Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ten ways to reinvent yourself after sixty

I am Naturally Savvy’s Over Sixty Expert, contributing about an article a month at the website. This piece was originally published on March 31, 2013. Please go there to read more of my articles on topics relevant to women over sixty. I love exploring ways for us to keep moving, keep working, keep creating, keep experiencing life to the fullest no matter how old we are.

I first heard of the term reinvention when I entered “More” magazine’s February 2010 Reinvention story contest. My story about how I returned to work outside my home and began to write regularly after the suicide death of my son came in eleventh in the number of votes received out of over 500 entries. With that, the term reinvention became part of my vocabulary. I write about it frequently.

Nora Ephron said it’s good for women to reinvent themselves every ten years. She also said reinvention seems easier for women than for men. And I agree. In fact, seven years after I went back to work full time, I retired and reinvented myself again. I now have a wonderful career as a poet, author, and web journalist – finally doing the work I aspired to do way back in high school and college.

Nora Ephron, one of my heroes 
who left us much too early

Other ways we can reinvent ourselves – some experienced myself; some by people I know.
  1. Retire entirely and move to an area of the country geared to the over fifty-five and sixty crowd – then spend your days playing golf or tennis, gardening, painting or other creative outlet, and reading. We have friends who live in Palm Desert, California who love their busy retired social lives. 
  2. Move to another country – this is on my list. I very much want to live in Italy for six months to a year. I love the people, food, places that are all easily accessible by train. As soon as I can get my husband to decide to reinvent himself into a real retired person, we’re going.
  3. Get a divorce – this is not on my list, but friends got a divorce after a thirty-five year marriage and raising two sons. But the kicker here it that she decided to leave her marriage for a woman. She finally came out as the woman she always was. I understand this happens a lot with women over sixty.
  4. Get married – I’m not looking to do this either, but I do know some folks who have or who are getting ready to have a late-in-life marriage. One woman was divorced for a long time, and she recently found her second husband online. And this man is a great catch. Our next-door neighbor whose wife died a couple of years also found a match online. They’ve been together for almost a year, and she just moved in with him. I can hear the faint sounds of wedding bells already.
  5. Volunteer – I’ve always gotten so much personal value from volunteering. I suggest doing something you’ve always wanted to do anyway, and I guarantee you won’t mind not being paid. The satisfaction of doing good works is worth way more than the money. And by the way, being a volunteer or an intern is likely to be a stepping-stone to a paying job in the same organization.
  6. Care for aging parents – I know someone who left her job, moved in with her mother, and took care of her during her escalating dementia leading to her death. And she ended up writing a wonderful book about it. Sounds like there is always a pony lurking around in our piles of muck.
  7. Change your body image – Changing behavior is tantamount to changing your body. Get off of the couch, eat healthy, take a walk, ride your bike, go to the gym to do some weigh-bearing exercises, try some Yoga or Pilates, and drink lots of water. The chips and beer won’t cut it anymore.
  8. Become computer and Internet/social network savvy – get a smart phone, learn how to text, look up stuff on Google, join Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. You’d be surprised how many over sixty-year olds don’t know the first thing about getting around on the Internet. When I told a woman my age the best way to get her grandson to respond was to text him, she looked at me like I was nuts. But she finally learned, and now he gets back to her.
  9. Write a book – journaling, taking writing workshops, going on writing retreats became my therapy after my son’s death, at first never dreaming that I would have the makings of a book. When one of my instructors and classmates encouraged me to get my story out, I finally took the steps needed to put a book together. It took a long time, but in the end I’m glad I did. I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a published author and poet. I couldn’t be happier.
  10. Start a website and blog Believe me that will change your life. You’ll be tied to your deadlines – even if they are self-inflicted, and you’ll always be looking for ideas for interesting things to write about. This blog Choices, my first foray into blogging, has been active since 2007. It is a lot of fun and quite a challenge. Now I write regularly for several other websites, including Naturally Savvy. It is why I can call myself a web journalist.

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