The Art of Midlife: Courage and Creative Living for Women

By Linda N. Edelstein | Go to book overview

14
"LET THE BEAUTY YOU LOVE BE WHAT YOU DO" Achievements and Dreams

If you want your dreams to come true, don't sleep.

-- Yiddish proverb

How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but to be someone.

-- Coco Chanel, fashion designer

To me the sea is like a person -- like a child that I've known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea, I talk to it. I never feel alone when Pm out there.

-- Gertrude Ederle, first woman to swim the English channel

All the women I spoke with achieved a great deal; most notably, they had taken responsibility for the shape and direction of their lives. They faced and accepted necessary losses, and in doing so, they found space within themselves and in their lives. The fear of emptiness was tolerated until, in the clarity of that space, the women saw the directions in which to refocus their energy. As the process of relinquishing, reconnecting, and refocussing drew to a close, the women described a synchronicity in their feelings and actions. The internal woman who holds thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and the woman who acts blended better than ever before. The past flowed into and informed the present, but did not rule. The women had transformed the dreams and passions of childhood into viable adult lives. They experienced a sense of freedom different from any they had known. However, the way I saw these women was obviously from my own perspective. A line in a Margaret Atwood poem reads, "The moon seen from the moon is a very different thing."1I wondered what the women themselves considered to be their achievements thus far, how they lived today, and what constituted their dreams.


GENERATIVITY

When asked to consider their achievements, most of the women who had children mentioned their sons and daughters first, and said, for example, in

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