A year ago, when I turned 60 and decided that I want to live at least 40 more years, I started my 100th Year Project, not knowing how it would change my life.

I didn’t realize then that 60 isn’t even considered old: that 65 to 75 is young old, 75 to 85 old and 85 and up oldest old.

I’ve learned a lot in a year about what it might take to become oldest old. I know that if I hadn’t quit smoking when I did, my chances would be slim.

 
 

I know that if I don’t keep up my exercise, I might not like how 85 feels. I’ve discovered that learning something new every day may be the secret to happier long life.

Talking with Your Future Self

I joined a writing group recently and a class member mentioned a book I might enjoy, The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott.

The authors ask us to think about what our 70- or 80- or 100-year-old selves would think of us. “Can you be sure that the decisions you are making now will stand up to the scrutiny of your future self?”

So I made a cup of tea and sat down with my 81-year-old self for a chat. She’s happy I’ve started playing the piano again and tickled I’m strength training twice a week.

She’s not crazy about the extra glass of red wine I have most days. But she approves of the fruit I eat for dessert now instead of my beloved espresso chocolate chip frozen yogurt, reserved just for special occasions.

Chatting with Your Younger Self

I like my 20-year-older self. She’s funny and has a warm smile. She’s glad I’m having the dental work this summer. She can still eat steak when she goes out to dinner a couple times a week with friends I haven’t met yet.

She and my dear friend Kathy get together at each other’s homes to do jigsaw puzzles and share recipes and pictures of great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

I ask her if she still walks on the beach and she says yes, just not as far as I do now. She thanks me for keeping it up even when I don’t have time.

She keeps five-pound dumbbells by her reading chair and lifts them while she listens to new releases on Amazon radio. She still picks up the ukulele I bought for my 61st birthday.

“If there’s something you should tell me, what would it be?” I wonder as I take my last sip of tea.

“Learn from your mistakes, but don’t dwell on them,” she says. “Enjoy every minute because life is short. Look forward to the future no matter how old you are.”

“Well said,” I tell her, grateful for the wisdom of her years. “How about another cup of tea?”

“Only if we get up and move around,” she says. “I’ve still got 197 steps to get in this hour.”

If you could go back in time, what topics would you discuss with your 20-year-older self? What do you think your 80-year-old self would think of your lifestyle in your 60s? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Terri Edmund WhiteTerri Edmund White is an innkeeper on Anna Maria Island, Florida. She enjoys life with her husband Jim and their cats, adopted from the Humane Society of Manatee County. A former corporate writer and editor, Terri is currently penning her way to her 100th birthday and has started a 100 Year Project website to write about the journey.

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