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Entering Cronehood

© Jeanne Mozier – March 1996

Here in the Center of the Universe, we found ourselves once again on the cutting edge of a major sociological trend.  Turning 50.  Entering cronehood. Baby Boomers receiving recruitment letters from AARP.

We didn’t need network news and national magazines to tell us what the hot topic should be at our annual ladies lunch.  We didn’t need to hear national survey results to know what turning 50 means.  We simply caught up on our lives since the last gathering and there it was – cronehood, defined as a woman over 50.

Most of the women in attendance at the lunch spoke of feeling empowered, reveling in their accumulated wisdom.

“It all comes together at 50,” reported one woman.  “All the wisdom, experience and knowledge are there along with a real grounded feeling about life.”

Several expressed a sense of responsibility  — and a willingness – to pass on that wisdom.  “I feel more need to bring what I’ve learned to young people,” remarked a woman who recently began a youth group at her church.  Another mentioned that she finally understood being matriarchal.  “There’s been a change,” said a jeweler.  “I find myself beginning a lot of sentences with ‘now that I’m 50…’”  A Montessori teacher was surprised at how little change she felt.  “I thought I’d be more grown up at 50, but here I am, still wondering where’s my charge accounts and bank books?”

Comparisons with turning 40 were popular among the crowd.  A landscape designer spoke of feeling less remorse than she did at 40.  Another woman agreed.  “At 40 I was pissed off and wanted to leave the planet, now I feel great.”

An office worker asserted that she felt better at 50 than she had at 45.  A massage therapist, who is only approaching 50, believed it had to be easier than the first five years of her forties.

No one spoke about failing physical energies.  “A lot of my friends are younger,” reported a 52-year-old.  “I’ve started roller-blading and long-distance biking.  My body seems to be screaming for action.”  Another celebrated her recent 50th birthday with a special hiking vacation.  In spite of their energy, the reality of time passing was not lost on the group of women.

“Both my mother and grandmother died in their early fifties,”  said an artist.  “I’m worried  about how many years I have left.” Even those who did not feel pressured by a family history of early deaths acknowledged the limits of time.  “I still feel like there’s a lot to do and I better hurry up,” reported one woman.

Only the group’s certified Aphrodite spoke about sex, or rather the change in her sexual energy.  “I feel retired, monkish, like the ashram master.”  Artistic energy fared better.  None of the several artists at the gathering noticed a lessening of their creativity.  They agreed with the wisdom that over-50 women are moving from pro-creation to pure creation.  Every older woman at the gathering spoke of being happy with her work.

No one complained about the body changes.  “They’re workable,” said a woman who works outdoors.  “I wouldn’t want to go back.  It’s the stage I should be in now, so it feels right.”

The times make this issue a different conversation than would have happened 15 or 20 years ago.  Our homeopath, who is also one of the older group members at 56, has been an invaluable resource.  She is adamant about treating the aging female body as healthy and right in its action.

“We are not suffering from estrogen deficiency disease,” she emphasized.  “Our bodies know what they’re doing and we should treat them with respect for their innate wisdom.”

She encouraged use of homeopathy and other alternative and non-invasive modalities to help our bodies through the natural process of re-balancing.

The most practical comment about the rewards of cronehood came from the jeweler who had been 50 for less than four weeks.  “I got a refund check from my car insurance.  Now that I’m 50, I’m in a safe driving group.”

Repeatedly, the women commented on the benefit of having a supportive group of women in a similar age group ready and able to discuss the passage of time and its effect on their lives.  “Aging seemed to be a taboo subject for my mother and her friends,” said one woman.  “I feel the value of a supportive group of women, of our valued place in the community.”

The women wondered aloud about the audience for our wise comments about aging.  “All the women here under 35 were polite but uninterested,” commented our hostess.

If the national media coverage is an indication, we post-1940 babies are, as usual, talking to ourselves.  Yet, there are millions of us to listen, some bearing fresh wounds from a bout with the mid-life, some with 50 just ahead.  It was for them that I scheduled my semi-centennial celebration which turned out to be a 10-day-long series of parties in five cities and three states.  I felt duty bound to show that there were bright sunshine and warm breezes on the other end of the forties.

The common enemy to be faced in the passage of time is fear…fear of moving ahead to the next cycle, fear of body deterioration and the solutions that are forced on women by a mostly male medical establishment.  The collective wisdom of millenniums of healing wise women is not lost, it is emerging in the world all around us.  We can find the answers we need by listening to each other, to older women and those who have blazed the trail.  With information and encouragement, this return to our original nature can be the most joyous of journeys, the best of celebrations.

TV vs Radio

I did a promo spot for Berkeley Springs’ Hey, Girlfriend weekend (June 4-6) this morning on WHAG-TV channel 25 with my favorite news director — Mark Kraham.  This is what I learned from a decade-ago stint with my own TV talk show:  never stop smiling and never stop talking.  Oh yes…and the camera person is your best friend.

