Aging Gracefully is an Inside Job

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This boomer woman is aging gracefully.

This boomer woman is aging gracefully.

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.

 

By Roberta Teller

Elaine Leeder: My Life with Lifers

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My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime was Elaine Leeder professor of Sociology and the Dean Emerita of the School of Social Sciences at Sonoma State University.  And while Elaine’s career encompasses roles as a professor, teacher, psychotherapist, consultant, author and advocate for social justice, Elaine has a deep commitment to the work she has done within the prison system and a special affection for the Lifers she has worked with who live their lives behind bars.     

Today’s show is about this often unspoken topic and the invisible and all too often forgotten people we consider to be the throwaways, the misfits and the incorrigible ones.  It’s a show about the prison system and the men that live, work and die there and yes, as we you will learn from her story, sometimes grow, learn and transform themselves.

Elaine’s latest book, My Life with Lifers Lessons for a Teacher: Humanity Has No Bars is a testament to the power of how education and self-help programs can be catalysts for redemption and transformation even for those who have committed horrible crimes. My Life with Lifers is actually a very uplifting and encouraging book about how even under the most dire of situations one can find peace, acceptance and freedom.  There are lessons here for all of us.

By Roberta Teller

Louise Nayer: Burned: A Story

Despite the best laid plans, we really just don’t know what will happen next. An encounter, an event, an accident can suddenly change the trajectory of our lives. Where we thought we were headed, suddenly is no more. These moments may bring us to new heights or perhaps places we never expected or wanted to go. 

My guest today on Wise Woman Storytime,  Louise Nayer was 4 years old when her family’s path veered off in a direction that no one could have foreseen.

Burned: A Memoir is Louise’s adult quest to come to terms with this life changing tragedy. It’s an exploration and discovery of the loss, suffering, pain and complexity of family relationships as well as a testament to the strength, resiliency and tenacity of this foursome.

It is a story of  healing- how each person although differently affected by tragedy, must walk their individual path to recovery and how the power of love, commitment and yes hard work, can be the glue to making the family whole again.

While Burned: A Memoir is Louise Nayer’s story, there are lessons here for everyone. 

Today you get to hear her story……

You can learn more about Louise at louisenayer.com

By Roberta Teller

 

An Open Letter to Members of Congress

February, 6, 2017

Dear Senators and Members of the House of Representatives:

I believe that as a nation, we are facing one of the most challenging and darkest chapters in our history. In the first few weeks of this new administration, our current president’s actions, behaviors, and language are destabilizing our governmental agencies, institutions, working people’s financial and medical safety nets, our standing among our fellow nations and making us less safe. 

Unlike certain countries, when the leader loses the confidence of the majority of members of their government, they are  are voted out. We do not have that luxury in the United States.  Here we rely on our president to have high standards, strong ethics and a commitment to the common good.  But what happens when a president fails this test, lacks moral and ethical values and views the presidency as an opportunity to increase his own wealth and power? What happens when a president refuses to release his tax returns and to put his businesses in blind trusts? What happens when the president invites his children to co-mingle private and public business? What happens when there are unanswered questions about the involvement and influence of a foreign government interfering in our elections and the legislative representatives refuse to investigate?  What happens when the president lies, makes up “alternate facts” and denigrates the press in general while specifically attacking and making  fun of individual journalists? What happens when the president creates fake news stories to distract from what is really happening? What happens when the president’s chief strategist is a known white supremacist and now sits on the National Security Council and has more influence than the Joint Chief of Staff?   What happens when the president uses his bully pulpit to target anyone or any business person that disagrees or criticizes him? What happens to consumers when Dodd-Frank is dismantled and we are once again subjected to the lawlessness and ruthlessness of Wall Street?  (That didn’t work out too well for us in 2008 as we saw the biggest financial crisis since 1929)  What happens when the president through a poorly written, unreviewed, and mean spirited  executive order bans one religious group from 7 countries from entering the US? What happens when the newly elected  temperamentally unfit president alienates one of our closest allies and threatens to invade Mexico? 

