Ask a Crone

Bits of Wisdom and Whimsey Advise

Updates 5/2/2024

S.K. Watts

The word Crone might still conjure up images of cranky old ladies hovering over cauldrons or a mysterious dusty old book when visited by a desperate villager for advice or healing. The movie making and book writing industries know exactly how to add the best flavor and character, but a crone is simply a woman of non-childbearing age who has lived in the world long enough to know a few things. It may still be a while before we women who have attained a plethora of skillsets culminated over years of study, education, practice and application will be seen merely as folks to ask for a bit of advice when it is needed. However, the modern-day crone has come to realize how precious the wisdom was that has been passed down by their parents and a myriad of other folks who withstood the tests and trials of time, and how important knowledge gleaned from all of our lifetimes is to all of our futures. We wish only to be of service when we are asked.

This opportunity to be of service to my demographic and my life tribe presented itself one night in a dream. It has become the concept of Ask a Crone. Please email your questions to WorkingRetired7.com or comment under the category of Ask a Crone. They will be answered as swiftly as possible. I am open to most queries but will not be taking sides on politics or religions. These conversations are best left to discuss with friends and your besties. I look forward to reading your questions and comments.

Ask A Crone / Thank you all for your questions…

5/4/2024

Question from C: I’ve heard people say that sixty is the new forty and that we boomers are redefining the aging process. I do know that 40 felt very different from 60 for me. When do you think old age begins?

Great question C! And my personal answer is this… Once upon a time, we thirty somethings of our generation thought 55 was really old, as that was the destination point for retirement age at the time. It seemed so very far away. And we were told when figuring out the deductions for our savings plan there would still be another 20 years of living that we needed to subsidize, which would make the accepted life expectancy 75 years. The word “Retirement’ continued to conjure up that concept of “Old” until 60 became the new 40 when most of us were rethinking our old labels for being considered elderly as we were still working, caring for kids or grandkids, and rethinking the whole American Dream thing when our parents would’ve been actually living it. We were now informed that age 70 should be the new goal for retiring if we wanted our maximum benefits. You are most correct; we Boomers began redefining the aging process when we changed the term for having a baby after age 30 from ‘elderly primigravida’ to ‘ancient primigravida’ and shifted the normal retirement to age 70 with plans to live another twenty years to age 90.

By our new norms, 70 is now the new 50. Those 20 years we needed to plan to subsidize means we should live into our 90’s, and along with the new drugs out there that will better control disease and extend life, and more of us realizing the need to eat healthier and take better care of ourselves, I believe most of us will make it to this newest goal. So, by my personal calculation and preference for an answer, and adding 20 years to the original 55 years retirement age algorithm, a Baby Boomer might begin to consider themselves old at age 75. As we are still expected to keep on going and still have many things to do yet, I will only title myself ‘old’ on my 80th birthday. And then, it will be a begrudged acknowledgment. Lol.

I too feel much differently than I did twenty years ago. Those lines on our faces and the aches and pains are bodies are experiencing are evidence that we have lived and worked our minds in order to make a difference along the way. We should be okay with these no so subtle messages that remind us of lessons learned while on the trails of our journeys. The important thing to remember is that we Boomers have earned the time to sit down more these days now, and to let go of worrying about aging. The time has come to concern ourselves with living our lives well each and every day.

Happiest of Trails to you and yours dear friend. May the road always come up to meet you and may their be a comfy lounger on the path on which to sit and listen to the birds sing…

5/2/2024

Question from Anonymous 567: I am 66 years old and just beginning to know my own self-worth. Learned from a whole bunch of hard knocks along the way. Not really a question, but I just want to say I wish I’d learned to appreciate myself a couple of decades sooner.

Just so you know, you are so not alone. Many of us feel exactly the same way. And we’ve spent so much time now worrying about the ‘what ifs’ and wishing we could go back and do it all over again in this lifetime. Self-worth should be something we can bestow on our children with the touch of a magic wand, but in truth, sometimes still takes half a lifetime or more to grow into. My own mother raised a geisha, definitely not a good building block for self-worth or the generation we were born into, and my father told me to go out and have my own career that was totally my own. Imagine my surprise when it took me a good twenty years to realize the two concepts didn’t really mix that well. And it took another two decades to figure out it didn’t do any good at all to spend the time there was ahead of me worrying about what I did or didn’t do in the past. We’ve been the generation where women were expected to be our mothers, cook, clean, raise the kids and keep the house for our spouse/partner AND be fruitful in full times careers as well. 1950’s upbringing meets 21st Century. We each navigated our way through using what we had to work with and if we are still standing, succeeded at challenge as far as I am concerned.

