Issue #18, October, 2007
to the October 2007 issue of the Elderwoman Newsletter
- an e-zine for
21st century elderwomen committed to radical aliveness.
the leaves are already falling
off the trees around here, the blackberries are almost gone, the
swallows and martins have left to fly south and the September
as you can see, become the October Newsletter.
past few months have been unusually busy ones for me. First the two
weddings – both of which went off really well, I am pleased to say
– and then a trip to Italy, followed by a trek up to the north of
England for our annual, GreenSpirit Gathering, of which I was one of
the organisers this year. We just got back from the Yorkshire Dales a
few days ago.
A number of new subscribers recently signed up while I was away and I
didn't get around to acknowledging their messages the way I usually do.
So for the benefit of those who are receiving this newsletter for the
first time I would like to say that if you are interested in reading any back copies, all the previous issues are
archived online. You'll find an index of them at: http://www.elderwoman.org/newsletterarchive.htm
I have been putting out the Newsletter since the beginning of 2003, so there is a stack of reading piled up there by now!
I also make a practice of inviting subscribers to join our Elderwoman
Discussion Group. It is a private group, through Yahoo, in which
elderwomen all over the world can share their thoughts and ideas and
experiences. There are more than seventy women in the group at present.
Membership is entirely free, but open only to women who subscribe to
this Newsletter, of whom there are now several hundreds.
Qualities for Eldering
by Ina Albert
These are the qualities by which I chose to guide my life in my elder
years. But, in order to be tangible, they had to have character; they
had to come alive so that I could include them in my everyday struggle
to become whole. They are role models based on women I have known who
personify these qualities for me. Their example makes it possible for
me to fulfil life's blessings.
||Integrity is clear about most everything. When she is not, she sits
down and thinks hard about how to keep herself feeling like a whole
piece of cloth without a single tear or rip. She loves seeing patterns
come together, and pretty soon she knows what to do. She has abundant
patience, inner strength and wisdom, but she never tells others what to
do. She simply helps them discover what is right for them.
|Connection relates to everything and everyone. She is an optimist and a
toucher. She loves to hug and tells Health that they must hug each
other 13 times a day to stay well. Connection also talks to trees and
plants and rocks and to God every day. She is joined to every cell in
her body, to every living creature, and relates to the planet and the
whole Universe. She says you have to be connected to feel alive and to
||Health is a strong woman. She jogs every day, eats organic food, thinks
good thoughts, meditates and prays. Her body is supple, but she sees
changes in her skin and feels tightness in her joints. She needs more
rest than she used to and sometimes forgets things. But she has
gathered more wisdom, her heart is open and she is calm. As Health
reaches elderhood, she is growing deeper inside rather than getting
|Spirit is the mother of everything. Since she is the ultimate creator,
she is in everything and is everywhere. Yet, she is invisible. You can
only feel her presence. As Spirit creates, she leaves her seeds behind
to grow which makes her the strongest force there is. Lots of people
have relationships with Spirit, though she never utters a single word.
Somehow, she sends messages without talking out loud.
About the author
Ina Albert is co-author of Write Your Self Well...Journal Your Self to
Health, a journal/workbook written for people suffering from illness
and stress based on research demonstrating the health benefits of
expressive writing. As a healthcare public relations professional,
trainer, workshop facilitator and consultant, Ina has written numerous
articles for healthcare publications during her 35 year career. Her
work is included in The Art of Grief (Routledge Press) and her short
stories for children and adults have appeared in various publications
including Parent Magazine. The author lives and writes in Whitefish,
(Back to top)
TO OTHER ARTICLES
'Living in Sad Times:The Depression Epidemic, and Some Green Notes'
Gaea is a long-time
subscriber (and contributor) to this newsletter. Her excellent article about depression
was recently published in Sentient Times magazine. Here's
the link to it: http://www.sentienttimes.com:80/07/07_aug_sept/living.html
By Gaea Yudron
'A Strange Kind of Normal: One Little Girl's Experience of the Plymouth
I can't remember whether I
have posted this link before or not, but if I have, new readers may
find it interesting. It is the piece I wrote for the BBC's archive 'The
People's War'(a collection of British people's memories about World War
2). If there are any readers in my age group who were in Britain
during those years, I think you will find some of it very familiar:
... And here is a link to an article from the Theosophical Society that I think you may enjoy:
By Nancy Coker
Barbara Koser of the Elder Cohousing network has asked me to pass
on information to you about co-housing, as this may be, for many of us,
both old and young, an option well worth thinking about. After all, in
view of climate change and the drying up of the world's oil wells,
there will need to be many changes, over the coming years, in the way
we live our lives, or humanity cannot survive on this overloaded and
over-used planet. The more we share resources, the more sustainable our
lives become. And co-housing is particularly suited to elders.
