Ladies, (not only women over 50), have you ever left your cell phone on a restaurant table? Or how about searched for your glasses when they were already on your head functioning as a headband? I’m sure none of you have ever lost your keys even though you threw them in your purse – that infamous black hole where objects vanish.
If you’ve ever done any of these things, you will surely identify with our beloved Nora Ephron when she says, “I am living in the Google years, no question of that. And there are advantages to it. When you forget something, you can whip out your iPhone and go to Google. The Senior Moment has become the Google moment, and it has a much nicer, hipper, younger, more contemporary sound, doesn’t it?” I Remember Nothing.
So, now you’re wondering what my memory has to do with the perfect pouch. For starters, it’s attached to my body. It is a perfectly designed, handmade pouch that clips to your jeans or any pants/skirt via belt loops. It’s stylish and sized perfectly for your cell phone, car keys, and lipstick. I love it, and so do all my friends who’ve received them as gifts who in turn buy them for their daughters. It’s my gift du jour and I have designer, Kathleen Lewis, to thank.
Kathleen Lewis has spent over forty-five years creating art with fabrics, fibers and other art mediums in Asheville, NC. Kathleen can take a piece of fabric and change it into something totally different such as a whimsical owl to carefully stitched bags, one-of-a-kind hats, and beautiful hand-dyed clothing. I can’t thank her enough for that perfect pouch.
If you recall, Amoke shared two posts with us last year about being a newly retiree. Here she is with her latest episode of herRetiring Mind.
February first marked year one into my retirement years. My initial days were filled with me grinning and chanting, “I don’t have to go to work no more” and “I can do anything I want” and “I was a teacher” – a lot. Time was now my BFF. I have a big imagination and the possibilities were like assorted valuables in a bank vault.
Here is the year in review. On the eleventh day of my second emancipation, I woke up in a world of hurt. I could not move without crippling pain. Thigh and shin muscles visibly pulled away from leg bones in an effort to detach from unrelenting spasms. My torso twisted into a chicken wing. An alarming mix of shrieks and sobbing brought both adult daughters to my bedside. They had never witnessed any medical emergency before. They didn’t know me as a crying woman. Agony painted sharp lines and pulsing circles that made my face a new kind of canvas. Never had I been so scared or felt so vulnerable. A trip to the ER informed me that I had bone on bone arthritis in my knees and sciatica. I got medication that made me itch. I was told I’d get better in time.
This misery lasted until late spring. Chiropractors, massages, herbal remedies brought some relief, however I began to feel mentally fragile. My shadowy thinking scared me. What if this was the beginning of my end? Would I have this pain for the rest of my life? Will I not be able take care of myself? A small voice whispered, “You wanted time to write stories, books and screenplays,” yet all I could think about was PAIN! I felt so helpless. God! Take me now!!!
I decided to make “last calls”. I scavenged through years of old phone books and started calling old friends. Most conversations picked up where the last one ended years ago. Laughter, tears and sharing from the heart brought me unexpected joys. I remembered simple pleasures of yesteryears. Friends reminded me of who I used to be – way back when. A Wild Woman! Crazy cool! Always into something or doing something. Unflappable, a friend said. Then, a minister friend of mine invited me to Las Vegas where she was creating a Goddess Study Center. I went for four days. At the fundraiser, I met many women my age and older who were cavorting with the Feminine Divine, nature, oracles, music, dancing, and luscious food and drink. God, I missed this energy!
I returned home, feeling empowered and reacquainted with my wild woman self. I called my former health clinic and told them that I had no insurance but needed to be seen, as I was not going to live my life in pain. If I fell down, I was going to keep getting back up. The hospital social worker assisted me. I was able to see a doctor and specialists who referred me for assessments that eventually led to better care and treatment. I am regaining stamina, strength, ability, and hope.
In those 365 days, I grieved the loss of the teacher persona. I grieved the changes in my body that are not related to physical illness but to inevitable aging. I discovered I can no longer put coins or dollars in my bra. Not only have the sisters gone south, they have left their posts. I grieved with friends who have lost their loved ones. I offered a shoulder to those caring for elder parents or siblings. I have neither. I am claiming retirement. I will keep calling for a purposeful and meaningful retirement just like I call on old friends. And by the time you read this, I will be on my way to Florida to visit a friend I have not seen in 27 years.
To learn more about Amoke Kubat (writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis) visit her website.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?
So I pondered night after night on how to introduce myself to you. I finally decided I would begin with the present and work my way back. Most people describe me as a creative, energetic, a self-starter, and a highly motivated visionary and entrepreneur who loves the Lord. I am also well known for my gift of hospitality, a field of work I enjoyed for over 25 years. In short, I would say I am called to love, lead, create and serve and I do this in various ways with the various roles and positions.
Having turned 53 last June, I find myself now newly married for the first time, a daughter with 2 siblings, a business owner, corporate coach, health leader, community organizer, workshop facilitator, speaker and friend. This is what I do. And yes, I’m part of the baby boomer generation.
So what do I believe? Most importantly I believe in God; I am a woman of great faith and hope. I believe people are basically good and that we are all born with at least one gift that allows us to be prosperous. I believe in love, a deep passionate love of family, friends, and our life’s work. I believe in support, coaching, teamwork, lifelong learning, mentors, diversity, girlfriends and REST. In fact, I hope to be known as the Queen of REST.
I love God, my husband Chuck aka Dr. Blues, chocolate, spa-ing, brownies, traveling, girl movies, fine hotels and resorts; dining with friends, life changing sermons, dancing to great music, a good spy series , great conversations with fellow visionaries, and last but not least, I love to pray and to relax with my sweet dog, Ella Fitzgerald Robinson Beattie.
I hope to connect with you on many levels. I will be sharing my thoughts on my favorite topics: leadership and faith. I hope to be a carrier of goods news and encouragement. In fact, just call me Elaine, the midwife of hope. This is perhaps a good place to pause until next time. Always remember these words: “I surrender, I win!”