AtoZ April Blog Challenge J Joy

J – Joy

These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz & my recently published book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is SES, I am SS – my writings are italicizedThis is from the chapter ‘Joy & Journey’.

SES: Jouissance … a source of creativity and we could say that the suppression of jouissance prevents women from expressing their voices. Organizing or planning for fulfilment now, we realize that what was intriguing earlier in life, what seemed so necessary, may be no longer. Maybe our joy now resides in different aspects, more thoughtful observations and reflections, and this is also part of what defines jouissance. pg 70

SES: Remember, the journey has jogs in the road. It is not a straight path. It has ups and downs and obstacles that provide life-expanding experiences, even when they seem limiting. If not for the jog or the detour, we may not make it. Like in the fairytales, the heroine finds herself in the most unlikely circumstances. She has to get lost, leave all she knew and find another way to proceed. Being on the road of the unknown with its twists and turns is the only option. pg 70.

‘The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse’.

Helen Keller

Pesach and Easter

Pesach & Easter

a time for reflection – to deepen faith –

a time for redemption – to deepen faith –

a time for renewal – to deepen faith –

Pesach – Passover – commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt led by Moses out of 400 years of slavery into Israel, the land that God had promised on oath to Abraham. The Promised Land was finally reached, His promise fulfilled. 

A time to commemorate, in amongst many other issues, the freedom from bondage. I sent Susan Schwartz my friend and co-author in the US, Chag Sameach good wishes via email last night. She responded by saying inter alia this was a time to commemorate ‘freedom from bondage’. I’ve been thinking about that word ‘bondage’ – and all it can and does mean on both individual and collective levels. The meaning of the breaking of the matzoh bread – 

Easter – a remembrance of the carpenter from Nazareth and his wise teachings, told most times in parable form. A reflection on His resurrection 3 days after his burial. Did you know that when Christ was crucified there was then an earthquake? It’s a recorded fact. A remembrance of His love for the sinner who truly repents and the saint, reminding us that we too can put aside our hates and enmity even in these troubled times in which we live – and experience a renewal of our faith in love –

Faith – blessed are those of strong faith and those who feel their faith wavering. We here in South Africa have mostly totally lost faith in the president. We are going through a very difficult time and we forsee it for a long while yet. Last Friday, thousands upon thousands of us across the country took to the streets. Across races, religions, ages – peacefully, vibrantly, noisily, in unity. The one I attended was wonderful and it was so great to be part of this. There were no political affiliations represented – it was mostly a call for the president to resign and for our country to regain unity. I carried a home made banner (helped by my husband) showing the flag with ‘unity’ written across it and on the back I pasted red hearts. 

There is another major one tomorrow when people will march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, for the president to resign.

Many of us here in South Africa, if not the majority, are feeling the strain of our faith being tested. I have a real and painful awareness of what is happening in other parts of the world, and I despair – and Doubt, a strange bedfellow to Faith. Please G.d may it be strengthening –

I did not want to let Pesach and Easter go by without acknowledging it. All good wishes to you all. Thank you for reading.

AtoZ Blog Challenge I Image

I – Image

These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz & my recently published book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is SES, I am SS – my writings are italicized. Page numbers are given. This is from the chapter: Intimacy & Image.

SES: We face a quandary about where to find vibrant images of aging that we want to emulate or follow. These do not appear in the glossies, magazine covers or the Internet chatter. Rather we can be informed from the tales of the ancestors, the myths and stories of humankind, in all forms of culture, literature and art. These can show us the paths to honor and love and are guides along our journey in the search for whom we are. And, most assuredly, the images can appear in our dreams. pg 66.

SS: I flew down to Cape Town to meet 2 very dear and old friends from when we were in our 20’s.  …. We spoke of our changing attitudes and identities as we grow older, our loves and our likes, what brings us joy, our hurts and concerns, dreams fulfilled, those not, our sometimes envy of youth and their beauty. … We talked about aging as an initiation, a way of tying up loose ends and as a way of preparing for death. We are not immortal as we may have thought 40 years ago. pg 68

‘I don’t cover my face because I want to show my identity’.

Malala Yousafzai

AtoZ Blog Challenge H Heart

H – Heart

These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E. Schwartz is SES, I am SS, Susan Scott and my writings are italicized. Page numbers are given. This is from the Chapter ”Heart & Hope.”

