When I was a young girl, I went through a period when I wanted to be a nun; not just any kind of nun, but one who was cloistered. Also referred to as enclosed, cloistered orders of nuns are those whose members strictly separate themselves from the affairs of the world. Separation can be literal as in walls and grilles, and figurative as in prioritizing spiritual life and prayer over economic or outreach activity. It is a monastic lifestyle, set apart from the world with limited access, that allows others to come in. Rarely, under certain circumstances, one gets permission to leave.
For the past year, I have mourned the death of my mother and, for the most part, cloistered myself in my new/old home. I’ve experienced the world as if I have been on one side of a monastery grille. A grille is a place of separation from the world yet it is also a place where the world is encountered but on ones terms; this space has allowed me to deeply reflect. Christmas Day will be one year since my mother’s spirit has rejoined the natural world. I feel her when I sit outside looking at the river. The busy birds remind me of her nervous energy as do the buzzing bees sipping on my herbs and flowers. During this time I am blessed with a new grandson, I experience Covid. I have a new kitchen and I plant an herb garden. During this time, I write and turn in a book. I am waiting for my editor’s feedback on this first draft as I write this.
I cease most economic activity save for some long-term social work commitments that will end this year. I’ve been smart about saving enough until I collect Social Security in June. “Accidental Icon” has also passed away, not me Lyn Slater, I am very much alive, but the persona and energy I was as the Icon no longer exists. No more sponsored posts, commercials, or fashion shoots. No permissions needed to leave my enclosure. I willingly decline all the events I am still invited to in New York City. Outreach on Instagram, even this blog, is sporadic. It’s no longer important to take frantic actions three times a day to increase my audience. If I am writing in a way that creates meaning and makes people feel something, makes them feel known, they will come on their own. I don’t have to entice them with videos and animated avatars. Much like the nuns who live together for a common purpose, I have found my community here on this blog and those who likewise respond with thoughtful comments and share vulnerabilities on my Instagram that no longer feature clothes or sell products. I feel like we are enough; ordinarily old but still quite interesting, as evidenced in the responses so generously shared in response to what I write.
Cloisters are not meant to be places where you escape, but where one contemplates the meaning of life. You are not closed; you are open. In the process of writing my book, during which I found it had a mind of its own, it has become more of a memoir with a subtle how to be old handbook take than I originally envisioned. My editor assures me this is often the case while writing a book; it has a rebellious nature much like me. Throughout, I move from childhood to adolescence, to middle age, to an older life that seems to begin as I contemplate turning 70 in 2023. In this book, I appear as a granddaughter, grandmother, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and partner. I am a social worker, a professor, and a social and cultural influencer. I write all the lives I have ever lived, all the roles I have played. In this, I have found new meanings in my life. The dream deferred moves from hazy outlines to sharp relief. The person who has always wanted to come out, but was sidetracked and shaped by the institutions, contexts, and experiences that continue to form me; the profession of social work, capitalism, academia, climate change, Catholicism, a pandemic, and the precarious perch of democracy, emerges.
Everything cloistered nuns do is a prayer. Cooking, writing, gardening, and housecleaning are all opportunities for deep reflection. The communities themselves are called contemplative. Contemplation is the action of looking at something thoughtfully for a long time. But as the cloistered nuns know, this is solitary work. While there may be times we turn to a therapist, perhaps a stand-in for a confessor, the greatest insights come unbidden when we are alone or occupied in a simple task like walking, showering, pulling weeds, or in that half awake state when we doze in our chair on a rainy afternoon.
Writing is like a prayer and I imagine all creative expressions can be that way. While praying in the best of times, we are at one with a being or an energy much greater than ourselves. We lose ourselves in the moment as we do during sex with a cherished partner, as I do now tethered to my grandson’s smile that splits open his face and offers me his heart. Mine disappears back into his rosebud mouth and is his forever. It happens when I am in the throes of writing, the kinds that pour out of you, not the kind where you write two sentences and edit them. When we truly soar outside of ourselves, chains are broken, unfettered by the narcissism, technology, the standards of youth, and beauty that take us away from being truly present and in our bodies, we are free.
During this time of ascetic pursuit and in my practice of writing, I have recovered my ability to discern; the ability to judge well. I have taken time in the decisions I make now. I use my head and my heart, all the while assessing the important values involved. Writing has always been a way for me to think, to feel, to contemplate, to develop the skill of discernment. It has been the mirror for my busy brain, my tortured soul. While I have not shared this more intimate writing until I started this blog, and even then not really being personal until the pandemic, I have kept journals for 57 years. I regret now I have not kept them all, being frightened of the secrets they held, the rawness, the aching vulnerability of them. I know now that I have the strength to absorb what they contained, and to forgive myself for being so very lost. When I wrote as an academic and even days on my blog until late, I maintained a distance between myself and the reader. But I wrote nonetheless. So I suppose I can say I have always written, it is not something I am starting now at 70. In this reinvention time, if I think about beginning something from scratch, it would make me feel frantic about the time left to do it, time to practice, and to live one’s deepest desires. So fraught, you may decide to not do it at all.
In the comments left here and on my Instagram, so many of us are finding the “artist” within during older life, the person put on the shelf during times of competing responsibilities and during periods of grueling work. Many of those approaching older life are in a state of anxiety and indecision, a state of not knowing. They want to reinvent themselves but do not know what to do, or how to go about it. They are afraid it is too late. I can attest it is not. I’d like to be a guide. We bring to this time of life a plethora of experiences, knowledges, and skills that can be used in the service of creating something new. We are never really starting anything from scratch because we have lived a life full of moments of everyday creativity. Have you ever changed an ingredient in a recipe, taken a different route to work, or go to a city you’ve never been to before? These are examples of things we do that add imagination to our everyday lives. That is what researchers call everyday creativity. It is a practice, one we will explore.
Whether I call it taking a sabbatical or entering a cloister, it is simply dedicating the time and opportunity to re-connecting with our deepest “you”.I am ready to move on, to leave the cloistered life. I, for one, enjoy that we are traveling this road together. I appreciate your companionship and company. While in the quote I leave you with from St. Augustine, he is talking about God, in a secular reading, it describes how I feel about reconnecting with my deepest “you”.
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”
Who’s your deepest “you”?
Beautifully written and very true of what many of us feel as we take this journey called life.
Such a lovely reflection. My deepest me, best me is firmly planted in Christ, relying on Holy Spirit power to work through my weaknesses, as he leads me to new places & elevations. Sometimes it’s tough, exhilarating, exhausting but I push on despite a noisy, clamoring world.
Having turned 70 less than a month ago, I find comfort and inspiration in your words. Also coincidentally, I have just sent my publisher the manuscript for the second edition of a book on grief and loss that I wrote six years ago. I am composing this message from my hotel room in Ushuaia on the Southern tip of Argentina, en route to Antarctica. May you never cease adventuring, and may your adventures bring you ever closer to yourself.
Have a wonderful and safe adventure and congrats on the new edition!
Thank you dear Noel, you inspire many by sharing your journey.
Lovely and inspiring. I too look forward to the journey.
my heart is full….. speechless…lovely!
I turn 65 medicare age in April. In 2020 I was diagnosed with Cervicogenic Vestibular Disorder which gives me daily migraines, nausea and dizziness. I have been trying to figure out who my deepest me is for two years. This disorder has caused me to lose friends and family who don’t understand and are tired of giving me grace. I didn’t grow up Catholic (frozen chosen instead) and am now a devout Methodist who went to seminary at age 60. I am drawn to Julian of Norwich and Theresa of Avila. I live on a little island off the coast of Charleston, SC which can only be accessed by ferry. It’s primitive and protected and cloistered in a way. I am very active in my work with social justice ministries and I’m jonesin to be a grand mama but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I think my deepest me is someone who cares too much and worries to much about the future of our country. I told my husband that we were moving to Canada if 2024 turns out to be unbearable. He didn’t buy it. Humor is my balm in gilead. I guess that’s my deepest me. (ps, I did want to be the flying nun)
Ha I remember the Flying Nun who was also Gidget in another life of the actress. I can’t imagine how you are doing social justice work in the midst of your condition, I am in awe. I too worry about the future of this country, probably part of the cloister. Humor is underrated as medication, there needs to be a prescription for it,
Thank you, this is beautiful. You’ve expressed so much of my own truth here, and I’m grateful. Thanks for sharing yourself with us.
Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Enjoyed reading this, and this bit here resonated a lot…While there may be times we turn to a therapist, perhaps a stand-in for a confessor, the greatest insights come unbidden when we are alone or occupied in a simple task like walking, showering, pulling weeds, or in that half awake state when we doze in our chair on a rainy afternoon…I too have shut myself off from the world recently – hibernating brought a sense of reality that haven’t felt so sometime. Isn’t it funny how we sense connections are what makes us feel alive (which of course they do) but having the connection with ourselves cultivates something else entirely.
This is very insightful and is giving me something I really want to chew on, this idea of connection to self and others and what makes one feel alive.
Powerful and appreciated! Gives me pause to reflect on. Thank you
Wow! So well written. Perfectly describes what I’m experiencing.
I’m 75, and feel that I’ve only begun to know myself and how to live. I’m still surprised that I recently joined a garden club and loving every minute of the new experience.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey.
Thank you, it seems many of us are in the same place. We are privileged to have the health and stamina to be there. So much gratitude.
Thank you Lyn for your honesty and clarity. I am caring for my 92 year old mom. She is about to start immunotherapy and I hope that her days will be comfortable and she will be able to enjoy a great grandchild arriving in January and the wedding of her granddaughter this summer. My mom is a holocaust survivor and a woman determined to be here for a few more happy times. We have had a complicated relationship and I am already grieving her loss.
I have had many challenges in my life and also many incredible experiences. At the age of 72, I find myself at yet another turning point. I often feel lost and feel it is too late. You have inspired me and just hope I can meet the challenge.
Never too late. My mother taught me the greatest changes and shifts in a life could occur when you are old, a very valuable lesson.
Traveling through these final chapters of life is a renewing spirit to enhance every experience! Love your insight into life’s daily beauty in all we touch!
It is beautiful even within the losses there are things to be gained.
You are a very good writer.
I am grateful to have found your blog… and I too as a small girl wanted to become a nun … but more due to growing up Catholic and then dispelling the idea after finding the performing arts… while reading this particular blog I do feel it’s like visiting a friend and thank you for the encouragement of not being irrelevant in our aging..
We are sooooooo not irrelevant!
Your writing has encouraged me and helped me to “reset”. Silence is necessary for contemplation and you reminded me of that today. Please keep writing. Wishing you all the best this Christmas season.
Thank you so very much, I will keep writing!
Please tell that to my editor who is reading the first draft of my book right now LOL!
Reading your blog feels like checking in with a long valued friend. I can appreciate everything you’re feeling. I turned 70 this past July.
Thank you for your honest authenticity and for allowing me to ride along and learn.
Peace and love to you, my friend. ❤️🙏🏼
Back at you my dear!
So sorry for your loss
Very nicely nicely written. As I heal from from a broken hip, I realize that I live a cloistered life in my room in a rehab facility.
Very nicely nicely written. As I heal from from a broken hip, I realize that I live a cloistered life in my room in a rehab facility.
Thank you, it’s the season now.
Simply put, you made me feel good today…I have been following you since you accidentally became an icon and feel like you are writing about me…thank you for being you…
I am writing for us! All the ordinary old who have interesting lives.
Lyn, you are a moving and authentic writer and sharing your thoughts gives light and guidance to so many of us who need a few pointers to remember the inner self and honor it.
Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts and being a guide for more self reflection.
When I was a professor I really tried to tech my students to be critical and reflective thinkers. My PowerPoints contained only questions…so may I’m still a little bit of a professor, or a clinician as I used to be in my social work life. All the we’s we ever were are living in us right now today.
I have always enjoyed your blog, but this one is special. I am a couple of years older than you but identify with so much of what you are saying here. I am looking forward to the book. We so often forget that our history and experiences contribute to our wisdom and that our curiosity adds to our ability to be interesting.
You have an elegant way with words. Thanks for sharing yourself, as we are all so much the same in our uniqueness.
Love us all!
Yes at 73 I am taking myself off the shelf. Thank you for this lovely writing
Dust yourself off my dear and let’s start dancing!
Although my journey to identify the deepest “you” is constantly evolving, I feel much closer to some sort of “discovery “, as I mature. We are strangers but we have shared many experiences so I feel a kindredness…is that a word? I look forward to your blog posts as you inspire my introspection. Please do not stop. Thank you.
Comments like yours provide me constant motivation to keep on so I will.
I have always felt that I am not a creative person. Creative for me meant being a musician, an artist, a writer, an actress – and
However, I’ve changed an ingredient, I’ve taken a new route to work, I’ve explored a new city on my own, I’ve created cookbooks for my daughters of their favourite childhood recipes, I’ve created photo books for my 98 year old father to flip through. I express my creativity in how I keep my homes, in how I cook, how I entertain, how I dress. As a program evaluation professional I expressed my creativity in how I gathered, analyzed and presented the results of my evaluations. I may not be a musician, an artist, a writer, an actress, but I certainly have everyday creativity! Thank you for this perspective!
Yes, you do! I am very happy that you see that.
Beautiful Lyn, thank you. I often feel so very grateful for those who are sharing this time now with me. The fact we were all born around a time that means we’ve arrived at this older place together. We can learn, encourage and support one another. No coincidence, joyful perfect timing of that greater hand. ❤️
I, too, turn 70 in 2023. I was up in the attic yesterday going through boxes and boxes of Christmas decor and I just put it all back and decided I dont want to do this anymore. A tree, a porch santa and s simple door wreath is enough I feel “lighter” already.
Oh my just did the same! I have a lovely wreath a friend made on my front door and a tree made of boxwood as a centerpiece for my table. That will be more than enough.
Yes, this is an awesome community! I am very grateful to you all.
Thank you for this. We all were cloistered during the pandemic. During the anxiety and forced inwardness, some contemplated their lives as you did. I certainly did and as I get older wondering about this next chapter of age, creatively living each day is more important than ever.
Yes, so necessary during these times.
Oh blessings. I had no idea you were Catholic. So am I, and I live across the street from a monastery of Visitation sisters in Georgetown, Washington DC, and I publish about sisters. This writing is so much better than anything I’ve seen from you before. You were always interesting, but now the writing feels essential.
Thank you for that, especially the comment about the writing being essential.
Thank you Lyn. Many of your thoughts coincide with my own journey (including my wanting to be a nun at an early age.)
I am turning 64 and feel like this new phase needs to be addressed with more purpose than I had given in the past.
Your thoughts and writings are very much appreciated.
Kind Regards to you…
Good luck on the journey!
Amen and amen.
You are a precious soul!! I appreciate you beyond what I can express here. I am about to turn 54 this week and I have many life changes that are frustrating. Reading your blog today has blessed me and reminded me that God has me in the palm of His hand and all that we are experiencing is not a surprise to Him. Thank you for being so candid and openly sharing your journey with us, with me. I feel like your my friend and I will continue to think of you in that way. You’re just a few years ahead of me in time and I will learn from you as much as I can. I hope my note here to you today blesses you and makes you feel and know you are my companion and appreciated. Your blog post today is so wonderful. As I finish my note to you I will scroll up and reread it and then forward it to my daughters ages 27 and 21 with the expectation it will encourage them as it has me. Bless you dear one, your friend, Pammy
I love this so much. I really want younger women to not be afraid of this time of life. I always loved being a mentor and companion to my students and staff who worked for me, I gladly accept the role!
I love your writings… I always read them and I think many peoples purpose has changed in the last few years. I spoke to a few years back, and I am a fashion designer, but now I am doing some other things.
Keep up your meaningful writing
Thank you, I agree some have changed and the change has stuck, others have returned to the status quo.
Lynn, At almost 73 I am a little bit older than you. I too lost my Mother though not quite a year ago. My daughter & I had a heartbreaking falling out & she painted a picture of myself that I can hardly bear to perceive. I am in the process of trying to reconcile the image of how I saw myself with this new ugliness. I was taken completely by surprise. Maybe we are all not quite who we think we are. My daughter & I are trying to mend this rift, but it has forced me to see beyond my old image of myself. Most of us rewrite our history to suit the way we need to see ourselves. It is time for me to take a deeper look.
