Q: What is CronesUnlimited?
Mary: CronesUnlimited is a web site used to promote
the wise stories, poetic songs and essays of energetic elders, who have
shed stereotypes and ego desires. Since young people so often lack good
mentors, CronesUnlimited hopes to honor such leaders and mentors,
who stand in their own truth and are ready to re-ignite curiosity and
empower others, by cooperatively publishing
CronesUnlimited believes that only elders acquainted with the shadow self can help others appreciate the challenges, opportunities and possibilities that come with diversity. By confronting death, darkness and depression the human spirit is transformed. Only through emotional maturity and spiritual insight can we fully appreciate the roles we play as partners in the creation of a greater whole.
Q: What is "A Crone's Crossing"?
Mary: A Crone's Crossing is a 200 page collection of national and international award winning prose, poetry and essays by Mary Fogarty. "I was put to the test," she says, "but it never came in the form I expected. I invited teachers, mentors, spiritual guides and healers of my community, wise Crones and Sages in their own right, to assist me with the writing of this book.
Dr. Greg Candela, a professor of creative writing at the University of
New Mexico for the past 30 years, writes in his review, "Driven by
powerful passion and imagery-grounded in person and place, A Crone's Crossing,
is an American book. However, before this generation of women, the lone
"Like the typical American male hero/artist, Ms. Fogarty is a rebel against authority, an outsider. Unlike that male hero/artist, she draws strength not only from what she is capable of doing, but also from her past, memories that abide and must be rediscovered and raised from the dead. For Mary Fogarty, that past resides most strongly in her Polish Babka, Grandmother Valeria. As she told me, 'I frequently visited Babka; throughout my childhood in Wisconsin, I wanted to know what she knew.'
"The author also represents the journey of this most populous of American generations into its aging; her writing, then, addresses the rediscovery of her grandmother at a time when she is a grandmother.
"To conclude, Mary Fogarty, among the new American "women as artists," does not, cannot take her journey of re-creation alone. I invite you to take another look at the cover photo. Then, take this journey, women and men, with the author. You will find, I think, that the vividly rendered details from Mary Fogarty's Polish-American and Midwestern roots, her tentative and tenacious femininity, and the power of her words will resonate. Who takes up this book, takes a woman."
Q: How did you get started as a writer?
Mary: I have been writing since the fifth grade. Often at the risk of getting whacked, I hid under my bed quilts with a flash light to write thoughts in my journal about my experiences. For me writing was a way to handle inner turmoil and create fantasy worlds.
Q: What is your mission with CronesUnlimited?
Mary: The mission of CronesUnlimited is to honor mature authors (men and woman) by offering a creative vehicle for self-expression. Crones Unlimited, a cooperative press, publishes the writings of extraordinary elders who have lived fully and powerfully. Their writings are crowned with ageless wisdom and achievements that can transform everyday experiences into a resonating voice, which speaks to the radiant body/mind of others.
Q: What do you mean when you say "Crones" and "Sages"?
Mary: Crones in this case does not mean "withered
old hags," but "hagias," a Greek word for 'holy ones' or
'crowned ones' who served their communities as mentors, teachers and spiritual
guides. Crones, Sages, Noble Elders are different names used to refer
to the emotional maturity and spiritual
Q: Was there a Crone or Sage who influenced your artistic or personal life, who modeled for you what it meant to mentor others and raise awareness about Crones and Sages?
Mary: Absolutely. My Polish Babka, Grandma Valeria, at 17 years of age came to the United States in the 1890s on a rusty old tanker from Gdansk, Poland. "I leave all I know," she said in broken English. "I leave my family cause not want to marry Polish Pig." She did not have a formal education, but Babka was strong willed and very street wise. As a child I remember wanting to look magical like my Babka, project a commanding fury, know what she knew.
In my book, A Crone's Crossing I wrote a poem for Babka called "There's a Crone in My Kitchen." It received a Poet Laureate Award by Cader Publishing, Ltd. in Spring, March, 2000. An excerpt from the poem starts:
Q: How do all your artistic processes, writing sculpting painting, contribute or combine to create the visions you have for CronesUnlimited and for your own personal artistic path?
Mary: Maybe it is the process more than the end-result that I find noteworthy. Growing up during the social upheavals of the 1960s, I married and toured the United States, Europe, Brazil, Poland, Finland, Australia and New Zealand. My exposure to a rich variety of cultures as an exchange student and later as a world traveler provided opportunities to discover my own vehicles for self-expression as a writer, sculptress and painter.
I often invited graduated Crones and Sages into my life who encouraged me to embrace challenge. Adding challenge to my adventurous spirit, I learned about the power, joy and fulfillment that comes from mastering diversity. Through Crones Unlimited, I want to offer that kind of power, joy and fulfillment to others and to help them find their own creative path, their own unique spirit.
Q: Our Kota site started after the death of my son. My mother and many other elders have been of great comfort to me since his death. My mom and I were both comforted to find organizations like AGAST for the support of bereaved grandparents. Do you find that raising awareness about CronesUnlimited is putting you in touch with other elders who are doing support work, too?
