Category Archives: Journey

On Turning Fifty-One By Glenis Redmond

What a treat for oops50 to have Glenis Redmond (poet – teaching artist – imagination activist) write a post for us.  We’ve  been secretly waiting for Glenis to turn 50, and before we knew it, she turned 51.

Glenis Redmond
Glenis Redmond

Who’s counting? Obviously the world is and everyday it speaks with many mouths and many television and internet eyes that reflect the many ways that I will never measure up.

When I am out of sync with myself and not aligned to my own stars, I take this projection personally.  I listen to the critique and the opinions of the vapid.  I down the chatter like greasy fast food. The poison enters my bloodstream and spreads so I don’t know where I begin and the toxicity ends.

This is when I fall prey to counting the ways that I don’t measure up: the number of crow’s feet around my eyes, the pounds on the scale, the dollars I have or do not have in the bank and my lovers or lack thereof.

I know better than to succumb to this useless counting of what is wrong, but I always adopt a myopic vision that is destructive to my spiritual and creative being.  When I am in my holistic mindset I only count what’s right.  So here is my list of what I know to be true on turning fifty-one.

  1. Drinking tea makes me a better woman. The power is in the sipping of: Egyptian Mint, Ginger or Green Tea.  The healing is in the slowing down to savor the moment.  When I take time to drink a cup of tea at home or in my hotel room before I start my day of work. This mark indicates that I am on my mark. This ritual fills my gauge to full.
  2. Fortunately and unfortunately I am not always on my mark. I don’t always stop to drink tea. I rush and get ahead of myself, because I am both a Dreamer & a Doer
  3. The doer sometimes dominates the dreamer-poet.
  4. The pros? I get things done.
  5. Check the map and my odometer that teeters close to 350,000-miles.
  6. I have performed and facilitated poetry workshops in every state except Alaska, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Idaho.
  7. Travel does not always allow for my roots to sink deep.
  8. I yearn for deepness:
  9. South Carolina, my birthplace
  10. I am from South Carolina, but not totally of South Carolina.
  11. My family’s military trek made sure of that.
  12. This makes me a seeker. I cross over man-made boundaries on the regular. Traveling is part of my vibration.  I am served and fed well by crossing regional and cultural boundaries.
  13. Collecting both rocks and stories ground me.
  14. I always come back to my roots: South Carolina
  15. The cons of my traveling? My mind races too. I rarely slow down.
  16. My body is having its say by forcing me to slow down.
  17. I have Adrenal Fatigue bordering on Adrenal Failure.
  18. I do not sleep. I do not rest.
  19. I often feel like a stranger.
  20. I’m Bi-Carolinian.
  21. North Carolina is where I gained my poetic wings.
  22. There’s no Tiger or Tarheel in me. Ironically, orange and Carolina blue are my two favorite colors.
  23. I wish I cared who was in the playoffs. I just don’t.
  24. I was a cheerleader in high school and I did not care then about the sport on the field or court, I just loved being with the crowd: dancing and cutting flips feeling the high vibrations of people’s spirits.
  25. I’m still a cheerleader. I’m an imagination activist. I help people to unlock their imaginations.  We talk of what matters.  Then, I tell them to write.
  26. I found that when I was twelve what mattered to me:
  27. I find solace and comradeship in good books – stories of overcoming. People who have traveled to their inner space and written about it: Zora Neal Hurston, Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, Wangari Maathai and many more — generally stories of women. I study on how they have traveled this rugged terrain.
  28. There’s struggle to being a woman.
  29. I overcome those obstacles daily. What woman doesn’t?
  30. I was born a feminist – womanist, yet I’m a lover of men unapologetically. I do not see the two as mutually exclusive. I love being a woman.
  31. My mom is my best friend. Politically and religiously we are of two different ilks, but we have similar cores: Love!  She is my touchstone.
  32. My mama bought me an orange bike with turquoise rims for my 51st She gets me if not left of centered views. She says, “ride Glenis.”
  33. The color orange in all its incarnations gives me life.
  34. I’m a pacifist at all cost, yet I do not suffer fools lightly. I get this from my dad: Johnny C. Redmond
  35. I am a weeper, but a warrior.
  36. I was born into poverty.
  37. I stand for the underdog. I was the underdog.
  38. I still sometimes have an impoverished mindset.
  39. Therefore, but by the grace of God go I.
  40. I am not defined by my challenges.
  41. My spirit radiates all colors.
  42. I’m spirit-rich.
  43. I’m a traveler
  44. Places I want to travel: Cameroon, Nigeria, Bahia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the English countryside.
  45. I’m Afro-Carolinian. I love to dance: tribal, interpretative and funk.
  46. It is my prayer – the way I talk with God.
  47. I love to walk. I work out my worries with each step.
  48. I don’t consider myself old, just an old soul.
  49. YOLO rolls off the tongue (You Only Live Once) not mine, because I have been here before many times. I recognize lands and people from other eras.
  50. I was an old soul when I was born, therefore turning fifty-one does not faze me. Yes, getting older has its challenges, but also being a person diagnosed with fibromyalgia at twenty-nine years does, too. Everyday I get out of bed is a challenge, yet it is also a victory.
  51. My daughters, Amber and Celeste, are the most precious metal of my inner circle. They make the bright ring in my life glow with pride and joy. Now my grandson has joined this golden lineage. Oh yeah, I write poems. Here is my latest poem for my grandson.  Julian teaches me everyday how to meditate on goodness and not on the standards by which the world measures me and finds me lacking.  He has been here before and he is wise.  I listen. Like tea, love makes me a better woman.  Here is the poem I wrote for my grandson.

