Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ostara Goddess of Joy

Ostara and Eostre are the same goddess from different areas of Europe. She is the goddess of joy and new beginnings celebrated during the Spring Equinox, when all things are equal. Her name lives on in Easter and also estrogen.  Her symbols, rabbits and painted eggs, suggest fertility, celebrated during springtime festivals.

While Ostara represents youth, the maiden, and all the innocence that surrounds being young, this is also an opportunity to point out how important it is to look to elders for guidance during youth. You being a young woman, take it from an old woman, have a lot to learn, but you also have an amazing adventure ahead of you!

Young women today are vulnerable and lack a confidence due to living without the active and present influence of elders.  In the not-so-distant past grandparents were an inclusive part of the nuclear family.  They provided financial assistance for childcare and housing and were recognized for their wisdom.  Their advice was sought after and followed.  Young women grew up hearing of their wisdom in lessons they had learned.  By the time a woman was old enough to leave home and start her own family she was ready.  She also knew she had the support of parents and grandparents and would never be totally on her own.

Today's women don't necessarily leave home to start their own families.  They go to college or work and live on their own. In college they face different ideologies and philosophies that challenge everything they learned at home.  In many cases they are introduced to ideas that they quickly embrace which, down the road may collide with their true values.  Young women today fight, in most cases, the very thought of being like their own mothers, or God forbid, their grandmothers.  Many years later, and after years of hard earned lessons they begin the slow trek back to their roots and discover just how smart and capable their mothers were all along. 

Reminds me of an old saying my mother-in-law often repeated; youth is wasted on the young.  How true.  I grew up hearing my mother's friends declare, "I wouldn't be twenty one again if you paid me!"  In my twenties the first time I heard it I thought it was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard.  Who in their right mind would not want to be twenty-one again?  The energy!  The stamina!  The vitality!  Seriously? Then I hit my thirties and was amazed at how much more validated I felt when I spoke.  I wasn't dismissed like a child being sent to the 'little table' at Thanksgiving.  I was even able to carry on intelligent conversations without someone throwing their hands in the air and exclaiming, "Kids!"  The best was yet to come, but I would have to go through hell to get there.

When I turned forty my life turned inside out.  My marriage dissolved.  My youngest child was killed; murdered at the tender age of twenty-one.  No one, not family or friends, could have predicted all that hit me within months of each other.  I suddenly had no routine to follow.  My eldest son was finishing up college and chose to stay close to his dad, so I was, for the first time in my life, on my own. It was a crazy roller coaster ride and I was in the very first seat for the entire ride!  I had to learn financial responsibility on an income that was never intended to be the sole source of support.  I had to make changes in everything from refinancing a home to opening new bank accounts and moving utility bills into my name.  I had credit card debt that had to be paid off. I underwent surgery and had to deal with medical debt.  Notice I put debt ahead of physical recovery.  This was my forties and it slipped into the fifties before I knew what was happening.

In my fifties I had a momentum going and was able to see that I was a survivor. During my fifties I became debt free and all on a salary that would have defeated a lesser woman. I was healthy, even after another minor surgery, and able to do whatever I set my sights on doing. I had some set backs in employment and ended up, at the end of my fifties, doing exactly what I had always loved doing; working with school children. But this time I would follow the same class from sixth grade to graduation.  So far it's the highlight of my every waking day. They are two years from graduation now and together we navigate life from one hour to the next. We laugh and cry together and most days I just try to make them understand they aren't alone.

In my sixties, now, I experience a freedom that only comes from having survived so much.  I still have an abiding faith in people and enjoy, really enjoy, what I do.  So what is the point of this 'lesson'?  What advice could I impart on women coming up in the world today?  LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS.  

Wonderful things happen as we age. We become very comfortable in our skin, for the first time in our lives, for many of us. We feel empowered to be bolder and more assertive. We become more sure-footed and comfortable with ourselves. But that comes from living, taking risks, and learning things the hard way that we simply refused to learn from the women around us in our lives. When an older woman talks about experiences she's had, young women need to pay attention.  We no longer sit at the feet of our grandparents and listen to their stories as we ball yarn or snap string beans for dinner. We are spread out from our life connections and in many cases forced to text, Face Time, or Skype to stay in touch. But life lessons need to continue being shared. Speak up.  Ask for advice.When asked for advice, give it.  Relate an experience to drive it home. The burden is on both young and old to come together and embrace what we are experiencing and what we have learned from our experiences.

What our young women face today comes in the form of social connections that challenge their own ideas.  These young women can be argumentative and defensive from having to fight their way through society.  It's not easy to validate someone so angry and exhausted from having to justify everything they say and do....or worse, don't care anymore what anyone thinks or says. These are women who need the love and wisdom of an elder in their lives. These are the women likely to shrug their shoulders and dismiss you.  Don't mistake their insolence for confidence.  These women want someone to hang in there and show them they know a thing or two about life.

Being young never was easy but it's harder and more cautionary today than at any time I remember at that age.  I was head strong and fearless.  I was impulsive and didn't give much thought to consequences.  I was lucky.  People die today for much less than I did at their age.  If ever there was a time young people need to be able to trust and discuss life with an elder, it's now.  Right now.  Our young girls are twisting in the wind and have a rough road ahead of them without benefit of an older and wiser woman taking them by the hand and showing them they understand, not just because they are older, but because they learned valuable lessons the hard way.  Show them love and affection and then without judgement, guide them to being able to make wiser decisions.

It really is a miracle I am still here. My mother married young and had two children before she was twenty one!  She was an awesome home maker, cook, and skilled 'cosmetologist' (beautician).  But she had a mother she leaned heavily on for support. I rejected any help I could have had because I was an independent woman, a feminist, and I didn't need anyone.  Where I got that notion, I have no idea.  The older I got the more I disagreed with the notion that a woman can have it all. No one gets it all. This is a lie.  If you think someone has managed this, I promise you they would not agree. No one makes it alone in this world, and no one gets through this life without making mistakes. This is the truth.  And if we don't start taking an active interest in what our young women are going through, it's only going to get rougher for them. Rather than sit back and talk about them, and how silly they are, how ridiculous they sound, start talking TO them. The earlier the better. It's time the older, wiser, liberated women in society start including our young women at the table of discussions. It's time to validate their feelings and accept their experiences as the stuff to build on rather than dismiss in exasperation.  Our young women want to be recognized and we need to pass on what we've learned to a generation that will do like wise in just a few short years.  Give it up, elders. Embrace the youthful fearlessness of being twenty one and give thanks for being able to say you're 'that old!'.