No woman should feel ashamed of returning to the world through her work, a portion of its lost heart.”
I think this is attributed to Louise Bogan: would that it were mine.
As a matter of fact I do look 5 days over 60 because, well, that’s what I am. A Crone.
I gave myself a birthday present about a week before my birthday. I hadn’t intended to, but there it was anyway.
It had been a strange day. I was agitated — worried that after 59 years of making myself small so as to not make people feel bad, that I would have no credibility when it came to redefining myself and starting a new career. I mean, how could I receive compensation for my talents that I had for years minimized? What did I have to show as accomplishments?
What I have been relying on for income for over twenty-five years – technical writing – is no longer an option for me. I have been getting no responses to my resume, and, more important, the compensation offered is less than I earned twenty years ago. It was never an occupation that truly recognized the value of good communication, but at least it paid well. Now, it doesn’t pay enough to cover health insurance, let alone compensation for the frustration of an uphill struggle to write well in an unsupportive environment.
I had to find a new career. That was the source of my agitation and, quite frankly, fury.
I found myself feeling as if I had my hands on the plunger of a detonator that would bring down a house – empty, deteriorating, not safe for occupancy.
Metaphor alert: Just to be clear, this was a metaphor for how I felt. I had no detonator in my possession, let alone dynamite.
I succumbed to the feeling and pushed the plunger. It was a powerful boom. The structure unraveled. A cloud of dust engulfed the space that the house had occupied.
A momentary silence, and then the dust cleared, revealing, not an empty space, but a beautiful house surrounded by a lush garden.
My new house. The house of the Crone.
When I turned 50, I did a meditation in which I invited in the Crone. When I asked her how I could help she said, “Let go of youth. She’s no longer your friend.”
And then, “You know what you need to know to be your life. No one else can give you those answers.”
Well, ten years later, I got it, what the Crone was telling me.
And so, the week before my birthday, I received word that I would get what I had asked for: compensation for reading my creative writing. The first response to my request was “Well, that’s not going to happen.” The message being: “We’re doing you a favor by letting you read it.”
Well, I thought, if that’s your decision . . . I guess I won’t be reading my writing at your event.
Much to my surprise, about a week later, my proposal was accepted.
And . . . instead of feeling guilty about honoring the worth of my work, I just felt, “Well, yes, I do know what I’m doing and I know the value of what I am doing.”
It wasn’t so much that I deserved it as that my work has value: I had used the gifts I was given and turned them into the works of my hand:
And so, I felt what it was like to be me, without guilt, shame, or embarassment for having been given the particular gifts that are my talents. I had the right to live the life I was born into.
That was my birthday present to myself: I have the right to my life.
So here’s to my becoming a Crone – may I return to the world through my work, a portion of its lost heart.