Viking River Cruise - Legends of the Rhine

Viking River Cruise – Legends of the Rhine

Today I am 60.

There, I said it. A decade ago I couldn’t choke out the admission that I was turning 50, but this new decade seems a bit more comfortable, a bit easier to accept.

Today I realized a few other things. So forgive me this self indulgence as I reflect on what it means to turn 60.

I’m beyond middle age. I’m not going to live to 120, and that means that I am now on the downhill side of life. While I’m going kicking and screaming into my twilight years (or should I say traveling and exploring), the harsh reality is that I have more years behind me than I do in front of me. I plan to make the most of them!

George Sand was right, “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” I’ve been fortunate to have this kind of happiness, and although it’s never without bumps in the road, it brings joy to life in a way that nothing else can.

Work is overrated. So is play. But if you can find a balance between the two, you’ll have a recipe for a happy and fulfilled life. I’m working on getting it right.

If you do what you love the money won’t necessarily follow – but you will be happier. As long as I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food on the table, I’m choosing happy over possessions.

You can’t change your mind if you don’t have one. Traveling the world can make you change your mind about things, if you keep it open and soak up something new every day.

I’m a cat person not a dog person. I’m okay with that. I’ll probably be a crazy cat lady in the next decade. I’ll be okay with that too.

It’s a big world and I’ll never see all of it. I didn’t start traveling until well into my 30s, but since then I’ve attacked it with a vengeance. I have a bucket list of places I’d like to see and things I’d like to experience. I know I’ll never complete it, and that’s okay, I’m not rushing through to check things off. Having it is like a dream list to refer to and it’s kind of fun, too.

You don’t have to stay in a job that is making you miserable. Sometimes you have to be knocked along side the head to realize it, and sometimes that awareness comes in an odd looking package. It’s okay to change your career trajectory. I did, a couple of times, and am a happier person for it.

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Figuring out which it is can be painful, but learning when to hang on and when to let go is a worthwhile endeavor.

I’m not cut out to be nomadic. I have more than a few colleagues who are happily nomadic, relying on housesitting and other options as they wander the world. It’s not for me. As much as I like leaving on a trip, I also love coming home again. You don’t have to be nomadic to be a travel blogger.

I’ve never stayed in a hostel. Or backpacked around Europe (or anywhere else). My preferences lean more toward the luxury end of things. I’m not apologizing for that any longer.

I’ve never been to London. Nor have I been to the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore. Those are obvious omission for many people, but I’ve never seemed to make it to those places nor to a lot of other obvious travel choice as well). But I have been to Kuala Lumpur, climbed Mt. Etna, and have seen the sun rise over the Panama Canal.

I miss public speaking. I used to do a lot of it; now I don’t. I’ve had some lazy bad habits creep in and they need to be kicked to the curb. I’m putting it out there – if you’re looking for a speaker for you conference, meeting, or event, give me a shout.

Online friends are real friends, whether I’ve met them in real life or not. I was very sick while in Las Vegas a number of years ago. I was traveling alone and couldn’t seem to get any help from my “official” resources about where to go for help. I’m a big believer that emergency rooms are for emergencies, and this wasn’t an emergency, so I put the message out on Twitter that I was looking for a walk-in clinic. Within a minute I had info about where to go and offers to help get me there. Within an hour I had a diagnosis of pneumonia, lots of meds, and a thankful heart for the friends willing to help.

Online friends often become IRL (in real life) friends. I ate souvlaki with Kerwin in Greece, enjoyed wine with Cheryl and Lisa in Tampa, sampled barbecue with with Paige in Austin, and drank butter beer with Julie in Orlando. I’ve listened to Pam play the ukelele in Seattle, shared stories about Italy with Jessica in Portland, and hung out with Suzanne in Hawaii. I went cocktail tasting with Elaine and bonded over pedicures with Zippy, both on separate trips to Las Vegas. I’ve been on a radio show with Paul, cruised with Chris, and have been on three continents together with Cacinda and Chris and Carol.  Not real friends? HA! They’re real and they rock!

This travel blogging thing. It came about in ways too confusing and convoluted to explain, but it’s been nearly 10 years and I’m still at it. One of my goals in the coming year is to return to the blog with a little more focus, launch a new project, and invest in some clean up and improvements. Constantly fine tuning what I do is part of the adventure.

I will continue to travel. Enough said about that.

