WRITING STRONG WOMEN

Thoughts and commentary on being a strong woman—what it takes, and how we get there

Defeat

What it is. What it isn’t.

What is defeat and when might a woman experience it?defeat

Defeat is not the same thing as not doing something correctly. Defeat occurs when, in the midst of a difficult task, we give up, not on the situation, but on ourselves. We quit trying.

The opposite of defeat is success. We succeed when we win the battle over ourselves. When we persist in the pursuit of our dreams, no matter the obstacles, we are winners in life, for we have won over our weaknesses.

Or until we learn to not say no.

A woman with a novel in first draft once said to me, “I’m afraid to keep going with this, trying to get published, because I fear I will fail.”

My reply? “We only fail when we stop trying to accomplish our goal. You won’t fail if you don’t let yourself. When discouragement comes,  you pick yourself up and keep working at it until you carry out your goal. That’s the only way any of us will ever be successful.”

I didn’t always follow that advice. For many years, I was a quitter. There are many projects I would start, get discourage, and stop. Only many years later would I learn the secret of success–don’t stop!

How about you? What works for you that helps you carry out you goals? How do you handle rejection or the fear of defeat?

Posted in Crones, Steel Magnolia, Strong Woman, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

White

Knights & Pink Pigs | knight

knight

Our guest author today is Lindsay Frucii, a recent guest on my Blog Talk Radio program, Writing Strong Women and the author of The Pig & Me-a powerful story of her ‘knight’ and the journey of a very strong woman.

In 1989 when a personal bankruptcy robbed her family of financial security, Lindsay decided the way back to marital and family bliss was to start a business that would make gobs of money. Out of the mantra “there must be something I can do”€ and a passion for fat-laden, fudgy brownies that made it hard to zip her jeans, an idea was born: healthy brownies for the masses. In a leap of faith borne on the wings of innocence and naivete, she founded No Pudge! Foods, Inc., and began an unexpected whopper of a roller coaster ride.

Be warned, this post is a little long, so if you can’t finish it in one sitting, mark it and come back and finish. It is well worth your time.

The fairy tale is an enviable, business success story. The reality is the story of a woman who was raised hearing “You can’t” and found, to her surprise and great satisfaction, she could – and then some.

As a little girl, I always knew exactly what my life would be like when I grew up. After high school I would learn a trade and live at home until my white knight came along. You know, the tall, handsome dude on the white horse. The one who would carry me off to a big house with a white picket fence where I would be his wife and raise our children. His job would be to earn a good living and take care of me because God knows, as a woman, I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself.

When the white knight didn’t come along as planned, I was left feeling insecure and lost. On my 25th birthday, my older sister – who’d married right on cue at twenty-one and had two babies in two years – cheerfully informed me that I was officially an old maid. As I approached my 28th birthday, still single, it suddenly hit me that I was tired of waiting for that damn knight. Suddenly hit me. As in never crossed my mind before.  You know it’s almost embarrassing to write that, but it’s the God’s honest truth. I was twenty-seven and a half years old before I first thought that maybe it was time to stop waiting. Waiting for the damn knight. Waiting for someone to create a home with. Waiting for someone else to make me happy. Waiting to play the role I’d been raised to believe I’d be a failure without.

So I quit my job as a nurse, got an entry-level job in Corporate America, started making a lot more money and damn, didn’t that knight show up. He was driving a Saab Turbo instead of riding a white horse, but he was tall and handsome, had a great job, owned his own house and at 29, was still – incredibly – single.  Boo Yaa!

You’re probably thinking, “She’s a little slow, but at least she finally got it” and assuming that my knight and I married and had little knights (we did). It also makes sense you believe I’d grown enough by then that our marriage was one where we both considered me a strong and equal partner. Ah…. No.

My husband had been raised to view our roles in the same way I had and once our first son was born, we both slipped unknowingly right back into them. It turns out that roles ingrained in you since birth don’t disappear, they simply submerge, waiting to rear their ugly heads at the first sign of weakness.

