And The Countdown To 60 Begins ... Gulp!

My God, my 60th birthday's barreling down faster than Usain Bolt in Rio. There's less than one month to go and I'm feeling a funny brew. There's definitely a "Holy-sh*t, how did I get here?" vibe. After all, I was 25 a week ago. But underneath all that is something else, a funny hum I couldn't put my finger on until recently.

Wait ... that funny hum is excitement and possibility! Even at this advanced age, life beckons.

Getting to this stage feels like entering a new level of education, the "School of Later Years." If 90-somethings are the dignified seniors, then us 60-somethings are the brash freshmen. After all, we're the generation of Haight-Ashbury, Free Love, Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying," Women's Liberation, mini skirts, and of course, the Rolling Stones.

I grew up watching the world shift from "Father Knows Best" to Janis Joplin and Woodstock. On the news was the latest death toll from Vietnam, peace protests, women burning their bras and the assassination of Martin Luther King.

It was cool to be young and hopelessly sad to be old.

Now I look around, shaking my head. How did I get here?

For many of us, that sense of rebellion never left. I know 60-somethings that still play in rock bands, ride motorcycles, and wear their hair long (okay, those who still have hair).

Yet there's no denying there's a shift in perspective.

This age reminds me of being in a plane. The announcement has come on to return tray tables to an upright position. Initial descent has begun. Hopefully the actual landing will be a long time away (and not too bumpy), but I can't help looking out that window, watching for those first signs of the earth below.

In the meantime, here are my goals...

Keep Learning -- Unlike certain politicians who claim to know everything, I realize the more I know, the more I don't know. Knowledge is fluid and never-ending. We're always students. We're never done. And that's what makes life exciting. For me, that means reading. I'll always have a huge stack of books to get through. They'll always be my fount of wisdom, entertainment and enrichment.

Keep Exploring -- Ah ... the world beckons. And yes, money and health are always factors, but while that green light is on, I plan to gun it. Here's my short list: Greece, India, Japan, the Grand Canyon, and Nashville (strange list I know, but whatever). There's nothing more exciting than seeing a new place for the first time. I get misty-eyed. If I'm lucky, I'll have many of those moments ahead.

Keep Growing -- By this, I mean independence. My husband Randy and I have been married 36 years. We've always been a great team. But these days we give each other space. He needs to be the musician who plays all night. I'm in my pajamas by 10:00 p.m. I need to explore the world. After decades of corporate travel, he's done. We're learning to allow each other freedom to grow as people. It's a different phase of marriage, but an important one.

Strangely, I get happier as I age. I was a mess when I was young. I looked good on the outside, but inside was a cauldron of self-doubt, insecurity and annoyance. I wanted life to change quickly. I had no patience.

Now it's the opposite. The outside has weathered, but the inside is more content.

I get sad when I hear women 60-plus bemoaning their years and putting themselves down, especially physically. I've never understood lamenting over time given -- especially if it's been mostly good. And I get that health factors into everything, which is even more reason to celebrate if the old jalopy's still running smoothly (or running at all).

Like many people, I've decided my 60s will be my second adolescence. The doubts of youth have subsided. There are no small sticky hands to clean or school calendars to adhere to. It's open highway from here on.

And yes, it's sad and scary to be in that initial descent. There are many more days behind than ahead. There's an urgency that wasn't there before.

So what's a girl to do? What else? Learn, explore, grow ... and turn up those Rolling Stones.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, CT. Her blog, "Musings, Rants & Scribbles" shares thoughts on growing up, growing older, and growing (hopefully) wiser. She draws inspiration from her poor, unsuspecting husband of several decades, two grown sons, family, and friends (including the furry ones). You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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