Women catch courage from the women whose lives they touch
And they call the bearer of that courage… friend.

- C. Heilbrun

Deborah Hill and Ann Nix

Our conversation began in the first year of the new millennium. This was a momentous threshold for us all. And, as if to highlight the significance of the changing times, I was wrestling with a life-shifting change of my own.

The upheaval of menopause was having its way with me. I signed up for a class on the Sacred Feminine that Ann was teaching in the hope of working through my confusion about growing older in a culture that dislikes anything old, and has a particular fear of the aging woman. The problem had become all too personal.

Ann was 61 and I was 47 when we met.  Ann grew up in the southern gentility of a Dallas family before feminism was even a term. Scarlett O’Hara was the ideal of the times. I came of age in San Francisco in the late sixties with the likes of Cher as a feminine role model.

While our life stories were very different, Ann and I shared a deep concern about growing older without support from the culture around us. We became fast friends wading through all the material we could find – trying to make sense of the bewildering life stage we were in. Through our collaboration we uncovered a disturbing complex of beliefs about femininity and aging that we began to refer to as the Cultural Spell. We knew we had a lot of work to if we were to free ourselves from its grip.

Ann and I hung out, for many long days and nights, with the hard questions. We sat together in the ambiguity. We studied, wrote, talked, and listened – to each other and to the women we worked with in our groups and therapy practices. Our friendship gave us the courage to turn toward what is painful in the culture – and in ourselves.

Women thrive in the company of other women. Together we go places none of us would be willing to go alone. Over the years many women have joined the conversation through our ongoing groups and workshops.

Ann and I continue to write and teach together. We find joy and hope in the work we do and in the community of women whose lives we touch.