I started this blog in my 50s. Now I find myself in my 60s – that seemed to happen overnight! I happen to be gay, lesbian for those that prefer greater precision, and happily out to all that know me. I’m not a great one for labels and I don’t believe that one part of who I am should be the be all and end all. However, I also feel very strongly that if I want equality for myself and others, I have to embrace the label and be out and proud! I’m no political expert but I take a keen interest in what the politicians do to people from all backgrounds and our communities. I have a keen interest in why we think and behave as we do, and I hope I am open to debate and learning.
I have kept a journal for years, so trying to put my thoughts into words is nothing new. However, sharing those words with others is has been much harder than anticipated – beyond the 140 characters of Twitter anyway! Anyone looking at the dates of my posts will see that my success at blogging is sporadic at best and non-existent for chunks of time. However, with the ever-growing world of blogs, podcasts and social media demanding everyone’s attention, I feel that my times of away from this site are simply giving us all a break!
In a very self-indulgent way, my occasional posts are simply me working through some thoughts and processes and I welcome others’ thoughts as part of that. There is also something broader – a sense that women my age are discovering a new stage in life that hasn’t really been there before and I thought that may be worth thinking about too.
Talking to other women of my generation, gay and straight and other, I find we all seem to be at a stage of transition or feel a need for something to change. As a generation, we face a very different future to that of our parents – many of our expectations on things like retirement, life expectancy, our financial security and our relationship status have all had to shift quite dramatically. We expected life to pan out in certain ways but life is presenting us with very different possibilities. Some concerning, some exciting and some downright scary!
As the world goes through major shifts – economically, politically and socially – we have to somehow shift our own perceptions and plans. “Sixty is the new 40” – great…I think! Women in their 80s are climbing Everest and running marathons. But women in their 50s are struggling to keep jobs at a time when they’re expected to work longer than ever before being able to claim a pension. Age discrimination is illegal and young women are even dying their hair grey. But getting a mortgage over 55 raises eyebrows and healthcare costs mean rationing and exclusion for older people. We live in confusing times in so many ways!
My older friends are retired, on fairly reasonable pensions. Friends my age and younger are looking at having to work for many more years, for pensions that seem to be shrinking fast. And the whole concept of retiring is changing for a generation that, for many, means caring for elderly relatives, subbing the next generation and even providing childcare for grandchildren. I have seen us referred to as the ‘squeezed generation’. I take my hat off to those of my peers that seem to be the engine of four-generation families. So much for pottering around the garden centre in peace!
But there is much to be grateful for and happy about. My parents were old people at my age, while I feel anything but! I have more energy now than at any previous time in my life. The choices I have are far more than any generation before me – as long as they don’t require big bucks!
On the relationship front, previous generations, at my age, may well have thought ‘that’s it now’. But a quick glance at any internet dating site will tell you that people in their 60s now are anything but ready to give up the search for love and fun. Those in long term partnerships are more often there by choice, rather than feeling it is too late to change and they have to ‘stick it out’. As men have always enjoyed the possibilities of new families in their 50s and 60s, older women are happily leaping into new beginnings too, even though (or perhaps because) babies are out of the equation.
I’m trying to work out what this all means for me. I’m looking at my own attitudes, my patterns and beliefs, the things I want to change, need to change – or accept. I feel that life has handed me a chance to do things differently – if I want. But what do I want? And why? This and other stuff and nonsense is what this blog is about. I hope it won’t be a monologue, so if you’ve made it here, please do join in!
Oh yes – me. Apart from the obvious, I live in the UK, and I work at writing and generally trying to use my creativity. I have quite a spiritual take on life – but I’m not religious. I’m on the left politically – quite how far left varies depending on how crazily the right and middle are behaving.
And if you have read all of that in these times of extreme digital brevity – thank you!