As a boomer woman, I have been pondering what aging gracefully actually means. On the surface, the term has a benevolent tone – a compliment of sorts or perhaps a kind appraisal of an older woman’s physical appearance. But underneath this idiomatic facade, I see the language of this phrase as one that demeans, negates and undermines the richness and depth of the woman inside. It has become a euphemism for someone who is physically aging, yet it ignores the spirit and substance and breadth and experiences of this woman. It is another example of how the superficiality of a woman’s physical self trumps the essence of who she really is.
I would like to create a new paradigm for aging gracefully. I propose that we look at growing older with grace as an opportunity to comment and honor the wisdom learned from the accumulation of one’s life experiences as opposed to how many wrinkles one has or how many more pounds have been added on over the years. l suggest that we give voice to a life lived and listen to the lessons learned from the good and maybe not so great choices that were made along the life path. I ask my fellow boomer women to proudly tell their stories so that all of us – young and old – may gain further insights and understandings about life – all the while getting to know you…….the real you…..the person.
I envision that we look to women from all walks of life, from all economic, class and racial backgrounds and we must not forget women who have been physically, mentally or emotionally challenged. I implore upon us to seek out women who have achieved great success – success not measured in dollar signs but in creating meaning and purpose and living their authentic life – whether they ran a large corporation, worked as professionals or in blue collar jobs or were stay at home moms.
To me aging gracefully is about the content – not the container. It is the culmination of a life lived, challenges met, obstacles overcome, and through the lessons learned, mistakes made, chances taken, so we gracefully age. And, like it has been said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood,” I say, it’s never too late to begin to age gracefully and to give honor and respect and voice to our sisters who are already there…..Aging gracefully is not about what we look like, but about how we get to be who we are. It’s an inside job.
It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone; I am such a long way in I see no way through, and no space: everything is close to my face, and everything close to my face is stone.
I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief so this massive darkness makes me small. You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in: then your great transforming will happen to me, and my great grief cry will happen to you.
Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Robert Bly)
I could not have described my state of mind and heart more clearly, (except for the use of the term master which does not resonate with me). Grief stricken, sad, the world as I know it being dismembered. I witness travesty, injustice, and cruelty becoming the norm and the unraveling of so much that I take for granted as sane and safe and steady and present. I too feel like I’m pushing through solid rock, going no where, stuck, closed in, trapped, shuttered.
Yet reading this poem surprisingly brings me hope and solace and comfort. Like maybe, if I just reached out to the omnipresent – to the spaciousness -in to the Being of All Light – Goddess, Divine, Beauty- with all the despair and angst and heartbreak – maybe just maybe, my heart will merge with all that is greater than me and I will be embraced in the love and beauty that permeates everything.
Have you had a dream since you were a child and finally…… retired, career behind you, kids out of the house…… you’re faced with the reality……is it now or is it never?
My guest this past week on Wise Woman Storytime, Karen Obidah faced that quandary. In love with music from a young age, yet never much encouraged to pursue this dream, she dabbled in music here and there throughout her life.. Middle and high school classes, a stint in her high school marching band, a song writing class from time to time, some gigs with friends and local artists and still – a dream – a bigger, wider vision waiting to awaken and be realized…..
Through much inner reflection, sheer determination and courage, Karen has now found her path. A vision has appeared and the journey begun. I invite you to listen to her story and perhaps you too may find a path to your unrealized dreams.
Whether we’re young or old or in between, we sure do love our stories. Sometimes we love them so much that our 5 year old won’t go to sleep until she’s been read that same story just one more time even though she has memorized every word and can repeat the story verbatim.
We love to tell stories too – like the 97 year old World War II medic who tells and retells the same gory yet gripping war stories with great pride to whomever will listen.
Young or old, stories help us make sense of the world and give us meaning. Stories build bridges to the past and create pathways to the future. They convey our deepest values and convey morality, justice, compassion and wise choices. They entertain, teach, open our worlds and offer us glimpses into places that we might not visit on our own.
Many elders today are taking to writing life reviews – stories that reflect on the past helping to bring understanding and peace into the present. These stories allow seniors to rethink events from their lives, expound upon their life experiences, lessons learned, and perhaps even change the narrative and endings to old story lines. And of course leaving a written legacy for those who someday just might want to know, is an added benefit.
My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime, Marcia Singer is a storyteller. She tells stories through her music, theatre, writings, and now in her latest memoir, Iron Jane: Tales of an Awakening, I invite you to listen to these stories and glean the universal insights and life lessons that Marcia so eloquently articulates for all of us.
While women are shaped by culture, family values, and societal norms, probably one of the most important relationships and influencers women have is their relationship with their mothers. Needless to say, these relationships are often fraught with complexities fueled by the mothers life experiences, their own understanding of the world, their skills in setting (or not) boundaries, and their ability to be attuned to their daughters needs, desires, spirits and deepest selves.
Many women enter adulthood with unresolved mother/daughter issues that impact the quality of their lives, relationships, careers and mental health. Some might seek therapeutic or spiritual counseling and others might join a 12 step program. Some might walk away from the relationship while others might ignore the issue completely.
Joyce Lynn, my recent guest on Wise Woman Storytime discovered yet another avenue to healing her 40 year old wounded relationship with her mother. I invite you to listen to her story of how the nocturnal offerings of her dreams not only changed her mother/daughter relationship, they changed her life…..