Mary: Oh, indeed. One of the strongest figures is Dr. Gregory Candela, the professor I mentioned earlier who wrote a review on my book, A Crone's Crossing. As a dedicated teacher, Dr. Candela, has mentored and turned lives around with his ability to teach, empower and make others re-think and re-invent themselves.
You are another person, Kara L.C. Jones, Dakota's Mommy, who has impressed me as one who has found a powerful vehicle for LOVE. Ultimately our ability to serve others comes back a thousand fold in different forms. Supporting, empowering and serving others comes back as ADMIRATION, the greatest currency we can give and receive from each other.
In one of my poems I write:
Q: Again in our Kota experience after the death of my son, I found this huge breakdown in communication with my husband's mother and with my own grandmother. They both had come from a generation where you "picked up yourself by your boot straps and went on, never talked about the child again, had another as soon as possible" etc. They still cannot accept that we named our company after our son so that we could keep his name alive to us. Do you find in your work with CronesUnlimited that many people feel isolated from generation to generation?
Mary: On some levels, Kara, we can isolate ourselves by choosing not to let go or to move on. Maybe your husband's mother and your own grandmother simply wanted you to get past the pain of loss so that you could do what you are doing now. My Babka was a "pick yourself up" generation. I thought she did not understand, but with a mischievious smile and her willfull way she did.
To answer your question: Yes, people feel isolated from generation to generation, because so often the young choose their own paths, prefer to learn their own lessons, and are not open to or willing to hear or listen to the advise of elders. Sometimes it is simply a breakdown an ability to listen and to communicate well on both sides. Maybe that is why history so often repeats itself?
In fact, one of my poems from my book, Passions, is about a mother who grieves for a son she knows is with her for only a short time. This work won international recognition from Writers' International Forum.
I believe this work speaks to all generations; mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandmothers, grandfathers. As the mother in this poem points out, when "a journey into the light of your own heart begins, the journey itself becomes its own reward."
Q: How did you learn the business of your art? How do you find your balance between the creation of art and business of art?
Mary: Truth be told I am still learning the 'business of
my art'. But each day I meet people like yourself, Kara, that help me
expand this business of publishing and promoting. I have to admit that
I am thoroughly enjoying this E-mail interview. It gives me an opportunity
to answer questions from
Because I am creative and a risk taker, I do not see a discrepancy between creativity in writing, sculpting and painting versus creativity as an entrepreneur in publishing.
Q: Where are you in your artistic and writing career today?
Mary: In three years I have published four books, selling over 400 copies of each book locally. I am hoping that soon I will hear from Small Press Distributors in Berkeley, CA who will help me promote my books nationally. With a distributor I can place my best sellers in bookstores across the nation.
Q: You mentioned doing readings with another author, a local professor. Who is he and what is the book that CronesUnlimited published for him?
Mary: As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Gregory Candela holds
a doctorate in American literature and is a Master Teacher at the University
of New MexicoValencia Campus. I published his first book of poetry,
Surfing New Mexico. This book is filled with poems about the spirit of
New Mexico and the native people and was well received at local bookstores
in Albuquerque. As mutual 'hams' we
Q: Who is the creator of that fabulous drawing that makes the backdrop of the CronesUnlimited website (see the CroneUnlimited logo at the top of this article!)?
Mary: Thank you, Kara. I have received many good comments on that drawing. I created that CRONE as part of my logo for Crones Unlimited. My web designer, Beth Halmayr, managed to put the drawing on a blue haze background. A stunning special effect. The poem that goes along with this logo just won Fourth Place in a national poetry contest.
Q: What do you mean by "shadow self" and can you offer a few words of guidance for readers who might be scared to look at that shadow self?
Mary: It takes COURAGE to look at wounds from our past that have caused hurt, anger, rage, guilt and dysfunctional behavior. All humans have a shadow side, a side that we like to tuck under the rug or glaze over by pretending it doesn't exist. Psychologists like Phil McGraw on the Oprah Show or Claire Estes who wrote Women Who Run With Wolves encourage people to get in touch with their real self, their authentic self. We start by getting real about our shadow side, accepting our humanness, forgiving ourselves and growing from our mistakes. Only by getting real can we create a clearing for ourselves and others to be more free, extraordinary, loving and powerful.
Q: What is your vision for CronesUnlimited? What do you see for your art and for the website in 5 years, 10 years, 20?
Mary: As a society, we often treat aging as an enemy to the death. Millions of dollars are spent annually in the U.S. to lift faces, busts and butts, to tuck tummies and to pop energy pills. But as individuals tried, the glory one finds comes not from investments in looking good, but from how well past losses, past wounds have been handled.
For me Cronehood is a time to reflect upon my crowning as a time to put the vanities of social life into the background. Breaking through negative cultural images, I want others to portray Cronehood as a time to greet the stranger in their mirror. Aging, should be a time to enjoy solitude, to give back ones heart to itself and to feast on ones creations. When I am fully engaged in sculpting, painting or writing, I am not conscious of my chronological age.
I want to invite healthy vital elders to get out of their rocking chairs and dare to reinvent themselves. Create! Create! Create! CronesUnlimited offers one vehicleWriting and Inspirational Reading.