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Am I Really That Old?

I am just a few days shy of my 70th birthday. How did I get to be this old? For several months now I have been kind of obsessed with this milestone, thinking that perhaps it's time to hang up my hat, retire, and just start acting like an old lady.

But then I got to thinking that after all, 70 is just a number. I am in great health, have tons of positive energy and have loads of experience and wisdom to share with the world. Why would I want to remove myself from the ring and sit on the sidelines?

Looking back over my life I can honestly say that it just keeps getting better. When I was turning 40, I definitely felt like I was starting to get old. 39 just sounded so much younger than the big 4-0. But it was during my 40's that I felt I was getting a new lease on life. It was the decade where I experienced the huge trauma of postpartum depression. But look at the gold that came out of that! I have a lovely, smart daughter who I would not trade for anything in the world! In my 40's I trained as a hospital chaplain and had a rewarding and fulfilling career in that profession, walking alongside people who were dealing with their own traumatic experiences, losses and grief.

And then I turned 50! I was really getting old now! During my 50's I graduated from Western with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing on the honour roll. A few years later, as if I hadn't had enough, I graduated from Western again, this time from the 2 year Certificate program in Grief and Bereavement. It didn't seem that my advancing age was slowing me down.

Surely, turning 60 would be a time to withdraw from active life and bring all my activities to a halt. Not so! During my 60's Bruce and I walked 500 kms. of the Camino trail in Spain. It was an amazing test of endurance, but we did it! I launched a private practice in grief counseling. It was such a privilege and honour to journey with my clients on their grief journeys, both individually as well as in groups. I started a job as a crisis mental health counselor that has been, hands down, the most rewarding and satisfying employment of my entire adult life span. What a natural high it is to intently listen to someone experiencing a crisis and to offer them support and encouragement, and see them leaving with a smile on their face and a new determination. In my 60's, I was drawn to write a memoir of my life called The Birds Still Sing: My Journey of Resilience Through Post partum Depression. Many people have told me how inspired they were with my story and the lessons I shared in rebuilding my life.

So now I am about to embark on a journey into my next decade. I am truly excited to see what my 70's will bring. If things just keep getting better, as it seems they have done, I can hardly wait for what lies ahead. My most joyous and fulfilling experiences have always involved those who have shared my journey. So to my friends, family and anyone whose life intersects with mine, let's share whatever lies ahead and together, let's make this world a better place, one life at a time. Cheers! Here's to life!!

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