Musings on being 60

This weeks guest blog is from the powerhouse maven that is Ruth Parkinson.

I’m a self-belief coach, facilitator and trainer. I help people to live bigger, braver lives in work and play.


My mantra is find your groove – own your space – hold your nerve. I believe healthy self-belief is vital for individual, organisational and societal flourishing.


I love football, cycling, being outdoors, gardening, style, culture and the North. I’m based in Lancaster with glorious and varied countryside on my doorstep.


I’ve had a colourful working life spanning the public and civil sector and got into a few dramatic scrapes over the years as I’ve cruised organisational politics and patriarchal shenanigans.


I’m writing this blog the day before my 60th birthday. By the time you read it I’ll be about to take my first journey using my senior railcard. The working title pitched to Sadie was ‘how to be 60 and love it’, adapted from a lovely little book I read back in the day called ‘Live Alone and Like It’ written in 1936 by Marjorie Hillis. It was of its time, with chapters such as ‘Solitary Refinement’, ‘Etiquette for a Lone Female’, ‘A Lady and her Liquor’, and ‘Pleasures of a Single Bed’.

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I started 2022 grim-faced and determined to embrace my imminent coming-of-age. I tried to downplay it, to treat it as just another birthday – I’ll be a year older, so what, age is a construct, nothing will have changed. 18, 21, 30, 40 and 50 dropped into my lap smoothly enough. What’s so different about 60?


The liminal space of the first half of the year has provided a few gentle nudges for me – a long lost (small) pension from my very first job, payable at 60; a reminder to apply for my senior railcard; an invitation from my GP for a pre-60 well woman assessment.


I’ve fought the fear, pushing back on nagging questions such as ‘will I still be valued?’, ‘will I have enough to retire on?’, ‘will I die alone’ ‘will I turn into my mother? Our perception of being older is so shaped by what we thought 60 was when we ourselves were younger – a little old lady, with a smaller life. Whereas blow me, I get here and find that I’m still a bad ass. Who knew?


However, the truth is, I’ve come to realise as these uneasy months have rolled by, that 60 is a check-in moment for sure. An opportunity to stand on the ridge and glory at my six decades, my life map of highs, lows and in-betweens spread out below me. A stepping through a portal, a boundary crossed, an entry into a nether world, or as it resonates most for me, the shedding of a skin to reveal a new and exciting freshness underneath.

So, with the big day upon me, I’m choosing to embrace my inner crone, an energising symbol of self-value, power and respect. The origins of the word ‘crone’ are various – ‘old ewe’, ‘carrion’ in French, ‘long-lasting’ ‘chronos’ in Greek, and also ‘crowned one’. The triplicity of the maiden-mother-crone – the third stage in a woman’s life. The hag, the elder, the witch, the wise woman. In the 20th century, the term has been reclaimed in ecofeminism and neo-paganism as a symbol of mature feminine wisdom and power.



I’m going with crowned one. Having sovereignty over myself. Certainly these days I largely have my own back, and I know my worth.


The wise depths that come with age – all my nuance, complexity and beauty. I’ve often heard it said that the older we get the fewer fucks we give – I like to think that I still give many fucks about the really important issues, but it is true that I no longer sweat the small stuff. And pay much less attention to what people think of me. ALSO, apparently the crone assertively seeks sexual pleasure, and I’m totally here for all of that.

 
And now that I’m here, what of the future? Grand plans aside, the most important thing is to continue living a mindful, intentional life, forever curious and learning, sitting on my own shoulder rather than obliviously letting the world slip by at a pace.

For some years now I’ve had a set of questions pinned to my office wall, and I ask them of myself on a regular basis. I share them here, in case they are of interest to others. They keep me honest.

  • Who am I? What is important? What is worthwhile engaging in?

  • What framework of thinking do I bring to my life and work?

  • What framework of feeling do I bring to my life and work?

  • What creative and distorting perspectives do I bring to this situation/conversation?

  • Am I stuck in one frame of seeing the world? What are the alternatives?

  • What is the quality of my behaviour? Do I have a range?

  • How can I increase the quality of the conversation taking place right now?

  • How do I act right now in this moment?

  • What is happening here and what part am I playing in it?

  • What is habitual, unaware and repetitive in my being and behaviour?

 
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And with that I leave you. Off to drink a gallon of champagne and limber up to become the family matriarch. I’m not going quietly.

 

Where to find more of Ruth

You can find me at www.ruthparkinsoncoaching.co.uk, and www.ansuzaction.org.uk. I’m a truculent user of Instagram: @ruthpcoaching