moon on water  Thank you *Philippa Rees, author of ‘Involution – Science and God for inviting me almost 3 weeks ago to take part in this blog cascade or ‘touch-tag relay’ as she puts it whereby we introduce and reveal ourselves to the wider world. I was honoured and decided to accept her invitation because of who she is and what she represents. It’s taken me a long while to put up this post, but there is no moment like now.

*What am I working on?

Dr. Susan Schwartz in Phoenix Az., and I in Johannesburg South Africa, are in the throes of writing a book : ‘Aging & Becoming’. This particular stage of our lives brings a keen awareness of the limit of time left on this planet. This part of the life process continues to shape and shift us. We challenge perceptions that the older woman has little left to offer the world. It also brings an awareness that the older woman is often decried in western societies whose emphasis seems to be mostly on youth. Older women have much to yet contribute. We write about the unsaid.

Susan in the US is a Jungian analyst and I too am deeply immersed in the psyche; our platform is a thoroughly psychological one. Over the last several months we’ve been adding, critiquing, editing, giving shape and form to the book. For those of you who followed our participation in the April 2014 Blog Challenge (see side bar on right hand side), you will have an idea of it.

How does it (the book or the writing in general) differ from other works?

This book is not a ‘how to’ age with e.g. grace and glamour. It addresses the challenges we face as we grow older of which there are many, not least the loss of youth and vigour;  friends and loved ones dying; being incapacitated by illness, accidents. The energies are different at this stage of our lives and for us, it requires a depth-ful attitude and a willingness, even if hard work, to metaphorically and literally face the mirror. Using myth, our own personal experiences and those of others, and using e.g. the vehicle of dreams as messenger to come to the core of who we are, we illustrate the significance of this particular time of aging, and yet becoming –

My first book was also psychological. I was on my own for that. (see side bar). This one on ‘Aging & Becoming’ is with co-writer Susan Schwartz, good friend, who brings herself and her wealth of academic experience to it.

My writing process?

 Fear and trepidation are my companions when I start writing or even when I think about it. I wish I could say that writing comes easily for me, but the truth is, it doesn’t. Whoever said writing is ‘1% inspiration, 99% perspiration’ got this right. Perseverance pays, and when I get down to it, it is not as devilish as I thought. It is even enjoyable as fingers fly and there seems to be some coherence or even incoherence in which something new can be found. Finding time is always a problem, and procrastination is never far behind. Normally I write in silence, no radio or CD’s as background. Discipline is key.

Why do I write what I do?

 Writing on soul and psyche and its innate drive for balance between the opposites, dreams, the unconscious forces in the human psyche and thus between nations, and the ever present paradoxes that confronts us in life, is a task that is complex, difficult, frustrating, yet it is one I am compelled to undergo in my hope to be as authentic a human being as is possible, at least to myself. Too often we neglect our inner lives which holds treasure if we are prepared to go deeper. I am guilty of this sometimes.

 Time, people, place, circumstance changes as it always has over the millennia, but it seems to me that underlying motives and dynamics remain. Boundaries can be broken, risk is required to break free from our comfort zones. Through writing, life experience and observation of my inner world and outer, and extensive reading I think I know myself a little better, warts and all (wishful thinking?). I believe that the invisible inner world holds the potential for wholeness. Within the dark is the light …Always, the question is: Who am I, now? I straddle between both inner and outer worlds and its sunlight and shadows.

Passing on the baton.

I’m introducing Samantha Mozart of Delaware who has accepted the baton. I’ve known her for the last few years via her blog and books. I consider her a dear friend and an extremely talented writer. She was the sole caretaker of her elderly mother, who suffered from dementia. Samantha writes about the task of care-giving with a delicate touch, expressing inter alia the toll upon care-givers, ‘…sailing down that dark stream with its sharp bends encountering rapids…’. Her link is: where you will find ‘Shards of tales told in tents and outposts dug up along a dusty trail spanning ten thousand nights’. You’ll meet Moriarty, The Phantom of the Blog who comes visiting every once in a while. You’ll find links to her exquisite writings and information on her books, both of which are excellent and highly recommended for any one who is a care-giver. Interspersed with delicate recipes of eg salmon salad, her own wry sense of humour, music, her books are a delight even while addressing the gravitas.

 Her two books : Begins the Night Music: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journal Vol 1

To What Green Altar: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journal Vol 11

Amazon author page: and Goodreads:

 *Philippa Rees: Do have a look at this .. it makes for very interesting reading.

35 Comments on Blog Cascade & passing on the baton

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  3. Message like Samantha and you and Susan Schwartz are delivering are important and much needed in today’s world. Thanks to all of you for taking on this mission.