SS: The call of the heart is always there. We feel the plaintive ache of it when sadness and despair is a shadow accompanying our every step; we feel the effervescent joy of it in simple pleasures when we see the beauty in a sunrise, or find a pansy shell. And that familiar sense of satisfaction when imbibing a delicious cup of coffee, or reaching one’s destination after travelling and returning home, These are more precious to me now, more than before. pg 63

SES: You refer to hiding the heart, emotions and and the damage that does to our whole being. As the heart grows, we can forgive, but do not need to forget. We are able to work it out, from the heart. This might mean that the world of feelings takes precedence and we lead from the emotions. Giving, compassion and empathy may be what enlivens the older years. Continuing the heart approach would keep us vibrant. pg 64

‘Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart, don’t know how to laugh either”.

Golda Meir

AtoZ Blog Challenge G Grief

G – Grief

This is a short excerpt from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E Schwartz is SES, I am SS and my writings are italicised. Page numbers are given. This is from the chapter ‘Grief’.

SES: Psychologically we are made to survive grief, even the most searing; and find some meaning, some purpose for proceeding on. Grief can unite us with our deepest self and introduce to us to those aspects we did not know. Grief reduces us and makes us new at the same time as we shed an old identity and slowly put on a new garment of being. The profound nature of grief is how much it can change us. Paradoxically, perhaps this is how gratitude is formulated. pg 57.

SS: A friend of mine whose husband died after a long illness a few years ago, wrote to me that she felt she was slowly coming out of the shadows of the grief that she had felt for so long. No longer was she in the shadow of wife and caretaker and was now in the difficult process of finding herself, who she truly is.  She had to forge a new identity and face the loneliness of that. She wrote about an earlier trip to the interior of her country. She wrote about the endless landscape  and the few nights spent under the stars and felt the boundlessness of it all, and wondered whether there was a similar boundlessness within her. pg 59.

‘She was no longer wrestling with grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts’.

George Eliot

AtoZ Blog Challenge F Fear

F – Fear

 

These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz and my recently released book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Page numbers are given. Susan E. Schwartz is SES, I am SS and italicisedThis is from Chapter ‘Fear & Fulfilment’.

SS: When I am assailed by fearful feelings, I realise that they are often the spur that shakes me out of my langour and torpor. It is not easy sitting with them. Yet, by virtue of sitting and being in that fearful place, another kind of awareness may emerge creating a slight shift. And I wonder what fear actually is? Is it an absence of love? Or the opposite of love? pg 50 

SES: Paradoxically, fear can promote fulfilment. It pushes re-membering what we lost, want and need. Being aware of fear gives pause, a place to consider the destruction turned against ourselves. … As older women, we might find a way through the fear, uncovering the facades of the of the false self, finally to unveil the real. pg 51

‘The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear’.

Aung san sun Kyi

April AtoZ E Eros

Eros

These are brief extracts from Susan E Schwartz’s and my recently released book “Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry”. Susan E. Schwartz is represented as SES; I’m SS – italicised. Page numbers are given. This is from Chapter: ‘Eros & Emotion’

SES: Without Eros a relationship with life itself ends. We cannot really eliminate Eros as long as we are alive. Yet we are in a paradox and admit that aging requires energy and focus. Age cannot be without Eros. The evening of life can also be enervating. We are engaged in continual forms of ending and beginning. There can be extenuating circumstances that narrow the playing field and cause us, and should cause us, to evaluate where, and how to focus our energy and time. pg 44

SS: It is comforting to know that truth can emerge from error. … To err is not necessarily a sign of weakness. It may be an expression of our all too real humanness, an expression of our vulnerabilities, insecurities and doubts. pg 47

‘Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind’.

Virginia Woolf 

Dreams April A-Z Blogging Challenge

April A-Z : D – Dreams

These are very short extracts from Susan E. Schwartz’s and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. SES is Susan Schwartz, SS is me, Susan Scott. My writings are italicised. Page numbers are given. This is from Chapter: ‘Dreams, Death & Depth’.

SES: The denial of aging and death can come through dreams, sometimes pointing out depression and despair. Over time, disregard of self brings disregard to and from others and damage all round. And then there is a slow but deliberate death to the psyche as the death-dealing blows arise from within. The dreams help us to break into the complex holding us hostage when we think there is no escape. pg 37.

