As we age in this culture, we can get the message from our society that we are becoming less useful, less productive, less beautiful, less valuable.
In fact, the opposite is true. If we are aging in an empowered way, if we are embracing our passage into elderhood, we discover along the way that we have a great deal to offer. We have perspective, we have a calm knowing, we have an abundance of experience with different people and situations to draw upon. We have incredible internal resources. We have mastery in our chosen passions. We have pride in our accomplishments, and also humility in the face of life’s journey. What this adds up to is wisdom.
There is a stereotype that older women become unheard or invisible. In fact this is our time to step up and share our wisdom and power. It is not an act of ego to share our experience and our thoughts. It can be an act of selfless service.
Your wisdom is a sacred offering. Your experience is a worthy gift. Your hard-won mastery matters.
What can you do today to honour your gifts?
In many traditional cultures, a woman’s progress through the various phases of her reproductive life is publicly acknowledged. Her status may be marked by certain manners of dress, or duties and behaviours that are encouraged or permitted.
In traditional Sicilian culture, a woman dyes all her clothes black upon the death of her parents, and dresses in black henceforth. In Japan in former times, a woman showed her age and status by the patterns she wore on her kimono – post-menopausal women wore fabrics with smaller motifs of chrysanthemum, pine, maple, and other symbols of autumn and winter. In Victorian England, older married women wore a certain style of cap.
Of course these symbols are fraught. A woman’s life is not simple in patriarchal culture, and what might on one hand be viewed as a demonstration of appropriate respect, can on the other hand be seen as limiting, oppressive, or even shaming.
Still, there is something valuable in being able to proudly claim our status as elders for all in our community to see. In our society, we simply don’t have proud symbols of our status as Wise Women there is no elegant outer acknowledgement we can wear to show the world we have been through an immense inner transformation.
Some women mark their own passage through menopause by cutting their hair, allowing it to go grey, or by changing their style of dress. I think we hunger for some kind of symbolic acknowledgement of our change.
Is there something special you can do for yourself to proudly wear your new status? Do you have an idea what that symbol would look like for you? Would you like to:
*buy yourself a diamond, or a gorgeous precious-stone mala
*stop wearing a bra
*cut your hair or grow it long and wild or wear it in a long braid
*wear mostly black – or white – or purple
*get a tattoo
*take up running and get strong and lean
*or finally stop fighting your natural voluptuous roundness and wear your flesh with pride
Me, I have plans for a big wild-rose tattoo on my right shoulder. I would LOVE to see all of us adopt a personal symbol of our transformation – something we could wear with pride. What will it be for YOU?