We are living in interesting times aren't we? So many things have changed for women over the last hundred years, and not the least of which is our life expectancy! Statistics show that in 1900 the average life expectancy for a woman in Canada was between 48 and 51 years old, where as according to Stats Canada a woman like myself born in 1960, can expect to reach an average of 74...and children born today are expected to live well into their 80s on average! It isn't our Grandmother's world by any means.
But that change has left a lot that needs to be re-thought in terms of what we do with the time we're allotted. I like to think of our lives as a play with Three Acts. The first act is the early years...childhood, teen years, early twenties. Those years that could be know as the 'maiden' years, which they are often referred to. That time where we are just coming to know who we are, what we might dream of being, where we fit in this vast world we're part of. Years of learning, growing, hoping.
Then comes Act Two...our mid-twenties to early forties, when we live our lives as the 'mother' figures. Whether we have children or not, we're making our way in the world differently usually. Supporting and caring for our children, our partners, our financial needs. Many of the dreams we held in the first act fall by the wayside, with very few of us making our own hopes a priority. Our time and energy is devoted to those we love as we dedicate ourselves to nurturing and caring for them physically, emotionally and financially.
And then that time passes. The children are grown and out on their own. They may still need our support (often financially :) ) , but not in the way that consumed us for so long. Our lives are more settled, having dedicated decades to creating them, and we reach Act Three. In the early 1900s, that might have meant we only had another five to ten years to concern ourselves with, so having been labeled the wise old 'crone' might have been a comfortable way to live out those few, sparse years. But things have changed for women today.
While having the respect and wisdom of what would have been referred to as the 'crone', women today can expect another thirty or more years to expand, share and enjoy that wisdom and accomplishment. They have the opportunity to be the change-agents of the world, the ones whose compassion, knowledge and energy can make a difference in the many lives that they will touch. They have the power to be an amazing force in how this world will move forward...being voices for the environment, the vulnerable, the less fortunate while having the confidence to create the life they've always envisioned for themselves.
Today's women, in their forties, fifties and sixties have the unique opportunity to revisit those hopes, dreams and passions of the maiden years. They have the time to explore and rekindle the smouldering coals of what once fired their spirits. Sometimes the biggest challenge for us, today's woman, is just to realize that. To take the time to think about what those things were that we were once most passionate about. To realize that the treadmill that we lived on for so many years of our lives, in getting to where we are now, doesn't have to be the treadmill we continue running on! To finally realize that it's okay to change and let go of things that no longer serve us or feed our spirit, and instead to pursue those things that do. It's certainly taken me some time to realize that...but I'm here now!
Today, give yourself the gift of a little time and ask your heart...What am I most passionate about? What would I do if I knew I could not fail? What makes my soul sing and my spirit soar? What am I going to regret not doing? In this Third Act of my life, what is keeping me from doing that now?
I'd love to hear your answers! If you have any trouble figuring out those things that will allow you to be 'Truly You', I'm here and I can help. We are all on this journey together!
There is not a single one of us that doesn't do it. We look back over our lives and think about all the should haves, the could haves and the would haves. The 'if only I had...'. It's human nature to spend time reflecting upon and (hopefully) growing from the life experiences that we've gone through. That's what it's all about...learning, growing, doing better, becoming our authentic selves.
But at times we do find ourselves stuck in the past. We end up in that cycle of asking what if? What if we'd done, said, behaved, listened differently? And wondering if we had, how would our lives be different? How would we be different? What if, what if, what if...
What if we started to accept that the past is far behind us, and whatever we may have done or said then is also far behind us. What happened happened. I choose to believe it was for a reason...maybe it was what I needed to learn to move forward. Maybe it is what my soul came here to experience in the first place. Maybe it happened for someone else's growth and learning, and I was just an actor in that drama. Maybe it happened to spare me from something worse that I'll never really know in this lifetime. Maybe. In the words of Byron Katie...how do we know that is what was meant to happen...because that's what happened. End of story. It is us who attaches the deeper meaning to it.
None of us are our past. Just as a butterfly is so different from who it was in it's life as a caterpillar, so are we. Every single day we change, and we grow, and we transform into who we are...and tomorrow we will be someone different yet again because life is about change. You know the saying...if there was none, there would be no butterflies. I don't know about you, but I would not want to be my seventeen year old self again for anything in the world. But that said, I'd never give up what that experience taught my 54 year old self. It was all part of life's transformation and growth. It's part of who I've become, but it is not the definition of who I will be. Your past isn't either.
So what are you holding on to that keeps you from moving forward into who you have the potential to be? Is it a title? Is it an experience? Is it a belief that what happened shouldn't have? And the bigger question....who would you be if you just let that go and lived with the reality that is today? Might you be happier? More contented? More 'truly you'? If so, then what is stopping you from doing that?
I remember when I turned 40. I was talking to a friend and shared that I was really glad to have reached this stage, as I was finally beginning to know and value myself, in ways that we don't seem to be able to when we are younger.
I remember at the time her saying "40...wait till you hit 50! That's the best...you become who you want to be, and don't give a hoot for what the rest of the world thinks! You discover freedom!"
I have thought of her often over the last few years, now that I am in my 50s, and realize how right she was. That as you mature into the true authenticity of who you are, you work to please no one before your spirit is contented first. It is freedom. And she was also right that really what others think means so much less than it did.
So it was in that spirit of what do I want to do to express myself, that the tattoo came to be. For years I couldn't have imagined even considering one..with my mother's words of 'oh no, don't do something like that to your body'...or my father's claim that 'only people who have been in the Navy have earned the right to get a tattoo' (he also claimed you shouldn't pierce your ears unless you've been south of the equator as well.) But over the past few years, I've been toying with the idea a lot.
So it finally came to be! I needed the support and 'push' from my daughter in law Robbin to actually do it, as she's very comfortable with body art. But it took time to decide...we wanted similar ones, as it was a joint 'bonding' event, but I didn't want something that wasn't going to be meaningful for me forever. This is what I finally came up with.
The Dandelion represents my 'kids' and their partners... a symbol of resilience and tenacity...as stick-to-it as a spirit can be. Anyone who has tried to get rid of one will know that they have heart and spirit that is almost impossible to crush. Then there are 8 dandelion seeds...representing my 8 grandsons..the seeds of our future and all the possibilities they each hold...may they all plant goodness in the world. The 5 dragonflies are for my granddaughters...symbols of transition and light..coming from the world of water, but soaring through the air, reflecting their beauty to the world around...Finally the little blue butterfly in the corner is for Shane...my angel on the side...a symbol of the beauty of transformation...from who we were to who we are, in whatever form we inhabit.
Cec and I are the stalk of the dandelion, entwined as one, with our hope to be a grounding foundation for all the beautiful beings that are our family, providing roots for them to know where they come from and can come home to...but giving them wings to be who they will be. Thanks to Candice at Living Canvas in Winnipeg, I'm very happy with the outcome!
They say that you should do something everyday that scares you a little...that helps you grow. This scared me more than I can say! But in the end, my imagination was way worse than the actual event.
What have you been thinking about doing that will scares you a little, but that you know in your heart will help you grow into being Truly You?
It takes time and energy to become who we truly are! In life, so many things can get in the way of our figuring that out..but the time comes in each of our lives where we need to be able to do that if we're going to live happy fulfilling lives that are authentic reflections of our best selves. These are just things I've learned along the way. I hope that they might help you in your own journey into being Truly You!