Tag: aging women

We Have the Key

We Have the Key

 

Mountain Art
Granny Hands
Artist: Jill Pritchett
Click on image to visit her website
“So often time it happens,
we all live our life in chains,
and we never even know we have the key.”
The Eagles, Already Gone 
(Quote taken from Aging Abundantly’s A Little Book of Hope)
 

Sometimes it takes a major crisis in our lives to wake us up. Often it just takes turning fifty to realize that our youth has passed us by and it’s time to get moving, to  look at things differently. Midlife is fraught with issues of aging, as well as, external challenges and there are adjustments to be made; values to be examined; beliefs to be questioned. Enough time has passed for most things for us to look back and really evaluate our choices and to begin to see patterns in our behavior.

I read again and again, in blogs and articles written by women at midlife, about waking up to the need for change at midlife; of divorce, new careers, moving across the country, taking up a significant new hobby and more. There’s a sense of urgency, of the willingness to jump into something with both feet that seems to be driven more by fear than sense. The sense is that it is now or never to break free from the chains of our lives.

In many cases, however, it is more true that the chains have been of our own making, than the externals we view as the source of our bondage. Throwing out our husband may provide temporary relief from our unhappiness. Marriages and husbands are easy to blame for our unhappiness. We’ve had twenty or thirty years to study our mate’s problems and foibles , decades to master the blame game and to divert our attention from ourselves to them for the cause of our misery. Likewise, a job, a boss, a series of circumstances can take our attention from the true source of our freedom.

Making changes will certainly shake up the status quo, but to think these changes will bring about our freedom and happiness is delusional. Until we look inside of ourselves, the changes  we make today will always only bring us back to the unfinished business we still hold, the fears and anxieties we don’t want to face, and too the job of finding the key we hold within us.  The sooner we get down to the real business of breaking free from our false beliefs and in-congruent lifestyle, the sooner we will find true peace.

© Dorothy Sander 2013

Self-Actualization….Really??

Self-Actualization….Really??

CherI was up later than usual last night. It was one of those sleepless nights. I don’t usually watch TV when I can’t sleep, but I had it on in the background for company while I worked on my laptop, and David Letterman came on. My curiosity peaked when he announced that Cher would be joining him, so I kept it on.

I have no idea whether or not the show was current or a re-run, as I rarely watch Letterman, but it was at the very least “recent”.  Cher, born in 1946, is 67. Cher, according to the blurb on Wikipedia is an “American singer and actress. Recognized for having brought the sense of female autonomy and self-actualization into the entertainment industry (the italics are mine).

Her entrance: Sitting high above the stage in a swing, wearing short shorts and fishnet stockings, properly posed with legs crossed, Cher was lowered to the stage with some sort of fanfare in the background. Letterman walked over to greet her and ushered her regally to a waiting chair. Her hair perfectly coiffed, her face frozen in place with something of a smile etched into it, she had not one visible wrinkle, blemish or expression mark.

I watched the interview for the next 20 minutes in utter shock, disbelief and profound sadness. Perhaps, not really shock, or even stepfordvdisbelief,  as there’s far too much of this going on in Hollywood to be surprised, but definitely sadness and very real disappointment. Cher is an icon for women of our generation. She has power and presence and incredible power at her fingertips. What is she doing with it? “Autonomy and self-actualization” are not words I would even put as close as down the street with Cher.

To my way of thinking, self-actualization is “real”; it’s truth, honesty, transparency, integration, transformation, evolution of body mind and spirit from a life time of living. Cher, self actualize? Not on your life. I don’t want to hear about show business or even business as being the reason, or the explanation behind the choices she made to show up on national television in some kind of senior citizen rendition of the Stepford Wives. Ironically, her new album is title “Closer to the Truth”. From where I’m sitting she couldn’t be further from the truth, as I see it.

We all evolve at our own rate and in our own way. As women in the 21st Century we each struggle with our relationship with our culture’s obsession with youth and it’s utter refusal to value, or even acknowledge, an aging population. And yet, every day I see women fighting and winning the battle; making inroads and broadening perspectives. Many are in the public eye and are wearing the battle publicly. I think of Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Tina Turner, Judi Dench, Betty White, Angela Lansbury, Valerie Harper; or Hillary Clinton, Maya Angelou, Condolezza Rice; or Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Martha Beck, Byron Katie, Caroline Myss, Louise Hay, who are not so much in the public eye but having their impact.

We have a choice, each of us. We can choose to participate in self-actualization as I understand it, or we can choose a Stepford Wive’s version of aging.

Keeping Up Appearances

Do You Carry Life Insurance?

Do You Carry Life Insurance?

