Tag Archives: turning 60

The Big 6-0 (plus a new release)

by Vinnie Hansen

I just turned 60. Shhhhhhh. I received my first official senior discount at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.

I’ve been told these are the wonder years as in, “I wonder where I left those keys?”

Or the “hereafter” years, as in “I wonder what I came in here after?”

Attack of the 50-yr-old Woman poster

The poster my friends made for my big 5-0 birthday

Like all decade birthdays, the Big 6-0 rears up and demands notice. What do the sixties hold?

I passed through remarriage, moving and menopause in my forties. I retired from my teaching career in my fifties.

In the three stages of womanhood, I skipped motherhood and went right from “maiden” to “crone.” Or, maybe that rich mid-section of my life was about motherhood in the sense of birthing my books.

So, what’s left? I’ve learned that the answer to my question is kan reki, sometimes spelled as one word kanrekiKan means “cycle” and reki means “calendar,” but my friend Yoshie told me that I could just think of it as “good year.” How lovely!

In eastern culture, sixty is the preeminent birthday. The lunar calendar has a sixty-year kan or cycle, during which the twelve animal signs—rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig—pass through the five elements—metal, water, wood, fire and earth. I have just completed my journey through one complete cycle of the reki, or calendar. We are now in The Year of the Horse and 2014 is a wood year, the same conditions that existed at the time of my birth.

What does this all mean? This is the year for me to take stock of where I am before beginning my second 60-year cycle of life. This is a time for transformation, the year for rebirth.

Japanese characters for kan reki

Yoshie sent me these Japanese characters for kan reki. On a 60th birthday a Japanese person often dresses in red for good luck, and the birthday celebration focuses on the theme of rebirth. The Japanese pulled this tradition from Chinese culture. The special kan reki celebration is also common in Korea and Hawaii.

Already this has been the year of the rebirth of my mystery series. Previously indie published, the books are being re-released from misterio press. The dazzling exteriors look professional. The interiors are more polished. Perhaps the books will prove a prophetic metaphor for my self—snappier exterior and smoother interior.

Even though my husband claims that I am mighty fine the way I am, I love the idea that now is the perfect time to create myself anew.

Vinnie and husband in front of Lennon Wall

The newly-minted 60-year-old me (wearing red pants!) with husband Daniel at the Lennon Wall in Prague.

This month, I’m also celebrating the re-release of Art, Wine and Bullets under the misterio press imprint. Please check it out below, and then talk to me in the comments. What was your last Big O birthday, and how did you deal with it?

book cover for Art, Wine and Bullets

An innocent visit to a premiere Santa Cruz gallery turns into a nightmare case for Private Investigator Carol Sabala. The strangled body of the gallery owner offers an opportunity to cement her reputation and to save her employer from insolvency. But precious time spent assisting her photographer boyfriend impedes her investigation while his sudden obsession with photographing her impedes their relationship.

When Carol plunges into an art world offering urban graffiti to paintings of polka-dotted cats, she confronts the age-old questions: What is art? What defines an artist? She also confronts what defines a successful private investigator as she unravels much more than a murder case.

Available on   AMAZON  and  BARNES & NOBLE

Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie is a retired English teacher who has received several awards for her stories and books. She is the author of the Carol Sabala mystery series.

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Are You Aging Graciously?

Every time my 32-year-old son says, “Oh, man, I’m getting old,” I want to smack him. I don’t, of course, because (1) I love him and (2) he’s just doing what we all do. It has become the norm in our society to complain about aging, while fighting it tooth and nail.

I do it myself, and I’m sure my older friends want to smack me sometimes (maybe for more reasons than that). One of them has a favorite line, whenever somebody is moaning and groaning about getting older. She says, “It sure beats the alternative.” One of my older brother’s favorite lines is, “Ain’t none of us getting out of this alive!”

But I think I like another of his favorites best. “Enjoy life now; it has an expiration date.”

photo by Ardfem, Wikimedia Commons

So why do we Americans waste so much of our precious lives fighting the inevitable? The beauty industry, with its hair dyes and anti-wrinkle creams, is a multi-billion dollar industry. Western countries–the U.S. and to a lesser degree Europe–lead the charge on this. We have face-lifts, lipposuction and Botox. We’ve even got children on TV encouraging their dad to use Just For Men so he can get a date! And of course, he magically does, as soon as he ditches that nasty graying hair.

Today is my 60th birthday so it’s to be expected that I might have aging on the mind.



Me at 30; said son is 3.



Me at 60.

I like to think that I’m handling it well.
But it’s tricky, finding a balance between
not letting age stop me from doing what
I want to do, and respecting my limits.

I’ll admit to dying my hair and using some
of those anti-aging products. What bothers
me the most is that I look in the mirror and
my mother is looking back. Now don’t get
me wrong, I loved my mother. But I don’t
want to be her. I want to be me.

And I guess that’s the crux of the matter. As
we age, we have to keep redefining ourselves.
I used to be the one who loved doing fixer-
upper type projects around the house. Now
I get vertigo on a four-foot stepladder and
I’m exhausted after a couple hours of such labor. A couple weeks ago, I finished a task–spraying all the mildew off the rafters of my screened-in back porch–that took four sessions on four separate days to complete. The first time I did that chore, seven years ago, I got it all done in one day.

Mother at her 75th birdthday party.

But there I go again, complaining about aging. We in the West don’t really get it that there are advantages to age. We develop expertise, wisdom, confidence. Those of us in ‘late adulthood’ (the euphemism now for being old) are comfortable in our own skins, wrinkled as it may be, in a way that we often didn’t experience in our youth.

My husband is a retired linguist. He now teaches English part-time to international students. He loves it, mainly because a lot of his students come from countries that revere age. His Asian students especially adore him, because he is the wise old man who deigns to spend his time helping them learn. They call him, in their various languages, the equivalent of “Grandfather,” with no clue that in our country, that is a bit of an insult. But he doesn’t take it that way at all.

The strangest thing is that this birthday isn’t particularly bothering me. Not like turning 40 or 50 did (I flipped out over 50).

I’ve lived six decades, and every one of them has been packed full of interesting experiences, poignant moments and learning opportunities. I’ve had my share of heartache too, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of my life in order to magically be thirty again, or even forty.

And my forties were probably my best years. No wait, I think it was my fifties.

Or maybe it will be my sixties.

How are you aging?

(Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)