personal, Wellbeing
Comments 35

“How much time have I got left?” Part Two

Deep in my essential core, I’m a dancer. I may be 52 now, and not quite as nimble as I used to be, but I still go to Swing Dance once a month, and my beloved 5Rhythms every week. Not to mention the regular groovy late-afternoon outdoor queer dance parties I sometimes see my son at.

Grateful for my teacher Janis Claxton

She was an incredible mover & performer #grateful #teacher #janisclaxton #inspiring

At age 28, living in Newtown, Sydney, and dancing at techno raves all weekend, I began to wonder if I could make a living with movement somehow… which led me to an extraordinary teacher, Janis Claxton. Her free, wild, & fiery moves still live in my body, while her feisty attitude found a match in mine, inspiring me to pursue performing/Clown/dance & Improvisation (which all still rock my creative world).

Last week she died of lung cancer, aged 53.Β 

At the Women’s Buddhist Dharma Day Part OneΒ last Sunday, facilitator Carol Perry asked us to reflect on the question I’ve titled this post with; of course, none of us know the answer, and therein lies one of the causes of our human suffering.

Apparently when asked why we should meditate, the Buddha replied:

“So you can enjoy your old age.”

Grateful for another sunset #sunset #australia #aging #wellbeing

Grateful for another sunset #sunset #australia #aging #wellbeing

No one in the circle was aged less than 40, and I’d guess the majority of the 25 of us were over 55. I wouldn’t have been there 10 years ago, yet I’m incredibly grateful to have the privilege to be able to sit quietly all day, safe and sound, with a homemade shared feast for lunch, including half a dozen cakes.

Carol’s teachings included the following:

  • Sickness, ageing and death are actually gifts- they remind us what is truly important
  • We cannot escape emotional pain, but we can learn to observe it, and not add further arrows of self-criticism, projection, and reactivity
  • We need to be good supports for others’ sickness, ageing and death
  • Just bear witness, with the full attention of your being
  • Life is full of loss, but also blessings- Ageing helps us be clearer about how to live gracefully
  • This very moment NOW is important
  • We can choose to orientate ourselves to timelessness, mystery, and love
  • Do not cling to the material world
  • Shift yourself from ‘playing roles’ to a sense of freedom- look at what roles you can put down e.g. the Survivor, the Entertainer, the Good Girl
  • To actually live with Present Moment awareness expands time, creating joy & spontaneity
  • In a way, the world becomes bigger, as we realize our dependency and interconnectedness
Grateful for another sunset #sunset #australia #aging #wellbeing

Grateful for another sunset #sunset #australia #aging #wellbeing

There was so much to absorb in her teachings, observations and life experience; my little list in no way does her justice. And perhaps the majority of my almost-1000 bone&silver Readers aren’t really that interested in this topic… but here I am anyway, sharing a unique experience, and wise elder’s perspective.

Are you interested or ready to think about Carol’s big question? How would you change your life today if you knew your time was limited (which IT IS)?

In gratitude for curiosity, and older women who walk the path ahead of me, G xO



  1. This is really beautiful, Gabrielle. I love the questions that you are asking – and that you chose to spend a day in quiet (with a good lunch of course). I don’t think I’d change a thing in my life, I’m really doing my best to live fully. Maybe I’d listen more to myself and my partner he he. πŸ™‚

    I’m in Israel and then Italy, so I’ll be off blogging for a little while. Have a wonderful few weeks.
    Blessings of love to you G, Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi G. I’m sorry for your loss. And yes, I’m ready to chat about this subject. At 51, I think it’s time although I have had brushes with death before so I’m ready. I don’t want to go any time soon honestly, but I’m not afraid. I would just miss my kids, but I believe I’d be with them in spirit if needed because I couldn’t be here presently in human form.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janie- and yes, I agree re missing our kids- my Dad passed on ten years ago this year, but I still feel him around in some form very often. Thank you for sharing your answer with me (and us all) x ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There are people like that in my life whose passing I dread, but I can still only imagine what your loss feels like. And I extend my heartfelt sympathies.

    I answer the question in a roundabout way. Were I advising a candidate for office, my central point would be to run your race as though you are 10 points behind. Take nothing for granted. Work for every vote. And do not run if it does not bring you joy.

