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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Five Gifts of Pro-Aging, by Marcia Newman,
Balboa Press, $11.99 US

Baby Boomers may have been at the forefront of many liberation movements, (and there are 78 million of us in the cohort) but currently, more and more women are succumbing to slavery of a different kind - to a youth-obsessed culture: dying our hair, injecting botox, nipping, tucking and otherwise refusing to accept looking our age.  Author Marcia Newman had her own aging crisis one day while looking in the mirror, and decided it was time to confront the fear of looking like her mother by letting her hair go gray.

Newman’s work as a psychologist had also convinced her that what women particularly need to do is to age consciously and comfortably, and her intention with this book is to provide some tools for a happier, more aware ageing process, mainly for women. Her chapters focus on the five gifts of the title: Authenticity, Self-healing (by allowing emotions to be felt), practicing the gift of Discernment, contacting our inner Wildness and Collaboration with others.

Newman provides journaling questions throughout the book, and a questionnaire to start off with, so the reader can assess and confront the fears about growing older, and also discover the ways we exhaust ourselves by taking care of Everything and Everybody. Part of learning a healthier conscious attitude towards aging is in learning not to feel guilty when it’s time to take care of ourselves. Living an authentic life, according to the author, means that sometimes others around you may be upset with your decisions, but healthy women are able to let go of the guilt. She offers tools to help women develop healthier instincts and boundaries and manage their own high expectations of themselves (and also release perfectionism and procrastination).

In The Gift of Discernment chapter, I especially liked her description of the exertion/exhaustion cycle-- how women love to keep busy, yet how this continuously drains our energy, because we never learn to use the brake, only the gas pedal. She suggests journaling, and asking the body for a dialogue, to check in and find out for instance, which warning signs you receive when you’re heading for an over-exertion/exhaustion cycle.  Two questions help the reader discern what their level of energy is:  what depletes you and what gives you time and space to come ‘home’ to yourself?

It’s time to get back in touch with our inner wildness, Newman says, stating that the inner Wild woman is weary from too many choices, too many electronic gadgets, and having to be pleasant and nice all the time. Her pro-aging consciousness promotes unplugging for half a day to get back in touch with nature, and finding a place that makes you feel at home, to let the mammalian side come out to play. More wildness includes allowing more time for erotic intimacy. She quotes Gail Sheehy, author of Sex and the Seasoned Woman, who describes the spicy, seasoned woman as one who wants to live a full and passionate life over 50, and won’t settle for less. 

Facing the limiting beliefs, the inner ‘dragon’ or negative naysayer, and taking steps to reduce its power over you, is crucial, according to Newman. She offers steps for allowing the inner howl to come out, and find creative joy again.

Bottom line in this book, ladies, is all about self-care. Newman rightly says that creative ideas will flow when we nurture our selves, and will also bring back more energy. Feeling more alive, less deadened, is the antidote to feeling ‘old’.  “The Universe will remind us when we go down a people-pleasing, passionless, dead-end road that we weren't in love with in the first place…..The gift of wildness will always help you find a new open road.”

The only small off note in this book is the last chapter, The Gift of Collaboration, where I felt the voice got a little preachy in that new-age way. I grow tired of reading about The Patriarchy, especially when it’s capitalized, even if I agree with her. We do live in an overly productive, always 100% on society, and  suffer from “the competitive game of compare and despair” as she calls it. I have watched one of the movies she recommends, The Burning Times, about the 50 years of European witch hunting and inquisitions, but I’m not sure why watching the list of movies she recommends will help us be more pro-aging. It was the only chapter that felt like a lecture instead of a helping hand.

Newman finishes on a high-note with some ‘feminine (heart-based) principles’ to foster collaborative learning and leadership and a Pro-Aging Women’s Credo.

“…we don’t buy into the old aging stereotypes nor endorse today’s youth worshiping…
We are responsible for our own wellness. …We are the lightworkers,
the peace bearers….We appreciate and nurture our chosen tribe
… We’ve always heard the cries of Mother Earth and are active participants in healing our planet.”

I recommend reading this book and journaling along with it, as you face the monster in the mirror, and the received beliefs you carry inside you about aging. I also believe the second half of life can be as vital and passionate as the first half. Now, if I could only get used to seeing more gray in my hair…. yesterday I swear I saw my mother in the mirror!

Musemother

link to purchase the bookhttp://bookstore.balboapress.com





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