Ah, thanks for sharing such a vulnerable story here. I went through a similar journey with my mother in the process seeing some not-so-great things about how I acted. However in the end, because we kept healing the rift, we saw each other as just two women, raised in a particular time and context that shaped and formed us. We became accepting and came to a peaceful place in our relationship. I wish that for you and your daughter. While my mother certainly had her limits and flaws, some very intense, I too brought my baggage to the relationship. We both had to take a deeper look.
So many similars. Allowing the wisdom of the years to finally come through. Ah, if only we had understood them at the time we learned them, right? But we know them now. And as I become a grandmother early next year, it will be my duty and honor to share what I know with my grandson.
Wishing you the best.
Grandmotherhood is one of the joys of older life. I do wish we could engage more young people in the project of welcoming what comes with age rather than fearing it.
Hello, what a revelation. Your expression of self and spiritual peace with being yourself as enough is like giving me a yes pass in life. A pass to simply drop the masks or at least the purposeless striving for…, what? Time to enjoy the intangible richness of a day. The beginning, the middle, and the peaceful end. Be present and welcome the gift of genuine presence from others. A fine message to begin this day with. Thank you.
Purposeless striving…how wonderful to be free of it and as you note in the end for what?
Beautifully expressed. In 1981 my only son died from leukemia. I think I rather lost myself for many years after that. I have been on my inner path for the past 27 years, after having breast cancer in ’95. I delved deeper going through uterine cancer in 2014. ..my path has been long, deep and winding, fraught with many fears and anxieties. I had to learn to continue to realign, readjust…becoming ever more flexible and malleable to my inner truth, my soul, allowing my soul to manage my body and not the other way around…lessons of a lifetime of both joy and pain. I am still here – on the topside of the grass I like to say, and being ordinarily creative daily. PS. I too was raised Catholic and wanted to be a nun 🙂
What an inspiring story, brave, and so happy you are still topside and commenting here.
Lyn, it has been so wonderful to join you on your Accidental Icon journey. Now, with this blog, it has been lovely getting to know you deeper as a thoughtful, introspective person, which is incredibly rare. I started my own law practice 8 years ago in my mid-50’s and I’m still going strong. Everything is still on virtual platforms. If it were not for that, I’d have a difficult time soldiering on. At any rate, I”ll look forward to staying in touch through your blog. Thank you for setting a great example.
Congratulations on your successful business. I spent 15 years of my social work career in partnership with lawyers and learned a great deal from doing so. Keep on soldiering!
This is absolutely precious writing and sharing. My deepest thanks. I just returned from a solo trip to South Carolina, and had much time to think and ponder, as I drove. I know deeply that I am on the verge of “something” different than I am now. I feel it deeply and it is slowly emerging. I have been reading and following you for quite a while now. I am so grateful that you have written a book…I’ll be on that immediately when it is published. (It may arrive at my book club next year for all to read!) Your timing is, of course, definitively perfect. Divinely perfect too
I feel deeply moved and uplifted reading your ‘gems’. Your writing is sublime. I find myself saying yes yes as I read. After a career initially as a teacher and then giving every working day over to public policy I wondered what would satisfy me and allow me to make a difference and keep me thinking. Ten years on my days are full and deeply satisfying – involvement in my new, small local community, time with friends, working or rather playing in a friend’s art studio making, painting, printmaking and now ceramics. I feel deeply blessed.
My only and big regret is that my partner, my soul mate, passed away and so we could not enjoy this time together.
My husband was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. He will have surgery on the 15th of this month. I am afraid for the unknowns and am also hopeful for all the real time experiences we are now choosing. My lost creativity seems to be rearing its lovely head!
My prayers for a good recovery and I trust with an attitude such as yours, your creativity will be applied to this situation as well.
I am sorry for that loss in the midst of the other beautiful riches in your life. How blessed are we to accept with grace the myriad benefits of being old?
I love the way you described the emerging but not yet knowing, whoa right on.
Beautifully written Lyn,
I admire the drive that allows you to share experiences in a way of wisdom and inner peace!
I can therefore follow you perfectly to discover new challenges in the next stage of our lives. It actually gives us a good feeling that we can now experience things that are the result of years of work and development and that certainly come in handy in this phase of our lives!
I thank you for the beautiful moments that I can experience when reading your blog, it is so enriching and gives meaning to life NOW!
Thank dear longtime and loyal friend. Like a fine wine we are only getting more complex and delightful.
Thank you so much.
After reading your (post) it makes me wonder if we all eventually get forced into submission. I enjoy your writing and I look forward to every topic you share, but over the last year, I have felt “you” trying to justify the changes in your life and how the “ACCIDENTAL ICON” feels like an accomplishment that is no longer computing within your brain the way it used too. What I feel is happening to “you” is you are now a full-time grandmother who has found a new topic that is much more humble and personal. I look forward to reading your book and hope you have other ideas a non-fiction that will allow “you” to provide “us” a future of great novels to come.
Dear Lyn, I am 55 and deeply value your insights, honesty, and beautiful prose. and along with this wonderful community, you inspire me and give me hope of more years of learning and love ahead. thank you all.
You hit the nail on the head, community and am so very grateful for it.
I’d be interested in hearing how you apply the “forced into submission” to your life and how my writing may trigger reflections for you, I appreciate you enjoy my writing which means a great deal to me.
Amen. I am having similar experiences and will turn 70 in 2023 with the gratitude of being given the time to think about these things.
We need to figure out how to have a virtual 70th birthday party!
Lyn, your words inspire me and reassure me as I embark on year 75, that we can remake our lives. The line about giving up frantic social media hoping to increase your audience especially resonated. Thank you for your honesty.
Very nicely nicely written. As I heal from from a broken hip, I realize that I live a cloistered life in my room in a rehab facility.
What have you discovered in your cloistered time?
So validating -“ we are enough; ordinarily old, but still quite interesting,” . Thank you for this, my new mantra. Keep sharing your worthy thoughts.
Actually, we are MORE than enough!
I ask daily, nightly, for help to become the woman I cannot yet define. Graceful, thoughtful, creative, slim, always slim. This is a time of change. I can only hope I have time left enough to meet her.
Yes that niggling little question that lurks in the back of our brains. That’s a topic I think I should write about.
Sadness and loss of a mother takes us to a new depth, I have considered it a parting gift from my mother who leftc50 years ago.
Your thoughtful words reach my deepest heart. Thank you.
A great way to view it, she did indeed give me a gift that I am still unwrapping and will continue to do so.
Thank you for sharing this deep reflection on life and the journey you’ve walked so far, especially this past year. It has been a slow paced reading triggering my own personal reflection upon your words. Thank you again.
Miss Lyn, Don’t stray too too far from the you. Their lens caught a unique flower in a garden of dulled colors that their frame, until in the middle of their lens they saw You. Yes, you fell… no…. soared into the iconic spirit they, the people behind the lens, saw you as. All that came from the inner you who lived as you saw your true self, not a copy nor a fragment of someone else’s paid-for ‘zine model. You were and still are the real deal. The whole person inside from which you learned to spawn a rich texture of shapes, colors, mode of being, from the bravery inside you. We women look to others to define who we are. You did not. You defined yourself. And that is why your following is so many. You need not work hard to please others, for pleasing yourself pleases us. We women, from young to old, still wake up each morning wanting to scratch through the surface of who we are and what we are to do to fullfill ourselves. We look to independent like yourself to breath in the inspiration of how to step forward and be ourselves from the inside out.
I’ve been given my marching orders, will always still be me.
I was lying in bed this morning in that hypnogogic state you describe. I was reminiscing, pondering and mulling things about myself I’ve learned and accepted, over in my mind. I had this insight that I could have/should have been a nun.
I am contemplative by nature. At 7, I joined a local church to sing at the top of my lungs and listen to the minister talk about life. The denomination was irrelevant since my parents were atheists and viewed this churchy pass time an oddity and perhaps even one to monitor. My mother would admonish, “I don’t mind you going to this church since you seem smitten with it, but whatever you hear, just remember, it’s in the realm of fairy tales. None of it is true or real.” Like most things my mother said, I ignored these directions as best I could.