And what happens when the  Congress – one of the checks and balances that we so rely on to maintain the integrity of our Constitution is quietly complicit? What happens when Congress ignores the looming danger signs, the conflicts of interests, the attacks on the press, the dismantling of agencies, the firing of long term personnel because they see this as the time to advance their agenda and the country be damned……..

Yes, we are a nation of laws, But what happens when those charged with the responsibilities of monitoring and reviewing the president fail to do their jobs?  What happens when questions of impropriety arise and no one holds the president accountable?

Since this new president has taken office, there have been massive marches and protests.  The people of this country see the writing on the wall.  The people of this country are inclusive, caring folks who not only respect diversity, they embrace it.  The people of this country care about women’s rights, gay rights, people of color’s rights, and immigrants rights,  The people of this country care about our planet, want species to thrive, want clean water to drink, good air to breathe and recognize the dangers of climate change. The people of this country want affordable health care, good jobs and decent pay. The people of this country want financial security and a government that has laws that protect them and prosecutes those who cause harm. The people of this country want Main Street to come before Wall Street in our elected officials priorities.

The people of this country care about the truth and want transparency, integrity and accountability from our government.

I am asking you today to put aside your partisan politics and place the good of this nation and its people as your top priority.  I am asking you today to stand with the working people, the middle class of this country who give their blood, sweat and tears and expect you to have their backs. I am asking you today to not sit idly by and watch as this president destabilizes our cherished institutions and trashes our safety nets undermining the values that this country was founded on.

Our forefathers wrote, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The people have risen to the occasion.  With or without you,  the people will prevail.  What side of justice to do you want to be on?

Sincerely,

Roberta Teller

SALLY CHURGEL: A Life Journey to Living with Joy

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Many years ago I  watched a home perched atop a hillside in Bolinas CA slowly erode away`-so much so that one year when I made my pilgrimage back to this beloved land, the house was no longer atop the hill.  This time its splintered self was at the bottom of the hill being further shredded by the wind and waves. With it’s foundation eroded away, the home could no longer be sustained. No amount of repair was able to sustain it any longer.

In the geography of our life, our core foundation, once seemingly solid and sure, can also erode away, become compromised and no longer be able to hold and support us.  Life as we once knew it can shift, sometimes suddenly as in an earthquake, after an election or after years and years of gentle decline.

In the trajectory of our lives, if we see our core foundations weathered and crumbling, it is with awareness that we have choices. We can fall into the empty abyss and allow the elements to break us down further or we can seek a new path to surer footing where we can once again stand tall on solid ground.

My guest today saw the foundation of her life eroding away and rather than wait for the hillside to collapse sought footing on a path of self-discovery, reflection and inner work that would eventually lead her to a higher, sturdier road to renewal Today she lives in a new landscape with a panoramic view of her vision and purpose in life clearly in her horizon.

Sally is a healer, intuitive, writer, and speaker. She is the founder of Call2Joy and JoyFlow Programs. Her website is www.calltojoy.com.

Click on the link below to listen to her story.

By Roberta Teller

                                                                           

Breaking the Silence of Shame: Jacqueline Grace Hayward’s Story

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My guest this past week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime was actor, director and drama therapist and teacher of improvisational theater, Jacqueline Grace Hayward.  Jacqueline shared her deeply personal story about shame; its impact on her life, and more importantly, how she has healed herself through creativity and sheer determination..  

Shame is the most primitive of emotions and yet it is rarely spoken aloud. Secrecy, silence and judgement fuel its fires.  Left unspoken, shame can fester over a lifetime creating an inner world of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonor or regret.  It frequently leads to feelings of being flawed, bad and disconnected from our most essential being.  

But this is not a story about victimhood. Instead it is a woman’s journey about finding herself amidst feeling disconnected from her own truth and power.

