The other day I was listening to the On Being podcast, with Krista Tippitt discussing friendship. She talked about getting advice in her twenties from a woman in her 50’s, about how you always want to have people in your life who are younger and older than you. That friend remained in Krista’s life well into the woman’s 80’s. Krista now finds herself as both the older and younger person in relationships, with friends at both ends of the spectrum.
Her comments struck me when I realized I had unintentionally done the same in my life!
This year will be my last year teaching graduate students. This has brought so many brilliant and wise younger people into my life for the last 30 years. I am so thankful to have so many of these people remain in my life, and often the life of my family for years. And while, I will continue teaching post-graduate folks, I know what a privilege it is to be such an influence in people at the start of their career journey.
At the same time, I have been tucked under the wing of remarkable mentors whose lives had an additional decade, or three, under them. When I was a child, these mentors were men, though as I grew up and established myself in the world, I was lucky to find strong, loving, female feminists to help guide me.
My mentors have modeled for me womanhood, motherhood, grandparenthood, and my profession. They have pushed me and helped me see the edges of my capacities- my voice, my strength, and my compassion. They have loved me and they have been hard on me. I am so grateful for them and how they have helped me grow up and show up in every aspect of my life.
It is because of their mentorship that the Northwest Institute for Instimacy came into being.
I saw a need to fill the gap in training clinicians in sexual health and sexual intimacy that is so vital to our relational well-being. The public needs comprehensively trained clinicians who can provide spiritual intimacy, sexual health, or sexual dysfunction treatment right alongside their individual, couples, or family work. Parents are desperate for help navigating sexual health training the digital age with kids and clinicians need help providing this information. I am dedicated helping clinicians understand how to handle these sexual issues, so they can provide uninterrupted treatment, without sending patients across town to another provider.
And so much of my understanding of the complexity and necessity of these issues came from my work with my mentors… youth and elders.
Do you have people on both sides of your age, stretching your perspectives? I encourage you to find people younger and older to love and challenge you, as well. You just never know where it might lead.