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What Can You Do After 60?

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.



As an artist, I spend a lot of time alone in my own thoughts; in a wonderful place I call “the meadow.” It is a place inside my head where the air is clear and clean, there are no distractions or emotional baggage to deal with. The meadow has a little stream rambling by, wildflowers of gold and blue, birds add music from time to time but mostly it is quiet. It is simply a safe place. This is the place inside myself I go to when I want to create. There is no time there so when I am called out, back to the real world, I am usually amazed that hours have flown by.

I like to go to the meadow to think about my life and my future and sometimes my past. It is interesting to note that in the meadow I am still 19. I still have dreams and hopes and I don’t usually take into account that I am spent. Recently I was thinking there about what I want to be when I grow up.

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

With the end of my college career approaching, it is an interesting thought to consider all the things I wanted to be as I grew.

  • Primary grades: a mommy
  • Middle school grades: a ballerina
  • High school: an artist/illustrator of children’s books
  • College: a fine artist/painter
  • Early 20’s after marriage: a good wife to an abusive husband
  • The Mid 20’s: hermit/divorcee/a good single mom
  • The thirties and forties: a good remarried wife/teacher/homeschool mom
  • The fifties: an illustrator of children’s books
  • The sixties: Finished with school
  • The seventies: Still living the good life

I Want To Accomplish Now

Like a lot of girls, I had dreams and wanted to go to college, but like a lot of girls, I got sidetracked and got married instead. Soon I was raising a family, divorced, remarried with my own and step-children and finally an empty nester. The time for college, it would seem, was gone long ago. But I still had the dreams. It seemed too embarrassing to enter a college campus at my age and so I didn’t.

Enter: Online Colleges. What a great idea. I could go to school in the convenience of my own home. Now after the age of 60 I will be getting a Master’s degree in Illustration. Is it too late for me? Is it too late for anyone? I figure it will be too late when I’m in the grave and before that time, I still have plenty to offer.

Some people, even me at times, may say I’m too old or my time has passed, but I just can’t give up on the dream. Here are just a few that didn’t give up or let age decide what they could or could not do after 60.



Life After 60

** At 59, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.

** George Bernard Shaw, at 60 years old, completed the play, “Heartbreak House,” which was regarded by some as his masterpiece.

** J.R.R. Tolkien was 62 when he published the first volume of the fantasy series, Lord of the Rings, although he had been writing it for a total of 14 years.

** Benjamin Franklin was 70 when he helped draft the Declaration of Independence and then served his country as Ambassador to France and the Postmaster General.

** At 85, “Coco” Chanel was the head of a fashion design firm.

** Pablo Picasso was still producing drawings and etchings at the age of 90.

** At 95 years old, Nola Ochs became the oldest person to receive a college diploma. The degree was in general studies with an emphasis on history.

** Greta Pontarelli, 63, was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Finding weightlifting boring, she started pole dancing.

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** Wini Yunker took a two-year Peace Corps assignment in Ukraine at sixty-five.

** Evelyn Gregory whose childhood dream was to be a flight attendant achieved that dream at 71.

** Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote and published her best-selling series of books including "Little House on the Prairie" in her 60s.

** After surviving cancer and at the age of 75, Barbara Hillary became one of the oldest people, and the first black woman, to reach the north pole.

** Lloyd Kahn first tried skateboarding at 65. Now 79, he says "I don't do any special tricks. I don't ride like teenagers. I try not to go too fast."

** Susan B. Anthony was past 80 when she formed the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

** Japanese uklyoe painter, Katsushika Hokusai, at the age of 75, created “Painting Hundred Views of Mount Fuji” and prepared the release of the 15th and final volume of his “Ten Thousand Sketches.”

** Harlan Sanders, Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, was 66 when he started to promote his chicken and build an empire.

** Yvonne Dole is still ice skating at 89 and says, "If I ever get in a bad mood, I look at [my] peers with their oxygen bags, put on skates and smile."

