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Thoughts After My 75th Birthday!

By Kathleen M. Rehl January 31, 2022 Lifestyle

Recently I celebrated my 75th birthday. What fun to receive many phone calls, texts, emails, cards, and social media comments! That included fragrant flowers and meaningful message from my Honey… plus an original art card created by my daughter-in-law and son.

One girlfriend told me, “Welcome to Club 75. This is an amazing time for us!” As I now enter the fourth quarter of my game, I am blessed. This milestone is an especially appropriate time to reflect on my life.

I Don’t Feel Old

Terms for people my age include euphemisms you may be familiar with. Below are a few of the more than two dozen terms I found in published articles:

  • Crone
  • Sweetie (not my romantic partner)
  • Elder
  • Geezer
  • Grayer
  • Oldster
  • Silver adult
  • Third ager
  • Wise-ster
  • Woman of a certain age

I prefer being identified simply as “Kathleen is a 75-year-old who doesn’t want to quit.” When I reach 100, you can call me a centenarian. Interesting fact: It’s estimated that by the year 2030, 22% of the U.S. population will be over age 65.

I Plan to Live a Long Life

Five years ago, a colleague told me about a free online life expectancy calculator asking quick questions about my health and family history. In about 10 minutes, it calculated my anticipated age: I would live to be 102. That sounded about right, considering the women in my family have lived long, and I am healthier than they were.

Preparing for my 75th birthday, I thought it would be fun to do an update. My newest estimate on that site said I may reach age 104. Even better! Although I expect to live for many more years, I’m not postponing what matters most.

I Love Being “ReFired”!

Certainly, I’m not doing vintage retirement.

After closing my six-year encore career following my 18-year career as a financial advisor with my own business, I wasn’t ready for traditional retirement. So I “reFired” three years ago. Today my life centers on five F-words – family, fun, focused-purpose, friends, and fitness. I created this graphic to help me keep a balance between these areas.

Relationships with family and friends are key for me, and I like planning enjoyable and meaningful interactions that bring us together in-person or virtually. I’m a good listener in sharing their joys and challenges. My grandkids bring special happiness.

Staying healthy is imperative. I like walking for an hour every day. I do strength workouts with a personal trainer. Gentle yoga classes are online. I’m a pescatarian, eating lots of veggies and fruits, including a delicious carrot cake I bake. Daily meditation helps me stay centered.

After recent cataract double surgery, I’m singing Johnny Nash’s song “I Can See Clearly Now.” WOW! Such a gorgeous new world out there with my new eyes. Dull colors shed their prior yellowish film, giving way to brilliant technicolor hues. Distance clarity is suddenly outstanding also.

I find purpose in helping favorite nonprofits with their endowment programs – expected to last long into the future. I facilitate legacy writing groups for lifelong learning organizations. Authoring my own memoir stories and poems is fun. This is good for me now and for my family later.

It’s said we are happiest when our lives have meaning and we make a positive impact. For me, this includes expressing gratitude for all the blessings received during my lifetime. One way I can demonstrate appreciation is through financial contributions to support organizations and causes important to me… both currently and later through estate gifts that will keep on giving long after I’m gone. I want to help others do the same.

It may sound strange, but the more I give, the more I receive – living a more authentic life with increased friendships, greater connections with my communities, knowing I’m making a difference in this world, opportunities to keep learning, and creating new things (such as authoring a poem about my grandson, making an art collage, inventing a new recipe, designing graphics for another memoir story).

Later-Life Love

Four years after my prior husband’s death, I found later-life love with a man whose wife also passed from cancer. As a widow, I still had lots of love to give, and I wanted to share life with a caring partner. With the help of an online dating service, Charlie and I came together as a very compatible couple.

Although I never anticipated remarriage, I exchanged wedding vows with my new husband three years ago. Finding love after our losses was a delightful surprise, richly blessing both us and our blended families. I believe our union is also adding happy years to our lives.

Everything Isn’t All Hunky-Dory

I’m not a Pollyanna. Like many friends my age, I’ve also had sadness and setbacks. Below are a few of those, although a complete list would be minuscule compared with all the good things at this stage of my life.

  • Covid-19 has reduced my travel adventures.
  • More friends and relatives have died.
  • I have less energy than a decade ago; however, there’s more time for afternoon naps, too.
  • Sometimes I forget a word or a name, even though my brain usually kicks in and remembers after several minutes.
  • Over the years, I’ve shrunk an inch in height, which reminds me to watch my posture and stand as tall as I can – shoulders back, head held high.

“Zeal” Is My Word

I belong to a group called “Fab 4” – four friends who live across the country and world. We get together via Zoom once a month and hope to resume our annual Girlfriend Getaway trip after travel is safer again.

One of our members suggested we each identify a “word of the year,” following an exercise created by Kelly McGonigal. She’s a health psychologist, author, and lecturer at Stanford University, whose work focuses on finding hope, joy, and meaning in life’s daily challenges.

I chose the word, “zeal.” That’s me as I enter this next phase of my life. Yes, I’m excited, interested, and full of enthusiasm as I move forward with new creative and meaningful projects in my 76th year and beyond. I purposefully want to be positive and to continue growing on my life journey.

What were your thoughts about a milestone birthday you celebrated or will observe soon? What has changed in your life in your 6th or 7th (or 8th!) decade?

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Hi Kathleen! I always remembered that your birthday is close to mine😊 I was searching online for 75th birthday ideas and came across your article which I enjoyed so very much. You may know that I retired from GLC but have not given up playing the piano…and teaching piano…but on a smaller scale for both. Not wanting to get too personal here so I end my response with love and good wishes for your 75th year to be the best one yet!
Nancy R

The Author

Kathleen M. Rehl, Ph.D., CFP®, wrote the award-winning book, Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows. She owned Rehl Financial Advisors for 18 years before an encore career empowering widows. Now “reFired,” Rehl writes legacy stories and assists nonprofits. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, CNBC, and more. She’s adjunct faculty at The American College of Financial Services.

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