This crazy adventure called life has had its ups and downs. I’ve zigged when I should have zagged. I’ve had marvelous luck and good fortune, but have also had obstacles to deal with and overcome. I’ve capitalized on opportunities and squandered others. I’ve made lots of mistakes and have the scars to prove it.

I’ve been to lots of places and have had lots of great times. I count my lucky stars every single day for that, and don’t intend to squander one hour of the time I have left.

And now I’m off to put on something purple. I hope your day is a great one – I know mine will be.




Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

16 Responses to “Sixty”

  1. July 31, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    Ahh, I love your reflections, no wonder you were emotional the other night, writing about how far you have come! Thanks for pushing that PUBLISH button and letting us into your private world. I’ve never stay in a hostel or gone backpacking through Europe either and I still have a hard time with the number 50, so you are making progress.

    • August 1, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

      Thanks so much. Yeah, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. All good, though, just lots to think about.

  2. July 31, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    Happy Birthday, MJ and welcome to the 6th Decade Club. My hardest birthday was 40. I’m not sure why. At 60, I started feeling a little “wise. Also, not sure why.At 60, I also started feeling more grateful and fatalistic (in a good way). I don’t apologize for “seizing the day” (carpe diem-ing) anymore. “Seizing the day” means taking advantage of as many opportunities to travel as possible, inter alia (to use a recovering lawyer word 😉 Like you, I’m also grateful for the people I’ve met virtually and IRL in the blogging world. In my 60’s, they are some of my best friends. For the most part, they are talented, fun, supportive, kind and generous and because they share my wanderlust, I get to meet up with them in cool places—like to share some wine and dinner (with Mr. Excitement in tow) in the Manoa Shopping Center in Honolulu. I hope our paths will cross again this year.

    • August 1, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

      Thanks Suzanne. It’s feeling good to be 60, at lest 24 hours in. I am thankful for the many friends I’ve met – and you and your husband are on that list.

  3. July 31, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    Mary, this is the first time that I am reading your blog. Your writing and view about things in life are so settled and sorted. I love it. There is no big significance to anything in life. Career path changes have happened in my life thrice. People have left and new ones have come in. I have also zigged when I wanted to zag.

    Great to see you happy and travelling like you want to. Look forward to more of your stories in future. 🙂

    Greetings from India

    • August 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

      It’s all part of the adventure of life.

  4. July 31, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Very happy 60th birthday MJ! Your story sounds so close to mine it made me smile. I’m trailing you at 56, but I love having wonderfully smart and beautiful women like you in our travel blogger community to use as role models, mentors and daily inspiration.

    May your travels all be filled with magnificent sunrises and brilliant sunsets. See you in Florida where we can toast your birthday appropriately! 🙂

    • August 1, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

      Thanks so much, Sue. I don’t typically write posts this personal, so I was a little nervous about hitting the publish button. Since then, though, I’ve heard from so many people who are thinking through the same issues that I am, making me glad that I wrote it. See you soon – and yes, we’ll toast at least a time or two.

  5. July 31, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    I enjoyed your reflections because they resonated with me. I too like my home base, that is just the way it is. I don’t do hostels because frankly I don’t want to. There are things that people think I ‘must’ have seen and ‘must’ have done, but I choose what I want to see and to do.

    The beauty of maturing is that we can choose. I chose to start this travel blog in my 50’s and you know what I love it. I have met some amazing people through this and I have also met some total dicks, who talk the talk but don’t particularly walk the walk. And you know what, that is ok.

    I have probably made more zags than zips, and that adds to my colourful life. Good for you Mary Jo and for sharing with us. Have a lovely day/year.

    • August 1, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

      I was in my 50s as well when I started blogging, and I love the choice that it has sent my way. I do chuckle (hopefully to myself) at the attitude of some of the young pups. I get the impatience and their competitive nature. I still feel those same things, but tempered with a few more decades to add some perspectie.

  6. July 31, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    Love this, and happy birthday Mary Jo! Great reflections.

    • August 1, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

      Thanks Sarabeth. Writing something this personal is hard for me, but I’m glad I did.

  7. August 1, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    Happy belated birthday Mary Jo!! I loved reading this and getting to know you better! We have so much more to talk about now the next time I see you! What a wonderful and peaceful take on this great adventure we call LIFE!! Big hug, Jen Leo

    • August 1, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

      It is a big adventure, Jen. And another thing we have in common is the enjoyment of a craps table.

  8. August 1, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    lovely, describes it all………..and there are many of us out there with similar attitudes.

    • August 1, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

      We are a small but fierce club, aren’t we. Thanks so much for commenting.

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