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Book Review: YOU TURN: Changing Direction in Midlife (Over 40 Stories from People Over 40)

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:57am

At some point, LIFE punches us in the stomach. We buckle over. It's at times like these we need to take stock, reassess, and determine where we're heading. Today, we feel busier than ever; working, raising families, caring for loved ones. We're rushing from one thing to the next. It's hard to find time to pause to see if our lives are moving in the right direction!

Dr. Nancy Irwin, psychologist, writes on page 1 of YOU TURN: Changing Direction in Midlife,"It’s like driving 50 miles out of your way... do you just give up and say, 'Oh, well, I'll just keep driving down the wrong road'?"

The message of You Turn is: It's never too late to change. For those who say, "I can't change my life, now! I should have done this or that." "Dr. Irwin imparts the advice of the late psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis: Stop "shoulding" over yourself. And for those who use the word "must" instead: Stop " must urbating."

Irwin's "Over 40 Stories from People Over 40" deliver this message in different enough ways that one is bound to grip you and make you stop to evaluate if the direction you're headed now is the right one for you. These 43 stories are candidly told, not by celebrities, but by people like you and me. Some are deeply insightful and some even include the storyteller's contact information.

A few highlights from the 43 You Turns bear noting:
1. Greg Mooers of Why don't people listen? Not because they're daydreaming or composing their reply. Rather, because they lack self-confidence--they don't know where they stand and feel threatened by those that do. p. 34
2. Hal Colston of See what is not and what should be, find others who agree and co-create it. p.127
3. Thomas Boeker, MD, PhD. of Heartfelt and candid unfolding of fears of going to medical school at age 40. [Boeker truly inspires us with what's possible.] p. 152
4. Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis of People come with their own toolbox containing everything they need to succeed. We help them discover for themselves the skills and talents they already possess. [We need to have confidence in ourselves that this is true no matter what our age.] p. 156
5. Jim Collister of Five foundational principles for a successful and loving relationship [whether with our spouse, date, partner, or caring for our loved ones]: Trust, Communication, Respect, Commitment, Consciousness. Love, respect, and dignity are conditions you create for yourself and invite others to dance with you. pgs. 172-174
6. Dr. Frances M. Pastoria, PsyD of We need to ask ourselves what we believe to be the most loving thing we can do no matter what the situation. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to take care of our own needs and sometimes, someone else's. After acting on what we decide, we need to pay attention to how we feel. p. 254

On pages 4 and 5, Dr. Irwin asks us ten questions. Like you, I've breezed through similar questions in the past, only fleetingly considering my answers. Something different happened, this time. These questions felt so important to me now (over forty) that I retyped each in order to really digest them. (I type painstakingly slow with two or three fingers.) I set a goal to live the answer to each question for one week. In two-and-a-half months, I'll have life insights to be thankful for. (As of this writing, I haven't kept up.) However, Dr. Irwin has opened inside me the well of desire to explore and truly visualize how I want the rest of my life to look. This is not an easy task for one involved in so many things.

If you're in your forties (or older), You Turn provides inspiring patches of fertile soil to plant your own seeds of growth. It's time we take a close look at the direction we're headed in our lives and consider if we're ready for a You Turn.

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