September is Healthy Aging Month – a month designated to focus attention on the positive aspects of growing older. To me, a month that should not be necessary, but fills me with gratitude in its existence.
I’m Barbie Liss, a certified Life Coach and Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP) student at Yorkville University. I am an advocate and speaker for my ANTI-anti-aging message, and the societal impact of conditioned messaging that led to my work.
It led me to the exploration of societally conditioned messaging, and the cultural impact. Reflecting on a path through a lifetime of teachings, in search of explanation as to how rape culture exists, enlightened me to a world of unquestioned acceptance, that we have embodied individually and collectively. This led me, as I approached my 60th birthday, to awareness of anti-aging messages we are handed.
At 61, I am of, what I call, the ‘Because I said so’ era; the era of ‘Children should be seen and not heard’. The era where we were, quite literally, taught not to question, not to voice our beliefs. Hand this era a message of anti-aging, and we accept, unquestioningly. But at what cost?
Where is the Wise Woman Archetype in our society today?
She has been hidden by fear and denial that is rooted and nurtured through unquestioned anti-aging messages. Messages that create conscious attempts to hide Her existence. Messages that have caused Her to disappear beneath mis-offered definitions of beauty that have seeped far deeper than skin level, to find their way into self-worth and value.
As I stood in the drug store one day, under the aisle sign reading ‘Anti-Aging’, I thought “What is that?” (and, also, where is the men’s anti-aging aisle, but that’s another blog post!). Whose idea was it to place shame on the privilege and gift of aging? We cannot hope to live a long life and also not age.
With attempts to deny signs of aging, we are denying ourselves the right to age. By making our visible signs of aging invisible, we are making ourselves invisible.
By removing the appearance of our elder women, She is no longer represented. She disappears: WE disappear
The absence of the Wise Woman Archetype has a cultural ripple effect. By denying ourselves our right to age, we rob ourselves of the right to claim our seat, to sit in the comfort of our years and celebrate where we are, as we create our next chapters.
We deny ourselves the beauty of perspective, of witnessing and supporting those who walk behind us. And in that, we deny them the comfort of our arms, experience and wisdom that they crave, as we did from our mothers and grandmothers. By denying our age, we lead those who walk behind us by fear and denial, rather than gratitude and celebration, planting seeds of despair rather than empowerment.
In my work, I guide women to shed fear and shame associated with aging so they can walk with empowered self-love and resilience into creating gorgeous next chapters. I am amazed by the number of women in their 30s and 40s reaching out, already afraid that they’ve passed some timeline expiry date and it’s now downhill from here. Evidence of the cultural ripple I speak of.
As lifespans increase, we are handed the gift of additional decades. Years that should be inserted in the 60-70 time slot, not perpetuate some outdated version of extended “old”. It is ours to create a new template for aging. One that holds the truth of who we are and all we can be, at every age.
It’s time to create a new narrative. A narrative that returns us to see the beauty that lies in the face and energy of the Wise Woman, who offers vibrance and capability in the power of Her wisdom and experience, as She continues. And to notice and honour, that She does, in fact, continue!
Ageism is a self-induced prejudice, an attempt to other a group of people we all become. It’s time to rewrite this story. It’s time to replace judgement with celebration, replace denial with gratitude, to replace fear with possibility. To stand in the power of who we are, where we are, at every age and stage.
Who we are radiates from within; alive and vibrant is not attached to a number. There is no plummet from the top of a hill; but rather, a gorgeous platform from where you can continue, more hills and valleys, more platforms!
Aging is a perspective asking to be re-considered. A long told societally constructed story asking to be edited. Let us bring in the respect, gratitude and honour it deserves. Let us notice the potential, possibility and continuation it carries. Let us do this for ourselves, so that we can embrace and embody all that we are, as we continue. Let us do it for those who walk behind us, so they may be led to the empowerment of possibility without fear and denial.
I am ANTI anti-aging. I sit back and witness those who walk behind me, who step into experiences I now wear on my face, and I feel whole. At the same time, at 61, I begin the MACP program at Yorkville University; continuing, becoming.
It’s never too late. You are not too old. We continue. Your story is far from over.
I celebrate Healthy Aging Month alongside all of you, as we are all aging, from the moment we’re born. I celebrate the possibility and potential, with curiosity and wonder, of all that we are and can be. I invite you to lay down the messages we’ve absorbed, notice all that you are, honour where you wish to go, and continue!
About Barbie Liss
Barbie Liss is a Certified Life Coach and Advocate for Restorative Justice and her ANTI anti-aging message. She is a 61-year-old divorced, Jewish mom of 3 and is currently working on her Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University.
Liss brings awareness to the challenges of secondary trauma, through personal story of healing after her daughter was raped, and the restorative justice outcome of their case, making history in the justice system. Her Coaching work has guided hundreds of women to claim voice, value and worth.
Through awareness and thought-provoking conversation, Liss brings perspective shifts to the societal impact of conditioned messaging. Her ANTI Anti-Aging movement guides women to shed fear and shame associated with aging, to claim the power of the Wise Woman Archetype, and to walk with empowered self-love and resilience into creating gorgeous next chapters.