How do you feel about getting older? Are you enjoying your golden years, or fighting the idea of aging every step of the way? Do you see your age as a necessary evil, or an experience to be embraced? To be honest, I did not think a whole lot about how I was aging until I was sent a charming collection of essays by Stephanie Raffelock. These short essays opened my mind and heart to all the grace, gratitude and joy we can experience in this final stage of our lives.
A New Perspective on Aging
When I get together with friends, we often decry all the inconveniences of getting older ... stiff joints, sore muscles, forgetfulness and fatigue, to name a few. We are also saddened by the losses we have experienced and sometimes feel as though we are being treated dismissively by younger generations. However, after reading this book, I now find myself wondering what it would be like if we focused instead on our wisdom, experience, and the free time we now have to explore new interests and reclaim old ones. Wouldn't that be a better way to view this period in our lives?
"A Delightful Little Book on Aging" (Ad) gave me a new perspective on the gifts which I have experienced by being older. It was a joy to read, and with so much that is stressful in our lives right now, this could be the perfect time to read it.
An Uplifting View about Getting Older
Stephanie Raffelock's book is divided into four thought-provoking sections. They are listed below, along with my thoughts and some of my favorite excerpts from each part of the book.
Grief - "Aging begins in grief. Loss and letting go become part of the landscape."
In these essays she talks about how we grieve not just when someone dies, but also for the loss of our own youth, the end of friendships, our declining health, and the feeling we are no longer significant. We can learn to experience our grief, however, and not get stuck in it.
Reclamation - "Life takes things away with one hand and offers something with the other hand. This is what I call 'reclamation.' Did you leave a musician, a writer, a wild woman behind? Reclaim that part of yourself now."
As I read this section, I thought about all the retirees I know who are selling their art work, writing books and blogs, starting a 60's band, taking ballroom dancing classes, traveling, and fulfilling their "bucket list." Instead of seeing this period of our lives as a time of loss, many of my peers are reclaiming their past dreams and seeing them come to fruition.
Vision - "The practice of being so fully in life that you feel joy in the smallest things. The vision of the older years belongs to a wiser, deepened soul, steeped in wonder and delight for life."
Isn't this the way all of us want to approach the final years of our lives, full of joy, gratitude, new friendships, creativity, and love? Isn't this the legacy we would like to leave for the younger men and women in our lives? We all need to embrace our vision of the life we want to live, and we want those who come after us to do the same.
Laughter - "There is nothing like recalling the good old days with stories that make us laugh."
My husband and I often cackle with joy at a funny memory of an incident from years ago. We laugh at the time we misread an invitation and arrived at a friend's home for a party which was still a week in the future; we laugh at silly things our children said or did; we laugh at all the surprising and unexpected things which have happened during our lives. We also enjoy spending time with old friends for the same reason, to relive our happy memories. Being able to look at the past with a sense of humor is a true blessing as we grow older.
Why this Book was Written
After writing countless articles on the importance of memoirs and legacy, the author Stephanie Raffelock witnessed a growing concern among women writers as they approached their 60s. One of their main concerns was the fear of confronting the stigmas of aging.
Too often, women have been taught to shy away from aging, and Stephanie aims to change that expectation. Age is more than just a number. It's a badge of honor to have lived long enough to know that the life in front of us is far shorter than the life we have already lived. To that end, these years seem more precious, more miraculous, and certainly more deserving of our very best selves. There has never been a better time to be old than today. Yet, in a culture that all too quickly embraces botox to make wrinkles disappear, many wrestle with what getting older really means.
Stephanie is a firm believer that we cannot transcend aging with some sort of magical formula, but we can transcend worn-out attitudes that do not lend themselves to making aging a positive experience. Stephanie strives to bring a new voice to the conversation and encourages people to embrace aging instead of shying away from it.
In "A Delightful Little Book on Aging," her first book with She Writes Press, which was released in the spring of 2020, Stephanie discusses everything from ageism in athletic leisure styling to selectivity in volunteering. Even as she digs deeper into the topics of grief and the vision about what our later years can look like, Stephanie walks us through ways to reclaim aging with grace, excitement, and a touch of humor.
A Refreshing View of Life After 50
If you want to regain a fresh perspective on your life, you will enjoy reading "A Delightful Little Book on Aging." (Ad) Throughout the book, I found myself nodding my head, agreeing with the author. Yes, I would tell myself, I sometimes feel like that, and I love being able to see things in a new light! Enjoy this new book by Stephanie Raffellock.
More about author Stephanie Raffelock:
She is part of a generation of women who are reinventing their later years and looking for camaraderie and inspiration. A graduate of Naropa University's program in Writing and Poetics, she has penned articles for numerous publications, including The Aspen Times, Quilter's Magazine, Care2.com, Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles, The Roque Valley Messenger and SixtyandMe.com. She is also the host of Coffee Table Wisdom, a podcast that is a revolution in positive aging.
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Photo credit: Photo of book cover taken by author