The Women's Words

These are a few lines taken from the book. They are written by each women about what being 60 means for her. There were no interviews. Each was just asked to write whatever they wished to say.  

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I believe in celebrating milestones, and turning 60 was certainly a big one for me. Actually surviving to 60 was an occasion to celebrate all on its own – I have a rather odd disability and didn’t really think I would get to 60.

Fallen trees, streams, fences or gates were no obstacle. We jumped them all and were out all day. Life was different back then we didn’t worry about carrying bottles of water, snacks, stranger danger or keeping in touch with cell phones.Nowadays those hills that were our playground are suburbs.

In my childhood, spoken words were discouraged or fell on deaf ears. But I soon discovered that words can be smuggled into a silenced house – if they are hidden between the covers of a book.

He puta taua ki te tane, he whanau tamariki kit e wahine! Men make war, women bear children.

What strikes me most when I look at this photo is that the essence of who I was and what I believed when I was 15 hasn’t changed; only deepened.

As I’ve ‘matured’ I’ve come to appreciate the circularity of life – how past, present and future become one. My mum died of breast cancer at 54, so whatever comes my way now is a gift.

I grew up in a happy home, second eldest of eight! I have been married for 39 years, we have 6 wonderful sons and to date 5 beautiful grandchildren.

The red dancer is my special friend Vajrayogini. She’s a dakini, a Tibetan meditation deity, a woman who dances in the Great Mother primordial wisdom void. Because she dances in the void, she’s wild and free, passionate, laughing and growling.

I did not look forward to turning 60. It seemed so old and it brought out all my ageist prejudice.

I have achieved financial independence in a way my mother would never have dreamed. Yet I still am bound to the people I love for support and nurturing. Maybe things haven’t changed that much?

I feel bold – proud to be 60 and confident to stand up and be proud of who I am and deal with the challenges and adventures that will come my way. I finally feel visible.

This year I became a grandmother for the first time. Her father, my son, turned 40 and my daughter turned 20. We are in alignment. This is the year I stand with two feet on the ground.

I found a new life, a husband, a group of people who remain dear to me and the huge possibilities of an international village.

Woman, Mother, Inheritance – My mother died last year she is now united with those who went before her. I still feel her presence.

Slowly slipping off the mantle of my ‘working title’, Revealing the under-garment of who is me, Seeking a soaking in what gives me joy: creativity, nature, people. Accompanying my parents’ journey through the older years.

One thing they taught me was to live life to the full. So I intend to grow old disgracefully and continually get out of my comfort zone rather than hide behind the work I do.

I have always been inward looking by nature. It has been a real journey learning to look inwards and outwards at the same time.

Needless to say after three marriages, four fabulous children, one grandchild and lots of counselling, I did learn to believe in myself. I am proud of who I am, my achievements and my look.

I am one of two women who circumnavigated the 400km Coromandel Peninsula solely on the coastline from Thames Wharf to Anzac Cove, Waihi Beach.   I love tramping, kayaking, rock climbing and just dressing up like a princess. 

Never give up your childhood dreams; but be awake to the ways you can achieve them.

Tulips evoke memories of my late husband who taught me about love, strength, dignity, faith, loyalty, courage, forgiveness, peace, joy, honesty, patience, determination, compassion and wisdom.

Be thankful for the places you’ve been and for the people who go with you– and the Red Skirt.

Diving into life at 60. Feeling fitter, stronger and more flexible than ever in body, mind and spirit. Excited about what is around the corner.

I am lucky to be part of a long term, loving relationship with my partner Sue. I am a lesbian and a feminist. I have worked to improve equality and social justice for women. I am disappointed that violence against women continues today to be a huge and often hidden issue in our society.

Turning 60 for me is about living in the moment – nurturing each day and smelling the roses. It is also about constantly creating moments – big moments, adventure moments, learning new things moments, grandma moments, family moments.

I am proud as a Samoan and a matriarch of my family. I am a humble servant to my country.

Having exhausted the goodwill of my dear family, I now perform mostly for my cats at home, wearing the same haughty expression. They are devoted to me and are in absolute accord that: a) I could have been a fabulous dancer; b) I could have been a backing singer for Steely Dan.

Inside this portrait is a frustrated textile designer waiting to burst out. Being 60 heralds the beginning of my creative revolution.

When I look at this picture I see a woman who lived in another time – who led a different life and played a different role. I see an alchemist, a sorceress. I see a woman who wasn’t afraid to lead from the front and go into battle for what she believed.

Seclusion; Solitude; Detachment; Interiority; Some of what I appreciate about this stage of my life.

18 months on since this photo was taken much has happened in my life; joy, love, kindness, despair and loneliness. It still goes on, life’s lessons.

Being genetically identical, we even lay claim to each other’s grandchildren!The same, but different... forever linked.

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