I was probably the norm, figuring out in my fifties my own self-worth, and then taking a bit of time to sort it all out and decide how I wanted to live the next portion of my journey. So, in consideration of the many folks I’ve known or come in contact with, you are still on track with many of your peers. 567. We can’t undo the life we have lived thus far or ‘fix’ anything by imagining it a different way. We can, however, view this life lived as one of valuable lessons learned that will fuel our forward motion on our new journeys ahead. Wisdom on which we can build new foundations of thoughts and actions that compliment what we are truly worth.

I don’t know if you are in a relationship now or are single and wondering if you will ever be in one again. In any case, this might be a good time to sit down and ponder the type of relationship that makes you feel safe and respected and valued. Maybe even explore the hopes and goals you still wish to accomplish. Share your feelings and have a conversation about how we all become the people we are now, and sometimes this means we want to be the people who we wanted to be before. Listen to your partner. They might just surprise you. Most folks in long term relationships don’t really sit down and share their inner most heartfelt feelings like maybe they should.

If you aren’t in a relationship, then you can begin by defining the new relationship you will be having with yourself; The confident, actualized you that knows their own self-worth. Congrats on getting to this point in life! That in itself is a big win. And being single, if you are, might have more advantages than being in those relationships you weren’t honest about. Begin by celebrating you. You have your whole life ahead of you to live and be the person you know you are now. And remember that the old saying my father always used to say is true. “We have all the time in the world until we don’t.” The rest of your life is up to you. I wish you the happiest trails on your journey forward.

4/25/2024

Question from Anonymous 62: Is it me, or is time going by way too quickly? Do all of us Boomers feel this way? I think our parents were right. I’d heard this many times before.

Lol. I know what you mean! On Friday mornings when I reach for my little pill reminder to see that all of my nighttime moon icons have been turned upside down throughout the week that just passed like a blink of an eye, I too feel the ‘rush of time’ sensation and wonder at how quickly the last seven days seemed to have gone by. Our parents were correct, and they were just preparing us for experiencing the same thing down the road… It was code for “Appreciate life every day” before we too will be pondering the same thing at week’s end at the same point in our lives.

When we were children and young adults, we viewed time and the concept of grains flowing in an hourglass as quite plentiful, surely enough for us to grow and experience life, and to accomplish our dreams. Most of the sand was at the top of the glass that had recently been turned over to count down our days, and the sand draining through the middle seemed to be just a trickle taking its time to move forward. Now, the trickle sometimes feels like it’s moving more like a running river and most of our sand has made its way to the bottom to remind us just how much we’ve lived to this point. That pile on the bottom also reminds points to the diminished amount that is left for us to make our ways through our journeys. And quite often, we see the situation as somewhat frightening instead of viewing it in a more positive light. Like the feeling being a wakeup call to putting some things in motion that were stalled.

Albert Einstein theorized that time is ‘relative,’ which simply means (black holes and other unusual daily occurrences aside) how fast it moves is all based on how our frame of mind views the concept. If, however, we shift our perspective a bit and look at the mound of sand that has passed through the portal of your hourglass as ‘life accomplished’ and ‘lessons learned’ and view what has yet to pass above as ‘still owning the opportunities to live, experience and make some of our dreams yet accomplished realities’, then maybe the feeling that time is moving more quickly can be a catalyst for us to begin to live life more fully. The key here is to figure out how to work at continuing to LIVE life while you are adding experiences, still dreaming and planning, and putting ‘living life’ under your belt each week before getting to the weekend. You will arrive at the end of the week having engrained your living of life on each of the sands that went through your portal of time to join your ‘life lived’ at the other end.

I believe that any of us feeling the sands are moving more quickly are in actually being reminded by our inner selves that we need to focus on the things we want to experience and accomplish with more passion than we’ve ever put into them up to this point. It sounds silly but it has been proven that making lists of what we want, need and wish to do is the way to begin new journeys of renewal. Don’t think of your list as a ‘bucket list’ this time around, think of your lists as ‘Sands of Time Updates.’ Filling up time with life feels more like time is your friend.

