A few days before my sixty-first birthday, I was croned by my dear friends. There were about 50 women and men there, from four states, from old jobs, family, fellow drumming women, young, old - and of course the first two crones in our group - Sparkling Wisdom (who has since passed to the Summerland) and Flowering Creatix, also known as Butterfly Peggy, a woman who has a way with words. We wanted to capture the poet in Peggy, hence her crone name Flowering Creatrix.
So there is this thing about crone names. We don't get to pick our own; we are named by the group. The woman being croned has to leave the circle while the group deliberates on what her name will be.
Before I left the group to their task of choosing my crone name, I read a couple of letters, one from my sister Lynn who wrote about how as a young child, I had always opened green beans to look for worms before I ate them. She related how my mother tried to break me of it, but even if she put a cream sauce on the beans, I still broke them open in spite of the mess. One day I found one! Whoa! Lynn recounted my mom saying, "Well, I'll be darned!" It got a laugh. And of course, having found one worm just once, the deal was sealed.
My daughter Valerie couldn't be there, but she wrote a lovely letter and said that my name should be Passionate Flower, because I am passionate about everything I do and I loved to garden. Her suggestion was taken into consideration, but she wasn't there, so the others would have their say. My friends sent me for a walk in the woods while they took up their task.
As I left the circle, my friend Matt said, "How about Worm Seeker?" THAT got a laugh, even from me, but fortunately the group kept working on my name while I walked until I was out of earshot.
I heard someone shouting that I should come back, that I had a new name. I returned to the circle, stood in the middle, and learned that my crone name would be Passionate Phoenix. They all agreed with Valerie on the Passionate part, but given that I remake my life every few years, they came up with Passionate Phoenix, which I find very appropriate! I love my crone name, and feel comfortable calling myself Phoenix every now and then.
It is true that I have reinvented myself more than once. Wife and mother in my early 20s, I became a single mother at 27, worked hard at whatever jobs I could get (why did I quit college?), started taking some night courses, eventually remarried, sold real estate, then fell in love with a little Victorian house and put a restaurant in it. Next I followed my husband to Chicago where he had taken a new job. At that point, I got serious about school and transferred my credits to the University of Illinois at Chicago and got a degree in statistics. When my husband moved to Florida for his job, I remained in Chicago to finish my degree and decided to stay there after graduation. The salary for my new job seemed like a lot, until I tried to live in Chicago on it. So I started my graduate degree at the ripe old age of 55, at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
I moved to Indiana, where the cost of living wasn't so prohibitive, and drove back to Chicago one night a week to finish my MBA at Northwestern. At last, I was able to get a really good job as a program manager in the aerospace industry. I was making good money. But of course I couldn't leave well enough alone. There were some things about the corporate world that didn't sit well with me, and when I got the opportunity to take early retirement with some pretty good benefits, I jumped at it.
Oh, I forgot to mention, I had bought a farm, designed and built a house, put up a barn to store a couple of tractors, and had moved there a couple of years before the early retirement. On the farm full time, I got organic certification, bought a small dairy herd, put up a dairy barn and a greenhouse - yup, another reinvention of my life! But it was hard work, and when I reached 72 and got a new knee, the work started getting to me. I put the farm up for sale, and after a long search for a house in town, I got the farm sold and the house in town habitable at about the same time. That was a stroke of luck!
I still have my booth at the farmers market. I am a one-woman manufacturing department, making soap, skin care and herbals, and bottling essential oils and aroma therapy formulas. There are no more greenhouse plants or garden produce to deal with, but I'm tired. My 75th birthday is just around the corner and I'm beginning to feel my age.
I can feel it coming. The Phoenix needs to rise again from the ashes. I think I know what my next reinvention will be. It has been gelling in my mind for several years, but I have repeatedly pushed it aside. There were always other things to do. But most of those take more energy than I have to expend. I was thinking about doing cooking classes, but I did one Sunday and it took me two days to recuperate. This other idea churning around in my mind takes less energy, and it is rearing its head more and more often.
I envision myself lying in the settling ashes of my life as it currently is, the Phoenix bowed but not dead. My wings are moving, brushing aside those ashes and the cobwebs in my mind. I feel it rising - another incarnation, another challenge, another reason to look with relish and purpose to the days ahead. Soon, soon . . .