From My Heart to Yours

December 31st, 2012

I shared this heartfelt message with some special women friends this holiday season and now it’s time to share it with my wise and wonderful Amazing Grays family of women.

According to many of the indigenous tribes and Spiritual Masters, a 13,000-year cycle of patriarchy came to a close on December 21, 2012.

On December 22, 2012 we began a new cycle –this time lead by the Divine Feminine.

Men and women alike are being called to balance the masculine and feminine within our selves. It’s time to unplug from the ego-based power over others and step into power that is tempered by the Heart.

Women will lead the way. In fact, according to the Dali Lama, it is women from the western world who will be most instrumental in shepherding in the coming changes we so desperately need.

It’s time to turn on our heart-lights, join hands and collaborate to course-correct a world gone amok. What are you going to do differently this coming 13,000 years. :)

It all begins with remembering who you are. Not from the head… but from your heart.

With great love,  maggie

Midlife Paradox

February 8th, 2012

As a meditator I found this quote most provocative:

The meditation experience is interesting because on one hand it is about completely letting go of everything, and on the other hand, it is about paying more attention. It’s a paradox. Let go of everything and have the courage and faith and conviction to keep letting go, fearlessly, no matter what arises. But don’t let go of consciousness, don’t let go of attention, don’t let go of awareness. Meditation is the paradox between those two positions.” Andrew Cohen

Upon further reflection I noticed how these words also apply to many aspects of midlife.

Maggie testing her mettle

This is a photo of me walking unaided across a telephone pole 30 feet above ground. (One of those things I wanted to do the year I turned 60) I did have a loose belay line so I wouldn’t hurt myself if I fell – but I was on my own.

Standing on that pole I realized that if I was going to be successful I needed to let go of  my limiting beliefs and fears and pay very close attention to what I was doing… moment by moment. I found that letting go is a conscious choice – you simply turn your full attention to what you’re doing in the moment and all other thoughts dissipate.

When the stakes are high, it actually becomes easier to do.

When I paid close attention to what I was doing and gave no mind to distracting thoughts, I was able to not only survive the walk – but also enjoy it!

So it is with midlife (heck -all of life.)  Turn away from the inner voices that keep you tied to the past and focus your attention on the here and now.  Perhaps you too have noticed that ALL the inner voices are about hanging on to the past or worrying about the future?

Truly the only thing to fear is the idea that you would miss the life you’re having because you are so busy trying to hang on to a life gone by. Have the courage, faith and conviction to keep letting go, fearlessly, no matter what arises. There is no belay line to save you.

Have Compassion for YOU!

November 3rd, 2011

“Compassion can be roughly defined in terms of a state of mind that is non-violent, non-harming and non-aggressive. It is a mental attitude based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and is associated with a sense of commitment, responsibility and respect towards others.

In discussing the definition of compassion, the Tibetan word tse-wa, there is also a sense to the word of its being a state of mind that can include a wish for good things for oneself. In developing compassion, perhaps one could begin with the wish that oneself be free of suffering, and then take that natural feeling towards oneself and cultivate it, enhance it, and extend it out to include and embrace others.” The 14th Dali Lama

This quote really hit home. I define suffering as being unhappy, afraid, dissatisfied or miserable. Looking at the current state of the world it’s easy to go there. There is so much “evidence” that can cause one to bypass compassion and move right into judgment… greedy banks, misguided politicians, ego driven assertions and rude people.

Here is where the power of choice and the wisdom that comes with being an Amazing Gray comes in.  I realize there is little I can do to change things “out there” – so why not turn inward and, as the song says, “let peace begin with me.” Are there areas of MY life where I am greedy, misguided, ego-driven and rude? For sure. You?

Having compassion for the parts of us that are suffering and embracing the totality of human experience is a necessary first step to cultivating that sentiment so we can own it for ourselves, enhance it and extend it out to include and embrace “others”. (and yes, I put that word in quotes for a reason.) Be kinder to yourself than you think you should be.

The Imprint We Leave

September 20th, 2011

In just the past month, I’ve attended two “celebration of life” ceremonies. One for my 34 year old nephew, and another for a dear ’70 something’ friend. At each of these memorials I was struck by the heartfelt expression of the value each of these beloveds had added to the lives of those they touched. Interestingly, age didn’t seem to be a factor. Perhaps the essence of who we truly are just continues to expand with the years – but the imprint we leave begins early in life.

