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Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthoodby Suzanne Brau Levine
Synopses & Reviews
Inventing the Rest of Our Lives identifies and names a journey and a new stage of life for women over fifty — Second Adulthood. This generation of women, 37 million strong, doesn't fit into any of the existing models for women who have fulfilled all the roles already assigned to them — daughter, wife, mother, employee, volunteer, all around self-sacrificing nurturer. With a longer life expectancy, a healthier lifestyle, and a first adulthood full of empowerment and experience, they are taking charge.
This new Second Adulthood is a life change that gives women a second chance to grow up again, free of the limitations and expectations of their first adulthoods. Drawing on personal stories, cutting-edge science, up-to-date trend analysis, woman-tested wisdom, and her own brave, sometimes painful, sometimes very funny struggles with life after her fiftieth birthday, Levine shows that Second Adulthood women are not the same women they have been so far, only older; they are really different. At midlife, women really do start to see the world differently, which the latest brain research is proving to be literally true.
From work to love, self-discovery to civic duty, health to economics, Levine examines every aspect of women's lives and shares stories — scary, powerful, challenging, joyful — of women who have found insights and solutions that work for them. She reports on and explores the phenomenon of "the fertile void," the process of "saying no, and letting go" and the defiance of what she calls "the fuck-you fifties," as well, as the recalibrations of relationships, intimacy, and sense of self that women experience.
Inventing the Rest of Our Lives doesn't read like a health guide or a careerguide or a therapy guide, though it tackles all these issues. What it does do is offer role models and a roadmap for a journey that — without the kind of awareness this book engenders — can make freedom feel like chaos and promise feel like wishful thinking. It's a companion and a handbook that helps readers explore this new frontier and find their own answers to the three big questions each woman wrestles with — What matters? What works? What's next?
"Levine has a message for aging boomer women: if you're feeling out of sorts, confused, in a rut, there's nothing wrong with you: you're just entering your 'Second Adulthood,' a time, she says, when women can remake themselves. Levine, Ms. magazine's editor for 17 years and now a contributor to More magazine (and author of Father Courage: What Happens When Men Put Family First), draws on the latest research on hormonal and other physical changes women begin to go through in their 40s, and draws on 50 in-depth interviews she conducted with women in their middle years to show how they can improve their lives. Levine's subjects describe a time of confusion (the 'fertile void') that led them to re-sort their lives, revise priorities and make new decisions about work and intimate relationships. Samantha, for example, left an alcoholic husband after decades of marriage. Joanie, a traditional wife and mother, renegotiated her marriage and bought herself an apartment in New York City, becoming a fund-raiser for a dance company. Although Levine did interview some women with fewer economic resources and she discusses the importance of financial planning, much of the self-discovery stories will resonate best with women who are financially comfortable. Her gung-ho go-rappelling-off-the-mountain tone may grate on some women while inspiring others." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An upbeat guide for women who are into their 50s or beyond....Not much here that's really new, but it's all packaged in an especially easy-to-take, down-to-earth, yet uplifting way." Kirkus Reviews
"Rich in vision, intelligence and heart, this valuable book...helps each reader forge her own unique path." Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger
From work to love, self-discovery to civic duty, health to economics, Levine examines every aspect of the lives of women over 50 and shares stories — scary, powerful, challenging, and joyful — of women who have found insights and solutions that work for them.
Where do we find the relationships that matter in our second adulthood? Susanne Braun Levine, author of Investing the Rest of Our Lives, anwers these questions with charming wit, experience, and intrigue in How We Love Now, with a new introduction by the author.
Today, women in their fifties, sixties, and seventies are defining a totally new love narrative. Whether they are already experiencing intimacy—and great sex!—or longing to, these women are discovering unparalleled freedom and joy. Continuing Suzanne Braun Levines ongoing conversation with women in Second Adulthood, How We Love Now draws on her interviews with women across the country. Some are finding new relationships—with younger men, other women, or rediscovered childhood sweethearts—while others are enriching longstanding ones. (Of course, the Internet has opened up a new world of opportunities.) Their funny, heart-wrenching, and inspiring stories prove that this pioneering generation of women is continuing to take risks—and enjoying life more than ever.
New brain research is proving it: Women at midlife really do start to see the world differently. Some 37 million women now entering their fifties and sixties—a unique generation—are refashioning their lives, with dramatic results. They have fulfilled all the prescribed roles— daughter, wife, mother, employee, but they’re not ready to retire. They want to experience more. Suzanne Braun Levine gives us a fun, smart, and tremendously informative road map through the challenging and uncharted territory that lies ahead.
About the Author
Suzanne Braun Levine is a writer, editor, and nationally recognized authority on women, media matters, and family issues. Editor of Ms. magazine from its founding in 1972 until 1989 and editor in chief of the Columbia Journalism Review, she is currently a contributing editor of More magazine . The author of a book about fatherhood and numerous articles and essays, she has also produced a Peabody Award-winning documentary about American women. She has appeared on Oprah and the Today show and has lectured widely.
Table of Contents
Getting to What Matters: Letting Go and Saying No
1. Yo‛re Not Who You Were, Only Older 3
2. Second Adolescence
A Second Chance at Growing Up Strong 25
Speaking Up, Speaking Out, Speaking Your Mind 40
4. The Fertile Void
Taking Your Time 56
Finding Out What Works: Recalibrating Your Life
5. Reconsidering Work and Beginning to
Recalibrate Your Life 81
6. Rediscovering Your Passion, Facing Your Fear 106
7. Redefining Intimacy
Love, Sex, Friendship, and the New You 123
8. Confronting Adversity 149
Moving On to Wha‛s Next:
Making Peace and Taking Charge
9. Health, Beauty, and What You Cannot Change 179
10. Generations: Graduating from Our Child and
Parent Voice to (at Last!) Our Own Adult Voice 203
11. Becoming a Critical Mass
The Personal Is Still Political 223
12. Riding the Spiral 235
Web Sites and Organizations 249
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