Summertime, and the living is easy.
Some of the time. Like when I'm surrounded by hundreds of women, who are making medicine, spinning wool, crafting brooms and baskets, holding babies, dancing naked in the rain.
This weekend I turned 39 at the Spiritweavers Gathering in Cave Junction, Oregon, surrounded by some of the most exciting magic-makers, herbalists and medicine makers that I know of these days, and in the company of two of my favorite femme folk in the world -- my best friend of 25 years, Luna, and my baby girl Brie.
Turning 39 feels far more significant to me than most birthdays -- the numbers, 3 and 9, and incredibly magical goddess numbers -- and I've found myself thinking a lot about magic, purpose, age and youth these days, sometimes with curiosity, often with empowerment, and much more rarely than I would have thought with fear or judgement. When I was more of a "young woman," my youth felt like a social impediment -- I was always too young for my own good, too young to be taken seriously, or write or teach anything of value -- mostly in my own mind. The attention of the world (especially when I was working in Hollywood in the film industry) was on my looks first and what I had to say second. Yes, even as a writer, not an actress or model. Heck, even as a waitress and a dog walker. I wasn't particularly savvy when it came to capitalizing on my youthful appearance -- that game always felt like it was being played on a knife's edge, and I felt clumsy and confused.
Then, out of nowhere, I was suddenly feeling too old to make anything happen. It was as if there had been some magic sweet spot, the right age, and I had somehow missed it. And feeling that way really, really sucked.
One of the things that feels so clear at 39, and would have seemed utterly impossible at 25 or 35, is the firm knowing that I feel so much better now at nearly 40 than I did in my twenties and early thirties.
In my body.
In my heart.
In my day-to-day, and when I'm on adventures like the one I just came back from, five days in the woods in on-and-off-again rain with a toddler and no galoshes until the 3rd day.
These days, I'm eating foods that nourish and heal my body: I connect and heal with herbs and yoga every day, I get out into nature regularly to hike, look at flowers, and sing; my hormones are moving towards balance after years of undiagnosed conditions like PCOS, low thyroid, and insulin resistance; my weight is down and my energy is up with only a cuppa decaf coffee in the morning (because my love of coffee is deep and vast and goes far beyond caffeine, which I'm sensitive to and actually gives me funky episodes of anxiety, seasonal depression, fatigue, and weight gain). I feel creative, full of purpose, clear, and full of magic.
One of my mentors, Dr. Sara Gottfried, writes about how she went to yoga class a couple months after her second baby, still with a notable postpartum bump, and was able to do a perfectly held side-crane balance post (which is crazy hard, in case you're not a yogini) when she'd never been able to do one before. "Even after all my decades of medical education, I never thought the body could get better with age," Gottfried says. "But now I had proof. It was just the spark I needed to consider the ways that my environment, the sum of all of my lifestyle choices, affected the way my DNA communicated within my body. " And a recent study of women in their 80s and 90s said that over a third of them felt 20-30 years younger than their chronological age, often like they were "frauds" for being treated as elders when really they didn't feel or think much different than they had been in their 20s and 30s.
Which for me, all boils down to, what if everything I thought I knew about aging and age is a complete myth (perpetuated by patriarchy, of course)? And If nothing I do is constrained by age or missed opportunities, what's becomes possible? What do I desire to create, feel, and live?
And that makes me very excited.
Today, in the sunshine, in the warmth of summer and my own heart, I'm feeling so turned on by life. So full of new ideas and projects. And I'm utterly disinterested in carrying around the false and demoralizing mindset about age that I'd been unconsciously carrying for so long.
So, has your mindset about age kept you from owning your magic and your power? What might be possible if you let go of everything you thought you knew about the age you are or the age you'll be next month, and felt into youth not as a number but as an energy that we feel when we're well and connected to our joy and potential?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on reclaiming our youth -- not as an expensive bottle of chemicals or a fancy short skirt -- but as an expression of our wellness, vitality, sensuality and joy.