A Modern Woman’s Guide to Aging: Together We Consider Our Options explores the trials and challenges that contemporary women face as they age.

With insight and humor, the Guide weaves together research, ideas, personal stories and thought-provoking questions to assist your own wise woman’s search for self-understanding and direction. With generous space to journal, the book invites you to examine your own personal issues and options.  It will help you navigate your future, create your own map and move forward with confidence, mindfulness, and grace. In this book, I encourage you to reflect on your own life, ask important questions, make choices, and find answers.

I invite you to journey with me.

 

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Introduction


Honest. Short. Why I wrote the Guide.

claireSunday. Cold and clear – the sky fierce blue. Snow on the ground. A spectacular winter morning. I was invited to my daughter Melissa’s house for a family gathering. I cautiously drove the seven mountain miles from my home to her country home.

Last night’s fresh snow crackled under my boots as I walked from my car to Melissa’s front door. It was unlocked. Silent. I wandered in and removed my jacket and hung it on a hook. Unannounced, I went into the kitchen where Melissa was making crepes. She stopped cooking and looked hard at me for a long still moment, her grey eyes wide in her beautiful pale face. My daughter spoke, “When you came in, I was frightened.” She paused, “I thought you were Grandma Bea…. Really, you looked just like her.”

My god. Melissa thought I was my dead mother. Grandma Be a had taken leave of us twenty years ago. Unsettled, I grumbled to myself, “There it is. Much to my surprise and even my dismay, I have become my mother.”

Last week, I went to a party as fine as I could make myself, all groomed and glossy. No one took notice of me. What I really mean is none of the men looked at me. I had become oddly invisible to them. The message is significant, the reality unavoidable. Claire the Sex Goddess has left the room. Indeed, I am transforming into an old woman.

Consider my situation: I am a woman alone, healthy, a self-employed artist with my own gallery, grown daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, a beautiful home, a functioning car. Yes, my life seems solid and comfortable—nothing to be concerned about, except creating new jewelry designs each year and a lingering hope for a last romance.

Now that most of my life has been lived, with my youth and my middle age behind me, what am I missing or avoiding in my self-portrait? Why is there an alligator in the bathtub? Where did I hide the key to the buried treasure? Who ate the missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle?

I understand that there are givens that I cannot escape. My genes have programmed me to age in certain ways. I have the accumulation of the particular life I have led, the stress and how I dealt with the stress, the food eaten, the commitment to exercise or not, the smoking or not, the alcohol and drugs taken, the environment lived in and the luck (unexplainable events or circumstances) or lack of luck in my life. All these things affect my expiration date.

The truth is: I am aging and will continue to age. Before I paint my last canvas, I will experience the deterioration of many of the physical systems that have kept me a fully functioning and quite independent person.

What will my last chapter be like? How will the aging process affect my ability to be self-determining and active? What can I do to stay vital? Can I afford to get old? These are important questions for all mature women to ask ourselves.

We might hope for a pill, or an injection, or an operation that would prevent us from becoming elderly or would give us back our youth. We might hope. Scientists are researching the biological process in attempts to halt or even reverse aging. Considering the profit to be made, science may soon come up with some tangible answers. My cynical opinion is that expensive magic pills, or fantastic blood replacement schemes insuring permanent youth, will be available only to an elite- the same elite that now controls the majority of the world’s assets. Most of us, certainly most women, will have to manage our own aging experience with diet, exercise, cosmetic adjustment, social outreach, purpose or spiritual belief, and preventive medical and dental care.

Yes, I acknowledge that I will fade and pass away. My consciousness of my own inevitable physical decline and eventual death was a powerful motivator in my writing this book. I have accepted that as I grow older, I am more and more like my mother. Grandma Bea had a long and juicy life. She dwelled alone in an elegant Manhattan apartment. A former dancer, she taught until the week before she died. Until the very end, she kept her curiosity, her will, and her ability to balance her checkbook. I am awed by her resilience. I have decided it is an excellent thing to mirror her as I wise.

In the process of researching and writing A Modern Woman’s Guide to Aging: Together We Consider Our Options, I have become acquainted with some very dry, not to mention depressing and headache-inducing material. I have chosen to spare you any footnotes or graphs. For those of you who are interested in these topics and wish to learn more, I have included suggested readings at the end of each chapter. In addition, the appendix contains a bibliography– just to establish my sincere desire to acknowledge my debt to other authors. I wish to share what I have learned with my fellow travelers. However, this assemblage of stories, ideas, and information is meant to be an investigation/inquiry, not a “how-to” or a proselytizing book. I am hopeful that you will use this Guide as part of your own search for self-understanding and direction. There are pages to journal in with generous space for you to explore your personal issues and insights. The Modern Woman’s Guide to Aging is here to encourage you to think about your life, ask important questions, make choices and find answers.

I invite you to journey with me.

 

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