76 Trombones!

My birthday weekend is here.

Having a July 3rd birthday means I can always count the 4th of July fireworks as "mine." From the beautiful explosions around the lake at summer camp of my childhood, to the extraordinary illuminations nearby and in distant towns seen from the hilltop perch I've adopted in my current neighborhood, I have always been awed by these magical displays.

I have to admit as well that I look forward to birthdays that have an associated song... "When I'm 64" came and went as I and the remaining Beatles passed that landmark, but it did amuse me for that entire year... and now I keep imagining a parade of 76 trombones, as that Music Man tune plays in my head.

Yes, 76... can it be? It seems not very long ago I wrote my blog post about turning 70. I'm more accustomed to the sound of these numbers now than I was then, but this moment bares taking stock.

At 76 I'm feeling grateful for many things... my caring husband, the proximity of our family, time with grandchildren, our health, good friends, and the pure good fortune to still be here. I've seen friends, of all ages die this year, so I'm well-aware that I'm a survivor in this longevity revolution. I'm trying to make good use of this gift of time.

At 70, I allowed myself to be a dabbler, as I gradually retired from a long and satisfying career. Art, music, table tennis, Senior Center and new neighborhood activities. But as the 70Candles! Project expanded from research to blog, to gatherings, and then to the writing and publication of our book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, my focus has shifted. Finishing the book after several years of effort has been akin to the birth of a child. I feel pride in this off-spring and hope it will go forth and succeed.

Now, as I conduct conversations about being this age with groups of women in Senior Centers, independent living centers, in religious venues and in book groups, I continue to learn more about their joys and challenges and the myriad ways they face and solve dilemmas. There is always recognition of common issues and a deep sense of camaraderie in these gatherings.

Although I did not expect this turn of events, my "dabbler" energies have become focused on writing... the result of following the flow of 70Candles! activities. Our 70Candles.com blog calls for my attention. Our readers requested and got an email subscriber button. Those who wanted to see groups in their geographic area, now have a Gatherings page on our blog, where leaders can volunteer and anyone can join. We continue to submit columns to the Huffington Post, and we are working on a Leaders Guide to aid those who are eager to assemble groups.

In addition to these pursuits, I keep exercising... now adding my summer lap swimming to a schedule of rigorous exercise classes at the local rec center. I began at eight pool laps, and am now up to twenty-two. Wonder if I'll be able to match last year's finale of 50 laps.

Keeping healthy is an excellent goal, but alas we have no control over some things. My hearing is waning. A ironic blow to someone whose career has been devoted to communication disorders. To deal with this problem I wear the best hearing aids and let everyone I talk with know they need to face me. I'm particularly specific on the phone, "I have trouble hearing... please speak directly into the phone, and more slowly!"

There's closed caption on our home TVs, and I frequent a movie theatre that provides a handy closed caption device that sits in the cup holder of my armrest. The microphone and small amplifier I bring to discussion groups is a savior, for me and for those in the circle of conversation, many of whom also strain to hear.

I've read that older people report a greater sense of well-being even in the face of physical problems. I hope the tenets of Positive Psychology play out in my life this year, for my continued sense of well-being. They are Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. We shall see...

Onward toward 77!

How do you feel about your upcoming birthday?

Jane

70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole, available from taosinstitute.net/70candles and on Amazon.com in paperback and as a Kindle download.