Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Value Our Essence

Here's the real question: What do we have to do to place
more value on age? We have to value ourselves not for
what we look like but for the women we are.
                                                                                        Maya Angelou

As a young woman, the unwanted whistles from truck drivers, sailors, and other strangers were offensive. Today, it is difficult to assess which is worse – being noticed in youth or ignored in old age.

What these thoughts tell me about myself is how much my identity has been based upon my looks. The belief about my value as a woman was fed by my family of origin, cultural beliefs, life experiences and it continues to be fed most brutally by our media-driven environment that has little value for olders and especially female olders.

The body we travel in is the time keeper – it is what ages. There is that 'special something' within each of us that is present from birth through our death – and perhaps beyond. It is that piece of us that does not age but grows in awareness. It is the essence of who we are.

This essence of our true identity, needs to be cultivated and nurtured by each of us. While I will continue to have fun with fashion and make-up and take pleasure in my appearance and body, my work will be to come to understand my value is not dependent upon it.

Henry Miller says it best: “Everyday the choice is presented to us, in a thousand different ways – to live up to the Spirit which is in us or to deny it.” I believe, the work of adulthood is spiritual work to cultivate compassion and kindness toward all and especially ourselves.


Friday, February 24, 2017

The Inner Seductress

We each have an Inner Child that carries our hurt and pain; as well as an Inner Child that allows us to have fun and play. When I express my anger outwardly, I think of that as both my Inner Child having a temper tantrum as well as my Evil Twin taking over. No doubt we have myriad parts of ourselves with whom we have yet to be acquainted.

In a recent blog (2/14/17), I wrote about wanting to explore my sensuality and sexuality. The archetype that comes to my mind is The Seductress; the woman so confident about her sexuality she seduces those she is drawn to, and those she may just be curious about. My Inner Seductress has been dormant most of my life. My Inner Damsel in Distress, however, has accompanied me on much of my life journey – though I am pleased to say we are parting ways as she makes room for the Inner Seductress to emerge.

While we think of a Seductress as using her sensuality and sexuality to seduce a partner, I am embracing her as the part of me that finds and experiences sensuality/sexuality in all I do – my morning swim, meals I enjoy, theatre I experience, and all the other ways I pleasure my self. Not currently having a best friend/lover/companion is no reason not to let the Inner Seductress emerge. My belief is as my Inner Seductress is allowed to flower she will find someone for us to seduce. And what fun that would be....

What is your relationship with your Inner Seductress?


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What Should We Call Ourselves?

Anna Deavere Smith* quotes her paternal grandfather as saying: “If you say a word often enough, it becomes you.” Language is powerful...

The word 'gay' use to mean 'lighthearted and carefree'; today 'gay' refers to homosexuals.

During the Women's Movement women claimed the label 'woman' instead of 'girl'. 'Woman' connotes experience and independence; unlike 'girl' that connotes naivete and dependence.

During the Civil Rights Movement outworn labels of Negro and colored were dropped and the labels reflective of a stronger identity were claimed – Black and African-American.

So what term shall we claim as a way of embracing our aging selves. Years ago when I was doing Conscious Aging workshops this topic came up. Participants unanimously disliked the 'senior citizen' label, hated 'elderly,' 'aged' they associated with a wine or cheese. Many participants liked the word 'elder' which connotes a person of wisdom. Though, in my opinion, wisdom comes with conscious and reflective life experience and does not automatically come with old age.

The term I have most often used in recent years has been 'older adults'. However, in reading This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, by Ashton Applewhite*, I think Applewhite has come up with the perfect term – 'olders.' To my ears 'olders' sounds respectful and like someone who knows how to have fun and play; and as Applewhite writes in her book, “It's clear and value-neutral, and it emphasizes that age is a continuum.

So in my head, and in my blogs, 'olders' it is...

Ashton Applewhite, 
This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism,
Page 11

*Anna Deavere Smith,
Talk to me: Listening Between the Lines,
Page 37

Friday, February 17, 2017

Love Your Body

“If anything is sacred,
the human body is sacred.”
                                Walt Whitman

The bombardment of media images of surgically enhanced female icons along with perfect bodies radiating out at us from magazines as we are in check-out lines in grocery stores, perpetuates the objectification of women. These images subliminally shout at us: “You are not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, young enough, rich enough, etc.”

Reality is – “We are Enough...”  This is where self-love begins – knowing and embracing the awareness that we are enough. This is not to say that learning new things, developing new skills/talents, playing with new styles is not essential to our well being.  It simply reminds us to remember the sacred miracle of birth that each of us is.

All this leads up to *Jade Beall's enlightening, *Beautiful Bodies of Elders.  Photographs of nude women and men in a variety of shapes, sizes, races is beautiful and validating of the sacredness of the human body. The message that Beall's images shout at me is: “You are Enough.”

How would we feel about ourselves if we lived in a world that honored each of us regardless of our age, race, size, gender, financial status? What might be missing from such a world would be the marketplace of 'stuff' to purchase to make us feel 'good enough.' The whole economy could collapse...

So praise to Jade Beall who is giving us real images of real people all testifying to the reality of the beauty of the essence that we each are....