** In his "retirement," Peter Mark Roget began a project of grouping words according to classification. His project was first published when he was 73 and became the enduring (I still have my copy from high school!) reference book, Roget's Thesaurus. He oversaw every update until he died at age 90.

** Charles Chagall, at the age of 90, became the first living artist to be exhibited at the Louvre museum.

** Montserrat Mecho, 80 is happiest when she jumps out of an airplane with a parachute strapped to her back. She is also a downhill skier, a windsurfer, and a diver.

** Ruth Flowers decided to become a DJ at 68 with no prior experience whatsoever. She enjoyed flying around the world, performing at popular clubs, until her death in May 2014.

It's Not Over

With so great a company of people who didn’t let a clock or calendar stand in their way (or people’s opinions about their age), how can I? I have decided that my life is still going on and not over. I have decided that I still have things to do and important contributions to make to society. I have decided that there is still work to be done in my lifetime. It’s not over.


In my meadow, in my peaceful place in my head, I have found there is no age, no time to deal with, no need to give up on dreams and hopes unrealized. I am going to accomplish more maybe, now in the second half of my life than I did in the first. After all, I have more experience and wisdom than I did then. And now I have fewer distractions. Sure I have some wonderful grandkids to spend time with but, thank God, I do not have to raise them. I only get to visit and love on them, then go home and pursue the dreams I put on the back burner so long ago. I’m so glad those dreams didn’t boil away but are still stewing. Wish me luck.

Have you dreams you didn’t realize or failed to pursue? Would you have the courage to pursue them now?

Pursuit of Dreams Comments Wanted

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2021:


Oh, we are kindred spirits. My husband was also abusive and I got out as well. I think writers and artists are both creators who just use different media. We are alike in many ways. Thanks for commenting.



BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 16, 2021:

Such a wonderful Article.

I wish you All the best of Luck, but I honestly think you Got This!

Like you, I gave up my college years to get married.

I don't know what the heck I was thinking.

It was an abusive relationship and luckily I got out.

I did go to night school years later and received an Associate Degree in Computer Science.

I no longer use it, but it feels good to know I accomplished it.

You will excel. No problem.

I love that you call the place you drift off to...

"The Meadow"

I think I must live least more than I snap out of it into reality.

Great inspiration for everyone & quite an admirable list of others.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 16, 2021:


I loved the book so much. It taught me not to let myself get all weak and flabby just because I'm older and people want to do things for me. It also reminded me that I'm not done yet. There are many things I'm still able to contribute to society. Thanks for commenting.



Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 25, 2021:

Hi Denise a well-written and thought of hub on this topic. After 60 is such a great age and so much to think of here of value to those in need. It depends if one can still do what they enjoy or attempt something new.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 25, 2021:

I find even with a few physical setbacks that limit my mobility, I can still function well and do the art I love. I love that I have more time to do these things now that I don't have to hustle to a job every day. I plan on still going strong at 100. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 06, 2017:

Well, Scott, I could be wrong but I think the ambition is what gets us up in the morning in the first place. If you have that, even the energy will come. And all that brings such joy!



promisem on March 30, 2017:

Thanks, Denise. I still have ambition which drives me to keep trying despite the loss of energy. Ambition is the mental part and energy is the physical. I appreciate your encouragement!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 30, 2017:


I know my energy has declined after 60 but my motivation (or is it ambition?) has increased. This is probably because there are so many things that I wanted to do and I sort of hear the clock ticking that I haven't that much time left to do those things. Fortunately those dreams are mostly children's books and not climbing a mountain or anything that would be physically problematic. I think that goals are part of what gives us the motivation to get up in the morning; the motivation to FIND the energy somewhere to do what we can with the time we have. So the question is: what do you want to do? Do you have dreams that are as of yet unfulfilled? Things you want to do and haven't found the time to do them yet? Now is the time! Get out a calendar and but small goals on each week and month that would step you up towards fulfilling that goal if possible. Physically I haven't been able to create drawings and paintings like I used to at 20. My hands don't work as well as they used to but I'm not letting that stop me. It only makes the process slower. I take plenty of breaks to rest my hands and wrists but then I go at it again. I recently got my Master's Degree in Illustration through an online program at a prestigious art college. I always wanted to have a degree and now I do.

