The Ten Best Things About Turning 70


Red-tailed_hawk_(32291261573)It’s April and the red tail hawk that screeched his way through last spring has just arrived and is out back by the marshy canal that separates our backyard from the cypress swamp beyond. I’m sure it’s the same one. I think he decided to return for his courting. It’s an ideal spot for large water birds…except for the alligators, of course. The canal is connected to a large lake and is shallow enough for marsh birds to easily see the bass swimming by. Yesterday a great blue heron plucked a long squirmy thing out and lifted its beak so gravity could slide it down his gullet.

April’s my favorite month in Florida. Actually it’s my favorite month anywhere because it feels like my very own special month. I was born on April 23 in 1943, a year when the 23rd was on Good Friday. I always felt proud of being born on Good Friday as if it meant I was good and would be rewarded with a comfortable life. Now of course I recognize a universal, less auspicious significance to this day. Good Friday is when Jesus of Nazareth is said to have been beaten, tortured, and hung on a cross to die for speaking out against the ills of rigid religious orthodoxy and the injustices of misogyny and Roman imperialism. As a child I never considered the possibility that, if taken as an omen about my spiritual journey, being birthed on Good Friday did not signify a pain-free life.  In fact, it didn’t, but I’m not sorry.

Of course, I don’t claim any factually objective connection between this historical event and my birth date. Conventional thinking would see this as the height of hubris, self-importance, and magical thinking. But as someone who’s spent the last quarter century learning the symbolic language of dreams and experiencing an unending series of synchronicities between my inner and outer worlds, I find it profoundly meaningful anyway. I don’t expect anyone to understand unless they’ve been on their own inner exploration long enough to have experienced such things. But those who have know that the life of the mind is about much more than history, objectivity, linear logic and intellectual reasoning. There’s a grand and glorious MYSTERY out there, and we can be part of it.

Yes, I’m turning 70 on April 23 this year, today, in fact, if you’re reading this on April 23rd, 2013. And I’ve never felt better.  To honor this, here’s my personal list of the best things about turning 70. I know my experience isn’t true of everyone my age, and this knowledge pains me. Aging is not a piece of cake and I have a pretty good idea of the unpleasantness I can expect in times to come. But I assure you that at this moment I feel excellent and am filled with hope.

10. I can see the great blue heron swallow a snake and hear the red-tailed hawk calling his mate. Life is teeming with the drama of the birth/death/rebirth cycle, and I’m still part of it.
9. I’m still learning and growing and I foresee no end to this adventure.
8. I still have my mental and physical health and usually have the sense to enjoy it.
7. I feel more comfortable every day about being transparently me.
6. I’ve survived an agonizing ego death and am enjoying its miraculous aftermath.
5. I wake up every morning to work I’m passionate about, and I can keep doing this as long as my mind and fingers hold out.
4. My life has purpose and meaning because I’m touching people in ways that are making a difference in their lives.
3. Because of the internet and other technology which has eliminated the barriers of time and space, I can be present to the lives of my loved ones and communicate my love whenever I want.
2. I’m proud of my progeny and filled with hope for their futures.
1. I’m surrounded by people who love me and whom I love.

Wishing you all this and much more when you turn 70.

Photo Credit:  Tom Verzo/Vireo for Audubon Society

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52 Responses

  1. Happiest of all birthdays ever, Jeanie!! I hope you have a lovely day, surrounded by the ones you love.
    with love and affection,
    Therese xoxo

    1. Many thanks, Therese. Actually Fred and I are surrounded by many lovely Jungians…a good group of people to spend this day with! Jeanie

  2. Have a wonderful and very happy birthday Jean, thank you for your inspiring insights and your wonderful philosophy for life! And what a lovely post, your description of the area surrounding your home is so gripping, itvis almost possible to see it! I am wending my way through your beautiful book at the moment as well, Healing the sacred divide and thoroughly enjoying your stories and insights, though due to a writing deadline (end of May) my reading time is limited at present. But I cannot wait to get a bit more free time to really delve into it. So thanks again Jean and I hope you will have some lovely celebrations today, all the very best now.

