I wrote this ages ago - at the end of January. Not sure why I didn't post it then...
Being laid up for the last couple of days with what my mother would have called 'a feverish cold' - I refuse to call it 'flu - has at least given me the opportunity to catch up on some reading. No TV in this house, the radio - even Radio 4 - tiresome at times: that left the Kindle. And a book.
The first book I read has been sitting by my bed for a couple of months. A Spacious Place by Alie Stibbe aims to help "Christian women take stock of the past; re-evaluate the present and look ahead to the future as they face the second half of life and all the challenges and opportunities it will hold."
I was a bit scared to read it.
The second half of life - which, for me, almost means Life After Retirement which is looming within the next few years - seemed, in my mind, to be peopled with Old Grey-Haired women. Yes, I know it sounds ageist, but only in relation to myself. I'm not yet old enough, wise enough or mature enough to fit the category. I'll certainly be old enough one day, but wise or mature enough? I doubt it.
Alie dispelled THAT idea in the first few paragraphs. Immediately, retirement notwithstanding - and she is further away than I am - I gained a sense of excitement. The second half of life is "a time when there is more room for all the things that were put on hold for child-rearing, when some of them, at least, can be rediscovered and begin to develop into their full potential, and a time to think about taking up something completely new."
I read it all in one go. I loved Alie's honesty as she shared her experiences while encouraging me to 'look the past in the eye.' I loved the second chapter: title, Laughing at the days to come. A 'word' my husband gave me when we barely knew each other. (He didn't know me very well. I do love to laugh - often at the most inappropriate moments - but I also have Doom and Gloom capability with the best of them.)
The third chapter dealt with 'Anxious thoughts and offensive ways' and the fourth 'The panini generation'...(you've heard of the Sandwich Generation: women whose lives are sandwiched between 'so-called' grown-up children and caring for ageing parents? Sandwich is too mild a term apparently - not just squashed, but toasted as well. Finally, chapters on work and encouragement that 'the second half of life will afford you the opportunity to be all that God intended you to be.' Fullness of life indeed.
I could go on: but if I did, I would probably just have to quote large chunks of this book: small, just over a hundred pages long, but absolutely packed with wisdom and inspiration. I have begun to reread it slowly, prayerfully, carefully. It will form the core of a morning away which I am organising with a group of friends. Because yes, it's aimed at a particular group of women. But I think that anyone will gain insight and encouragement to take stock and move on, wherever they might be. Grey-haired or not. (I'm hoping she will write the Book of Retirement soon, too. Everyone tells me how wonderful it is but I don't believe them. Yet.)
A Spacious Place: what a gem.