category for ticket buying, holiday booking etc is going to take some getting used to.
As someone who’s always exercised, I’m keenly aware of the deterioration in my muscle strength and the noticeable diminishment of my energy levels. In spite of the amount I still exercise, which is virtually every day, I’m simply not as strong as I used to be, even two or three years ago.
And whilst I can still muster reassuring quantities of energy, my energetic staying power is definitely reduced, and my stamina batteries need more careful management and replenishment than they have in the past.
The physical signs of ageing
Both are physical signs of ageing that I rail against. And yet I do know, only too well, that I am fortunate indeed to have both to the degree I do, so I try to stay focused on the positives of being as fit and able as I am lucky enough to be. I’m slowly getting better at being better at that.
Like Nigella I have got to this age having experienced the untimely death of my husband. By a strange twist of fate, I co-presented a television series with her husband, the wonderful journalist John Diamond, who sadly died of cancer at just 48.
My husband died suddenly just a few months after his 60th birthday (yes, the significance of that isn’t lost on me). That and the death of a similar aged friend not all that long after, has made me only too aware that turning 60 is very much preferable to the alternative. And attentive to the fact that denying that is not only foolish but disingenuous.
…and living life to the full
I’ve always believed that life – in all its vicissitudes – should be embraced, enjoyed and celebrated (and yes, sometimes, endured), but those losses have sharpened my conviction to grasp every day with as much enthusiasm and energy as I can muster.
It helps that I now expend precious little of that precious energy on caring or, more specifically, worrying about other people’s opinions of me. I certainly don’t pay any less regard to nurturing and nourishing the relationships with the people I care about, and I can still be kept awake at night if I think I’ve done or said anything that might be untoward where they’re concerned.
What a relief
But oh, the relief of no longer agonising over what acquaintances, or, even more absurdly, stranger’s opinions might be of the way I dress (how I damm well choose thank you), the way I express myself, (ditto) the opinions I have (which I’m as entitled to as you are to yours and which I’m happy to hear, discuss and agree to disagree about or not)….I could go on.
I have no desire to become a cartoon-like grumpy old woman, or to elbow my way through life upsetting or offending people willy nilly, but the hard-won self-confidence I have acquired over the seven decades I’ve stumbled through is something I treasure and am not prepared to relinquish.
Being 60? Bring it on. I’m ready and excited.