The Narrator Helping The Old Man In Tell Tale Heart Interview with C.J. Golden, Author of "The Tao of the Defiant Woman: A Guide to Life Over 40"

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Interview with C.J. Golden, Author of "The Tao of the Defiant Woman: A Guide to Life Over 40"

We are delighted to have CJ Golden with us who has recently published a book which is a support for women going through life transitions. Welcome to Viewer Views.

Irene: You recently wrote a very helpful book for women who are going through certain passages in some part of their life. Please give us an overview of your book.

CJ: Thank you for calling this book “a great help for women”. In fact, it is a guide we should follow as we go through life’s changes and challenges. My author, Taogirl, is someone who encourages us to remember to embrace the ancient philosophy of Taoism. He also reminds us to marry a spirit of defiance: one that challenges old ideas, limitations and self-defeating attitudes.

Irene: What inspired you to write this book?

CJ: Honestly, I had to write the book myself. I had a very difficult time accepting my birthdays each year – realizing that I was getting older and not knowing how to “be” at any age and stage. I wanted to live a more active and important life than my mother, I wanted to be like my daughter, but I didn’t know how to do it. Or if it was possible. At that time I was very impressed with the behavior of young people.

Irene: “The Tao of the Opposing Woman.” Your book title seems controversial. On the one hand, the word “Tao” means unity in life and on the other hand, “scoff” means a person of mind. Please give us information on how they can all meet in the middle and create the unity of the Tao.

CJ: Taoism acknowledges that we are all part of the Universe and, as the Universe follows a natural path, so do we. That being said, Taoism does not tolerate, it does not tell us to give up and give up when faced with difficulties. Taoism also teaches that a healthy life requires a healthy body to support it. Now we get to the “opponent”. The dictionary defines bold. Emotions (or not) come when we realize what we are being asked to despise. As I said above, this disobedience is a struggle against wrong and inconsistent ideas. Nowhere in this book do I tell women to resist aging, or to resist the challenges in their lives. What I’m suggesting is to despise anything or anyone – including your own selfishness – that gets in the way of your life’s path with joy and strength.

Irene: I agree with you when you tell us not to do things wrong and rewrite the script. I often remember when I was growing up and how, in my cultural community, the idea was that when a woman reached the end of her period she was considered “old.” When I look at pictures of my grandmother when she was 10 years younger than me now, I see an unhappy old lady. Do you believe that stereotyping started in cultures? Or, how did it start?

CJ: Irene, I’m not a sociologist so my opinion is just that – my opinion based only on my beliefs and not based on scientific research. Now that I have said that I will answer your question: I have seen cultures other than ours here in the United States that admire the elderly for their wisdom and spirit. Even Native Americans seem to respect the elders of their community. My friends in Europe had (see last time) recognized the beauty of an old woman and did not discount the changes in the body over the years that brought it. However, I recently received a letter from a woman in the Netherlands who bought my book to help her accept aging. When I asked him why he felt the need to do so, he said that we Americans are sending our youthful culture across the ocean and are buying into it.

But you mention your grandmother as looking very old and unhappy. Some of that generation accepted their age with satisfaction. The part of my philosophy that seemed to be missing was resistance – the joy of remaining relevant and active. Today’s medical science has allowed our bodies to stay “younger” for longer. It is our thinking that now needs to be “changed”.

Irene: You have worked with hundreds of women who are making changes in different areas of their lives. Do you find turning 40 the hardest transition, and why?

CJ: I have to say that 40 was the hardest transition for me. My children had grown up, leaving the nest so that I was not wanted as their mother as I had grown up. Although I always worked outside the home, I still called myself the wife of my husband and the breadwinner of my children. This was a change and I had no idea that there was a life ahead of me – one that would focus more on “me”. For some women, the most difficult transition comes later. For a few, already. The first decade (or the last year before the new decade) always seems the hardest. Our change, however, is not always around our age. There are changes in our health, relationships, families, businesses and the world around us. All of this is difficult.

Irene: Why do women struggle to change?

CJ: It’s always hard to let go of the past and embrace the new. We knew what we had. No matter how difficult things were, they were familiar. And if it was good – well, who wants to leave the “big one” behind? Being thrust into a new situation often brings fear. How will we feel? What will happen to us? What will life be like in this new situation? All of these are real concerns. Women, in particular, often risk their lives to support their families. Most of the time they do not understand who they are or do not know the skills and abilities they have. That’s where the combination of Tao and cynicism comes in – accepting what we must (the loss of the old) and doing everything we can to remain relevant and happy (accepting the new).