Thanks for visiting my page and commenting. I wish you well in your future goals. Let me know if there is anything more I can do to encourage you to reach for the stars.



promisem on March 30, 2017:

I find that my energy and motivation have declined since turning 60. Have you experienced the same? Have you found any ways to regain it?

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 21, 2015:


I think people tend to think after a certain age, it's all over but the sad singing and slow marching. But as you say, people live so much longer today that, short of a tragic accident we could have 30 or 40 years to fill. I have noticed that I move slower and I don't want to tackle anything that will be too physically demanding, but my mind is still semi-sharp and so are my fingers and my sense of humor. So I feel I could do a lot of things still, like all those I listed. Thanks so much for commenting.



KonaGirl from New York on September 21, 2015:

This is such a great article! We never realize when we are younger how much we can actually accomplish in our lives. People are living so much longer these days that the "twilight" years can actually be full of many new possibilities, events and learning experiences.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on September 20, 2015:

Glenn Stok,

Yes, I whole-heartedly agree. I feel like that often. I may be over 60 but I'm not done yet. There are lots of things left for me to do. The key is starting NOW! Thanks for commenting.



Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on September 20, 2015:

This hub gives hope to those of us who feel time is running out. It shows that it's never too late to accomplish your dreams. The thing to remember is that the best time to start doing something is - NOW!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 05, 2015:


That is so nice of you to say! I am enjoying the journey and I'm surprised at the joy I have found along the way. It's amazing following a dream and even if I never achieve notoriety, I know I will have done the best I could with the gifts I've been given. What else can one ask of you?



KonaGirl from New York on May 05, 2015:


I bet you are enjoying the journey! I know I would be. I am so proud of you and the things you are continually accomplishing. You go girl and the best of luck. My warmest aloha to you!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 03, 2015:


My pleasure. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate all the kudos.



Eileen from Western Cape , South Africa on May 03, 2015:

Fascinating and inspirational hub indeed . Thanks for reminding us age is just a number and dreams and goals can be realized at any age .

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on April 03, 2015:


I absolutely understand. I am a little afraid of the debt but I have learned an incredible amount and find I couldn't have achieved the same amount of excellence without the extra education. Still it will be hard to pay back but right now I'm enjoying the journey. I'm glad for your success.



KonaGirl from New York on April 03, 2015:

Our lives have run a bit parallel, except you went back to school and I didn't. I thought about it, but I didn't want to put myself in debt for $45, 000 (how much I would have to pay beyond the government grants) at my age.

I have taught myself how to build simple websites and created simple graphics so that I have had to be satisfied with that while I make my living online.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 24, 2015:

Grand old lady, thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I hope you are pursuing your dreams as well.



Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on March 24, 2015:

What a truly inspiring article. I'm 60 and often feel over the hill. There are dreams I have yet to reach, and dreams I'm working on, but I still need to discover that quiet place in the mind when you are filled with peace and "can do" and any negative holding-back thought can gain no entry. I loved your sketch of the ballerina. And I loved how you took online courses, too:).

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 11, 2015:

Wow, aesta1, a world traveler. That is so very awesome. And you can share you gift and talents with the world. I'm sure there are awesome things to see and paint there... touch of envy hitting me.



Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 10, 2015:

I, too, have a meadow I escape to and sometimes, I get lost in it that I don't even notice my husband calling me. He thinks I sometimes forget I am married. We are now beyond our 60s but still working because we enjoy it so much. We just came from Florida to Cambodia and my husband's first week in the new contract was so much fun, he couldn't imagine us being in Florida.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 10, 2015:

Nellieanna, what a great pleasure to meet and get to talk with you too. I agree with you about dreamers. Dreams are important to life. When we stop dreaming, we stop living and then it's time to look for our name in the obituaries. I, for one, want to keep dreaming as long as possible and completing goals, even it they were goals I set for myself decades ago. I am finally ready to finish up my thesis and get my master's degree. It is a very exciting time for me and in the future, I look forward to illustrating books. I know there won't be a lot of money involved... no rich and famous dreams, just dreams of being published and then encouraging children to read through the joy of illustrations. What greater goal and dream could there be? For me.... none.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on March 09, 2015:

It is such a pleasure to meet you, too! Yes, that 16 cooperative chapters project was great fun, as well as challenging. There was varying technical experience among the participants, so I was happy to sort of coordinate that aspect. The Hubber who conceived of it and kicked it off was really inspired, but I doubt that he'd undertake another such project.

