Sunday, September 2, 2012

On Turning 60

On Wednesday, I will reach a mile stone: 60th birthday. Interestingly enough, it isn't nearly the emotional experience of turning 40 or even 50.

This time around I am approaching this aging-up (as it is called in USA age Group Swimming) with an attitude of gratitude.


I was born a white female in the USA to good parents who did the very best they could to raise 4 children, of which I am the oldest.

We received fine health care, learned how to take care of ourselves, and started life strong and healthy.

I am in the middle of the Baby Boom. For my entire life, my generation has been catered to, studied, advertised to: my concerns are those of the majority age group.

Feminism and I came of age at the same time.

I had a fine undergraduate and graduate education.  I was privileged to study for many years with the first flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Murray Panitz, and after his death with the amazing Trudy Kane, formerly principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

I had a very successful career as a freelance musician, traveling all through the Mid-Atlantic region.   When that schedule became too much for me with graduate school and two babies,  I formed a flute  and harp duo. At its height, the duo won many national awards, toured, recorded, and played enough  weddings to fill a large volume of hilarious stories.

There were few goals I was unable to reach, although sometimes not always in the way I wanted to reach them.  At age 10, I wanted to be the only girl in the all-male flute section that mesmerized me in the Leonard Bernstein New York Philharmonic Young Peoples' concerts. At age 30, I was a frequent substitute in the all-male flute section of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  At 13, I wanted to swim in the Olympics. At age 47, I swam in the US Masters Nationals and finished in the top 8 of my 3 events. At an even earlier age, dreamt of having my own business, and at 57, started one. 


I have a wonderful husband of 38 years (guess my usual quip that I was 12 when we married won't work  here) whom I met at age 16, coached a swim team of 40 kids with for four summers, and married at  21.  

I have two adult children, both of whom bring me great joy and pride. They each have made their own path, in their own way.  We were able to educate them in fine schools, watch their accomplishments in swimming, academics, and are proud of their strength and character. 

I have had 4 Labrador Retrievers who have warmed my soul and my cold feet in the winter. 

Yes, indeed there have been challenges, heart break, traumas, and on more than one occasion I have had to learn strength I didn't know I had  while rising up from the ashes of brokenness and tragedy. 

But when all is said and done, it has been one hell of a ride (so far) and I wouldn't change any of it,   because what didn't kill me, made me stronger. 

OK.  So I did pray very hard at age 6 for blonde hair and blue eyes.  And at age 35 had a daughter, who had blonde hair and blue eyes. Still does.


  1. What a great post, Joan! You're a vibrant personality. I'm so happy to have met you!

  2. Great post. I have a few years yet but I can relate to the changes thru the years. Thanks for also being an inspiration to my daughter, . And last but not least...thanks for being a friends.

  3. Love how you are putting it out there and bringing it all together, Joan. Thanks for the insight into the big event. Mine comes next year.