I adore the role of being a mother. To this day being a mother to my two sons is, without a sliver of doubt, the role that makes me happiest. But the role of unequal wife? Not so much. The lack of equality was not an in-your-face, you-are-the-subservient-wife thing and it was never conscious on either of our parts. It was just the way it was. For me it translated into a frequent sense of discomfort – like the costume I’d been handed was too heavy, too scratchy and too confining. I wore it for fourteen years before rebelling. What can I say? I’m a slow learner…

I was forty-four when I began to tear the costume off. We were going through a difficult financial and emotional time. Not an optimal time for rebellion, but when the voice inside you finally wakes up and screams ENOUGH! – you listen.

I decided I wanted to start a business – telling myself I was doing it to help my husband knightand family financially. But where I saw a golden opportunity, my husband saw a money pit and the harder I pushed, the stronger his resistance. I dug in my heels, telling myself I was going to prove him wrong. But that feeling quickly became an overpowering need to prove to myself that I didn’t have to live the life that others had designed for me. As I began to evolve and grow, my marriage struggled to do the same. The process almost tore us apart, but today our relationship is stronger and happier. We are, in every sense of the word, partners.

I now know that life is too short to be wasted trying to live the life that others expect you to live. That said, I also know the feeling of terror that accompanies the beginning of rebellion and understand all too well how hard it is to break out of a role you feel super-glued into. But we all deserve to live our life. The life that brings joy and freedom and gratitude – not the one that breeds exhaustion and resentment and envy.

It’s a difficult and scary journey, but by taking it a one-small-step-at-a-time it’s far less overwhelming. And if you are stuck, it’s a journey that must be made.

I broke free one tiny step at a time. Moving forward at a slow pace but always moving towards the me I was meant to be. The journey isn’t easy – I’m still on it – but if I can do, so can you.

So you see, readers, white knights can also take the form of pink pigs.

Readers, share your own tale of strength and courage by adding your comment to the post.  Indeed, white knights come in all colors, shapes and odors!

And a special thanks to white knight Jessica Sinn at Chick Lit Cafe  for recommending Lindsay as a guest on Writing Strong Women.

 

Posted in A War of Her Own, Crones, Steel Magnolia, Strong Woman, Uncategorized, Writing Strong Women | 14 Comments

Show Up, Pay Attention, Tell the Truth, Stay Unattached to the Outcome

The rules I live by, as found at the bottom of my website, are:

 SHOW UP

PAY ATTENTION

TELL THE TRUTH

STAY UNATTACHED TO THE OUTCOME

And with that, my guide stone of:  Intent, Integrity and Impeccability.

 These few, but powerful words guide me and  keep me focused on what is important to me. Thinking of that, and you know howShow up, pay attention, tell the truth, stay unattached to the outcome one’s mind can wander, this morning in conversation with one of my son’s, I recalled something that I intentionally do as an offering to others. Thought I’d share it with you.

One of the most powerful things I’ve learned about showing up, paying attention, telling the truth, and staying unattached to the outcome is my casual contact with other people I come across on a daily basis.

I have noticed, so as a result, now make it a part of who I am, and that is the impact that casual contact can have on another human being–a stranger, if you will.

How? By engaging them in friendly conversation–a conversation that often lifts their gloom and brings a smile.

For example: In a check out line at a grocery store, the clerk looks disinterested, does not connect with me, appears weary, sad, or whatever. Instead of being critical of her lack of interpersonal skills or professional training, (which, I confess, I have been guilty of) now I delight in touching base with them on a personal level and hope my connection lifts their mood. I might smile, ask them about their day, and then support their response with a word of encouragement or empathy.

It does my heart good when they smile back, knowing that someone, if even for a brief moment, notices them, connects with their humanity, and genuinely cares.

