My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Many women fear turning fifty in our society. After all, beauty fades, health deteriorates and friends start dying. Why would anyone look forward to turning fifty with all of these losses? According to Kathleen Logan and Dr. Betsy Smith who wrote the comprehensive, Second Blooming for Women: Growing a Life that Matters after Fifty, there’s a lot of gains to look forward to in life’s second act. In this book the authors use the extended metaphor of flowers, soil and root systems to illustrate the blossoming of the mature years; this is a period of time for women to take charge of their lives and take advantage of the possibilities. What are these possibilities? They can include starting a new career, developing a talent that has lain dormant for years, or making a concerted effort to forgive and let go old habits that hold you back from your potential.
Both of the authors are lifecoaches with every chapter packed with inspiring advice you’ll want to keep it handy when you need a pick-me-up when life throws you a challenge. Logan and Smith invited a diverse cadre of women to share their perspectives throughout the chapters, which insures that this book never feels too academic. Besides the personal stories from the round table of women, the authors themselves also share their lives and experiences with the reader. Logan and Smith alternate chapters, having selected their chapters based on their individual expertise. Logan’s chapters focus more on the why you should bloom (“Are You Root Bound? Embrace Change”) while Smith’s chapters give you the how (“Annuals: Inventory Your Skills”). At the beginning of each chapter is original floral artwork from Lyda Toy, captioned with a definition of that flower, which sets the tone for the text that follows. For instance, there’s kudzu at the front of Logan’s chapter of “Weeds: Pull Them to Improve Your Garden’s Yield,” which is one of most powerful sections in the book. In “Weeds,” the reader learns how to strive for excellence instead of perfection while working to clear debt, addictions, abuse, and blame from her life. At the end of each chapter, exercises and resources follow, so the reader always feels supported and the learning can continue beyond the initial reading.
Beginning with a history of the American woman’s struggle for equality, Logan ends this chapter by stating, “As a group, those of us over fifty will live longer than previous generations, are healthier, have more money, are better educated, can access a virtual world with computers, have built a wide variety of skills, and are accustomed to planning our own lives. But there are few models or guidelines for us, so we’ll have to create them as we go.” Women over fifty have seen so many changes that they may need a road map to figure out what to do next and Second Blooming is that map.
Smith addresses values and vision statements and defines the difference between a skill and a talent. She says, “Unlike talents and strengths, which are more biologically based, skills can be taught, learned, and often transferred from one situation to another.” Talent is what you’re born with and skill is what you develop as you live your life. The reader is encouraged to take several skill-identifying tests including the Clifton StrenthFinder inventory, which is available for purchase. After identifying her strengths and talents, the reader is then asked to express her life purpose. All of these concrete activities are designed to help women over fifty feel empowered and able to steer the next segment of their lives with passion and determination.
This book encourages women, not just those fifty and up, to take pride in their individual gifts and to move beyond thinking of themselves as just a pretty face, gorgeous legs or long blonde hair. Reaching fifty is not a death sentence; it is a milestone that must be honored and cherished because the next chapter is going to prove amazing. It does take courage to turn fifty and to be bold with your life, but what are you going to lose? Your life matters. Logan says, “Like bulbs your dreams are awaiting their season to burst forth in colorful abundance. It’s time to let those bulbs poke through, time for you to bloom. Dreams don’t have expiration dates.”
Read more about the authors, Kathleen Vestal Logan and E.L. (Betsy) Smith, Ph.D. at their site, http://secondbloomingforwomen.com