Monday, March 30, 2009

A new (old) way to view older women

Modern Western culture has developed a way of edging older women out. So much of one's worth as a person in our culture is based on either youth and beauty, or social status based on occupation or title. This does not leave a lot to look forward to for women who have finished with or are nearing the end of their careers and whose youthful looks have changed into a different type of beauty - a look of calm wisdom, perhaps. A look that is not always viewed as beauty in our culture.

I have been one of those women - torn between trying to look as young and attractive as possible, and looking "my age" - which pretty much to me meant just giving up. Not giving up on life, but giving up on trying to look my best, and also trying to make myself useful. (Somehow, the two of them seem connected to me.)

Then I read something recently that made me change my way of thinking and caused me to feel excited about my future as an older woman. I read a chapter in a book* that talked about this pushing out of older women in our culture, and compared this with examples of other societies that honor post-menopausal women and hold them in high regard for their experience and knowledge. Some women use the mythological term 'crone' to describe this role.

Part of the leadership of the Iroquois was a "Grandmother Council" which was the backbone of tribal decision making throughout Native American culture. In Japan, when a woman reaches the age of 61, she is considered to be at the highest and most venerated stage of maturity. Special respect, status and privileges are awarded to the elder women of Chinese and Native American Indian cultures of both North and South America, too.

The elder women in early matrilineal cultures of the Middle East and Egypt performed the society's most important and challenging roles: physicians, surgeons, scribes, and librarians. These older women were vital parts of their societies, and it is possible for each of us to become that type of vibrant older woman - if we can adjust our mindset.

Fairy tales and legends are full of crones - some evil and some benevolent: witches, step mothers, fairy godmothers... Most often in recent years, though, the word "Crone" has had a negative connotation. Webster's Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary defines it as "a withered old women". Wikipedia says, "The crone is a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, an old woman who is usually disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing."

In spite of the negative perception that modern times have, some women are beginning to use the term crone as a label for themselves and their new role as an important and vital part of the community.

Maybe the timing was just right - I don't know, but for some reason this information really resonated with me and made me re-evaluate how I see myself. Instead of feeling all washed up, I now see myself as on the brink of a new and exciting part of my life: A time when I can be free of the daily obligations of motherhood and able to focus on adult relationships (with my partner, my grown children and other adults) and personal growth.

To me, being a crone means freedom to be my real self and to be proud of my age; and relief from the fear of aging and from unreasonable expectations and demands that I had put upon myself.

Are you a crone? What does being a crone mean to you?

*Women's Sexual Passages by Elizabeth Davis

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring is here!

The trees have been blooming for a week or more, we have had a lot of rain and now the green leaves are really popping out!

This is our plum tree - we thought it might be dead because last year it didn't even have any leaves on it - what a nice surprise when I looked out a couple of weeks ago and it was covered with white flowers! It was planted two years ago, so it probably won't bear fruit until next year, but we will see!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where's The Outrage?

This letter was sent to the Wall Street Journal on August 8, 2008 by Alisa Wilson, Ph.D. Of Beverly Hills , CA . On July 31, 2008 the Wall Street Journal had an article titled

“Where’s The Outrage?”

Really. I can tell you where the outrage is. The outrage is here, in this middle-aged, ell-educated, upper-middle class woman. The outrage is here, but I have no representation, no voice.

The outrage is here, but no one is listening for who am I?

I am not a billionaire like George Soros that can fund an entire political movement.

I am not a celebrity like Barbra Streisand that can garner the attention of the press to promote political candidates.

I am not a film maker like Michael Moore or Al Gore that can deliver misleading movies to the public.

The outrage is here, but unlike those with money or power, I don’t know how to reach those who feel similarly in order to effect change.

Why am I outraged? I am outraged that my country, the United States of America , is in a state of moral and ethical decline. There is no right or wrong anymore, just what’s fair.

Is it fair that millions of Americans who overreached and borrowed more than they could afford are now being bailed out by the government and lending institutions to stave off foreclosure? Why shouldn’t these people be made to pay the consequences for their poor judgment?

When my husband and I purchased our home, we were careful to purchase only what we could afford. Believe me, there are much larger, much nicer homes that I would have loved to have purchased. But, taking responsibility for my behavior and my life, I went with the house that we could afford, not the house that we could not afford. The notion of personal responsibility has all but died in our country.