Elderhood is a time of life when many of us feel the urge to pare down
our possessions and simplify our lifestyles. And living in community
ensures that there will be support around us as we age. Co-housing
gives us the benefit of community whilst still affording us the privacy
and autonomy of owning a home of our own. Here is a website about
the concept of co-housing in general: http://www.cohousing.org and here is one on elder co-housing in particular: http://www.eldercohousing.org
If you have questions on co-housing that are not answered by the
information on these websites, Barbara's contact details are:
Barbara(at)AbrahamPaiss.com tel: 303-413-8066
Her organization runs workshops on co-housing every year.
Unfortunately, this newsletter didn't come out in time to tell you
about last month's workshop – my apologies, Barbara.
ASHLAND CENTER FOR CREATIVE AGING
|A Message From Gaea Yudron
have very happy news to share. For several years I have contemplated
starting an organization dedicated to creative aging, and now I am
actually doing it. Here is the new center's mission statement.
will provide programs that affirm the value of age and elders to individuals and society.
The center's programs will:
Advance the health and creative well-being of people 50 and older
Investigate issues and areas of interest to elders
Enhance support, community and connection
Combat ageism in media, business, medicine and community
Programs for fall 2007 include AgeWave Cafe gatherings and two Sages' Play workshops.
The Living Spiritual Elders Project
Psychotherapist, interfaith spiritual director and author Meredith Jordan
offers an inspiring opportunity to participate in The Living Spiritual
Elders Project, an eight-week discovery and discussion series.
The Maine series will held each Tuesday afternoon 4:00-6:30 pm from
October 16th through December 4th, 2007. at the Williston-West United
Church of Christ, 32 Thomas Street, Portland ME.
The New Hampshire series will be held each Wednesday afternoon
4:00-6:30 pm from October 17th through December 12th, 2007 at the North
Church of Portsmouth, 355 Spinney Road, Portsmouth NH.
The Florida series will be held each Monday afternoon 4:00-6:30 pm from
January 7th through February 25, 2008 at New College, 5800 Bay Shore
Road, Sarasota FL.
The Living Spiritual Elders Project uses rare DVD films and audio CDs
to explore the teachings of revered spiritual elders from diverse faith
and spiritual traditions. In this eight-week series, we will plumb the
wisdom of the elders of our human family: wisdom that assists us in
renewing our personal lives and shaping our communities.
About the Project...
Using audio-visual DVDs and audio CDs, our study circle will share in
the sacred wisdom teachings of multi-cultural and interfaith living
elders including Father Thomas Keating, His Holiness the 14th Dalai
Lama, Buddhist monks Chan Kong and Thich Nhat Hahn, Diana Eck of The
Pluralism Project, Huston Smith, Nelson Mandela, Pema Chodron, Arun
Gandhi, Parker Palmer, Faithkeeper Oren Lyons, Elie Wiesel, Byron Katie
and Marion Woodman.
Now in the second half of their own lives---some in their last
years---these inspiring multi-cultural teachers provide a rich source
of collective wisdom to those of us poised to inherit the role of elder
within our families, communities, workplaces, organized religions and
the world. This is a rare opportunity to experience and assimilate the
richness of their stories: now, when humanity aches for wise counsel
from the elders who walk a wisdom path and mark the way for all of us!
Participants will be invited to search our own depths to find the
particular gifts we carry for the good of all. In small study
circles---using our dreams and journals, exploring interfaith spiritual
practices, listening to one another in sacred witness, sharing the
tears and laughter of our human journey---we have an extraordinary
chance to enrich one another's lives and inspire each of us to affirm
our place as the elders and mentors of tomorrow.
Register early as space is limited!
Call Rogers McKay at 207-283-0752 or email email@example.com
| Wonder of the Mother
and Melinda from 'Wise Women Ink', who brought us the two beautiful
decks of cards called 'Journey of the Maiden' and 'Wisdom of the Crone'
just wrote to me to announce that they have now produced the third deck
in the set, called 'Wonder of the Mother'. It looks as utterly gorgeous and
inspiring as the other two decks. So if you are looking for a gift for
any of the mothers you know (for example your daughters, nieces or
friends) this would be something truly lovely to give them.
