#35, Dec 2013
to the December 2013 issue of the Elderwoman Newsletter
- an e-zine for
21st century elderwomen committed to radical aliveness.
FROM THE DESK
Back in April when my
daughter and her family visited us from Boston for a whole month, we
spent the first week of that month living at a pretty vacation house
called Ripple which is on an island in the middle of the River Thames.
And then we spent the last few days in an old
|Dutch barge moored
further up the river. I
love to be near water, so living on a river, or even right next to one,
is always a special experience for me. Which is why, when Sky and I
went back to Sardinia in September, to the lovely little town of Bosa
that we had discovered the previous year, we stayed in the same
apartment as last time, overlooking the River Temo. That picture above
is the view from our window, looking upstream just before sunset. For
me, there is something really magical about just sitting by the window
and looking out, watching the herons and egrets go about their business.
just as rivers are drawn towards the sea, so am I. Which is why I love
islands. So islands were the theme of our travels this year and we
visited five of them that we had never been to before. Our entire
journey is documented online at http://www.elderwoman.org/fiveislands2013.html
Now I am working busily to get the next volume in the GreenSpirit ebook
series published before Christmas. This will be the third in the
series, which is all about what I call 'applied green spirituality,'
and there are lots more in the pipeline, including one on eldering. The
books are in all the popular ebook formats including Kindle and if you
are interested you can find out more about them here. So as you can see,
I have not been idle during the months since you last heard from me.
Except, of course, for all those delightful hours spent staring at the
Blessings and all good wishes for the festive season,
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Passing the Baton
by Marian Van EykMcCain
When I wrote the final
sentence of my first book on aging, I was 53 and just through
as I think about my 80th birthday being a mere two and a half years
suddenly seems extraordinarily young!
When I was born, in
there were already fears of another war in Europe and by the time I was
years old my father had left his job and joined the army, anticipating
conscription, which had ended in 1920, would probably start up again
anyway. Which of course it did, in September 1939. It was a time of
uncertainty and my parents figured that it was
not a really good time to be bringing more babies into a troubled
the time my first sibling was born, it was 1946 and I was already ten.
longed-for baby brother was followed by an adorable baby sister in
and all their generation soon became known as the Baby Boomers, the
kicking, flesh-and-blood results of all those happy post-war reunions.
My Boomer sister is
65, my sister-in-law a little older. When that first book of mine was
published I was 55 and they were not long past forty. But I had a
feeling that in another decade or two they would be searching for
how to navigate the rapids of menopause and understand the
spiritual significance of that passage. It was because I hoped the book
now launching might give them some useful guidance that I dedicated it
and to all the women of their generation.
years later, when I
published Elderwoman, it was with a
similar feeling. That second book was my attempt to create a trail
guide for my younger sisters, a guidebook for
territory which, at that time, had barely begun to be mapped.
sister's generation got
sidetracked for a while. Just as they were reaching menopause, Big
reinvented HRT and plugged it to them big time. Lots of them listened
'anti-aging' siren call. But eventually, when research proved that HRT
own hidden dangers, most got back on track. And that was when I felt
beginning to reach out to grasp the batons that a few of us had been
for a decade. The Boomers are a powerful group, still lively and still
A bunch of them are strong, articulate, feisty media-savvy women who
to broadcast the message about how to age well in much louder voices
could ever be. These women refuse to be invisible. They refuse to be
by a youth-obsessed mainstream culture. They are challenging ageism and
of them, attitudes are slowly changing. The tide is coming in.
in one's seventies
has its own story, its own subtleties and nuances and its own lessons
and I think being in one's eighties will too. And—if I am fortunate to
long enough to find out—there will almost certainly be new lessons to
new aspects of aging to discover right through the nineties and right
end. So in one sense I feel I have already passed the baton to my
their Boomer generation and there is a feeling of relief about that.
another sense I can still feel a baton of sorts in my hand. I suppose I
continue the task of mapping the path of aging and passing the news
the line as long as I am able. Once a big sister, always a big sister,
when it comes to how do
we live our third age to the full, there are lots of trail guides
and lots of voices chiming in. I could almost say that my work is done.
|A New Voice
While we are on the subject of dynamic Boomer-age women, here is one it
gladdens my heart to discover. I heard about her in a round robin email
from Women's Studies academic Margaret Morganroth Gullette, whose work
I have mentioned several times in these newsletters.
Margaret wrote: We have been looking -
atleast I have been looking - for a public intellectual with a fresh
voice in age studies who can attract undergrads and grad students and
explain to large mixed audiences what anti-ageism is.
