If ever there was a question that fit our Perennial Gen July/August theme of the empty nest, it’s the title of Brenda Poinsett’s book, What Will I Do With The Rest Of My Life? The subtitle hints at the answer: A Woman’s Guide To Discovering Peace, Power, and Purpose After 40.
Though the empty nest is not the only invitation into the recalibration at midlife, it underscores what all those other signposts like physical changes, spiritual shifts, losses and changes in relationships or the workplace tell us: We are at a crossroads, and the future isn’t coming with a map.
Poinsett found herself at that crossroads, and discovered that there no easy answers, nor were people talking about it much in the church circles in which she was traveling. She dug into existing literature on the topic, and eventually surveyed 169 women aged 45-65 to hear about their experience at midlife. A copy of her survey is at the back of the book.
There is life after forty-five! Some of the best gifts of life come as we grow older (gifts that will make our lives enjoyable, productive, and meaningful). I would not have been able to discover those gifts – nor the woman I could be – without admitting what was bothering me and talking about my concerns with other women.
The 18 short chapters cover topics including health, emotions, appearance, anxiety, dreams and ambitions, legacy, disappointments, and more. Each chapter is filled with anecdotes from Poinsett’s life, practical insights from Scripture, and the experience of those who responded to her survey. The book’s warm, affirming tone gives readers the gift of hearing that they’re not the only one who is experiencing disorientation during this time of life. The discussion guide at the end of the book would serve a group (either at church or simply a gathering of a few friends past, in, and/or nearing midlife) looking to do just what the author did: talk about your concerns with other women. This is not a comprehensive guide to all midlife issues, by any means. But it offers a gentle push that’ll introduce readers to some of the themes they’ll likely be addressing as they find themselves propelled into this new stage of life.
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This book sounds just like where I am. I’m so thankful to have two women at work who are both within a couple of years of my age. They each have a good sense of humor about life and aging. It’s a huge comfort to share with them.