By 16 – 1970 – I was rushing home to join Kareena’s Yoga class on educational TV at 4 PM. 52 years later I continue this practice daily. I am physically remote by nature and care little to be touched. I’ve been married for 32 years and my partner still complains that I’m not affectionate.
Then I read your always much-cherished post and right on the first line is how much you identify with the nun archetype! The most amazing synchronicity! Like some call in the wind that validates every nuance, every thought. I’ve often said that the day has come that the old woman must assume the reins of leading the world. It is only her Old Woman wisdom; intelligent loving, clairvoyant sight, transcendent empathy that can save this world from the self-destruct path it is on presently. Your book is one of the voices calling the Old Woman to arms. Thank you for all you do and I wish you a glorious holiday season. Undoubtedly more baby smiles and kisses will abound!
It is indeed a call to arms. The world has never needed our wisdom as much as it does not, perhaps that is why so many try to suppress our voices.
What a turn of fate that I followed someone who I admired their outer style and then discover they are on a similar spiritual journey.
Thank you so much for the thoughts about being cloistered.
At 58 I’m beginning to be on the edge of understanding winter (I live in the Midwest) and why it is necessary and should be cherished. Wintering has similarities to being cloistered. Why did I insist for so many years to carry on as if it was summer?
In any case, thank you for sharing your writing. You gave me much to think about. I appreciate that and you.
I love the metaphors you use to describe the seasons. I agree spent far too much time in the boiling sun getting sunburned rather than bundling up in flannel shirts and wool sweaters being comfortable and warm as I am now.
This is one of the most beautiful and honest blogs I have ever read. Thank you for sharing your journey, process and thoughts.
For years I fought being immersed in domestic life, wanting to excel as an artist as designer. During the pandemic I too needed a change and suggested by my kids I started teaching cooking classes. Now I find myself in the kitchen all the time, wether creating a new recipe or preparing for a class. To my surprise, my cooking has been the part of me that connects the most with those around me. And what surprises me the most is that I enjoy doing so. What I always thought is a submissive activity has turned out the exact opposite. The more I spend time in my kitchen, the more I free, independent, and connected I feel.
I love the point of this. Within oppressive structures, if we look hard enough is a tiny opening of power that can be pried open if we patiently work it like a tight knot. You have transformed woman’s work.
So beautifully written Lyn. This is a precious time of life. We should not fear aging, but instead see it as a time of reflection, discovery and self-love. Intentionality should be our touchstone. Best of luck, Lyn, on your journey.
I so wish we could convey this to those younger and in such terror of it. They would save money, have a healthier body without all the stress the fear engenders and would have something delightful to look forward to.
The cloister has always been a place of peace, a place of refuge from the never-ending static of society; so too is the Jewish Sabbath, albeit without a physical grill. Instead, one takes a break from the “musts” of the world and instead embraces the privilege of family and friends in a quieter atmosphere. The Jewish Sabbath is where I find my “deepest me.”
What a beautiful gift, one given each week.
This is a delicious meditation on aging to be savored, re-read and contemplated. I, too, have kept journals for decades, starting in 1968. I loved the phrase “ordinarily old but still quite interesting.”
This is exactly — exactly! — what was needed by me today, maybe longer. I will turn 70 in 2023 also. No family. No children, no grandchildren. Myself and a devoted partner, her wonderful brother, and a lifelong friend I’ve had since the age of 12. I write and am published, I create art. I start each day with a type prayer, I end each day with another. “Help me” and “Thank you” seem like not much but we know it’s everything that’s needed and wanted. My massive library, our food, walks in our garden with or without the occasional stray we take in – this is my very full life. 2023 will be a time of cloistering for myself as well. It’s time. This piece you have graced us with is a call to a greater moment and I look forward to it. Thank you, Lyn.
A wonderful life indeed.
Lyn, this is a beautiful, powerful blog. I look forward to your upcoming book. Thank you for sharing. Love from Canada.
This is so beautifully written and, at 67? really resonates with me. I wil read it again and again. Peace and love Lyn x
Made my day, that’s why writers write. Maybe I am a writer lol!
Thank you. Happy I started following you years ago, and proud to be evolving alongside you.
What a great group of women we are!
I am deeply moved by this for two reasons. First, because I pray for God’s grace to move me forward to find my way; second, this appeared in my email and I opened it immediately rather than procrastinating. All I can say is thank you.
Wow Lyn. This is a deeply personal confessional piece . You have found the treasure within yourself, the daily gems which expose the unimportant , trivial elements of past years to painful scrutiny. Growing old is not for the faint hearted but different joys and aspirations are possible to achieve , given the creative will to seek them in ourselves. Pause for thought. Thank you.
Thank you, facing oneself and taking responsibility is such a freeing action, not the thing to be feared we think it is.
Your writing so speaks to my soul. I have always lived “ out there”-acting, performing whether on stage or in life. The pandemic gave me permission to drop into my deepest soul…. Myself. All the while I am sinking deeper and deeper into gardening and the love of quiet. Thank you for your beautiful words.
“The pandemic gave me permission to drop into my deepest soul” Wow just wow.
Holy, holy, holy! Wow Lyn! That’s all I can say for now. I will need to read this over and over, before I will be able to collect my eruption of thoughts and feelings to paper. Thank you, Sister in spirit. Reading your words this morning was like reading a dictionary, defining my being.
Oh my, I’m blushing right now.
Yes I think you are right that it’s never too late. My husband and I are in our 70’s and we bought a house in Provence. It’s not an ancient house but an older one and it has needed work which we are learning how to do in part. One thought I’ve had in this process is how much time do I have to get it done. Reading your post has given me a clearer vision of “what it’s all about” and I thank you.
Ah the question that always lurks these days, I’m going to have to write about that one.
I always enjoy your writing, profound, wise, identifiable.
Okay, all of you are making me way less anxious about waiting for my editor’s feedback on my first draft lol! Many thanks.
Your writing left me breathless…..so eloquent. Thank you.
My life mirrors yours in so many ways, even the thoughts of becoming a nun when I was a young girl. I find like you at age 70 I am craving a simplicity of life now. I am anxious about the commitments that previously led my very full life. Now I want a closer relationship with myself, my loved ones and my God. Thank you for sharing your journey, it makes me feel I am not alone and in a way gives me permission to enter this stage of my life with joy and grace.
Full on, it is our time.
Thank you for sharing a piece of you in your journaling life. You’ve enriched mine along the way and I’m sure many others. I wish you the best on your cloister journey.
I can’t remember when I started following you on Instagram. But I have always enjoyed your spirit through the fashion, the ads, beauty tips and travels. I feel honored to know of your state of cloistering. I had just evoked the same thing to a friend yesterday when I entered her home full of people to celebrate her son’s 25th birthday. I exclamed, “Wow! So many people.” There were about a dozen people, and yet it felt like there were 100 people in the room. I am naturally an extrovert, but lately I have enjoyed long days on my own with my two cats. My husband has been traveling for work, my kids live abroad, I am a middle-aged American living in the south of France. There is something very poetic about this time in my life, and I can only savor the moment alone. I put my writing hobby on hiatus sometime in the month of May, and thanks to you I am writing more than a one liner text message today. Winter is a wonderful time for reflecting, counting my blessings, forgiving myself and others for blunders we have made, and looking forward to the next year with more than just resolutions. In the yogic life, these are called Sankalpa, or simply posing one’s intentions. I look forward to reading more of your journey on your blog. You have inspired me to continue writing my family memoire. Merci!
How wonderful this has moved you to write. I loved what you said about this time of life being poetic, I will be pondering.
Wow, you have touched a nerve!
I’m 78 and I have lived hard, loved even harder, lost big, and learned deep and long.
You are inspiring and I will sit myself down soon and continue to write down my journey; I started some time ago but it was just a start as there is so much to tell.
Thank you for your most insightful thoughts/prayers – I meditate daily and contemplate deeply. I’m about to move into a lovely new/old home which is really an apartment but it has a gorgeous garden and a fabulous sea-view too. At present I’m in limbo waiting to sign the final agreement… Patience is not one of my virtues! But, it will happen soon. In the process of downsizing I have donated all of my paintings to Hospice which will hopefully raise some money for that amazing cause.