I created Wise Woman Storytime to give elder women and sometimes elder men the voice and visibility they so deserve so that all of us young, middle age, old and older benefits from the gifts of their life experiences.
If the elders are not speaking and if no one is listening, how are our family stories being passed along? How are we building the bridges between past and present? How are we strengthening our communities, sharing our values and giving voice to what really matters to us both individually and collectively as families, communities, as a nation and even globally?
I am honored to have a guest on the show today who as a nonagenarian has a perspective that one does not hear every day. At 94 years of age, Eric Gattman still reads the NY Times daily and offers monthly current events evenings where he leads spirited discussions about the state of the world.
Having left Germany at 8 years old with his father and mother with just the clothes on their backs, Eric has seen the worst of mankind and yet lives with hope, optimism and the deepest understanding of how love can transform.
I welcome you to listen to Eric’s story and glean some of his life lessons.
Marcia Singer, my guest this week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime returned to the show to share another story and her reflectionson what happened. The implications and insights told here can be gifts to all of us who everyday are traversing an increasingly deepening political, social, racial and economic divide.
While this story took place 13 years ago it is as relevant today as it was then. It’s a story about how during a time when Marcia was vulnerable, alone and isolated, she became dependent upon total strangers – people she might have said she had absolutely nothing in common with; people that under other circumstances she might have judged, feared and kept away from. Her encounter with them however opened her eyes and heart to deep lessons about how assumptions, misunderstandings and prejudices separate, divide and keep us prisoners in a disconnected, closed minded and small world. There are lessons here for all of us. Listen below to Angels in Disguise…….
Marcia Singer is a healing artist with a master’s in clinical social work from U.C. Berkeley, certifications in hypnotherapy and Jungian-styled Voice Dialogue.She’s been a professional singer-guitarist-entertainer for 5 decades, just completing her show biz memoir this year –her 8th book.Marcia also is a tantric shaman, has starred in educational films about sex and intimacy, and teaches Mindfulness Meditation in Windsor. She writes for the monthly Upbeat Times, loves being outdoors and gardening, and keeping a politically progressive ear to the ground.
Ayin Weaver, my guest this past week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime has had many synchronistic and coincidental experiences over the years. I invite you to listen to one of those stories today – a story whose seeds planted long ago have influenced andblossomed into Ayin’s latest novel Souls of Veridian.
Hear the story that inspired her book.Meet a cast of ordinary and yet extraordinary characters and get a glimpse into the heart and soul of her latest mystery.
Souls of Viridian is Ayin’s second novel. If you would like more information you can contact Ayin at email@example.com.
My guest this past week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime was Joyce Lynn.Joyce is a journalist, editor, publisher and author. Her latest book is entitled Dreams and the Wisdom Within and was the centerpiece for this show.
Each night when we sleep we enter into a realm of images, symbols, emotions and sensations – sometimes we remember them and often times we don’t…
Using her skills as a journalist, researcher and author Joyce shared her story of how she came to trust her dreams; how she came to write her latest book;and how all of us can glean life lessons from our nocturnal offerings.
My guest this past week on Wise Woman Storytime was Fran Carbonaro.This was Fran’s second appearance, the last being 3 years ago when she was working on her then named CD, And So She Sings.
Since then, Fran’s personal journey has continued andshe is now releasingher transformed CD titled I’m Still Alive.
Fran has a compelling and relevant story to tell. It is a story of how resilience, determination, courage,trust and artistic expression can change one’s inner landscape and view of the world.
I invite you to listen to Fran’s story – to take in the songs and spoken words- as you glean the wisdom of this wise woman.
Fran Carbonaro is a local voice teacher, who has taught privately in Sonoma County for 35 years. Fran works with both budding and seasoned singers, of all ages, in discovering, honing and saving their voices. She also assists trans women in finding their authentic voice. Over the years, Fran has appeared on stage in the county as a singer, actor and poet. She can currently be reached through her teaching website: setyourvoicefree.com
Beginning in 2019, her new website francarbonaro.com will combine her work as a teacher with her latest achievement, writing and recording a 14-track CD of spoken poetry and song. It is titled: I’m Still Alive.
Many of us have pets that we adore.We buy them the best foods possible and toys to play with.We take them on walks and vacations or hire pet sittersto stay with them when we head out of town. Some of us buy our pets cute outfits and dress them up for the holidays.We let our precious ones run around our homes and lock the windows so the ones with wings may fly.We take the dogs to obedience school, groom the horses, and comb the cats.
We speak to our pets, offer words of approval when happy and express our anger when needed.But how many of us actually communicate with our 4 legged or winged friends…….I mean really connect with them so as to know their feelings, thoughts, intentions, impressions and sensations?
My guest this past week on Wise Woman Storytime, Leiah Bowden does just that.Using intuition and emotional congruency, and a faith in the interconnectedness of all, Leiah connects with these beings offering us all a deeper understanding into them, ourselves and the Great Mystery.
I invite you to listen to her story to learn how she connects and receives these messages, what the animals are saying and the greater message to us all.
To learn more about Leiah – her art, energy portraits and soon to be published book and animal communication – her website isLightspeak.com.