It was a balmy Saturday on August 29, 2020, when I set out to celebrate my 80th birthday. My thoughtful daughter Heather had a surprise for me: the arrangements she made would allow me to experience the top item on my Bucket List. A luxury car was about to take the two of us and my executive assistant Layla from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to a Dairy Queen in Union, New Jersey. I was so excited!

The friendly, talkative driver, hearing us chatting away about the outing from the back seat, was confused. Looking at us through his rearview mirror as we crossed the George Washington Bridge, he questioned: “Excuse me asking, but are you seriously going to a Dairy Queen to celebrate your 80th birthday? Before I could answer, he hastily added: “Not that you look 80. I’d have guessed years younger! But there’s got to be more exciting things you could be doing to celebrate such a big milestone.”

First, I look 80, or at least my version of it. I’ve observed that there’s no one catch-all way to “look one’s age.” How we “look” varies across a broad spectrum. For example, my late lamented 99-year-old boyfriend was long, lean, still sexy to me, and sharp as a tack. Jerry lit up any room he was in till his last day on earth—at age 99—in his villa in Casa de Campo while we were enjoying cocktails. That’s what we want to aim for, to light up the world, or at least our corner of it—and go out (preferably fast, as he did), with a smile on your lips and love in your heart. So, considering this, I don’t put too much worry into whether any of us “look our age” or not because there is no one standard—or certainly shouldn’t be.

As to the Dairy Queen, I make no apologies. I had never been to a DQ but salivated at the sight of a Blizzard® in the middle-of-the-night TV commercials. Since there were no DQ outlets on the Isle of Manhattan, Heather did her research well, and I was on my way to trying a Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard. This gift—and to be honest, some of the excellent onion rings I also coveted—was my champagne, my hors d’oeuvres, my birthday cake—and something I was so delighted to experience with Heather and Layla. Unlike me, they were not Blizzard virgins, so they could, if need be, talk me down. I knew I could very well go berserk and decide to try more than one of the trademark Blizzards. Looking at the photos on my iPhone, the Oreo Mocha Fudge, Turtle Pecan Cluster, and Reese’s Pieces Cookie Dough options made the ultimate decision difficult. Screw the calories! You only turn 80 once!

Right now, you might be wondering, If this trip is tops, what else could be on her Bucket List? Well, I’ve traveled widely, had three husbands, and had other fulfilling relationships. I might even go for one more romantic connection when the world re-opens! Who knows!?! But for now, here is what’s on my list:

  1. Experience a giant Blizzard at a Dairy Queen. CHECK
  2. Start a weekly CelebrEighty blog on SilverDisobedience.Rocks. Use it to share my truth about life as an octogenarian so I can engage with other fully-alive 80 to 100 year-olds.
  3. Lose the Pandemic 15, so I can go back next year and have another Blizzard. Down 7 pounds so far following a Keto diet.

But let’s go back to the Blizzard. The ice cream extravaganza did not disappoint. But alas, once that delicious and fun-filled excursion was completed, the trip back was silent. I was already thinking about my plans for my new blog and connecting more deeply with my dear friend Dian Griesel’s vast Silver Disobedience audience.

While I will write about all that excites me, I welcome thoughts, inspirational examples and stories, and ideas from others so we can all figure out the best ways we can engage as fellow octogenarians, nonagenarians, and centenarians. Ageism can be turned inward subconsciously. How can we best witness and encourage greater confidence in ourselves, enhance our sense of self-worth and continue to appreciate others with each year of growth and experience? Through this blog and various additional means that will present themselves, how can I show others that our histories, along with every new experience we encounter, offer us another opportunity to share our wisdom?

Know this, my friend: perhaps the most significant accomplishment for each of us is to take pride in ourselves in this penultimate stage of life. CelebrEighty is meant to be my torch in this particular darkness—the darkness of not so much how others perceive us but how we too often negatively perceive ourselves.

That’s the arena I’ve decided I want to play in. If you have had at least 80 birthdays to your credit, I hope you’ll come to play with me by reading and responding to these blogs with your own experiences. And maybe, along the way, you’ll want to add this one thing to your bucket list—and indulge in your own delicious Blizzard!