In May, a diverse group of twenty adventurous women met for a weekend to test-run our first ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ workshop. Two flew in from Brisbane, one from Melbourne, one from Tumby Bay on Eyre Peninsular and one from Kangaroo Island. The remainder came from Adelaide and surrounds. This pilot was supported by COTA SA (Council on the Ageing) and held in their boardroom in Adelaide.
COTA SA CEO Jane Mussared set the scene brilliantly on the first morning:
“Kay came to see me a few months ago..Kay (and her colleague, Ali) had a workshop they wanted to try. They wanted to create a format for older women to lift one another up, kick one another’s butts, challenge one another, cherish one another and collectively dump the images, myths and stereotypes we have of our ageing.
They reckoned that those myths and stereotypes, particularly about older women, just might be unbalanced, outdated and, dare I say it, man-made.
Time for us to challenge them and get rid of them.
At that meeting with Kay...I felt the aura of a kindred spirit, a fellow traveller, a fellow revolutionary, a sister of change.
So before she asked, I said yes. I still do.
COTA SA is an organisation run for, by and with older people. We make it our business to create a modern view of ageing that won’t cramp our style, overwhelm our sense of self and waste our lives by sitting us on the sidelines.
And when we think about modern ageing we particularly want to redress the inequality which means that older women are especially either invisible or, perhaps worse, visible but only in ways that none of us want a bar of.
Inequality comes home to roost as we age – economic inequality, gender inequality – and indeed every other inequality. If old is bad then old woman is a double whammy bad in our popular culture. And we all wear that.
We have got to change that and this group has put up our hands to have a go.
I am 59 and I want to celebrate my advancing age, to challenge myself to be courageous and bold and to connect with a sisterhood of explorers and adventurers.
I want to define a new ageing – to invent a style, a love of my body, a share of confidence and to give myself freedom to be me.
I am not sure what your bodies have been doing for the last 50, 60, 70, 80 years. Mine has had 4 kids, taken a back seat to work and home priorities, survived horrific fashion fads, doubted itself, wished to be skinny while eating more cake, waxed and waned between fat and less fat and looked longingly on air brushed images in women’s magazines for years and years.
But I feel incredibly free now. I look in my mirror and I worship this workhorse body of mine, and its soul within, cut it some slack and wrap my arms around it.
Our bodies and minds are craving to express themselves, itching to break out our own style, bursting with a strong sense of “me” and longing to care less about others and give ourselves permission to have a go.
It’s not selfish – it is a chance to ride a wave of social revolution and create spectacular roles and purpose for ourselves and others that at the moment are so hard to grasp.
And I love the idea that the best just may be yet to come!”
That certainly had us all paying attention!
The weekend was a wild ride and it was immediately obvious that this group of women would never be quite the same afterwards. Strong bonds were formed as experiences were shared, differences aired, inspiring stories told, eyes shone, tears flowed, we laughed, we practiced mindfulness, we discussed our libidos, new models for taking care of each other when we’re really old and we even danced! Who knew one woman with the surname Dance would actually entice us all to dance? And it was beautiful, joyous and extraordinary.
I can’t promise any of these things in future workshops, it will depend on the interests, passions and talents of the women in the room, but I can promise one thing. We will join a tribe of women world-wide who are marching into older age to the beat of our own drums and banging them loudly in support of each other.
Beginning as the kernel of an exciting idea on a walk along Aldinga Beach in January, The Best is Yet to Come is now taking on a life of its own. Its website is now live, the first blog published and the Instagram account @thebestisyettocome101 is about to track our progress.
The next weekend workshop will be held at co-working space, Intersect, in Adelaide on 13/14 July and we are open to the idea of conducting these and other similar conversations with older women anywhere! We have no idea where it will go from here but we have open minds and hearts and look forward to seeing how it evolves and taking those next steps.
Will you join us?
Let us know your ideas, what you’d like. We’d love to hear from you....