Wise Woman Storytime: An Invitation to 55+ women to share life stories and lessons learned



As older women, we have a lifetime of experiences with many rich lessons learned. As older women, in a youth oriented world, our voices are often not heard; our life lessons go unspoken.  As older women, we are often not honored or given the reverence we so deserve.  
Join a group of sister elders who are embracing and sharing their many years of lessons learned through storytelling circles.  All you have to do is show up and tell your story.  If you don’t think you have a story, are feeling too shy to tell one  or just don’t want to share one, come listen and support those who do……And just in case…….there will be a brief presentation on Tips for Storytelling.
The storytelling theme this month is Turning Points.  
Hope to see you.
When: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 9:30am
Where: Coffee Catz
              6761 Sebastopol Avenue
              Sebastopol, CA 95472

If you have any questions, please contact me at womenownyourcrone@gmail.com or 510-301-1706

$5-$10 offering appreciated (no one turned away for lack of funds)


                                    COMING SOON: 
                       WISE WOMAN STORYTELLING CLASS

Aging Gracefully: Another Lesson for this Aspiring Crone


This aging, saging crone has recently learned that aging gracefully can be, well, clumsy. In a previous blog, I espoused the gifts of elder women when they have taken the hard challenges of life and incorporated and internalized the lessons learned as opportunities to grow wiser and more mindful.  To me, it is the gifts of these experiences and the wise wisdom that emerges, that defines the essence of the aging gracefully woman.

So, why then did I spend a year worrying and obsessing about a doctor’s appointment? Where was my wise woman wisdom when I really needed it?

From August 2012  when I first walked out of my ophthalmologist’s office after my yearly check-up, I have worried, fretted, obsessed and terrorized myself with my very own original scary story. The plot of my original drama revolved around me  having to have cataract surgery. Okay, you’re saying, “HUH?”  CATARACT SURGERY for a plot?  Okay, have some compassion. I understand that probably to most “normal” and admittedly, some not so normal people, this would not be any kind of a plot and certainly not a traumatic event.  And while of course, no one wants surgery of any kind, the reality of cataract surgery is that it is safe, quick and has positive results – like immediate improved vision – even for higher risk patients like me.

Most people do not perseverate over this for a year……But I did.

I worried about this 2013 exam the minute I walked out of my 2012 appointment. In May of 2013, I took my first major step when I called and actually scheduled my eye exam for the following August 12..  I kid you not when I tell you that I dreaded just making the appointment……Once THAT was done, as I continued to worry, obsess and develop my scary story to newer and higher levels, I then began preparing myself for the  August 12th appointment.

Months before the appointment,I  began a regimen. I meditated, did guided imagery and visual imagery exercises.  I prayed for best outcome. I asked for support from the women in my women’s circle. I brought my spirit guides and my partner with me to the appointment.  And while some of these helped and the support was wonderful, the reality is that none of these steps got to the crux of the problem.

I was so fraught with fear and worry and panic. I was so caught up in my head, that I became increasingly detached from my emotional body.  In retrospect, I realize now that I was in a fight or flight mode.  You can’t be in  fight or flight and feel your feelings……that’s counterproductive -it’s not what it was designed for. Vulnerability went out the window as fight or flight took over. Fight or flight requires being defended and tough and strong…….not soft and tender and caressing……which in retrospect is really what I needed all along.

During that challenging year, had I been able to tap into my vulnerability and had I been able to experience the feelings of sadness, loss, powerlessness and even fear,  I know that I would at least have been able to feel myself……..But once fight or flight took over, any connections to my feelings were cut off. Going into fight or flight is strictly about survival, requiring toughness and rigor  It is a primal instinctive reaction to danger. Vulnerability would have required my soft and tender self to be available: to allow my deepest feelings to emerge; to cry and be in touch with my softness. The two are simply not compatible.

I know my fight or flight mode was trying to protect me, but the reality is that this kind of protection didn’t serve me.  While fight or flight might be very appropriate for some life threatening experiences, it was not appropriate for this one.

It took a year for me to finally understand what dynamic was driving me to fear.  This well-intended misguided protective modality never served me at all because it wasn’t what I really needed. I didn’t need to be out of my body, I needed exactly the opposite.  I needed to be able to feel myself, caress and hold my scared self.  I needed soothing and tenderness and most importantly to feel my vulnerable self.

