This is what 74 looks like: FABULOUS!

by the Sibyls

Arethra Franklin Quote Sibylesque

Despite all her fame and success, Arethra Franklin has not had an easy life. Her mother died when she was only 10 years old. She was first pregenant at 14. She’s had 2 marriages, one involving domestic violence, given birth to 3 sons and struggled with weight gain issues all her life.  In 1979 her father C. L. was shot at point blank range in his Detroit home. Aretha moved back to Detroit in late 1982 to assist with the care of her father, who died 1984. Yet, despite all of her struggles, Arethra has bounced back again and again. This is Arethra Franklin singing and playing piano at the Kennedy Centre for President Obama in 2015. She is  74 years old and magnificent!

We, the Sibyls, salute Arethra Franklin not only for her sublime artistry, but for her gutsy attitude to dealing with so many of the tragedies and difficulties life can throw at you.

A Year of Wisdom

The Sibyls

A Sibyls' SalonWe do not know if, around the world, 2016 will blessed with outbreaks of wisdom. But we the Sibyls, can only live in hope.

We can also, in many small ways, apply what we have learned in life. Here are just a few thoughts that have bubbled out of the Sibyls’ Salons:

*  I was thinking about fear and overcoming fear. Fear comes with possibility. Not knowing. I find that attractive. Leap into the unknown.

*  To find yourself you have to become unmoored.

*  The hardest thing for me to learn to do is ‘keep quiet.’

*  You can have theories or children.

*  Learn from other people’s mistakes because you do not have time to make them all yourself.

When we take time to think and feel and talk in a safe, non-judgemental forum, wisdom gets a chance to bloom.

Artwork: By talented Sibyl Elizabeth D.

If we are wise, why don’t we celebrate?

By Jacqueline Hope
Sibylesque Jacqueline Hope Quote

Wise Woman Ceremony for Nicky

These are the words I read as celebrant at the ceremony.

The Reading:

“To each and every one of us here we hold special memories, of this remarkable person who has stepped ever so gently into our hearts and lives and left an indelible footprint, and we honour her for that.

She has many titles daughter, sister, auntie, cousin, friend colleague, neighbour. However she is also a wife, extraordinaire and awesome mother to the joy of her life her beloved sons ….

In these aspects of her persona she has often shone brightly and ever so occasionally there has been some lack lustre. But nothing a fag and a cup of coffee couldn’t sort out! Eh boys?”

Sibylesque  Wise Women Ceremony” It is in her persona of Midwife, she has dedicated the majority of her energy, expertise, joy, love, and wisdom. She has been practicing her ‘wise woman’ skills for more years than she cares to remember.

These hands have been privileged to welcome many, many souls into this world, with tears of joy, and relief!!”

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The Ritual:

The circle of woman join hands and circle to the left and the right of Nicky as the drum is beaten they chanting or singing

“I am the maiden, the Mother, The Crone. (Which ever applies) and we honor and love you Nicky.

