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Senior Correspondent

Seven decades — am I really there? How did it happen so fast? I just turned 30 the other day (or so it seems like the other day) with two small children, thick dark-brown hair, and weight so low I couldn’t give blood.

Fast forward four decades, and here I am with gray hair, four amazing grandchildren, and a weight total that definitely allows me to give blood.

It has been an eventful journey full of triumphs and challenges. I had planned to work until the age of 70, but about a year and a half ago I hit the wall. I had heard from many friends, 'When you are ready to retire, you will know it.' And boy, were they right! I could hardly wait to get out the door.

So far, 70 seems pretty uneventful as an age. The only big point is I am starting a new decade. I also feel fortunate to have made it to this age and celebrate this birthday, as many of my friends did not.

My family really took it as a time for celebration, as my children surprised me with special visits and tributes. Nothing is more celebratory than grandchildren honoring you with hugs and kisses. It was probably one of the best birthdays ever because we were all together.

Friends have also been so attentive, especially those younger than I am. Cards and messages aren’t nearly as severe as when turning 50 or 60. One card actually took a mild tone by calling them “colorful years.” Another card phrased 70 as, “Don’t think of it as being 70. Think of it as being 7 perfect 10s.” I can definitely live with that idea.

It is still hard to say 70, so I don’t if I can help it. I really feel no different than I did a few weeks ago when I was 69. But my grandfather, Nonno Pasquali Alampi, used to say you finish that year on your birthday and are really starting the next. So according to him, my true age is 71!

I have also realized that it takes some creativity to master older age and retirement: What do I really want to do? What do I really have to do? And when can I say the heck with all of it?

There are some days the third option will take over and I do only what I want to do — that sometimes feels really good. But mostly I handle what I have to do in my own good time, not rushing unless absolutely necessary. How nice it is to run around during the day, stopping wherever I want, shopping at will (that is my true passion), and trying out new eateries (not too good on weight figures, but I try not make it a habit). As one retired friend has repeatedly advised me, ease into the day — and I definitely take her advice on many days.

Plus, this age affords one the pleasure of no deadlines, bosses or tasks hanging over my head. Sometimes I miss the more creative work pursuits (not the daily routine), but that feeling usually passes quickly.

So I embrace the age of 70 and all it means, taking on a new decade with enthusiasm and hope, and wondering if I will make it to the next one!

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