The world will be saved by Western women.—The Dalai Lama
I’ve just returned from the annual reunion of my dear women friends, held this year in Port Willunga, South Australia. I thought it fitting that I commemorate this joyful, nurturing event by publishing this chapter from my memoir that I wrote last year.
Nine of us assembled in the lounge room to play games. It was Saturday night at an Airbnb at Carrickalinga Beach on the Fleurileu Peninsula. Jenny and Kylie had cooked us a vegetable curry from the bounty of their organic gardens. Sue had made a gluten-free chocolate cake and we’d had 5 o’clock drinks and nibbles. More than replete, we were about to compete with two teams in ‘The Famous Names Game’, a version of Trivia.
This was our 19th year of reuniting for a long weekend. More often than not we met in South Australia. The first gathering was in Deep Creek, about 85 kilometres south of Adelaide, so we named ourselves ‘the Deep Creek women’.
As we grew older, we referred to ourselves (lovingly) as the Creeky women. Some of us have inevitably become stiffer and slower, but the truth is we are all beautiful in that way of burnished timber.
It’s vital that we meet annually. Each year we bookmark a date for the gathering usually held at the end of summer.
What do we do? There are shared meals and we tell stories about our life journeys. We drink bubbly and wines from the Barossa Valley, courtesy of Kylie who works for one of the vineyards. We share tips about movies and books and play parlour games in the evening. We are on our various spiritual journeys and do yoga and meditation practices early in the morning.
I have yoga, choir, bookclub, writing group and other tribes that I participate in, but one of my dearest is my Deep Creek women. It’s was hugely disappointing that COVID-19 prevented us from meeting in person in 2020.
Over the years, we’ve experienced major life changes: midlife crises, menopause, serious medical conditions and even one of our group dying suddenly. Her presence is still felt in the group and serves to remind us of the preciousness of life.
On the other hand, there have also been births of grandchildren, sales of businesses, new enterprises, moves across Australia and even out of the country.
At times, we can’t wait a whole year to see each other, so there have been extracurricular visits. These include yacht voyages, stays at deluxe Balinese villas and holidays in the Kimberley. When Dianne’s husband, Bob, died from advanced Alzheimer’s, we went to Canberra to offer support and say our good-byes. When I turned 70, some of the women travelled to Mitchells Island to celebrate with me. When there are occasions that need to be marked and moral support given, the Deep Creek women will show up if at all possible.
One of the things we do well is act as committed listeners to each other’s life stories. There’s nothing like ‘being gotten’ or ‘being seen’ by someone who loves you wholeheartedly.
We’re not big on giving advice, but sometimes alternate perspectives can make a difference in times of depression, health issues and financial difficulty, which each of us has experienced at different times. We are loving witnesses to our ageing process, sometimes resisting, sometimes accepting it. No matter what, life is better because we’re in it together.
I feel blessed to belong to these women and them to me.
Wherever and whenever I’ve practised and taught yoga, I’ve evolved communities or expanded them. More than an extrovert who likes being around people, I build spaces where people can belong.
For decades I’ve directed yoga schools, taught classes and trained teachers. Women have formed the majority of my students. That’s yoga for you. I asked a male ‘swami’ (yoga teacher) who was presenting at a conference why he thought yoga attracted more women than men. Smiling and without missing a beat, Swami said, ‘It’s because women are more intelligent.’
And, we know what’s good for us!
Click here to see how we dealt with last year’s covid challenges, as we zoomed in from near and far.