Many older women are struggling to make ends meet.Women have come a long way in the work force in my life time. They’ve made great strides in the business world and in their ability to earn an income and be self-supporting on many levels. Research  shows that women are now the sole or primary breadwinner in 40% of U.S. households. In one generation, women have gone from being stay-at-home moms, caretakers, and minimum wage earners to business owners, degree holders, and professional level wage earners.It has precipitated an enormous change in the life style of the average American woman.

Interestingly enough, there are still some areas of self-care to which we have not given enough attention. While women are earning more, they are not taking the same steps to protect their earnings and future financial well-being that men typically take. According to research quoted by Royal Neighbors of America,* one of the largest women-led life insurance organisations, women purchase only 69% of the life insurance coverage that men purchase. In other words, we are not protecting our financial assets to the same degree that men do, and if something happens to us and our income is lost, there is nothing for our families to fall back on.

Have you thought about what it would take to replace you in financial terms, if God forbid, something should happen to you? I had an opportunity to come face to face with that concept after being involved in a serious car accident and subsequently fighting my insurance company for compensation for the bare minimum of what it has taken for me to recover my quality of life. What if I hadn’t been so lucky? What if I hadn’t walked away from that accident? What financial burden, or replacement income would have been left behind to care for my family? I had nothing in place for such an eventuality. Using Royal Neighbor’s Insurance Calculator I was able to look at the hard, cold facts and see exactly where I would leave my family from a financial standpoint. It wasn’t a pretty sight!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. How much will it cost to pay off your debts such as a mortgage, credit card payments, auto or other loans, if you were to die prematurely?
  2. What are your ongoing expenses? Don’t forget daycare, tuition, grocery, and energy bills.
  3. Would your family be able to pay its bills? Nearly two thirds of financial decision makers admit they would have trouble paying everyday bills within a few months.3
  4. Do you have enough to pay for funeral expenses? The average funeral costs about $7,000.4

Perhaps it’s time we take the next step in owning and honoring our success and our value as human beings. We have worked very hard to value what we have accomplished in an emotional sense, but have we put the same amount of energy into owning and valuing it in a practical sense? We will never be immune to the winds of fate, but we can take responsibility where we can to protect those we love.

*Royal Neighbors of America – Their Story

WE’VE COME A LONG WAY

In 1888, at a time when women weren’t supposed to be educated, weren’t supposed to handle business or financial matters, weren’t considered worthy of financial protection, and weren’t even considered capable of voting for the governmental leaders who would represent them, Marie Kirkland of Council Bluffs, IA, put an ad in a local newspaper asking women to meet to plan a “social.”
Eight women responded, and from that first meeting, they began to build an organization that empowers women to be the best they can be. Chartered as a fraternal benefit society in 1895, Royal Neighbors was one of the first to insure women and children. Today, it remains one of the largest and oldest women-led insurers providing financial products, member benefits, and volunteer programs to its more than 200,000 members.

Since 1895, Royal Neighbors of America has not only provided coverage to their members, but other benefits such as scholarships, disaster aid, health discounts, and the opportunity to volunteer and give back to one’s community. Their focus on and interest in providing a means of giving back is unique in the industry.

Full disclosure: I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign for Royal Neighbors of America. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Royal Neighbors of America, nor do I earn a commission or percent of sales.

 

When A Dream Dies

When A Dream Dies

Carol Jung dreams

There comes a time in each woman’s life when we look at our best efforts and see only the failure. We started with a dream or a mission or a purpose.  We put ourselves behind it, believing without a doubt that we were on the right path. The path was to take us on a marvelous journey to an ideal place. We devoted days or weeks, months or years to our vision, only to wake up one morning and realize our dream has failed or vanished.

What then? What do we do when we find ourselves curled up in a ball in the corner wanting to hide, the pain too great to even acknowledge? We ask ourselves over and over, what went wrong? What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? And why, oh why, did it turn out this way? We want to curse the world, or the person who demolished our dreams…perhaps it is ourselves we wish to demolish…blaming ourselves for the failure, for our inability to see the future when we made our commitments. We all know that seeing the future is a gift given only to a few, if any. And yet, we expect it of ourselves.

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions as we try to break through the confusion and the pain. Blaming others is futile even if it is a survival instinct. Blaming ourselves is equally as disastrous. The real question is what can I learn from this? What can I take forward with me into the rest of my life? What does this experience tell me about who and what I am — the good and the bad? These are the questions of growth and survival.

Life is a learning experience and sometimes we have to learn the same thing over and over until it takes. As painful as that may be, we eventually do learn, and then we have a gift to pass along to others. It is a gift that every woman has to give as she ages. Previous generations looked upon it with reverence and respect — it is the gift of wisdom. It is the most we can hope to gain from our life’s difficulties, but it is a gift that keeps on giving.   

© Dorothy Sander 2010 Excerpt from Caring for Mom

Every Day We Have A Choice

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Coping with Loss

Coping with Loss

Grieving-mother-and-grandmother

Losing someone we love is likely the most painful and difficult experience we face. Of course there are no easy answers but there are a few things that we can do to support the person who is grieving, even if it is us!

