Aging

The strength in our differentness.

Did you know that the kinds of life that flourish in ecotones (narrow Places on the edges where different ecosystems meet) are often unique to that small space?

The denizens tend to be flexible, hardy, innovative, and especially resilient because they have adapted to thrive in the borderlands between different environments. 

Being highly sensitive, multipotentialed, body-wise, womxn of deepening years, these are all traits that place us firmly on the edges of what society names "normal." As womxn with these traits, we spend most of our lives in social and cultural ecotones. 

We are different. I love that about us.

We're good at adaptability, innovation, flexibility... It is the water we've been swimming in, after all. 

For example, I'm a poet and a mentor for womxn of deepening years. And, yes, they're linked. 

Becoming a poet is an ecotone adaptation to the rigid, linear, thought-only based approach shoveled into my child mind in early life.

Rigid, linear, thought-only ... I am none of those things. I sense. I feel. I think holistically. In spirals and spheres and fractal systems.

Writing poetry lets me circumvent acculturated behaviors and invite in my sensitive, body-wise, multipotentialed ways of knowing.

It helps me stand in the strength of my differentness, and hold fertile space for other womxn of difference as they discover their own adaptive, innovative strengths. 

And that, my amazing friend, is how mentoring and poetry are linked.

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Why is this important?

Because you may have something similar happening. A creative adaptation that seems unrelated to your work or to what you’re trying to create in your life, yet may be one of the best tools to help you stand in the strength of your differentness.

It would be good to know what that/those is/are, right? It would be good to understand how interwoven your interests and explorations are so you understand how they weave webs of knowledge, support, perhaps even healing for you.

So, maybe take a moment and think about it...

Was that an "Ah-ha!" I heard? (With any luck, we’re both wearing cheeky grins right now.)

driven by the ache

Life has turned me upside down these past months, keeping me up deep into the night. Pulling my focus in too many directions. Challenging the ways I’d envisioned my life being at this time.

It feels like I’m a woman out of time, out of synch, out of rhythm. It’s a strange and lonely feeling. So, of course, I wrote about it to try to make sense of it. Or, at least, to move it through my body and ease the restlessness…

restless mind

roams and prowls

like the restless

steps of the ginger

cat pawing at the 

faded ivory door

this night is 

scratchy with 

cricket song and 

katydid calls

rasping itself across

my awareness

prodding me toward….

something

its urgency is 

both endless 

and obscure

I wish I knew

what it wants

but I don’t speak

sodden night

or cricket

or katydid

anymore

maybe that’s 

the sand rubbing 

at my soul

maybe this language

I’ve lost - these night

songs whose meaning

I can feel at the 

edge of my 

understanding

but not translate

maybe that’s the

loneliness the 

bleeding loss

the ache of missing

that’s tangled in 

my stumbling fingers

pushing me to

keep trying to

keep typing to

keep flinging 

words onto 

this 

screen

maybe there’s 

no maybe 

but

maybe soon

I’ll remember

driven by the ache © 2019 Tracie Nichols | all rights reserved

Join the Rising!

It all started whenI was trying to write a clear, sensible description of this project for you. And then this bit of blazing (and, a bit salty) honesty fell out…

“This culture is epically fucked up and I'm done with living under and watching other womxn live under these conditions. I've bled fiftyfuckingseven years of my life into the sucking pit of patriarchal need that passes for society in this country, and I'm not giving one more drop of my blood, sweat, creative and emotional energy. Not. One. Drop. More. And, I'm going to do my damnedest to see that no other womxn does either.”

So now you’ve caught a glimpse of the fire in my belly that has me creating a project exploring the power of older womxn when they break free from the expectations and limitations enforced by society.

And, calling myself - calling women like us - rebel crones starts to make a whole lot of sense. 

This community project is about sharing powerful stories from crone or soon-to-be crone womxn who are living and working outside the boxes ageists and the patriarchy want to put us in. It’s meant to inspire, encourage, and offer a feeling of solidarity to womxn approaching and in their crone years. To help us refuse the aching, confusing, enraging, socially imposed isolation and invisibility we experience as silvering, softening women of deepening years. 

 

A bit about Ageism and Rebel Crones...

One of the first bits of information I uncovered while down an ageist-keyworded rabbit hole last year was this: we internalize the age stereotypes of our culture at a very young age - often as young as 4 years old.

So, before we’re even able to fully understand who we are as people, we’ve absorbed and internalized that when we reach a certain age we will become whatever the cultural myths tell us we must become. In this culture? That’s not something life-affirming.

