Sunday, March 23, 2008

Midlife Dilettantes Unite

Theresa-Venus and I are passionate about golf. We love to play, and we especially love to play together. She observed just the other day how much better our respective golf games have become now we’ve reached our fifties vs how much we struggled and fought to improve when in our forties. (Yeah, we’ve been playing that long and we still have substantial handicaps!) Yet, we seem to be striving less and enjoying more. Is it possible that we are finally relaxing into our pursuits, finding the simple joy and pleasure with less of the internal pressure to “be good at it.”? And in some bizarre twist of fate, we’ve actually gotten better? It sure seems like it. While we don’t have a literal scorecard for our artistic endeavors, but we think we’ve gotten better at those too.

One of the ways we Venuses are growing ourselves in the “heat” of midlife comes down to finding and expressing a passion. As we explore creating a Vision for the second half of our lives, we begin to ask ourselves what we want to do, be, or manifest. What we are passionate about, what excites and moves us? And we discover that passion doesn’t necessarily have to be about doing. We can be passionate about peace or contentment as easily as we can thrill to a project or endeavor.

At a recent annual gathering, one of the goddesses was wrestling with her own search for a passion. “How do you know what you’ll be good at?” she queried. “I’m trying yoga and biking (where I also connect with my husband). I enjoy physical pursuits, but there’s no real passion there. It’s hard to start - every one of my friends is already good at something. So many here [the Venuses] are good at photography.”

Karen-Venus jumped in with sage advice. “You need to make a distinction between doing something and having to be good at it versus doing something just for the delight and enjoyment. I tried dancing. I’m the worst tap dancer in the theater group. I’m never going to be good. But I love it and I do it for the passion and joy, not for the achievement. And the more I accept being the worst dancer in the class, the more I relax and the better I dance.”

She went on. “It doesn’t have to be just one thing - it can be many things. Let yourself try things on: are you a beader? A knitter? As we grow older we can open up rather than focus on one or two channels. Try something. Start with a one day workshop. See what takes, what fires you up. Again, maybe it’s not one thing; maybe it’s many. Dilettante is not a dirty word for a midlife woman!”
With that in mind, let’s make a midlife pact with one another. We’ll boldly, passionately do whatever we like. And if we don’t yet know what that is, we’ll jump into something, anything, everything that catches our interest with our whole being. And we sure as heck won’t worry about being good at it! Let’s be divas of dilettantism, practitioners of passion, and mavens of marvelous things!
(Visit our mothership blog and join the community of Venuses at

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Menopause, Mortality, and Microloans

When my husband turned 50, I gave him a cartoon depicting the Grim Reaper visiting a man on his 50th birthday. “Have a good time,” says Death to the balloon-festooned, party hatted “I just stopped by to remind you that you’re mortal.”

That cartoon seemed a lot funnier before menopause. One of the many shocks that the Change delivers is an acute sense of a goddess’s own mortality. Realizing viscerally that our time here is finite, we begin to consider how we wish to spend the second half of our life. Time alone to just “be”, trying new things, travel, and putting ourselves first become priorities. The Venuses have supported one another in all these pursuits and more as we’ve mapped out our futures.

Yet, we felt that something was still missing. What were we leaving behind? What contribution did we wish to make? With this in mind, we devoted our fourth annual meeting to “Legacy”. It seemed to us to be a weighty and important topic. Webster’s thesaurus listed synonyms like inheritance or bequest. We defined it more simply. Legacy to us meant “that which we were passing on to others whether through advising, counseling, or setting an example.”

Some of us had grand visions like creating healthy school lunch programs or writing/lecturing women to inspire their innate creativity. Others wished only to live simply and to practice kindness allowing their life’s example to be their legacy. And of course, we all wanted to pass on our great stores of knowledge and life experience to our kids. (You can bet that our offspring could HARDLY WAIT for that!)
Honestly, though, sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to give back. A great beginning might be microloans through Most of us goddesses aspired to “Think Globally, Act Locally”. Today, with the magic of the internet, “locally” can expand to the size of the entire earth. My husband happened across, a website that facilitates making microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries across the globe. (You may have heard about it from Oprah or Bill Clinton). One can loan as little as $25 (and the rest of the loan amount comes from lenders like you). Photos and stories accompany each request for funds. No big surprise, many of these entrepreneurs are women. Kiva doesn’t take any money for their services, but offers lenders the chance to donate to keep it all going. Money goes through Paypal direct to the kiva partner in the country of the prospective borrower. Paypal provides this service free of charge.

You can loan to a tailor in Uganda or a butcher in Togo (yes, I definitely had to look this one up, it’s in Africa). I love Peru, so we have several loans there. (See above photo from kiva website). One of my favorite borrowers is a midlife woman in Tajikistan who has set up an internet cafe because no one has home computers or internet service available in her town. She is following her dreams AND giving back!

And when the borrowers pay their loans back (99% payback rate which is phenomenal), you can lend it all over again to new entrepreneurs. An added delight is seeing the profiles (and pix if they post them) of those who lend with you to a specific person/venture. Building community and giving back: is a website with heart. Click link below to find out more.

To comment or join our community of menopausal goddesses visit our mothership blog at