Today is my 60th birthday. I’m launching this blog to mark the occasion. For years I’ve been telling myself that when I reached this milestone, I’d begin writing my memoir – not intended for publication, but to engage in a personal life review. I hope that committing to posting on a blog will provide the structure that I need to follow through with my desire to write regularly.
But…where to begin? I haven’t got a clue.
My life has proceeded externally along its linear trajectory, yet my deepest unfoldings have spiraled back and forth and up and down and in and out through multiple layers of experience. Synchronicities, chance conversations, lines from a poem, night dreams and daydreams, have initiated changes and transformations that defy logical progression. From the outside looking in, an observer might evaluate my biography as the incoherent wanderings of a person who couldn’t figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. But from the seat of my interior self, my path, while circuitous, holds an internal consistency that continues to evolve.
Several months ago I was reading The Seekers Guide by Elizabeth Lesser. She suggests a reflective exercise in which one writes memories of both the joys and the sorrows of one’s life, as a way of connecting holistically with one’s story, embracing the expanse of its beauty as well as its pain. As I began my recollections, I was surprised by the memories which began to surface, and at their potency to evoke strong emotions. Each vignette I recalled felt like a holograph of the mandala of my life. And so this seems like a place to begin – with individual stories –from the storehouse of my experiences, allowing what wants to rise up in this particular moment to have its voice.
A few words about the title and tag line of my blog: In retrospect I realize that my journey into consciousness in young adulthood began with the birth of my first child. My experience of motherhood was a portal that mirrored Persephone’s descent, captivity, and eventual return to life, bereft but bouyant. The struggle to maintain a separate self while raising four children was a constant challenge….and then one day the fledglings had flown and I found myself staring into the proverbial empty nest. In spite of the fact that I had carved out a strong identity and had not allowed myself to be all-consumed by mothering, this new landscape was strange and has unleashed new challenges. Hence, the title “Still Life with Empty Nest” acknowledges the foundational and formational role that motherhood played in my 20’s through my 50’s, and meets me at this new juncture as I live forward into my 7th decade. The tag line “Memories, Dreams and Reflections of a Saging Woman” is a riff on the title of depth psychologist Carl Jung’s autobiogrpahy, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. I’ve been an amateur armchair student of Jung’s work for all of my adult life, and have found his world view congruent in many ways with my own. The three categories, “memories,” “dreams,” and “reflections” suggested themselves to me as a way to organize my writing. Naming myself a “saging woman” indicates that I believe I have not only grown older chronologically but have acquired some insight along with my accumulating years.
It feels significant that as the page in my personal book of life turns to 60, there is a full moon on this date. Like the orb who waxes, wanes, and goes dark each month, my life has gone through phases of growth, diminishment and darkness….as I turn 60, I embrace my fullness and hope that my words might be a gentle beam of light that will accompany all of us as we walk each other home.