I’ve lost count of the number of makeovers I’ve seen where a pretty, individual-looking woman has been turned into a bland, blonde lookalike no different to every other blonde model trotted out as something we’re supposed to aspire to. The last example was a gorgeous looking woman with black hair in plaits who emerged from the hairdresser’s – yes, you’ve guessed it – as a blonde Stepford-wife-looking woman. Grrr.
I’ve also recently seen photos of Jane Fonda with fawning commentary of how wonderful she looks at 78, which is fine except she’s had plastic surgery and I’m sick of the assumption that it’s so much better to look plastic perfect in old age rather than celebrating our ageing process, owning it and flaunting our wrinkles, grey hair, thin hair, straggly hair, sagging boobs, thinness, fatness or whatever.
Our bodies are the badge of honour for the life we’ve lived and continue to live and I’m a warrior for honouring our veteran years even if we look as if we haven’t just leapt gaily out of a photoshopped magazine shoot.
I thought of this these past couple of days after watching Patti Smith singing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” as the accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature on behalf of Bob Dylan. I’ve just been watching this video again – not just for the performance which is wonderful but because it was so great to see Patti Smith, at 70, with flowing grey hair, no make-up, looking powerful, centred and standing proud in her age.
And yesterday I saw an interview with the wonderful Glenda Jackson who’s just appeared as King Lear looking unkempt, demented and as unlike the womanly stereotype as you can imagine. Such a courageous woman, standing up for her principles, utterly opposed to the Iraq War, socking it to war criminal Tony Blair at every opportunity., and, like Patti Smith, looking her age and utterly unconcerned with make-up and prettifying herself. It is just so good to see women of this age with no botox, no make-up, looking confident and untouched. An inspiration to women everywhere.
Yes, women do have the choice to appear as they wish but we also need to acknowledge that the Gold Standard of old age does not have to be trying to regain our youth and deny our old age. We crone women need to be loud, proud and worshipping our ageing bodies instead of trying to package them into eternal youth because our materialist society can’t handle old age.
Hey, it happens to us all, so embrace it, dance with it, honour it. Be true to ourselves and flaunt our authentic ageing process. We crones ROCK!
Yesterday I read a deeply emotional letter from an Australian man to the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, in relation to the Safe Schools programme run by the Federal government. The programme, for those of you overseas who don’t know its contents, is designed to address issues around bullying in general but also homophobic attitudes in relation to LGBT schoolchildren, as so many are facing mental health issues, contemplating suicide or even taking their own lives.
Last week, under pressure from extreme right-wing homophobic and bigoted government members, the PM had announced substantial changes to the programme which virtually gutted it, then let slip that once this round of funding was exhausted, the programme would be ended.
I was in tears at the end of the letter as the adult man described what he’d gone through in the school system, torture virtually, because he was identified as gay. Here’s the link:
I did wonder at the time why it affected me so deeply, then woke this morning with the very clear memory of a time in my mid-teens when I’d attended a dance in Deal, a seaside town near where I lived in Sandwich, Kent. I felt the pain of that event so clearly this morning and knew the time had come to let it go.
As so many teenage girls do, I had a crush on a good-looking boy attending Sir Roger Manwood’s private grammar school. At the time the school was boys only although now its intake includes boys and girls. I was hoping to connect with this boy so set out to catch the train my best friend had told me everyone was catching to the dance at Deal.
When I got to the station, I was the only one there. I ended up getting to the dance only to find that my so-called friend had told me the wrong time so that she could chat up and, after the dance, go out with the boy I fancied. By the time I got to the dance, everyone had sorted out partners and I was left on my own trying to look happy and hiding my deep upset at my friend’s betrayal. I danced on my own with a big smile on my face and pretended all was well in my lonely world. Because basically I was a shy, sensitive kid with very little social skills who had felt a complete outsider right through primary and much of secondary school. This experience and the unkindness and selfishness of my “friend” only served to solidify that feeling of isolation.
My reaction, if people hurt me or bullied me at school, was to put on a smile and brave face, swallow the hurt and pretend all was well. But when the memory of that dance and my loneliness was so clear in my mind this morning, I realised that the letter I’d read yesterday had triggered long-buried grief and hurt.
So I set out to release these old, damaging emotions with digital art. The first image, above, relates to my young self and how I felt at the time. The images below represent the healing process. The first one is a step towards healing, the second one represents the growth of new patterns, by showing a tree growing towards healing and new beginnings.