 

Glenis and twin daughters Amber & Celeste
Glenis and twin daughters Amber & Celeste

 

Grandma Waterfall for Julian Josiah Priester      

My status has been upgraded
from mom to grandma–
who knew the heart morphed
into more?
I should have known the moment,
when my heart shape shifted,
when I gave birth to twins
two decades and five years ago:
from stream into raging river,
from the weakest trickle into a force of nature.glenisGrandmawaterfall

There’s no parent handbook
that foretold of the more I would become.
I looked into my inner pond
and I could see I had become more alive with giving.
I wanted to stay on earth
with the territory of my heart expanded –
pushing west with poetry and purpose:
the frontier of becoming mama
packing lunches and endless carpools
to school and soccer,
tucking babies into bed
and growing girls into beautiful women –
artists people with pen and brush
ready to right the world.

Now, to you the first son of our family
you have made me grand
the only royalty I will ever know:
a grand waterfall unable to contain what I hold.

A treasure : Julian Josiah
10 fingers: starlit
10 two toes: eager squiggles
cheeks: squishy pockets

earned you the nickname: The chipmunk gnome.
Your eyes: lit with the deepest shine, déjà vu remembrance.
Your birth weight: 9 lbs. 3 oz.
You’ll carry what’s been passed on: the walk of the ancestors.
This legacy also a burden,
but your legs will be sturdy
and worthy of the task
like Yusef Komunyakaa writes:
You were born
to wear out at least
one hundred angels.
Like Maya Angelou penned
You come as one but stand as ten thousand.
You will carry this load with wisdom
and an undeterred stride.

Julian, all is possible with you.
Unflinchingly I will sing
of the more I want to give you
what John Lennon dreamed
imagine there’s not countries
it is not hard to do
nothing to kill or die for…
Imagine all the people living life as one.

Julian I am a dreamer
it is all that have: the gift of my imagination.
Pour into these waters little boy
brother, son and grandson of the Universe
flow into this world
with dreams better
than the one I/WE are
handing to you.

I am here as Grandma Waterfall
also an eagle watching over you
with the lesson of water ever ready
gently guiding you to find your own flow
from black boy to black man
like Langston Hughes wrote,
I hope you’ll dream a world
where love will bless the earth,
because you are part of that blessing
lighting the world with the brilliance
of what you came to do.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing Glenis in person, catch her at TEDxGreenville or visit her blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadhvi Sez “Adieu”!

Sadhvi
Sadhvi

While it’s been wonderful to share what’s  been going on in my world all these years, I don’t feel like sharing anything of me anymore.

So after more than 5 years and 210 posts, it’s time for me to leave Oops50.

Call it a coincidence, but The New York Times had an article recently on blogging burnout, and there is even a new word to describe it called “slog”.  Maybe that’s all it is; I’m just tired of sharing my world, myself…

I want to let all of you faithful fans know that it has been a pleasure to share with you things that mattered to me during this time of my life.  And to wish the women of Oops50 much success!

I’ll leave you with one last clip from a man named Vereesh (see below), and wishes for Peace, Love, And the Pursuit of Happiness to you all.

I’m Getting Sentimental Over You!

Jane On a recent visit with my three sisters (our annual get-together), we got to talking about all sorts of things, including, of course, our children and how quickly they have all grown up.  One sister said the hardest thing for her about having her children grow up is that, in the process, she lost the little people they were at age 2, 4, 6, etc., as if someone came and spirited them away.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I got back from the trip and realizing that there is always a part of me that is half expecting those little ones to show back up, as if they are hiding somewhere in the house.  And thinking about them makes time compress and expand at the same time.

