The Middle Aged Goddess
– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
Eartha Kitt as Cat Woman, The Bionic Woman, Samantha from Bewitched, Frida from Abba.
Basically a good mix of naughty and nice!
Oh and my lovely Nana, Anne; a beautiful, gentle soul who always had a bottle of Schweppes red cordial and a swiss roll for when we visited.
Women, who inspire you now?
My niece Sophie. She lost her mum (my sister Josie) about 5 years ago when she was 19. Sophie has moved through this period of her life with grace, determination, and so much courage. She looks ahead and is creating a future for herself despite this monumental loss. She looks a lot like me but has a resilience that I never had at her age. I’m not her mother but we have a beautiful connection that I know Josie would smile about.
The most valuable lesson taught by your Mother?
To have an opinion! My mum had strong opinions on most topics and she wasn’t afraid to let you know what she thought. She once said to me that the world would be a boring place if we all thought the same and even though she heartily and loudly disapproved of most things I did (especially when I shaved my head.) She also taught me to speak my mind which sometimes, of course, comes with a consequence.
Do you think older women are valued or celebrated enough?
There has definitely been a shift in the media and on social platforms. More women are acknowledging the beauty and gift of aging. There’s an appreciation now for our knowledge, which I’ve seen and felt when I’ve given talks to young women about menopause. Instagram is full of older women growing their hair color out and doing whatever the **** they like!
“I’ve never had a career.
I don’t have a degree.
I have worked and worked and worked and done everything!”
Have you made career changes over the years?
I’ve never had a career. I don’t have a degree. I have worked and worked and worked and done everything! I supported myself from 17 by working as a secretary (I still use Pitmans 2000 to take notes). I’ve waitressed, cleaned houses, instructed aerobics in the eighties, done catering, sold gym memberships, taught yoga. I’ve also done A LOT of unpaid work in the home which included cooking, cleaning, wiping snotty noses, changing nappies, washing clothes, drying clothes, endless trips to the supermarket, attended hundreds of basketball games, got sunburnt on beaches waiting for the kids to come in from surfing, collected other people’s kids, fed other people’s kids, counselled everyone and then got to get up in the night to comfort everyone. Add all that up and put a dollar value on it and I’d be LOADED!
Me in the middle. Sitting with my siblings.
Me, Sophie and Josie.
Through my decades!
20’s: It’s a blur, to be honest! There was a lot of partying, quite a few unhealthy relationships, the death of my mother. There was joy in there for sure but also pain, grief and a sense of loneliness even though I was rarely alone. You often hear people say “I have no regrets” or “everything happens for a reason” but there’s a relationship in there that I really wished had never happened. It tore me apart and to this day I really try not to think about it too much. What I do cherish though are the friends I made in that decade. We’re all still mates, love each other and each other’s children and feel a sense of ease and understanding in our relationships.
30’s: My thirties saw me become a mother and a wife and a feeling that maybe I might never sleep through the night ever again! I felt quite lost and unsure how to parent – I assumed it just came naturally but I really had to learn to trust my instincts and hope that I didn’t totally screw mothering up! It was also the decade I lost my dear dad. I was three months pregnant with my second child at the time, vomiting uncontrollably with horrendous morning sickness and terrified that my grief and sadness would affect my baby. That baby practically came out smiling, has inherited his Grandpa’s gentle nature, eyes, and swimming ability and is as delightful as he was.
40’s: Such a busy time for a woman. Work-wise, I was working nights at a gym so I could be at home during the day which sounds great but I was exhausted. I had some major health issues including a bout of depression that knocked me for six. And again…a lot of grief. The death of both my husband’s parents and then my sister Josie from breast cancer. For a few years, we just seemed to roll from one crisis to the next all while trying to manage to raise kids, working and maintaining a relationship.
50’s: Ok so it sounds like my life was falling apart right? Well sometimes it felt that way but really it was all falling into place. At 53, I finally feel like I have arrived at myself! Emotionally I have NEVER felt better and there’s a freedom in menopause that I never expected. Who knew? Not me! So, now I’m trying to bring other women along for the ride into middle age by over-disclosing, dancing and rambling on Insta for anyone willing to listen.
“I’m trying to bring other women along for the ride into middle age by over-disclosing, dancing and rambling on Insta for anyone willing to listen.”
What are you most grateful for?
Issey and Guy – my two beautiful boys. Dion, my ‘fake son” (it’s a long story)… Mama Nature. My fella. The ocean. My girlfriends. Baxter the Wonder Dog. Peanut butter. That about covers it!
Has there been a significant circumstance good or bad that changed your outlook on life?
My sister’s passing. There is pain and beauty in that letting go. I don’t fear death anymore and I found peace and appreciation for all that life brings. The learning is in the challenge and the challenge brings you to a place of understanding. Basically – it is all good!
With my niece Sophie.
“Women, who inspire me now?
My niece Sophie.”
Your thoughts on aging.
Downside: It’s been an interesting process watching my body change. I wasn’t quite prepared for the speed of it! I train at a gym that a lot of younger women attend and it’s inspiring watching them, even though I can’t keep up but really I’m just happy to be moving my body each day – creaky joints and all!
Upside: I also wasn’t prepared for how much I was going to enjoy aging! Now that I’m post-menopausal and free from periods and the clutches of estrogen I’m so ******* happy most of the time! I felt a sense of relief and release when my periods stopped and freedom in my mind that I hadn’t felt in a long while.
Your advice to young women of today?
Most of the young women I know seem to have their shit together! They inspire me with their enthusiasm and lust for life plus they seem to understand and care more about sustaining the planet than my generation – they’re doing it already and we’re just catching on!
My advice? Dance, sing, feel the joy in the small moments, cultivate your community, give a ****, find the beauty in the not so obvious and don’t worry about finding your purpose as it will find you – I’m just finding mine at 53!
To finish… Anything goes as you grow older – find the freedom in that.
-Jane McCann xoxo
FEW OF MY FAVORITES
Unfinished Sympathy – Massive Attack
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
The Sound of Music – It was the first movie I ever saw at the cinema and I must have seen it 30 times. It has a special meaning to my family that’s quite special.
I actually prefer what I call borrowed landscapes ie. I borrow large leaves, branches, and twigs from around the neighborhood. They last a lot longer than cut flowers and are way cheaper (read free)!
I gave up wearing perfume when I had the boys and I never went back to it. Back in the eighties though I’d pour a bottle of Paris by Yves St Laurent over myself before I went out the door most days.
It’s a cliche but Byron Bay.
Even though I don’t want to live there my body, heart and soul loves the land and sea and light and space.
I love to cook and eat – I’m a Taurean after all!
The one cuisine I never attempt at home is Japanese so I love a good sushi train and a sneaky sake.
Frida Kahlo – I saw an exhibition of her work a few years ago and it made me cry
Unfortunately, menopause has left me with Rosacea which flares up a few times a year. I joke I have acne and arthritis but really it’s been bloody awful. I can’t use anything with essential oils so a lot of natural products are off-limits. The best products I’ve found are from La Roche Posay – they don’t cost a bomb, are quite soothing and really basic ingredients.
I’ve been wearing Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara in black for YEARS. Every now and again I try something different but always come back to this. Also any product by RMS. Their eye colors are magic.
Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) Susie Cave (The Vampire’s Wife)
Kate Moss of course!
Images courtesy Jane McCann unless credited otherwise.