Food for thought:  What would you like folks to say about you as they are celebrating the end of your life? What legacy do you choose to leave? Are there changes you need to make now to insure that happens?  I’ve decided to write down 5 things (values) I would like to be remembered for and keep the list in front of me. At the end of each day, I look to see how I did – no judgment, no regret. I just decide what I might do differently tomorrow – assuming I have a tomorrow. If anything – these past couple of months have shown me (again!) that it could all end in a nanosecond.

Reverse Gray Hair?

June 19th, 2011

Have you heard? Scientists have found a way to restore gray hair to it’s original color! The product is not available yet – but will be in the next year or two. It’s quasi-permanent, in that it treats all the hair follicles on ones head, but as we lose our typical 40-100 strands a day – the new hair follicles must be treated as well.

Having been a Silver Sage for over 9 years, I asked myself if I would use this product (assuming it’s safe) and go back to my natural brunette. My answer… no.

I was surprised by my own response… so I looked  a little deeper. For me, my silver hair has become a crown of distinction. It says hey – I’ve been through a lot,  learned a great many lessons and have a lot to offer. It says I have experience, wisdom, and compassion. It distinguishes me from a younger generation still struggling to find themselves. On a practical level, it’s been the easiest style and most flattering hair color I’ve ever had. While this may be true for me, I appreciate we all have our own unique perspective.

So – to all you Silver Sages out there – Would you use a product that restores your natural color? Why or why not?

Who You Calling Grandma?

May 26th, 2011

Recently the NY Times ran an article titled “Who Are You Calling Grandma?” The topic seems to have touched a nerve as midlife women are weighing in from everywhere.

There seems to be a consensus that BEING a grandma is wonderful – but being called a grandma (for many) is not. The word grandma typically calls forth stereotypical images of the soft, red-cheeked, wrinkly woman in the kitchen trying to feed us more  than we healthfully needed, or whatever image your past experience paints for you. Mostly there seems to be a negative connotation between the word grandma and, well… old.

Those stereotypical images don’t fit with today’s maturing women because most of us just don’t feel old. Many midlife women are going back to school, starting new careers, creating businesses and traveling the world. We’re picking up the creative pursuits we neglected for so many years and engaging our energies in all sorts of new adventures. We’re redefining what the next 50 is all about!

Nonni out biking with her grandgirls

After a lot of deliberation I finally settled on being called “Nonni.” It resonated, was easy to pronounce and, most importantly, I had no preconceived notions attached to the word.  Therefore, I felt no pressure to become what the word represented – I could make it up as I went along. My granddaughter’s paternal grandmother chose to be called “Amachi” stemming from her Basque heritage. Other women have proudly become Nana, Lola, Nona, Giggi, Grammy, Mutti, Meme, Oma, Glam-Ma (think Goldie Hawn) and any number of amusing versions that come with a child’s mispronunciation!

What do you want to be called when your offspring’s  bundle of joy is placed in your arms … and why?

How To Go Gray…and love it! New e-book

February 4th, 2011

Calling all women with graying  hair.  If you’re over the age of 45 that’s most likely you… whether you use hair dye to cover your gray hair or not! Are you finding that the more gray hair you have the more resources it takes to hide it? More trips to the salon… and the bank?

A lot of women have had enough.

Many of us are tired of spending so much time, energy and money touching up our roots, yet don’t have a clue about  how to make the switch from hair dye to no dye. Some of us are secretly wondering how we might look with gray hair – but are afraid of what others might think.  Some worry that they won’t be considered attractive, lovable or relevant.  Many of us have had enough of hiding our gray hair and are ready to discover what’s underneath all that hair dye, but just don’t know how to take the first step.

So many women have asked me how to go gray that I thought it was time to put together an answer. The result: an e-book titled How To Go Gray… and love it! As a bonus, there are stories of and photo links to over a dozen Silver Sages who have already taken the plunge… because it’s helpful to have inspiration on this journey, don’t you think?  This book addresses the practical how to’s of going gray and encourages women to confront the inner voices of doom that keep us stuck in fear and inaction. These voices simply represent our past programming and are not true!