One by one the woman jump into the circle and spin around with Nicky until all are within the circle.

~~~~~~~

Picture 2

Jacqueline Hope is a very young gorgeous 64-year-old divorcee and forcibly retired midwife, who has worked in England, Dubai, Australia, and Peru. She is a marriage celebrant from WA and has a practice in intuitive counseling whose motto is H.O.P.E  – Hold on pain ends. She is the mother of two grown adult-children a son, who, it seems, are rarely are dazzled by their mother’s, brilliance.   (No prophet is recognized in their own land sigh!) She is saving the ‘pennies’ in the hope of swanning off for another adventure.

Dancing photo source: Unsourced.

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If you learn how to die, you’ll learn how to live

Sibylesque Being Mortal quote

BEING MORTAL: Medicine and What Matters in the End

By Atul Gawande 

Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company, 2014.

Review by Kerry Cue

Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande

The reason this book is so meaningful, so compelling and why it ranks as a rare must-read is because, in telling the story of how to die a good death, it slowly addresses an equally important question namely ‘how  are we to live a good and meaningful life?’

Sibylesque The three fates

Atul Gawande, surgeon and writer for The New Yorker, dreams of new ways of caring for the frail and old. He questions the bureaucratic nature of aged care institutions where the elderly are kept ‘safe’, but hardly ‘alive’. And he rails against the invasive, painful and ultimately futile medical procedures inflicted on the dying. Yet this book is no dry academic tome. Gawande tells the storxy of dying and death of his father, also a surgeon, from first discovering the tumor in the spinal column, through the family’s struggling with medical options – operate? His father might become a quadriplegic. Don’t operate, he may become a quadriplegic! – to his father’s final days.

There is one strong and clear message from this thoughtful exploration of the end stage. Patients could have good days even when dying. But to achieve this goal they must be asked, or think about, at least, ‘what are your greatest fears?’ and ‘what are your current goals?’ Simple questions but from the answers patients discover how they are to live in their final days and, eventually, die.

Gawande has managed to take the fear away from our modern, Western view of dying, which, in many aspects involves, an impersonal, sterile, ICU bed intubated with a tube down the throat and a total loss of control. Dying need not be like this. Gawande shows how the human spirit can flourish and life can be fully lived to the very end.

curlicue

Photo source: Unsourced book review blog, Tapestry held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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Chemo Journal I

by Sibyl Jules

Sibylesque Chemo Quote

How do you describe the old chemo trip which, incidentally, I finished 2 weeks ago after 6 months of 2 weekly cycles? This is only my experience- everyone has different sorts of chemo and some are much worse than others. My side effects were horrible on one drug, which I was spared after 4 cycles because of weird stuff happening. I never wanted to know what the side effects might be beforehand- then I’d only get them! A useful tip shared by an oncology nurse friend was to keep the literature they gave me as a reference if something did feel unusual or bad, and just read it as you need to. This helped me avoid worrying about things that might happen and to respond appropriately to them if they did.

chemo art

I can’t say chemo was easy, but when I meet with any of my ‘cancer club’ as my partner calls them, he always comments how happy we all are. We are, after all, alive, and eating, drinking (albeit a modified beverage of choice) and laughing with friends. I think that the last 6 months of chemo has taught me to enjoy and savour every tiny joy- cooking and sharing food and wine with good friends and family has always been an important part of our lives- so when chemo flattens me for a week, being able to eat and drink and meet friends again- or go to WOMAD, the happiest 4 days of the year as I know it- gives me much to be happy about. Every tiny joy helps…Look for them- they make you feel safe and help to stave off the anxiety and fear.

Sibylesque Apparition of the Visage of Aphrodite of Cnidos in a Landscape, 1981

Oddly, chemo has also reminded me how much I love my work. I’ve been able to work two or three days a week, throughout chemo. I found that focusing on thinking and working, surrounded by busy people doing interesting things has helped me to avoid the pitfalls of the ‘poor-me-illness-behaviour mode’, which I might be prone to without the focus! I’m lucky I can choose when I go to work and if I feel too bad I crash and burn, but usually I get some days in each week. I’m also fortunate I love my work. And having a supportive and loving family and partner has helped too of course. I’ve loved having old friends call up out of the blue, and have been overwhelmed by the incredible generosity and thoughtfulness of people around me. Totally unexpected and humbling.

On grumbling about chemo prior to treatment starting, a surgeon reminded me that I am very lucky to be offered chemo- a treatment that may help keep me alive. For some things there is no such treatment and for that reason I knew I’d just have to go with it, knowing that every 2 weeks, just as I’m beginning to feel a bit ‘normal’ again, another bus will run me over.

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 Picture 1Jules is a perceptive observer and an irrepressible, positive force as well as director and publisher for the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute, Adelaide, SA. And here is the Chemo Fashionista post of the fabulous Jules at WOMAD, Adelaide.

NO WIFI: What can we do grandma?

 by The SibylsSibylesque   Having Fun Quote

Two thoughts for the New Year:

1. You can never have too much fun.

2. Life was funny, so funny, before wifi,

but you had to be there.

Sibylesque No Wifi Quote

Understanding the Generations: Dream a little dream with me!

By Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Banjo Paterson Quote  1

In his article, The dream is still a dream in The Australian (A Plus, 6 Dec 2014) on the weekend demographer Bernard Salt wrote a brief but brilliant summary of the different attitudes across the generations. Paywall link.

I would argue that a generation cannot be summarised in a book, let alone in a few words. But Salt is talking about the influences of an era determining a generation’s attitudes. The era you experience as a child, a teen or an adult has a great impact on your outlook on life. Here is Salt’s summary:

The Frugal Generation : Having experienced the Depression and WWII they dreamed of a steady job and a modest home in the ‘burbs. This was security for them.

The Baby Boomers: Born post-WWII the Boomers still dreamed of home ownership. They tied themselves to mortgages (even if, I might add, they dreamed of liberating themselves in other ways)

Sibylesque  4 generations

…………………………

Gen X: Born between 1966 and 1976, Generation X postponed having families for education and to travel. Their dream put “ ‘experiences’ ahead of home ownership”.

Gen Y: Born between 1977 and 1994, the big dream for this generation is ‘self-determination’. You cannot be in control of your life with a mortgage and kids and/or an office job and a boss. Their dream might involve an online start-up (or working in an orphanage in Cambodia). Whatever the case, they don’t just dream about taking ‘a turn at droving’; they pack their bags and go.

More Decent Obsessions

 

Bernard Salt’s latest book is More Decent Obsessions, MUP.

Photo Source: Genealogy Archives

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Being Wise about Being Old

By Kerry Cue

Sibylesque tim Wilson Quote

Sibylesque is dedicated to challenging the ‘little old lady’ stereotype and developing a realistic, yet positive outlook on aging. We have already noted that a positive attitude to aging can increase your quality of life, improve your general health and even increase your life expectancy.

Sibylesque Grandmas Rock

Yet wisdom lies in not only tackling life full on, but also knowing when to bow out gracefully. I know a number of males, who have waited until retirement to go wild. Several bought motorbikes for the first time in their sixties. One bought a 1000cc Suzuki. But he was so worried about sitting in the middle of the road on his big bike, he’d only make left hand turns. He’d take ages to ride anywhere because he had to sort of spiral into his destination.

Another 60+ retiree bought a Harley. He won’t ride it in the rain. I picture him riding his Harley holding up an umbrella. His wife/biker’s-moll said he went out riding one day and came back. He forgot his glasses. He went out and came back again. He forgot his boots. Then he forgot his wallet. ‘Do you know what this means?’ she asked me. ‘We’re talking Alzheimer’s on a Harley’. Is he a danger on the road? Should he hand in his helmet? And who decides?

You are the one who must decide in life when it is time, in one situation or another, to take a backseat. The decisions may be BIG. Should I retire? Should I downsize? Should I sell the motorbike? Or, SMALL! Should I get others to climb the ladder? Should I stop wearing those floppy, loose-fitting, and potentially dangerous, shoes?

Life is, and has always been, a gamble. Just like the lyrics of the Kenny Rogers song to be wise about old age ‘You’ve got to know when to hold ’em/ Know when to fold ’em/ Know when to walk away/ And know when to run.’

Until then, Go Grandma, Go!!!!!

Photo Source:  Corbis Images

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