Today I’m 66.

This is the day I get my state pension.

A year ago, I spent my birthday reflecting at my wood. Reading poems and notes sent by friends. Watch the video here.

This year I’m going away for a few days with my partner, visiting Hawkstone Follies, which I last visited over 25 years ago. I last walked the grounds in 17th century clothing (I was a member of the Sealed Knot reenactment society), including a corset and replica shoes. Coming back to our camp I noticed that other people had walking poles, I might need them this time!

Would the person back then have imagined the person I am now?

So much has changed.

I’m mentally stronger, I’ve had academic success, I’ve made some major changes in my personal life.

So how will life be like in 5 years’ time?

In Rethinking Retirement, I write this:

In five years’, time I see myself doing more of the same. I’m still living in a three-storey house, still being active. I’ve lost a little weight and am definitely more fit than now. I’m stronger and enjoy lifting weights. I continue to work and have had two more books published but I am more choosy about the time spent on work to allow more time for writing. Still living with my partner and appreciating that you need to put time into a relationship.

As I think about the future, I wonder what my future self will say to the 66-year-old me. I took time in the wood to reflect on this, allowing myself to drift and see what thoughts and ideas come to mind.

This is what my future self said

  1. I’m so proud of you for gaining your doctorate, it shows that you can focus and look deep into something that lead to your book – rethinking retirement and the two subsequent books.
  2. I’m glad that you followed your dream to get the message from your research out to the widest possible audience, you had a vision and you went for it, despite some knockbacks.
  3. Regrets and set backs are part of life and you took them in your stride. Continue to see them as learning experiences.
  4. Stay strong and be prepared to make some difficult decisions. You will know that you have been true to yourself. That’s important.
  5. Measure your success by the impact you have on others, and remember the impact may be small but as you look back on the impact it truly mounts up.
  6. I love the way that you call out ageism and encourage others to do the same. Continue to do this, people need to hear your voice.
  7. Take care of your knees, you will be thankful you continued with exercise, and lost some weight.
  8. Your mum won’t be around for ever – it’s good you are having longer visits, and continue to do this. Help your mum to have a fulfilling later life.
  9. Really listen to other people, you are good at 66, but you could listen more – focus on the space between the words, on what isn’t said. You will understand much more by doing this.
  10. Get focused on your nature retreats and vision quests. These are needed, the wood is ready … listen to the trees, they want to support you.
  11. Keep taking stock on what is motivating you, and let some things go. You want to get involved in so many things, but stop and focus on just a few.
  12. Related to the point above, what do you want to be known for? Have a clear legacy.

This is personal for me, and shared as it may inspire you to do similar. It doesn’t have to be on your birthday, it can be done at any time.

Sending much love

Denise x