Women don’t moon over midlife
Storytelling and ritual will be the centerpieces of a women’s retreat in Glenwood Springs Feb. 25 and 26. “Women of the 14th Moon: A Retreat for Midlife Women,” is from 7-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Hot Springs Athletic Club.Barbara Palmer and Daphne Stevens bring to the retreat long experience working with women in their midlives. Palmer, who lives in No Name, is a Disciples of Christ minister with 30 years experience leading women’s retreats.Palmer brings ceremony and ritual to the retreat, using sources from Jewish and Native American spiritual writings.”I’m very much a pluralist,” she said. “The Disciples of Christ are students of the life of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the validity of other paths.”Women in all cultures are especially adept at casting their shared experience in a spiritual light.”Women know how to make sacred the ordinary things of life; that’s what women’s spirituality is all about,” Palmer said.Stevens, from Macon, Ga., is a psychotherapist who facilitates groups for midlife women. She is also the author of the recently published “Watercolor Bedroom: Creating a Soulful Midlife.””Daphne is an expert at small-group process. She listens like a psychotherapist with two sets of ears, what is said and what the agenda behind it is. And she knows the questions to ask,” Palmer said.”I’ve been a psychotherapist for 30-plus years working with families and women. This stage of life just captured my imagination,” Stevens said. “So many women come into therapy and want to talk about their stories, but they’ve also done therapy to death. I felt we need to drop to another level, into mythology and ritual.”Both feel the time is ripe for aging women to connect with each other and confirm their life wisdom in the telling of their stories.”This is a sandwich generation,” Palmer said of women in their 50s and 60s. They have elderly parents, many of whom have retreated into the shadows of Alzheimer’s disease. Many of them have children who Palmer calls “kids who are hard to launch,” adult children in their 20s and 30s who have trouble leaving home.”This is very typical of women in midlife, who are pulled in opposite directions.”Sharing life experiences, and seeing how each one is a part of the larger experience of all women at midlife, is the “vehicle for the retreat. It’s about being cartographers of our lives,” Palmer said.The retreat will culminate in a ritual for menopausal women, women in their “14th moon,” Palmer said.Symbolism plays an integral part in the ceremony, with wine standing for the “blood that is no longer flowing.” A taste of honey “is the sweetness of the new time in our lives,” Palmer said.Color is also important. Participants will be asked to choose a piece of clothing of a particular color that they will symbolically cast off, and they will choose a new color – red for clarity, turquoise for insight, purple for higher consciousness – as a symbol of their new future.Women will contribute symbolic items that have rich meaning in their own lives.”It’s very, very rich,” Palmer said.Both Palmer and Stevens would like women to come away from the retreat as connected to each other and with the wisdom of a life well-lived to pass on to younger generations.
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