Monday, January 28, 2019
Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher
Successful does not mean what so many people think when they see that word - "having achieved popularity, profit, or distinction". Successful, instead, means satisfied with what life has given us. Pipher is a psychologist who is over seventy herself. Her personal observations, her life experiences, and interviews and observations of other women led to this book. She examines issues women face as we move from middle age to old age. "This book focuses on the attitudes and skills we need in order to let go of the past, embrace the new, cope with loss, and experience wisdom, authenticity, and bliss."
Granted, not every woman will accept her life or learn to live with it with grace. However, Pipher includes women of various economic groups and some with health issues to show that many of us have grown to a stage in which we don't need a lot to be happy, and we appreciate the lives we have. It's a book about courage and growing into wisdom.
This isn't a flowery, self-growth book. This is a book that analyzes women's issues - the role of caregiver, the inability to say no, the disappearance of women over a certain age in the eyes of society, the aging body. At the same time, Pipher celebrates the ability of many women to learn to cope with changes in their lives.
I'll admit, I cried at times in reading this book, and not because I know I'm in the last third of my life. I cried at some of the positive messages in the book, ones that struck home, or reminded me of people I love. One of the most important messages, for me, was "Almost every morning we can build a good day for ourselves."
Contentment. Life. Satisfaction. Women Rowing North is filled with stories, suggestions, and people's mistakes. It's not a road map as to how to live life, but it certainly can be used as a tipsheet.
And, I'll end with this. Now, I'm going to have to pick up a collection of William Stafford's poems. Pipher mentions a William Stafford poem begins with this line: "When they shook the box and poured out its chances, you were appointed to be happy."
Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing as We Age by Mary Pipher. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019. ISBN 9781632869609 (hardcover), 262p.
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book