Lizzie and Parker in Roxbury, NY
Lizzie and Parker in Roxbury, NY

If I close my eyes, I can remember Lizzie, our first daughter, tromping into our kitchen in upstate New York in her favorite rubber boots and saying, “I ahna Goo-Koo,” (I want a cookie) or singing her way downstairs in the morning.  Same with Parker, next in line.  I can see him playing Power Rangers with his buddy Max or sitting at the kitchen table with his pirate ship and pirates and doing all the different voices for the various pirates and their enemies.  Becky is often sitting in her high chair (I think I must have left her in there a lot!), smiling at the thought of all the mischief she is cooking up to get her brother or sister to pay attention to her or standing at the bathroom mirror, cutting herself trying to shave her chin with her father’s razor.

Becky
Becky

Josie, the youngest, is always living in some story of her own making, like the millions of worlds she created for her dolls, or like the Madison Avenue world she inhabited one night in the bathroom, washing a hand towel over and over while singing out her version of the ad for OxyClean: “it gets your whites whiter and your bwights bwighter!”

Josie in Asheville
Josie in Asheville

 

So, the memories are vivid, but, if I think about it hard enough, they are not as fresh as I would like them to be.  And sometimes it’s hard to sort out what I really remember from what I have recorded in pictures and videos.  The hard part, I guess, about trying to hold onto memories of your children as little people is that, when they are actually little and getting bigger every day,  every memory is constantly getting replaced with a new one, each time the child does something new and different. (This is why I should have written things down in baby books!)  Before you even have a chance to catch your breath, the two-year-old version of your child is replaced with the three-year-old version, and you’re off and running on a whole new child!  Or, to state it more accurately in terms of how it feels, the two-year-old is replaced with the twenty-six year old version!

The "Men in Black" Christmas Card
The “Men in Black” Christmas Card

One great thing is that I still get glimpses of those earlier children in their new, larger bodies.  Every now and then, one of them will smile or laugh a certain way or turn their head at a certain angle, and there is the three-year-old version of themselves peeking out from behind their eyes or the six-year-old version looking worried and serious.  Same look, new source of worry!

Here’s to all the different versions of my children, in all their glory, including those little people who are hiding somewhere (maybe they will come back as grandchildren?) but especially these wonderful and strange grown-ups now inhabiting my world and saying they came from me and Tom!

Lizzie's Wedding!
Lizzie’s Wedding!

Pursuing an Adventuresome Passion at Any Age

Katherine Esty
Katharine Esty

For those open to breaking out of stereotypes, life beyond 50 holds many decades worth of surprises and adventure.  I was 75 when one of my own greatest adventures began.

That year, I had an epiphany: more than anything, what I wanted to do at that point in my life was to write a book about Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, founder of the micro-credit movement that is now more than 100 million people strong worldwide.  Yunus, whom I’d learned about and met while working as a consultant to UNICEF in the 1990s, was my hero.  The micro-credit movement he founded provided loans to poor people around the world, helping them start small businesses and climb out of poverty.  I wanted everyone everywhere to hear his story.

unicef2

But no sooner had I hatched the idea, I felt foolish.  “That’s ridiculous,” I heard a voice in my head say.  “You are way too old.  Writing a book like that takes years of hard work.  Be more sensible.”

A few weeks later I managed to silence the voice.  “Be quiet,” I told it.  Then I joined a writing group of women serious about writing and publishing their work that lent well-needed encouragement and momentum.

For the book to have fresh material and new insights, I realized, I’d need to interview people.  In Bangladesh.  Again that negative voice chimed in, saying “That’s impossible.  Nobody sets off for a solo trip to a chaotic place like Bangladesh at the age of 76.  What if I get sick?  What if my husband gets sick?”  Everyone I mentioned the idea to agreed.  They said it was far too dangerous, that I couldn’t go alone.  That I couldn’t leave my husband home alone for two weeks.

But I’d been to Bangladesh a number of times before while consulting for UNICEF, so it was not altogether unfamiliar territory.  It may be a country that’s difficult to negotiate, filled with choking smog, and lacking street maps, guide books and telephone books, but I knew how to take care of myself there.  I could stay at a hotel I had been to before.  With a driver, I knew, I could get around the city despite it’s endless, relentless traffic jams.  I began making my plans.

The next obstacle to surmount came not from a voice in my head, but from the practical question of how to line up some interviews with Muhammad Yunus.  I knew that he got over 1,000 emails a day — and had seen first-hand that he didn’t answer mine.  I felt stymied.  Then, in what seemed like a small miracle, I discovered that a man I know from my own hometown was working closely with Yunus through his Grameen America foundation, helping him in Bangladesh and around the world.  He agreed to meet with me, and as we sipped coffee he promised to connect me to Yunus’ assistant.  He was sure I could get some time with Yunus too.

