Issue #17, June, 2007
Pfeiffer-Burns SP, Big Sur, CA
to the June 2007 issue of the Elderwoman Newsletter
- an e-zine for
21st century elderwomen committed to radical aliveness.
I am pleased to report,
however, that the first of the two went off really well. The second one
is just over four weeks away now. So it will soon be time to pack my
|Summer is in full swing here
now. The trees are heavy with leaf and the hedgerows are a riot of
wildflowers. The scent of honeysuckle is everywhere. This is Devon at
its most glorious. As I said in a recent blog post, I always find it hard to leave
this lovely place and travel elsewhere. But sometimes it just has to be
done. Like this year, with two family weddings just three months apart.
the way back up the California cost from the first wedding, we stopped off, as
we always do when we take that road, to walk along the overlook at Julia
State Park and gaze at the waterfall that
tumbles from the cliff on to the beach below. I must have photographed
that scene a dozen times or more by now, yet I couldn't resist doing so
again. For me, it is magical. Which is why I chose it for this June
Newsletter. (The waterfall, which was not running very full that day,
is just visible, towards the left of the picture.)
As usual, the newsletter brings you a miscellany of stuff, all related
in some way or another to getting older. Except the plug for a new
writers' book that has an essay of mine in it (that's just a bit
of what is known as 'shameless self-promotion') and except for the
final item which I couldn't resist including because it made me - and
everyone else I've shown it to - giggle and I thought you would
probably find it wickedly amusing too.
I wish all my readers in the Northern Hemisphere a wonderful summer.
And for those of you on the other side of the world, I wish you a
plentiful supply of winter rain - but delivered in a gentler way than
via storms like the ones that just battered NSW.
A New Year - by Lisa
The older I become the more I have
come to understand that “a new year” can begin at
anytime during a calendar year. I
am trying, not too successfully, to shift my sense of clock or date
time to the moment, “the power of now,” a feeling
of timelessness and that TIME is but a human construct that has helped
give humanity a structure to become more efficient and orderly. As we began to multiply
and our collective mind became more evolved we have indeed needed
calendars and clocks, however I am not sure that Scarlett
O’Hara’s idea of living for tomorrow has done us
Of course we must make plans - set
our hopeful vision to a future of promise. However, I have found that
when those hopes do not become realities I am thrust right back into
the now to begin again. But
I am not exactly where I was when I began the first (or thirtieth)
more has been added, call it experience; that cannot be recorded in the
same way that time is. And
the paradox is that experience takes time!
So, if the truth be made known, I
really began this piece feeling a bit vulnerable as far as time is
concerned (could you guess?). I
do not want to dwell on how fast it is flying, or that in 6 weeks
I’ll be literally flying to Hawaii
for an adventure that is yet to be determined time wise (stay in the
moment Lisa). Seven
years ago my husband Bill and I moved to Maine full time with a future
plan to spend part of the year on Kauai - now the
“time” has arrived, but until fairly recently we
didn’t know when it would happen.
And so much has happened in between. Wonderful things. Friendships, walks on the
beach, writing a book and other pieces, a renewed faith in my Christian
upbringing, the opportunity to live on a marsh with the ocean behind, a
beautiful new grand daughter, becoming healthier, a lovely new home
built by my husband, a stronger marriage, more trust, more faith that
the difficult times will pass, feeling my heart open and not being
afraid. I could go
on and on. None of
these things happened because it was a New Year, they just happened in
their own time- maybe during lunar cycles or around the solstice? It doesn’t
matter. What I know
matter’s is that they happened and seven years later I am
better for them. They
have filled me, and they can never be taken away.
I am in my early 60’s and I finally
understand that a life is a composite of experiences and that they
become stories that may or may not make a difference in others lives,
but they will certainly make a difference in mine.
Earlier in 2006
I felt confused and frightened about the changes coming. I prayed a lot and had
some wonderful support. The
changes felt like a lot of New Years stuffed in a bag that was too
couldn’t sort things out, only time could do that, and it has. I know that change does
not mean “goodbye,” but instead “thank
you” for every opportunity, every friendship, every
can ever take those away. Especially
About the author
Barstow holds a BA
in Creative Writing from Vermont College
and received writer's group leadership training in Massachusetts from Amherst Writers
& Artists. Dividing her time
between homes in Maine
Lisa has facilitated writer's workshops in Maine
for the past seven years and is currently at work on a personal memoir
from her home in Hawaii.
Lisa's work is featured in the anthology Mid-Life
Clarity: Ephiphanies from Grown-up Girls (Beyond Words
By Marian Van Eyk McCain
burgundy blotches. I always seem to have them somewhere these days,
usually on my arms and the backs of my hands. All different shapes.
Some as big as a 50p coin, others as small as a currant.
