Now I am Sixty

Happy birthday

Ageing is a privilege and having just had my sixtieth birthday has reinforced that fact for me

In Now We Are Six, the collection of poems for children by A. A. Milne the little boy, Christopher Robin, says:

‘But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever. So I think I’ll be six now forever and ever!’

And I think as I have just turned sixty, I’d say something similar.

I’m not sure that at sixty I’m as clever as clever, but I think wanting to be the age I’m at now at forever and ever is a sign of acceptance and contentment.

Yes, being sixty can seem old, though less so to those approaching or beyond this landmark birthday, than to those not yet twenty, thirty, forty or even fifty.

But I don’t have a problem with turning sixty––for one thing it sure beats the alternative. Having survived cancer in my forties, having my sixtieth birthday was definitely something to celebrate.

To me it’s not the new 40 or 50. It is 60––and there’s nothing wrong with that, nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn’t need to be dressed up as something else.

I don’t want to be 40 or 50 again––been there, done that.

 

My lovely 60th birthday cake complete with photos from significant life stages, my book covers, my parents and round the other side my children and grandchildren. Thanks to Mr Anne and to cakemaker, Nicola.
My lovely 60th birthday cake complete with photos from significant life stages, including childhood with my four wee sisters, my graduation,  my wedding, my book covers, my parents and round the other side my children and grandchildren. Thanks to Mr Anne for commissioning and to local cake-maker, Nicola for baking and decorating.

 

For one thing, at 60, there’s retirement, I took it early after a thirty-six year career in primary school teaching, so I’m now two years in––and I can find nothing not to like about it. I miss the children, but not the endless politicking and paperwork. And I’m still working as a writer but, finally, I’m the boss of me.

And there’s my bus pass which allows me to travel anywhere in Scotland by bus free of charge––I was so excited to get that. Receiving it was the true mark of my long held ambition to officially be an old bag.

­But mainly, there is now time – time to do what matters to me – to write more books – both for children and adults – where the ages of the characters are no barrier to having adventures, hopes and dreams – to spend time with the people I love, to take care of myself – and to just stand and stare.

It’s not an end but a beginning – as with any day, it’s the beginning of the rest of my life. I’m not much wiser or less prone to worry and anxiety than I was before. But reaching sixty has helped clarify what’s important. Our numbered days are not endless and there really is no time but the present. A new day is a present––a gift not to be taken for granted at any age.

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Yes, I have to face up to the implications of approaching old age whenever and whatever that may be. I’m sure I’ll recognise it when, and if, it comes. But every age has its challenges and requirements to plan ahead. Sixty is no different.

And apart from when I look in the mirror, I really feel no different. Of course I’ve aged physically, but my six-year-old, sixteen-year-old, twenty-six and thirty-six-year-old selves along with their forty and fifty-year-old counterparts are all still there inside, all part of the me I am today. I’m happy with that.

And what advice would I give my 16 year-old self?

  • Follow your dreams.
  • Do what you love.
  • Seek new experiences.
  • Have no regrets.
  • Be kind to yourself and everyone you meet.
  • Do your small bit to make the world a better place.

And remember these 3 things

  • You will be strong enough,
  • You will be brave enough
  • You will be good enough.

 

Here’s to getting older. How do you feel about big birthdays and about getting older?

New year, new season, new month – phew!

English: Portree, Isle of Skye (Scotland)
English: Portree, Isle of Skye (Scotland) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apologies for the absence of a post last Tuesday. It was my birthday and Mr Writeanne took me out for my dinner. We went to the Bosville Hotel restaurant in Portree and as usual, it didn’t disappoint. It was especially nice to be out on a school night and made the day feel special. I’m glad we didn’t wait until the weekend.

So another year older – eek! But getting older sure beats the alternative – something I try not to let myself forget. I am still grateful to be here and in remission from the dreaded cancer. And the upside of being this age is I’m now a grandmother. I have a nine-month-old granddaughter and it’s indescribably good. I can highly recommend moving up a generation.

In the last year as well as becoming a grandmother, I attended my daughter’s wedding, moved house, went to Israel and finished writing a children’s novel – oh and I worked full time at the day job as well.

The last month alone has been pretty full on. School went back three weeks ago and has been manic from the off.

The husband and me went to see Scottish comedian, Kevin Bridges, doing his sell out show here on Skye. He was brilliant! And it’s just so cool to see such a famous person perform here on our small island.

I’ve also attended two talks by artists in the last month. These have been part of the wonderful organisation ATLAS’s ‘Talking Art’ series. The first of the two was a talk by Frances Priest, a ceramic artist who spoke about various community projects that she was involved in. She told how she liked that her way of working on these projects took art out of galleries and let people interact with and influence the works.

Frances Priest
Frances Priest (Photo credit: Craft Scotland)

The second talk was by Chris Dooks, an artist who describes himself as a polymash. He’s an audio-visual artist – highly original and quite different to any other artist I’ve come across. He was an engrossing speaker and like Frances encouraged the audience to keep open minds when viewing or engaging with art.

Another thing I did in August was sign up to Pinterest. I’m not sure how I’ll use the site and I haven’t made time to really think about it. But something about the site just grabbed me – I love all these pictures – and I will get around to dipping my toe in. I think I may use it to ‘pin’ story ideas in pictorial form. For example I may put together a board consisting of images of possible settings for future novels and/or homes of characters.

And suddenly, it’s September. Our island is becoming less busy as the tourists depart for another season. We’ve had our first Atlantic storm of the autumn over the last couple of days – wild, wild wind and lashing rain. All the garden furniture has been put away and all loose objects secured. But as well as the wildness, there’s the mellowness. The hills and hedgerows are awash with purple heather and the light is softening. Autumn is definitely my favourite season.

For my blog of the month I have chosen Alison Wells ‘Head Above Water’ which is here on wordpress http://alisonwells.wordpress.com

Below is her own introduction to her blog:

Hello my name is Alison Wells. I’m a writer of literary fiction, some science inspired and some with a dash of comedy. I’m also a mum of four kids age 11 and under.

I’ve been shortlisted in the Hennessy New Irish Writing, Bridport & Fish awards for short stories and am a resident blogger with the Irish National Writing Website http://www.writing.ie

Here I blog about writing and headspace and do interviews with busy people who write. I also post my short fiction.

My favourite mode of transport is the TARDIS.

I recently won The Big Book of Hope Ebook Fiction Prize.

I read Alison’s book ‘Housewife with a Half Life’ recently. It’s a clever and funny piece of science fiction. And her blog is a great one for writers – especially for those of us who write in our ‘spare’ time.

And I leave you with a quote from a board on Pinterest ‘If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change. Nice one.