They smile, they come out of their funk–they feel appreciated, and touched by the human contact. So often, people feel so isolated–disconnected–like they are machines — or caught up in personal issues. Many times they carry heavy responsibilities and are just plain weary.

For a stranger to care enough to connect with them makes a big difference in their day. I love watching their transformation, and hope they carry that with them the rest of the day–and pass it on. I know I do, for they, in turn, brighten my day.

I now find myself eagerly looking for opportunities to give a Good Morning, a bright smile, a light-hearted response, empathy, small talk, idle chit chat with people I don’t know.

My payoff? I like me better.

I encourage you to

SHOW UP to life.

PAY ATTENTION to those around you.

TELL THE TRUTH always, and there is always something kind we can say to another.

STAY UNATTACHED TO THE OUTCOME by giving others the freedom to respond as they can. In  other words, don’t push the river.

 

Posted in A War of Her Own, Crones, Rosie the Riveter, The Princess, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Legacy of a Mom:

WWII Nurse

We have a special guest blogger today, with a story that stole my heart. Kitty Delorey Fleischman (publisher/editor of
WWII Nurse
IDAHO magazine, at 102 S. 17th St., Ste. 201, Boise, ID 83702) and I were emailing a couple of weeks ago about our excitement to attend the upcoming annual conference of the National Federation of Press Women, meeting this year in Council Bluff, Iowa. During the course of our conversations, we began to talk about the setting of my latest book, A War Of Her Own, which takes place on the home front during WWII. Kitty began to tell me the story of her mother, and I knew the tale needed to be shared with others. She (and her mother) are our guests today. Her mother is passed, but the memories she left behind inspires us all. The post long, so if you can’t finish it in one reading, bookmark it and come back. Listen as the story unfolds, as recounted at her mom’s funeral. –Sylvia Dickey Smith 

Below, was the eulogy for Kitty’s mother. “Mark” who is speaking is Kitty’s youngest brother, Mark Delorey. Kitty wrote the eulogy at the request of her mother, and Mark read it at the funeral.

Like all true Irishmen, Mom (Lt. Mary Jane Healy) wanted a eulogy at her funeral. Never one to shy away from giving us challenges, a few months ago Mom asked that Kitty write this and that I (Mark speaking) read it. Ordinarily this would be a very difficult task. She made it easier by living such a rich life from which to draw material. And, she promised to help me this morning.

First I’d like to read you some excerpts from a letter written in 1985 by the “Richest Man in the World”:

WWII Nurse“The picture is old. For forty years I’ve carried it in my billfold. I’ve showed it to everyone kind enough to listen to my stories. I wasn’t just a kid when I met her. I was 28-years old. She was a 24-year old army nurse. She was five foot one and weighed about a hundred pounds. She looked so darned cute in her oversized coveralls and army shoes, I called her ‘Butch.’

“No one in the world had ever said ‘Don’ and smiled the way she did. Her charm was her goodness. It’s true. I did_µ ask her to marry me on the second day I knew her, and after she said ‘yes’ on the third or fourth day, we talked about a little house in the country and a bunch of kids. The ship we were on was the U.S.S. Butner, a Liberty ship bound for India. On each long, hot day we stayed together as we went through the South Atlantic around South Africa into the Indian Ocean and on to Bombay.

“We parted in Bombay. I told her I loved her and that I’d find her again some day.

“All my dreams came true. The little white house in the country, all the kids. It’s true, kids, your mother did wear army shoes.”

That letter doesn’t just describe the beginning of a story though. It is the start of an epic which has spanned the globe and occupied a half-century. And while the story has had its sorrows, it is mainly filled with joy and laughter. It has grown from those two to include eight children as well as the partners who have come along to share their children’s lives and provide more than a dozen grandchildren who’ve kept them young and entertained.WWII Nurse

For all of us who have shared in portions of this story, you know that Mary Jane and Donald Delorey have a rare and very special love. It is a love that has thrived through war, hard times and lean years, surmounted endless stacks of bills for doctors, kids’ clothes and shoes, car repairs, payments on houses that hadn’t sold along the way and debts taken on willingly to help out someone who needed it more than they. It is the kind of love that stood firmly side-by side, hand-in hand through the death of a cherished little boy and the loss of a baby.

