This year I turned 56. Sometimes it seems young and other times it seems old. Mostly it feels in between. My hair is gray by my own wishes. I won’t color it again. I wear almost no make up. I rarely wear a bra. I know, TMI. I have a bunch of saggy parts and I’ve lost a lot of body strength, although that could be regained through exercise. I wear what I want, when I want. Sometimes I sleep naked, and I no longer worry about my husband seeing all the saggy bits. After all, he has a few, too.
I express my opinion more and more, with far less concern about how other people feel about it. I hope I don’t offend people, but if I do, so be it. I feel clearer than I’ve ever felt before, and I have less tolerance for bullshit. I feel like there’s not enough time for crap. Don’t believe in climate change? How do you feel about gravity? Because it’s not a belief kind of thing. Don’t like gays? Then we should probably not be friends, because if you write off a whole group of people because you don’t agree with how they live their lives, then I’ll be applying that logic to you, personally. Don’t like people who don’t believe in your God? Also should probably part ways, since your religion is your business and mine – or rather my lack of belief – is mine. I’m pretty sure you’ll get what’s coming to you when you die whether I believe or not.
I know I’m being deliberately confrontational here, and that’s fine. Because that’s who I’m becoming. For the first time in my life I am starting to feel strong. I’m even beginning to see my tendency to cry when angry as a strength, and not the weakness I’ve been taught that it is. I feel that my point of view is at least as important as anyone else’s, and possibly more important than some – those who take for truth everything they’re told by the biased media, and refuse to find out for themselves what it’s all about. If that’s you, then maybe we can’t be friends anymore, either.
I’ve spent the past 50 years of my life keeping my own council, staying in the background, and putting everything and everyone before myself. I have valuable opinions, informed opinions, and often controversial opinions, and now I’m going to be expressing them more.
I’ve stopped expecting people to know what I want and started telling them. If I need something to be a certain way, its my responsibility to either make it so, or let people know that’s the way I want it. The kitchen rug needs to be vacuumed? I used to wait until someone else noticed and did it. Now I do it myself, or ask someone to do it. I actually may just get rid of the damn rug and eliminate the problem altogether. The same with all the crap that needs to be dusted.
All of this is to say that I’m moving to a new stage in life. I’m crossing a bridge, so to speak. I’m moving from the me that is all things to all people, to the me that is just…me. I’m working towards liking those parts of me I agree with, and letting go of the parts I’m not ok with. I’m acknowledging that if I don’t do something, it’s ok, but the consequences are mine to own. Slept all day and didn’t do laundry? Ok, but that might mean the next day is spent doing whatever I blew off to sleep. I’m’ owning my decisions.
Part of crossing this bridge is acknowledging that I am no longer young. Not really old, either, but definitely not young. The world looks at me and sees my gray hair, my well padded body, and my laugh lines and dismisses me as being less vital. That part is not ok, but I can’t change our society. I’m actually more vital than I’ve ever been, in my opinion. I feel more alive than I have at any point in my life. I could say I just FEEL more than ever before in my life. In a good way.
In celebration of this change that has been taking place ever so slowly over the past 10 years, I am participating in a croning ceremony at the Pagan Spirit Gathering this year over the Summer Solstice. A croning ceremony marks the final stage in a woman’s life – something that in ancient times was common, and among more “primitive” cultures still exists. There are pagan, Jewish and many other croning rituals. For me, at PSG, the week will be spent preparing with meditation, a sweat lodge, challenges, and other activities, culminating in the ritual at the end of the week. I’m also selecting a new name, to embrace the “new” me – Macha. She is part of a triple goddess, the Morrigan, representing war, fertility, earth, and protection. I feel that this gives a true representation of my self, as I see me.
I only wish that certain people could be there with me – my sisters Laura and Vicki, and my closest and best friends: Cheryl, Susan, Tina, and Teryn (who I haven’t seen in 22 years but is often in my heart), and my daughters and granddaughters: Kaitee, Susanne, Brooklyn, Callie, Charlotte, and Harley, and my daughters-of-the-heart: Meghan, Ashley, and Jenna. These are the women in my life to whom I hope I am a blessing, and who are a blessing to me. I hope by embracing this new phase of my life, I can show them not only who I am becoming, but also what great changes await them in the fullness of their lives.