The skin on
my limbs is so thin nowadays that the slightest encounter with a
projecting twig or the sharp corner of a table will mark me instantly,
often piercing the surface. If I spend a morning pulling brambles, by
lunchtime I look as though I've returned from a war zone. Even through
a layer of fabric, my skin gives way at the slightest intrusion, so my
old gardening pants are permanently bloodstained in several places.
carry my backpack – especially if it is heavy – I have to
be really careful sliding my arms through the straps. For if the strap
rubs hard against my skin it leaves a pattern of serrated blotches as
though someone had scraped me hard with a curry comb.
Now I know
why Nature removes old women's body hair. Removing it oneself would
become far too hazardous. Shaving would probably make me bleed and
waxing might rip off skin and all. Ouch!!
At seventy-one, I seem to have become an extremely thin-skinned person.
I ask myself: have I become thin-skinned in other ways too?
The answer is
both no and yes. I deal much better with criticism now than I ever did
when I was younger. It matters to me far less than it used to what
others think of me. So in one sense, my skin has become tougher in old
But at the
same time, damage to the natural world – the razing of
rainforests, the exploitation of animals, oil spills, overfishing, the
ruination of coral reefs – these pierce the skin of my
heart much more easily now than they ever did before.
The older I
become, the closer to the Earth I feel and the more keenly I feel the
pain that humans have inflicted – and are still inflicting
– on Her.
this as I gaze at the latest crop of blotches on my arm, I start to
understand what was in the mind of St Francis when he prayed for the
stigmata. Now, as I make the connection between the thinness of my skin
and the deepening of my ecological awareness, these burgundy blotches
have suddenly taken on a new significance.
REPORTS/NEWS/BITS AND PIECES
CRONE - an invitation
Helen Redman, whose glorious depictions of aging never fail to thrill
me has completely redesigned her Website and invites us all to drop by.
Please do - it is stunning.
Here's what Helen has to say....
|This is an invitation to
visit my redesigned/updated Birthing the Crone: Aging into Full
Creativity website: www.birthingthecrone.com
I have been
revising the site for over a year now to include new art and writing in
a user-friendly, visual format. When I first went online
(November, 1995) my aim was to give artistic and holistic attention to
the passage of menopause-- to help others see how the fear of aging
permeates every aspect of our lives, robbing us of the real gifts of
age. Those of us speaking out then were pioneering a field that would
mushroom as baby boomers aged. Now there are a plethora of books and
websites on the subject, but mine still emanates uniquely from my
viewpoint as a woman artist.
Originally formatted by my son-in-law, Kevin Frank (a data-base expert
who taught me how to use a computer), the site was not visually set up
like other artist's galleries. As Internet usage and digital advances
burgeoned, we saw the potential of the media through all the hits
(about 300,000 to date) and personal responses. When it became clear
that the site needed a remodel, we created new galleries for the
ongoing artwork that has progressed way beyond menopause.
I have retained the text relationship to each image in the newly
redesigned Menopause Paintings Gallery and the Birthing the Crone
Gallery. Click to enlarge the individual images and you will see the
revised text and higher quality jpgs.
New galleries of recent artwork have been added and others are under
Hands & Leaves: http://www.birthingthecrone.com/pages/hands.html
Sole to Soul: http://www.birthingthecrone.com/pages/sole/sole2.html
New pages have been posted on the Beauty of Old, Workshops, Upcoming
Events and Exhibition Options. Navigation buttons on all the pages help
you travel all over a site that is big and takes time to visit. It's my
on-line version of the coffee table art book every artist dreams about
Birthing the Crone is an ongoing project as my art, writing and
workshops continually bring new ideas to the fore. I love the fluidity
of the Internet--always fertile ground for an artist/seeker to keep on
learning. Somewhere in this process, I realized my desire to create a
legacy site for my Aging Into Full Creativity work. I currently find
myself drawn to this media as a way to express and communicate my art,
especially with series that have taken a long time to unfold. Having
created so much physical art over the past 48 years, I realize a larger
digital world now helps me to shape and share the progression of my
artwork in revolutionary ways.
It's been a sharp learning curve for me and without the help of my son,
daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and husband; the site would not
exist (it takes a village to put an elder in cyber space). My son, Paul
Barchilon is now my Webmaster and co-designer (when he gets the time).
Visit Paul's stunning ceramic art website, barchilonceramics.com
and you will see how his sense of color, pattern and design enhances
both our sites.
I hope you will visit www.birthingthecrone.com and recommend it to
others. My thanks to so many of you who have been on this journey with
ANDREWS TURNS 69
(Ginger Child, from San Diego, sent this around, saying "Maybe we should add this to our
commemorate her 69th birthday on October 1, actress/vocalist,
Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan 's Radio City
Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP.