Ageism is both insidious and pervasive. Disentangling from it takes walking each day - hell, each moment - with presence, self-kindness, and good people to lift us when we inevitably falter.

The more I think and write about this, the more womxn I talk with about it, the more I realize that circles of womxn moving in solidarity are key to instigating change for us all. Key to taking back our culture, making it a more life-affirming, nourishing, respect-filled place to live. 

Being a rebel crone is as much a feeling as an action or an attitude. 

It’s the bone-deep memory of council fires where wild and woman voices wove to create wellbeing for a community. 

It’s the echo in our cells of 13.8 billion years of growth and change and resilience. 

Being a rebel crone isn’t just about redefining how aging or eldering is viewed in this culture, it’s writing an entirely new story about what these years mean and how they can be lived. 

It’s about each womxn defining her cronedom for herself. The rhythm of it. The ease and joy of it. The service and responsibility of it. The sacred space of it.

It’s not accepting ANY of the current myths or stereotypes for 50-ish women like...

--- we must somehow stay eternally youthful

--- we must quietly fade to invisibility as spent, useless husks

--- we must be sweet, cooking-baking, there for everyone, no sense of self grannys

--- the changes in our bodies make us less innovative, creative, courageous…

Coming together. Witnessing each other. Sharing our stories. Defying the invisibility imperative. That’s the antidote. 

You and your story are the antidote

 

What we’ll be doing...

Sharing stories and conversations throughout September 2019 meant to: 

  • nurture a truly thriving ecosystem of womxn, who are learning together, supporting each other, trying new things, creating and innovating, bringing unique dreams and perspectives into a world that might have otherwise lost these contributions.

  • expand community for all of us involved. This can look like

    • pooling our audiences and getting more eyes on our work and people on our mailing lists for the business owners among us.

    • making connections and founding a local or virtual crones circle.

    • feeling supported enough to start a project or take the first steps toward actualizing a long-held dream.

    • finding the solidarity necessary to share your own rising crone story.

Basically, starting on Sunday, September 1st those who sign up will begin to receive emails from me featuring rebel crones sharing their stories or some aspect of their stories. The stories could be written, told in images, a short video or audio…

Something luscious and inspiring to go with a morning cuppa. Something we can let settle into our bones and lift us throughout our day.

At the end of the project, I’ll weave together all of those stories into a shareable, downloadable ebook for us all.

Ways to join in...

The best thing for you to do is click the button below and pop your email address in the form - that way you'll get each crone-womxn’s offering delivered to your inbox in September. You can join in at any time and at the end of the project you'll receive a beautiful shareable, downloadable ebook.

—> You can join us in the Facebook group where we’ll be having conversations about the day’s rebel crone story. You’ll be able to meet sister crones or crones-in-waiting. Maybe find some solidarity and good folks to walk with…

—> Hop onto one of our Zoom calls to dive in - live - to some of the themes and questions emerging from our conversations in the Facebook group and on Instagram. So much can happen in a good conversation! (Call details will be announced in the Facebook group.)

—> Use #rebelcronesrising when posting about what’s making you feel like rebel crones these days.  

Understanding what I need to stay vibrant

Today, I find myself using my oh-so-vivid imagination, hovering high above the terrain of my life looking into and across the threads of events over the last six-ish months. The view is .... well ... very instructive.

It's an exercise inspired by a wise woman friend who invited me to do the same with the physical terrain of this ecosystem where I live, so I could better understand this land and her needs.  

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Understanding what I need - what this crone-woman body/soul needs to stay vibrant and vital - feels urgent.

As if the promise I made to Life to place thoughtful, heart-kernel, bone-truth words into the hands/hearts of the world will go unfulfilled if I don't get better at spotting patterns, nourishing myself, and defending my time, space and energy. 

longest threads - feynman (1).jpg

From this hawks-eye perspective it's so clear that the events/times/moments where I have been connected with truth, willing to see and listen deeply, are as solid as stepping stones.

When I lose track of the pattern-making threads - usually because I've let go of the willingness to see clearly and listen from my bones - that's what causes ruptures in my truth/clarity continuity.

That's when I see myself tumbling in murky water at the mercy of "should" and "must" and assorted other absurd external or internal expectation currents.

That's when nature-informed, flight-borne, rebel crone words come second or fifth or twenty-seventh to everything else.

