I was far from cool my whole life. Doing anything different bothered people from the age of 10 to about 23 when suddenly, being different was fascinating and all the odd and unusual things I had been doing my whole childhood made me interesting instead of weird. Whether weird or interesting, doing stuff made me happy so I just kept going.
Because of that mindset, and my Mother’s sage advice that happiness is a choice, I have spent every year learning something new and exploring every odd whim I had the time and money to support. This blog is just one of the many irons I keep hot in the fire. If it ends up being the ship I sail away on in my retirement… yahoo! If not, I have other things to occupy my mind and feed my soul.
A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives by Lisa Congdon is for anyone out there who thinks they are on some kind of happiness timeline. If you are stressing that if you don’t achieve your dreams by 25, 35, or 50 then you have failed, well, this book may convince you that you can breathe. Success comes to all who work for it, but not always at the same time. And, sometimes, the success that brings you the greatest joy is not the one you’ve been working on all this time.
Author Lisa Congdon did not begin to paint or draw until she was 31. She didn’t write regularly until 42 and her first book wasn’t published until 44. When A Glorious Freedom was published she was 49. She didn’t quit on life or relegate herself to the sidelines because of her age. And this book is a collection of other women who passed the imaginary limitations of forty and embraced their future. Through profiles, interviews, and essays of “older” women we can see that professional and / or personal success can be achieved after the forty.
I was unhappy with the disparity in the number of white women who are highlighted. Realistically, I understand that opportunities for minorities has always trailed behind the doors open to white women but these the book also focuses almost exclusively on artistic success. Writers, artists, and painters dominate the pages. When the focus turns to other pursuits, like mathematics, nature and advancements in civil rights, those women are also people of color. There is an Iranian writer and an African-American artist but the reality is that either this author focused more on white women or there is just more opportunities for white women to find success in their dreams.
Beyond coming to their extraordinariness after age forty, the women all had one other things in common: longevity. Numerous women featured in the book lived into 100 or well into their 90s with many of them continuing to participate in their passion projects until their deaths. Perhaps the secret to longevity is to fill your life with a purpose.
Tell me, please!
If money was no problem and failure wasn’t possible, what would you do?