Updated: Sep 22, 2021
I am an independent womxn.
At 76 years of age, I enjoy living alone after a lifetime of being married or living in long-term relationships. I was an only child, which helps to develop an early sense of independence in many ways. But for my generation, it was over-ridden by the strong message that women marry and have babies and therefore cannot be granted a mortgage on a house (1960s England); they do not need higher education, a career, or earn more than men, and they are generally not worth listening to. I and society have evolved since then. To some extent.
What’s easy for womxn?
I feel this is a general question that is too complex for one person to answer for all womxn. I can only be subjective and respond from a white Australian middle-class old age perspective.
I migrated here from England in 1968 when I was 24 years of age. It was easy for me to get a university education in Australia as a mature-age student during the Whitlam years. It was not so in England, where social hierarchies were much stronger at the time. It has been easier to live in Australia than in the UK in terms of education, workplace acceptance, social acceptance, and a lifestyle spent outdoors in nature, bushwalking and camping. It has been a wonderful country in which to raise my three children. I learned a lot from Australians and grew in confidence from their friendly openness and a joyous attitude of She’ll be right, mate. Think about it. Think beyond the cliché. She’ll be right, mate is the height of optimism, courage, and kindness towards another. (It can be used with an opposite meaning of being apathetic, but I’m looking at the more common usage). I have encountered misogyny in every country I’ve lived or visited, but in my experience optimism, courage, and kindness are key elements to making life easier for myself. She’ll be right mate is alive with the good humour and energy of the people. Living in Australia has been easy for me.
What’s difficult for womxn?
Living with and working with men. Neither men nor womxn are prepared for it.
How do you maintain mental fitness/mental health?
I read every day and write most days. I believe physical fitness is closely tied to mental fitness and so I walk with my dog every day. I walk once or twice a week with friends who also have dogs. We walk in the bush or through parklands and have coffee together afterwards. It’s good for the body, the mind, and the emotions.
What brings you joy?
My three adult children. My dog. Solitude. Other people. Theatre. Movies. Art galleries. Novels, poetry, and music. The views from my house. Good coffee.
How do you nurture your relationship with nature?
Bushwalking. Sitting in my garden. Being in forests.
Where do you feel a sense of belonging/community?
Walking with my walking group, or with individual friends from it. Discussing books in my book club group of friends. Writing with the members of my writing groups. Singing with my singing group.
Where do you live/work?
I live in Brisbane on Turrbal Jagera country. I retired from English language teaching many years ago. This gave me more time for creative writing, travel, and project-managing a subdivision on our property. I am now widowed and live alone. I run creative writing groups in my retirement.
What’s important to you?
Trust in life, which is like happiness.
Best piece of advice from a woman?
Be your own best friend.
When you’re down, how do you get back up?
I feel the feelings for a while as a way of acknowledging them. I’ll meditate, sleep, and say appropriate affirmations. Sometimes it helps to repeat affirmations when I’m walking alone, they get into the cells of the body that way, while lifting the spirits.
How refreshing to read Wendy's ode to Australian optimism and openness, it's an antidote to the fear mongering of media and governments. Her wisdom shines through reminding me of Maya Angelou's exhortation:
"My wish for you is that you continue.
Continue to be who and how you are. . ."
Wendy Dartnall’s short stories have been published in literary magazines, anthologies, and read on national radio. A Wind from the East is her first published book.
She is a writing group facilitator and for 16 years ran a writing group for the vision impaired in Brisbane called Writing With A Vision. She now runs writing workshops for the sighted called Writing Voices.
Wendy is a retired English language teacher, who lives with her dog in Kenmore. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org