    My wife just lost a friend/former colleague basically overnight (she was unaware of his illness). Life can go at any moment, so live like you are 10 points behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful tribute to your teacher G.I’m so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful impact she has had on your life.

    I began to try and answer this question a few years ago, when I was about 55, and still revisit it often. I just really want to live in my truth, blinders off, and be my best self, and to use my gift of words to speak for others who may not have found their voice yet.
    I understand I’m always a work in progress.
    I also wouldn’t have been at a retreat like you’ve described 10 years ago. So maybe now we are entering those years of wise-women elders and can think about the big questions without freaking ourselves out? I don’t know….A friend who is 61 and I were talking about this just yesterday.

    From the really windy Fall like-weather north to the land of Oz, I’m sending you hugs. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hugs received thank you Alexis, and yes, I think I’m ready now to face deeper questions… because we never know when we’re going to need those answers do we? I think you are definitely living your truth, and certainly sharing your wordsmith gifts for others less blessed, so you can be proud of yourself indeed πŸ™‚ xO

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I recognized a couple of years ago after losing several family members in succession that life is fleeting.
    My Mantra “Carpe Momentum”
    Seize every moment and extract every ounce of pleasure out of even the most menial tasks. Life is made up of moments and we never know how many we have left.!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This sounds like a fascinating course. The word that sprang into my mind was acceptance, there comes a point in your life (I’m 61) that I accept everything, good and not so good that comes my way.

    Knowing that it is a part of my life journey to experience all what I have without trying to fight against it. I chose to ride the wave and welcome the growth that come with the lessons. 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very much of interest to me and it’s always a shock to hear of someone around my own vintage dying. I guess it’s a reminder of how fleeting life is, something that we would all do well to remember. I love your list, agree 100%. Beaches looking beautiful too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We can’t know how long we have, but I think times like this remind us to live our lives to the full every day, to make the most of the time available to us. We miss the people who have passed over, but even so we must let ourselves feel this time then move on, not let their passing cripple us.
    Yesterday, at 71, I was told I had nearly lost many years. I had finally decided I had to spend money on a colonoscopy – big money on my pension, because there is so much bowel cancer in my family. The specialist found big warning signs which he was able to remove, but said I would not have had much longer before the cancer started. A major crossroads, literally buying more time to extend my life. I intend to enjoy it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. To me, this is the only topic of interest , and the one that all questions of existence circle around to. Now that we are faced with applying this question to life on the planet , as we know it, it’s more relevant than ever. And the only sane way to approach living, at this or any time, is through the practices you outline above . It’s the only way for something new to enter .

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Life has taught me to expect the unexpected, it helps remind me to take nothing for granted and to be grateful for the life I have. I need to take on board the lessons here though as, although I ‘live for the day’, I don’t actually LIVE! And, you know, Tick Tock Tick Tock 😊
    Beautiful post and beautiful tribute to your dance teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would not change anything in my life, having reached a place where I feel at peace. I am by no means ready to leave my children yet (I am 36 and they are 7 and 5), but death has visited close to home recently, prompting me to rethink our place in the world. I promised my husband I would haunt him if I died first! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for commenting- it’s so good to hear from people who are happy in their lives, yet also aware of the fragility of it too- from this place of knowing, we can make wonderful, heartfelt decisions. May you and your family all live very long & prosper πŸ™πŸΌ
      And yes, husbands deserve a little haunting 😘
      Thank you, G 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I still dance (on hiatus due to pregnancy) and my company includes several women in their sixties. It’s total inspiration for me, as I know I’ll want to keep dancing as long as I can. The company mandate is so inclusive and provides us with the space and opportunity to create in a really beautiful and professional way, without the need to make it our full time job. That being said, some members teach dance therapy, yoga, and NIA. NIA, in particular, might interest you if you haven’t heard of it before. The woman who teaches it is amazing and I know it is taught internationally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so cool Ali! Yes, I’ve done NIA too- love it all- so happy to keep dancing way into my old age I hope. And I too love seeing the funky older women strutting their stuff on the dance floor, plus those in wheelchairs/differently abled etc. Not to mention all our Queer mob too! I hope you find the time and energy to reclaim some dance time once your baby has arrived… took me quite a few months I must admit πŸŒˆπŸ’ƒ

      Liked by 1 person

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