Thank you once again – keep going as we are all addicted!
What a lovely gesture. I have such admiration for hospice workers they so helped me to be able to be fully present during the death of my mother.
OMG….. this essay so touched my spirit. I have cloistered myself the past few months to heal.
Thank you. A powerful read
Thank you so much.
Timing…..with perfection! After losing my BFF of 32 years two years ago, I didn’t mourn as I was walking side-by-side with another dear friend (age 58) and her family on the breast cancer journey. She passed away last November Within a month (last December) a close girlfriend of 50 years died. I thought I would start grieving but I didn’t… there was the wedding of my now year ago deceased younger friend’s son to look toward to. He recently married and at the end of the wedding, I knew I could begin grieving. I thought my grieving process would begin with deep sobbing that would fill a dry river bed but alas, only a sprinkling of tears to water soft flowers. I realized that my grieving, however, is not so much about what I have lost, but what I have learned. My hope is when it is my time, people will say she roared, she lived, she loved and she never let the light of life go out of her at any age of her life.
What a beautiful way to think about and address the losses in our lives and to express how we might want others to remember us.
I am 13 years older than you and have now passed the phase of constant introspection and self obsession which you are dealing with. I think you will eventually reach this time too and find acceptance of your situation and surroundings, a delight in the natural world, continued enjoyment of your life as it is lived day by day and the relatives and friends who join you moving forward through the trials and tribulations which we all endure. I wish you good health and much happiness.
Yes, I believe that is the light I see ahead, it’s getting brighter.
I AM GOING TO SHARE YOU ON MY BLOG!AS A BLOG TO READ.IS THAT OKAY WITH YOU?
THIS IS SO SPOT ON!
SO EXCITING A BOOK IS IN THE WORKS!!
Beautiful ,thank you x
Of course, thank you, dear Contessa!
Thank you so much for these loving words. As a 71 year old woman, it means so much to me to read your posts. You put into words all the thoughts that are tumbling around in my brain. You give me something to think about and contemplate.
As do all of your comments for me.
Dear Lyn, thank you for sharing. I can acknowledge nothing last forever so here it is…I am thankful I get to experience the different stages of my life and learn from it, just like I am now reading your blog. I fell in love with “accidental Icon” and I appreciate your candor even more. Creativity will be my word the day, Cheers! 🥂
Here’s to creativity!
Covid isolation was an epiphany for many of us. I sought to prioritize what and who is truly important to me. I culled the herd and my ever exhausting list of social and volunteer activities. I found peace and contentment in the process. I look forward to your book. I’m betting it will turn on many more lights for me. This was a very emotionally impactful blog. Thank you.
I agree. So many people felt they had changed during this time but sadly many have gone back to the status quo. I am so grateful to have this community for whom it was a change that is lasting. We need each other’s support and validation and ai am grateful for it.
I found this post deeply meaningful and relatable. At 56, I’ve retired from my careers as a classical pianist and music teacher to pursue writing. Like you, I’ve found the need to “cloister” myself more and more as I get older. I don’t think that creativity thrives in the glare of a spotlight; it only grows in dark and secret places. Good for you for recognizing that and for choosing to turn away from all the recognition you get from Accidental Icon and embrace a path that’s both more private and soulful. I look forward to reading your memoir when it’s released.
Thank you for the encouragement. My creativity got corrupted in the whirl of social media and capitalism. a silver lining of the pandemic, while horrible for so many was the good kick in the ass it gave me to get back to the values I had always lived my life by.
Wonderful piece thank you.
I was also a social worker, then psychotherapist and lecturer for many years…I completed an arts degree in my 20s, and in my 50s, listening to people recovering their sense of selves in my consulting room pushed me into reclaiming my own. It’s why anyone becomes a therapist…and don’t let them tell you otherwise! I started to paint, I haven’t stopped, though I’ve slowed. In the midst of being a grandmother, a daughter to a very elderly and narcissistic parent, a partner to a husband who has leukaemia…some days, today in fact, I feel as if I’m losing my sense of self, that I am simply a housekeeper…and then I have a day in the studio and remember who I am. It’s so supportive reading your posts, so wonderful to hear the echo of similar experiences and good to know that there are other women on this bumpy ride. 🙏
Ah as a former clinician myself, what you say is true. I am so happy for you that you have your art in the midst of all the caring work you are doing. Prayers and good thoughts for you and those you care for.
Lyn this is so gorgeous—a feast for my mind and heart. I loved this so much I sent it to my long time friend/sister and she loved it too. I’m not a word smith —you write thoughts and feelings I have but don’t know how to express. I try to express myself in my paintings
Thank you thank you thank you
Thank you, if it weren’t for comments like this that gave me confidence when I had doubts about my ability there would not be a book. I am sure your creative expression is equally beautiful.
Lyn, thank you for this writing.
So glad for you that with the documentaries I’ve recently watched about the treatment of nuns (who trusted the system) that you never became one.
And if the religion you were born into ever provided solace I’m happy for you for that.
Personally, it wasn’t till I was 31, a lost Soul and a sad female, that I walked into a Protestant church merely to hear the famous and then elderly preacher who was also a motivational speaker to business groups. I couldn’t comprehend the line around the block for this elderly minister — until he got up to speak.
Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale spoke of our inherent worth, our being created in the image and likeness of God, and our right and responsibility to become all we could become and then to share ourselves with the wider community. He also spoke of lifelong learning and becoming the freshest version of ourselves at every age — I cried for the first 6 months of hearing his sermons in person. And I remained in his church for the next 32 years, benefitting from the ministry of his chosen successor, Rev. Dr. Arthur Caliandro.
Now living in Colorado, locally, I’ve been to 12 churches, searching for the inspiring community I once knew — not going to happen! So I fall back on the privilege I once knew to be cared about and inspired by an extraordinary institution with extraordinary staff.
At 76, I still mentor young adults in my new location.
And perhaps inspired by you, I have developed a personal style that causes young folks to come running up to me to comment on my silver Mohawk, my cowboy boots and boot bracelets, and my style in general.
I don’t dress for “our age.” I dress to encourage and inspire young folks that we can develop a fun style at every age as we grow older and begin to learn who we truly are!
Bravo to you for leading the way to a greater self discovery!
Bravo to you, young people really need to see there is not so much to be feared about getting older.
Oh to write as beautifully and eloquently as you! I truly enjoy anything you’ve ever written and posted. Here’s to your next beautiful thoughts!
Made my day, thank you.
I want to say, what drew me to read your blog was purely superficial. I saw your face, the intensity of the dark image…and….your amazing hair cut. Yes, a hair cut…but as I read your blog, the more I read the deeper, more intriguing, and incredibly pure and engaging it was. Thank you so much for this! Your writing is so beautiful! In fact, I want to read it again! Thank you! Hi From Western Canada
Thank you so much for being a part of the journey, I am gearing up for a new haircut by the way, I think I might go back to short as I did in the very beginning of the Icon.
I find myself caring less and less about the opinions of others. It’s freeing for me, but frustrating for family and friends that preferred the old me.
Ha ha that is so true!
Thank you Lyn, beautifully said. I am grateful to have encountered you along my journey. I love your style, your energy and your written word. You inspire me. ♥️
“I feel like we are enough; ordinarily old but still quite interesting,”…. yes. yes. yes. 🙂 as always, thank you.
This is, indeed, an amazing piece of written work, which you have shared.
I see, from the above response, that it concurs with the thoughts and experiences of many, many people. What strength you must gain from these responses.
I really look forward to the publication of your forthcoming book – as I am sure many other people will as well.
Wishing you all the very best for 2023
My book would never have been written if it were not for the confidence and strength I received from the comments on this blog.
I struggle with the idea of having to know or search for “the meaning of life.” Why does there have to be a meaning? My family is very religious and I am not. I hear from them often on how if I don’t “believe” I won’t go to heaven. My mom asked me why I don’t believe and then asked me “then what is the meaning of life?” As if there is nothing unless there is a belief in a God or afterlife. Maybe, after much contemplation on my part, life should be lived daily and lived in the best way possible? Is that good enough, I wonder? Am I missing something?