Try this little exercise out for size…

First, pat yourself on the back for what you have learned and accomplished. Well-done you! It’s a win even if you saw a lot of it as just surviving…

Remember you have arrived at that time in your life where you should be able to dress the way you want, dance in the middle of the day if that makes you happy, and above all, begin enjoying your life your way! Plan your future without reading what you should be wearing or saying or doing in fashion magazines and sites and feeling the need to conform. We’ve earned the right to be who we have become!

Grab a blank sheet of paper and write down your accomplishments on one side and the things you still wish to accomplish on the other… Draw a line connecting any of the accomplishments to any of the yet to accomplish items on the other side. These are related, and your past experience and knowledge will serve you well to complete some more things you want to do…

Make a list of goals, short-term and long-term to begin with. You can identify the mid-term goals later after checking off some short-term goals completed. Ponder how you might begin working on them and then pencil them in on a calendar. Yes, pencil them in. Life is fluid, and your expectations on yourself should be as well. If you are still working, pencil in a bit of your evening or weekend hours to work on what you want to accomplish.

We all let go of some of our dreams, especially the ones that no longer mean as much to us as others we still have. Do keep any dreams on your list if they are important to you. We do have all the time in the world until we don’t any longer, and I believe we should keep on swimming until that isn’t an option anymore.

Write a whole new script for yourself, a pathway to your future. Every day is a new beginning and ours to win or waste. Do include some of that wisdom your parents and other well-meaning people in your life attempted to impart on you and you ignored. We all did it. But we would be smart now to return and reexamine some of what had been shared with us.

Take a moment to stop and thank your parents on either side of time or the great veil for sharing their experiences with you. Remember to share some of your wisdom with your own kids, even if they are grown and have kids of their own. It is never too late.

Begin your new journey now. Remember that those sands stoppeth for no man or woman. Lol.

A fun little challenge of thought to begin: Take a large sheet of paper (a piece of printer paper will do) and make like you are train just leaving the station. Draw the track from the station (point A) and take it all over the paper, continuing it on the other side as well. Now go back and write all the hopes and dreams and things you want to do with the rest of your life along the path of the train track. You don’t have to get off the train and accomplish the ‘visits’ in order. Just get them down on paper. Remember the train can turn around on the ‘other side’ and come back along the journeys your identified on each side. Work on one ‘stop’ and thing you want to do or have or accomplish each week. It may take a bit to accomplish some of your stops, but you will probably navigate to doing some of the more accessible stops up front.

Stop worrying about the sands. Focus on the journey left. Have some fun. We deserve it. Happy trails to all!

4/24/24

Question from Anonymous 47: I am in my fifties and thinking about going back to school. Do you think it is too late, considering the world we live in to learn a new career if that is what I end up doing with my new degree?

First let me say that I went back to school in my fifties as well, so I totally understand where you are coming form. New dreams and new goals are often wondrous adventures on which to embark! As I am not sure of your financial circumstances, planned outcomes, or available time to work on your dream, I would say consider the following…

Did you consider what adding a post graduate degree or additional training would do for the career you are already working? Could you branch out and find the same fulfillment in the field you are already working? Did you take into consideration that you will likely be beginning at the entry level of your new field until you gain time and experience, and are you okay with that? If you’re still eager to get going…

Can you pay as you go for this degree or are you planning on taking out a loan? If you can pay cash or ‘as you go’, you might have already decided this is worth the adventure. If you are taking out a loan, however, consider if you will be able to add that expense to your monthly obligations if something goes wrong and you are unable to complete your journey. This is not about factoring in being negative, it is about realizing that life just happens, and unforeseen circumstances aren’t usually factored into our plans when we get excited about our new adventures.

Have you done all your research and have an idea of where you wish to take your new career when you are ready? Is it one in which you can work and go to school at the same time? Online learning or in person classroom? How does all this fit into your present life, and will you be able to make adjustments to your plan as you go?

Consider your financial situation carefully. Will you be working another twenty years in the new career? Will you be taking a cut in pay for your new adventure, and how will this affect your retirement planning? Only you can answer all the questions above. There is no blanket answer for the question as everyone’s present circumstances, barriers to entry to their planned career change, ability to regroup and move forward should unforeseen surprises present themselves… are usually all unique.

You are your own best barometer. I will share the following with you, however.