    I look at my own life as I enter retirement and that of my mother who often seems resigned to having nothing left to offer and being a burden on her aging children. We all need this type of encouragement. I still feel like a kid when I put myself next to my mother and yet realize that I might be in her situation sooner than I’d like to think. Life goes by quickly and it’s a shame to let it be wasted.

    Tossing It Out

    • Thank you so much Arlee for saying about Samantha and the two Susans. Our aging parents, or parents long gone, or your mother in your instance, often serves to bring our own lives into sharper focus. Time may be circular and eternal but the lives we lead within linear time are but a blink. May the situation of your mother be brightened from time to time Arlee within the time she has left. I wish her – and you – well.

  4. The book sounds wonderful, I so look forward to reading it. This exploration of ourselves as we age is so important. Surrounded by exhortations to look young forever as if growing older were some unspeakable sin, how great the need is to redress the balance. It’s one of the reasons I like the idea of reclaiming those pejoratives such as ‘crone’.

    • Thanks so much Tess. We hope to get the message across: if not now, when. It’s a particularly significant stage; and with our own experiences along the way and with knowledge of wisdom of the crones (eg Baba Yaga) these are years that can be full and enriching.

  5. I am very pleased to hear that you are collaborating on a book that takes on the topic of aging and the limited period of time we have left on this planet. I’ve always been optimistic about the aging process but am now often surprised and dismayed at how physically and mentally painful it is as we move into our “golden” years. What you are working on sounds like just the thing to help keep things in perspective.

    • Thanks so much Vicki, much appreciated. Aging is also a time when we can become more of who we are and this is surely a good reason to have an optimistic attitude. We truly hope that our book puts ‘things in perspective’ and makes for awareness of this particular time … even as I endlessly edit I remain hopeful in spite of any physical ‘decline’. How are you …

      • Most days I’m good, thanks for asking:) My hope is to recapture the optimism that comes so naturally in our youth and appreciate the wisdom we gain through aging. What you’re writing about is a fascinating topic.

        • Thank you Vicki and glad to hear that some days are good … may this increase. May you gain a new kind of optimism different to the one of youth, but of the same essence.

  6. Thank you so much Sherrey. You put it so beautifully! I love the images ‘crest of the hill’, ‘stepping stone’ .. and more. In spite of the struggles of life there is so much that is bounteous and good and beautiful. Perhaps as we age, we note this more particularly and gratefully, even gracefully. We can not only to ‘do’ new things but also to ‘be’ in a new way.

  7. Susan, it is gratifying to know a bit more about your writing and the why’s and wherefore’s of what you write. Aging and Becoming is a lovely title, and I can hardly wait until you and your co-author have finished it. I am pleased it is not another “how to” book. At the age I am right now (68), I would appreciate sitting down with a book in hand that looks deeply into the various phases of aging I find myself pondering, facing, and passing through. It is a wondrous cycle, this life we’ve been given. Beginning in infancy, we thrive and are nurtured through growth physically and emotionally. Each new phase of our life is simply another stepping stone to tomorrow and beyond. Reaching the crest of the hill, we look to the horizon and realize that now the steps take on a different perspective and changes continue but in the opposite direction. It is a most interesting and gratifying time of life filled with freedoms never before enjoyed, dotted here and there with loss of friends and family, perhaps struggles with one’s own health, but a time to definitely be enjoyed while creatively stretching oneself to do new things and meet new people.

    • Thank you so much Sherrey. You put it so beautifully! I love the images ‘crest of the hill’, ‘stepping stone’ .. and more. In spite of the struggles of life there is so much that is bounteous and good and beautiful. Perhaps as we age, we note this more particularly and gratefully, even gracefully. We can not only to ‘do’ new things but also to ‘be’ in a new way.

  8. cascade indeed ….we are a veritable waterfall pouring the oil of balm and truth love and compassion onto the muddied waters of at times an insane world.
    you hold the torch of mind and heart high and it shines forth in a kind and measured manner.
    thank you Susan
    always a meaningful reflection

  9. That 99% perspiration resonated with me. I write both fiction and non-fic, and routinely think whichever I’m not writing at the moment is easier. Which leads me to believe they’re both quite challenging!

    • Thank you Jan very much! Samantha’s web page is a delight. Did you ever receive in ‘inbox’ message I sent you several days ago?

  10. The topics you are addressing resonate with me, too: aging, dealing with dementia (my aunt), and creating/maintaining a life of significance.

    I have always enjoyed a psychological approach to a topic, possibly because in addition to its offering measurable data, also addresses the profound, the mystical.