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes, Roberta. And thank you for reading Healing the Sacred Divide. Best of luck with your own writing! Jeanie

  3. Happy 70th Birthday Jeanie! You’re such an inspiration to me, thank you for being you. xox

  4. Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Jean, Wise Elder, Happy Birthday to you 🙂
    Warmest wishes from the southern hemisphere. Catherine B.

  5. Jean, you are reaping the rewards of your courage. You have worked so hard to reach this point! Blessings earned are the best. I am half way through your “Sacred Divide” book. It leaves me in awe as it seems obviously born of lived experience. For me, it is re-igniting my desire to read and study Jung and to begin again with therapy. You are a lighthouse on the shore and I appreciate your heart-felt writing.

  6. Wow, I had no idea you were turning 70! Your personality and appearance make you come across as much younger!
    Coincidentally, just before I write this reply, I was having my morning in-depth conversation with my partner and we were talking about growing older and how society idolises youth and how so many people, tragically, are terrified of growing up and just remain teenagers in adult bodies. Many people rely on their look of youth to get them through life and quietly dread when that inevitably fades. I recently read a novel by Richard Yates, “The Easter Parade” which deals with the same themes- people not knowing what love is but looking for it anyway. Yates writes a lot about female character’s following their animus projections into emotionally unavailable, selfish men, then turning around and realising one day that they are 40 years old and cannot rely of their youth to get them by.
    People of my generation are especially scared of growing older- I find it frustrating and sad because they don’t know how or what it means to expand their consciousness and grow psychologically. Now that I have a deeper understanding of these things, I look forward to growing, becoming wiser and more psychologically mature, I only see life getting better in that respect, it is the only thing I can control anyway.
    Your words, again, have resonated with me and are truly inspiring. Thanks and happy birthday!

    1. Larry, it’s so heartening to hear from young people who are learning the value of self-knowledge. Our culture does such a poor job of preparing the young in matters of such vital importance to every soul. Blessings on your transforming journey. Jeanie

  7. Very many blessings to you and yours Jean on your happy day … and yes, I can think of one other advantage not mentioned in your list, that is the fact that you are not yet 72! For me, having reached this magic number before you, i can confirm how much better life becomes after 70 even, as we seek to heighten our awaremess, uncertainty, and gratitude for being … Your book is a dream, Jean, in many ways. Your personal myth continues to impact upon my world in a way that I could never have anticipated .. Amazon in UK had to reorder two weeks ago (feast of the Annunciation) from the US as seemingly I, and others had already purchased the entire stock! And … I had my own ‘painful’ but joyful Kundalini experience last week … I am nearing the second pass of your ‘magic’ work, and so looking forward to the third assimilation to await more synchronicity … may the Devine continue to bless you in your gifts. Happy Birthday to you!

    1. Andi, thank you for the update on book sales in the UK! I love it! Perhaps you’ll write about your Kundalini experience some day if it seems appropriate? I love it that you’re looking forward to your third read of HSD! You’re the kind of person I wrote it for! Jeanie

  8. A Night Thought by William Wordsworth on your Birthday
    Lo! where the Moon along the sky
    Sails with her happy destiny;
    Oft is she hid from mortal eye
    Or dimly seen,
    But when the clouds asunder fly
    How bright her mien!
    Today is the anniversary of William Wordsworth and thie verse above does, I trust, connect … but there is more … it is also the feast of St. George in England, and how about this … today, 23rd April, is the very day on which William Shakespear was born … and died! Is it any wonder you create such amazing literature? … 🙂

      1. Thank you Jean … I am now reflecting on, and contrasting, dragon dispositions related to 23rd April anniversaries! … The ‘ascent’ of the ego, with a victorious St. George claiming the heritage of a nation through victorious dragon-slaying … and … The ‘descent’ of the ego, accepting integration with the Self when tantalised and tethered by a feminine counterpoint … what fantastic imagery … as a child at Saturday film matinees I rarely saw the Lone Ranger lassoing Sliver to bring them together! … 🙂

