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Even golden girls get the blues

It might be hard to believe, but 70s swimming ‘golden girl’ Shane Gould turned 60 last month. 

That’s a photo of her with her birthday candles, mostly put together by her four and five-year old grandkids.

I’ve recently written a book on older women’s health (out early 2017) and I asked Shane to review it. That resulted in some email exchanges where she pointed out that she’s had a tough time adjusting to life after menopause.

It’s useful to be reminded that even someone who no doubt knows her body extremely well and appreciates its strength and capacity can feel derailed by the experience of it changing.

We’re all different: for some women menopause is almost a non-event, others feel like they’ve been hit by a train and everyone else falls somewhere in-between.

Shane has been up to a lot since we watched her fly through the water in dark green swimmers and a yellow cap at age 14 or 15.

She’s had four children, who’ve also had children, she’s trained horses, made films, held photographic exhibitions and run businesses. She’s passionate about art and the environment and she’s finishing her PhD on Australian swimming culture.

Of course, all that’s aside from being the only swimmer in history to hold every world freestyle record at the same time. By any standard she’s a highly accomplished woman.

Fit too. As she says, she swims, walks over beaches and rocks, and can still climb on the roof to clean gutters or hammer nails in. 

But she’s had to get to know herself again post-menopause, and it’s been a struggle. She admits she’s been guilty of denigrating the life stage she’s in.

It’s easy to do, so if you’ve been in the same boat, you’re in good company. Fortunately she’s come to recognise that there’s a richness in being older, and plenty to be proud of and look forward to.

Which brings us back to Phil Barker’s list from the earlier post. We vastly underestimate the value of wisdom and experience, but it’s important to embrace who we are and what we have to contribute. Because it’s a LOT.

And isn’t that a great way to do birthday candles? (tea candles in paper bags of sand)

Photo Source: Shane Gould

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016 | Rhonda Anderson