The Freedom of Independent Living After 60
The independent living lifestyle can feel unsettling if one is new to it. On the other hand, it can be an exciting new life phase.
Whether you are new or are already swimming the deep waters, you do have freedom that is not achievable if you have dependent children or others whose comforts you must consider – sometimes before your own.
Once you decide to embark on the independent living journey, you’ll need a few clever responses for the nay-sayers, who will try to spoil your fun with tiresome clichés.
You might hear things like, “Don’t you get lonely?” to which you might respond, “Only when I forget myself.” Or some people will say, “Doesn’t it get boring?” to which you can cleverly answer, “Why, my presence is so much in demand, I haven’t had time to consider that.”
Just put all those clichés out of your mind. You are a mature, independent woman. You can come and go as you please. Nobody’s going to complain if you keep the light on all night reading. Nor do you have to ask permission before you jump at that last-minute bargain ticket to Tahiti or Bali.
Focus on the Advantages
Think positively and focus on the advantages. You now control your own time, so you can focus on that project that you could never work on before.
You can visit those out-of-the-way places you wanted to explore, but couldn’t while on a busy family vacation. Who cares if a ghost town in the desert is an hour out of your way? Go for it! You might discover something surprising.
Ever the theater enthusiast, I was charmed when finding Marta Beckertt’s Amagorosa Opera House hidden away in Death Valley, California. Although Marta passed away, the theater is still there and guest performances were still being presented as late as May of 2018.
What’s Your Secret Ambition?
Have you ever said, “I’ve always wanted to…” Is there a class you are secretly longing to take? Perhaps you want to learn tarot or take up Tai Chi. How about a new skill, now that you have fewer roadblocks?
Try something unusual. What’s your secret ambition? Maybe you want to go sky diving or take a hot air balloon ride. Throw away the rule book and go for it!
Explore Your Artistic Side
Are you artistic, but never quite felt like you could call yourself an artist? Turn that spare room into a studio. It will validate your commitment to your artwork. No spare room? Set up right in your living room.
Remember, you are an independent woman, it’s your choice. Who needs a great big couch? Artist Piet Mondrian used to say he had no chairs in his studio apartment because if people sat down they might stay too long.
I was an art history major in college, but always wanted to take more studio classes. When I moved to San Francisco, I discovered the local community college offered a Museum Drawing class. We got to take our easels into the Legion of Honor Museum to work from original masterpieces. What a privilege!
Not sure what your style is? Explore one of the big art supply stores or do some online shopping. You’ll find supplies for art forms you’ve never heard of. Two of the biggest online art suppliers in the U.S. are Dick Blick and Cheap Joe’s. You could start getting inspiration just looking at all their products.
What’s Your Dream Adventure?
What is your wildest dream? Some people take up sky diving or scuba diving in their independent years. Others take up running and finish a marathon in their golden years.
I wanted to be an actress. When I arrived in Chiang Mai, I took an acting class and auditioned for a play. I’ve since had small parts in three plays and worked as assistant director at our local community theater. Your dream can come true – mine certainly did.
Don’t Feel Isolated
I know what you are thinking, “This is all well and good, but I’m going to feel isolated after a while.” Take control. Consider how much social time you want in your life, then find an activity that fits your independent lifestyle.
Join a social group. There’s a group for everybody and with today’s social media it’s easy to find any type of group you can imagine. Writer’s groups, book clubs, craft groups and dining-out groups are some of the most popular ones out there.
If there isn’t a group in your town, you may find one that meets online. The key is to interact with others who share your interests. You could even start your own group. Make some suggestions right here on Sixty and Me, then move them to a Facebook page or other social platform.
Tell us about a surprising discovery you’ve found on a side trip. Did it tell a story you expected? What dream do you have that you plan to pursue ‘one day’? Please join the conversation below.
Joy Harmon is a former theatrical costumer, teacher and longtime traveler. She currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she is active in the local English speaking theater. She is pursuing a new career in writing – please check out her first novel.