The Blossoming of Women: A Workbook on Growing from Older to Elder

Karen Roberts with Dana Jaffe

Publisher: Gaia and Friends Pages: 184 Price: (paperback) $25.00 ISBN: 9780974644905 Reviewed: May, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

How can a woman thrive in the latter part of her life? In interviews with women who chose growth and engagement over withdrawal and defeat, the author offers “three approaches that can guide us through the process of discovery and transformation.”

Karen Roberts refuses to accept the relegation of older women to the background, railing against the Western misconception that women who have lost their looks and roles as frontline caretakers and breadwinners must accept their uselessness. Drawing on a variety of authorities, including Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, Native American traditions, and Ram Dass, she dives deep into the positive possibilities of later life.

Roberts interviews several ordinary women who have overcome significant obstacles to move to new levels of professional achievement and personal gratification. She attributes it to a combination of spiritual connection to a higher power, psychoanalysis for greater self-awareness, and coming to terms with inevitable grief to actively choose a life of purpose. “I believe you become an elder when you accept your age with appreciation and honor your responsibility to others,” she writes. “When you take on a role as artist or teacher, healer, or spiritual guide to assist those in your community to develop their gifts, you are an elder.”

Roberts can inspire, and questions she proposes at each chapter’s end provide stirring calls to action (ex: “What are you afraid of losing? Describe the ambivalence you are experiencing over giving up the life you have known…”). She chose a fascinating group of women with varied life challenges and talents ranging from advocacy for the homeless to professional photographer; readers can find themselves somewhere in that group.

Unfortunately, a dry, academic tone in chapters detailing her research dims this sparkle, creating an uneven reading experience: enlivening sections of practical inspiration battle with what feels like homework for a graduate course in aging.

Still, older women looking for a route to blossoming anew will find rewards in these pages.

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