I was a critical care nurse and then nurse case manager before my career was interrupted by a motor vehicle accident in my forties. When I was physically able to move on again, I decided that my dream of being an art teacher when I was very young might merit being resurrected. It would certainly be less physical (I hadn’t gleaned the reality in practice yet) and something that I so very much wanted to do if I couldn’t become and be sure of working in the art therapy industry had I extended my nursing experience and education. I was still married at the time, and I went back to school full time and completed the BA I’d begun in my twenties. I was just about to move on to completing the teacher portion of the training and working part time as a substitute teacher when I suddenly became divorced and could no longer afford the ongoing education. And, I had taken a loan out to complete the first BA. Long story short, when I did return to work, it was in my former field of case management and although I don’t have much further to go on them, I still have student loans to complete paying off. My perfect dream and plans were interrupted by life happening like life always does. However, you should know that …

Art is my hobby and the thing I do out of love. It brings me happiness these days and I am considering painting up a body of work and doing a one woman show this year. So, all is well, and I still believe that everything that happens, happens for a reason.

I wish you all the best for your new journey and adventure! Happiest of trails to you and yours!

4/7/2024

Question from Anonymous who asks: “Where did I go wrong? I raised my children to be close knit family, but upon marrying, it seems that they view the family they married into as their ‘close’ family now. I don’t get it.”

Well, let me just begin by saying that I am glad I’ve reached that age where I’ve had the time to see this very thing happen to friends and family as well as acquaintances and have had the opportunity to watch as continuing processes play out over several years to come. The combination of ‘hereditary family history’ meets ‘real world experiences and perceptions’ is a complicated algorithm. Hopefully one that will be solved and win a Nobel Prize nomination somewhere down the road. Lol. Life unfolds so swiftly that we cannot even keep up with all the working parts that fashion our concepts of happy and successful lives.

However, it is a given that each generation must experience the world around them for themselves. The majority of our parents raised their children with a certain set of values and expectations and educated their children on the perfect template to follow to go out into the world and become a success. We in turn, went out into the world armed with this wondrous knowledge and began to process the world around us that existed in our time and made our own evaluations about life while experiencing a myriad of new adventures and choices. Many of us found the inherited template our parents gifted us, and that we had clung tight to for a while, did not quite fit into the world that had changed so drastically since our parents were our age. And if that wasn’t uncomfortable enough, were forced to examine and experience new sets of standards and changes within roles we believed were somewhat fixed and dependable but turned out not to be. And then, there was an explosion of new influences that disrupted all of our expectations and rewrote our ideas of relationships and the perfect life. But we in turn managed to fashion our own templates of success and happiness to pass on to our children when it was time.

Our children’s generation will undergo their own transformation as well. They must experience the world around them and test all the waters. Just like we did. Like they must. Then they will take what we taught them (hopefully still cherishing the family history and culture they grew up within) and choose which parts feel like they will work in their new lives with new partners. And we will have to accept they that they know what they are doing for now. For the fact is that they are legal adults now. We gave as much as we could to provide them with the lifestyle, culture, knowledge and wisdom that we were able to impart. Now whether we like it or not, we will have to accept that life continues to flow onwards and trust our kids to get where they wish to be and become who they were meant to be in their own way and in their own time. And they will do the same with their offspring as well. It’s part of the great circle of life and living

Our children will come to create their own templates, for themselves and for their children as well. And the time will come when they realize, just like we did and just like our parents before us, that children are a precious gift that we can’t keep wrapped up in paper and ribbons we believe will keep them safe and sheltered from the storm of the unknown forever. They will burst through the wrapping and go out into the world to experience life. It won’t always be the same world or life that we knew. How can it be. Everything changes with time. And many changes can be good ones.

Trust Anonymous that your children will fashion their own lives and after a time, realize that there is more of the life and lifestyle they grew up in that will become the permanent part of their world than they thought. Keep the channels of communication and love open. Focus on your own life ahead now that you have the time to do so. Work on the dreams you put on hold and how to manifest them while the kids are working on manifesting their own. This is common ground you’ll have somewhere in the future. But most of all, remember that time is relative. Cherish your own time in this life as well as the time you spend with the kids. Be flexible. This is probably the only avenue for that concept we get these days as we lose collagen and flexibility with age anyway. Lol. You can do this! All will be well. At the very least, it will be what it will be. For this is how we continue to make the trip around the sun year after year and generation after generation.

Happy trails and many blessings to you and yours.

3/20/2024

Question from Andrea who asks: “How do you live like you’re retired when you have 30 years of work ahead of you?

Great question Andrea! I can only begin by telling you that I wish I’d begun tweaking my mindset earlier in my life, as it would have been practice for ‘living in the moment’ for those next 30 years and not just ‘getting through the work week’ waiting for days off that went by far too quickly and held their own set of obligations.