SS: The dream reveals our own metaphor, our own myth, as a gift to one’s self. It carries great responsibility and opportunity. The rich and honest soil of the dream, unconscious and wanting some light thrown on it, requires attentive watering for its fertility to bear fruit.  pg 39. 

‘Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action.They must be woven together’.

Anais Nin

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AtoZ Blog Challenge C Change

C: Change

These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan E. Schwartz is identified by SES; Susan Scott by SS and italicised. This is from chapter ‘Complex, Cooking & Change’.

SES: I heard a woman speak about aging, but with disgust. Her body would go, she would not be attractive and would lose her strength, beauty and energy. It was awful to listen to this rendition about what little life held for her. Here is the complex around aging speaking. Such attitudes chip away at the sense of the self. page 27. 

SS: The call for change is always present as is the capacity for change – it is not really erased with age. Capacity is there when the right attention is on self – and others. Too often we get waylaid and forget the self part. But, we can recover with persistent attention to our capacities. Having the energy to open the door might be the question if we hear the call to develop and maintain self-regard. Yet a lifetime of internalized conflict can prevent hearing and answering the inner call. page 28.

We have to dare to be ourselves,

however frightening and strange that self may prove to be.

May Sarton

 

AtoZ Blog Challenge B Body

B: Body

These are very short excerpts from Susan E. Schwartz and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. Susan Schwartz is identified by SES, and Susan Scott by SS and italicised.

SS: But what about when we are incapacitated by a fall, a twisted ankle, a broken wrist? Or when rheumatism or arthritis slays us with pain? Or those horrible illnesses that are life threatening? We find ourselves unable to perform simple tasks we took for granted all the days before. For many of us, it is only when our bodies seem to have failed us through no apparent cause of our own that we note its significance and feel perhaps an undefined sense of betrayal. We’re forced into connection with our bodies and it brings into sharp relief how much we take them for granted, in the same way we take breathing for granted. pg 14

SES: As we know so well, the approach to our body is fraught with both yes and no. Too rarely is there care, real soul care and tenderness bestowed upon our bodies. Unfortunately, too many of us learned to put ourselves down, wait for the right weight that never happens and generally, continue to be dissatisfied.  This stage of life requires minute and sacred attending to health, strength, illness and injury. We regenerate, but more slowly; we recover, but in time. …Our bodies are the palettes on which we express. Our bodies keep us in this world, defining who we are. Daily the body calls. How we choose to answer remains the question. pg 21 Chapter 2: Body

 ‘Our own body is the best health system we have – If we knew how to listen to it’.

Christine Northrup

A for Aging April A-Z blogging challenge

A: Aging

I’ll be putting up very short excerpts in this April A-Z blogging challenge from Susan Schwartz’s and my book: ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. SES is Susan Schwartz, SS is me, Susan Scott and italicised. This is from chapter ‘Aging & Attitude’.

SES: Aging requires attention. It is a different kind of attention because now the flow is more strongly directed inward. This sort of reflection needs the inventive and intuitive. These are all parts of what it takes in being older. There are many ways we can make sense of what was and prepare for what will be. Yet, we delude ourselves with doing rather than being and the outer world supports this. We need the courage to confront the incomplete images and illusions. pg 5

SS: We can take a curious and adventurous attitude towards our experiences while aging. We know that we may live to a really old age, say 97, and we need to be practical about this in many ways, even if practicality is not our strong suit. We are a different generation to our children, parents and grandparents; longevity is on our side mostly. We supposedly have better health care yet we have to remain purposefully responsible for our own health. We have energy now even if physical and psychological energy in different shape and form is lacking at times. pg 9 

Let me keep my distance always,

from those who think they have the answers.

Mary Oliver

#WATWB

Sing up for We Are The World Blogfest!
We Are The World Blogfest
 “If we are facing in the right direction,
all we have to do is keep on walking.”
The quote is from Joseph Goldstein’s The Experience of Insight
I love these words, not just for their simplicity, but what they evoke. I love walking – it’s a time that I put ego aside and just enjoy nature. Nevertheless, thoughts do come unbidden to mind and I often find a solution to whatever has been on the threshold and troubling me. And, I wonder, am I walking in the right direction?
 