Yes, I find that setting a goal of 100 years is rather too limited, as well. I've been proclaiming it so long now, though, that perhaps, like O'Keefe, waiting till nearer the fulfillment of that goal to step it forward is good all the way around!

The main thing about it is the positive attitude about the years passing. I call myself an optimistic realist and a realistic optimist, to include good attitude & common sense, too! It is a journey, not a destination and like all journey's there are all sorts of unexpected choices along the way. Besides, claiming to be realistic silences those prone to call us optimists idle dreamers. Nothing wrong with dreams! They are one of the workshops of the brain, perhaps! Realistically, it is a matter of keeping the dream in sync with the reality and the reality lifted by the dream, by doing what it takes to stay healthy in all parts of one's being. The fun is that it's a path to keep one happily occupied with being fully alive! What fun!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 05, 2015:

Nellieanne, I'm so happy to meet you. The 16 chapter hubs sound like a great fun in writing. I'm intending for a 100 years myself. It was Georgia O'Keeffe who said she was going to live to 100 also but as that number approached she decided she would live to 120. I loved her optimism. In the end she lived and painted till 99. Awesome. I hope to do the same.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on March 04, 2015:

Hi, Denise - First, welcome to Hubpages! You’re a perfect fit here. I’ll soon be beginning my 5th year as a Hubber and I’ve loved every one of them.

I love your hub here. We’re in agreement about its message. Coincidence is that a few years ago, I participated in a 16-member series of hubs about the journey of life as it advances. Each of us was asked to pose a question about the process of aging and then we collected all 16 replies on each of our own hubs in the series. It was so exciting.

Since I was the eldest, I was asked to kick it off with the first of the 16 chapters: - As has happened, some of the 16 participants are no longer Hubbers, so some of the links between the chapters have become inactive.

I very much admire your positive perspective about going on with life as one lives, both in your own life experience and as you discuss it in your hub here. I have to mention that it seems we’ve shared some of them.

I am so pleased to welcome you to hubpages and thank you for bringing your work to my attention by following me! By the way, I turned 83 this past Feb. 2nd. I’m going for at least 100 with full life functioning all the way!

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on March 04, 2015:

I thought this didn't post so re-tried it. Hence the extra comment box!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 03, 2015:

vkwok, thank you so much. I was kind of amazed how many people did important things after 60. Gives me hope. You know?

Victor W. Kwok from Hawaii on March 02, 2015:

Definitely a hub to share!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 25, 2015:

We are all headed there at one time or other. The only other option is to die young. Not really a very pleasant option. Thanks for visiting.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 25, 2015:

Interesting and helpful Makes me think far off. A useful hub for the much older.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 24, 2015:

So true, phoenix2327, so true. I don't know where I got those voices from that were trying to convince me it was too late for me.. some defeatist thinking or something. So glad I dismissed it and pushed through it.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 24, 2015:

Amen, sister, travmaj, bring it on. We need to be encouragement for each other and those following us too.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 24, 2015:

Thank you, Denise. I'm sure I will.



Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on February 24, 2015:

Right now I'm pursuing as much as I can. I started writing a few years ago and am having a wonderful time with it. I picked up crocheting again after a 40+ years and am amazed every time a produce something. It's never to late to chase new dreams or resurrect old ones.

travmaj from australia on February 23, 2015:

Well said and I'm with you all the way - I expected life would be slower at this 'certain age' However, it's passing at an enormous speed. So much to see and do and experience and learn. I'm still travelling, working, learning Tai Chi and, of course, wri