I was excited today to join an online Forum discussing the current lack of support and services for women over 50 experiencing homelessness. All of the Speakers were passionate women who are currently seeking selection within their communities to represent them in the Federal Parliament of Australia as Independents…truly a history making election this year for sure.
As Auntie Georgina Nicholson delivered the opening Welcome To Country, she quoted something that she often leans on – ‘Speak up even if your voice shakes’. It was both profound and powerful in that moment and something shifted within me. I wasn’t totally aware of it at the time other than assuming I was increasingly engaged in what was to come for the hour and half, however noticable it was and I let it sit within.
I found myself glued to every word and expression of the Speakers from around Australia and contributing via the conversation chat often. I’m passionate about the pandemic ‘after’ the pandemic which is the increase of the mental health crisis coupled with what COVID ‘uncovered’ in 2020 …which was more than a virus for many relationships. As I listened to the explanations of what is happening, I found myself feeling quite ill. My anxiety was rising and my pain from not being a part of this election was real.
You see late 2020 I had made a decision that, as a woman over 50 with extensive lived as well as professional experience, it was time for me to step up and take a seat ‘at the decision making table’ in Canberra to contribute to positive, genuine change for our communities and for future generations. Fuelled by what I had seen as decades of mishandling of how our country is run and seeing clearly that basic human rights were being ignored in many areas, I knew it was the right thing to do. I spent an enormous amount of time working with Mentors and attending Preparation Trainings along with planning for the pre campaign work needed to be done.
Then unfortunately, one of the things that COVID had been uncovering actually happened to me and I found my own marriage fell apart. I knew as it was unravelling that this meant I had to abandon my deep held plans, as the stress and unknown of the immediate future would impact my ability to not only fulfill the responsibilities of a candidate however impact on my personal wellbeing which given in 2012 I had been given only 2 months to live…I didn’t want to risk at this stage.
So as I watched and listened to these courageous, passionate and strong women I did feel like I had let myself and my children done at this time. I was disappointed that my health had suffered so much in the previous 9 months that I wouldn’t have been able to do this anyway and I was angry with myself.
The words of Auntie Georgina kept ringing in my ears in between all of the discussion around women over 50 being the fastest growing demographic experiencing homelessness….the Family Courts letting women down ….support services being too slow and too ‘red taped’ to help…mental health challenges increasing within women over 50 so much that suicides are increasing….people not believing women over 50 who become brave enough to speak up and uncover the ‘secret lives’ they have been trapped in…the list goes on.
Much of that I have experienced first hand over recent years with the exception, thank goodness, of homelessness. That doesn’t make my committment any less and I realised that whilst I wasn’t with those women out on the roads campaigning for immediate change in Parliament, the work I had been doing via my Podcasts and magazine shining a light on these women…was enough. It was all I could do at the moment and it was enough.
It’s all any of us can do and that is the key here. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to contribute, to create, to be active. That pressure turns into overwhelm and that overwhelm turns into illness. Our voices are our power. Regardless of how we use them, they can create change. So at the end I realised that Auntie Georgina’s message was the power of the day.
No matter what, remember that we all have the power to change everything in our own lives 1st. Focus on that, work on ourselves…and in so doing build up the passion that gives the ‘shake’ in what we say. That is when we are heard. Never worry about what other people will say or think. They don’t know your story. They weren’t ‘there’ when things happened in your life. You were. It’s your life story and that is the only truth that matters.
Speak up…even if your voice shakes…and then start the pathway to healing, empowerment and your future. That was the key takeaway in my day…thankyou Auntie Georgina
Jaynie Morris is an Author, Master Life Practitioner, Social Commentator and Passionate Advocate for Women over 50.
She is the Founder of SheroesUnlimited – Global Community for Women over 50 and TransformingNOWTogether her personal Coaching Space.