Getting On: Some thoughts on women and ageing

Sibylesque How old quote

Sibyls' Books Red Mural

REVIEW by Lorna Ebringer

Picture 3Getting on: Some thoughts of women and aging

Liz Byrski

Pub Momentum Books 2012

The baby boomers are ageing! Expect to hear a lot about this topic as we all struggle to come to terms with this fact. Some of us are so put out by the accumulation of ailments that one friend has limited discussion about our failing bodies to 10 minutes before we are required to move to other topics.

Liz Bryski’s book “Getting on, Some thoughts on Women and Ageing” was first published as an ebook in 2012 and is now available in paperback. (Pub Momentum Books) Part memoir and part a reflection, she discusses the problems that women face as they grow old. Despite the fact that older women are central to society, working, writing, volunteering, caring for disabled children and for their parents and living busy and productive lives she finds that society renders them invisible, we are not seen in the media, in advertising, in shopping centres. We are ignored. Whole industries have grown up to help women avoid being erased by trying to make us look younger than we are. If we believe the spin we can dye our hair, have a facelift, diet those extra kilo’s away, in short, have a make over. A lot of energy and money can be spent and, of course, it does not halt time.

Author: Liz Bryski

Author: Liz Byrski

When we are noticed, it is as a problem. The “problem of our ageing population” is mentioned all the time in the media. We are regarded as a financial burden by the wealthiest generation in history. This is truly astonishing given the contribution we have made to society in our working lives over the past 40 or 50 years and the contribution we are still making in providing the volunteer work force in our charities and community support groups, in the care we are giving to our parents and grandchildren and often to our adult disabled children.

Sibylesque Boogie Woogie Man

Liz Bryski raises and addresses all the negative issues that old age brings with it but she is undeterred. Remembering the feisty older women in her life when she was a child and how much she admired them she is determined to enjoy the journey and reading her book encourages us all to do the same. So what are the positives? Now that we are free from full time work and caring for young children we have time to “make the most of every moment and every day, love more and better, learn more and read more” We can enjoy our friendships more and allow them to enhance our lives. As a result our lives become packed with interest and adventure. We are healthier than ever thanks to good medical care and the consciousness that we have to address fitness issues to live well, she swims, we dance, our friends walk, ride bikes, go to the gym and Tai Chi, we meet other people doing these things and we are luckier than our parents in this respect.

I hope that we will see further thoughtful discussions like this that allow us to look forward with optimism and courage.

You will find Liz Byrski’s article Why it is good to be old here.

Sibyl Approved

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LORNA EBRINGER

LORNA EBRINGER

Lorna Ebringer’s passions include trekking  in remote areas of Georgia, China and Japan, opera appreciation and rock ‘n roll dancing. Her previous posts were Notable Women: Christine de Pizan and When god had a wife.

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Photo Source: Liz Bruyski’s website, Youcanbefunny blog………………………………….

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Why it is good to be old!

By Kerry Cue

Sibylesque old age quote 2

In, At Seventy, her journal chronicling the year that began on her 70th birthday, American Poet May Sarton noted that aging offers an opportunity to become more fully ourselves and , more not less, individual. (How to Age, Anne Karpf, The School of Life, p9) Sarton wrote the quote (above) when she was 85 years old.

Yet this celebration of the Self that embodies a quiet acceptance – rather than Me-glorious-Me narcissim – is something rarely articulated in our culture. We are presented with images of age as a ‘hideous ruin’, what sociologist Mike Featherstone calls ‘a pornography of old age’. See The Portrait of the Mother by the Artist

Sibylesque Senior Moment

So it is a delight to open a newspaper and discover an article titled: On turning 70 by Liz Byrski (SMH 3 AUG 2014), which celebrated aging. Byrski begins with “Seventy feels like a reward for patience and perseverance, and I am determined to make the most of what follows.” While other milestone birthdays in Byrski’s life – 21, 40, 50 – did not deliver a feeling of change, waking up on her 70th birthday was a liberating experience.

‘I’d arrived; something had shifted’ she wrote. A pair of high heels was symbolic of this shift. A symbol of ‘discomfort and restrictions of conformity’, she chucked them out. She became more herself. Byrski does not shy away from the physical challenges of old age. But insists ‘we are living proof for young people that ageing can be a time of pleasure, satisfaction, opportunity and yes, even new horizons.’

We, THE SIBYLS, declare Liz Byrski an Honorary Sibyl for her open spirit, contagious vitality and willingness to explore that philosophical question ‘what does it mean to grow old?’

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liz bryskicompanyofstrangersLiz Byrski is a WA-based broadcaster and an author of both fiction and non-fiction books. She started writing novels in her late fifties based on interesting and active older female characters as, so often, the stereotype of older women in novels were limited to the nosey neighbour, interfering mother-in-law, frail and dependent burden, or lonely miserable spinster.lastchance

Her books include In the Company of Strangers and Last Chance Café.

Photo Source: !950s Social Archives

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