Now here is
Ashton Applewhite ("writer, speaker, activist"), a New Yorker, who just
opened her lecture with a sold-out event at Cooper Union in
Click on her picture, below,
to watch her in action.
she has only
recently started on the speaker circuit, Ashton Applewhite has been
anti-ageism work for a while, and since 2007 has run a clever feature
on her website
called "YO is this Ageist?" http://thischairrocks.com
And Speaking of Ageism...
GWAAR (The Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging
Resources) has put out an extremely useful document about ageist
language. Its purpose, they say, is ...to
help professionals, volunteers, and others understand that the language
we use in offering services to older adults or individuals with
disabilities must recognize people as individuals first and at all
times treat them with respect and dignity.
to read it. And if you happen to come across any institutions
where you think the employees could benefit from reading this, you
might consider printing a copy and giving it to whoever is in
charge of training staff. It is my belief that the majority of folks in
the helping professions who use condescending and infantilizing
language towards--and about-- the old people in their care don't mean
any disrespect. They do it unconsciously, probably because their work
evokes the same nurturing impulse we instinctively feel towards babies
and small children. All it needs to create change is for someone to
bring this into their awareness.
Britain's Oldest Disc
(As reported by the BBC)
"Being 91 has not
stopped Margaret Leigh-Jones from trying new things. She has recently
presenting at Hampshire nostalgia radio station Angel FM, which could
Britain's oldest DJ. The Havant-based
great-grandmother began by answering the phones at the not-for-profit
but was soon persuaded to take up a role co-hosting a two hour
show. The 91-year old says it
has changed her life..."
Click here to see a video
of Margaret doing her thing
|* * *
Beauty of AgingA lot of people have posted this trailer
on Facebook. It is quite inspirational. And a 35-minute movie has
been made about two of the women who feature in the trailer. It is all
part of the Beauty of Aging Documentary Project. Click here to go to the Project's website and find out about the movie, which is available on DVD.
|* * *
|The Key to
According to a recent study, the two main keys to keeping your brain active
and agile are learning new skills and being creative.)
Click here to read about it.
Of course, this
article, like so many others, talks about 'keeping your brain young' (sigh)
but I prefer to say 'keeping your brain active
and agile' as there is no way I will use
ageist language in this newsletter!! Our brains, after
all, are the same age as we are.
|* * *
Insurance for Long Term Care
I promised Barbara Davis that I would give her website Compare Long Term Care a mention on this newsletter
as it could be a useful resource for anyone wanting to compare the
rates from various long term insurance companies all at the same time,
Some years ago, at a CronesCounsel gathering, I briefly shared a room
with writer and sexuality educator Pat Hanson. During the time we were
together she told me about the book she was working on, which she
called 'The Invisible Grandparent.'
|What, I wanted to know, is an
invisible grandparent? Well this is how Pat defines it:
Invisible Grandparent is anyone unable to participate fully in the
lives of their children's children. We may have once played a role in a
young one's life and were then blocked from it. We have tangible
memories and ideas of where these children are and what they look like
or may be like. Or we may not even know our grandchildren's whereabouts
or even their names.
could relate to that, for although I have grandchildren with whom I am
very close, there is one I have not seen since he was very small and
quite possibly will never see again. Family dynamics, sadly, can
sometimes create these painful situations, as they have for Pat. She
says: I am an Invisible Grandparent. I have two grandchildren that I
have been kept from seeing. Writing letters helped heal the hole in my
heart that not being able to grandparent caused. In the last three
years I have written dozens, in hopes that someday, these children who
are part of my gene pool will read them. I have also written others I
have no intention of ever sending in order to free myself of negative
energy and work toward forgiveness of both myself and others.
Pat's book has been published. Today I received a lovely colour
postcard about it in the mail. Which is what prompted me to share the
news with you and tell you of this very helpful resource she has
created. It is crafted out of her own experience. And remembering how
she was, this spirited and feisty woman I met, I know that she will
have shared her own story with her readers and that she will have told
it told in the open, honest, totally down-to-earth way that is so
typical of her, for Pat is not a person who dissembles. And I know her
book will be full of useful ideas for any other grandparents who find
themselves cut off, for any reason, from the grandchildren with whom
they yearn for relationship.
||Follow-up to the Calcium Article
the last Elderwoman Newsletter was published, in May,I had a nice
letter from Ros Crompton in Australia. Ros is a professional and
personal coach, facilitator
and trainer, whose specialty is traning people in public speaking. She
and I met when we were both teaching classes at the Council of Adult
Education in Melbourne in the early 1990s. What prompted her letter was
the piece in that newsletter about calcium. She wrote:
|I do think the calcium
article is a little alarmist and pushes the pendulum to the other
extreme from the one which encourages every kind of supplement.
