Part Three: Navigating Aging with Dubious Advice by an Island Crone

Don’t drink scotch when you are depressed! More of my excellent dubious advice in this post!

The following is an excerpt from my journal approximately ten years ago. It was a difficult time. I was feeling very old.

At my desk, writing in my journal

“Standing at the sink listlessly running water over a few dishes.

I am slipping away. I am a grey shadow sliding around corners, almost invisible. I have no energy or desire for making food. It is an effort to wash my hair. I can’t be bothered to have it cut and styled. Who will care?  A wild scraggly mess of wispy grey. I don’t shower unless I am going out, I don’t make an effort to look good, I feel dismal. My office is a mess. I have piles of papers waiting on the floor to be sorted and I can’t get the energy up to even care. I am afraid I will get to a place where I can’t return. I will slide into oblivion.

I have a trio of spirit guides who comfort me. They have been coming nightly in my dreams. My shadow self walks bent over wearing a long grey wool skirt, an old man cardigan clutched to my stomach, my hair drips over my face and my eyes focus on my feet. This is the person inside me that wearily keeps them company.

If I don’t do something I will get smaller and smaller, creeping around softly until I am nothing. I have to do a big something but it takes energy and I don’t have it”.

For now, I cram it back down.

Later I let these images rise into consciousness and I start journal writing.

I am depressed! The realization of depression caught me by surprise. It was not just old age.

That evening I share my feelings with Grant.

“Ah the black dogs” he said.

“Grey,” I replied, “my dogs are grey.”

“What are you going to do about it?  Don’t drink,” he added.

“That was the first thing I thought of,” I said. “Scotch.”

“We don’t have any do we?” he asked.

“No, unfortunately.”

We laughed.

Dubious advice #5: Don’t drink scotch.

Next day-10:30 AM

Still in my pyjamas, I have not brushed my hair nor brushed my teeth. I need a shower. It’s too much bother to get wet and dry and then wipe down the shower stall.

I need to do something. My mind runs through the list of things that comfort in times of despair.

Shoes- I have yellow shoes, red shoes, purple shoes, silver shoes, brown high boots and green boots. I have shoes I buy in times of stress and never wear.

Dubious Advice #6: Buy more red shoes anyway. Life is short!

Hair-always. Get a new hair style; dye it pink, or blue; shave half the head. Even the lure of an outrageous hair style doesn’t spark an interest.

Dubious Advice # 7: Remember there’s a fine line between outrageous and crazy old lady!

Chocolate- the only chocolate we have is Easter egg chocolate and it is the kind that makes my throat close in. Nix that.

Books- yes, there was book review I read yesterday, 150 Spiralizer Recipes. $19.95.   If I buy that and buy a Spiralizer, I will eat healthily and lose weight and my depression will disappear.

I order the book. Now that I have a plan, a renewed goal, I feel marginally better.

Dubious Advice #8: Hatch a plan.

 I take St. John’s Wort, get dressed and scrunch product into my hair. I put the black top I was wearing yesterday in the hamper and pick a pretty blue one.

Dubious Advice # 9: Make an effort.

 My mother’s face drifts in view. A memory. She was in my dreams last night, watching me. Her presence was warm and comforting. In my dream we talked of planting flowers outside the window where there were three arbutus trees above a stone wall. Then still in my dream I had a long shower in a big wood-lined shower room. A huddle of three Asian men walked by me in the shower, through the water, smiled and bowed as they said goodbye and left through an outside door.

Long ago Mum told me I had a Japanese spirit guide. Her guide said that he would always look after me. I guess he felt I needed three spirits guiding me this time!

11:30 same day, I put on a jacket and take the dog for a stroll along the Sea Walk. The sun is shining and two young mothers with children are talking and laughing as they pass by. They barely notice me.

I stumble as I walk away and wonder at my surge of jealousy. They have their youth. The young own the world. I will never again own the world.

That is the crux of my grief. So, I write. And I write around it and I write through it and I come out whole.

Dubious advice #10: Write what you feel. Put down words. Get to the crux.

I am still writing and I am still whole.

With love from your Island Crone.

If you enjoyed this advice and are curious about my next book about travelling on the coast with our dog, please subscribe from my news letter/blog sidebar. I promise to post at least once a month and sometimes more. But not often enough to bore.

Island Crone by Liz Maxwell Forbes

author of Growing Up Weird: A memoir of an Oak Bay childhood and River Tales: Stories from My Cowichan Years. 


16 thoughts on “Part Three: Navigating Aging with Dubious Advice by an Island Crone

    • thank you Lou for sharing your response….we all hit the lows and fortunately most of us have ways to pull ourselves up…some more fun than others…I have used all my suggestions…many times…

    • thank you Joen, i know you stand at a sink…and a stove and concoct yummy things in jars…I am happy when we women can connect through words…it helps to share experiences…hugs

  1. More food for thought from the wise Island Crone. It’s said we learn most during hard times. In my experience the learning comes more in retrospect than when we’re drowning in troubles. I wonder if there is some sort of universe rule that mandates all to experience a few challenging years at some point. Mine happened at a younger age, but I don’t know anyone that escaped them completely. You were able to face depression head on – and bought red shoes! Good for you!🤗 I bought new lino for the kitchen. 😊 It cheered me up every morning.

    • Thank you always for your thoughtful replies Sylvia..we need the small challenges in order to navigate the really hard ones if and when they come…and I must say red shoes are a lot cheaper than new lino…

    • Thank you Jan, I am glad it is comforting…It does help when we realize that all of us have doubts and depressions and difficult times as we put on our brave face…we are not alone…!!! and we get through and find peace!!

  2. Dear Liz, as I know you more deeply in these different seasons, I only feel more tenderness as you allow us to know your vulnerable self. I always, and I mean always, see you so vibrant, resilient and joyfully tough.
    Vulnerability is a strength says Brené Brown; I find it so.
    And I’ll always look forward to your dubious advice.

    • re the dubious advice all you need to remember is that it is dubious!!!!look how many mistakes i have made in life..but it’s a good ride…

  3. Good advice,Liz – though I do recall more than one occasion when you and I shared some Scotch while commiserating on the perils of aging 😀. Next time, I shall wear my red shoes (yes, I have some) to counterbalance the Scotch.

    • as i recall Scotch was always a good remedy and good for many laughs too…miss those days…and miss you Jean.

  4. Liz, I have followed some earlier advice and taken my dog to lunch on Quadra Island.
    I live in Campbell River. It was fun.
    Yesterday I got another Copy of your book River Tales for a friend and then we drove along River Bottom Road. It was a delightful sunny day.
    Very best from Caroline

    • thanks Caroline , I just saw this but love that you are exploring my old haunts. Hope to meet you soon. Love Liz

  5. Thanks Liz for your heart felt words and honest reflectios. Not easy to feel, not easy to share but they do speak to our colective humanity. Oh what a life!
    I do love that you write yourself back home. Thank you for this. xo

    • just read this Joan, thank you for following my posts and commenting. It means a lot to me…love Liz

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