How do you see your life?
Updated: Apr 9, 2022
“Every year should teach you something valuable; whether you get the lesson is up to you. Every year brings you closer to expressing your whole and healed self.” ~Oprah Winfrey
My life overflows with metaphors. When you’re a women’s midlife coach and a cultural mythologist, you can’t escape it. Spring is not just Spring; it’s the return of Persephone from The Underworld. New green shoots are hope and ideas, and all are symbols of the renewal of nature and her seasons, which then leads me to consider the seasons of life.
Recently though, some of the symbols, signs, and metaphors accompanying my life have been not-so-gentle reminders of the processes and realities of aging. We purchased our home 28 years ago. It was a big financial stretch. We squeaked through the gates of the mortgage process and settled into our busy householder years, raising our three kids. There have been more ups and downs than I like to recall, but through them all, miraculously, we kept our home, and now, all the kids have started their own lives. This alone, I take as a small measure of success as a mother. This feeling is a lot like the golden-hazy days of toddlers and young children, when, if they were washed, fed, loved, and alive at the end of the day, I counted that as a win!
As I look around our quiet home, after 28 years of rough and tumble living, like me, she is starting to show her age. The full-length curtains I sewed to keep the heat out during the hot summers, and the warmth in during the chilly California winters are shredding on the curtain rod. I never noticed it before. It must have been like this for quite some time. Well, that’s embarrassing. Having color beached and weakened the fabric, the sun has left them hanging like decaying remnants of mummy wrappings. And it’s true. Like a mummy, this house is empty of its former life. I’m noticing that the skin on my arms is the same! It’s hanging, wrinkled and loose, emptied by 28 years of hugs and love that protected, strengthened, and prepared my children for the hard world and girded my husband for his daily battles.
We’ve had to stop using the shower in the master bedroom. The tile is literally pulling away from the walls. Our track home, built 36 years ago, is painfully out of style, but that’s not really the issue. From the years of enthusiastic bath times, the tub shower combo began to leak water behind the grout and caulking. They tell me that we have mold. Not the bad kind, but the kind that must dry out in order to fix it. No more using this until it’s fixed.
I leak now too. . . sigh. The dry air in my town encourages me to drink lots of water. So, I make frequent, hurried trips to the bathroom. Luckily, I have not had any full release disasters. If and when I do, I hope I can meet with my sense of humor! When it’s important, I now wear a pad for a different reason. I thought I was done with pads.
There’s a light fixture over my husband’s sink that doesn’t work anymore. Changing the bulb doesn’t help. Drying my hair is now a ritual I perform in semi-darkness. I too have energies that are not available anymore. In years past, I would stay up late into the night, cherishing my most creative time after everyone was sleeping and the house was quiet. Not anymore. Now, I’m done by 8:30 pm. My vital and creative energy hours have flipped to the early morning.
I have become a morning person. Hell has frozen over.
In the kitchen, we have wallpaper that hasn’t been fixed and a backsplash that hasn’t gone up from 15 years ago. Ah . . . that potentially perfect kitchen, where we ran out of time and money. It’s a daily reminder of unfulfilled potential. Every day it poses the question, What did I put off or shift to the back burner? What intentions did I have, and what goals, hopes, and dreams have I left undone?
The front entrance to our home has a little walkway with garden planters that lead up to the front door. They’re bursting at the seams. The brickwork is falling apart. I love to garden, and nature's generous bounty has rewarded all my years of effort with enormous fragrant roses, huge Birds of Paradise, Jurassic-sized ferns, and more. They have outgrown the artificial limitations imposed on them by a stack of bricks, designed to tame or limit nature's vitality.
The brickwork, ordered, logical, symmetrical, is left-brained, in accord with the masculine, orderly, attributes of Apollo. The plants, with their non-linear vital creativity, follow the celebratory wilds of Artemis, or even the ecstatic Dionysus.
I’m falling apart too. I’m giving way to the rhythms of nature, which include aging. The bricks of my spine, my vertebrae, are going their own way, causing my foundations to tilt. I'm now two inches shorter! I have a longer list of critical back issues that I won't burden you with. Suffice it to say that I m working on my bone density and maintaining flexibility. Everyone I know hurts from time to time.
The waning of the body compels the spirit to soar or stagnate. My body is giving way to my soul, the ultimate connection to the creative. For the past 30 years, I gave my bones, muscles, sinews, blood, heart, and soul to my family and my work. It was and is amazing. It made me who I am. Now that my body is heading back toward the earth, from whence it came, degree by degree, I’m feeling the pull of my psyche. The light of my soul is building, my passion for my work in service of others is growing, and I am claiming this time for me.
My home and my body are living metaphors. Jot me a note and tell me ou metaphors. Let me know how you’re doing!