On Turning Eighty!


By Suzanne Rosoff


We keep reading articles that state 40 is the “new” 20 and 50 is the “new” 30, 60 the “new” 40 … well, I am here to tell you that 80 is the “new” whatever you want it to be.


I just celebrated my 80th Birthday and it is a blast! I was talking to a couple of my girlfriends the other day who are a few years older and we all agree that we have discovered the word that describes this time in our life. It is called Freedom.


Suzanne celebrating in Italy.

Suzanne celebrating in Italy.

What does freedom mean? Free to do, say, be anything that brings you closer to your true self. No longer do we have to wear masks so others will see us as they want us to be. No longer do we have to say what others want to hear to be in synch with their ideas, thoughts and experiences. We are so over the need to “be liked”.


This freedom is such a gift. It is like a warm, refreshing body of water that washes over us. Can you see us floating, face up, smiling and even laughing as we move around this body of water, not knowing where it will take us? That is part of the joy, the excitement, the warm pleasure of movement.


Each day I wake up and am open to whatever this day brings to me. Asheville is a great place, not only for the younger population, but for those of us in the Third Age. The College for Seniors which now is called OLLI offers life enrichment programs where we can continue our love of learning new skills, share our ideas or simply get off our butt and move our bodies.


Last year I even learned a new skill … how to play Texas Hold’em Poker! My love of the theater has brought me many roles with The Autumn Players which is housed at ACT downtown. Last Fall, as a member of the Reader’s Theater, I played in Moss Hart’s play, Light Up The Sky. I played a professional ice skater with a Brooklyn accent, no less.


I am so in love with life! I am so open to the beauty around me wherever I am. And the people I meet … new to me each day. I love hearing their stories, their experiences and realize their experiences are mine. This age has brought me to a place where I no longer have judgment or criticism of other’s experiences. Each of us is on our own path of life. And even though our childhood experiences, good or bad, may color what we do as adults, we each have our own choice to live our lives now as our very own person. Can you feel the power in that?


So 80 is not only a joyous time but it is a time to be powerful.


As we all know, our earlier years are the time for learning, careers, marriage or relationships, taking care of others. And as I reread this sentence, I realize that these older years are or can be the same … with the big thought at the end of “taking care of ourselves”.


Taking care of ourselves. Now, that’s a new thought! And that is where the word freedom comes into play. If we take care of ourselves first, our needs and desires, then everything else falls into place. We will be happier and thus the people around us will be happier. We won’t be so needy at this age. And what a relief that is for our loved ones. They will know we are happy, independent, adventure seeking adults. We are healthy because we take care of ourselves and do not rely on others for that purpose.


My life at 80 is richer, more satisfying and awesome than at any other time of my life. And I have had some great experiences from teaching Ballroom Dancing on Cruise Ships around the world, owning an Organic Vegan Restaurant in Miami, as Associate Producer of two Award Winning Docu-Dramas for PBS, singing and dancing in Summer Stock, major Fundraiser for non profit organizations, owning B and B’s and cultivating organic gardens … to name a few.


Now I get up each day and am so grateful and want to share myself in ways that will touch other’s lives. I believe that not one adult or child should go hungry and so participate in the work of The Manna Food Bank. There are other ways to go hungry, too. So I believe in the work that the Asheville Symphony Guild does to bring music and culture to the children in our schools. The good work that The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina does by presenting grants to organizations who address the unmet needs of women and girls. The Jubilee Community on Wall Street is a joyous place on Sundays. And the money they collect there goes to the hungry, the homeless and those affected by our weather disasters.


And, to close on a more personal note, I now have the freedom to enjoy my family. And joy I have. My daughter, Melinda, is a Managing Director of The Focusing Institute in NY and she and my son-in-law Mitch have raised two great sons, my grandsons Adam and Alan. I call them Renaissance men. Adam graduated from Oberlin and was immediately offered a position in his field of Bio Geo Chemistry and Alan will graduate Vassar next year and will be working for an organization for Farm Animal Advocacy. Although these are their fields of work, they are not defined by their work. They each play the piano, guitar and banjo. They tap trees to get maple syrup, make soap, make bread out of their own sourdough starter and are excellent vegan cooks. They have love of music, respect for the environment and live joyous lives.


My son, Paul Marks, is a highly respected Acupuncturist in Asheville. And he, too has a great sense of the quality of life and lives it in a joyous way. His daughter, my granddaughter Emma, is in her first year at Clark University. She spent a year as an Au Pair in Spain and wants to major in International Relations.


I can’t imagine what the world or life will be like when these three grandchildren become 80 … but I’ll let you know!


Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker