Hello, my friends,
It’s been a quiet and reflective last few months, while also researching and writing the book and finishing up the workforce development grants I am still consulting on with my social work hat. My mother’s death hit me hard triggering much thought about my own and my approach to how I am aging. I am being kind to myself about this, much kinder than I was when my father died. World and national events make it hard to think about things like what to wear or even to stay hopeful and optimistic. It feels a bit like skydiving without a parachute. I do get dressed up far less and now for purposes other than posting on Instagram but that does not mean I am “letting myself go” or “giving up” as many might accuse me of. I am simply letting go. Before I lost my way and fell off the “influencer” cliff, I always dressed to express my identity and the cultural context and time I was living in. I am doing so now in that I choose to dress comfortably and pragmatically as I did before; it’s the same but different. I am no longer attending academic conferences wearing a black and white Yohji Yamamoto suit and shirt, but I am wearing oversize white shirts and comfortable black pants. At times I startle and wake myself and others up by wearing something coral.
I turned 69 in June and it has marked a shift, very different than the one I experienced as I was turning 60. I was very rebellious and yet in reflection while I was fighting the invisibility of being an older woman, I was still denying in an odd kind of way that I was aging and would continue to do so. In the early years of doing Accidental Icon, I distanced myself from older people and claimed it was a “marketing strategy.” I carelessly tossed off comments such as. “Age is just an illusion” or #Ageisnotavariable when I now know 100% that age does matter, bodies do change and it’s a social location burdened with disfavor and a lifetime of experiences based on who we are. I do give myself credit for moving the needle more about the idea that one could reinvent at any time of life and that aging doesn’t mean the end of your life, but I lacked awareness of the many seasons of age and that somehow I would change and shift in my body as I grew older. I did not believe I would need to change my clothes or rather I would even want to change my clothes. Thinking about turning 70 is instigating a new way of being, not less than, just different than. It’s quieter, still transgressive but shows up in how we are honoring the earth in our house and garden, the way I am beginning to participate in my local community, my writing, my relationships, and yes, even in the way I dress.
Researching and writing for my book has become a journey of discovery that I am excited to share with others because unlike the project I started in 2014 which was an aspirational one, the project I am involved in now, “How To Be Old”, is both aspirational and REALISTIC. I have realized that it is not aging itself that must be resisted but rather what society makes us think about aging. It’s a project for all ages and all bodies and needs to have a big dose of moral imagination applied to it. Many of my followers are focusing on their local communities as a way of doing activism and are doing interesting and creative things as all of you here have always been involved in. We need to find ways to support and share this. The other night some artists/activists in my city called a meeting to talk about how we as creative people might respond to what’s happening in the world today and the implications for our community right here. Earlier that day I was unenergetic, maybe even a bit sad, and feeling isolated. I put on a coral dress, dug out some orange and blue earrings I got in Japan when I had a job there, and put on some orange lipstick from a trip to Paris with Hermes. Added a slight perk but not much. All of those objects became animated and activated when I sat at a table with others having a vision for what could be, rather than talking endlessly about what is.
So that’s where I want to head these days. I am very tired of being on platforms that are owned by others, controlled by algorithms, and that fracture my communities. This is not a time for intergenerational conflict, fractured and specialized or siloed communities. Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and this blog I have over one million followers most of whom are creative and of different ages! Imagine if we applied all our imagination and creativity to the visioning of new solutions and designs that enhance and support us throughout the lifecycle. It is also exhausting to post and create content for so many different platforms which is why I have stopped. So I am exploring membership-based platforms under our control, there will be no interruptions of ads or other people to follow because I follow one of you. Membership would be free or very minimal to help pay for the platform but will be a place to have Zoom chats, online classes, discussion groups, and interest-based conversations like the ones we have here and the ones that I am having increasingly on Instagram. I am looking for something that allows a visual component as well. We can also talk about the place of fashion and clothing given the time we are living in. Or anything we want for that matter. It’s time the wisdom, creativity, and experience of older women become harnessed and combined with the imagination of those younger than us. If any of you know of any platforms that you may be involved in that meet these requirements let me know. Someone suggested Mighty Networks. Also please share your thought and responses. to the idea of a membership platform and what should be on it.
So as always asking for your thoughts let me know how you’ve been too since it has been a while!
PS My kitchen is finally done!