How Did I Get to be 70 When I'm 35 Inside?: Spiritual Surprises of Later Life

Discusses the challenges and surprises of aging by talking about how you actually feel, not what you're supposed to feel. Warm and down-to-earth; offers a spiritually grounded method to adjust to the unexpected and live each day with more purpose and joy.

Linda Douty

6 x 9, 208 pp | 978-1-59473-297-3

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Have the courage and curiosity to face the inner changes of aging—and learn how they can help you find meaning in your later years.

“I used to think that age sixty-five was the start of a slippery downward slope to the cemetery. But inside, I felt a surge of enormous energy, with the potential to approach aging as an uncharted adventure instead of a prison sentence.”

—from the Introduction

Unlike other authors, spiritual director Linda Douty discusses the challenges and surprises of aging by talking about how you actually feel, not what you're supposed to feel. In a warm, down-to-earth voice, she offers a spiritually grounded method to adjust to the unexpected as you grow older. There is no one-size-fits-all here, but a variety of responses to the inner and outer transformations of aging and new ways of looking at them. She looks at surprises, welcome and unwelcome, concerning:

• Self-image • The physical body • Relationships • Spiritual life

Questions for reflecting on who you are in this period of your life—or who you would like to be—will help you live each day more purposefully and joyfully.

“Kudos for Linda Douty! She has written the most engaging, honest, rollicking, helpful book on aging I’ve seen in a long time—quite possibly ever, in fact.”

Phyllis Tickle, compiler, The Divine Hours

“[Rises] above platitudes by asking about self-discovery, outside versus inside age, and the changing image of God…. [Shows] ways old people have plowed through pain—the physical inseparable from the spiritual—toward ‘winnowed wisdom,’ paying homage to the holy in everything to leave a legacy of true love in something.”

Publishers Weekly

“An honest, wise and practical user’s manual for ‘growing into age,’ brought to you by experienced guides who are personally making the passage. It’s a book that’s long been needed: deeply spiritual but never sentimental or agenda-driven.”

The Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, author, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, Mystical Hope and Love Is Stronger Than Death

“Takes unflinching aim at some potentially scary territory—the unspoken fears, challenges and joys of aging…. Will provide robust guidance for the later years and be a source of compassion in dealing with the elders in your life.”

J. David Forbes, MD, president, American Holistic Medical Association

“With engaging, witty and refreshingly unvarnished prose … guides us through the psycho-physical-spiritual challenges of life’s later years…. A profoundly wise book that satisfies both mind and heart.”

Marjorie J. Thompson, pastor; author, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life

“Candid, clear and full of surprising wisdom about the things we dread or deny. I’d buy it for any friend over fifty.”

Marjory Zoet Bankson, author, Creative Aging: Rethinking Retirement and Non-Retirement in a Changing World

“Thoughtful, insightful, helpful and timely—exactly what I expect from Linda Douty.”

Robert Benson, author, The Echo Within

“Delightful…. [This] book has inspired and motivated me to continue my aging journey with confidence and optimism.”

Molly Srode, author, Creating a Spiritual Retirement; co-author, Keeping Spiritual Balance As We Grow Older

“You don’t need to be seventy to treasure this book!”

Nancy L. Bieber (, teacher, retreat leader and spiritual director; author, Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way

“Authentic, down-to-earth, inviting—this book helped me regard my own aging process and that of family members with grace, dignity, humor and tenderness. Hats off to Linda Douty for a fresh, honest, spiritually based perspective on aging!”

Margaret Benefiel, author, Soul at Work and The Soul of a Leader

Introduction i x

1. Opening to Surprise 1
Two Doors 1
Don't Believe Everything You Hear 4
Changing Your Script 13

2. Surprises of the Sel f 25
Iխ Still Me! 28
Your Orphaned Creative Child 35
The Vanishing Social Filter 39
Buried Dreams 43

3. Surprises of the Body 47
Who Is That in the Mirror? 49
Listening to the Bodyճ Wisdom 52
Coping with Pain and Illness 56
Libido and Longevity 61
Are Limitations Limiting You? 64

4. Surprises in Relationships 71
Friends Who Feed Your Soul 72
Renegotiating Partnerships 77
Adult Children: To Speak or Not to Speak 81
Honoring Memories 85
Beyond the Front Door 88

5. Surprises of the Sacred 93
God and Me 94
Rethinking Prayer 98
Heaven, Hell, or Something Else 101
Hearing the Spiritճ Guidance 103
Motives and Methods 107
Trusting the Mystery 110

6. Surprising Challenges 113
Learning to Fly Solo 114
Setting Boundaries 118
Tying Your Shoes and Giving Up the Car 121
Sleeping Dilemmas 123
Fear and Faith 125
Fallacies of Forgiveness 129
Accepting the Life Youնe Lived 131

7. Surprising Gifts 137
Being Real 137
The Healing Power of Play 140
Gratitude Is More Than a Thank-You Note 143
Delight in the Details 148
Time: Friend or Foe? 151
The Many Faces of Freedom 154

8. Surprising Wisdom 157
Living through Loss 158
Say It Now and Do It Now 161
Clearing the Clutter 162
As Simple as a Smile 165
Learn to Receive 167
Fan the Brightest Flame 170
One Who Never Leaves You 174

Epilogue 177
Acknowledgments 178
Notes 179
Suggestions for Further Reading 182