Whatever happened, we Deloreys grew up knowing we were wealthy because we always had more than enough to go around. If anyone came to our house in need of a ride, a shoulder to cry on, a safe haven for their children, a ham sandwich and cup of coffee, or a few bucks to tide them over, they had only to ask. It was never a problem or a burden. One of Mom’s favorite expressions involved adding water to soup, and it is likely that she could have come up with some variation of the loaves and fishes miracle if the need had ever arisen.

Mom’s feelings of sympathy were generally expressed in practical ways. It was part of her common sense approach to life. Her kindness and generosity touched everyone who knew her. No one who knows Mom can doubt that—were she not today’s guest of honor—she would have a ham in the oven and a bowl of potato salad chilling in the refrigerator to bring over to the family. As it is, we know she is nearby and her love is surrounding each of us like a shield.

To us, she’s just Mom.” She often sang as she cooked our meals and washed our clothes. Many of her days were spent in household tasks and rearing children, and our house usually teemed with people because our friends were always welcome._¨

But even Mom wasn’t always a mom. Born in Detroit, Mom was the second of five children. She came a year after her brother Pete, and they were soon joined by Bill, Kitty and Chuck. They grew up as a closely-knit family in a home where the emphasis was on love of family, church and nation.

They struggled through the years of the Great Depression. When Grandpa lost his well-established plumbing business, the family migrated to join Grandpa’s brother Bill who offered to help them start over in California. But it didn’t take long for the Detroit Healys to find their way home to Michigan.

Graduating from high school, Mom pursued a career as a registered nurse. The curriculum was tough and the stringent demands made for studies, work and personal conduct at Detroit’s Providence Hospital in the late 1930s were calculated to test the mettle of prospective nurses. Mary Jane Healy stood proudly among the graduates of the Class of 1941.

The attack on Pearl Harbor started Mom thinking about the critical need for nurses, and when her brother Pete signed on with the army, she was close behind in her decision to join the army nurses’ corps. They would need someone to care for the injured, and it wasn’t Mom’s way to stand back and wait for someone else to do the job.

Mom rarely shared her army experiences. But heaven help the child who didn’t clean up a plate. When Mom talked about the starving children in India, it wasn’t hearsay or something she’d seen on newsreels—it came from a gentle woman who had watched in pain as children scooped scraps from G.I. garbage cans and fled to protect those sad riches.

One of the incidents she enjoyed and sometimes shared was about the time she hitched a ride on an unarmed military cargo plane to see Dad who had been flown back toward civilization to the hospital. It wasn’t until she hopped off the plane at the landing strip that the airman with the checklist understood the pilot’s cryptic message that, in addition to his load of fresh tomatoes, he was bringing in 100 pounds of sugar.

Mom spent 18 months overseas during World War II, taking care of soldiers who were part of a throw-away force sent halfway around the world to delay an enemy everyone knew couldn’t be beaten. History shows the Army strategists underestimated the power of our parents. It was not a mistake we’d have made.

WWII NurseThen she was sent to Okinowa, to be among the first medical units set to wade ashore following the invasion of Japan. We’ve always wondered if that might have factored into Japan’s surrender.

When it came time to be discharged, she was offered a promotion to first lieutenant if she’d wait a few days for it to be processed. But home beckoned, and neither rank, honors nor bonus money would sway her.

After a short visit at home, she went to Massachusetts to see Dad, who waited in traction at Lovell General Hospital. For all she had done, and with all the stories Dad had told them about her, Mom walked into his hospital ward to a thunderous ovation from his fellow bedridden heroes.