No, I think that is what many of us are saying here…it’s not some big deep thing, it’s the living in the everyday.
Thank you for being able to say what I am unable to verbalize….. I love your words. I am going to a ‘silent retreat’ in January hoping to… ? I don’t know what I am hoping for.
That’s the best way to approach it, no pre-conceived notions, and what is supposed to will emerge on its own
I appreciate your honesty. We all need to see more clearly and act (small creations are ok)with respect for ourselves.
This I believe will extend naturally to others.
Indeed, always starts with us.
Who’s your deepest “you”?, you ask…
My deepest “me” yearns to have these conversations. With someone, some others. Would that it could be with You. I wish! Meanwhile, I converse with myself. I’ve tried with my friends, all ladies that are younger than me, by 10 or 15 years. Not that that matters. But it seems to. I’ve tried getting them, us together, meet at a restaurant or coffee shop or my home. They’re so busy. I’m retired, 71 years young, and home alone mostly. I’ve tried calling them, but I’m not fond of phone convos. I’ve tried texting them, but that’s hit or miss, and always so edited. I’ve tried Instagram, but it’s shallow and intermittent. I’ve tried Marco Polo, and I enjoy that, but am critiqued for being too wordy, long winded, detailed. They tell me that they speed up my talk, to get through it more quickly. You can imagine how much that inspires me, ha ha. I tell them that I’m starved for conversation. I always return to talking to myself, not out loud, rather in my head. I enjoy the gratitude and the feeling of being at peace with myself.
Well, you can leave whatever wordy, long-winded and detailed comments you wish to contribute right here! This blog is like one big conversation.
I love your writing so much! Thank you for ” since my mother’s spirit has rejoined the natural world. I feel her when I sit outside looking at the river. The busy birds remind me of her nervous energy as do the buzzing bees sipping on my herbs and flowers” , it made me think of all those I have lost and feel how much they are part of my life everyday.
I made a transition away from what I was taught about the afterlife and rejoining the natural world allows me to stay so much closer to those I have lost, just as you say.
I enjoyed and felt deeply all you said and quoted. Jesus Christ is my very next breath. I’m 75 and having a great time enjoying the life He has given me. Over these many years I have gone through most difficult times but He has sustained me. I trust Him with the hard times and the wonderful times and He is Always Faithful!!!
Faith is a powerful companion.
Your blog posts always seem to express and even validate the things that are taking place inside of me, even at a subconscious level. Your honesty is refreshing and inspiring. I’ve been writing my memoir for years. It’s an unfinished work, but a true passion of mine and will someday be completed. It is a spiritual experience to write it. Congratulations on completing your draft. I look forward to reading your book. I understand the grief process and what you are feeling during the holidays. I lost my dad 5 days after Christmas when I was 30 years old. It’s so hard to lose our parents no matter what age they or we are …
Thank you. A memoir is a powerful structure to reflect on a life and lessons learned. I relate to the spiritual experience of writing it.
Currently in my own personal struggle to find my worth and myself beyond my work life. I had little work/life balance for so many years, so retirement is a struggle for me, particularly with the pandemic and moving across the country just before it struck. I read your blog like a thirsty traveler looking for water. I appreciate you and your blog posts so very much. I often thought I should keep a diary, but was hesitant to think of what my son would think when someday he will go through my personal belongings. Can’t wait until your book comes out!
Perhaps he will find what a thoughtful, honest and reflective mother he has.
I am 78 and still working as a psychotherapist (part-time). My husband of 53 years died in September of Parkinson’s & heart issues. SO now, I am trying to figure out the next phase of my life. The women in my family usually live into their middle 90s so it probably isn’t time to sit on the sidelines when I think(hopefully) that I have wisdom to impart to those younger than I. Keeping a journal has been a saving grace for me because it allows me to be more authentic with myself and then others. My family will just have to deal with the truths I have written. I hope it will give them more license to accept their humanness and relax some of their rigidity.
So that begs the question, “who am I to be, do now?”
Going about my day, walking gently upon this earth
Appreciating the beauty and joy of the moment
What stops me from allowing myself to pay attention to my yearning,
Aging has given me more permission to listen to my desires
Do I graciously give myself a wider berth of possibilities?
Celebrate the possibilities
My condolences on your loss. I love the words, “What stops me from paying attention to my yearnings” and the way aging bestows permission.
Thank you for your precious and inspiring words and thoughts. I appreciate your generosity in sharing them with us.
I appreciate your’s in commenting and letting me know.
Thank you Lyn for your heartfelt, eloquent, thought provoking and powerful writings. I always enjoy reading your blogs and can’t wait for your book to be published. From Jen in New Zealand
Thank you, this feedback means the world to me.
You have a great gift – you are able to put into eloquent words what many of us are experiencing as we age but struggle to analyze. This blog was especially potent for me as I am about to enter my eightieth year and feel I have so much to explore about myself.
Several years ago I and some women friends were invited to go `behind the veil’ and spend time with the nuns in a cloistered convent in Seville, Spain. They asked us about our lives and what was going on the world, saying that it was important for them to receive information from outside their closeted environment to best determine what direction their prayers should take.
I think that we all need that type of stepping back to best do what you have done, taken time for reflection, reassessment and quiet listening to your inner self.
I very much look forward to your book and your wise and thoughtful writings.
What a beautiful story; those nuns were closed yet open for sure. How joyous is it that you are looking at 80 with an agenda of self-exploration!
I can relate to this — this thing I see as a beautiful longing and submission to the heart, to the soul. When I see a younger person with this understanding, I am in awe and wonder why at 65 I’m just arriving here. And even now I sometimes feel a pull away from this center and I’m embarrassed at my lack of resolve. Reading this blog is encouragement.
Never too late is my motto, probably because I’ve been a late bloomer my whole life. As long as you get there who cares when you do!
Your wisdom, do eloquently expressed, gives me the opportunity to test your reflections against my own experiences and reflections. I find that, at this more mature stage of life, I am sometimes more confident and certain and yet still searching for what next. Thank you for giving me further thought
Thank you, as long as we are thinking, and evolving we are living. Being old and being dead are NOT the SAME thing!
Thank you for your thoughts, they give my artist self permission to reflect. The title “Accidental” in your Icon statice, gave me pause, as you admitted it wasn’t your goal be a “Icon”. I have noticed all my accidents had a purpose, and were useful to me. I would guess, all your experiences / thoughts, are the string that is you. Your Nunthoughts, were expressed though your black and white clothing images. You are a “nun” , probably , a nun of your own making. Maybe, “Accidental Nun”, is your new moniker.
Ha ha I think you are so right, except I do adore my partner, my daughter and grandchildren and not sure I could be faithful to those vows especially chastity and obedience!
Lyn – how this resonated with me. And so eloquent. I started my blog last year for ladies of a certain age, who are reinventing, re-evaluating, and searching for “what now?” I was “cloistered” for 5-6 years following the violent the death of my son, and was late getting started with my reinvention. I write about grief on the blog, in addition to other things related to living life as we age – style, health, home projects, travel, etc. Serious concerns as well as light hearted items. At this age (I am 64) almost all of us are grieving something or someone. How to reinvent? How to go on? What is my purpose? I wanted to have a conversation.
Thus the blog. I have always like to write also.
Now it seems that to gather a following, you must invest so much time in marketing on Instagram, videos, reels, live talks, stories etc. It is so frustrating and I’ve fretted so.
I have finally decided, as you have, not to worry about enticing everyone, and if I am providing something of value, they will come. There just isn’t enough time to produce good content and then market it all over the place. I find myself trying to decide whether to do something interesting or provide service to someone, or to blog about it. Much of the time, I can’t do both.
This piece you’ve written helps me keep my eye on what matters.
I’m just going to talk about what interests me and what I think might be helpful to others. If they find me, they find me.
Thank you for your insight.
My Reply here is for both Lyn and Gray.
I love both of you for the way your Blogs are different from the rest in that you each write something interesting and substantial whenever it seems right to you. I personally don’t care how often you write…whenever you show up in my Inbox is just fine. I find that some Bloggers are just too much….really don’t need 3 times a day. So please just keep doing what you are doing and whenever I find you in my Inbox I know that I will enjoy what you have written….time well spent!
