This drawing illustrates the moving, tapestry-like quality of a playful living/learning style. Especially vital for the enhancement of women's experience is the need for connection with self and others (relational), valuing and learning from personal and communal experience (experiential), honoring our oft well-founded hunches and intuitive powers (metaphoric), seeing the whole picture with all of its organic complexity (integrative), and a belief in the possibility of transformation, for ourselves, our children and the world(s) we are a part of (empowering).
For the women in the study, becoming older, wiser and more at peace with oneself made it easier to be playful, even to be a bit outrageous. As they aged, they found it easier to express their playfulness, to care less about what people thought about them, to affirm their right to be who they were. When we were younger, most of us experienced the pressure of having to achieve and compete, to do things correctly, or to follow other people's rules because we didn't trust our minds. Now there is an increased sense of self-worth and of permission to have fun. One woman said "I tried to do much more than was possible when I was young. I put so much pressure on myself, not trusting there was a whole life there to unfold" (2).
Over fifty, Dana now laughs at the faux pas she commits instead of putting herself down for being clumsy or dumb. She admits she felt dumb a lot in her younger years. The greatest trade-off of having stiff joints at fifty-six, says Risa, is that you can laugh at yourself and feel better about it. Ivy adds, "I no longer wonder about whether I can cut it. I don't think I'm afraid of success. I really have a sense that I'm good, and that's not nagging me any more."
These women seemed to take themselves less seriously as older people now, realizing that for all their planning and worry, events are still unpredictable. "No matter how hard you try, it doesn't seem to make one bit of difference in the end!" said one mother in the study. Freer of responsibilities and less accountable to others, they are able to let go of the need to control and to be controlled.