Even as youngsters, we realized that Mom made “Rosie the Riveter” look like a whimp. A non-swimmer who was terrified of the water, she had carried her pack up a scramble net thrown 40 feet over the sides of a ship heaving in the throes of a typhoon rather than being unceremoniously hauled up in a basket like those who were too afraid to make the climb.

Dad often described her putting on that 50-pound pack and marching off the ship and into the war-torn jungles of India and Burma. So, at an age where most kids settled arguments with “…oh yeah? Well, my dad can beat your dad,” we’d been known to make threats about how our MOM could beat their dads.

Small, tough, Irish and darned proud of it, Mom’s courage was undaunted by snakes, jungle vermin or anything else. She stood by dad’s bedside after his heart attack in 1960 knowing there were six young children from one- to 12-years old waiting for them at home, and she has nursed us all through broken bones, concussions, beestings and a host of childhood illnesses and disasters, as well as the pitfalls of adulthood.

WWII NurseSo, it was no surprise to us that—despite cancer’s fearsome reputation—in typical style, Mom quietly has made her stand, and for more than a decade, has laughed off the pain and prayed away the effects of a disease that makes people willing to grasp at any frail straw for relief.WWII Nurse

She did it with her boundless love, her unfailing courage and her undying faith. It is her life and that love, courage and faith we are here today to celebrate.

As we share our grief and shed our tears, we look around at a group created and bound together by the love she and Dad have shared, and we remember that this, of all times, is when we most need to hold tightly to each other to preserve her beautiful legacy and treasure her memory.

We are Mom’s legacy.

NOTE: Kitty’s dad is listed in the Army Ranger Hall of Fame. What a story of WWII Nurse!

WWII Nurse

Posted in A War of Her Own, Crones, Rosie the Riveter, Steel Magnolia, Strong Woman, Uncategorized, Writing Strong Women | 2 Comments

She’s Got Style

| She's Got Style

She’s Got Style

By Paige Cooperstein

(Meet my guest, Paige, below)

Paige & Nana

Paige and her Nana

I’ve been thinking about my future a lot lately. I’m 21 years old, which means I’ve just had my last memorable birthday until I start counting by decades. And I’m about to start my final year of college. Life is nagging me with this question: What are you going to do now?

What I’ve been doing lately is thinking about what my Nana Viv, my mom’s mom, did with her various life changing moments. When my Nana was 21 she was already on her third of five children. She was married fresh out of high school, and family lore has it that when she and my Gaga moved into the first home that they owned together, my Nana cried. She didn’t know how they were going to afford an $80 a month mortgage on top of feeding three kids.

I knew my Gaga was a carpenter, but it never occurred to me to ask what my Nana did for a living. My mom always described her upbringing as a traditional breadbasket type of experience. Gaga was in the Wisconsin branch of a union and Nana raised my mom and my uncles. Turns out, my Nana did actually waitress at the local supper club. My mom joined her there when she was about sixteen. And later Nana was a secretary at an insurance office.

My Nana Viv was a creative woman. She didn’t have money for the big white wedding, but she had a pink dress that she absolutely adored. And even after shoveling $80 a month over to the mortgage company, she kept her kids taken care of and more. Fun could be free, like taking trips to the quarry or an imaginary trip in the airplane that was made by lining the dining room chairs up in rows in the living room while my Nana vacuumed.

But the best of my Nana’s accomplishments has to be the way she does everything in life with such style and grace. If you’re named something as provocative as Vivienne you’ve got to have a certain something about you. I remember seeing a picture of my Nana from when she was in high school. She’s in a bowling alley in her cheerleading uniform. She’s smiling ear to ear and her blonde hair is shining. We’re both blonde, which is one of our most prized commonalities since my feet grew too large to share our shoes anymore. She was the kind of girl and is the kind of woman that people want to be friends with. When she walks into a room, you imagine a wake of warm gold following in her wake. She makes you feel that warmth in every gesture and everything she says to you.