My favorite mass media to perform on is radio because…..they can’t SEE you.  You can phone it in.  You can have a bad hair day.  You can be a geek with a great voice.  Tomorrow is my monthly radio spot on WEPM in Martinsburg and I’ll be talking about all that’s happening here in the Center of the Universe this weekend: Studio Tour, quilt show, live auction of the Yard Square Quilts then next weekend’s Hey, Girlfriend.

As someone told me on Sunday having just come back from her winter living in Tuscon:  there’s lots more to do in Berkeley Springs and the people are much more fun.  It could be our new slogan: more fun than Tuscon!

How the volunteer appreciation went

I have no plan to make the blog a volunteer commentary but thought you’d like to know how the MAC annual meeting went in this regard.  In a word: fabulous! Nearly 50 people attended and thought it was terrific.   Better yet, they were inspired and many signed up for various volunteer tasks.  Since I have no clue how to attach a document, I’ll post the brief write-ups we used for the folks we honored. You organization folks might like the “categories.”  Feel free to use.

Special activity:  Volunteer Appreciation:  RECOGNIZE,RECONNECT, RECOMMIT

An organization like the Morgan Arts Council exists ONLY because there are literally hundreds of people ready, willing and able to lend their time and talent to the task of “getting art out there.”  We could stand here and read lists of names, probably in the hundreds since MAC has been around as a volunteer organization since 1977.  Instead, we want to tell you some stories of people who have given so much over the years.  These are not the only ones who have been outstanding volunteers.  We could do the same stories with dozens of other people.

1.   BIBI HAHN – Susan Caperton tells the story.
MAC holds a significant place in Morgan County not only as a result of our own efforts but also through the many  community connections MAC has with other organizations. One of the most important of these connections is with the Morgan County schools. MAC’s first program was putting artists in the local schools.  Somewhere along the line, the program was named Adopt a School.  Now, more than three decades, nearly 1000 artists and 30,000 students later, the people of Morgan County voted MAC as part of special levy funding – the only arts council in the state to have such support.

Adopt a school has had several champions over the years, but Bibi Hahn took it to the next level.  For several years Bibi did it all – finding artists, coordinating with teachers, arranging housing, writing grants, helping fundraise.  Bibi helped in other MAC activities as well including Art Auction.  Who can resist when a fairy queen comes calling?

Others:  Janet Salter, Kim Forry, Larry Springer

2.  ABBIE BROWN ……Ann Harkins tells the story
What can I do to help? may be the most exciting words to hear when you are struggling to cover all the jobs for the many events that MAC stages.  It is Abbie Brown’s favorite phrase.  Abbie’s generosity with her time and talent has no limits.  She does everything from take tickets for theater or concert performances to move tables to managing the Piecework staged readings. She’s been a member of the board of directors and of the theater committee.  On the side, Abbie has made choice character roles in Ice House Theater Project performances her own special niche.  Little old ladies, little old men, raunchy pirate, characters from Shakespeare and biblical stories – Abbie brings them to life.

OTHERS known for pitching in however they can:   Pam Mann,  Ralph Gonzales, Greg McGrath, Jackie Delbaugh

3.  GORDON MACLEOD – Denise Bergen tells this story.
In 1977 when nearly 50 people came together to form MAC, Gordon was there.  Years later when it was decided that we needed to attend a meeting in Charleston to plead our case for help with planning, Gordon was in the car.  The Commission on the Arts listened and MAC received a planning grant.  Gordon participated in all the meetings and was the first one to cast covetous glances at the building that was then a gym and is now the Ice House.  Everyone laughed.  Five years later, the building was MAC’s and Gordon was ready to help.  His list of accomplishments ranges from bucket brigades when the roof was off and it rained to becoming MAC’s first Summer Concert Czar.  In the name of MAC, Gordon does the sound for the Apple Butter Festival and for the summer concerts.

Gordon fills the category of many years, many jobs.  The years are more than three decades; the jobs are all those mentioned above as well as dozens more than can scarcely be recalled because Gordon makes it look so smooth and easy that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all that would not have happened without him.

Thanks Gordon, and rest assured – you have job security for another 30 years.

Others who have worn many hats over many years:  ragtime, JW Rone, Brice Williams

4.  JEFF THATCHER – Jeanne Mozier tells the story.
Sometimes a volunteer can totally change an organization like MAC by being in the right place at the right time and thinking about MAC when an opportunity arises.  That’s Jeff Thatcher.  If not for him, none of us would be in this building today for a MAC annual meeting.

