I began a blog two years ago as a way of reflecting on Turning Sixty and moving into what Jung calls the ‘afternoon’ of life. I was wondering about semi-retirement and found great ideas on this topic over the year I spent on the blogosphere. As a result, I decided my gift to myself at sixty would be to take a Gap Year. My children had all done this after leaving school, giving themselves a less pressured space to explore what they wanted to do in life. I stopped paid work; keeping an honorary position at the university in case I changed my mind. Without clear expectations, I tried to carve out time and space to explore my experiences, skills, passions and philosophies.
I calmed the nagging inner voice that named this act as pure self-indulgence by reminding myself that I have lived as a highly responsible and caring family member for sixty years and been an extremely conscientious professional, working in health and education, for forty years. Over the previous decade, my body had protested that it needed my attention, prodding me with messages coded as nagging pain and illness. When I stilled my mind sufficiently to listen, I was aware of many unexamined whisperings of my heart.
In making this decision, I paid attention to Jung’s assertion that later life may call on us to re-examine our values and assumptions; that what has served us well in early and mid life may not suffice as our eventual mortality draws closer. Jung spoke of listening for the summons of the soul, the small inner voice of our psyche that reminds us of the passions that bring us to life. These unexamined whisperings of our day and night dreams are often drowned out in the torrential busyness of a working mother’s life.
Over this past year I’d stopped writing my blog as I placed a higher priority on other activities. I’ve begun again as I’ve come to the end of my gap year. I’ll be writing about the ups and downs of that transitional year of turning sixty over future posts on this site. I was amazed at the ideas, connections and opportunities that I stumbled upon through that year, many of which have challenged me and helped me shift my thinking about what might be possible as I age. I’m back at work now although it’s only casual part time research; it’s amazing how useful a little money can be when you’ve felt it’s absence.
One thing I’ve decided to do is to establish AuthenticWebs. I’m hoping that this website can be a resource to connect like-minded women with each other and with ideas about living fully as we age, contributing to the world from our own sense of what inspires and ‘lights us up’. The current world needs the care, commitment, wisdom and energy of experienced women who have lived a full engaged life. I’m hoping AuthenticWebs can engage with and connect women of my era with each other and with ideas for positive thought and action.
As human beings, we are all connected. Our lives exist within a web of relationships, of past, present and future situations; a web of beings and time. The concept of a Web of Wyrd can be traced back to ancient European myth. Essentially Wyrd refers to a sense of continual becoming, our past being woven with the present to create the future. Like the warp and weft of the fabric of life, our wyrding is woven, patterns forming and reforming. The title AuthenticWebs refers to this concept of webs, as a supportive basis for lively changing connections of potential in lives, rather than a fixed web that suffocates and constrict with ‘ties that bind’.
Our choices and actions not only affect and shape our lives; through interaction with others, our actions affect the world. Authenticity is not just about being ‘true to ourselves,’ aligning our values and actions. Our existential dilemmas ricochet through other lives. I’ve written about authenticity as an academic, but living an authentic life is not just about highfalutin’ words. It’s something many of us seek in our everyday world – especially as we get older and feel our mortality. Essentially authenticity is about accepting responsibility for our lives. Who we become is determined by how we live our daily lives. Every day, through our choices – small and large – and our subsequent words and actions, we shape our lives. We cannot change our inherited and lived past, we cannot change others around us, we can only change our own actions and reactions.
In the weekly blogs I’ll post on Monday mornings, I’ll be referring to other people and their ideas about ‘Creating a New Old’. That’s the name of a festival that my dance teacher Glen Murray is attending in Dublin right now (I’ll tell the story of how I came to dance after 50 years in another post). Glen is travelling on his Churchill fellowship, awarded for his work with dance theatre for mature aged women, the MADE Company. In the weekly blogs I’ll be mentioning people like Glen, along with a veritable web of articles, podcasts, reviews, links and a blogroll of fantastic websites from other people. I’d love to hear from you as well. Over the next few months, there will be posts about
- Great ideas for encore careers; other people’s inspirational actions
- Creativity, learning and ageing; art, dancing and singing
- Philosophy – Eastern and Existentialist; about mindfulness and authenticity
- Writers and writing
- Memoirs, memories of late 60s, seventies – turning pints for social justice and women’s right
- Wellbeing and health from menopause onwards; healthy satisfying ageing
- Social issues and causes; ways of engaging and making a difference
- Links to Podcasts, other blogs, articles, reviews, research
- Your ideas