I’ve decided I want my Nana Viv’s style in whatever I do in life. My post college plans range anywhere from travelling to Argentina to getting my MFA to getting a job in communications. But I want to have that ease of motion as I move from experience to experience that my Nana Viv is known for. She is a beautiful woman inside and out. She taught me that everything you do matters, if you do it with care.

NOTE: Since I (Sylvia) write strong women, I have my Google Alerts set up to track any blog post that talks about strong women. A few weeks ago, I received such on the Penn State University PBS Radio Site, This I Believe. The article was written by Paige Cooperstein, our guest today. I was so impressed with the young woman’s article that I commented on it. Then, a few weeks later, she wrote and thanked me for the comment. As a result, Paige and I have become friends (at least I count her as one–even though she’s young and I’m old!) I ended up asking her to write a guest article for this blog–and that is the article above. Powerful, isn’t it? Want to know a little more about our young people today? Read her bio below, and you will see what I mean. 

“My name is Paige Cooperstein and I’ve known I would be a writer since the time I asked my mom how to spell “illustrated.” I was six and I was sure I was about to author an award-winning children’s series. I’ve always been resolute. I’ve got a Pennsylvania Dutch and a German streak of stubbornness feeding into me from each side of the family.

This isn’t a memory, just something I’ve been told about myself since I was old enough to remember things on my own, but “I do self” was my first complete sentence.

Apparently I liked the sound of it so much, I used it anytime I could: “What do you want for dinner, Paige?” “I do self.” “Time for a bath, Paige.” “I do self.”

But if 21 years of life have taught me anything, it’s that you’re lucky to have people in your life you can rely on. I’m currently a senior at Penn State University Park studying creative writing. I’m staring my thesis in the face and I just bought the poster board that will keep track of the statuses of all my post grad applications. I never would’ve come this far in my life without the eternal support of my family. And who else would’ve put up with my constant yapping about each new author obsession? I’m a lucky girl.”

Please feel free to comment, and celebrate with me, a super neat young woman. I say, she’s got style!

Posted in Crones, Steel Magnolia, Strong Woman, Uncategorized, Writing Strong Women | 4 Comments

Women

Steel wrapped in warm, loving flesh

Our guest blogger today is author, Vonnie Davis. I know you will enjoy her comments. Feel feee to ask her questions or leave your comments.

Women: Steel Wrapped in Warm, Loving Flesh

I love the typical alpha-male in romance, but what I love even more is when a strong female gets in his face and tells him what he can do with his alpha-nonsense. Don’t you? I mean, really…

Women In years past, heroines in many romances were frail, emotionally fragile, weepy things. When I’d read their stories, I’d grit my teeth and mumble remarks equivalent to the modern day slogan: Put on your big-girl panties and deal.

They weren’t reality. What is reality? Strong women.

Look around you; they’re everywhere. They’ve survived more of life’s storms than the Caribbean Islands have hurricanes. Yet women are still standing, still surviving and still struggling in this crazy world. Whether they’re corporate executives or stay-at-home moms or single mothers holding down two jobs to keep hearth and home together, they’ve all brought multi-tasking to an art form. Women

Women are steel wrapped in warm, loving flesh. We are the backbone of this country. Take us away and what do you have? A man, trying to maneuver the aisles in a grocery store with a screaming toddler in a dirty diaper, an energetic first grader with eight arms reaching for and tossing every sugar-laden product into the cart and a sullen teenager, whining that she’s bored. Said man is two heartbeats away from a nervous breakdown. The whole scene is just too much stress for him. But for a woman, this is her reality—and she deals.

So to honor women’s strength—whether innate or gleaned from the school of hard knocks—I create strong heroines in my books.

These are women, like you and me, who have turned adversities into advantages. Women, who like the old toy “weebles,” wobble under the weight and strain of life’s many problems, but they don’t fall down. Women

When I’m starting a new story, I try to create my characters from the inside out. First I decide on their points of pain. We all have them. Perhaps we feel our parents loved a sibling more than us. Or we have feelings of abandonment because our fathers were absent. Perhaps there’s a weight issue we’ve battled most of our lives, or fears of public speaking or heights or confining spaces. How have we been hurt in the past? These are our points of pain; things that make us act and react in a certain way to situations.

