The ageless Jane Fonda breaks our lives into three acts, and she focuses most of this book on Act III. Weaving her personal life stories with strong research and tips on aging, food, fitness, friendship, love, and sex, Fonda recommends that we each perform a life review--especially while our elders are still alive so we can interview them--to better understand where we've come from and where we're going.
I must confess that I finished this book several weeks ago and forget much about it, but I made a few notes. Here are some highlights that stood out for me:
- The importance of education, no matter your age. For every added year of education, you'll add one year to your life expectancy, according to the Stanford Center on Longevity.
- "Girls' voices go underground at adolescence, whereas boys' hearts go underground when they are around five or six years old." (Lest you are of the opinion that Jane Fonda is a man-hater, she addresses the very real challenges men face, as well as women.)
- The importance of resilience, which can be even more important than what happens to you.
- The concept of a fertile void: For women in midlife, the void is fertile because we are becoming midwives to our new selves.
- An aging brain just works differently, not less effectively. As we age and lose our crystal-clear memory, it's actually "judicious pruning." Dr. George Vailliant, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, likens the aging memory to "an attic that has filled up carelessly over the decades but now, with age, we clean it out and select only the most cherished, meaningful items to keep."
- Fonda's experience among the early feminists, making her realize the power and beauty of female friendship, while burning "away my individualistic dross and allowing the pure gold of friendships to enrich and cushion me...I often think how different, how frightening, aging would be for me had this not happened...I know that I can lose everything but that my friendships with women, together with my family, will always be there, no matter what." (Fonda talks at length about the value of her friendships, which resonated me.)
- Women over 85 are the fastest growing age group in the world!
In the end, a well-worth-it read on aging for women!