Turning 61 and feeling good about it

Turning 61 and feeling good about it

betty ming liu Relationships 14 Comments

From the time I was 25, birthdays made me gloomy. I always felt I didn’t accomplish enough. But here I am, turning 61 — and feeling good about my life. There’s more happiness and depth than I thought possible. So it’s time to let go of disempowering beliefs about aging.

In reality, I’m grateful for wonderful health. I enjoy the company of friends and family. Working as a coach, consultant and professor is satisfying, too. If all this true, then what’s the problem?

The issue is simple: 60 feels old. And I’d like to change that feeling, at least in myself!

Turning 61 and feeling good about it

What the research says

It helps to know I have lots of company. Every hour, about 491 baby boomers turn 60, according to a Wall Street Journal article. We’re in better shape and more active than generations past.

Yet, we feel old because that’s what the under-30 crowd tells us. They think 60 is old, according to a study cited in the WSJ story. And we can’t just blame them. We have distorted views of ourselves, too. Men and women feel differently about aging:

  • Somehow, 60-something guys think they look better than they do. (I’ll refrain from commenting on that.)
  • And women think they look worse than they really do. (If we start talking about this, we’ll be here for hours.)

Well, reading this piece put things in perspective. Imagine — 60 years ago, the baby boomer generation peaked with the birth of 4.3 million babies. There’s so many of us. Together, we can re-define what it means to be 60-something.

So I’d like to round out this post by sharing how I enjoyed turning 61 and feeling good about it.

Turning 61 and feeling good about it

This year, celebrating my birthday was a chance to shed the negative thinking behind disempowering beliefs. Here’s where new attitudes took me:

Validation is satisfying. For years, I’d tell people not to fuss about my birthday. I turned down dinner invitations and didn’t want flowers. No one on Facebook knew when I was born.

But this year, I let my sister Pauline take me to dinner. My daughter, who was out of town, sent a pretty bouquet. Facebook friends bombarded me with birthday greetings. I enjoyed it all.

Turning 61 and feeling good about it

Decluttering opens up space for new experiences. As a news junkie, I get home delivery of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. I’m always ripping out articles with plans to file them away.

Instead, the papers and magazines pile up, making me feel disorganized and anxious. So this morning, I grabbed the whole mess and threw it in the recycling bin. Exhaling was a relief.

Let go of the past. In the past 12 months, I got over a relationship breakup. Separately, I also found compassion for my parents. Between these huge changes,  I learned that resentment turns me into a victim. And, that I have the power and responsibility to take care of myself.

That’s where I am now, on my birthday. Ready for rebirth. Turning 61 and feeling good about it. :)

How do you celebrate your birthday and handle getting older? Would love to hear your experiences!

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Comments 14

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  1. Patri

    Happy birthday to you Betty!
    Welcome to the ones who like to be caressed on our special day.
    It feels nice to be the center af atraction for some hours! Ha ha
    I let the others treat and surprise me tha day…and it feels very good!
    Regarding aging, I know I don’t look the same but I take care of my weight, diet (I’m vegetarian) and I try not to miss any of my yoga classes
    But what it is more important maybe is that I don’t want to go back to my twenties, I have a much better time with myself nowadays. I try to focus on being a better person each time. Sometimes I can , some others not but I always go back to that path. I learnt to get rid of fears, to forgive and I’m into letting go control. And there’s still so much to learn!
    XO and from Argentina!

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      betty ming liu

      Patri, I love hearing your regimen! My foods are mostly plant-based these days, which makes a huge difference. And yoga is great too.

      Most of all, I second your opinion about not going back to our 20s. I don’t even want to go back to my 30s, 40, or even 50s! My only issue is that I hate the stigma of being 60-something. But I’m getting over it with the help of support from readers and friends like you. Thanks for checking in from Argentina!