Grief, like most things in life is a process. Swiss Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in the study of grief and laid the groundwork for how we view it today in her book “On Death and Dying”. Kubler-Ross made note of five very clear stages that one goes through when coming to terms with the death of a loved one or their own impending death. These stages are: 1) denial 2) anger 3) bargaining 4) depression 5) acceptance. No two people go through the process at exactly the same speed or order and many times we move back and forth between the stages before we arrive at acceptance.

These stages underline the reality that grieving takes time and that it is a process of coming to terms with our loss. It’s a very painful period of time and not an easy course to navigate but with time and patience and the right support we can find ourselves coming to a place of acceptance. It’s not the we will not feel the pain, but that it will be more bearable and we will be able to go on and live out our lives.

How we grieve will depend on many things, how we have coped with stress in the past, the support system we have in place and the circumstances surrounding our loved one’s death. A sudden loss may be more difficult to come to terms with than a prolonged illness where we have likely already grieved little by little for a long time.  If we have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, these same patterns may arise again. It is important to seek outside support and support groups are readily available.

HERE’S A FEW THINGS YOU CAN DO

EXERCISE: When at all possible going for a long walk every day with a friend can hep you both physically and mentally. Exercise has been shown to raise the good chemicals in your body and help dissipate the bad.  Walking with a friend also provides a good opportunity for conversation.

SPEND TIME OUTSIDE: Fresh air and sunshine is also beneficial to our mood and sense of well-being.

KEEP A ROUTINE: One of the hardest things about coping with the loss of a loved one is that it shakes our sense of security. Keeping a routine will provide an foundation for the healing process.

JOIN A SUPPORT GROUP: A support group is very helpful, particularly if you don’t have family and friends near by. A good place to look for a support group is through your local Hospice organization.

CRY: Crying is healthy, particularly when we are suffering a loss. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, let the tears flow.

MAKE AN EFFORT TO SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS: Respect your need or desire to be alone, but do spend some time each week outside of the home with friends.

©Dorothy Sander 2013

MORE INFORMATION

HOSPICE FOUNDATION

FINDING A SUPPORT GROUP

COPING WITH GRIEF AND LOSS

GRIEFNET.ORG – An internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss.

 

 

Rediscovering Your Gifts

Rediscovering Your Gifts

personal growthWe each carry within us a treasure. Living deep inside, it is a quiet place where we can go to find our untarnished heart and a soul that is still pure. We once knew this place, our place where there is peace and understanding, wisdom and strength, though it may have slipped from our memory.

The hours, days and years that we have struggled and pushed, yearned and stretched toward something more has powered us through our lives. It is “life yearning for itself”. Our desire for something more and incessant discontent led us down many a winding path and along the way we collected bits and pieces of life’s debris.  Instead of tossing the debris aside, we often instead as packaging material to insulate us from the world.

Sometimes we build a wall of anger, of fear, or of resentment, so thick and so profound that we forget our treasure ever existed. When we feel the sting of hurt and rejection we recoil inside of ourselves and do not remember the gifts of understanding and forgiveness we once knew so keenly. The longer we live the more likely we are to have lost our connection to our treasured self, as life’s rubble piles up upon us despite our best intentions.

We may begin to feel as though we might smother, or die without meaning or purpose for having lived. We fear we may wither away into nothingness. We might feel emptiness, an overwhelming sense of loss, or confusion or an aimless uncertainty.  It is precisely these uncomfortable stirrings that are our reminders. They are prompting us to return to the treasure that was born in us so many years ago, to dig down deep inside and uncover that precious someone who still lives and holds a pure and loving heart; who knows the value of trust and forgiveness. She understands the meaning of life and the purpose of her living.

The unearthing process can be approached alone or with the assistance of a friend, a mentor, a spiritual guide, a life coach, a therapist or any of a number of other guides.  There are as many methods of personal and spiritual growth as there are individuals. Here are some of the methods I have used and found helpful:

  1. Guided imagery meditation – A guided meditation by a trained practitioner using imagery and imagination to bypass thought and ego
  2. Solitary meditation – I recommend reading Full Catastrophe Living or any of a number of Wayne Dyer’s books and audios for more information on common meditation practices.
  3. Contemplation and mindfulness
  4. Journaling
  5. Reading or listening to the writings of spiritual teachers
  6. Work with a therapist or life coach to gather some movement if you are stuck
  7. Body work – massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, deep tissue massage, exercise
  8. Self-care – Learn listen to and follow the directives of your body, mind and spirit. If you feel tired, sleep. If you feel restless, go for a walk. If you feel stressed, meditate or make an appointment for a massage. Say no to demands that are being placed on you that cause your body to constrict.

Rediscover the treasure of your heart. It is waiting.