Thank you for that. I do want to write more regularly just to keep getting better at it, not to satisfy an algorithm, that’s a goal as I enter into my next decade dedicated to being a writer.
Thank you and my condolences on the passing of your son, can’t fathom losing a child, particularly to violence. I will visit your blog as you kindly visit mine, and yes the truest freedom in being old is to not care so much about the opinions of others, to feel good just in yourself and what you are doing. It would be dishonest for me not to say how all the comments here delight me because they do, what matters is that they are freely given.
THANK YOU – this blog touches me because in the last year I have OVERDONE it. I physically and mentally wore myself out by October. I now realize I must slow down and take more time for myself. I find I enjoy staying home and being happy with myself and my hobbies (which often get left behind for more active pursuits). My best me is a wanderer who is very inquisitive about so many things. I read and research some but want to experience others. Just a nice quiet walk alone makes me happy and so be it, as I will turn 70 next July. I wish you well and continue to look forward to your insight and wisdom. I hope to see your book out soon.
What a wonderful insight to have. Enjoy those beautiful walks.
A beautiful photograph of you at the beginning that is beautifully appropriate for the topic of your post.
I love your description of being “cloistered”. Reflective and open at the same time. I recently turned 65 and I took the 100 days prior to my birthday as my 100 day journey and explored through journaling what I want in my next phase of life. Creativity is a top value. I want my life to be open and engaged. Guided by creativity in all parts of my life. Thank you for sharing your journey with your community. Happy to be a part of that. And I so look forward to your book!
That is a brilliant idea, the 100 day journey, it would be amazing to take it with all the women who visit here!
Lynn your writing is so beautiful. As I turn 84 this month (Dec. 2022), I find myself in a period of total gratitude, joy, and peace.
I am so free. Free from the conventional thinking that I had to fight all through my younger life (since I was not a conventional thinker), free from the restraints
that kept my thinking muddled resulting in fear to do, free from the guilt I felt because I was a free thinker.
When I was in my early 30’s I attempted suicide. I never could have imagined that I would feel and be this alive at this age and in this stage of my life.
I am not surprised of your post and championing you even more now. I always wanted to be like you, but now more than ever. When we can finally figure out who we are and what we want to do with the rest of our lives, that is a very good thing. When my daughter-in-law set me up on IG a while back, I wasn’t sure where it would take me. I soon realized that IG took a lot of work and after a while, I realized I was not cut out for it with the posting every day, sometimes several posts a day, so I didn’t get many followers, but that was okay. I thought I wanted to be like the Accident Icon, but now I know I’d much rather be like Lyn Slater. As a freelance writer most of my life, I had reached a point where I had grown weary doing interviews, writing about homes, kitchens, fashion, restaurant reviews, etc. It took a freak accident of a fall a few months ago when I fell and broke my femur bone and wrist. Surgery, a rehab facility for over a month, and ongoing outpatient therapy to realize that I was at a dead end. I dug out boxes of stuff containing prose and poetry I’d written for years and decided I’d dust them out and see if they had any life left. Perhaps that is the deepest me. Endless blessings to you and your new self.
What a treasure you found as a result of that fall! Can’t wait to read what you do with them. Thank you, I feel way more at home being Lyn Slater too!
i am so attracted to the writing of you and others ‘of a certain age’ and thank you for your words. so many of us are connected through our creativity and curiosity at this stage of our lives. you articulate this so well. not only do you write, but you share! i am so grateful. thank you, lyn.
Thank you, I am grateful my readers also take the time to share, it makes the writing I do worthwhile to get such responses.
I have five years to go before 70 and retirement. In the meantime, my husband is using his new retirement time exploring the art of literary writing, and I’m helping edit his work. We are two journalists learning to refocus our skills in a different medium, and it’s been fun doing that together. I love this post, Lyn, because it does inspire me to look forward to the chapter that begins at 70, instead of eying it with trepidation. I’m looking forward to your book. Thank you!
I went back to each decade of my life and wrote down what skills, knowledge, and experiences I collected. My store of riches made me confident and optimistic about the next one.
What a wonderful partnership. It reminds me of Calvin taking my photos for Accidental Icon. I made sure to always give him credit, hope you are getting it too!
My deepest me is expressed so beautifully in many aspects of what you have written and shared here. I have followed you for some time -first as icon and professor and beyond and I am grateful that you are sharing your heart as you move into this part of your life. I have been creating my whole life as a teacher of literature, as a director of theatre, as a poet and now after living overseas in a country I call home off and on for the past 63 years, I move back to the United States to be closer to my parents. I will have to find who I will be now in this new world. My deepest me is someone who has given her life to helping others find the art within. I have tried to provide others (of any age) with as many opportunities for artistic self expression(“to see the artist within”) as possible. Now what is next for me? I am not sure. I know I must always be involved in a process of creating in a way that perhaps can speak to some of the world’s greatest needs. However, one needs money and health to do all of this and I am uncertain about both living in the US during these uncertain times and during the last third of my life. You have given us so much to think about Lyn. Have a beautiful day.
Similarly, I am finding my way in life outside a large city. The twins on either side of my head are as you suggest, health and money. You have given much and even now in moving to care for your parents. I can’t help but feel you will get something you desire back in return.
Lyn, funny how your words speak directly to me – I am not too far behind you in age but I am re-evaluating everything I am doing these days. I will be 65 next month and I am forgoing taking stock of where I should be at this age – no grand trips to celebrate this milestone. So many of our “plans” did not work out as thought, but that is Life. I think for myself these last few years of political upheaval, Covid, and the reversal of Roe has weighed heavily on me. Personal and family relationships have suffered as these people who I thought I knew , I guess I really did not. I completely understand you being ready to close this chapter of your life and put Accidental Icon to rest – she no longer serves you. Condolences on the death of your Mother.
Thank you. I too feel the weight and heaviness and am sitting uncomfortably with what might be a positive response. Hard becaseu it feels so big and overwhelming.
I love reading the comments that your very moving blog post have prompted. . I’m going to be 70 in two weeks. Yay! I love being an “old lady”. Life can be relentless, so it’s satisfying reading these shared thoughts. Idk-my words seem inadequate in the face of so much truth. I’m gonna let it wash over me.
Aren’t the comments incredible? I let them wash over me and they become somehow the next post.
You’ve tapped into what I’ve been referring to lately as living in the “thin space” where our souls become more attuned to mystery. I find it’s a transitional period in which we live less from the 5 senses and more out of the deeper, wiser, quieter, internal Oneness. It’s a beautiful experience for those of us who have been blessed with age. It’s the core wisdom of “the elder” that previous cultures respected and honored. It still exists, even if not recognized. Powerful writing. Thank you.
Thank you for articulating this. Christopher Bollas is a psychoanalyst who’s work I read. He speaks about something called the “unthought knowns” what you wrote calls that phrase to mind
Lyn, your writing is gorgeous, and I so look forward to your upcoming book! Everything you write has touched my spirit today, as have the comments that your other readers have shared. At 65, having just retired from teaching, my husband and I began an unexpected journey, one of diagnosing and now learning a new way of living with cancer. Totally not on our radar! We continually work toward enjoying each day and retaining optimism and gratitude, yet my mind occasionally wanders to what I had anticipated our retirement life would be. Your writing has shown me a way of living that I truly admire and I thank you for that! Blessings!
What a gift you are giving others in how you chose to respond to this life changing events. Thoughts and prayers are coming your way.
Simply beautiful words. I lost my mother in 2003 and can remember cloistering myself for a while in order to heal. I still cloister myself from time to time for mental and spiritual health. Always appreciate your posts when the spirit urges you to write. Looking forward to your book
Thanks Mary. I am going to try and write more regularly in the New Year as I’ve denied myself that pleasure for far too long.
This is a post to savor, read on repeat, and contemplate. I, too, have kept journals/diaries for decades, starting in 1968 at age 13. I especially like the phrase “ordinarily old but still quite interesting.” Thank you.
Thank you, I think it describes many women who are often unseen.
Your post really resonated with me this morning. I too will become 70 in 2023.
