COTA Victoria is celebrating its seventieth year in 2021. To help us reflect on what this means, we wanted to talk to others who have reached this milestone to hear their stories and glean some pearls of wisdom. Jess Beattie is one of these people, and this is her story.
Originally from England, Jess immigrated to Melbourne with her young family in the early 1970s. After her children had grown, Jess’s work commitments expanded. Throughout Jess’s 50s and into her 60s, work became so consuming that it squeezed out time for the gym or even regular walks. It also challenged her ability to connect regularly with friends – even her family.
At age 63, Jess took seven months long service leave. She used this time to reflect on what would fill the void of work after retirement, and to invest in her personal health and wellbeing. Jess searched online and found her local Living Longer Living Stronger program at Sentience Personal Training. She has been attending ever since, including during lockdown, when she attended via Zoom.
Jess discovered that regular walking, attending the program twice per week, and making a conscious effort to take time to appreciate the moment dramatically impacted her physical and mental wellbeing. Another positive side effect was weight loss. At the end of her long service leave, Jess decided to retire.
Transitioning into fulltime retirement can be challenging. One’s sense of identity can be very tied to a position title and the financial benefits that work can bring. It can also be a challenge to fill the day. And Jess felt a strong sense of commitment to her work and her team.
However, Jess found that when she slowed the cadence of her life, she found joy in the things that fulltime work had often caused her to overlook: things like friendships outside family, or taking time to travel and celebrate special occasions. And, of course, investing in physical health.
The Living Longer Living Stronger program not only gave Jess social interaction and the ability to make new friends, but the program was individualised for her and her needs. Jess’s experience of a deep sense of care from the Living Longer Living Stronger instructors has resulted in her attending the program for nearly ten years!
During lockdown, Jess found the online version of Living Longer Living Stronger an absolute lifeline. She logged on twice per week and particularly enjoyed the ability to stay after and chat about the issues that she was having with lockdown life. This ability to connect and share, Jess believes, kept everyone going.
Jess is cautiously optimistic about her future because she has her health and her personal relationships. She hopes to adventure travel again with her husband and spend more time with her family back in the United Kingdom.
In order to continue to be able to do all the things that she loves to do, Jess shares her pearls of wisdom:
- To enjoy the things you love doing, you need to look after yourself. Keep your exercise going!
- Keep connecting with people — invest in your relationships.
- Live in the moment and practice gratitude.
Some final sage words from Jess on being 70: ‘Quite honestly, life is wonderful.’