    Susan, I believe you enjoy collaboration: recently with the April Blog Challenge and now pairing up with another Susan for your book endeavor. In my former life in academia, I was a co-director of training for the Cooperative Learning program at my college. All our research showed higher levels of critical thinking and better outcomes in a structured cooperative approach. All the best to both of you and to Samantha as well.

    • Thank you Marian for commenting! It’s the same Susan Schwartz of the April A-Z and our book on Aging & Becoming.

      Yes, collaboration – an interchange of ideas seems to allow for creativity as you would surely know. Interestingly, someone I know is currently directing a course in critical thinking within the work place! As of today I learned of this. It’s hugely overlooked in today’s age.

      Thank you so much for your good wishes .. and to Samantha as well.

  11. I absolutely enjoyed your heartfelt post. I do so enjoy reading your thought-provoking words about aging. I’m finding it is not an easy process. For me, my love was always in working with hands-on creative projects, knitting, sewing, needlepoint, and many other crafts, but due to aging I no longer see the fine weaves or print. Plus, as life changes for me in many other ways, lack of hearing, and the various pains that I experience in my body… I still need creativity, joy, and fun to drown out the negativity I experience in aging. Thus, the reason for my crazy writing… as I look for humor and love in the world of pain and sadness.

    My writing in life was about business. I no longer live in the business world and I’m learning to let another part of me come out into the world. I’m learning many lessons as I age. So I definitely can relate to reading your words of wisdom. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out.

    • Dear Gwynn, somehow in spite of your physical pain and other ailments, you manage to be cheerful. This is a quality in you I so admire – it is a gift to rise above the challenges that life presents. Your irrepressible spirit always comes out in your writings and brings a smile to this reader :). Your cheerfulness is not forced and I appreciate so much that you find humour and love in the world of pain and sadness. You and your gift .. long may they live on.

  12. Dear Susan;
    A thorough and heartfelt reflection on the process of writing and living–both less inspiration than perspiration as you so adroitly mentioned.
    Cascade is what we are in and the feeling of all the tendrils of its moments are what makes the path precious.
    Thank you for so very much,

    • Susan, thank you. How beautifully you express about the tendrils and cascade and the preciousness of being in it.
      The moon, almost full, and seen from my desk as I write, reminds me of you as boon in my life …
      Thank you for everything.

  13. Thank you for passing the baton to me, Susan, and the kind things you have said about me.

    I, as does Patricia, like knowing why a writer writes, and it seems to me that you and Patricia, and I, write for the higher purpose, to express our thoughts and feelings on that higher purpose, using the pen as the sword.

    Coincidentally, too, as Father’s Day approaches, I have been thinking “Who am I now?” It is interesting to note who I am as related to my roots and to see how I stray from that out in the world. I find the former so centering and peaceful.

    • It is a great pleasure Samantha. Thank you for accepting it. ‘Pen as sword’ .. that captures my sentiment precisely.
      I look forward to your post on this … I took ages and ages to construct mine. No pressure.

  14. What beautiful reflections! (And the first thing I’m reading from my inbox this morning – lovely!) And also rather ironic, Susan…This “blog cascade” seems to be a somewhat-more-serious version of the somewhat-more-whimsical “Liebster Award” that I just learned about, was nominated for, chose to accept/do…and nominated YOU for-! You can read about it in my today’s blog []. You may very well choose to not “accept” the award (jump into the Liebster daisy-chain) for whatever reason, of course – but I want you to know that I appreciate your blog, and so chose to include it in my list of “nominees” -! Until next time – Pam

    • I am honoured that you nominated me for the Liebster Award Pam, thank you. I saw your post earlier and smiled as well as thinking ‘can I do this?’ I have to confess that I trembled a bit at the thought of answering all the questions, cutting and copying the badge etc … I will go back and make a comment on your ‘highighted’ in my inbox post.
      Thank you for your kind words about this blog! Until next time …:)

  15. Hi,
    Thanks for the enlightenment about why you write and what it means to you. I especially like your last paragraph. Writing opens up so many corridors of our lives where we get to know ourselves for who we really are, if we are willing to face up to truth.

    Wholeness is real. It is a product of living our lives in light as we come out of and overcome the shadows. It is not an instant thing that you can pull out of a hat. It is a process and as you say and I quote, “Within the dark is the light …Always, the question is: Who am I, now? I straddle between both inner and outer worlds and its sunlight and shadows.”


    • Thank you so much Patricia. I appreciate your commenting so much. I was going to say in my post how I envy those (like you) who seem to write so effortlessly, and more besides (e.g. for me it is blood sweat and tears) … but I restrained myself! I especially like your sentence ‘Writing opens up so many corridors of our lives where we get to know ourselves for who we really are, if we are willing to face up to truth’.
      Thank you again.

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