Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stitching With Dropped Threads

Poppy picked up several thick books at the library on our last visit, so I helped myself to one of her choices the other day. It's called Dropped Threads, and it's a compilation of short essays and excerpts by Canadian women, professional writers and otherwise.

I didn't expect to like it. But I did. Not all of it, not every single piece, but as a whole it was a pleasant surprise. Lots of feminism from lots of perspectives, bits and pieces of women's lives, small truths and revelations that I needed to hear.

It's me, it's my age, it's the circumstances of my life, and I'm finding more and more as I creep up in years that I need to hear the voices of other women. Older women. Older women who aren't trying to feed me religious propaganda. I've heard so much of that, and seen so much of it, and continue to see it in a lot of my clients, hush-mouthed women speaking what they've been taught all their lives, and suffering for it. Not all of them, obviously, but enough that it's a worry to me from a health point of view as well as a frustration as a person who's messing her way through life and needs to hear what's real. Needs to speak what's real, not a superimposed "should".

And I found that. I read women talking about aging, and loneliness, and second-guessing. Talking about their bodies, relationships, ambivalence, regret, lack of regret. And spirituality too. Most of it seemed pretty real, their own stuff after peeling back the layers to find themselves underneath.

Getting older is something on my mind a lot these days. Because I am, I guess. But how do you do it? I don't expect a set of directions, but I want to hear other women's walks, and how they came to peace. I want to hear what it is to settle into your own wisdom, and stop chasing youth, how to sink into maturity of years and maturity of vision, and bless that settled-ness that isn't the hyperactive, performance-driven frenzy of the earlier decades.

Dignity. I think that's what I'm struggling for. Not apathy or resignation, but dignity in the fact that I'm a woman almost forty, and then almost eighty. Or ninety, if such things come to pass. Not to compare my greying hair or wrinkles to other folks my age and think how much older/younger I look than them, or how busy/not-busy, smart/not-smart, creative/dull, ambitious or staid or ... or any of those other things that I've measured myself against all my life.

I'm trying to come to terms with myself. A big part of that is being female, and not trying to win male approval by being willing and able to run with the boys. I don't want that. I know I've done it in the past, and I'm not happy about it anymore.

I want to be a person, a woman-person, an aging-woman-person who looks both directions and knows herself.

It's not really about gender, except that this is the gender that I am.

I want to be wise.

Yeah, I know. Don't ask much, do she?


arcolaura said...

Asks much, gives much. Your posts touch deeply, a massage for the soul.

For some reason this one is reminding me of a beautiful book I am just getting into, by Sam Keen: The Passionate Life: Stages of Loving.

I am struggling with wholeness recently, with having any real sense of who I am. I am busy and cheerful and hiding. Things that consumed me before have sunk into insignificance. Nothing much seems to have arisen in their place. And so I work, and wait...


Not sure what a guy can say of any real value relative to this post. Grin. Maybe Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir "Eat Pray Love" would offer some insight? I haven't read it, but I did watch a clip of her speaking and she seems real in tune, if you will. Helluva smart gal for sure.

Madcap said...

Sorry about the delay in replying - I got distracted with pregnant cats and whatnot.

I'll have to order in both those books. Always looking for something else to read.

Definitely going into that more interior time of year; shorter days, longer nights, coolness, waxing yin. I'm currently listening to some audio-files on the Water element, about coming into the deepest quiet, beyond our emotions, where we know ourselves without all the extraneous noise. Very thought-provoking. Hard to get there.

Shakespeare's Cousin said...

Hey Madcap,

This is the blogger formerly known as Liz Green back with a new blog and a new outlook. I am so glad you are still here. I see that I enjoy your thoughtful posts as much as ever, and I hope you'll drop by my new blog. I hope for it to have a whole different feel from those that Liz wrote.

As someone who will be 45 in a few weeks, I found your post enlightening. For me, aging is something I have a hard time accepting. I don't like the gray hair and wrinkles. I don't like being fat & not being able to lose the weight. I suppose I am unable to age gracefully. I invest in hair dye, cosmetic creams, diets, and I'd to cosmetic surgery with no qualms if I had the money. I also do the comparison thing, and even though I think I have aged better than most people I know (probably because I am not from the South and people tend to age faster down here for some reason), I still hate it. My mom tells me it's because I don't know how to age gracefully. I tell her it's because I'm American and our society teaches us to be vain.

Madcap, I know YOU will age gracefully as you do everything else gracefully and thoughtfully. I found your post very enlightening, and I hope to find the Dropped Threads book. I hadn't realized how much I missed you!

Madcap said...

Hello! When I dropped out there, I lost all sorts of connections to all sorts of folks - thanks so much for dropping in again.

Well, doing anything gracefully... huh. I keep thinking of something I was reading lately, can't remember which book, maybe Acedia by Kathleen Norris? Anyway, the definition of grace was given as doing the very difficult in such a way that the onlookers can't see how much effort it takes. I guess I could aspire to that.

Something else in that Dropped Threads book that really made me stop and think was a discussion of gender discrimination, and I hope I don't make a hash of it, because it wasn't too convoluted. But that we don't really have true respect for women and the traditional "female" arts of home-making and various needlework, etc. until the man who makes his own quilts gets as much all-round admiration (and lack of smirking) as the woman who wires her own house. And I know I have that inside of me still. Yikes! Never a shortage of inner-work to be done...

gfid said...

i heard this author and this book interviewed on CBC radio, and liked what i heard. now i HAVE to read it. aging gracefully.... so many possibilities of interpretation..... i don't think you can do anything gracefully while you fight it, so maybe acceptance is a clue.