        1. Wow, Andi! You’ve hit on a fascinating paradox here; one that never occurred to me. The St. George connection provides much food for thought for me too. Thank you for this. And do let me know of any additional insights! Jeanie

  9. Happy Birthday, Dear friend. Have a glorious day!
    With much love, Jeanne
    Sent from my iPad

  10. May this birthday be just the beginning of a year filled with happy memories, wonderful moments and shining dreams.
    Wishing you the best on your special day.

  11. Welcome to this side of that silly milestone, Jeanie! This is a wonderful time of life, as you noted. At least I’m sure loving it!

    1. Thank you, Jean. You’re right. It is silly as long as people dread it. It’s much more pleasant just to love where you are while you’re there. Then you don’t end your life feeling like you’ve wasted it! Jeanie

  12. Happy Birthday Jeanie! Your post is well said, as usual. I just turned 70 (in February) myself. I echo your sentiments.

  13. Lovely, Jeanie! I, too, love having a spring birthday…even though it has snowed on occasion when I lived in the north! The croci an the return of the robins were always a harbinger of spring…promising cool breezes and color returning to the landscape. And each passing year I am more and more at peace. Matrix helped that… knowing you and the others in the group. And it is simply a gift of the “saging” years. I am a few years from 70 but hold you as a role model for beauty, ease and wholeness! I hope today is the happiest of days…and many more! 🙂

    1. Bless your heart, sweet Beth. And you are my role model for nurturing sisterhood, social conscience, risk-taking, and enthusiasm for life! I feel lucky to know you. Jeanie

  14. Oh, Jean. You are such an amazing spirit. May I take this opportunity to wish you a very happy birthday. We are so glad you were born. I awoke this morning and poured my heart out onto paper, looking into my near future and feeling only despair. At the age of 55, I feel as if I know too much and have destroyed all the illusions that allowed me to remain in a state of ignorant bliss. The same gravity that helps the worm down your fowl friend’s throat crushes me sometimes, a subtle reminder that we are not meant to stray too far from the nest. It is so nice to hear the gratitude in your list, and to realize that, if nothing else, I can simply aspire to be LIKE you, to be in a similar state of mind within the next decade. You inspire us all. I love your #6.

    1. In my experience, the crushing gravity is part of the journey, especially during our middle years, and it comes to wake us up to the parts of ourselves we denied during the first half. May you find your path, my sister. Jeanie

  15. Dear Jeanie,
    On the day your were born the morning star sang and danced! You have brought much revelational light to life from your long and courageous journey! You have accompanied me in some dark passages of my life and been an encouragement to keep persevering toward the new Dawn as well. I too become 70 this year on August 25th, a sacred number for me as well. I was born in Saint Louis Michigan named after the Catholic Saint and 9th King of France, also born that day in April. I”m no saint, but I appreciate the fact that Saint Louis was a very wise, loving King who inherited his Kingship at twelve years of age. His mother was his advisor and co-ruler until he was 21 and remained his advisor and counselor. He was honored by the order of St Francis as co-patron and believed himself a “lieutenant of God on Earth” and was known for his benevolent and just rule. He was seen as exemplary King and Christian Prince, who “embodied the whole of what it meant to be a benevolent High Priest and the only canonized King in the Catholic Church. His reign was long and He died on August 25th.
    I share this with you because of our mutual love for synchronicity and symbolic meaning in our lives…and knowing what most of my life has been about “ Following the Morning Star”, known also as the Prince of Peace Himself, calling us all to our own wholeness and Inner Peace through the dark and difficult journey of Individuation toward benevolent loving of Self, Other and Nature. You have modeled this well Jeanie!
    I would imagine King Louis had a distinct advantage with his mother’s wise brilliant and faithful leadership!
    Continue your very Wonder-full and brilliant day and life Jeanie!
    Your forest and stream friend on the land of the Morning Star! Greeneagle

