Recently I wrote that aging gracefully is an inside job meaning that the internal process of tapping into our wise woman wisdom creates a beauty and majesty of spirit and energy that supersedes the superficial manifestations of our bodies. Ours is a youth oriented culture obsessed with the young. We are perpetually bombarded with artificially reconstructed older faces and the overly thin and air brushed images on the big screens and magazines. Whether a woman chooses to have plastic surgery or not, is an individual choice, hopefully made with clarity, thoughtfulness and enough money to pay for the procedure outright. Of course, we all want to feel good about ourselves. Of course, we all want to look our very best and have a swagger in our step as we strut our stuff…….that’s a no brainer. But……..
What is so much more important than the number of wrinkles or age spots is creating a culture where women themselves grow into an appreciation of their own individual and collective inner greatness. We, the boomer women, must become the change agents ourselves where we not only tap into our individual and collective voices, but it is incumbent upon us to SHOUT OUT our messages, visions, and life lessons. We must reclaim our long lost tradition of being the heart and soul of the community – the historian, the healer, the teacher, the advisor, the voice of a long life of lessons learned and wisdom gained.
While it is a daunting task to think about challenging and restructuring a very ingrained system that does not innately cherish and revere or seek out elder woman wisdom, I would like to suggest some first steps…..steps that begin first with an inner journey into ourselves.
1. SELF AWARENESS: Ask yourself: What are your gifts? What life lessons have you learned? What stories can you share about your life?
2. PAY ATTENTION TO THE SUBTLE AND MAYBE NOT SO SUBTLE DYNAMICS OF THE FAMILY, SOCIAL, BUSINESS, EDUCATIONAL GROUPS YOU ATTEND Who does most of the talking? Do some people monopolize the conversation? Is everyone engaged? Are you? Why or why not?
3. SHARE YOUR WISE WOMAN STORIES AND LESSONS: Tell your stories. Share your life lessons with friends, family, your children. Leave a written legacy of your life.
4. ENCOURAGE OTHER WOMEN TO SHARE THEIR STORIES AND LIFE LESSONS: Invite friends over with the express purpose of a story telling night. Ask elder women to tell their stories…..
5. WHETHER YOU KNOW IT OR NOT, YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL FOR EVERY GIRL OR WOMAN YOU MEET: Be aware that your views and opinions about growing older are being expressed covertly, nonverbally and through actions, attitudes and conversations. What messages are you actually sending?
6. TALK ABOUT GROWING OLDER: Let’s bring the topic of aging into mainstreamconversation. How is it different from the perspective of a 20 year old or an octogenarian? Ask yourself and others of all ages, “HOW DO YOU WANT TO AGE?” Let’s begin to demystify growing old by talking about it, taking power around it through right choices, and bringing it into our culture through awareness, conversations and visibility.
I believe it is essential for each and every one of us to take the time and make a commitment to ourselves to explore the richness of our own lives as well as to affirm and claim the lessons we have learned, and to honor the gifts that we have bestowed upon the world.
And it is through our own self acceptance and appreciation of who we are that our inner radiance will glow ever more brightly and we can move to shine this light on the world.
By Roberta Teller