One of the musical numbers she performed was "My Favorite Things"
from the legendary movie, "Sound Of Music". Here are the
lyrics she used:
and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
of magazines tied up in string,
are a few of my favorite things.
and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses,
and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
golf carts and porches with swings,
are a few of my favorite things.
the pipes leak,
the bones creak,
the knees go bad,
simply remember my favorite things,
then I don't feel so bad.
tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
are a few of my favorite things.
pains, confused brains, and no need for sinnin',
bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
we remember our favorite things.
the joints ache,
the hips break,
the eyes grow dim,
I remember the great life I've had,
then I don't feel so bad.
(Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from
the crowd that lasted over four minutes, and repeated encores.)
The Mature Mind by
Here's a book review that might interest you.
I got it from Emily Kimball, who found it in
The Positive Aging Newsletter
assumption that the biology of aging is inherently a biology of decline
is widespread and indeed is the basis for much research. It is thus
enormously refreshing to discover a broad based account of aging that
takes the opposite perspective. To be sure abundant research does
suggest a general though relatively minor decline in rapid information
processing. However, as Gene Cohen proposes in The Mature Mind, such
research misses a very important process of positive development.
Namely, the biology of aging favors the development of a talent we
might well call wisdom.
research demonstrating that the brain remains quite flexible with age,
and new neural connections are always being made. In addition, however,
he finds research indicating that with advancing age people can
increasingly rely on both sides of the brain to do various cognitive
tasks. This sets them apart from the young. With this increased
balance, argues Cohen, the aging are more capable than the young in
their capacities for 1. Relativistic thinking (accepting uncertainty,
suspending judgments), 2. Dualistic thinking (holding a view and its
opposite possibility), and 3. Systematic thinking (seeing the bigger
picture, the forest as well as the trees). These are major
characteristics of mature thought.
Cohen, aging is a
period that can usher in greater engagement, more satisfying
relationships, new intellectual growth, and more fun. Retirement is not
over the hill, but a time of climbing new hills. Yet positive
transitions are not guaranteed by biology. If one doesn’t use
one’s capacities they may be lost. Among his recommendations
with surrounding community Balance group activities with solo ones,
energetic action with relaxation Increasing levels of activity over
time, add to one’s activities rather than subtract Locate
duration activities, and not simply short term or one-time adventures
Nourish close friendships Consider learning a life-long activity
(From Mary and Ken
Gergen’s Positive Aging Newsletter, Sept-Oct 2006)
first time in history, enormous numbers of women are traveling through
the gate of menopause and looking forward to a life span of some 30
more years. And we women have a certain hard-won wisdom, gleaned
through consciously processing the experiences of our long and fruitful
lives. What are we going to do with this wisdom? Play golf? Get our
hair done? We begin to glimpse the opportunity, and the responsibility."
Kreilkamp, Founder, Crone Chronicles
|Remember 'Crone Chronicles' ?
first magazine created specifically for elderwomen, it was one of my
favourites, and I was sad when it ceased publication.
– guess what?!! …….
Crone is about to launch herself into the world again through a new
magazine at the Spring Equinox, 2008. 'CRONE: Women Coming of Age' will
be published by Anne Niven, of BBI Media and 'SageWoman' magazine. Ann
Kreilkamp, founding editor of 'Crone Chronicles: A Journal of Conscious
Aging', will serve as Elder Editor of CRONE, with
Anne Niven as Junior Editor. The magazine will be
substantial in size, perfect bound (like a book), and published twice
per year at the equinoxes.
There has also been an evolution in the mission of the magazine.
Whereas 'Crone Chronicles' (1989–2001) served to activate the archetype of the Crone, encouraging
us to uncover our voice and heart with a soul rooted in wisdom wrestled
from long experience, CRONE will assume that this archetype is alive
and well within us and let the world know who we are, both in terms of
Crone awareness, and how this awareness projects and manifests in the
Each issue of CRONE will feature two major interviews, one with a crone
working primarily in the outer world, the other with a crone focused
primarily on her inner world. There will be eight departments, staffed
by a circle of editors, and numerous columnists, including special
columnist Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., Jungian Analyst and author of many
books, including Crones Don’t Whine.
For the launch issue, Ann will interview Angeles Arrien, a cultural
anthropologist who has just published a new book, The Second Half of
Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom, and Jean Mountaingrove, of
WomanSpirit magazine (1974–1984), now 80 years old, and
living in retirement at a wooded, women-only sanctuary in southern
We welcome submissions to the new CRONE magazine. Please contact
editor(at)cronechronicles.com for more information. Thank you!
and watch out for my column 'Eco Crone' in this new magazine. I am so
excited to be a part of this wonderful new venture.
And Another Announcement...
