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Sam has 60 in her sights!

Hey, Western University (where I taught for 24 years before coming to U of Guelph) just asked me for a legacy gift. They did remember to call me “Professor.” I do feel old though after that email. Legacy, huh?

I’m coming up on my 58th birthday this summer, moving from my mid to late fifties.

I’ll have to be careful I don’t jump the gun too soon. Each year I start thinking about the age I’ll be soon and think about what it will feel like to be that age. The difficulty with thinking yourself at an age before you get there is that sometimes you might get to your birthday and then add a year. Yes, I did that. It took awhile before I did the math and realized I was over counting.

It’s not just reminders like the legacy gift email. I’m also thinking about my age because we’re coming up on the blog’s 10th anniversary this fall. Wow.

Tracy and I started the blog on the countdown to our 50th birthday. Remember our “fittest by fifty” challenge? But since a decade has gone by that means we’ve got 60 in our sights.

People can get weird about 60. I remember visiting a friend of my mother’s who, when the subject of her age came up, said you know the decade you’re in (my fifties) and you know the decade your mother is in (her seventies) I’m in the one in the middle but I never say its name. What’s so bad about the sixties, I wondered. I guess I’m still wondering.

Sixty doesn’t particularly scare me. I think it helps that I have lots of older friends and colleagues in their sixties, leading lives that excite and inspire. I’ve always liked older people.

I’m spending the weekend in Montreal as I’m writing this, here to visit family but also to see Sally Haslanger give a series of lectures

I mention that because Sally is in her sixties making that decade look pretty good. She’s here giving a series of lectures based on her new book about understanding social change in complex systems. I loved the final lecture on hope. I think we’re all needing some hope right about now. There were excellent commentaries too. I was there for the commentaries by Jonathan Ichikawa (University of British Columbia) and Chike Jeffers (Dalhousie University), both excellent.

There are lots of remarkable women in philosophy, far too many to list, many of them over 60.

I’m not planning on retiring for awhile yet although as Dean I’ve been noticing the wide range of ages that people choose to stop work. I’ve just expressed my willingness to stand for a second term as Dean and undergo the review, and potential reappointment, process. After that, whatever the outcome, I’ve got some leave coming to me and then I’ll likely return to teaching for a few years in Philosophy.

I’ve always thought that rather than retire immediately I’d love to swap to half time for a few years first. Teach in the fall term, winter somewhere warm sounds like the dream to me.

Our April 2018 book launch for Fit at Midlife: A Feminist Fitness Journey
Mothers and daughters!
— with Kathleen Brennan and Tracy Isaacs in London, Ontario.

I joke with Tracy that we have excellent role models in aging with our mothers. We look just a little bit like them. See above.

I think the other reason I’m looking forward to my sixties is that I’ll have my knees in working order then. I realized the other day that I’ll soon be eligible to do some retirement age (if not actual retirement) activities with my mother!

I don’t think I’ll get her on a bike but with my knees fixed we could do some walking together.

There are bloggers here who have reached the 60 mark and they’re doing pretty well too. See Catherine‘s blog post about her recent birthday.

So far I’m not feeling the urge to think about 60+ as the last stage of life.

Who does? See Jane F on turning 60, for example. She calls life after 60, her final act.

“When I was about to turn 60, I realized that I was approaching my third act — my final act — and that it wasn’t a dress rehearsal. One of the things that I knew for sure is that I didn’t want to get to the end with a lot of regrets, so how I lived up until the end was what was going to determine whether or not I had regrets. And it also then dawned on me that in order to know where I was supposed to go, I had to know where I’d been,” she said.

I recently wrote a paper on women and aging, “To Grandmother’s House We Go”: On Women, Ethics, and Aging. It’s forthcoming in the Cambridge Handbook on the Ethics of Aging. I was struck by Carolyn Heilbrun’s conceptualization of the years after sixty as the last gift of time. Sixty seems a bit early for last gift talk.

The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty

To be clear, it’s not that I don’t take mortality seriously. I’ve taught a course on death. I’ve coedited a textbook on philosophy and death. It’s more that I’ve been thinking about it for years.

Philosophy and Death, edited by Samantha Brennan and Robert Stainton

I think life post retirement will feel more like a final act but I am very much not there yet. I find my work rewarding and exciting and important. It brings me happiness and keeps me engaged.

However, I am thinking about decade ending fitness goals. Fittest by fifty and still moving at sixty? I’m not sure. Will blog more about decade ending fitness goals later, I’m sure.

Are you a blog reader over 60? What’s ahead? What advice do you have to offer? What goals, if any, did you set for 60? (Also if you turned 60 during the pandemic, that’s enough. No goals needed.)

9 thoughts on “Sam has 60 in her sights!

  1. Welcome to the sixties! Much more fun than people would have you believe. I will leave the sixties behind shortly after I retire and ride my bike across the continent, and I know someone who did it in their seventies, so we don’t have to be done yet. You two look remarkably like your mothers!

    1. That’s exciting. I have big hopes for long bike rides post retirement so that is inspirational!

      1. I am 95. Retired at 68 as was mandated at the time at the University of Waterloo. I’ve found plenty of interesting things to do in my retirement, and that is because I was doing these things before I retired, things like running marathons, golf, long walks. Result, I’m enjoying my retirement, just as I enjoyed my 45 years as an academic/philosopher. Not at all sure how things would have played out if I had had no meaningful outside interests while I was busy as a professor. Of course I’ve become less active as I’ve become older, but it didn’t happen all at once, a blessing. What’s left for me is golf, and that’s all I need.

  2. I also had the thought that we started our fittest by 50 approaching age 48 and now we are about to turn 58! I wondered whether I could have a goal appropriate to my circumstances as I have 60 in my sights.

  3. I recognize the feeling. I am now 70 and have dealt with turning 60, and going on to the next decade. I did my first cross country ride the year I turned 60 (but a few months early). Last year I turned 70 while finishing up my second (interrupted in 2020 by Covid) cross country bike adventure. Saturday I rode a metric century & was only a little tired the next day. I plan to do the Arthritis Ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in September a few days after returning from a ten day cycling trip in Italy. I am NOT a life long athlete, not a racer, only got into cycling in my early 50s. I probably reached my peak fitness in my late 50s, but haven’t lost much yet. Haven’t lost any endurance, really, just a bit of speed.

    My own experience suggests that getting in shape early enough – like you, I was working hard on fitness as I approached 50 – seems, as one guy whose stuff I like says, “to square the aging curve.” In other words – mine this time – we won’t necessarily exercise our way into more years, but being active sure seems to make whatever years we have left a lot more comfortable & fun!

    If the message isn’t obvious enough by now…don’t worry! You’ll have a great time.

  4. Thanks for this it is very inspiring. I am also zooming in on my sixties. I have a sixty before sixty list. Some it is just plain fun and some has deeper meaning. Because of health issues I haven’t been able to walk very far, one of my goals is to walk a mile. The blog has been very inspirational.

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