After I turned 62 this September, I caught myself saying, "Well, I'm old," as a kind of half-joking excuse. I think of myself as a self-aware person who is generally good about living with the things I can't change and changing the ones I can. And I really don't think of 62 as "old." So where was that self-deprecating comment coming from? Clearly I needed an attitude adjustment, or a tune-up of my sense of self. Or both.
So when Don't Stop Now—a slim volume that promises to help us 50-plus-year-old women make the most of the rest of our lives—landed in my mailbox, I figured it was a sign. Or at least a possible resource. I've learned to not turn down such opportunities when they present themselves.
Fishler and Gianforte make it clear up front that Don't Stop Now is more like a conversation with a bracingly honest, wise, and sympathetic friend than a book that promises to fix you:
"Let's be honest here, ladies," they write in the Preface:
[W]e're in the second half of our lives and it's probably the most confusing era we've ever experienced. We've accomplished a lot in our lives—much of it sweetly, satisfyingly mundane; some of it dramatically impressive—but where do we go from here? ... Our generation was raised on sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, and many of us who survived still have some of that wild energy to burn. ... We want to continue to be involved, excited, and enthusiastic about life in ways that have meaning to us and to our loved ones.
Using an informal and engaging mix of narrative explanation, stories from other women, interviews, and workbook-like questions, the introduction and nine chapters in Don't Stop Now cover the basics of honestly assessing who we are at this stage in our lives. The chapters cover physical and emotional health, finances, relationships, habits and behaviors, appearance, learning, and giving back to our communities. The last chapter includes a section called "Creating Your Plan" for pulling together the action steps from the previous chapters into a month-by-month plan.
I found myself nodding and smiling at some parts of the book, stopping to think at others, and laughing out loud or shaking my head in sympathy at some of the stories. I didn't encounter any earth-shaking surprises, but my answers to some of the assessments surprised me, and I marked those to consider more.
What I realized as I worked my way through the book is that I am fortunate: I'm not perfect, but I am in generally good shape physically and emotionally, and I'm comfortable with the person I've become, wrinkles, silver hair, and all. I also realized that I do not feel old, and I am not going to use that excuse again, half-joking or not.
If you're ready for an honest look at who you are in the second half of your life, and if you are looking for tools and resources to help you figure out what's next and how to get there, pick up a copy of Don't Stop Now. What you learn may surprise you!
L. (Elle) Gianforte is an award-winning writer with experience in both advertising and publilshing. She has worked in copywriting in the US and internationally, and as an editor, ghostwriter, and author in genres including lifestyle, fashion, interior design, self-help, adoption, memoir, and food. She earned her BA in English from Kean University in New Jersey and attended the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Jan Fishler began her career writing and producing informational and motivational videos. She also produced "The Path to Publication" DVD series filmed at the Community of Writers Conference at Squaw Valley, Idaho, featuring advice from authors including Amy Tan, Anne Lamott, Janet Fitch, and Mark Childress. She is the author of the adoption memoir, Searching for Jane, Finding Myself. She has a BS in English literature from Ohio University and an MA in educational technology from California State University, San Francisco.
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