Extremes are not in balance and alarm is counter-productive too, I
think. Flooding one’s system with calcium is not necessarily helpful of
course, and some of the warning aspects of the article are useful. As
we know, more is not better. I would like to share with you some things
I have learned when a friend was diagnosed with early osteoporosis
which the medical profession has proclaimed in past decades to be
Osteoporosis is not necessarily irreversible and my friend’s bone
mineral density is now at safe, i.e. above fracture threshold levels.
We shouldn’t forget that bone fractures are not the only problem –
intractable pain and considerable disability comes with it too. If I
have a choice between the risk of cancer and the certainty of
osteoporosis, I’m taking calcium plus.
Calcium supplements are okay as long as they are absorbable. Cows milk
calcium is not so compatible with humans, not to mention that the
calcium caltrate most often prescribed by doctors is not easily
metabolised. Calcium citrate is the better form, and ……
Absorption of calcium is also dependent on suitable levels of vitamin
D. Vitamin D resistance is far more common than we thought which is
particularly odd in places full of sunshine such as Australia. Calcium
taken with vitamin D makes a sensible combination when necessary. I do
think it’s important to dig a bit deeper and find medical people who
are also sleuths.
talked further on email and I said I would not only include her
comments in the next newsletter but would post both the article and her
comments on our Elderwomanspace network so that any readers who are
interested in making their own comments can have a forum for doing so.
(If you are not a member of Elderwomanspace but you would like to be,
just email me and I will send you an invitation)
Does it Get Better, Like a Fine Wine?
That's the question that long-time subscriber
Val McCrae poses in her article on aging that was recently published in an
Australian magazine for the over-sixties. Here's a link to the article. It is
wonderful to see this in print. Good on you, Val!!
for this newsletter are
eagerly sought. Please send in your writings, your thoughts, your
poetry, a book or website you have found, an announcement or news item
that you think would be interesting to others, a comment on one of
these articles, a subject you'd like to see, an anecdote, something
that moved you - whatever snippet you want to share. Don't be
shy. You do NOT have to be a professional writer, artist or
photographer to send pictures or pieces of your writing to this
newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you.
They’re Still There
By Arlene Corwin
They’re still there,
Those awful attitudes,
(unflattering, nothing to
Inborn, learned – it
How would you define
Vanity, greed, passive
As if not there,
Silent, never screaming,
Beaming secret rays
through secret paths:
Holding sway: insidious;
I tell myself
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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY - (a husband's point of view)
(Just in case you haven't seen this hilarious poem floating
around on the internet I couldn't resist including it here. It is often attributed
to theBritish comedian Pam Ayres but she says she didn't write it. It's in her
style though, and equally funny.)
The missus bought a Paperback,
down Shepton Mallet way,
I had a look inside her bag;
... T'was "Fifty Shades of Grey".
Well I just left her to it,
And at ten I went to bed.
An hour later she appeared;
The sight filled me with dread...
In her left she held a rope;
And in her right a whip!
She threw them down upon the floor,
And then began to strip.
Well fifty years or so ago;
I might have had a peek;
But Mabel hasn't weathered well;
She's eighty four next week!!
Watching Mabel bump and grind;
Could not have been much grimmer.
And things then went from bad to worse;
She toppled off her Zimmer!
She struggled back upon her feet;
A couple minutes later;
She put her teeth back in and said
I am a dominater !!
Now if you knew our Mabel,
You'd see just why I spluttered,
I'd spent two months in traction
For the last complaint I'd uttered.
She stood there nude and naked
Bent forward just a bit
I went to hold her, sensual like
and stood on her left tit!
Mabel screamed, her teeth shot out;
My god what had I done!?
She moaned and groaned then shouted out:
"Step on the other one"!!
Well readers, I can't tell no more;
About what occurred that day.
Suffice to say my jet black hair,
Turned fifty shades of grey
Elderwoman Newsletter by Marian Van Eyk McCain, December 2013
The Elderwoman website:
NB: replace 'at' with the @
sign, and please
insert OKEM in the
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the filters are a necessity to stop
my in-box flooding with spam.
- oh and when you
write to me, please remember that my name
is spelt MARIAN with an 'A' (the same as Robin Hood's
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