Having just returned from my annual camping trip with six of my besties of 25 years, some things never change: women definitely need their girlfriends. We came together initially as each of us were exploring the deeper meaning of our lives in personal growth workshops and group encounters back when I was transitioning into the middle years of my life. The seven of us range in age from our early fifties to me holding the oldest maven torch of sixty-six. Four days and nights of “girl-time” has left me refreshed and inspired to keep living my best life in ways that no other experience can muster.
We all need time for rejuvenation, but what is it that “old” girlfriends stir in your soul that no amount of chatting with your husbands, children or newer acquaintances can give you? There is a deep acceptance within this time of womanhood that is hard to explain. As I grow into my eldering years, these mighty companions of mine see into me with unwavering love and kindness. We seem to reflect to each other that we are okay, even with our changing bodies and aging insecurities. We aspire to keep learning and growing and to tackle new adventures. We encourage each other to make a difference in our world and to keep reaching for the stars, albeit on a wider step stool as our energy levels shift and our physical capacities require adjustments. We are still Baby Boomers, born and bred, and will not sit idly by as our desire to be game changers still ignites a flame in us most mornings as we rise. Our generation is engaged in a monumental act – the reconstruction of what it means to be old. The traditional definition that aging means loss, degeneration and irrelevancy is not acceptable to the Boomer cohort to which we belong. Our generation has been part of a large and meaningful movement that has enjoyed the spotlight, right from the peace marches of the sixties to now, and we are not about to be content moving to the rocking chair as our life number hits the same pivotal sixties turning point.
Every year in March my girl tribe chooses our spot for joining together in July. This year we went to the Monck Provincial Campground past Merritt. We were lifted out of the smoky fog that had settled over Kelowna and moved into sunny, clear skies with a constant wind that blew through our double campsite of two motorhomes and tents like a cleansing breeze of transformation. We talked about our changing lives, the parts of our minds that still make us sometimes grapple with doubt and the life experiences that have strengthened us to take risks, even when we have no idea of the outcome. We laughed hysterically as three of our group entertained us with a skit of the life and legend of one of our gang that had celebrated her sixty-fifth birthday this year, reflecting on her various stages of life from hippydom to board room executive, managing hundreds of people in her organization. Oh, it is so good to revel in that belly laugh that shakes your body and brings you to tears. Being with seven powerful women can also raise your own hidden caverns of unforgiveness, where you question some things in your own life. The difference is that as you lay down on your air mattress alone at night, you make the decision to love yourself and let the judgements go, because you accept that you have done your best and are ready to forgive the mistakes of the past and recognize them as your own curriculum of learning that has made you who you are today.
The nature of women is to trust their intuitiveness. There is a bonding within that that understands the emotions of change and transition and allows us to be there for each other with a gentle hug and a knowing, unspoken tenderness. This sensing of others needs allows us to keep giving unconditionally to others, but our friends also remind us when to pull back and take care of ourselves when we overextend that giving nature to the detriment of our own well-being. And when our thoughts and emotions are too raw and fragile to be voiced easily, our circle of one friend or seven creates a unique comfortable joining where we feel safe enough to express our deepest vulnerabilities as we heal a loss or face a challenge or even as we let an accomplishment be revealed and embraced. True friends are always proud of seeing you let your light shine and happy to share in your momentary glow of magnificence.
We laugh, the seven of us, of how we may have to eventually move to cabins with room for our walkers or wheelchairs as the years go by. But we know that it won’t matter, we will always be there for each other until we face the loss of letting go of this wonderful journey called life where we laughed in the wind and rowed the boat together, all paddles in.
Marjorie Horne is the founder of CareSmart Seniors Consulting and the host of the
Engaging in Aging Radio Show on AM1150 every Sunday at 9am.