Because she knows the earth is our mother
she stands up, speaks out,
and makes phone calls.
She lives her truth by
peacefully protesting and clearly
communicating on behalf of
Because she knows the earth is our mother
land that is her body,
the air that is her breath,
the fire that is her
the water that is her womb.
Because she knows, she acts for
children, for their future.
Let her example inspire us all to do the
|Our New Magazine – coming soon
As Ann Kreilkamp, the founder of 'Crone Chronicles' wrote,
"For the 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."
And as I mentioned in the last issue, although Crone Chronicles ceased
publication several years ago, the phoenix is about to rise from the
The first issue of the new magazine'CRONE: Women Coming of Age',
will be published in Spring, 2008. 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. The magazine will be substantial in size, perfect
bound (like a book), and published twice per year at the equinoxes.
For new subscribers to the Elderwoman Newsletter - see our last newsletter for more details about this exciting new magazine http://www.elderwoman.org/Jun07news.html
by Marsha Scarbrough
I first met Marsha at a '5 Rhythms' dance workshop at Crones Counsel,
several years ago. Knowing that I was a writer, after the class she
shyly asked me if I would be interested in reading the manuscript for
an autobiographical book she had just finished writing about her
experiences with Native American spirituality.
Having seen Marsha
dance, and noted with interest the quiet gentleness of her manner and
the passionate nature that obviously lay behind it, I was curious to
read her story. I was not disappointed. Marsha is a wonderful writer
and I was captivated by Medicine Dance. It was one of the most honest
and revealing autobiographies I had ever read and at the same time
informative and inspiring.
|Knowing how difficult it is, these days, to get a publisher, I was
overjoyed when Marsha wrote to say she had a contract with O Books. And
a few weeks ago, I received my official review copy, much to my delight.
it is a book I heartily recommend to you, full of crone wisdom, and
written, I am proud to say, by one of 'us'. Here's what Marsha has to
say about it ....
|My book Medicine Dance: One woman's healing journey into the world of Native American sweat lodges, drumming meditations and dance fasts has just been published by O Books.
help make me a SUCCESSFUL published author by BUYING IT TODAY! You
can ask for it at your local bookstore. Or send me a check for
$20, and I will send you an autographed copy. Visit my website http://www.medicinedancebook.com
to read part of the first chapter, get more information and click a
link to buy it from the publisher or from Amazon or to send me an
you will enjoy reading it. It’s no dry academic account.
It’s a fast-paced page turner that’s quirky, funny, sad,
sexy and deep…like me. But don’t take my word for it. Dr.
Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s
Wisdom says, “Medicine
Dance is just fabulous. I couldn’t put it down. Rarely have I
read anything that gets as close to the whole truth about health,
disease and relationships. Well done!”
The Santa Fean magazine writes: “Some
readers may be offended by the idea of a white woman ‘playing
Indian,’” admits Marsha Scarbrough in the preface of her
new memoir, Medicine Dance. The book, which details her multi-year
exploration of Native American spirituality—guided by
non-traditional healer Beautiful Painted Arrow (Joseph Rael)—does
at first seem to be a fairly stereotypical account. From ancestor
prayers to sweat lodges and dance fasts, she follows her
teacher’s advice unfailingly, from California to New Mexico,
despite feeling at times skeptical or ridiculous. But
Scarbrough’s unflinching inner dialogue, combined with
Rael’s approach—adapted for “contemporary society and
people of many cultures”—helps avoid the high-mindedness
that plagues similar tales. Scarbrough is careful to present her story
as the journey of one individual, consistently focusing on her own
struggles with family, cancer, mortality, and a sometimes horrifyingly
impersonal healthcare system. With its polished prose and meticulous
description, Dance stands as a graceful illustration of how free
cultural exchange helped heal one life.
you’ve read it, write your own review on amazon.com or
barnesandnoble.com (it can be a couple of sentences), send an email to
all your friends telling them how much you liked it and suggesting they
buy it, buy another copy and give it as a gift to a friend going
through a hard time. Then go to www.oprah.com, find the link that says
“Email us” and send Oprah an email about how my story
inspired you. Hey, it’s worth a shot!
a thrill for me to see my book in print. Thanks for sharing that thrill
with me and being part of my public relations team.
Please forward this notice to any interested friends.
|Wise Woman's Way
by Berta Parrish
Back when I wrote my first book, Transformation through Menopause,
which was published in 1991, the concept of menopause as a threshold,
an important doorway into another phase of life, was something that
very few women had ever written about. In fact it was something that,
with a couple of notable exceptions, such as Christine Downing, hardly
anyone else seemed even to have thought of.
