04/24/2013 12:42 pm ET Updated Jun 24, 2013

How I Learned to Celebrate Being 60


Entering a new decade of our lives is a humbling experience, whether it's our 30s or our 60s, though the latter feels like more of a jolt, I would venture.

You guessed it. I turned 60 this week.

People tell me it's just a number. But the fact remains: It's a big number.

As I faced the big 6-0, I morphed into the Boomer Drama Queen, wringing my hands and bemoaning my entry into Older Middle Age. "I can't believe it. Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday..." until people lost their patience and tuned me out.

On the other hand, I have a lot to be thankful about. I'm in good health. My parents are also in good health. I am blessed with a loving husband and three fabulous adult children, many close relatives and the best friends in the world.

I sat myself down for a talking-to. "Self," I said sternly, "I know this isn't easy. But for goodness sakes, lighten up. Pull up your bootstraps and get on with it."

I was right. Although, what exactly are bootstraps?

So, instead of calling out sick on my 60th birthday and spending the day eating chocolate, this is what I did.

I volunteered as a Book Giver for World Book Night.
That this event falls on my birthday every year is serendipitous. As a lifelong lover of books, what better way could I spend part of my birthday than talking about reading and handing out books to college students? I loved it.

I planned my 60th birthday party.
My husband and I were born the same year, just two weeks apart. Since we were facing the big 6-0 simultaneously, we decided to throw ourselves a party. We rented a private room at a local restaurant and invited our family and close friends. Having just about everyone we love together for a happy occasion was the best gift anyone could give us.

I owned up to being 60.
Women have been ingrained with the notion that they should never reveal their ages. That's just plain ridiculous. Let people be surprised by my age -- let them think I look old, I look young, whatever -- but this is 60, folks.

I appreciated that people recognized my birthday.
My family made a fuss over me, and my friends contacted me with birthday wishes. The coolest thing? Getting Facebook messages all day long. How fun! I didn't protest either when my work colleagues threw me a (sort of) surprise party, complete with decorations and candles (not 60, thank goodness).

I counted my blessings.
The week before my birthday was probably the most violent week for our country in a long time. In addition to the horrific Boston Marathon terrorism and subsequent killings, there was the deadly explosion in West Texas, the ricin letters mailed to the White House and more. We live in dangerous times. Innocent people have their lives taken from them for no other reason than they happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I am grateful for every day, because you just never know what can happen.

Turning 60 is a big deal. I will try to be positive and relish this new phase of my life.