I have always loved journalist and author Anna Quindlen’s writing. I used to read her Life In The 30s column in the New York Times each week when I was in my 30s. I loved the way she wrote about balancing work and life and how the two often collide. I loved her stories because I could connect with them – it was as though she was describing my unbalanced life with two kids, a husband and a full-time job.
While I am a little further away from 60 than Anna is now, I so enjoyed reading her new book, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.” This time I read Anna’s book on my Kindle, although I wish I had a hardcover copy. I found myself constantly wanting to highlight various phrases and pages so I could re-read them again and again. (Instead I used the Clippings tool on my Kindle, to clip and save various sentences and pages.)
“This is me, I agree,” I wanted to tell Anna as I read and re-read each essay. “I feel the same way about aging, I do, I do.”
As Judith Newman said in her review of the book in the New York Times Review, “Each chapter muses on a different aspect of the way Anna’s life (and, by inference, ours) has changed as she moves from her 50s toward her 60s.”
Anna talks about taking greater risks as we get older. She talks about conquering fears. When I read about how she finally conquered a headstand, I wanted to send her a note and say “Bravo.” Anna quotes business guru Deming, who said that “an essential part of maturing, is putting fear aside, because if there’s anything that cripples us it is fear.”
Anna says that many of us with lots of candles on our cake “may not like our age spots or crepey necks, but that we are happier now than we were when we were younger…that we settle into our own skin, even if that skin has sun damage.”According to the Gallup poll of 340,000 people that Anna mentions, people get more contented as they age. “After age fifty there was a change in the weather, and from then on happiness was on an upward trajectory into the eighties. As those in the survey grew older, they reported that stress, anger, sadness all declined.”
Ooh, ooh, ooh. There’s also the Pew study that Anna quotes as well. That study found that most adults over fifty feel at least ten years younger. (Is 50 the new 40? I thought it was the new 30? Some people say that 50 is the new 50. What do you think?)
I don’t want to give away all of Anna’s goodies, so I’ll stop here. I encourage you to download a copy or buy a hardcover book so you can highlight your favorite phrases and sentences as you read. There are essays about girlfriends, mothering adult children, being a parent to parents and a whole lot more.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, there’s one more quote I just have to share. I know you’re going to love it. It’s from Anna’s friend Lesley. Here’s what she said: “On the day my friend Lesley’s first grandchild was born, she sent out a message that ended, ‘You’re never too old to have the best day of your life.'”
Okay, so I haven’t had a grandchild yet. But whether or not I have one, two or none, I still love Lesley’s philosophy about aging. Don’t you?