25 August 2010

Our Granddaughters' Future

I was watching my granddaughter and her new best friend in Italy play with her brother's squirt guns. They squirted each other for a few shots but quickly turned to squirting the flowers and plants on the balcony, squirting the ground in pretty patterns, squirting the windows in earnest, even asking for paper towels so they could clean the windows!  They used his skateboard to taxi their bubbles and their dolls back and forth before laying on them like a surfboard and scooting around with their hands. The girls have enjoyed themselves and their activities for days now. We had the music going in the car one day when we were outside and caught them laughing and dancing in a free-spirited dance to Shakira's "Waka Waka"!

It brought up the discussion once again about the nature vs. nurture question re: girls and boys and me noting the differences once again if not coming to firm conclusions about their source. I remember having these discussions with my friends when my daughter was growing up and here they are again with my grandchildren. These sweet little girls in front of me making their innocent choices and being happy in the process if not genetically driven.

This got serendipitously linked to the post a few days ago from Patti at "PattiKen and The Muses" entitled The Choice. It's a heartbreaking, horrific, true story that is bound up in fundamentalism, fear of women and punitive, restrictive and lethal approaches to those who disagree or make alternative choices, usually women, but, in this case, a man also. I realize the inherent complexities of these issues and the lack of understanding I might have as an outsider but her message got heightened by my granddaughter and her friend- girls now, future women. What can we do to ensure their future choices, their right to make decisions and have them respected by the society they live in, their right to develop their abilities and express themselves in their unique personal way.

How can we together make sure this is the society we create for all our granddaughters, the only one we allow for all our granddaughters?

17 August 2010

Happy 37th!

To celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary, my husband and I, together with our visiting daughter and grandchildren, hiked to a wonderful waterfall, walked through a river to get there, found a cave along the way, and swam in a natural "cisterna" pool at the foot of the waterfall. It was a great day in the mountains filled with the kind of fun things that kept delighting all of us of every age- the insects, birds, wild flowers, abundant trees shading us  from the hot sun and then hot sun by the river after dunking in the cold mountain water.

And where do you eat to celebrate a 37th anniversary in Italy when your grandchildren are visiting? You go out for pizza, of course. We went to a place where my daughter (who has celiac disease) could order gluten free pizza right off the menu. It was a first for her and a real treat. When I decided to wear a dressy dress anyway even though it was a pizza restaurant,  it reminded me of my whole decision struggle with 1 vs. 2 piece bathing suits at age 64.

A big decision in the land of mostly 2 piece bathing suits - whether or not to get one... and then whether or not to wear one... and then whether or not to post the photo if I was in the 2 piece bathing suit. But, it's one of the lessons of Italy- land of "our bodies, ourselves", bodies of all size, bodies of all ages, let them be as they are and let them play in the sun. Kind of freeing so I'm going with it!

And, as for 37 years with my Honey- I'm so very grateful for those years, with John, in love. I'm grateful for the adventures, for the personal and couple growth we've been graced to experience. I say in my "about me" section of the blog that who I looked for was a strong and mighty oak but who I found was the clear blue sky. I'm glad I got over myself, recognized the gift I was offered and scooped it up eagerly. That was a good decision! The sweet times, the hard times, the heartbreaks became our life story as we embraced them together. I love our life.

Thanks for the memories, Dear One. Thanks for loving me, our daughter and our grandchildren as you do. You're my teacher as well as my lover. I'm grateful.

13 August 2010

Celebrating Crones

This year marked our family's 7th annual woman's gathering of my daughter and 8 nieces with my sister-in-law and me, for a yearly circle of sharing and support. A bit about the wonderful history of this gathering is on my 11/07/09 post entitled: "The Gathering, 2009".

Each year we select a theme and this year's was "Celebrating Crones" (that would be us above!). For the first time the young women of our next generation did all the planning and carrying out of the day's agenda. It was a lovely "croning" ritual, a day of affirmation and honoring for me and my sister-in-law. I felt very special on the receiving end of their ministrations and deeply touched by their thoughtful words and beautiful ceremony.The 4 little ones of the 3rd generation even made our "crowns" to be a part of it all. A great symbol since Jean Shinoda Bolen in her book: "Crones Don't Whine" says that becoming a crone is the crowning inner achievement of the third phase of a woman's life.

This croning ceremony is a wonderful way to celebrate reaching this phase and I recommend it as a way to acknowledge our age  and wisdom and claim our unique place in the circle of our families and life.

I formerly posted a wonderful quote about crones from Frank MacEowen's book "The Spiral of Memory and Belonging" that bears repeating: "In contrast to these modern usages, the words 'crone' and 'cailleach' were traditionally associated with healing, wisdom, initiation into the ways of the Otherworld, and the stirring mysteries of the earth. The crone, sometimes appearing as the dark goddess, is the keeper of hidden knowledge and is considered a guardian."

Healing, wisdom, initiation, mysteries of the earth, keeper and guardian! Doesn't that sound luscious? We older women have become separated from this powerful place of ancient knowledge and energy. A ceremony can  inspire us to seek ways to reclaim this role which our culture sorely needs but is afraid of. Initiatory energy is about the importance of finding ways to mentor younger women that happens when we gather together to grow individually and collectively and support one another.

Crones are elder women, wise and powerful. Bolen in her yummy little book describes crones as "juicy"- full of zest and deeply involved in life! And Margaret Meade described this stage as women with "pmz" - post menopausal zest!  All the authors encourage finding new ways to be, become and benefit community as we listen to our inner wisdom. As we change ourselves and give ourselves, we change the world.

Bolen ammends the fourth prescription for how we change the world from:
1. Show up.
2. Pay attention.
3. Speak your truth.
4. Let go of the outcome. to: Pray for the best outcome.

These 4 simple, powerful goals have always seemed reassuringly doable to me and keeping it that simple has gotten me through some tough times when I felt paralyzed. My friend, Annee, taught me these when I was in such a time. I posted them on my refrigerator to read them each day to remind myself that that's all I had to do. She (and they) saved my life then and here they are again to re-inspire me in this new phase.

Bolen also says: "As spiritual beings on a human path, what we do at a soul level in the third phase will likely turn out to be the most important." This yearly family woman's gathering is part of what I do at this soul level. It matters deeply to me. It brings me joy. And I love each one of these amazing women! I savor my time with them. I'm grateful for my relationship with them.

What's getting you excited these days?

05 August 2010

Tanti Auguri/ Happy Birthday

My daughter and 2 grandchildren came back to Italy from Florida with my husband and me. It's their first trip to Italy and my grandson turned 8 here today. We went to the park, flew a kite on the beach, made lego ships and characters, found the BEST gelateria around, ate pizza and had a party! He celebrated with new found friends who live in our apartment. Based on the volume of laughter as the 5 children played and ate (pizza and gelato are the 2 favorite Italian things so far!), language wasn't a problem. The hoots and hollers had the universal sound of FUN and the children sang "Tanti Auguri" to Kahlil, his first "Happy Birthday" in Italian.

His 4 year old sister, Kamala, and her 3 year old friend were so cute I just couldn't stop taking photos of them. They swirled around the house in each others orbit chatting, playing, drawing and intent only on each other! They haven't seemed to notice, yet, that they speak different languages. Blowing bubbles on the balcony requires no language, only giggles galore.

Our grandchildren's milestones mark our own aging as well and my grandson reaching 8 when he was born only yesterday seems astounding. His increasing maturity and ability to do things is obvious but his sweet disposition is what's so endearing. The grandmama bear love kindled 8 years ago has grown as he has and enriched my life.

Happy birthday, Dear One. Thanks for being your sweet self.