Thursday, March 5, 2020

SOL20 Slice #5: Maya, Pema, and Two Stephens

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOL20).  
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2020.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

She leans over the weight machine to adjust the seat position, and her grey hair flows. She leans...just a little too long. Wait, what's happening? Is she okay? My heart races and I stop my own weight-lifting, poised to jump towards her.


She's stretching. Now, she moves to stretch her other side.

I breathe deeply, and shake my head at my silliness.

I am surprised by how quickly my mind jumps fearfully towards death and loss these past few months, due to deaths of relatives, friends, and others in my wider circle of community. It feels like I have had a seismic shift in the number of these deep losses, especially when compared with, say, when I was 30 years old. Duh, reality check - I'm getting older. My peers and I - we are becoming the elders.

It's made me think a lot about my health. I think, too, about the meaning of life. I wonder about all the big problems in the world and my little efforts. It feels very much like a time to get real with oneself.

I found I was not alone in these thoughts, this sense that I am entering a new phase of life. There are four of us, friends, women of a certain age, that have been feeling as if we are in a time of great change and great possibility...on the cusp of something new. We are also white, middle-class, straight, cisgender, urban, college-educated, progressive women, acutely aware of our privilege, with a burning sense of 'to whom much is given, much is expected.' What comes next, when you are in your sixties and female? We have one toe into old age...well, maybe a few toes.

We formed a book club! (Lol) We found that we were having a lot of similar conversations with one another - What should we do next? What are we doing now that really matters? Should we retire? How will our relationships with our spouses change when we are both retired and 'around' more? Why are we increasingly invisible to others, yet feeling vibrant on the inside? What enriches us? What do we seek to do? Especially, how might we help the world, build a better future for others? If we had that proverbial magic wand, what would it be?

We are reading these four books:

Letters to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

I've been fascinated by the common threads between these very different books - being aware of our stories, the essentialness of being present and mindful, and recognizing your own wisdom.

We have set a six month limit to our book club, and then we will re-assess its value. Maybe, we'll move from reading into some action steps. In the meanwhile, we're not sure that any one of these books has been the perfect answer to our questions, but the book club is an answer itself. We have our own little focus group, to support and share and wonder. 


  1. Oh my goodness. We have a lot in common. I am a woman of a certain age and do feel like I might be "increasingly invisible to others, yet vibrant on the inside." I love your phrase. I've been involved in 2 book groups. The first is a mother-daughter book group started like 20 years ago. The mothers are still meeting and reading and supporting each other as we go through yet another interesting phase of life. The second is an anti-racism book group where we read Beloved by Toni Morrison and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and There, There by Tommy Orange. I think your group is a great idea and I wish you happy tidings.

    1. Love hearing from you! Your book clubs sound so interesting. An anti-racism book group - this is such a good idea. Thanks for sharing!

  2. These words: I'm getting older. My peers and I - we are becoming the elders.“ These words haunt my own being. In the one hand I have worked a lifetime in the same profession, but on the other hand I look at the lives of women such as RBG and Elizabeth Warren and others and think I should be doing more.

    I haven’t read any of the books you listed, so maybe I’ll check them out. I don’t want to waste this “new phase of life,” but I’m not quite sure what to do w/ it.

    1. We've worked hard and richly throughout our years. Yet, still more that we can do! Thanks for commenting - I knew you were a kindred spirit.