What I imagined was not so pretty. When I thought of myself getting older I anticipated a sense of loss. I was afraid I would become less of who I am or that I would long for my youth or what had been. Looking ahead and going into future-time… so often a recipe for fear and anxiety.
And, like most of us when we are being honest, I was afraid my vanity would cast a spell of despair…what if everything fell apart and I didn’t look or feel like “me”. I remember reading an article by a beauty editor of a big magazine about her adjustments to men not truly seeing her anymore once she turned 50. Being seen and heard is a big deal and it’s a bit complicated when your outside doesn’t match your inside. We don’t lose our younger selves. Depending on how you live, your 18-year-old self may be alive and well, but not everyone will actually see her in you.
When the first of my friends had a little something done to her eyes, secretly I thought it was “cheating”. As more of my friends tried a few things here and there, I knew I might be at a disadvantage by comparison. The playing field was changing. Coloring my hair is my only “cheat” for now. I always said I was ok physically aging as long as my hair looked good and I could wear my big turquoise jewelry.
As the daughter of two designers, my thoughts about plastic surgery sounded like this~If you paint the walls, then the ceiling looks a little tired and you have to touch that up. Then the doors start to look ‘off’ and need a little boost, and then the windows need some attention, and before you know what’s happening you’re at the mercy of something you can never have. This seemed like a dangerous pursuit.
I want to be in love with where I am. I want to practice that in as many ways as I’m able.
Once, studying with author and spiritual thought-leader Caroline Myss, she stated in her typical truth-telling way that our culture’s approach to aging is “obscene”.
I couldn’t un-hear that. I want to let it unfold, as beautifully as I can.
Part of my experience of getting older has been about trusting and loving the season I am in. I have learned from the rhythms and cycles of the natural world. That each one is essential and balancing to the others and that each has its place and its purpose. Things we’re meant to experience, ways of being we’re meant to explore. Taking up space in ways that are uniquely ours, offering the pieces that only we can share. I’m pretty sure we’re not meant to skip any of our seasons.
At some point soon after I turned 50 (now several years ago), the archetype of the Wise Woman found me. Everything I have felt, learned, experienced can find a place at that table. I’m learning to embrace all of it with more love and compassion than any earlier time.
What I want deeply for myself, and the women that I know and love, is for aging to be a sacred walk. To stand in what we know, to forgive ourselves for what has passed, for what we don’t truly want to be, and to feel really good knowing what we know. To love as much as we can.
I think the best part of getting older, and the most challenging, is letting the truth of my mortality inform moment-by-moment choices. Because I have seen that life is short, I take my choices more to heart. I decide more deliberately who I want to be and what I want to offer. Knowing that the timeline is finite (I do very much believe in incarnation, so talking about this particular life) means who I am being matters. I don’t want resentments or regrets or comparisons cluttering my thoughts or my energy field. I know how I want things to feel.
I’ve had a lot of loss in my life. So much. My heart has been changed by it all~ my Dad’s death when I was young after a brutal and wasting illness. Watching my youngest brother whom I adored like no other get swept away in a few months at 44. My brave and loyal dogs. All sorts of extended family. I would give anything to have them back.
When I was watching my brother Sam die a couple of years ago I remember making a sort of vow to myself. The promise was that I would never complain about getting older. For me, to do so feels deeply wrong. I knew that Sam would have given anything to reach his late 50’s and see his babies grow. I feel compelled to honor and bless the years and birthdays stacking up.
With my two sons launched and living such full lives, my husband and I are in a new stage of our marriage. Not having my boys under my roof has been a big transition but the opportunities for different intimacies with them and with Andy have been another kind of gift.
It all changes, I can’t stop it. I’ve had to learn to fall in love with what wants to come in place of what has gone. Sometimes I have done it screaming and kicking, sometimes with great peace.
For sure, I have become more fully myself. The clarity of my intuitive knowing and the directives of my spirit are where I attune. Sacred listening allows for choices to be made fairly simply.
I was blessed with a sense of purpose 30+ years ago. The Wounded Healer archetype called me and I have had a long and rich career in the healing profession. Although I began as a classically trained licensed psychotherapist, now my work includes helping women hear the spiritual guidance and intuition that let them meet their own Medicine, find their true place in the world and the relationships that best support them. Some of my work has been around sorting through the addictive strategies we may use to disconnect from our true nature and the life that is calling us.
I was taught that the Wounded Healer term is redundant. It’s the integration and metabolism of our wounds, our losses, our imperfections that allow the light to come through us. I know that to be true. Wisdom comes with aging and I try to let it.
At this age more than ever, I feel the calling of my work, my Medicine, the mix of what only I can offer at this moment in time. I feel supremely honored to mentor women of all ages. Mentoring to me is a natural part of this stage of life. To encourage and teach and guide and love other women as generously and honestly as I can is a huge blessing and helps me make peace with the years passing so quickly.
The embodiment of certain archetypes has been powerful and helpful. Archetypes are universal energy patterns or signatures that we can identify and borrow. Because I have the Wise Woman, The Healer, Mother, and The Empress, I feel beautifully connected to this phase of life. These energies are about walking in what I know, trusting what is mine to give, living and creating sacred ceremony, and nourishing myself and others as beautifully as I choose.
The rituals that I create for myself and for clients smooth out the rough patches and are the daily essentials that I use to set the energy for everything, everything. They bring me into present-time in ways that enhance and celebrate each moment. In ways that shift my identity and let me remember what’s true. Rituals connect us to our singular beauty and power, letting us step into the symbolic and the mystical. From there, everything is just right, exactly as it is meant to be. And I believe I am too.