When I told my husband that I had gotten this invitation from my dear friend Susannah Conway to write an article about the positive aspects of women and aging he said, only half jokingly:
“That’s going to be a very short post.”
He made that statement with love, based on witnessing me struggling with a whole multitude of body related issues that are the result of being IN a body for 61 years. Sometimes I feel like an old car that keeps needing to be taken into the shop for repairs every time you turn around.
And dealing with those challenges has not been fun. It’s been exhausting, expensive and time consuming. Not to mention depressing at times.
So sometimes I DO wonder if this whole getting older thing is all it’s cracked up to be.
But recently I was listening to a class recording from one of my beloved astrology mentors, Steven Forrest, talking about the Second Saturn Return. For those of you who are NOT astrologers here’s the short version of what that means.
Saturn is the planet that symbolizes maturity and being grounded. And it takes about 28-29 years to travel around our chart and end up in the same sign that it was when we were born. The first time that happens is when we are around 28 years old, and most folks who are involved in some kind of personal growth and self awareness process have heard about the first Saturn Return.
According to astrological timelines this is when you truly become a full fledged adult.
At this point in your life you are being asked to make serious commitments to what has soul and meaning for you. Your task is to bring the lofty visions and fantastic dreams that often originate in your childhood into some form of reality. Saturn is also known the Lord Of Manifestation and if we get it right at the first go-round, we spend the next thirty years crafting and creating and bringing to life what resides as a yearning in our hearts.
At the end of that 30 years of crafting and creating and making manifest you end up at your Second Saturn Return at about age 58. Hopefully, by this point you have some kind of legacy. And a treasure trove of varied experience. This is when you have the opportunity to transition into the stage of becoming a crone, an elder, and hopefully a wise woman or man.
Something that I hear a LOT from my students when they come to one of my intuitive painting classes or workshops is a statement along the lines of “You are so GOOD at this!”
And I always come back to them with “ Well, I do this ALL THE FUCKING TIME… so by now I BETTER be good at it. If I’m not, something is seriously wrong.”
So one of the things that I have unapologetically claimed as part of being an elder is my mastery.
I can boldly state, without flinching or holding back that I AM a master at what I have spent the past 30 years developing. What feels so very good is that I don’t think of this as ego or boasting or trying to pump myself up. This statement doesn’t come from a place of feeling inadequate or like I’m trying to be better than another person. It has nothing to do with anyone else.
It’s simply the truth.
Like Dizzy Gillespie, the jazz artist says: “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”
And now that I’m a woman of a certain age I can say with confidence and self assurance that, yes I CAN do it. Often with effortless elegance and ease.
Along the same lines I have no trouble claiming myself as a wise woman. I remember when I was in my early 30’s and had decided to go back to school and get a college degree. Most of the other students were barely in their 20’s and would often comment on what they referred to as my wisdom. And I had a very difficult time owning that at the time. It didn’t fit for how I perceived myself.
I wasn’t yet anchored firmly to my deepest truth. I was still too concerned with what other people thought of me. Still seeking approval and feeling unsure of who I was and what I had to offer. Still identified with who I thought I was SUPPOSED to be. And become.
But now, almost 30 years later, with a ton of successes, failures, gorgeous gains and devastating losses, getting up and falling down… over and over again… heartbreaks and betrayals that I didn’t think I would survive, a profound and joyful love that turned my life around in ways that I still can’t comprehend, working my ass off to create something deeply meaningful to me and many other people and birthing it into the world, spiritual openings and ecstatic moments that transformed my view of everything forever… with all these things solidly under my belt, I can state pretty unequivocally that I am rich in wisdom.
Part of that wisdom is knowing that death is a necessary part of life. And that death takes many, many forms.
That courage only comes after you drop to your knees and stop running from the fear. And the only mistake you can make is to not do anything at all.
That there is no such thing as broken. There is only layers and levels of healing to be done.
That what I think of as my identity is much more fluid than I ever could have imagined. And being stripped of things I thought I could never live without is beyond devastatingly painful. But that creativity can save your ass every time.
I have learned that I am not in control of much of anything. That how my life turns out is not always up to me. And to surrender much more gracefully to the wishes of spirit.
I have learned that not everything can be fixed. And that sometimes all you can do with an impossible situation is cry.. and hold it in your heart.
I have learned that love is something that I don’t give or get, but is something that I AM. And that surrounding myself with the energy of those who also choose to live from love is the most incredibly self nurturing thing I can do.
I have learned that even in the midst of the most incredible suffering there is always something to hold onto. It could be a prayer. A loving hand. A memory. Or a chocolate chip cookie.
I have learned that trying doesn’t get me anywhere and I can only be as good as I am. That the only person I need to forgive on a regular basis is me.
I have learned that being a wise woman doesn’t mean giving up the playful, fun loving inner child and that I may becoming older in my body but my spirit can always get younger and younger.
I’ve learned that you can never be too kind. To your friends and family, to strangers on the street, but especially to yourself.
I’ve learned that speaking my truth, saying no and setting boundaries, is the supreme act of self care.
I have learned that my heart is ALWAYS wiser than my head. And that my intuition always has my back.
I have learned that the only way to get to these truths and have them alive in my BONES is to live a long time. And that as much as I would love to have a body that could run and jump and sleep and be sexual without external aids and props and that didn’t need so much attention just to keep it operating at a level I would consider darn pitiful even 10 years ago, I am grateful for who and where I am.
And if I had the choice to be physically young again but lose the wisdom and mastery I have gained over this long and incredibly miraculous life, I wouldn’t change a thing.