Headshot of author Milly Johnson - Credit: David Charles

Author Milly Johnson on what the rest of the world can teach us about turning 60

The novelist is planning a year of celebrations for her milestone birthday, all inspired by an international attitude towards growing old.

Millie Johnson, a celebrated author with 21 novels under her belt and a remarkable three million sales worldwide, is ringing in her 60th birthday this year.

In an exclusive piece for Saga Magazine, she shares insightful reflections on what the rest of the world can teach us about embracing the journey of ageing.


1. Think of getting older as an exciting new chapter

“I love that the Dutch word for 60 is Zestig,” she says. “It makes it sound juicy and bursting with deliciousness. Zestig seems a perfect way to describe this new phase, this age of opportunities and new experiences.”

And what better way to celebrate such a Zestig year than with a journey that awakens the soul? Johnson’s own choice is a romantic train ride to Venice. But her message extends far beyond her personal itinerary.

Approach your milestone birthdays not with trepidation, but with the spirit of a bucket list, an opportunity to rediscover the thrill of new experiences and reconnect with the youthful zest for life.

2. Get rid of stuff that doesn’t serve you well

Johnson cites the Swedish tradition of death-cleaning – or döstädning – as a useful way to get rid of everything that no longer serves you well.

“A house stripped of excess has a knock-on effect on mental health,” she says.  “Space helps your brain to breathe; clutter can weigh heavy on the soul.”

3. Connect with your inner child

For Johnson, hitting the big 6-0 is a chance to reignite the spark within, to reconnect with the playful, joyful spirit of your inner child. Over in Korea, those turning 60 are encouraged to play games that reconnect them with their youth.

“That sounds marvellous – no one should ever be too old for Ker-Plunk,” laughs Johnson.

She isn’t just talking hypotheticals either – her own 60th year is going to be anything but ordinary.

“A ‘zero’ birthday should, I do believe, be a year-long event to ease you into that new decade,” she laughs. “I’m not about to shy away from it, I’ll race headlong into its embrace.”

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Written by Milly Johnson she/her