If there are any writers among you - or if you have any writer friends
or relatives for whom you would like to purchase a gift - a new
book in the ever-popular 'Cup of Comfort' series is due for publication
soon, entitled A Cup of Comfort for Writers.
It has an essay of mine in it, entitled 'The Baptism', which is the story of how I first realized I was a writer.
Watch my blog for publication details
A RESEARCH QUESTION
Madwoman' by Théodore Géricault 1823
Author and scholar Peggy
Payne, who is writing a biography of artist Elisabeth Chant (1865-1947)
you remember from your growing-up days any odd woman in your
town with a
for special powers, often an older woman who lived alone,
lady down the street."
so, did she affect you and others who knew or knew
of her? Did she in
any way stir your imagination? I'm looking for such women
some impact prior to 1965. Do you remember or know of anyone
this? I'm particularly interested in women who
|If you have
a story for Peggy, send it to me and I will pass it along to her.
|'Wandering Around an Albuquerque
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi is a Palestinian poet. If you haven't already read this
somewhere, click here to read it. I won't say any
more, except to guarantee it will warm your heart.
stories to share? Want to see them in print?
I am working on a new book which is (provisionally) entitled:
WITH PANACHE: How to be a wonderful old woman (not a
sweet little old lady)'
This book is going to be full of stories that will not only inspire
people but also make them laugh. It will – I hope –
women to stop being so scared about getting old.
It will help them to give themselves permission to be daring,
outrageous, ‘disgraceful’, bold, feisty,
adventurous, eccentric … you know, all the things we are.
will do that, mainly, by a whole lot of us sharing our own experiences
and showing how it’s done. Everyone learns best by example. That’s why I need lots of
Your story can be of any length and you can send as many as you like.
But these must be personal, original stories. Things that have happened
to you or to someone you know. I want examples of things you have said
and/or done that made people realise you were not a ‘sweet
old lady’ but a woman to be reckoned with. Things you have
or experienced which may amuse or inspire others.
For example, you could write about:
Things that were daring, fun adventurous, bold or unusual –
like rafting the rapids
Things that made other people do double-takes – like your
clever responses to ‘ageist’ remarks
Things that felt really good – like pleasing yourself instead
of your family for once
Things that felt deeply satisfying – like completing a
difficult task or planting trees
Things that were dangerous – like getting arrested on a demo
or encountering a rattlesnake
Things that made someone say “Gosh, at your age
Things that made you feel like a happy child again
Doing something you had always wanted to do and never had time till you
Trying something totally new, like the salsa, or flying lessons,
drumming, hot air ballooning
Going somewhere you had never been, learning a new language, a new skill
Finding a new lover
Feelings of fearlessness
Feelings of deep engagement with life
The fun of dressing up, playing the fool, being
Being an unconventional granny
Things that have given your life new meaning, moments of enlightenment
Funny things that have happened to you in your later years
and so on.
I may only use part of your story, but I’ll try and include
something from everyone.
I can’t offer you payment yet, but you will of course get a
copy of the book and if it is a success I certainly will share the
proceeds with you.
Please include a mini-biography of yourself. (100 words max).
If you can e-mail your submission, that would be wonderful, as it will
save me having to re-type it. Send it to marian(at)elderwoman.org and
put the word PURPLE in the subject line..
I look forward to hearing from you.
And as always ....
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
Twenty-one things that elders have
1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative
on the same night.
2. Don't worry about what people think; they don't do it very often.
3. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than standing
in a garage makes you a car.
4. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
5. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never
6. A person, who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, is not a nice
7. For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.
8. If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
9. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
10. A conscience is what hurts when all of your other parts feel so
11. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
12. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
13. A balanced diet is a muffin in each hand.
14. Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks
before you need it.
15. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a
mistake when you make it again.
16. Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.
17. People who want to share their religious views with you almost
never want you to share yours with them.
18. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling
reason why we observe daylight savings time.
19. Never lick a steak knife.
20. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely
suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual
from her at that moment.
21. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age,
gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that deep
we ALL believe we are above average drivers.
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INTERIOR DESIGN (A TRUE STORY)
Edge Designs is an all-women run company that designs interior office
space. They had a recent opportunity to do an office project in New
The client allowed the women of this company a free hand in all design
aspects. The client was a company that was also run by all women
... well we all know that men never talk, never look at each
other....and never laugh much in the restroom. The men's room is a
serious and quiet place.
But now...with the addition of one mural on the wall......lets just say
the men's restroom is a place of laughter and smiles.
Elderwoman Newsletter by Marian Van Eyk McCain, June, 2007
The Elderwoman website: http://www.elderwoman.org
Marian's e-mail: marian(at)elderwoman.org
NB: replace 'at' with the @ sign, and please
insert OKEM in the subject line to make sure you get through my three
layers of spam filtering!
Unfortunately, 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