Wabi Women

By Leigh Morrow

A new wave of midlife women is cresting globally, and soon will comprise half of Canada’s female population. In the next ten years, 11 million Canadian women will be in midlife and beyond. The same shift is happening in the rest of North America, Asia, and Europe. Never before in history has the planet seen so many midlife women. Women have a new opportunity to be radical game-changers in the second half of their lives.

Leigh Morrow and Crystal Buchan, Vancouver-based co-authors of Just Push Play- On Midlife, an interactive life-mapping program for midlife women, have created Wabi Women Radio. The title comes from the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi, an aesthetic of imperfection and transience (see Leigh’s article “Wabi-sabi: The Art in Everyday Life” in the October 2016 issue of The Eye.)

Wabi Women Radio can be live-streamed on Mondays at 2:00 PM CST (it’s on at noon PST in Vancouver) by going to CFRO (100.5 FM); you’ll need to choose 128Kbps stream—if you have any trouble, look at http://www.coopradio.org/content/listen. You can also listen to the podcast at the Just Push Play website (www.jppMidlife.com).

We did not follow our mothers’ rules for dating, marriage or motherhood, and we are not content to follow the outdated prescribed path of declining contribution, respect, health and value. Together with our female listeners, Wabi Women Radio is mapping a new midlife and beyond, as we seek a longer, healthier, happier, playful and purposeful third chapter of life.

I hope you can listen from your hammock!

Hidden Gems

On my father’s desk, taped to the back of one of those large flat old-fashioned calendar holders, with faux leather on the sides and the monthly calendar pages long gone, was a square piece of paper. I only found it when decommissioning the family home last month. I was tossing out the hundreds of boxes, envelopes and files, and when I finally got down to the desk top, the calendar holder was of no future use and I tossed it into the recycling box but it landed upside down.

That’s when I saw the hidden gem. The tape holding it in place was yellowed and cracked and I had to gingerly remove it for fear of ripping it. Typed and highlighted it says:

Be Impeccable with your word

Don’t take anything personally

Don’t make assumptions

Always do my best

These words were the sentiments my departed Dad tried to live by. Typed years ago, and purposely saved, but out of sight, it was miraculous I even spied it. I love its physical imperfections juxtaposed on the message of attaining perfection. As a Wabi woman, this piece of paper is more special than any other item, left from an entire four bedroom home that housed our family history. I found it after days of emotionally draining work, and it left me filled again with the same gratitude and determination that my Dad gave life. It helped me persevere and finish the difficult job. It was a hidden gem.

Hidden gems arrive, sometimes with perfect timing and often quite unexpectedly. Sometimes, they appear when you are looking for or expecting one thing, and something entirely different arrives. Some are big, bright, and can’t be missed, while others are shrouded, concealed, and the true meaning or significance, will not be recognized or understood for many years. Hidden gems are more often seen by Wabi Women.

Wabi washing, a phrase we coined and something we have talked about in many of our radio episodes, helps the shift occur, so those gems can be discovered. Wabi washing helps us navigate through midlife and beyond, and if you are curious, head over to the Just Push Play website to find out the three simple questions wabi washing asks. Hidden gems are often camouflaged and I see that now, reflecting on past losses, like the death of our premature twin girls some twenty years ago. The hidden gem from that painful experience is to see the fragility of life and the immense privilege of parenthood. It is a perspective from the other side.

If you have found some hidden gems along your road thus far, you are already synchronized to find more. Wabi Women find more hidden gems than others, simply because they know the secret to attract them. As Wabi Women we do not fall victim to society’s antiquated model of older women as frail, isolated and declining. We see ourselves as strong, purposeful and evolving wisdom keepers. We are open and receptive, so hidden gems arrive. In fact, we expect them. We watch for them, intuitively sensing they are near. We also take care to interpret the messages these gems deliver. Hidden gems, well, keep life interesting. They keep us young, and rejuvenated.

They give us hope. They often give us wonder. Hidden gems can heal. I think, as I write this, they are tiny pure nodes of light. They are both beautiful and imperfect, exposing new insight in unfamiliar and unexpected ways. Crystal and I are secretly planting hidden gems, seeded by us for others to find in due course. Our first book may just be that. We scatter hidden gems, so our daughters, and their daughters, will one day discover them. Now in this chapter of life, I tend to look hard for the hidden gems left for me, as I believe they truly hold significance.

Perhaps, someone else seeded them, years ago, for us to discover now, like the note my Dad left for me to find. At this juncture in our life, hidden gems often help connect the dots, like a missing piece of the puzzle, as we attempt to weather the storms, or take the fork in the road. Sometimes they are playful, meant to be discovered and garner a smile or an “ah-ha”. Like pulling the drapes, and suddenly seeing a double rainbow, over the lake after a summer thunderstorm. When you look back, a second later, it’s gone. It was there just for you to see for that moment, and then it’s over. Impermanence.

Or in between the bills and junk mail, a lovely handwritten, unexpected post card arrives from my best friend. I take the moment to appreciate how our friendship has changed and matured, taken on autumn colours and contrasts, as we have grown older, together. Our friendship will never be finished, or ever perfect, and it is in that wabi sabi-ness I find comfort. Another hidden gem.

Hidden gems, we think, are sprinkled like clues on a giant life sized treasure map. Big or small, they provide excitement in our new midlife path of possibilities. What hidden gems today will be unearthed for you to treasure, hold dear, find significance in, prize, cherish or just smile at their arrival?

Let us know!

Leigh Morrow is a Vancouver writer who also works and plays at Casa Mihale in San Agustinillo, Mexico http://www.gosanagustinillo.com