Friday, January 28, 2011


Life is all about changes.  There is, of course, The Change, which we women are very familiar with.  Some changes are out of our control, such as ageing.  Others, we can decide whether we want them or not.  There is a perception that, as we get older, we are more resistant to change.  Look at the expressions in our language- getting set in our ways; stuck in a rut;  same old, same old.  Who hasn't used these to describe an elderly parent, or a partner who won't fit in with our wishes?

We now have consultants in change management, which is an organisational process to help employees change behaviours and systems in a business .  And of course, there are a myriad of self-help books and DVDs produced each year to help us make changes in our personal lives.  There's no doubt that change is happening at a far greater rate today than at any other time in history.

I've always enjoyed change, but I've come to realise that this is because I'm usually the one instigating it.  Like many people, I'm not so keen on change that is imposed on me.  I grumble at the supermarket because, during a year-long upgrade, many items have been shifted to different parts of the store.  I get cross when I've gone into the city and found my way blocked because of buildings being demolished after the earthquake, necessitating detours to get to my destination.  But these are minor things. 

I am about to make two major changes in my life. Firstly, I am going to move to Invercargill, a city around 600 km away, and right at the bottom of the South Island.  Secondly, I'm going to start a university degree in Visual Arts.  Because I live alone, I can make these changes without having to fit in with a partner.  I'm excited about my new life and the challenges it'll hold. 

What about you?  Are you planning any major life changes?  Do you want to, but something is holding you back?  Or are you happy to continue as you are?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A sensitive issue

Lets talk about that bane of post-menopausal women - no, not men.  I mean facial hair. 

Last year, a TV broadcaster in NZ attracted complaints for referring to a person in the news as "that lady with a moustache".  More than once.  His offsider tried to hush him but he replied along the lines of "well, she obviously doesn't care about it so why shouldn't I mention it?".  While he later lost his job, it was for racially-based comments, not this occasion, so the TV network did not consider this overly insulting, just in poor taste.

Apart from losing my waistline, this is the most annoying thing I find about having gone through menopause.  The embarrassment of finding an errant stray hair that you simply hadn't noticed blooming freely somewhere on your chin or cheek for all to see is acute.

I am fascinated by women who do not remove their facial hair, and wonder why.  Is it too much trouble?  Too expensive?  Poor eyesight?  Or are they simply not bothered by it?

While I am in my mid-50s, I still try to look good for my own self-esteem, and to achieve that, I do wax my chin.  What are your thoughts about facial hair?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Power of Language

I have just been reading Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue", a very interesting book on the English language.  The power of language has always interested me.  The 1999 South Park movie "Bigger, Longer & Uncut", for example, could simply be seen as just more of the shock-and-offend tactics used by this programme.  In reality, it satirizes how acceptable it is to portray gratuitous violence in the media, while using certain words is not.

However, it's not only swear words that have powerful connotations.  We all know how much words said in haste or anger can wound us, often for many years afterwards.  Our own self-talk can be hugely limiting and damaging to our lives, so there's no doubt about the power that words and language hold.  My point in writing this post is that there are still words and language that exists that subtly denigrate us as women, especially older women.

Gender-neutral language such as "chairperson" can seem stilted and rather ridiculous, and it's often mocked.  However, there are many everyday expressions in our language that we use but don't really think about.  For example, the expression "family man".  Have you ever heard a woman described as a "family woman"?  I don't think so.  It's expected that women should be devoted to their children.  With men, it's something that's worth commenting on.
And do you ever describe someone as being "like an old woman"?  I've done that myself.  A slow and cautious driver is a "nana driver".  I don't know of any male equivalent.

This is a huge topic, and I could go on at length about how various words relating to women have been debased in our language.  "Mistress" is a good example of that.  Also "crone", which was originally part of the Trinity of Maiden/Mother/Crone of Wicca and goddess-based beliefs, but is more normally a very insulting term.  However, I'll focus on one very specific type of word for my question to you - your name, part of your very identity.

Goodwin is my married name and I've kept it after my divorce because I wanted to have the same name as my children.  When I was a child and my mother remarried, I was teased at school because she had a different name from me.  Of course, this was 50 years ago when divorce was uncommon and single parents were rare.

If you have married, did you change your name to your husband's?  If so, and you were marrying again today, would you do the same?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Going Gray

Firstly, I am delighted with the response to the new blog after only a few days.  I am now on Twitter - click on the link on the sidebar if you want to follow me.  I've also changed the look of the blog to make it easier to read.  A note for those who may want to contribute, but are reluctant to do so under their normal Blogger persona - why not set up an alternative blog identity?  That way, you can join in and share your experiences without feeling embarrassed.  And if you plan to keep viewing the blog, why not become a Follower?  Then you will automatically be notified when I've put up a new blog post.

I know it's not exactly next week yet, but clearly we have a lot to talk about so I'm starting on the next topic - going grey.   I'm reading this great book that I borrowed from the local library. This is an issue that's waaaaaaay bigger than it looks!  I can recommend this book, even though it's American and doesn't necessarily mirror my own experiences.  The author, Anne Kreamer, does quite a bit of research that may surprise you.

My experience: I decided to go gray when I turned 50, and I stopped colouring my hair (dark blonde) at that time.  I had annoying hair that was completely gray at the front but only partly gray at the back.  I grew my hair long, so I looked completely different if I wore my hair pulled back in a ponytail than if I wore it out.  At that time, I was self-employed and in my "arty" persona.  Then I moved and returned to my daytime profession, financial services.  I needed to change my look, not just for the work but because I was making major changes to my life.  So I went to a hairdresser and asked to become gray all over.  She said that was the one thing hairdressers couldn't do.  Consequently, for most of the past 3 years, I've had blonde highlights to get as close to the gray as possible, with darker colour framing my face.  When I returned from overseas (3 months with no hairdreser!), I discarded the dark framing and opted for dark "stripes". 

Now I'm wanting to do another change in my life  - if I can do it, I'll become a student for the next 3 years.  I plan to stop colouring, though I may still put the odd stripe into my gray.  I'm 56, I don't see the point of having hair that looks 20 years younger than the rest of me. 

What's YOUR experience with gray hair?  Do you cover it up, or go au naturel?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A new year, a new decade, new experiences - do something new!

Welcome to my second blog! The other one, my creative blog, is here. This one is more of a thinking blog, and, I hope, will be interactive with my blog readers.

My intention is to post weekly on a topic that's relevant to older women. Week One's topic is Getting Out Of Our Rut And Doing Something New.

Look at the world around us - older women tend to be sidelined, overlooked, even invisible.  We're someone's wife, mother or grandmother, and often not thought of as an individual. You don't think you're invisible?  Try walking down the street in a strange town, and see how many people meet your eye, or take any notice of you.  I discovered that I was invisible when I moved to Christchurch 8 years ago.  At first, I was angry.  Clearly, I had reached an age when I was no longer interesting or desirable.  But after a while, I decided it was liberating.  I could do what I liked, wear what I liked and no-one would notice. 

Let's reclaim our place in the world by sharing and enhancing all our years of experience and wisdom, and doing new stuff in this new decade.

Here's 3 things I've come up with that I want to do in 2011 :

1. Start a university degree
2. Learn to rollerblade
3. Travel to Australia

What are YOUR 3 new things?