    1. Oh, Julie. Your comments never fail to touch me deeply. The synchronicity and symbolic meaning speak profoundly to my creative imagination, that holy place in the in-between world where matter and spirit meet. I enjoy sharing that space with you, my friend. Thank you for your good wishes, Greeneagle

  16. Happy Birthday! Mine is on the 26th! I always get strangely excited when people have birthdays close to mine, so I had to mention. 🙂

  17. Thank you, Jeanie. I missed saying Happy Birthday to you yesterday and happy decade. I’m glad to say it today.
    Your list makes me cry. It makes me write my own list as I struggle for the first time in my 67+ years with my own health (Meniere’s Disease–not life-threatening, but style of life threatening as it causes unpredictable bouts of imbalance, dizziness, roaring in my ears, and hearing loss). It scares me and I feel vulnerable and out of control–the true nature of human existence, of course, but I love pretending otherwise.. I’m behind on all my goals and wondering if I can hang on to any of my plans. But I have daffodils and my sweet dog, I can still hear bird song and my friend of 40 years who is visiting this week fills my life with motherly love. My loving sons will save my butt when I can’t save it myself and I have a community of friends who will show up when I need them. I continue to have the great gift of my marriage, even though his body is no longer here. I have the spiritual quest, Jung, meditation, the beauty and protection of my daily surroundings. So if I’m a little dizzy and vulnerable, I have arms waiting to catch me. Not 70 yet, but getting close and this is a life of blessing. Thank you for this moving post and your dedicated work done with love and the deepest concern for others. Happy, happy birthday and many more.

    1. Dear Elaine, I’m in Ireland as I write this. Last weekend we toured Dublin and saw the mental hospital that the brilliant writer, Jonathan Swift, gave to the town in the belief he’d end up there one day. He believed he was going mad, so expressly requested that it be built in a country setting so there wouldn’t be people around to hear the screams of the inhabitants. Turns out, he wasn’t going mad; he just had Meniere’s disease and lived to a ripe age. But obviously his symptoms were so frightening and painful that they caused him terrible distress. I’m so sorry you’re having to endure this, but glad to know this post may have provided a modicum of solace. May the coming time of traveling through this newest challenge bring its own rewards. Blessings, Jeanie

      1. Thank you, Jeanie. Yes, it’s a little too close to madness, but I’m hanging in there. A quiet country setting is the right place–and often Meniere’s symptoms fade on their own. We take our challenges and turn them into gold–whenever possible. Blessed journey to you.

  18. Currently in Ireland Jean? … how synchronicitous is that? A land just a few miles in a glass bottomed row boat from Scotland, and the archetypal energetic island of Iona … have you a day to come across and allow me to host you for the day? How wonderful that would be … and next best … are you speaking/faciilitating/coaching publicly in the Emerald Isle while there, and if so where and when … as the song goes … ‘I’ll be there’, if you are … Blessings, Andi

    1. Bless your heart, Andi. What a kind offer! We’ve been at a Jungian conference in Sligo since last Sunday studying the similarities between Jung and W. B. Yeats. I wasn’t a presenter. It ends tomorrow night and we leave for Dublin Sat. morning and Florida Sunday morning, so I’m afraid we wouldn’t have the time. But thank you so much! Maybe the next time we come this way! 🙂 Jeanie

  19. Late but sincere…Happy Birthday from one Taurus to another (my day is the 24th, though I turned 52 instead of 70). In your list, I’m vibrating with you on #7 all the way to the moon and back! Blessings!

  20. I am fascinated how you seam young and vital in spirit (and at photo:). People like you are reason why I always feel that the best is yet to come and that number of years is only number:)

  21. Yeah, it’s just a number based on how you carry yourself amongst the ones around you. Most things in life are very relative. Cheers!

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