I am outraged, that the country that welcomed my mother as an immigrant from Hitler’s Nazi Germany and required that she and her family learn English now allows itself to be overrun with illegal immigrants and worse, caters to those illegal immigrants.

I am outraged that my hard-earned taxes help support those here illegally. That the Los Angeles Public School District is in such disarray that I felt it incumbent to send my child to private school, that every time I go to the ATM, I see “do you want to continue in English or Spanish?”, that every time I call the bank, the phone company , or similar business, I hear “press 1 for English or press 2 for Spanish”. WHY? This is America , our common language is English and attempts to promote a bi- or multi-lingual society are sure to fail and to marginalizes those who cannot communicate in English.

I am outraged at our country’s weakness in the face of new threats on American traditions from Muslims. Just this week, Tyson’s Food negotiated with its union to permit Muslims to have Eid-al-Fitr as a holiday instead of Labor Day. What am I missing? Yes, there is a large Somali Muslim population working at the Tyson’s plant in Tennessee . Tennessee , last I checked, is still part of the United States . If Muslims want to live and work here they should be required to live and work by our American Laws and not impose their will on our long history.

In the same week, Random House announced that they had indefinitely delayed the publication of The Jewel of Medina, by Sherry Jones, a book about the life of Mohammed’s wife, Aisha due to fear of retribution and violence by Muslims. When did we become a nation ruled by fear of what other immigrant groups want? It makes me so sad to see large corporations cave rather than stand proudly on the principles that built this country.

I am outraged because appeasement has never worked as a political policy, yet appeasing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is exactly what we are trying to do. An excellent article, also published recently in the Wall Street Journal, went through over 20 years of history and why talking with Iran has been and will continue to be ineffective. Yet talk, with a madman no less, we continue to do. Have we so lost our moral compass and its ability to detect evil that we will not go in and destroy Iran ’s nuclear program? Would we rather wait for another Holocaust for the Jews - one which they would be unlikely to survive? When does it end?

As if the battle for good and evil isn’t enough, now come the Environmentalists who are so afraid of global warming that they want to put a Bag tax on grocery bags in California; to eliminate Mylar balloons; to establish something as insidious as the recycle police in San Francisco. I do my share for the environment: I recycle, I use water wisely, I installed an energy efficient air conditioning unit.

But when and where does the lunacy stop? Ahmadinejad wants to wipe Israel off the map, the California economy is being overrun by illegal immigrants, and the United States of America no longer knows right from wrong, good from evil. So what does California do? Tax grocery bags.

So, America , although I can tell you where the outrage is, this one middle-aged, well-educated, upper middle class woman is powerless to do anything about it. I don’t even feel like my vote counts because I am so outnumbered by those who disagree with me.

Alisa Wilson, Ph.D.
Beverly Hills , California

Monday, March 9, 2009

Starting the Garden - Part 1

We started our garden today! The weather has been so beautiful - 70's and 80's for the past
three or four days. It really puts one in the mood for growing things! We didn't plant anything outside, though - we know it will get cold again before spring arrives for real.

Steve bought some little starter greenhouses that had pellets of soil in them that were as flat as coins. We added water and they got huge! So now we have these little towers of soil (they are wrapped in some kind of mesh to keep them from falling apart) that we planted the seeds in. With luck, we will have strong, healthy plants to put out into the garden (that we still have to get ready) in about 6 weeks. I haven't had a garden since I was 24; I am pretty excited! (I tried a couple of times in Florida, but never could grow anything but jalapeno peppers, there...)

We planted:
  • Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge, an heirloom tomato from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

  • Red Grape tomatoes

  • Rutgers tomatoes

  • Beefsteak tomatoes

  • Cucumbers

  • Watermelon

  • Yellow Star hot peppers (a free trial seed from Baker Creek)

  • Sweet Chocolate sweet pepper (brownish-purple heirloom pepper)

    We will be planting more things directly outside when the time comes - beets, squash, okra, etc.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Night Sky

It was such a gorgeous day today! I am sure it will get cold again before it's all said and done, but today was truly a promise of spring!

When I stepped outside this evening, I saw such a pretty sky that I had to take a picture! That is the moon up there, looking tiny... It was just a perfect day.... :-)