How I became the leader of a tribe of elder women

I need to tell y’all what’s going on in my life. I want to tell you. It’s something I haven’t been talking about, but that is slowly becoming something very, very important to me. I haven’t mentioned anywhere how I have been spending my Fridays + what I have been up to. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but just because other things have popped up here on the blog. But, now this demands my attention. I cannot keep quiet any longer, especially after today, about why I am spending my Fridays at a community retirement center and how a magical, beautiful tribe of bad ass women has formed.

Fridays are my day off from the school where I work as a mentor. In the past, I’ve used Fridays as a day to write, blog, edit photos, and be creative. To embrace that slow life that I seek to live. To turn away from the pressure to be a part of the rat race that so many people run.

But suddenly, and like a dream come true, this autumn, I am doing things a bit differently.

You see, last spring, my old boss (who works somewhere else now) approached me to ask if I was interested in leading a small group, a circle of people, who simply want to get together to talk about life. Of course, I said! Only to find out that the group would be made up of people who go to a local retirement center (they don’t live there) for various activities. Apparently there were some elders who wanted to have a group where they could talk about… well, life. Which sounded intriguing to me, and yet, not at all what I had imagined as participants for a small group I wanted to start.

Long story short, being one who does not back away from opportunities + realizes that the chances that we get in life may not always be what we had imagined, I said yes! And, so, in the end of August, I started my little group which would meet 10 times throughout autumn, ending just before the height of the holiday season begins in December.

So, every Friday, I wake early. As usual. Make coffee. Meditate. Read. Write. And take it easy. Then, at 9, I head off for a fairly long 40 minute walk across the city. Headphones in my ears, exploring new ways to get to new parts of the city, and preparing myself for my 1.5 hour session with 5-6 elders.

The walk to + from has turned into one of my most favorite moments throughout the week. I am so attuned to the changing of the seasons, as it looks and feel different every from week to week. I am literally experiencing the changing of the seasons… personally. And it’s giving me a very special connection with Mother Earth, with nature, with the divine energy of life. This fills my soul to the max, and sets my spirit in the right mood to meet my group.

And, this group… well, it is almost indescribable because it’s so freaking awesome.

There’s me. And 5 women + 1 man. Plus 2 workers, a middle-aged woman + a young man, who are sometimes with us. There’s coffee + cake. And there’s conversation.

I have planned topics and have ideas + themes, but the conversation always just rolls. Every single week. One person mentions one thing, and then we are off. Sharing stories from our lives – and, oh my god, the stories I am hearing. Discussing history, architecture, how cities (specifically Uppsala) change, adventures we’ve been on, places we’ve lived, life, religion, and death. There is no topic to be avoided.

Turns out, what these people want is deep, contemplative conversation. They just crave a safe place where they can talk a bit more than the average coffee conversation topics. And all they need is a place to meet + a person to listen, guide, and simply share with them

And, so, I have unexpectedly pulled out my minister’s hat once again, and become a spiritual leader for a group that isn’t actually spiritually focused at all. Well, we may not talk about spirituality, but we sure do talk about spirit and the soul. We talk about how we fit into the world, how we experience it, and how we understand it. It’s one and a half hours to reflect on our place here, what we have done, and why we are here.

And, most importantly, we simply share stories. We pass on, orally, the traditions, beliefs, and thoughts of this moment in time, from each of our perspectives.

I know that this group is for them, but, in return, I receive so much as well – which is usually how things go. Mainly in the form of inspiration. And, on my god, how I was inspired today.┬áToday’s conversation really blew me away.

Today we were just women. Our dear sweet man wasn’t able to make it. But, somehow that must have been meant to be. Because today was bad ass. I sat with four 75-85 year old Swedish women and listened to them be bad fucking ass. Here are the topics we covered: Sex. Feminism. General anxiety disorders. Being restless. Being a stay at home mom. Homosexuality. Serving in the military. Fighting in wars. Discrimination. Depression. Books that inspire us. Beggers + poverty.

Holy shit. It was empowering.

At one point, I literally thought about women gathering together throughout all of history. Gathering to talk, to share joys + sorrows, to make plans to fight for equality, to help with the births of children, to celebrate pagan rituals in the forest, to take care of the community, to pray together in a convent, to sew clothes for their children, to work in fields, to discuss an upcoming protest or demonstration, to eat lunch in a factory, to support each other when their partners are away at war, to experiment with + engage in sex with each other, to perform rituals, to care for the sick, to lift each other up, to study together.

I could feel some kind of spark, or fire, or passion, or magic swirling all around us. It was a sacred circle. And these women, who have been living their own lives on their own terms, who are still living their own lives on their own terms, symbolized today’s mystics for me. Modern feminists and torch bearers for all women. None of them would say that they are these things, but by simply living their own lives, in their own authentic ways, they have broken down barriers + made a difference. Hell, they still are.

So, the world may be spinning out of control. It all may be going to shit. We may think and feel and see all of these things, but I have learned to believe that the most that we can do is make a difference in our world, with the people we come in contact with in our lives. That belief of mine, to focus on changing + affecting + fighting for + loving + making a difference in my own part of the world, was proven to me today. By these women.

Today, for almost 2 hours, there were 5 women, gathered in one little space in Sweden, speaking about what it means to be a woman. Embracing it all. Claiming our power. Sharing our stories. Listening to each other. And creating a magical circle of feminine power. It was a tribe of the highest order.

xoxo. liz.

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