"Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does - except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place."

- Abigail Van Buren

"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different."
- Coco Chanel

Wise Women

owlsEach of my books deals with a woman on a journey. Sometimes that journey is self-imposed; sometimes not. However, while my heroine may have been intelligent all her life, perhaps even considered wise, in the process of her journey she becomes more so.

The process isn't always easy and it's not one she does entirely on her own. Along the way she encounters other women wise in life who share the wisdom they've learned. Because my heroines, like the grapes Abigal Van Buren refers to in the quote, were good in the first place, they already have a wise base to build upon. They scoop up this new wisdom and the help from these already wise women. This makes their journey easier and more successful.

I've been fortunate to have several wise women in my life path. I've learned so much from all of them and keep open to new ones along my continued journey. I envision this page as one where I'll post short vignettes about the wise women I've met. I hope you'll enjoy meeting them.

The Making of a Wise Woman

Wise women are not born that way.

Most of them have innate common sense and intelligence. They may be blessed with additional gifts of grace, charm, beauty and diplomacy. Most of us know women who might have these attributes in abundance.

But are they wise women? Or at least wise women as I might define them?

Perhaps not.

My wise women have passion. That passion drives them to know themselves, know others, know the world around them. They have flaws but understand them. They embrace life in all its forms and reach out to others. They have a thirst to understand and experience the joys in life with the same searching attitude to learn as they do with the challenges. Life is meaningful to them when it is hum-drum or stressed. They want to understand why life works well so they can replicate it often.

My wise women become so because they have survived. They have endured. Like the finest of steel, they have been tempered by intense heat of facing the dark side of their lives. Like the wondrous rock formations of our American southwest, they have endured life's weather of heart ache, emotional, physical, or financial strife. They've come through the storms of life, battled them with their brains, hearts, and muscles. They've endured. Learned. Changed. Become wise.

Even battle-hardened.

As one wise woman said to me a few weeks ago, they aren't afraid to "go into the underworld and fight their demons." When they do, these women emerge victorious and wiser.

It's the reason I believe a wise woman to be a woman who's been through hell and come back stronger and more determined to live a real life on her terms. Not that I wish that experience to the women I know, but that growth toward wisdom has to be earned. A woman earns this status when she faces difficult times and digs deep within herself to see how event has changed her. She's not afraid to pick at her secret self to uncover her flaws and work to understand them, deal with them, become better in spite of them. She's not afraid to accept responsibility for her shortcomings and/or failures and use this knowledge to help her recognize, avoid or deal more effectively with future situations.

This is the reason I believe wise women are forged as they work through life—its woes and joys. These women understand the past, live in the moment, and prepare for the future. They are not perfect but they are joyous.

I know many smart young women who may end up being wise. But they aren't there yet. However, some are very close.

You may say then, a wise woman must be past a certain age. Not necessarily. Attaining a certain age doesn't necessarily equate to wise woman status. In fact I've known delightful, bright women well into their 70s and beyond who will never be a wise woman. At least not by my definition. Why? Because they've been blessed or cursed, depending on your view, with a life that hasn't scarred them with challenges they've overcome and learned from. Or they may have had the challenges but haven't learned from them. Or wanted to. Or they dwell on the joys of the past without delving into the joys of the present or future.

Being a wise woman isn't easy. Often the designation doesn't add to financial security. It certainly doesn't make lives stress-free. What it does is allow a woman to understand herself and the world around her. Be comfortable with who and what she has become and strives to be. Be ready for any challenges thrown in her path and learn from those challenges. Be fearless in handling change. Be willing to reach out a hand in friendship to those who need her. Find others like herself. Make her small corner of the world and those within it better for her existence.

Living life and knowing life is a passion for her.

She is revered by some, hated by others. Unknown to many.

But to those who reach out to her, she's generous in all she has. Honor the wise women in your lives. I hope you have at least a few.

Mary Jo

Read Past Essays:

Ella: A Wise Woman
Writing Wise Woman
Guiding Star Wise Woman
My Walking Wise Woman
My Third Shift Wise Woman
My Mother's Friendship Circle
Wise Women in Habits
Following Grace