In 1995, Jeff’s wife Jeanne was on the MAC board.  He was working for US Borax (now Silica) and knew that the new owners of the sand mine did not want the cold storage building.  US Borax did not want it either.  It had been on the market for more than a year with no offers.  “If you write Borax and ask them for the building, I think they might give it to MAC,”  he said one day.  The letter was written and in less than a month (February 1996) Borax gave the building to MAC.  Jeff stayed around to help get the Ice House up and running including developing safety protocols.

The Thatchers left Berkeley Springs for California…..but, not forever.  They recently
bought a house in Berkeley Springs and will soon be back here permanently.

Others who were in the right place at the right time:
Gary Reynolds, acting as tech director for Asleep at the Wheel
Dave Smith, organizing a MAC golf tournament fundraiser

5. KAREN RAGAN – Bob Marggraf tells the story.
Everyone knows how to spend money – and that is certainly true of MAC especially once the Ice House came on the scene. It’s raising money that scares people off – grants, fundraising calls, the art auction and its successor – Art and Elegance — and a million other ideas about keeping the revenue stream going with donations.

Karen Ragan has been interested in towing  “the money line” for MAC since she first discovered MAC about a decade ago.  Karen started with house parties then moved on to being a key part of the Art and Elegance team.  She sells tables, checks details and generally lends class and charm to the event.

Others known for not being afraid to raise money:   Roger Salen, Matt Hahn

6. SANDRA EARLS – story told by Lynn Lavin
We’ve heard about volunteers who do many tasks, now we’ll hear about Sandra Earls and how a volunteer can own a project.  In 1995, Sandra was one of MAC’s first two employees – at quarter time.  Her task was to work with teachers and administrators in the schools setting up a detailed structure for involving them in the Adopt a School program.  As part of that assignment, she created the first-ever county-wide youth art show.  Within two years, the grant was over and Sandra decided to continue organizing the youth art show as a volunteer.  It was moved to the Ice House and now, more than a decade later, youth art fills the walls of the Ice House every March.  Local art teachers participate thanks to Sandra’s efforts.  Performing arts have been added.  Hundreds of parents turn out to see the show.  There can be no doubt – Sandra Earls “owns” the Youth Art Show and for that contribution MAC appreciates her.

Others:  Jane Frenke. Maggie Duval.

7.  BOB MARGGRAF …..Keith Unger tells the story
Some volunteers have special knowledge skills that are invaluable for building and running a successful organization.   As MAC has grown over the past decade or so, the demand for business and organizational skills has also increased.  Fortunately, those people with the necessary skills have stepped forward, mostly as members of the board of directors.

Bob Marggraf is one of the true skillmasters.  He has brought an immeasurable level of business knowledge to task when dealing with contractors or reasoning with architects.  He used his corporate contacts to make Art and Elegance an instant success.  He gave MAC an office when the Ice House was under renovation and dust was everywhere.

Others who have served MAC with their professional skills:
Diane Petersen – with her CPA/financial skills
Michael Dennis — with his design skills
Sally Marshall – with her facilitation and personnel skills
Ann Harkins – with her organizational development skills

Who thanks a volunteer?

Who Thanks a Volunteer?
Tomorrow MAC is celebrating its volunteers as the annual meeting program.  Planning this got me thinking: who in an organization should be thanking its volunteers?

Does it have more weight if it comes from staff?  or is it better to have the board do the thanking?

Part of the answer should be found in considering why an individual volunteered.  Probably not for staff although a good volunteer can easily free staff for other work.  We all know that every non-profit has way more work than staff to do it.  Volunteers do not give their time because of the board.  Besides, board members are volunteers themselves and in MAC they are some of the hardest working, hands-on volunteers in the organization.  The obvious conclusion is that volunteers give their time and talent because they believe in/enjoy/benefit from/want to help — the mission.

All this brings us back to the original question: who should be thanking volunteers?

Let’s make the answer easy and interactive.  Volunteers thank other volunteers because who knows better what it takes?  If you are a volunteer, search out another one and give them a biug thank you!

First post

Creative Cone winner

Jeanne wins 1st ever creative cone at Create WV 2008

Welcome to my first attempt to blog.  It’s a learning day — learning to blog.  Not the writing part but the getting it online part.

The big excitement so far today, besides starting a blog was a drop in visit from Danny Boyd — West Virginia filmmaker and wrestler.  Danny’s looking good for someone whose son just graduated from law school.  How did these kids get to be so old when we all have stayed so young?

Asleep at the Wheel Returns to its Roots…

Asleep at the Wheel returns to its roots in Morgan County and plays to a sold-out audience at the Star Theatre — 8/24/09.  A No Name local supergroup of Joe Herrmann, Tari Hampe, Mary Hott and Jeff Chesnut opened for Asleep.

Follow Jeanne on Facebook by clicking here.

Follow The Star Theatre on Facebook by clicking here.