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Life in their 60s is ‘liberating’ and fulfilling, readers say

imageMany of you have positive things to say about life in your 60s. I and asked here if anyone had life advice to share.

“Turning 60 can be liberating,” says Elizabeth Adame of Riverside, who’s 65. “Age has many perks, if you take advantage of them. The biggest advantage, in my humble opinion, is not worrying so much anymore about what other people think.”

Candidly, many days I’m only slightly less self-conscious than when I was a teenager and I fret overly much about not letting others down. But Adame’s attitude is one to aspire to.

My Upland friend Mark turned 60 in December. He was telling me Monday that his life — married, children, his own home, a multitude of creative projects — is unbelievably fulfilling. At 20 he couldn’t have imagined he’d have things this good.

I knew Geoff Vanden Heuvel . Now he’s a dairyman in Tulare, but he subscribes online just to read me, and that’s no bull. Vanden Heuvel, who’ll turn 64 this year, loves this time of his life.

“I think being in your 60s is fantastic,” Vanden Heuvel enthuses. “Still young enough to be active, but wise enough to know your limits and mature enough not to get too upset about the craziness around us. Often you are the old guy and that gets you some respect from the younger folks” — by which he means those in their 40s and 50s.

I’m noticing that myself. Early in my career, I was younger than any local government official or business figure, many of whom were two or even three times my age. In my 20s, one councilmember on my beat was past 70. He probably had grandchildren older than me.

It wasn’t until my mid-40s that any councilmember was younger than me. It’s only been since my mid-50s that I’ve routinely encountered people with responsible jobs who are my peers or younger.

A is 43. I told her, only half-jokingly: “You have your whole life ahead of you.” She chuckled and said: “It’s all a matter of perspective.”

To Vanden Heuvel’s point, 60 probably does give me a standing that I didn’t have earlier in life. I’ll take any advantage I can get.

Now, where was I? Why did I walk into this column?

Oh yes. Life advice from seniors.

“I wish you a happy 60th birthday. I am 77 now,” says John G. Van Dyk of Ontario, “but the hardest year was when I was 64, because people kept asking if I was going to retire.” He continued working because he enjoyed it, until his body, not his numerical age, told him it was time.

On a related note, Mike Hudson, formerly of Montclair, and who’s now reading me from St. George, Utah, shares that age 60 is when he first started thinking about leaving the workforce, which he did a few years later. He wonders if I’m thinking the same.

“While I highly recommend it, and would wish you the best, the loss of your thrice-weekly column would be great,” Hudson admits. “So, for personal and purely selfish reasons, I hope your retirement is still several years off.”

My dream version of my life has me working full time until 70, and maybe keeping my hand in after that. (Give me this, my fantasies are very grounded.)

Looking too far ahead would be foolish, though. Circumstances change, and the newspaper industry is collapsing. For all I know I’ll be retired a week from next Tuesday.

Still, my plan is to keep going.

“You asked for some advice from older people,” notes Christina Miller of Riverside. “I can give you some, but I’m not old yet, only 81.”

We’ll allow it. Please continue.

Miller’s advice: Eat wisely, stay physically active (“keep walking to your coffeeshop and climbing those stairs in L.A.”) and learn something new every day.

Because falls can be devastating for seniors, Miller long ago took the wisdom of a physical therapist, or maybe the band : “Every day, get on the floor and get up again. It may be easy now, but keep doing it.” Miller also stands on one leg for 20 seconds before going to bed to help her maintain balance.

More philosophically, Miller shares this: “This is the time to try something new that you may or may not have thought about. If you don’t do it now, you never will. Most of all, ENJOY LIFE!”

By the way, a Riverside reader gave me a card wishing me “a happy 65th birthday” and a good “Medicare year.” Can we try that again in 2029?

Meanwhile, my friend Lisa from Chino Hills, not to be confused with , balanced things out by telling me she’d been sure I was turning 55.

Age, it seems, is nothing but a hard-to-remember number.

Oh, and in wishing me a happy 60th, Henry Weiss of Rowland Heights observes: “Just had my 67th yesterday. I don’t feel a day over 66.”

Novelist Michael Chabon reflected on turning 60 in . Mused Chabon: “It’s pretty banal, the things you realize matter: your loved ones, your friends, your friendships, watching ‘Star Trek.’”

He added: “I love to learn new things I didn’t know before. You meet people and you ask them questions. I love the feeling of being stupid with the possibility of remedying it.”

Other advice that came in was less practical and more inspirational.

“Hope you have many more years of writing your columns and hanging out at coffee shops,” Jackie McHenry of Claremont says. “No advice for you, except keep your head above the water and keep swimming.”

Fred Claire, the , contributes this from Pasadena at age 88: “Keep going and may you be blessed with a meaningful journey.”

I’ve liked it so far.

Short break

The past few weeks have been extra busy, with work commitments spilling over into evenings and, ulp, four straight weekends. I like to work, but that was a bit much.

To get my schedule back into balance, and to coincidentally heed Miller’s “enjoy life!” advice, I’m taking the rest of this week off. Already I’ve bought groceries and washed two loads of clothes. Nothing can hold me back now.

David Allen writes Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, unrestrainedly. Email [email protected], phone 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.