The Great Liberation at 60 !

Terry Brezsny Ballantyne
- Terry Brezsny Ballantyne

The Great Liberation at 60 !

I never thought I would embrace my 60s.  I had a thumping libido, I was a competitor in yoga classes, I never shrunk from a challenge: physical or mental.  I started a catering business at almost 40 and worked, after my day job,  in a dark kitchen standing on concrete floors from 3:30PM to 3:30AM.

It was wonderful.

I shared the commercial kitchen with some sweet guys who made empanadas on the same shift and the rich, savory smell of roast pork and crusty dough filled the kitchen. I knew they were finishing up when the sharp smell of Dawn detergent overwhelmed the kitchen for a minute and the clunk of cutting boards as they splashed into the big stainless sink.  They always finished early and played guitar  for us as we did dishes and spoke in Spanglish. It was punishing standing all that time but it is one of my sweetest memories and I think, “How did I have the energy to do that?”

I dreaded aging as the decline of everything delicious.  Falling in love, wild canoe rides on white water, hiking skinny trails high in the sierras, driving anywhere cause it seemed like a great idea, first sex, having a child, hell, my taste buds were going to wear out they tell me.  Not to mention I dreaded crinkly, crepey skin, those ugly blue/black bruises all old people sported, thinning hair, wobbly ankles, loss of vision.  None of that sounds good does it?

But now I am here, and yes, I do envy 20 somethings that seem vacuum packed in their skin, flawless and firm and no idea how great they look. I have begun the crinkling, as a Western European, us girls don’t have durable skin.  It’s going to fail us.  I get the occasional blue/red/black bruise that I detest, I have accepted the age spots on the back of my hands and all the skin renegades from keratosis, to basal cell demons, and sun spots on my face.  Even with a little nip/tuck my neck is headed south.   *sigh*. The list is endless. Have I mentioned Estace yet?

But what’s marvelous is I really only am concerned with my inner self, since there is no point in competing on my vessel!  Nothing is worse than mutton dressed up like lamb, and no woman is more interesting than an older woman who is intelligent, poised and confident.

I have a wealth of knowledge and insight. I have more patience.  I also don’t have time to waste on things that are of no interest. I don’t need to be the prettiest girl in the room anymore. Every summer, every season, is a precious gift not to be squandered.  Now I meditate, work out at the gym to keep my body strong, eat light, all  for me.  I have accepted I am never going to be JLO.  And it’s fine!  I seek out beautiful plants for my garden and think of it as a gift to the future.  What I plan and plant there will be my legacy to the next generation.

But mostly I love loving the people in my life.  My  husband, my daughter, her husband, my nieces, and all the extended family and friends that come and go. Giving them my best, offering solace, listening without judgement, accepting life’s forward progression and appreciating the marvelous planet we are gifted to share. ( And hoping we don’t screw it up permanently.)

I am determined to doUnchained woman with stretched out arms, rear view more about being a better steward of the planet.  Setting a good example, being a role model, letting youngbloods know that the 60s, 70s and 80s can be vital and satisfying if you stay alive, alert and healthy. My mother in law is a fierce 94 and going strong! She still dons Gucci glasses and takes her husband of 74 years off to their country club twice a week!

So plan to embrace your classic years.  Set a good example. Don’t complain. Don’t wear too short of shorts unless you are ‘that girl’ with perfect legs eternally, adjust your look, join a group, offer your wisdom.  Accept the crinkling skin, the age spots, the trips to the derm, the fight against girth.  Love whoever you can.  This is your last chance to be the best you can be! Free yourself from the tyannical demands of youth!







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