Auntie Kauila is a kumu hula – a hula master in Hawaii. She is 84 and can bend lower than I and most of my hula sisters. She passes on her vast repertoire of knowledge of chant and dance to her students, most of whom are midlife and older. Her day job consists of teaching Hawaiian culture to elementary school children. She is active, fit, and a powerhouse of energy. And she was bubbling over the other day about a new hula she had learned. That’s right – "learned." She is a renowned expert and she’s still learning. I want to be Auntie Kauila when I grow up.
While I admire her accomplishments, grace, and stamina, I mostly want to be her because she is so interested. In everything. And being interested makes her interesting. She gets high marks on the role model scale for the second half of my life.
I read a quote recently from a midlife woman who said "I pay attention to women older than I am. They are my future." To discover and create our future, we menopausal goddesses would do well to pay attention to older women we admire and hope to emulate.
My mom also pegs the needle on my role model meter. She bought her first home computer about 5 years ago I now refer to her as the Internet Queen. She finds and forwards the most thought provoking, insightful, and amazing sites. Great jokes too. Sister goddess Theresa gave her the highest compliment: "I never delete Lynette’s Mom’s emails." She’s taken up painting in oils and acrylics recently – her art is unique and beautiful. She continues to explore her creativity. Yep, I want to be Mom, too, when I grow up.
Whom do we admire? And why? That’s a question the Venuses sat down to answer during one of our meetings. Each goddess wrote down two women that she felt were glowing examples of who she’d like to be when she grew up, and listed the traits that made them such shining stars for her. Then we shared our lists with one another.
While the individual mentors we chose were illuminating, the reasons we held these women up as our ideals were considerably more important. Each of us admired different attributes: grace under pressure, living largely, empathy and kindness, strength, optimism, creativity, etc.
The most stunning insight arising from this exercise and discussion revolved around how often the qualities that a Venus admired in her two role models were the very qualities she embodied for the rest of us! And each Venus was unable to see it for herself until her sister goddesses pointed out the obvious. Can it be that what we most admire, we unconsciously already are? We saw it over and over again in our round robin about the women we most esteemed.
While it might be possible that I am already interested/interesting and creative, my midlife growing up is still a work in progress. I expect that Auntie Kauila and my mother Betty will keep me focused and challenging myself. The same goes for the other Venuses and their chosen role models. These elder women are our future. And the future looks very good indeed.