I am grateful that I have gained great insights into what happened and have learned a very valuable lesson. When facing frightening, upsetting and scary events in my life, I don’t have to put on thick armor and protective gear to defend myself.  I can be much better served by embracing my scared child; soothing and holding her, all the while allowing my feelings to flow, emerge and be…….I understand that real inner strength is not about being hard and defensive, but instead it’s about being soft, and tender and real and true to your inner core……..It took me a year of fumbling and stumbling and eventually I got it.  I learned that vulnerability is a powerful and rich gift.  I learned that by embracing my tender, soft, frightened self; by loving my scared little girl, I was able to feel and be true to my real self. The defensive stance melted away and I was left stronger than ever. And so I learned.  By embracing my deepest feelings, and not stuffing them or covering them up with defensive armor, I came home to myself. I was able to be present in my life without future thinking and creating scary stories .  Being vulnerable put me back in my  heart, mind and body. I understand now how by allowing my tender, soft and vulnerable and real being to emerge made me invulnerable to the defensive actions of my thoughts and old patterns of being  Thank you my wise woman for finally helping me glean this most important lesson.

By Roberta Teller

Refections on Making Mistakes from this Aging, Saging Crone.


Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” When I was a child in elementary school, I used to hide under my desk whenever the teacher asked a question.  I was terrified that I would be called upon and convinced that I would be mortified when of course, I wouldn’t know the answer.  I hid out for years like this.  Occasionally, I would be discovered and asked to respond to a question. All I can remember is leaving my body, mumbling something and trying to get back under cover as soon as possible.

I have no understanding of why I was so afraid of making a mistake.  I suppose it can go back to this persona that my parents created for me as being smart and responsible and perfect. Maybe it was about not letting them down, but the truth be told, how could I let them down if they never really saw who I was?

I suppose it really doesn’t matter why this happened.

The first time I stood up in front of a group was in 1968 when I faced my class of  32 eleven and twelve year old 6th graders at PS 116 in Brooklyn, New York.  And once again I was terrified.  Here I was, 21 years old, straight from the suburbs of Queens facing a group of African American, Puerto Rican and a smattering of white kids in a red brick building built in 1898 located in one of the poorest sections of the city.  Did I tell you that my father had actually driven me to the school just before it opened for the school year ( and unbeknownst to me )  planned to meet the principal, Mr. Kash and to elicit a commitment from him to watch out for me while I was there…..Mr. Kash did agree.

But it wasn’t necessary.

From the moment I stepped in front of that classroom, terrified, sleep deprived (for most of my teaching career, I rarely slept the night before the opening of school) and wearing the dress that I had bought for this most audacious moment in my life, something began to shift for me.  I didn’t know it at first, but I realize now, that by looking at my beautiful, hopeful, enthusiastic, and mostly underachieving (that’s test scores) students, I was looking at myself.  And that was especially true of Julio.  Mr. Kash had warned me about Julio.  Well, in actuality, he warned every brand new teacher and staff member about Julio; everyone else knew him. He was the major behavior problem of PS 116.  It seemed, nobody wanted him in their class. And while you could say that Julio’s reputation preceded him, the sad fact was that nobody  knew this child nor took the time to get to know him.  He was viewed as one big mistake, screwing up left and right. I can only imagine how Julio felt about himself. But we had  a couple of things in common.  I felt like one big mistake about to happen and no one had really taken the time to see me either.

I have come to believe that we teach most what we need to learn.  It doesn’t matter what your profession or hobby or avocation, we seek out that which will help us better understand and know who we are.  By being a classroom teacher, I morphed into being a fierce advocate for my students to be the best they could be; to take chances and make lots of mistakes as long as these errors became tools for reflection and change and growth and momentum to move forward and not become dead ends or unfulfilled dreams. I encouraged them to ask questions, especially if they didn’t understand something. “The only stupid question,” I said, “is the one not asked.”  And I meant it.

I know now that whatever I was doing for my students, I was doing for myself. When I stood next to a student who was required to give an oral report in front of the class, that was me I had my arm around, saying, “Of course you can do it.  I’m proud of you.”  As they did it, so did I. When we did art projects, I threw away anything with lines on it (like coloring books) and encouraged imagination, creative expression and individuality. While I think of myself as someone who likes to think out of the box, for my students, there would be no box………”take a chance,”  I said to them and to myself.

Learning, creativity and life are risky. Often times it requires stepping out of our comfort zone and taking chances. Trying new things and doing things differently  opens us up to, yes, the risk of making mistakes. It also opens us up to our greatest potential.

I have come to appreciate the value of making mistakes as wonderful opportunities to learn and grow. I thank my hundreds and hundreds of students for showing me how with a little support and encouragement, we can become our best selves. Mistakes are valuable teachers and opportunities to see and do things differently.  No one is ever a mistake….we make mistakes, only.  And one more thing……...There is no such thing as perfection. Mistakes are as natural as sunshine and air……..

By Roberta Teller

Crones Don’t Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women: Book Review


Crones Don’t Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women, by Jean Shinoda Bolen is  an important and seminal book for women of all ages – especially for post menopausal  women entering the third, crone phase of life……Short, sweet, and profoundly simple and wise, Jean Shinoda Bolen describes 13 qualities for women to cultivate; to assist them in living rich, engaged, active and vital lives.  Each of these qualities has its’ own chapter with realistic suggestions and insights on how to embody and integrate these qualities into their lives.