Don’t own an e-book reader? Not to worry. You can download a Kindle e-book to your computer or smart phone! You don’t need to own a Kindle Reader (or Nook or iPad) to purchase an e-book. I was delighted to find out that I could download a free Kindle app to my computer (which took all of 5 minutes) and voila! – within minutes I had downloaded my first e-book (which was about how to publish an e-book on Kindle, don’t cha know)

If you are looking to go gray, please check out How To Go Gray… and love it! Join the ranks of Silver Sages by sharing your “after” story and photo and become an inspiration to the thousands of women who are still wondering… Should I? Could I? How do I?

The material in How To Go Gray… and love it! is adapted and expanded  from AMAZING GRAYS -  A Woman’s Guide to Making the Next 50 the BEST 50 (regardless of your hair color!) While we will all eventually become Amazing Grays, not all of us choose to become Silver Sages. That’s the beauty of being a woman – we always have a choice!

Amazing Grays as Girlfriends

January 24th, 2011

This information was sent to me and, while I don’t know it’s source, I certainly resonate with the message. As we women age and embrace the Amazing Grays we have become (regardless of your hair color!) it becomes even more important to continue to nurture our female friendships. I mean, who else will welcome you with open arms, empathize when you feel you’ve made a mess of things, cry for the heartache you feel, laugh (with you) at your foibles, celebrate and encourage your talents  and shake you lovingly by the shoulders while telling you to get a grip!

Not only are  women-to-women relationships critical for our emotional health – they are imperative to our physical health as well. They teach it at Stanford!
The last lecture at an evening class at Stanford  was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin-a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities.

Men rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our girlfriends/sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged (not true). In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We women are indeed very, very lucky.

So – Let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health.

Compassion Turned Inward

December 17th, 2010

I was reading the blog I wrote in December of 2009 titled “Season of Compassion” and reflecting on what it really means to have compassion. The dictionary defines it as “sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help.”

Okay, I get that. What I also notice is that ones desire to help can come from a myriad of places within ourselves…i.e. assuaging our guilt about our own good fortune, a conditioned belief that giving makes one a “good person”,  the fear that not giving makes one bad, etc.

One of the things I wrestle with is the sense that giving from a place of “I have it – you don’t” seems to minimize anothers’ humanity. Somehow the receiver is seen as “less than” because they are without something they “should” have.

Then, I came across this quote…

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals. Gregory Boyle

Aha! Coming from a place of knowing that we are all equals – i.e. that which animates me is the same as that which animates you – brings a holy dynamic to any interaction.  In the movie Avatar – the two main characters turn to one another and say,  “I SEE you”. It’s a very powerful moment and one that really resonated with me. After all, don’t we all want to be seen?  Really SEEN?

To see another as an equal and adequate to their life experience profoundly affects the relationship and changes the flavor of “giving” to one of “sharing”.  It’s a subtle, but important distinction. We see a need, we address it – sometimes the giver, sometimes the receiver. Not a one-up or one-down – simply a covenant between equals.

First and foremost, nurture compassion for yourself and the tyranny of your own mind. After all, joy is compassion turned inward. Compassion for yourself allows you to give from that place of joy and lights you up from within. You can then reflect that light back to another, allowing them to see it within themselves.

From that place of joy, seeing the adequacy of all human beings, (including yourself!) you share what you can, where you can, because you can.

Is Jaime Lee Curtis an Amazing Gray?

August 25th, 2010

Jaime Lee Curtis & Maggie Crane (can you tell who's who?)

Ever wish you could have a do-over?  Over a year ago I met Jaime Lee Curtis at a book signing for one of her children’s books (my granddaughters love them!) When she first saw me, she gushed “My twin!” It was very sweet.  Yes, there are some similarities in our haircuts and bone structure as you can see from the photo – but that’s probably where the similarity ends. Her celebrity life and my everyday life are worlds apart.

I gave her a copy of Amazing Grays and included a note inviting her to submit her “after” photo to my online Gallery of Silver Sages to “prove” she was one of us. If you’re listening Jaime – I apologize. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone – and had I given my note more thought I would have simply said – please accept this gift…and enjoy the read. You already exemplify what Amazing Grays is all about – women who are beauty-full, vibrant, mindful, healthy, physically fit, desirable, wise and passionately engaged with life. Going gray in such a tough industry couldn’t have been easy – and I applaud your courage.

Yes, it takes courage to buck the norm…so I also applaud all the everyday Amazing Grays out there – whether you are blonde, brunette, red, black, white or silver. WE don’t need to prove anything to anyone either – we just need to show up for our lives and show the world what we’re capable of – regardless of age or hair color.      hoo-ah!