If it takes a year, or sixty years, or five lifetimes, as long as we’re heading towards light, that’s all that matters (same author).
 
Please join us if you would like to, and spread the word by adding your own personal story or some other enlightening event. Let’s set about diluting/dissolving the negativity around the world and bringing in the light. This is the link.
http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=277138&type=basic
http://www.leadsa.co.za/articles/249446/update-3-100-pairs-of-shoes-in-8-weeks – this tells the story of a young boy in Cape Town who was on his way to buy new shoes – and he saw another without ..

 

Theme Reveal for April A-Z

April A-Z Theme Reveal

Today is the day that we reveal our theme for the annual international April A-Z Blog Challenge. 

I haven’t fully decided on what my theme will be. Most probably on “Aging” excerpting a quote from my and co-author, Dr. Susan Schwartz’s book, ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry’. And elaborating a little. It will be psychological. Not long. We post daily in April, on a topic for each letter of the alphabet, except for Sundays when we get a day of rest.

I’ll also be linking my posts to We Are The World Blogfest (#WATWB) whose aim is to spread love and peace amidst our turbulent world and hopefully telling of positive, even personal, stories where ordinary human kindness is the order of the day. These effects are felt, no matter how small the ripple. This begins next week and continues for a year, posts to be put up on the last Friday of each month.

Sing up for We Are The World Blogfest!
We Are The World Blogfest

So, wish me luck. As I wish you, those joining in on this roller coaster ride …

I like this quote below – apt as today is the equinox – equal day and equal night, as the earth tilts on its axis. Here in South Africa, we move towards Autumn, and the northern hemispheres towards spring. I like also what it says about ‘certainty’ – 

“When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.”
― Julian BarnesFlaubert’s Parrot

Departures, Death, Birthdays and Anniversaries …

Departures, Death, Birthdays & Anniversaries

I took my husband, elder son Mike and his girlfriend Amanda to the airport this morning. My husband is off to Plettenberg Bay on his own, my son & girlfriend Amanda are off to Japan and The Philippines. My younger son Dave is also away, in Vietnam, with his lovely wife, Jüte. It’s their wedding anniversary today … one year since they were married on 19th March. And it’s Jüte’s birthday too. Dave tells of how he said to her that he would marry her only when she turned 25 – and that was the actual day they got married… today she’s 26 …

I got home from the airport, buying the Sunday Times en route, planning to do some things after I had chilled at home for a bit. I wanted to check on Harry our cat, who is an old chap already but he is I think, due to exit this world. He’s not eating, drinking a little water every now and then. I dreamed of him some nights ago, clambering up to a great height, then falling. I was in the bath, open to the elements and watched him falling. He landed on the side of the bath, his paws got a bit wet and then he slunk away. I was watching him in the garden this afternoon, sitting still, shifting position to face another way, then again and then again – I thought of the Buddha facing east, west, north and south as he bore witness to the earth and as he received enlightenment. I hope that Harry delays dying until my husband is back. He seems at peace. Right now, he’s sitting in my study on the mat with the glass door open.

I planned also this morning to phone my ill friend’s son Richard and ask if I could come round and sit with her for a bit. My cell phone beeped as I got out the car on my return home – it was a message from a mutual friend to say that Lyndy died peacefully this morning. Richard was at her side …

I messaged that person back immediately to ask if I could come round – come, he messaged back. There are other people here …

I left home soon after to go to Lynda’s home. I spoke to Richard who said that he was with her when she died, which was around 9.00 this morning. She was at peace he said – she died peacefully – I asked if I could go to her room and say goodbye – but no, he said.

There were many people. I had a few meaningful interchanges with family. Her elderly uncle, so dear – a cousin who I saw fairly often when I visited; another cousin who flew in last evening from abroad and saw her last evening.

So, the cycles of life, all in one day, the 19th of March – a prime number. Life, death, so closely intertwined. Life to be celebrated, anniversaries and birthdays too – and a death to be mourned – a departure –

And while I stick to my own advice of always keeping death alive on one’s left shoulder, my experience of her death leaves a hole in my heart ..

Rest in Peace dear Lyndy –  my friend from schooldays – sadly, fondly, lovingly remembered – 

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