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  2. Tobias Grace

    Happy Birthday Betty. Billy is here for a visit and send his best wishes also. As for getting old, I think the great art of it is to accept and enjoy the advantages each plateau of life brings with it while also accepting that these advantages have been exchanged for those of previous plateaus – enjoyed in their day but now gone. Besides half price fares on NJ Transit, there are advantages to being older. For one thing, one no longer has to do many things one might have been obligated to do in earlier years. now one can say “Oh, I don’t drive at night any more,” or “my doctor says I have to take a nap,” and so on. One problem however, is that young people sometimes assume that because one is old, one is also wise. That’s a burden I try to avoid. I keep telling them age brings experience but not necessarily wisdom. They are not the same thing at all. If pressed though, I will occasionally issue Delphic pronouncements – the sort of thing that could be embroidered on a cushion – and hope they pass muster as wisdom.

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      betty ming liu

      Toby, lol. I love your aging secrets! I have NO interest in late-partying. Comfy shoes are more appealing than ever before. :) But most importantly are your wise words about wisdom (and the lack of it). Being a role model of any type is a huge pain, always hated that. Thank you for the reminder to stay my authentic self. And please send Billy my love. xo

  3. Victoria Su

    Happy birthday!! You look great! In my twenties and early thirties, I often thought how great it would be to turn 60 because I was often stressed and anxious about typical young person’s concerns. Looking at you and reading your thoughts, I think my idea is validated!! Growing older is aspirational!

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      betty ming liu

      Lol. Victoria, I need to have your last line printed up on a poster: Growing older is aspirational. What a happy thought. Thank you.

      And once again, the support from all of you saves me from being a grouch. :)

  4. Carol Forget

    Betty,

    Happy Birthday! You’ve been through a transformational year. Congratulations for asking for (and getting!) gifts and acknowledgements.

    Since my birthday is two days before Christmas, I’m forced to compete with, and wrestle attention away from, the so-called Son of God. No easy feat. For years, growing up, I was given combined gifts. They were usually big and impressive, but I still was left feeling that my birthday was an afterthought.

    My solution was to rename Christmas “that other holiday.” My husband learned to do the same during our almost twenty years together. He indulges me further with gifts and a dinner at a surprise location, with an emphasis on my picky diet and need for attentive service. Since it is that time of year, the restaurants are decorated festively, and it’s an added treat.

    The wisdom I think you’ve learned for yourself is to control the event in whichever way supports your need that year. I also like to think of birthdays as the start of one’s personal year–as it is defined in numerology.

    I could go on and on about how women speak about their ages. Working as a personal trainer puts me smack dab in the middle of this issue. There isn’t the time or the space, but women have to be kinder to themselves. That much I can say, as well as, not all age-related changes are de-volutionary. Some of them have evolved to better suit the roles we take on later in life.

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      betty ming liu

      Carol, how wonderful to hear from you! What a hilarious image — visualizing you competing with the son of God. But your husband sounds like such a keeper that I am living vicariously through you. In the end though, it’s YOU giving yourself your birthday, and getting support from those you love. I like that.

      I’m like you. Birthdays matter just as much as Jan. 1. The first day of the year starts the physical calendar cycle. But I use the birthday to take stock of The State Of My Soul. A few happy women have told me that their 60s are the best years ever. I like that, too! Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s great to hear your voice. xo

  5. Sandy

    Happy Belated 61st Birthday since I am reading this on almost Friday morning. The new hairstyle looks good on you. You have had a most productive year in many ways!

    I’m headed for 70 if I make it out of my 69th year this November. Both my maternal grandmother and her daughter (my mother) died at 69 so especially after my mother died in 1999, I have been afraid that I would be the “things come in 3s” person.

    Good luck with your life coaching. You should consider doing some cooking classes locally too. You would be surprised how many young women your daughter’s age do not know how to cook as well as young men who are going to start out single with roommates after college. My oldest daughter is doing teenage cooking classes for both sexes for teaching nutrition as well as a more vegetarian cooking lifestyle and meals. With Roundup being in the news regarding California putting one of its ingredients on its cancer causing list, she’s pushing organic foods even more.

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      betty ming liu

      Thanks, Sandy! And thanks for sharing your feelings about turning 70. That’s quite a story. And I’m rooting for you to enjoy every single day, starting now. As for cooking classes, I’ve taught little kids in the past. I do indeed think about cooking classes again, someday. But I’ve got enough on my plate right now. Thanks for the thought. :)

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