Then I decide on education levels and hobbies. I choose a favorite color and food cravings. Will my heroine crave chocolate or cheesecake? When she’s angry, will she grab a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or snatch an apple? What things pluck my characters’ last nerve? Lastly, I think about appearance. For what does it matter what they look like if I don’t have them nailed emotionally and mentally? They need to be complex, multi-layered women just like all of you.

Early today I received an email from the One Hundred Romances project. They’re on a quest to find the best one hundred romances of 2011, published by ePublishers. Since my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, publishes full-length novels in both paperback and eBook, I entered Storm’s Interlude. Imagine my shock when it was given a 5-Star rating and added to the list of the top romances for this year! I’d love to share the review: Women

“I’m in love with this book! Amazing! Storm was just so… Wow. And Rachel was just darling. Our hero was just a magnificent piece of man, and our heroine was a lovely complex woman who felt all the same things any other woman would have felt. What I enjoy the most was that even the secondary characters were amazingly well written and added a wonderful blend to the story as a whole.

Vonnie Davis wrote such wonderful real characters that once I started this book I finished it in hours! I’m disappointed with myself because I skipped over this book originally when it was on the list of books to review. This author is now on my auto-buy list. Please keep them coming Ms. Davis!”

Please drop by my blog to visit. http://www.vintagevonnie.blogspot.com.

My website is http://www.vonniedavis.com

 

NOTE: Feel free to share your example of how women are indeed steel wrapped in warm, loving flesh.

 

Posted in Crones, Steel Magnolia, Uncategorized, Writing Strong Women | 7 Comments

Crones Glass Slippers & Beautiful Old Women

NOTE:  The post this week is a continuation of last weeks post encouraging women to remember the crones. If you didn’t read it, go back and do so, then come back to Part Two.

crones“First off,” the beautiful crone said, “is to stop that infernal whining. You must let go of the idea that if the stupid glass slipper fit your big foot, your life would have been perfect. The shoe didn’t fit your big foot! What is, is. Get over it.” 

“Okay, Ms. Smarty Pants. Just tell me how in this world am I supposed to do that?”

“Stop thinking about what didn’t work. To dwell on anything we have no power to change is a useless exercise, and we end up getting more and more depressed, and we spend our days whining about what might have been. Not beneficial for crones.

“You see, the more you whine, the more stuck you are in the past—a past you can’t fix. The end result is you stay stuck right there at the moment the prince tried to put that silly glass shoe on your foot. That’s truly over and done with, but because you keep whining about losing out, you’re still caught at that moment in time. Which ends up helping you find even more to whine about. Which also makes you one of those ugly old crones.crones

“That was then—this is now. Whining makes you dry up into an old hag. Look in that mirror. Do you see one juicy thing about you?”

The whiney crone looked. She didn’t like what she saw. “You mean to tell me, if I stop whining, and stop worrying about not having glass slippers, these wrinkles might go away?”

“It won’t make the wrinkles go away, but they’ll soften. You’ll have more energy—a passion for life. Get involved—care about something. Get interested in something—take your mind off of yourself and put it on others. Find something funny to laugh about—every day, without fail. If you can’t find it, create it—go find a young lover or something.” She laughed.

“Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen.”

crones“You never know—but this one thing I can guarantee—just being open to it’ll put a spring in your step.”

“So, that’s all I need do? Then I won’t be one of those old crones who no one wants to be around?”

“Goodness no. There’s a lot more to life than that. Grow something. Crones are good at pruning, weeding.”