One of the greatest gifts of this book, is that Jean Shinoda Bolen has taken on the challenge to redefine the much maligned and disparaged crone archetype and recreated it into a message that this is the time to yield into the “inner potential we grow into being.”  In this day and age, where youth are seen everywhere and the old have become invisible, she is encouraging women to devote themselves to making this third life stage a “crowning” achievement,” ; a time for women to get in touch with their power, wisdom and creativity and to devote themselves to manifesting what really matters to them most.

Jean Shinoda Bolen argues that the time is right and ripe for this generation of older women to rise up and exert their power and influence to make the world a better place.  She calls upon women to unite in circles, much like the Suffragettes and the women of the 60’s and 70’s did, to create sacred spaces with a spiritual center, to support individual transformation and ultimately to become change agents in the world.

Crones Don’t Whine provides a roadmap of sorts for women to recognize their inherent    wise woman qualities and to hone those skills as they enter their juicy third life stage.  It is about encouraging women to recognize their greatness and potential and to motivate them through the power of sisterhood and community to become change agents of the world.

Crones Don’t Whine is a gift for women of all ages.  It’s never too early to start realizing our wise woman wisdom.

By Roberta Teller


Aging Gracefully: Flexibility of Body, Mind and Spirit


Deng Ming-Dao says in his 365 Tao Daily Meditations, “When young, things are soft. When old, things are brittle.” Brittle things break easily, fall apart and die. I contend for a woman to age gracefully, she must  be able to maintain her suppleness and her flexibility not only in the body, but equally important in the mind and spirit as well.

I came to this understanding when I was confronted by experiencing two disparate emotions and thoughts at the same time.  I was stymied and stuck at my inability to comfortably hold them both without judging, criticizing and blaming myself. I remember how shut off I felt to myself and others. My chi was stuck and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

I was mired in feelings of annoyance and frustration, kvetching about my life circumstances while I was equally aware of the huge amount of gratitude I felt. I was about to learn a great lesson from a simple discovery; While I understood that in this case, Kvetching and gratitude  could in fact be (strange) bedfellows,  I have come to understand that life is often complex, nuanced and sometimes downright confusing. Being able to accept and hold two seemingly disparate emotions and experiences allows for a flexibility of mind, body and spirit. And flexibility, whether metaphorically or not, keeps one supple, fluid and nimble…..a most important component of an aging gracefully woman. 

Several months ago, I reached a new milestone in my life.  Never before had I realized that I could have 7 medical appointments in one week……but I did.

The truth is that I was getting a bit worn down from all of this.  It had been a year and a half of dealing with chronic pain, discomfort, information, opinions,, doctors’ appointments and finally hip replacement surgery, and then of course, the recovery; only to be followed by more doctors’ appointments and physical therapy. The older I’ve gotten, the less I like sitting in those usually stuffy, noisy and uncomfortable waiting rooms……..only then to be called to sit in yet another small and even more uncomfortable space with less air and windows that don’t open as you wait and wait and wait some more.

So there I was complaining that I had to suffer through 7 medical appointments that week.  I was feeling grumpy, irritable, tired and annoyed that instead of going to the gym, doing yoga or taking a walk, I, instead had to park my ass for who knew how long in yet another doctor’s office……

But, how can I complain??????  How dare I kvetch, moan and groan when I have excellent medical coverage, a doting partner who took meticulous and loving care of me and a wonderful support system of dear friends and my sister who supported me throughout my ordeal.  I have a lot to be grateful for…..I know it and I appreciate it. And yet, I was miserable.  I didn’t want to be around myself at that time.

And then my Wise Ass, NYC Crone dropped in for a visit.  In her less than subtle tone and dramatic flare, she belted out ,

You can have an attitude of gratitude while you kvetch, whine & complain

You can have an attitude of gratitude while you kvetch, whine & complain

Have a party of pity if you feel shitty……go ahead and kvetch, whine  and complain

Enjoy your attitude of gratitude while you kvetch, whine & complain”

And I got it.  I understood how important it is as we grow older to maintain the tender pliancy of our youth……certainly in our bodies but equally important in the ways we think, feel and behave. I had started to feel like an aging plant that was becoming  rigid, stiff and hard……And once I realized that I could  embrace and gently and kindly hold that which confused, frustrated and annoyed me, while accepting my attitude of gratitude,I relaxed and felt more  fluid, flexible and limber. Where before, my breath was shallow, now I could breathe deeply and easily.

And, I thanked my Wise Ass NYC Crone.  I thanked her for showing up and giving me a valuable lesson on listening and trusting my inner guidance. And I thanked her for connecting me to the bigger message…….that aging gracefully requires fluidity, flexibility, and gentleness of the mind, spirit and body……..

By Roberta Teller