Esty and Yunus
Esty and Yunus

So in January of 2010 I headed for Bangladesh with 4 interviews lined up with Yunus, and many others lined up with his family, bank employees and media staff.  It wasn’t easy.  The phone system had completely changed since I’d updated my address book, and I had trouble reaching many of the people on my list.  I also had no cell phone.  On top of that, Yunus was unable to make our first several appointments and I was left waiting, uncertain of whether I’d get to meet him at all.  At one point a friend from my UNICEF days invited me to have dinner with his family. He picked me up in a rickshaw pedaled by a scrawny Bangladeshi, and we lurched out precariously into the black night dodging taxis, beggars and potholes.  I felt unsafe. Luckily, it was the only time I did.

Upon returning home, I was faced with the enormous task of sifting through the tapes of my interviews and transcribing them.  Next came the even bigger job of writing the book.  But having written a couple of books in the past, it was a natural and familiar project for me, providing structure and goals that I thrive on and enjoy.  The support of my writing group was invaluable.

Finally, having decided to self-publish, I was introduced to this entirely new and also potentially daunting world.  There, too, I sought support — this time from a professional who walked me through the self-publishing process.

Twenty-Seven-Dollars-and-a-Dream-Katharine-Esty

The resulting book, Twenty-Seven Dollars and a Dream: How Muhammad Yunus Changed the World and what It Cost Him was published in November of 2013 and has been named of the “100 Best Indie Books of 2013” by Kirkus.

As I reflect on my experience – here’s what I’ve learned about following your passion at any age:

1. Challenge all the stereotypes about what older people can and cannot do.  They are only stereotypes and may not apply to you.

2. Don’t listen to the naysayers who can make you feel uncomfortable about your passion.

3.  Listen to that inner voice that tells you not to give up, and talk back to the one that tries to discourage you.

4. Finally, if you move forward, you will find it isn’t all about obstacles.  Small miracles will surprise you and help you reach your goals.

Katharine Esty, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and founder of Ibis Consulting Group, a leading international diversity and organizational development firm.  A former consultant to the United Nations Development Program and UNICEF, Katharine has spent extended periods of time in developing nations, including Bangladesh, where she conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with Muhammad Yunus while writing her new book, Twenty-Seven Dollars and a Dream: How Muhammad Yunus Changed the World and What it Cost Him.

 

Coming Out: How to Heed Our Soul Callings

 

Barbara Brady
Barbara Brady

In 2009 I was ordained as a minister.  I was afraid to tell my dad, who’s a staunch Irish Catholic, fearing I’d lose his love by “coming out” and stating what I was – an Interfaith minister who honored all paths to the divine that are grounded in love.  However, there came a point when the need to be authentic and express my true self outweighed the fear of disharmony and potential loss of love. When we finally had the conversation, I was pleasantly surprised and greatly relieved to find he could respect my calling and still love me.

Staying in the closet isn’t just about sexual orientation, gender identification or vocation; it includes other aspects of our lives: staying in that relationship when you’re being called to leave; staying in a location when you’re called to relocate; working for an organization where you can’t express your full self.

We’re in the closet anytime we’re not fully disclosing or living the truth of who we are.  It seems easier to justify staying in the closet: “It would upset so and so too much”, “I would have to change my whole life”, “What will people think?” “I’m too old to start over.”

closet

These are excuses masking fears that come from the ego.  The soul knows what it’s called to.  Hopefully, at some point, the voice of your soul will trump that of your ego.

There’s a price for not heeding your soul’s callings: restlessness, resentment, depression, even illness.  When you follow your soul’s call, while you may go through a period of conflict, anxiety, and judgment from others, ultimately, you’ll experience true happiness, freedom, more aliveness and peace. It’s so worth it.

How do you come out?  Ask yourself: Where in my life am I not being or expressing my true self?  What is the payoff from staying in the closet?  What am I losing by staying here?  What’s the worst that could happen if I came out, and how would I deal with that?  What could be the best that would happen?  Imagine you’ve come out of the closet and it’s 5 years from now.  What does your life look like?  Imagine it. See it, hear it, feel it.  What’s the next step you can to come out now?

I know all you women over 50 will appreciate this song, so just click and sing along.      I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross   

Come on Out
Come on Out

Warmly,

Barbara

Barbara Brady
Coach & Trainer
Global Leadership / Intercultural / Transformation through Transition
barbara@mycoachbarbara.com
www.mycoachbarbara.com
828-350-9300