Instead of fighting as I age I find age and embrace it. Only then we will truly love ourselves. Thank you Lyn
Perfectly stated. So much pressure from society to fight it, I feel those of us who accept it are the truest rebels of all.
Aaahhh, yes, I feel you. Not winding down, but winding in.
Love that…winding in.
Loved this post! And, yes, indeed; we are enough.
Indeed we are!
Thank you for sharing such deep feelings after a difficult time moving through your Mother’s death, the revision of your public place in social media and maybe most of all your honesty on aging. As an artist and designer, in the hinterland of the south, I have followed your social media presence and enjoyed seeing it grow. I can emphasize with your bend in the road and choice to take a journey to more contemplative directions. I appreciate your candidness and will continue to watch for posts and thoughts in the coming year.
Jane at 68 and counting.
Ah Jane, thanks for these lovely words.
Dear Lyn, you always strike a chord within me. I cherish your words and admire that you are brave enough to share. I turn 63 next year and I too am contemplating how I live now and who I will be. I am beginning to find my way to the next chapter in my life. Best wishes!
Good luck I hope you will continue to share your journey here.
Appreciate the stillness, reflection and contemplation that is imbued in this piece. Thank you
All I can say is, I am thrilled you wrote a book. I very much resonate with your words and you already have been a guide to me a number of key times. I am reading The Artist’s Way right now. I decided to read it after realizing how easy it is for me to get enticed to do something more immediately lucrative. I am having to continually commit to being the real me- an artist, for myself, and for those around me, even if it means the results are slower. Also, the instagram race also exhausts me. These platforms are such an opportunity for me, and yet I have a bad attitude about the expectations they put on me and find I react in a rebellious way and then don’t use them for my own good. I counted my posts for the year – only 24. Yikes. I find it too easy to cloister. It is also time for me to leave. Finally, even when you are quiet, I see you and I thank you.
Yes, since we have denied, or perhaps put that artist on the shelf, we must all support each other in staying true to the “slower” results. I’ll look here for people to help me do so.
This is absolutely lovely! Thank you for sharing such deep, heartfelt, and personal thoughts for us to ponder.
Isn’t it fun to think and ponder together with such an inspiring froup of women.
Thank you for sharing…beautifully written!
Your writing speaks to so many and I would be surprised if your writing doesn’t find its way to younger generations. What a wonderful gift to learn who they are much younger than we. I love that when the forever searching begins to wane, the real adventure begins. Thank you, Lyn, for your beautiful writing, your insight, and the way you connect with all of us.
Thank you all for connecting with me. I am going to make an effort with the book to have more young women come here and read the comments, they will be so less afraid to be old!
Absolutely loved and felt every word. What wonderous times we are living.
I wish more young women came here and could see that this time of life is wondrous and one continues to live a meaningful and important and if we so desire, stylish life.
I kept a journal off and on for many years. Now I have only a small “diary”. I don’t write regularly, only when something really calls on me to preserve on paper. I write now to reinforce a pearl of wisdom or something I found interesting or funny that day fearned that day whether from a book, podcast, TV program or an interesting person I encountered during the day. I’ve disposed of most of my past journals. I found having them on the shelf reminded me too much of the past. And my past was not all bad. Actually most of it was just fine and gave me the strength, confidence, and wisdom I have today. At this stage of life staying in the here and now appeals more to me than pouring over the past. As I tore the pages out of the old journals and fed them to the shredder I felt lighter. I have had no regrets do far.
I so so agree. Pat is done, regret a useless emotion and it is all about the present and the gifts to be found here.
Wow , so 70 is not the new 40. The stories that are projected onto us are made to make us disappear.. we can never be 40 again and it devalues where we are standing in life.
I have been looking and looking for a guide to get myself oriented on how to age with the insight and love I know I deserve. It was here along . Thank you for being brave and extending a hand to all who have the privilege of aging .
It is my pleasure and having all of you makes my journey ever more magical and creative.
My “deepest me?” Thank you for asking – NOW, you’ve given me a quest . . . because, I’ll have to listen to find the answer . . . (wow!)
So, even though I’m not properly answering your question – I am typing to thank you for this amazing, marvelous post. It’s my most favorite work of yours so far. I hope to find more thought provoking, beautiful posts from you. Suddenly, instead of material facination with your ongoing quest – or niche – I have found your work deeply touches what’s far more important to me.
Oh, Thank You,
love & love,
Thank you. As a writer that is my wish…to touch. My readers touch me back.
Years ago I was taught by a spiritual mentor to write down the you of life as I experienced it each morning. Your words resonate with that practice, now that my mentor has died and I am old. I look forward to your memoir, Lyn. I will turn 80 in May and appreciate your companionship in this journey.
And I yours, wise mentor and wise words.
Your writing is beautiful, heartfelt, thoughtful and makes sense of some of the confusing hodge-podge of feelings I’ve been feeling, too. Having just turned 71 last month I find myself wondering who I am now. Your question – I believe my deepest ‘me’ is the one who is homesick for a place I haven’t yet been. That thrill of starting a new adventure still calls.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being an inspiration!
What beautiful writing is going on here…”the one who is homesick for a place I haven’t yet been.” putting words to my feeling thank you.
Bravo to all! It appears there a lot of us experiencing similar thoughts and emotions. It takes a lifetime to sort “all” of this out. Our journey should never cease while we are on this earth. I am so glad the “Contessa” shared you….I shall be an ardent followerer!
Yes, bravo to us all. We applaud the process, not the outcome and it is so lovely to be in this together.
Ms. Slater, I do believe one does reach a point in life where one can enjoy just to “be” and not have to reason why we feel sad, happy, artistic, etc., we can just “be” and ENJOY …without having to constantly explain the way we feel. We can “just” “be.”
Love that, I am really seeking to move into that spot.
hope you get inspirations from the comments just as we are always inspired by your posts. can’t wait to read your book!
The comments inspire me always, my journey with all of you is completely collaborative.
Since I found a part of me which is writing, that allows me to express myself without any encumbrances I’ve always been meaning to start my blog. A safe space where I write and document my growth process as an artisan.
Ms. Slater, just by this post alone I’ve been inspired to continue finding my deepest “me”. I may be part of the younger generation but I’m still able to get the message of this writing. I’ll keep journaling.
Love❤️ And Light 💡, Ma’am
Please do! I have I feel like the woman who read this blog are rather ageless and it seems we easily fluctuate between all the ages we ever were. So much better than strict chronological age limits.
Thank you, just……thank you
Ah, thank you.
Thank you, Lyn for writing this beautiful piece. It was exactly what I needed this morning. I turned 70 last year and I’ve been struggling with that number and my place on earth, where I belong, with whom. For the first time in a year, I feel at peace.
Ah, I am so happy about that. I feel like so many of us feel the same way and I want to find a way for us to all connect.
Beautiful! Thank you for opening up to us and giving us something to think about.
We are always thinking here, it’s what I love about my readers.
Thank you Lynn for your deep and beautiful words. It is clear that so many of us identify with you and your reflective insights . We are in an age , I am 66 this coming week, where we still feel as though we are 20 years younger than our number tells us and yet our life experience tells us otherwise. What a gift to be able to be part of such a community with you and able to share our thoughts and how we see ourselves reflected in your experience. I have often picked up my journal to make an entry only to put it down as I don’t want to see the truth in writing, afraid to face it and yet knowing face it I must. Alongside having a partner who is struggling physically and a mother with dementia, a brother who wants to control everything to do with her…making time to reflect is such an important yet neglected activity. Your writing has made me realise it’s time to take such time, even if it’s words and not sentences. Thank you and I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas. X
I am 52, maybe on the young side of your readers, but I resonate with and am so moved by your words. I teach a course on aging and try to counteract the myth that we are “successful” in aging if we manage to stay the same as our younger selves. You are proof of how much growth, strength, creativity and courage emerges in later life, and that we continue to change (and that’s a good thing). I am inspired and enriched by your writing. Thank you.
I love that framing of successful aging
Ah I can so relate to your story in many ways. Happy holidays to you too.
Oh my. You put into words many of the sensations I’ve been feeling but haven’t really understood. Thank you.