Carol Gilligan said, “Bringing the experiences of women to full light, although in one sense perfectly straightforward, becomes a radical endeavor.”

Jacqueline Grace Hayward is speaking the unspeakable and breaking her silence. She speaks for the silenced and those guarding their secrets. Her story is truly a radical endeavor and an act of courage.

The link to the audio of the show is below.  If you would like to contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at jqgrace@att.net.

After the show aired I received the following from Jacqueline………She would like to share this with you. 

I had an extraordinary, deep experience after I left you. I went into the longest, deepest shame I have ever been in, and cried for hours. Then woke in the night and went back into it again, aching and sobbing. And I felt like a liar for having just said on the radio that I have almost got this shame thing licked! What was new, though, is that I was crying. I have never experienced shame and tears together before, and I felt as if I was simultaneously experiencing shame and grief. 
The open door for the shame was my answer to your question about how/ who I am now. My response was a negative, in a sense: that I still have work to do because I do not yet know that I can have the life I want. I felt such huge self-abandonment in that answer because what is moving through me now, as of last winter, is radically transformative. I let go of a life-long persona of being brave (which in my vocabulary is associated with being strong in the face of difficulty, lack, settling for, doing it all myself, the image of small fists raised…) and am practicing courage instead. Courage is soft, open, connected, receptive, self-loving and self-caring, the image of wide-spread arms. Courage, for me, as a woman who knows how to be strong and knows how to give, is opening into generously receiving, allowing myself to honor my heart’s desire and to invite in the experience of safety and ease. 

 

The link to the audio of the show is below.  If you would like to contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at jqgrace@att.net.

By Roberta Teller

Listener discretion advised as it includes some sexual content.

Mary Carouba: Each One Teach One

My guest this past week on Wise woman Storytime , Mary Carouba, had some hard beginnings.  A troubled childhood took her on a path of numbing out, acting out and giving up on life. Bottomed out in her early 20’s, life seemed dismal and hopeless.  Mary didn’t know who she was, had no idea what life might have to offer and truly thought that she would not live a long life.

But life didn’t work out that way.  When Mary entered Delancey Street  her life and her outlook on life would forever be changed. It was there that Mary discovered who really she was – and it wasn’t that numbed out drug addict- but instead a woman with tremendous gifts, a loving and caring heart and someone who understood the power of reaching out and helping others, known in the community as “Each one teach one.”

Today, Mary lives by Delancy Street’s credo. She has infused this philosophy into every aspect of her many careers, her life and  world view.  Whether through her profession as a treatment program coordinator, social worker, consultant, stand-up comic or her speaking engagements, writings,  service and work, Mary is dedicated to helping others,  She is committed to helping others see the endless possibilities for their own lives and through her own example offers hope and possibility for all.

Mary Carouba walks the talk.  “Each one teach one”  is at the heart of who she is and how she lives. Listen to her inspiring story.  There are lessons here for all of us.

By Roberta Teller

 

Two Hearts Four Hands Cooking Together: Sulin Bell’s Story

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My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime is entrepreneur extraordinaire and author Sulin Bell.  Sulin’s newly revised cookbook is called Two Hearts Four Hands Cooking Together, and is as unique and original as she is.

This very specially designed and crafted cookbook is really a metaphor and manifestation of the the most important threads of Sulin’s life. It’s a testament to her convictions about living fully and healthily and offers 25 nutritious and delicious meal menus (with several dishes) for two people to prepare together. This one of a kind cookbook provides separate but interactive instructions for each cook.

Two Hearts Four Hands is quite different from your typical cookbook It’s way more than just putting some ingredients together and serving it to yourself, friends or family.  This cookbook is a recipe for quality time with a loved one, good fun, and a shared creative endeavor. It’s about a lovingly crafted and guided collaborative cooking experience culminating with a delicious and nourishing meal………Meals can be tailored to your individual intentions and moods such as “Feelin’ Homey, “Romantic,” or “A New Relationship.”