“You mean like a garden? I can’t do that, for my back is too stiff and my joints, they ache like a son-of-a-gun. Every time I kneel, my—”

crones“There you go, whining again. Growing something doesn’t mean it has to be plants, my silly sister. It can be, but other things need to grow, too. Nurture something—whether it be a garden or people. Find something—or someone—vulnerable—like a child that’s lonely, or a young mother who can learn from your wisdom. For, despite your whining, you have learned a few things over the years—and that is the wisdom of the ages—otherwise known as Women’s Intuition. Trust what you know deep down in your bones. Let that wisdom bubble to the top. Share it with those open to receive it—those who look for the wisdom of the ages. Learn to practice patience—then teach it to the impatient.”

“Is that all?” Drizella wondered how in the world she could remember all these lessons, let alone do them. “I should’ve been taking notes.”

cronesThe wise, juicy old crone smiled, for she knew the secret of the HOW. “By finding your voice, my dear. For silence equals consent. Crones like you and me? We speak our minds. We tell ’em how the cow ate the cabbage—that the emperor’s running around outside nekked. That’s how. Find your voice, use the wisdom of the ages, grow something, let go of the past, stop your dang whining and laugh—and learn the beauty of having a big foot.”
crones

 

“I can do that,” Drizella said, and smiled. “Thank you my dear sister.”

 

 

 

***Note: This tale was inspired by Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book, Crones Don’t Whine, published by Conart Press

Posted in Crones, Mean Girls, Steel Magnolia, Strong Woman, The Princess, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

WOMEN, RECLAIM THE

CRONE!

CroneIn a far off land, east of the sun and west of the moon, a whiney old crone named Drizella

sits outside the golden gates of the Queen’s Palace, wailing over fate’s misfortune. Beautiful in her youth (according to her mother) she’d dreamed of slipping her foot into the glass slipper, marrying the prince and living happily ever after, raising perfect children, with a castle full of nannies to make sure, and of course wearing the finest of clothes.

But, alas, the slipper had been too short, and her foot too long. Her one consolation was that neither had the shoe fit her sister—that is her real sister.

The winey crone snivels, wipes her nose on the sleeve of her ragged garment and bemoans the cruelty of years. Whence came all the wrinkles and this thin mousey gray hair? Not to mention her ever-enlarging nose and ears, and the few scraggly hairs on her chin. Even the ‘widow-maker’ treats her unfairly, refusing to return her tiny waist regardless of how tight she pulls the laces. Her back aches. Her sister never calls and her sons come around no longer—the ungrateful lot.

CroneOne beautiful sunny day in the midst of her whining, an even older crone appears, a glow on her face and a spring in her step, her voice pleasant, melodic, even. “Why do you whine, my dear sister? Do you not know this is the best years of your life? Too bad you did not well prepare yourself, else your step would spring and your voice would sing.”

“Give me a break,” the whiney old crone exclaims. “What’s so great about getting old, ugly and feeble? My back hurts, no one calls or comes to visit, and should I venture out, men pass me by as if unseen.” Whine, whine, whine.

“It is because you spend your day in front of the mirror that you whine, my dear. For mirrors only reflect the outward you, not giving chance for inward reflection. You give insult to the name of crone. For a true crone does not whine. Instead, she fills her days with wisdom learned over the years, with purpose, humor, courage, compassion for others, and vitality.”

“Vitality?” the whiney crone spat. “I fight to get out of bed every morning. How in the queen’s name am I to find vitality?”

“It takes years of work, my dear, and you are way behind. You’ve wasted your years regretting each one. You fail to feel empathy or compassion, or to use your energy and power wisely. As a consequence of such, you have not earned the joy a wise crone discovers with the passing years.”

“Okay, smarty pants. You know so much. Tell me what you did that is so different than me. For you, too, longed to wear the glass slipper and failed. You, too, have aged, yet I see young men here at your feet, eager to learn what you know. Why is that—tell me, old crone.”

Crone“Dry your eyes, wipe your nose, and lend me your ear.”

The whiney crone did just that.

 

 ***The story of the crone continues next Wednesday!        

Posted in Crones, Strong Woman, The Princess, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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