On Growing Older




Growing older is difficult. At least that was the message communicated to me by my mother. She had a miserable time of it and that memory still remains within me. I am trying not to resist the ageing process and to honour the wise, spirited and attractive woman that I know I am. A little more than one year ago, I had a TaMoko (Maori tattoo) tattooed on my arm by an indigenous Maori artist, Rangi Kipa, from Tauranga, New Zealand. The theme I discussed with him was my desire to honour and embrace myself as an older woman. He interpreted a beautiful representation of this on my arm. 

The meaning of the detail carved into my skin was explained by Rangi in this way:The long piece represents Rangimarie (Halley’s Comet) which only comes around once in one’s lifetime. Thus we have one journey in life, whether we plan it, it just happens, or is just a series of events. My task is to honour whatever my journey is. Life is Grief and Life is Happiness. These are the cycles of Life represented in my tattoo. The pou’s (significant posts) of my life are my children, my grandchildren, those I work with in my professional life and the people whose lives I touch in my community”. I feel the wairua (spiritual energy) of this Ta Moko and it strengthens me.

With this wisdom offered to me, I am learning to trust the process of growing older. As a white western woman, it is difficult not to feel embroiled in the dominant discourse of our time and culture, which is to deny the ageing process and to work hard to keep looking young.

On my coffee table, I have a magazine with a photo of the actress Helen Mirren on its cover. At seventy-two years old she looks fabulous, sexy and hot! I think I would love to look like that when I am seventy-two. At the same time, I don’t like this feeling of being affected by some kind of shame about looking older. This embarrassment about ageing is embedded in our Western culture, especially for women. Women all around me are fighting the ageing process. Much younger women than me are having facelifts, boob jobs, botox lips to create a younger, sexier look and to keep the wrinkles at bay. Some of this frenetic energy is about the desire to remain attractive to men whom we wish to impress. I find myself surrounded by the socio-cultural pressure to remain youthful looking and to disguise any signs of ageing on my face or on my body. I do not like it and yet I am seduced by it.

Alternatively, I am reminded by my Ta Moko to honour this journey of growing older. To honour my years of experience of life and of living. To welcome the opportunity to transmit some of what I have learnt to others, if it is of value to them. To continue to receive my own life lessons time and time again, in all of life’s unpredictable weather patterns that I find myself negotiating.

One of my friends wiser than I, who is from a culture who truly honours and values their old people said this to me recently, “If there is anything worse than growing old Ros, it is not growing old”.

I hope this wisdom teaches me to embody the beautiful older woman I wish to be.

The photo I have chosen for this blog is me celebrating my birthday only a few weeks ago in Melbourne, with my beautiful Mexican friend Jorge, who was whirling me around the dance floor! The photo was captured by my gorgeous Swedish friend Jytte. I love this photo as it captures a moment in time for me; total abandonment to the moment and the joy of living. I felt so happy that night, celebrating my birthday with wonderful friends.

My Ta Moko is also visible, reminding me to celebrate my journey in Life. It is the only one I will ever have.

rosmlewis

Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health.

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7 Comments

  • Frances Denz
    April 20, 2019 at 7:56 am

    I read your blog on Baxter with interest. I had heard stories and my husband wanted to go and visit him but intuitively I refused as I believed that my husband would look for excuses for his own sexual adventures. I too believe that when we record history it should include the good the bad and the ugly. Thankyou

    • rosmlewis
      Rosalind Lewis
      April 20, 2019 at 8:08 am

      Thankyou so much for your words Frances

    • rosmlewis
      Rosalind Lewis
      April 26, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      Thankyou Frances for your words. Yes, truth telling is not always easy, but in the end it is the way to go I think.
      All the best to you,
      Ros

  • Rachelle Arcus
    April 20, 2019 at 6:30 am

    Inspirational, truthful and possitive. A guide personality and awareness of self.

  • Deb
    April 20, 2019 at 5:12 am

    Thank you Ros! You ‘re a wise woman and a very beautiful one!! I too look at Helen Mirren and finding myself hoping to look like that! Let’s all just agree it takes a team to look that good! She wakes up each morning, brushes her teeth in the mirror and looks like us too! To give her crrdit she looks nothing like those manufactured “enhanced” woman we see more and more of. Faces that can’t move and tell no stories, impossibly upright bosoms and lips that look like blow up ones! Give me little line or droop, a stretchmark , a wrinkle or a grey hair- I have lived, I have loved, I have given life, I have held my parents in my arms as theyhave died and those same arms have held my grandchildren moments after they have been born.I have lived! I am thankful.

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About me

Rosalind Lewis

Rosalind Lewis

Professionally I have 33 years experience as a Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health. I currently live in Melbourne, Australia and work in Mental Health. I have a particular interest in supporting and empowering women and men to be all they can be, by assisting the discovery of tools that help them find strength to transform difficulties into opportunities, enriching their lives both personally and professionally. I am a New Zealand Registered Psychotherapist with PBANZ, member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists and have a Masters of Health Science (Psychotherapy) First Class Honours. My research thesis was about the long term consequences of intimate partner violence for women. I am influenced and informed by both my professional experiences and my own personal journey, which has involved many challenges and celebrations along the way.