How do women enter the second half of life? For many, the assumption is that midlife marks the end of their most powerful period, when their sexual intensity, emotional vitality, and persuasiveness was at its peak. Not so, shows author Susan Schachterle in this warm, funny, and gorgeously written book. Using incidents from history, case histories from her counselling work, stories from her life; and examples from her corporate and non-profit consulting career, she shows that midlife in fact represents a time when women’s sexuality, wisdom, and power can come into full bloom.This book wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. I had anticipated more of an examination of these three archetypes, how women relate to them in midlife and why such associations are a good thing. Instead the author attempts to redefine these labels, partly trying to bring back original meanings and partly attempting to force positive attributes onto negative images. While I appreciate the concept of reclaiming the words I really don’t see that attempting to change their commonly understood meanings can be successful. If that makes me part of the problem then so be it. I don’t see these labels, as they are currently understood, as necessarily being a bad thing.
That being said the book did provide a number of interesting recounts of middle-aged women who had changed their attitudes and self concepts and consequently changed their lives for the better. These stories were inspiring even though I couldn’t relate to many of the personalities presented.
The book also suggests a number of exercises designed to help the reader get in touch with her inner bitch, crone and harlot. I am not inspired to try them but if you’re a fan of the self help book they could be worth a go.
The study of women’s midlife experience usually is from the perspective of physical change and the negative emotions that can accompany those changes. I’m pleased that somebody is examining the subject from a positive psychological and spiritual perspective.-Lyn