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

My online dating adventure ends today. The results:

                               *Five people contacted me – none were local.
                               *I initiated contact with one local person who did not respond.
                               *The fear of being rejected as well as rejecting others was met.

I also became aware that:

              1. Being a single woman, with sufficient financial resources, in good health,
                   and in good physical shape is a pretty wonderful thing!

               2. Now at 70 I want to explore my sensuality and sexuality.

Years ago in grad school I had a friend, Michelle, who believed sex was adult play for consenting adults. Unlike my belief that associated sex with love and commitment. Michelle was blessed with being able to fully embrace her sexuality. She was able (like men) to enjoy causal sex for pleasure.

The time is now ripe for me to explore and develop my sensuality and sexuality. I remember asking Michelle her secret. She shared her two basics:

                                *Always have legs and underarms clean shaven, and
                                *Wear lingerie that makes you feel sexy.

I'll start with Michelle's basics. I know I am not alone in this adventure given the increased STD's in older adults across the country. Hopefully that won't happen – but while I enjoy sex with myself, I do think it would be fun to be in the arms of another.

So – on Valentine's Day I'll enjoy the box of French Broad Chocolates I bought myself as a token of love for my self. And, I encourage you, to do something sensual, romantic, and loving for your self.

Until next time, Happy Valentine's Day!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Wear Your History Proudly -- Part II

Thank you Charlotte Rampling & Annette Bening

Charlotte Rampling at 70

Charlotte Rampling: “In Hollywood, the second gravest sin is to be old. The first is to look old. It’s just a pity so many actresses don’t have the confidence to say: ‘This is how I am. I’m still a very attractive woman despite my age — so get used to it.’"   

Annette Bening at 58

Annette Bening: “I like being older... It used to be you have to be hot — that’s the No. 1 thing -- a certain face, certain breasts, certain body. You have to be desirable from the male point of view. The objective...not be bound by cultural barriers that are unfair! How does that reflect on where we are with feminism, the women’s movement, and freedom for women?”

We rarely hear older female icons embrace their own aging journey.

Rather, what we get most often from the media are images of older women icons who do all they can to wipe away any natural signs of aging. Christie Brinkley, 63, who'll be on the cover of the 2/15/17 issue of Sports Illustrated appears to do all she can to look as close to her image as when she first appeared on the cover in 1979. Brinkley shares her beauty secrets: “...I noticed vertical bands in my neck... apparently the easiest way to address this issue was to inject small amounts of Botox into the ‘strings’ in my neck..."

I know how difficult it has been for me to grieve the loss of my own youth image and embrace the emerging aging image. For the woman whose identity and career is based solely upon a youth image, it takes extreme courage and intense reconstructive inner surgery to embrace the essence of her true self beyond any physical image.

 I commend Rampling (who in her youth was an icon of sex appeal) and Bening on their courage to Wear Their Histories Proudly.  As I continue to attempt to Wear My History Proudly as well...


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Belief System -- Beware

Many years ago my spiritual teacher differentiated between emotions and feelings. She said emotions have words; feelings have no words and are what is most real about us.

Attending a concert alone, everywhere I looked couples were laughing and enjoying themselves.  The story I told myself was that I am old, alone and invisible.  I then realized I was putting the words of my belief system on what I was feeling -- thus creating emotion that I labeled as sadness.

I stopped the story, focused my attention solely on the feeling without any words or labels.    I then experienced the feeling with no words or sadness present.  Feelings are what is most real about us -- but when we layer them with the words of our belief system --  they become overshadowed with emotion and drama which is not the essence of who we are.

My exercise now is that when seemingly unpleasant emotions arise to recognize the part my belief system plays in it. Our belief systems are created as a result of the beliefs we internalize from our family of origin, the religion in which we grew up, the culture in which we live and it goes back eons. It is not possible to live without a belief system until perhaps we are fully enlightened beings. However, recognizing the pain, the prejudice, the ignorance that our belief systems may put upon us is the first step in letting go of beliefs that no longer serve our highest good nor the good of the culture within which we live.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Daily Self-Cares

Crossing the 70-age marker has had and continues to have an emotional impact on me. I find myself with feelings of sadness and irritability as things and people are dropping away from me.

*During times of normal doldrums, consumer therapy would give me a temporary spurt of joy – no longer true.

*The people in my life who I have kept in touch with out of habit, rather than a common connective bond, are falling away.

*The acting conservatory, I began studying acting and improv at four years ago after leaving my lifework, has closed.

As I reflect on the above, I recognize the loss of many things that have fed me in a variety of ways are gone. My hope is that this dropping away is making space for something new.

As a friend used to say: “When one door closes; another opens. But the hallway is hell.”

So my work now is how to comfort myself while in the hallway. For me, that means going back to the basics of daily self care:

                    1)  Keep hydrated with 64 ounces of water
                    2)  Find something to laugh at, especially myself
                          -- or look in the mirror and fake a 5-second laugh
                    3)  Throughout the day in my small journal jot down:
                                          Things I do well
                                          Kindnesses I receive
                                          Kindnesses I give
                          And read the entries before bedtime....
                    4)  Make one connection with a friend
                    5)  Do something creative, i.e., practice piano, start a new blog

What are your basic daily self-cares...