A few weeks after Kathy's visit to the Internet we met for our annual "girlfriend getaway." That year, to celebrate our friendship and mutual love of travel, we met in the beautiful city of Prague. As always, over dinner the first night, we began by congratulating each other for not being on any kind of medication and then launched into the fun task of catching up as we were both going through many changes in our careers and relationships. It wasn't long into the conversation that Kathy dropped the C-word—crone—and, not surprisingly, Cindy didn't want to be one, either. We quickly reached the conclusion that, even though we were hovering on the edges of menopause, what with all the advances in science, we were probably only at the midpoint of our lives. Being a crone for the next forty or fifty years was not an attractive option.
We wondered if there was a comparable word for describing aging men and, if there was, would they allow themselves to be called that. We couldn't think of a single word that was even close. The sight of the well-lit Prague Castle out the window of our restaurant made us think of the phrase "a man is the king of his castle." What the heck does that make us—the crone in the corner? We decided, right then, that we would become Queens—Queens of Our Own Lives—and we would celebrate this transition, not in isolation, but together with friendship, joy and, hopefully, cake.
We realized we needed a format for our celebration. We thought about the kind of events that had meaning and significance to us, and how we'd like to create a new event to celebrate entering this next stage of life. Every New Year's Eve Kathy has a big dinner with a lot of candles, good food, great friends and champagne. During the course of the meal a candle is passed around the table and everyone answers these two questions when the candle comes to them: What do you want to let go of or leave behind in the old year that no longer works for you, and what do you want to keep that is still working for you? In those two sentences, often with tears, courage and much laughter, the old year is honored and put to rest and the New Year is welcomed in. We wanted something like those New Year's Eve dinners to help us let go of things from the first half of our lives that were still holding us back and to bring forward the things that we admired about ourselves. So that's what we did. We used the two questions and we called it our Crowning Ceremony.
For the next six nights over dinner we asked each other what we wanted to let go of from the first half of our lives that was no longer working, and what we wanted to keep and take to the second half that was still working. During the day we wandered, saw the sights and marveled at gorgeous Prague. At night over wonderful meals like goose and champagne or sometimes just goulash and pilsner beer, by asking these two deceptively simple questions, we began an adventure that turned into a thorough virtual spring-cleaning of our mental closets. We happily left huge piles of useless old beliefs, about fear, beauty and needing to wear high heels, in booths and under tables in restaurants all across Prague.