I dithered about writing this because I find it hard to share deep, distressing emotional pain, but I decided to do so because I get so fed up with people who preach how easy it is to put the past behind you and get on with your life. My experience has been that, however much that sounds good in practice, emotional hurts send roots deep into your cellular and spiritual bodies which don’t simply vanish because you say in your head all is well and the past vanishes. It doesn’t. I’ve found, for myself, that art is a great healer but I’ve also found that the most intense healing happens when emotional hurts surface in their own good time because then they can really be dealt with at a deep, fundamental level within our bodies.
I hope this post helps others who may identify that I went through as a kid and perhaps find art useful as a healing medium.
We come into this life dancing
with love in our hearts, joyfulness, curiosity, laughing gleefully,
playing in mud and glitter.
And then society
to love possessions/things
And to turn away from the humanity shadowing
the less fortunate, the poor, the homeless sitting
on the streets and begging.
Begging! How awful to spoil our nice, neat, tidy streets
with the reminder that not all of us have things
like house and possessions.
But all of us possess hearts, the power of love
and the knowledge that
hey, babe, you’re only a
whisker away from your seat on the street.
Lose your job/make a mistake/miss your mortgage payment/
damage your car and can’t afford the repair to get to
a low-paid, slave-conditions job/
bounce a cheque due to bank fees and the bank
will charge you for that bounced cheque
and send you into penury.
Look at that guy/gal on the street begging.
Open your eyes to their humanity.
Unzip your heart, know that people not possessions are the real
wealth of our world.
Give them a dollar or more, or a coffee, or a meal, or clothes, or
yourself offering help,
Because there –
but for the grace of God –
Be humble. Show love. Be generous.
Open your heart and shine your soul!
I created this piece of digital art by playing with PicMonkey and BeFunky, just fiddling with the gizmos both these sites offer to see what would turn up. I finally ended up with this image which is lovely and bright, which is why I’ve called it Optimism. It’s dedicated to all my blogging friends who’ve suffered through a long, wet, cold, snowy winter to light your lives until spring finally turns up in your neck of the woods!
I was going through my photo files yesterday and came across a digital art piece I’d mis-filed called “Forgiveness”. It really didn’t look quite finished so I moved it to my digital art folder and worked on it today.
I found it interesting that I re-discovered this painting as I’ve had a very interesting experience since I wrote on my book blog about my experiences with fibromyalgia and my father’s descent into rampant alcoholism (http://thecrazycrone.com/2014/02/16/fibro-follies-1-25/). For some reason, now that I’ve spoken publicly about a very difficult time and my relationship with my father, I feel much calmer, more at peace and I’ve lost the anger bottled up inside me.
Forgiveness is a tricky subject. I often see people misunderstand this issue as condoning someone’s actions if you forgive them. Actually, you are freeing yourself up from past troubles or injustices, as in forgiving someone you don’t condone what they’ve done, you simply let go of the bitterness in your own heart. It heals you. The other person still has to deal with the action they undertook. I know I mentioned “forgiveness” to a lady in a Tarot reading and I thought she was going to brain me when I mentioned the unmentionable. I also read how someone had stones with various words engraved on them, and the one that was seldom picked by people fossicking through the stones.
How you handle forgiveness is an individual matter, but I feel like I’ve finally managed to forgive my father for the difficult relationship we had in our lives together, it’s as if the bitterness has suddenly dissolved. I found that creating the digital image of “Forgiveness” was as if I’d had a window to the past where I could look back, not with anger, but with compassion and love. I hope this image helps you if you have issues of forgiveness in your life.
When we lived in Woodenbong, a small village in northern New South Wales, we were high in the mountains of the Border Ranges. If you turned right as you drove out of Woodenbong, you headed into New South Wales through rainforest, and if you went straight ahead down a really windy road around Mt Lindesay with ancient rainforest either side, you ended up on the valley floor and in Queensland.
Along the verges of both roads and in our own garden, white flowers used to pop up which we called “spider lilies” as we had no idea what they were. They were unusual, very hardy and this digital art is based on a photo I took of a clump of these flowers in our garden.
I worked on the photo with PicMonkey, mainly playing around with the “water” gizmo, and decided that this image, reached very quickly, was quite okay without any more work. I called it “Emotions – the Spidery Web of our Inner Life” because to me emotions reside in every cell of our body, they are what cause us to be human – love, sadness, happiness, grief, hate, hope, compassion, tolerance, and so on.