That's when my joints hurt and I stop sleeping and I crave sugar and I stop moving from joy and start moving from restless emptiness and ache.  

said no wanted yes TTW.jpg

What I'm realizing from my cloud's-eye perspective -- discerning patterns is where our crone years truly shine as a gift. We've lived a lot of life. Had the chance to see those longest threads used by nature weaving. Watched as they appear again and again. Noticed patterns, even if we didn't know we were noticing.

As introverted women, we've likely spent time in solitude with what we've noticed, integrating it into our worldview. Making new, more thoughtful meaning with it. 

As highly sensitive women, we've not only been observing and integrating events, we've also been picking up subtle, non-verbal information and processing all of that deeply. As Elaine Aron says about how we make decisions, "HSPs simply process everything more, relating and comparing what they notice to their past experience with other similar things. When we decide without knowing how we came to that decision, we call this intuition, and HSPs have good (but not infallible!) intuition." 

alike.jpg

As sensitive, introverted, crone-women, we've essentially spent our lives honing our pattern recognition and intuition, whether or not we realize it. Using these skills, we're resourced to choose for ourselves and be decisive in implementing those choices. So, the best ways to nourish ourselves, creating boundaries, initiating creative habits....these move from "wouldn't it be nice" wishes to doable practices.

Finding belonging off the beaten path

Wherever I am, whether it's a shopping mall or a local park, I notice how I look for places where people are not, and go there. How often I am literally off the beaten path. How I simply have to be in the places that other people don't go.

Today, I am on a muddy trail running through underbrush full of new young poison ivy. Five yards to my right I can see a nicely paved trail. But, not two yards to my left the broad creek is murmuring. A pair of Mallards are floating past, chuckling softly to themselves. And I can see, through the sparkle of sun on water, algae-furred rounded stones lying on the muddy bottom.

Yesterday, I almost lost a shoe in that mud's cousin out here on the bank. And it didn't matter. Because the experience of the creek from here is magnificent. The experience of the creek from here reminds me that I'm alive.

There is such infinite peace here. My edges soften and blur and take on the contours of tree and stone and murmuring water. I am, simply, home.

This desire to be off the beaten path…

…rises from so many parts of me. Rises from my multipotentialed curiosity, from my highly sensitive self needing the space and the ease of natural spaces to recover, from my introverted self for the same reasons, and for my Crone-woman self.

The more years I spend on this Earth the more aware I become of how essential these spaces and experiences are to reminding me of why I'm here.

I am a being of experience and senses. For me in particular, translating those experiences into words and sharing them…

that's part of why I'm here.

I'm rambling on muddy trails so other people will be inspired to do the same. I'm laughing about almost losing shoes in the mud, so other people will laugh about muddy near misses, too. And so people will fall in love with this place, with this Earth. Perhaps we can rediscover our sense of belonging, and work to ensure that all species, including humans, thrive.

But it's not just to be in service to the Earth that I am here off these beaten trails…

It's also to be in service to women like me.

Women who have walked so much of their lives feeling like they were skirting around the edges. Like they didn't belong. Like they didn't quite fit.

When I wander a new trail, even if it's only new to me, and share that experience, I like to think that it inspires women like me to do the same. And when I share how these out-of-the-way places, these trails that are often unpeopled, help me to find a deep sense of belonging, then my hope is that women like me - women like us - will recover their belonging and start to share their own off the beaten trail experiences.

But it's also about courage. It's also about developing our capacity to navigate unknown terrain despite being scared, or worried, or anxious. Unknown external terrain and unknown internal terrain.

Because, if we're being ourselves, if we're following the urge that takes us to these off the beaten path places, there's a lot of unknown terrain to navigate.

Can you imagine how much richer our culture would be if women like us shared our experiences rather than discounting them?

You are not at the mercy of anything

You are not at the mercy of anything

The most interesting stuff happens when I’m showering. In my head, I mean. This morning, for example, this cloud of mosquito thoughts dodging around the periphery of my brain came together finally and handed me this insight:

No matter what I think has been happening lately … I’ve been acting like a victim. In my life, and in the relationship I have with my business. (I can’t tell you how many time the phrase “at the mercy of….” has shown up in my journaling and during the hundreds of silent conversations I have with myself throughout a day.)

In the borderlands among aging and body-wisdom

In the borderlands among aging and body-wisdom

I’d recently finished a really big project for my business. Always an energy expensive thing to do, I was expecting to need a bit of extra restorative time. Some deeper self-care.

But when I landed on the other side of the project, I found myself not only deeply tired, but also feeling like the fire in my belly that’s always been my guide had burnt itself out.

And that was disconcerting. Very disconcerting.