The bold title of Jane Treat and Nancy Geha's book speaks volumes: Women & Middlehood: Halfway Up the Mountain. First of all, the authors, understanding and honoring the power of language, have chosen to throw the more commonly used term, "middle age" out the window. Instead, they use "Middlehood." Second, they toss the idea of women from 40-65 as being "over the hill" right out the window. Instead, they stress that they are halfway up the mountain, liberated from many of the misconceptions of youth and ready for whatever new challenges come their way.
"If we think of life as climbing a mountain, then Middlehood begins at the halfway point on its upward trail...we are not done yet, not by a long shot; we also have a future: new dreams, loves, accomplishments, failures, and discoveries waiting to be explored. We are right in the middle and can look with equal ability and enthusiasm in both directions."
I tend to be very, very skeptical of self-help type books, and approached Treat and Geha's book with a bit of cynicism. After reading two chapters, though, I was hooked. The authors don't paint Middlehood as a fairy tale time in which we all love ourselves and look back with scorn at the folly of youth. Instead, they take a realistic look at various aspects of this time in our lives and provide us with tools to face it with hope and even enthusiasm.
One of the most powerful of these tools is their "Equation for Transformation" that aims to assist the woman in Middlehood deal with the changes that inevitably come her way. The first step is simple: Start with an Ending. With this we say goodbye to what was in order to be able to face what is going to be. The second step is Go into the Middle. Here we find a quiet place and simply listen to ourselves. The third step is Pass Through to a New Beginning, in which we enter that which is new, whether it is something tangible, like a new relationship, or something more elusive, like a new attitude.
Something else that makes the book unique is Treat and Geha's use of interviews with women who are experiencing Middlehood. They celebrate the importance of story in our lives by bringing us the words and examples of others to use as guidelines for ourselves. This makes the book even more valuable and unique to readers, giving them a gift that is so often lost in our society.
Women & Middlehood is not your average self-help book. Instead, it is an uplifting and powerful tool for all women, one that deserves to be passed on and shared within the circle of our sisterhood.
Jane Treat is a writer and storyteller, who has worked with women of all ages with life transitions, workshops and retreats. Nancy Geha, Ed.D., is a motivational speaker, workshop leader and trainer, teacher, nurse and community facilitator and consultant. Visit the book website.
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