And while how you choose to share your food is ultimately up to you, Sulin offers thoughtful suggestions for creating the right ambience whether you are cooking with your lover, spouse, friend, child  or acquaintance. She even offers music to accompany you while you are preparing your meal.

This is a very special book written by an amazing woman.  It’s a wonderful engagement, wedding, anniversary, holiday or special gift for yourself.

To hear Sulin’s story click on the audio link below. 

For more information and a closer look at the cookbook, check out her website at http://twoheartsfourhands.com/ .

If you are a west county local, Two Hearts Four Hands is available at Cultivate Home on Main Street in Sebastopol.

If you have a questions about the book or are looking for a caterer, you can contact Sulin at kitcap@sbcglobal.net.

And when you are ready to order the book, call Sulin directly at 707-462-5747 and get free shipping.

It’s a wonderful engagement, wedding, anniversary, holiday or special gift for yourself.

By Roberta Teller

The Gift of Song with the Threshold Choir: A Personal Story by Maria Culberson

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Maria Culbertson, my guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime is a woman who has worn many hats throughout her life with singing and performing taking center stage. However, while performing in every possible theatrical venue and receiving accolades for her work, Maria began to experience a lack of satisfaction from her work and as she says, “felt like the soul had gone out of my singing experience.”

Around this time, Maria joined The Threshold Choir -a group of a cappella singers whose mission is to sing for and with those at the thresholds of life. Her experience with the choir not only changed Maria’s relationship to music, it changed her life.

The magic and sacredness of her singing was restored. Her passion for music was revitalized  and 15 years later, her vision and purpose for her voice and song continues to deepen and flourish.

Listen to Maria’s  deeply personal story of being immersed in the music and sisterhood of this choir. Learn how being a loving presence with those on the threshold of life and death transformed, healed and opened her heart, forever connecting her to herself and others.

By Roberta Teller

 

Controversy about Controversy – A Personal Story

We live in a culture that spouts the virtues of independence, autonomy and free thinking on the one hand and yet our systems, whether they be educational , familial, social  or political often discourage and frown upon those who don’t live by the accepted scripts.  There is an undercurrent if not a downright war surrounding those who buck the norms and question the status quo. 

Whether at the dinner table, faculty lunch rooms or in newspapers, magazines, blogs or online chat rooms, battle lines are often drawn about what is appropriate, politically correct, and what should be deleted or excluded from conversations. And what happens all too frequently, personal attacks prevail, and meaningful dialogue is lost. 

Those who choose to ask questions about currently held societal, cultural, political, religious, and medical beliefs are all too often demonized, marginalized, relegated to kook status, and branded as conspiracy theorists, a pejorative  term intended to further undermine and dismiss their points of view and questioning minds.

My guest this week on Wise Woman Stortyime is one such free thinking, nonconforming individual who dares to ask questions that many do not want to hear. Listen to Alex Lacey’s story and learn how her honest quest to find the truth divided a community, became personal and created a controversy about controversy.

By Roberta Teller

Click on the link below……It takes about 20 seconds to boot up…..

Monique Lessan: The Voice of the Voiceless

My guest this past week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime was Monique Lessan, known in some circles as the female James Bond. Monique is a licensed  private investigator who specializes in the recovery of missing children and adults.

Her path to investigation crystalized for her when she successfully escaped after being kidnapped at the age of 19.  Understanding first hand the dire consequences of the loss of personal power and the subjugation to cruel and abusive incarceration and servitude, Monique dedicates her life to the recovery of missing children and to the education and advocacy of a safer world for children and adults alike.

Monique Lessan not only searches for those who are missing, Monique is a fierce advocate and activist speaking out about crimes of humanity- informing and educating; exposing those responsible and empowering the disempowered. She is the voice of the voiceless……..

This is her story and the story of too many children and adults around the world……….

For more information you can contact Monique at Eyeinvestigate.com

By Roberta Teller