Irene : Is it the difference between men?

CJ: I doubt it, although I’m no expert. We are all human beings with the same fears and anxieties. Men can deal with different issues than women. And they may show (or not show) their emotions in different ways, but I bet they all have some aspect of life or change that causes problems.

Irene: What is the easiest part for women to change? And why?

CJ: Wow. I’m not sure I have an answer for this. Each of us changes differently. I had a really hard time knowing I was growing up. Most women say they have no problem with that. Some have trouble accepting their new, old, physical circumstances. Some don’t care about gray hair and wrinkles. One woman may have been blown away by an empty nest; divorce; career change, when someone has a very difficult time coping with one of these changes. We are all made differently. However, one thing I do know is that it is possible to accept these problems and continue to live life to the fullest.

Irene: For you, what was the most difficult change so far? How did you find peace in the transition?

CJ: I’ve had to deal with my divorce, the death of my parents, my children growing up and becoming independent, a few minor illnesses, but the most difficult change I’ve had to deal with happened five years ago. I didn’t want to, no, no, I don’t want to be a grandmother. This meant that I was really old. No matter how much I hide my birth, the child who calls me grandma will lose the beans. Everyone would know I wasn’t twenty-five anymore. (Actually, I look as old and depressed as a twenty-five-year-old since I was fifty-seven). One of the stories in the book is about Joanne who worked in a handicraft shop. One day he met an elderly woman customer who was wearing a beautiful baseball cap covered in hats and buttons. When asked about the hat, the mother said that when she became a grandmother, she would be an “eccentric” grandmother to those children. After all, “every child deserves a grandmother”, he concluded. Joanne took it to heart, and, upon hearing the story, so did I. Now I enjoy being an “eccentric” grandmother to my three grandchildren. What a joy they are. I learned that being a grandmother did not make me “old”. It didn’t stop me from being important and happy. The “past” was only in my head and I wasn’t going to let it stay there and hold me back. What I would have missed if I had not learned that lesson!

Irene: TV and movies often show women and their bodies. Most of us are not what the TV shows, we know it is superficial, but still, we desire the bodies of youth.

CJ: It’s embarrassing, isn’t it! And every time we allow ourselves to go under the knife, have liposuction, alter our bodies or our faces medically, we are perpetuating that myth and culture of the “perfect body of youth”. I know I need to lose weight – not because I don’t like the way I look (it’s fine, thanks – somewhere between Sandra Bullock and Queen Latifa and they both look amazing the way they are). My desire to lower the numbers on my scale is centered on maintaining the weight that is so important to my health. Maybe if more of us stopped falling into the “be young and thin to be beautiful” trap, we could slowly change the culture’s perception of beauty. How big can it be?!

Irene: CJ, you are a great advocate for women going through transitions. The important thing is to realize that we are always changing – from the very beginning of our birth. It only seems difficult when we are smart. Your book, “Tao of the Defiant Woman–A Guide to Life over 40” gives us permission to be who we are and accept the wisdom we’ve gathered along the way. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your book or book?

CJ: My hope is that not only the book, but the wisdom, will travel around the country to help women through these life challenges. We need to find strength in being role models for each other and forming groups that care for each other. I call such communities “Taogirl Gatherings” where we gather in small groups for support; learning from each other and realizing the strengths we have as a community. My website is designed to help all Taogirls come together and share. On it women will find a page of questions and answers, information about my travels as I travel around the world and host meetings and speaking events. There’s Taogirl Wisdom of the Week – light, inspiring words – that you can subscribe to and receive as an email every Sunday. A follow-up to the TAO OF THE FOLLOWING WOMAN is in preparation and will be written by readers who are willing to share with me their experiences as they follow their Tao and the path of resistance. More information about this is also available on the website. I sincerely hope that the women reading this visit the site, http://www.taogirl.com. I would also like to hear from them personally; maybe help them start their own Taogirl Gathering. My email is, [email protected]

Irene, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you. It has always been a pleasure and a pleasure to share my Tao wisdom and sarcasm, Taogirl.

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