But it was, as the saying goes, 'an idea whose time had come.'
Soon, other voices began to speak up. It was as though something was
bubbling up from what Jung called the collective unconscious and
emerging in several places at once, like water from an underground
And the spring continues to flow. Berta Parrish, a subscriber
to this Newsletter, has recently published a really great workbook for
women poised at this highly significant threshold in their lives
and wondering how to step through it in a meaningful and graceful
fashion. She has entitled it Wise Woman's Way:A Guide to Growing Older with Purpose and Passion.
It would be an excellent resource for any midlife woman, helping her to
make the very most of this important time of transition.
You will find more details on Berta's Web page - http://www.wisewomansquest.com/
(I always recommend ordering books through one's local, independent
bookstore, as it helps to keep the 'little guys' (and gals) in
business. But if you do need to order this – or any other –
book from Amazon, you might care to do it via the Elderwoman website so
that I get commission. To do that, just click here and scroll down to the appropriate Amazon button)
– by Sheila Ward
Sheila has been subscriber to this Newsletter for years and is also a
long-time member of GreenSpirit which, as you may have gathered, is an
organization very dear to my heart.
She and her colleague Rosemary Ward (no relation) run workshops for midlife women at The Grange, in Shropshire, England. http://www.thegrange.uk.com
Sheila's book, Towards Wisdom,
is in part autobiographical, exploring the author's own journey of
personal and spiritual growth through the membership of various groups
and circles in which she has taken part over the years. It details the
techniques and practices used in each of these and how they might be
used by other groups or individuals, particularly groups of women
entering -- or already in -- the second half of their lives.
In doing so, it provides a wealth of useful material for any woman who
is either seeking new ways to pursue her own inner journey or who is in
some way facilitating the journeys of others, particularly by means of
circles. For as we all know, sitting in circle and telling our stories
is the time-honoured way in which women of all cultures transmit their
wisdom to each other and to younger generations. We need to acknowledge
this important tradition and reinstate it as a vital part of our own
culture, and elderwomen may often be the ones best suited to take the
lead in this.
Another interesting component of Sheila's book is her exploration into
the many meanings of the word 'love'. It has become such a catch-all
term that most of us do not even stop to think about its many layers
and shades of meaning. We may dimly remember that the Greek
philosophers classified love into several forms but most of us would be
hard pressed to explain the classifications. Sheila's classifications
feel intuitively right to me, particularly her discovery and
exploration of something she calls ‘Inspirational Love.’
This, she explains, is "a love which inspires and energises but has no physical component."
This type of love is non-erotic, in the sense that no sexual feelings
are involved. Neither is it the same as the kind of love one has for a
child, a parent, a friend, a companion animal etc. It is not to be
confused with what the Greeks called agape – the impersonal,
selfless love that the Christian is urged to foster for his or her
fellow-human. Inspirational love is, according to Sheila, in a class
" I am sure that many people experience this," she says, "but
I have never found it identified and if others can confirm my
experience (which some have already done) then it seems to me vital
that it should be more generally recognised. What is needed now is the
affirmation of countless other women who can, in circles, explore their
experience of different varieties of love and what it means. It is only
in the confidentiality and trust of such circles that women can speak
openly of such experience…it may bring to light many other sorts
of love which will enable a much greater understanding and maturity The
process of self-revelation with a deep level vulnerability creates a
special kind of love between the circle members which in itself may be
worth exploring, (and may also give strength to some of the more lonely
women in our society). But more importantly if such Circles were
manifest on a large enough scale it could begin to change the emotional
and spiritual climate of our culture as well as having a deeply
Towards Wisdom is available from the UK-based mail order service, GreenSpirit Books http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/books/index.htm
Gaea Yudron is currently reviewing 60 ON UP: The Truth about Aging in America. Look out for what she has to say about this new book by Lillian Rubin in the next issue of the Elderwoman Newsletter.
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
Baby's first examination
The doctor arrived and examined the baby, checked his weight, and being
a little concerned, asked “Is the baby breast-fed or
"Breast-fed," she replied.
"Well, strip down to your waist," the doctor ordered.
He pinched her nipples, pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination.
Motioning to her to get dressed the doctor said, "No wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any milk."
"I know," she said, "I'm his Grandma, but I'm glad I brought him."
(Back to top)
Elderwoman Newsletter by Marian Van Eyk McCain, October, 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