By Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW
What do you want to be when you grow up?That was a question most of us were hit with as we neared college age. If that question has recently resurfaced for you, consider registering for Women at Woodstock: A life-inspiring retreat for women 50 and up (http//womenatwoodstock.com) scheduled for October 7th to 10th at The Emerson Resort and Spa in Woodstock, New York. Use the coupon code 3AGEWAW for $50 off the registration fee.
The idea for this first-ever gathering of women at this potent but perplexing time of life first bubbled up in the fertile mind of Ann Baker when she turned 50 nine years ago. She explains, “Being a child of the 60s and 70s I didn’t want a typical surprise party or extravagant blowout…I wanted to step outside myself and commune.”
That communing took the form of a “croning celebration” with Ann inviting 15 close women friends to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of hiking, chick flicks, music, wine - - and passing around a basket of questions for each to take turns answering.
Ann recalls, “This was a group of women who’d known each other for 5 to 20 years. We’d raised our kids together, gone through divorces together - including mine – yet we learned amazing things we’d never known before.”
This bonding experience is one the women repeated annually until Ann moved from Cleveland to Redondo Beach, California. Life was good – she had a new husband, two wonderful daughters, fulfilling work. But there was a void – the lack of fellow female crones. She explains, “I wanted friends not just to play bridge, but a community with whom to pick up the philosophical journey we started in the Woodstock era…. How do we handle our aging issues? Our cohort is not as concerned with the color of our hair as with our imprint on earth.”
In the past six years Ann has “met” a national circle of boomer women through her social media marketing company (http://netmarketing-123.com) who have the same hunger to regenerate themselves; women who are eager to embark on a new philosophical journey. With the sand in the hourglass relentlessly trickling downward, there is joy and pain in knowing the time left is limited, thus achingly precious and not to be wasted.
Learning that her yearnings were shared by so many encouraged Ann to take the leap and create the retreat. She explains, “I’ve always loved to organize. I booked the hotel a year in advance- what better season to hold it than autumn, and what better place than iconic Woodstock?” The speaker slots were filled within two weeks and includeMs. Magazine’s first editor Suzanne Braun Levine, Barbara Hannah Grufferman, author of The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More and Jody Feagan, the founder of the San Miguel Writers Conference.
There will be ample opportunity for hiking, spa-ing and croning with new and old friends. But Ann’s aim for this groundbreaking event is for attendees to “declare a new major” be it launching a new business, quitting a corporate career to become an artist or taking off with a compass and knapsack. “Fifty is the new 18,” Ann laughs!
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a NYC-based therapist, speaker and author of 3 books, including "The Complete Marriage Counselor": Relationship-Saving Advice from America’s Top 50-Plus Couples Therapists (Adams, 2010). Her website is www.marriedfaq.com. She will be one of the “Expert-Connect” experts at WAW, offering advice on finding new love after 50.