'Queen of Your Own Life' by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

Kathy found Web sites that claim the title crone hasn't always been derogatory; in pre-Christian times, old women were particularly important members of the community. Yes, we're sure they were very important members of their society but we bet they didn't like being called a crone any more than we do. Let's face it, words matter. The language that others and we use to describe our lives and ourselves as women affects us. No matter what kind of spin you put on it, the word crone still evokes an image of a withered old woman at the end of her life, and that's no reason to throw a party.

There are also Web sites that offer the advice that a woman should take time alone to make the transition to crone. Alone, so that the constant waking and the tossing of covers to accommodate night sweats can be guilt free. Alone, to deal with hot flashes and to come to terms with the chaos created by hormonal changes, as well as to deal with erratic moods that may alienate family and friends. Hang on—it's bad enough you get labeled a crone but now you're supposed to go off alone?

Certainly spending time by yourself can be meaningful and enriching, but isolating yourself to protect yourself and others from your symptoms of menopause while you embrace your inner crone doesn't seem like a positive way to deal with growing older. What about staying put and surrounding yourself with a community of like-minded women who will offer you love and support?

A few weeks after Kathy's visit to the Internet we met for our annual "girlfriend getaway." That year, to celebrate our friendship and mutual love of travel, we met in the beautiful city of Prague. As always, over dinner the first night, we began by congratulating each other for not being on any kind of medication and then launched into the fun task of catching up as we were both going through many changes in our careers and relationships. It wasn't long into the conversation that Kathy dropped the C-word—crone—and, not surprisingly, Cindy didn't want to be one, either. We quickly reached the conclusion that, even though we were hovering on the edges of menopause, what with all the advances in science, we were probably only at the midpoint of our lives. Being a crone for the next forty or fifty years was not an attractive option.

We wondered if there was a comparable word for describing aging men and, if there was, would they allow themselves to be called that. We couldn't think of a single word that was even close. The sight of the well-lit Prague Castle out the window of our restaurant made us think of the phrase "a man is the king of his castle." What the heck does that make us—the crone in the corner? We decided, right then, that we would become Queens—Queens of Our Own Lives—and we would celebrate this transition, not in isolation, but together with friendship, joy and, hopefully, cake.

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