In keeping with my current theme of stories of positive aging, I want to recommend a wonderful book by Bruce Frankel, What Should I Do with the Rest of my Life? True Stories of Success, Passion and Purpose in the Second Half of Life. This book was just awarded the 2011 Silver Medal in the careers category of The Axiom Business Book Awards. Bruce was a former journalist for USA Today and for People Magazine. At age 53 he got his masters degree in fine arts and went on to become a poet and author. He has a lovely way with words as he presents these inspiring stories.
He interviewed a number of "ordinary" people who have accomplished extraordinary things in their second half of life. None had exceptional amounts of wealth, and all of them had experienced some losses and adversity in life. What they have in common is that they opened themselves up to possibilities; allowing a creative spark to emerge that enabled them to express themselves in different ways and in many cases having an amazing social impact. It's testament that clarifying values and goals, believing in oneself, taking risks and living life with passion and meaning really does make a difference and can happen for as long as we live.
In this book you'll meet people who've achieved tremendous success after age 60 such as:
- a grandmother who, at the request of her son to find him a piece of erotic art for his apartment, developed a passion for erotic art and founded the World Museum for Erotic Art;
- a woman who took her skills and developed new ones as she created a micro-financing program to help empower women in Ghana;
- a woman who had never been able to finish college but always dreamed of being a teacher who finally realized her dream and became a second grade teacher in her 60s;
- a woman who took her early passion in mirrors and developed an art activity toy based on an ancient mirror art;
- a woman who, inspired after 9/11, bought and opened a diner to bring home cooking, fresh baked pies and a sense of community to her neighborhood;
- a man who became a successful, published writer in his 80s;
- a man who in his 80s began to carve faces in stones and has created many wonderful sculptures;
- a woman who developed and produced an important documentary; a man who went to school for his Ph.D. in his 70's and has continued to work into his 80s;
- an ex-intelligence officer who became a dancer;
- a couple who developed a program to collect household items to help people make a home for themselves;
- and an 87 year old woman who became American's oldest park ranger.
They are inspiring stories of inspiring people!
It's often been said that the boomers have no role models for retirement. It is true that the notion of retirement is changing and we're working to redefine and revolutionize retirement, but there have been some people, all along, who quietly keep living their lives, finding purpose and meaning and making a difference as they've continued to age. We as boomers can learn so much if we open ourselves to the stories of many of these "wise elders." In addition, as we and our society ages, it would be wonderful if "wise elders" would be more valued in our society.
The people in the book accomplished success, passion and purpose in their lives. As was stated in a review by Caroline Leavitt in the Boston Globe, "..the stories celebrate people who refused to let illness, stereotypes, and assumptions about aging stop them from realizing their dreams.. this wise and inspiring book hands down an important message: Happiness is abundant at any age, and only you can limit your options."
I hope this book will inspire you to think about your own life and what YOU would like to do with the rest of YOUR life. To learn more about Bruce Frankel and his book go to his website: www.brucefrankel.net. You'll find excerpts from his book as well as links for interviews and videos.