Mindset is everything. Like I’ve posted on this blog before, there are 168 hours in a work week. The average person spends about 40 of them making a living to work on their futures. That leaves 128 hours a week, or the equivalent of 512 hours a month where you choose how you spend this precious gift of time. If you sleep 7-8 hours a night (or day) that still leaves 72 to 79 hours per week that you have in your ‘time bank’ to decide what you will do with to be living your best life now and practice living like you would if you had all day every day to live your best life when you get there. Sounds easy, but it is all about deciding what is important in your world today, tomorrow and later; and what is not worth spending time on that wastes those hours of your life that you will never be able to recover.

Soft Plan you days out ahead of time: Life and the living of it is fluid concept, and it has its own plans for you at times. It’s inevitable. You’ll be less frustrated at plans that are rearranged or take longer to come to fruition if you keep setting yourself up to see that everything worth accomplishing takes time.

Make the people you care about a priority, but make time each day no matter how small, to work on something that is important to you and makes you happy. You’ll be happier and so will those around you. And, fyi, know that those of us who spent our lives making mountains of lists about what might make us happy are still trying to wean ourselves away from the habit… lol.

Begin by setting yourself up for ‘living your best life in the moment” with all your non-work hours now. This is all about getting your thought processes on board with the mission of feeling like you’ve arrived at your goals when you aren’t in the 40 hours you are working. And it won’t be easy. I am still working on it myself, although I didn’t begin young enough to make it a healthy habit. All those hours outside of work are your personal life hours. All 128 of them.

Think of Time as time as being currency. Currency to be used for now and saved for the future. Spend your time wisely. I split open time (not working) in half and use one half to work toward the dreams I never managed to fulfil, like writing children’s books and working up a body of work for an art showing. I spend the other half of my non-working time living like I am retired and doing lots of other things. In this time, I might not set an alarm, I might walk the dogs at 8 pm in the dark, I’ll take nature walks or study something in history I never had the time to do/or never made the time to do in the past. Since I am still working, I will commit to work fully while working, but as soon as my ‘time currency’ is being paid out of my currency pocket and I’m no longer exchanging my time for a paycheck, I shift back into my ‘retired’ mode and use my time as I please, making sure to do ‘my’ stuff. I am getting better at relaxing and enjoying the hours in my life I am not exchanging my time for a paycheck but realize now that I would have been better at it had I made it a healthy habit when I was younger. This is what you can learn now. To relax and enjoy non-career spent hours living like that is all you have to do.

As for time you will be working in this lifetime: First, and I say this with all of my heart…the sooner we all find what makes you happy earlier in life, and what brings us fulfillment while we are exchanging large quantities of time (spending time currency) in exchange for a paycheck the better off we will all be. It’s already begun. The quest for that perfect Work-Life balance. You have time to perfect this.

This might be one of the biggest challenges we’ve all encounter in our working careers. It takes time to find that place where you can feel fulfilled at the end of the day/shift or week without feeling exhausted or frustrated. We don’t all start out where we want to be, or end up in our dream jobs, and many of us gave up our dreams because we believed we had to. The good news is that many of my cronies and I believe that if we were ever in a place in time where an individual could take their dreams or talents to the next level, even if they had to start on the side and build their own business, this would be that time and place.

If you have to work in something that isn’t your dream, know that you are in good company. We’ve been there and you are not alone. Set aside a few hours a week to find another avenue for your dream and begin working on it in those hours each week where you aren’t getting paid to work for someone else.

If most of us could go back and do it again, we’d spend less time worrying about our job once we left them each day and more time working on our dreams.

We’d learn to live in the moment and relax long before our retirement years.

We’d enjoy all of the little pleasures in life. These are the ‘desserts’ that reward the humdrum.

Enjoy the simple daily things you think are tasks. Putting your makeup on in the first 5 decades was a joy in hindsight. It will be more of a challenge to apply that eyeliner when the wrinkles on your eyelids won’t stay in one place. And we all should’ve enjoyed the daily ‘task’ of doing our hair. We had more of it then!

Begin one of those hobbies you were saving for later now. Take more bubble baths.

Life rocks. Remember to live it everywhere you can. I know you will rock yours well!

Happy Trails.

The Crone within me.

2 thoughts on “Ask a Crone

  1. I’ve heard people say that sixty is the new forty and that we boomers are redefining the aging process. I do know that 40 felt very different from 60 for me. When do you think old age begins?

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