The kids have left; the dog has died. Is it time to downsize?

by Helen Elliott

Sibylesque Monet quoteWe decided to downsize. The children had left, the dogs had died, as had one cat. The other was thinking about it. The garden, my adored, beloved garden was making me anxious and there was the problem of Upstairs. Upstairs, where the children had lived so happily all those years was now where I hurled anything I didn’t use but was too lazy to pitch out. Or sentimental. Upstairs was over my head. I never went there if I could help it but it hovered, symbolic of a paralysing weight .

So why not sell when someone knocked on the door, said they were in love with your house and garden and here’s an offer you can’t refuse. We didn’t. In three months we were in a flat.

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Oh. What do you do with a grandchild in a flat? Sure, we could walk in the Botanical gardens, find playgrounds, sit in cafes, go to museums. But something was shockingly out of kiltre. These lovely places were public, not personal. I couldn’t say: “Grandma planted that kolkwitzia twenty years ago”. Why was I waking in tears every morning, dreaming of my old garden? And why did I feel my hands and feet were cut off, disabled by my inability to step out onto the earth and into that intimate natural space I had been creating for over two decades?

Helen in her garden

Helen in her garden

Life is change, I know this. But my change was in the wrong direction. I heard that word “de-natured” and everything made sense. Without nature at my door I was a shadow of myself. It made me think hard about nature in the lives of my small grand children.

Two years, two flats later we decided to upsize. An acre, a tranquil house, a stream, a pond, a vegetable garden. I have never been happier. And the grandchildren know about this thrilling thing called The Country.

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Helen Elliot 2Helen Elliott is a thoughtful and analytical reader, informed and soulful writer and unyielding literary critic for many Australian newspapers. She is also a dedicated gardener.

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Some Grandmas really are Wild Things!

by Honey Clarke

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You can retire from a job, but don’t ever retire from making extremely meaningful contributions in life.purple quote 2

…………………………………………………………..Stephen Covey, Author

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Illustration by Honey Clarke from her book 'My grandma is a Wild Thing'.

Illustration by Honey Clarke from her book ‘My grandma is a Wild Thing’

Australia has been perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes ever since Chips Rafferty came to the screen. His nasal drawl and odd sayings use to make our skin crawl. “We’re nothing like that!” we’d scream. Yet in any movie about Australia, he’d ride on in. Despite what we know to be true, Australians still willingly go with the stereotypes offered. Don’t think so? Just watch how quickly you can become invisible in the workplace, now you’re a woman of “a certain age”.

Grandma Swims by HOney Clarke

Grandma Swims by HOney Clarke

Lately Politicians are hinting that an ageing population is “becoming a significant issue” like Lyssavirus or finding you’d grown a third eye. The Bureau of Statistics gives projections of data pregnant with doom. What none acknowledge is the contribution the ageing give to our country.

 This theme has been a thread in my own work. My friend Marn breaks all the stereotypes and helped inspire my book “My Grandma is a Wild Thing” because she played drums, rode a motorbike and swung from a jungle gym to pose for my drawings. What’s more Marn speaks “Kid” in all its forms – eloquently and with love. She’s a dynamic part of work and family. Yet stereotypes of aging persist.

The Chooks  by Honey Clarke

The Chooks
by Honey Clarke

I hatched “The Chook* Book of Wisdom” when a farmer friend was about to go home and dispose of his chooks. The problem? They’d stopped laying. Was he crazy? They were just menopausal – they had heaps of good years. He thought it a hoot. The chooks were saved. Let’s hope we are too.

Australia has to get over the idea that passive earners don’t contribute. Let’s show our currency. Dare to be different. Grasp every opportunity to contribute to the quality of our own lives and in so doing, contribute to the quality of others too.

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Honey Clarke

Honey Clarke

Honey Clarke lives on the side of a mountain in an extinct crater lake with her partner, the Rock Doctor. She’s an artist, writer and teacher who encapsulates the essence of life in the quick strokes of paint or pen. Honey has two grown up kids and seven grandchildren. She is part-owner in a bamboo farm. She would like to say her hobbies are kite-surfing and abseiling but that would be a lie. Instead she reads, swims, travels, paints and blogs as much as possible. Honey’s blog is Honeyclarkeart. To inquire about Honey Clarke’s art, books or illustraoins contact her at: honeyclarkeartATgmail.com

Gemma Sisia has a big dream to fight poverty through education.

Gemma Sisia has a big dream to fight poverty through education.

 

The charity that she and the Rock Doctor champion is St Judes in Tanzania, a brilliant school educating kids out of poverty.

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Photo Source: Honey Clarke’s Blog and St Jude’s Website.

*Chook is an Aussie colloquialism for a chicken.

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Welcome

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We cannot let others define aging for us.

….We must, as we have done before,

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…………….redefine this stage for ourselves.

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What the media doesn’t tell you!

Frankly, my dear, they’re over you!

the-tibertine-sibylIf you have found little of interest in the lifestyle pages across all media platforms, there is a reason. After 54-years of age we are of no interest to Marketing. Apparently, we are ‘too set in our ways’. So, apart from some tragic and cheap ads spruiking pre-paid funerals and incontinence pads, we do not attract the advertising dollar. Therefore editors of magazines, newspapers, websites and blogs aimed at women couldn’t care less about our issues.

There are lots of ads for dubious anti-aging and slimming products, much like the 1950s ads (below) but with their own Facebook Page. But the anti-wrinkle creams and slimming products do not target us. They are aimed at 40, 30 and even 20 year olds. They have more to fear from aging and being overweight than us.50s chin strap We’ve already had to face certain realities. Besides, we’ve been applying goops for 40+ years and we must have tried scores of diets with little success!!! We’ll look at the real science ( and not the ‘radiessence’ or ‘luminosity’) of face creams and rubbish diets later.

But there are many issues such as health, sex and self-perception that change after 54 years of age and that we want to discuss. If you are looking at retirement and your daughter wants the BIG wedding, do you have to pay for it? What if you are divorced? What if it’s her 2nd wedding?

How do you deal with a neurotic daughter-in-law? Or a control-freak son-in-law? Or vice-versa?

Cole Swimsuit Ad 1953 And we wanted those curves!

Cole Swimsuit Ad 1953
And we wanted those curves!

Are you prepared to look after grandchildren one day a week? Two days? How would you react if your daughter handed you a spread sheet scheduling every minute of that one day?

If you didn’t have children, are you now being swamped by the 2nd wave of child-centric conversations as your friends become grandparents?

Moreover, how did any of us even produce children with the hilariously vague ‘sex education‘ we received in the 60s or 70s?

We, The Sibyls, are smart, vibrant and interesting women. It is the intention of this blog to reinvent aging. We’re doing this for ourselves. Welcome.

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