Written by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole. Review by Samuel Mahaffy. “What is your bliss at this time?” Imagine living your bliss into your 70’s, 80’s and beyond! The exquisite cover design of 70 Candles anticipates the delightful, celebratory stories of women living well–into their 70’s. The Taos Institute tradition of publishing inspiring and incisive works achieves a new benchmark with the release of 70 Candles.
Beginning with the colorful multi-colored candles on the book cover, 70 Candles speaks celebration! 70 Candles is a celebration of “a new construction of aging, one that is more positive than anything that has come before…” (Foreword by Mary Gergen).
70 Candles engages a deepening and reflective dialogue about aging past 70. This is a richly textured woven narrative spoken in the first person voice of women who are living life fully into their 70s and beyond. The authors, Jan Giddan and Ellen Cole, move from blog posts to conversation groups to engaging with the emerging voices of our times bringing forward a new paradigm on aging.
Either women or men, anticipating or dreading, the aging process will find great richness in 70 Candles. Our senior years offer an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent ourselves and 70 Candles offers a framework for doing just that.
The great achievement of 70 Candles is the blending of first person narrative, with review of significant literature and aging resources. The blending of research perspective and first-person voice makes 70 Candles! a compelling and unique contribution to the literature on positive aging.
Narratives include the accounts of younger and older women, with a slant toward the stories of women approaching their 70th birthday or looking back on that benchmark. The literature review on positive aging and the listed resources are valuable for anyone intentional about constructing a positive experience of aging.
70 Candles measures the research findings of positive aging literature against the lived experiences of the women who share their stories. Listen well to septuagenarian wisdom! There is no greater teacher than those who have lived life into their 70s and beyond. Emerging themes of the septuagenarian voices include “positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments…(p. 107).
70 Candles does not minimize either the complexities or challenges of life after 70. Indeed, several women share their account of grieving the loss of career, the sense of place, and the relationships that have been an anchor for much of their life. 70 Candles brings new energy to sometimes tired conversations about aging. Topics such as caregiving, retirement, and aging in place, find fresh voice and perspective in this compelling work.
70 Candles affirms the power of asking strengths-based questions. “What does it take to thrive into and beyond the eighth decade of our life?” Start a blog, go barefoot more often, have a martini every night! 70 Candles gives permission to each of us to construct what our senior years will look like. Those who view “older people as less competent, weaker, more needy” (p. 77) have never met the women who share their stories in 70 Candles.
70 Candles is a ‘coming-of-age’ work for the positive aging movement. The candles are lit and the cake is about to be cut to celebrate a significant paradigm shift! 70 Candles moves us from viewing aging as decline to the re-imagination of aging as a time of “embracing change imaginatively and with optimism” (p. 204).
70 Candles is simply delightful reading. This is a thoughtful, reflective and carefully constructed narrative about living long and living well. The positive aging movement was catalyzed some decades ago by the work of Mary and Ken Gergen and the Taos Institute sponsorship of the Positive Aging Newsletter. Three decades of work in positive aging find mature fulfillment with the publication of 70 Candles. The publication of 70 Candles marks a turning point. We need to argue less for a new perspective on aging and can celebrate more the richness of our senior years.
70 Candles is an exquisite gift to give to an aging partner or parent. Or, celebrate your own aging process in anticipation of lighting the 70 candles! Anyone facing the great transitions of later life including retirement, and caregiving or being cared for, will find solace, hope, and inspiration in this work. Creativity is a key to positive aging and 70 Candles catalyzes a thoughtful and reflective re-imagination of the aging process.
Treasure the wisdom of septuagenarian women. Then design your own road map for flourishing in your senior years!
Order your copy of 70 Candles! from The Taos Institute Publications. 70 Candles! Women Thriving in their 8th Decade, by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole, is published in 2015 by The Taos Institute. Find resources on positive aging by entering your free subscription to The Positive Aging Newsletter. Samuel Mahaffy is serving as editor for an interactive website about Positive Aging in Action! We invite you to join the conversation!