What about us, now, in our time? As women in all stages of becoming elders, there is a growing passion and a commitment to tell our own stories and to create a new myth to help us to grow into the most positive women elders possible. We have children, or we are childless, we are single or we are partnered, working or retired, healthy or feeling the struggles of the body. Whatever stage of eldering we find ourselves navigating it is imperative that we find our way, with humor, grace and dignity.
Elderhood is a cyclical experience that can be a ripening of our strengths rather than the dulling of our minds through an unlived life. From the words of social activist Maggie Kuhn, “Old age is not a disease. It is a strength in survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illness.” This speaks to aging as an extraordinary achievement. It is an opportunity to re-awaken the imagination towards new possibilities and a renewed spirit inspired by the wisdom of living we have acquired.
As women ripen into the various stages of eldering, we must re-map the landscape to make room for the emerging new perspectives of what it means to be an elder. Through honoring endings, making meaning and giving our gifts, we move into the transformation of elderhood and into a renewed vitality, creativity, and vision. This program is an invitation to open to what is needed to welcome the elders we are becoming.
Program Overview: During our time together we will explore ways to deepen into a more conscious approach to how we live our lives as elder women in the world today. We will recall our personal stories, life experiences and collected knowledge and discover ways to transform them into our wisdom and our medicine. We will explore an ancient means of looking into the mirror of nature (the Four Shields) that will reflect and support the wisdom of the elders as a natural point for introspection and meaning. These teachings and the earth itself will help to bring what is needed to your own particular stage of this rich new frontier.
Our days will be filled with a morning circle that will include teachings and a check-in. In the afternoon an assignment will be suggested and there will be time alone on the land. There will be late afternoon and after dinner story councils for listening and reflection.
A day medicine walk to a special location with optional fasting and a 24 hour time of silence will take place on one of the days.
Time and Location: We will be camping at Baker Creek Camp ground in Big Pine, California near the foothills of the Eastern Sierras. The landscape offers many walking trails as well as beautiful areas to find solitude that are easily accessible by foot or car. We encourage people to arrive no later than Sunday, October 1st at1:00PM to allow time to set up your camp. Our first meeting will begin at 3:00PM and we will complete our ceremony on Saturday at 1:00PM, October 7th.
Practical Preparation: Though we will be camping out the entire time, no camping experience is necessary. There will be guides and assistants to help with unloading vehicles and setting up tents. For those who do not wish to camp there are motels nearby. The campground offers vault toilets and there are picnic tables at each site with a stream that runs through the campground.
The School makes no provisions for meals and equipment and encourages you to come prepared to live self- sufficiently. There will be a simple kitchen set-up available with cooking utensils, pots and pans and drinking water. Two camp stoves and a wash station will also be in place.
You will need to bring shelter and suitable clothing for a full range of weather. A note to those with medical or physical limitations: all activities undertaken will be non- strenuous and our emphasis is always on “safety first”.