May 17, 2007, Vol. V Issue 10
A few months ago, someone turned me on to Joan Anderson’s books, and asked me to check her out as a speaker. Her memoirs — A Year By The Sea, An Unfinished Marriage, A Walk on the Beach and A Weekend to Change Your Life – all stem from the time she took for herself, mid-life. After years of focusing on the needs of others as a wife and mother, she devoted a year to rediscovering herself and reinvigorating her dreams. Now, I had not followed the traditional wife and mother path and am a first-time newlywed in my 50’s, so I doubt I would otherwise have picked up her books. I LOVED them all and found them to universally embrace the search for self. No matter our path, women are easily sidelined from taking care of themselves, and nourishing their talents and dreams. In rediscovering herself, Joan Anderson developed a way to help other women do the same for themselves. I’ll share a bit of that in this issue.
In our April 19 issue, I told you about Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Conference on Women’s Health and the Environment held in Pittsburgh. There’s nothing like the energy of 2,000 women in the same place, committed to a cause, but putting that aside, the next best thing is the miracle of the web. All of the talks from that day, including actress Fran Drescher, who is passionate about early detection of reproductive cancers, are posted on the conference website. Just click on the Podcast link in the menu bar. Once I got started watching and listening, I had a hard time tearing myself away to write this e-news. So, trade in some TV time for some web time — click, watch and listen. You will definitely learn.
And, a report on my Freedom from Self-Improvement Day revelation.
A Scholar of Self and Soul
“Ever since I can remember I have been curious—asking questions, trying to figure out life’s meaning—all in an effort to live fully and get it right,” Joan says.
She was already a writer and author of the book Breaking the TV Habit, when she took her break from life as she knew it. “After I ran away from home and lived a year by the sea on my own, I realized that there was something in this experience worth writing about. So many women I knew wanted or needed to stop the craziness of their lives but had not the will or the ability to do so. By writing my story it has given hundreds of thousands of women the excuse to take themselves away, have their turn, and see who they are beyond the roles that they play.
“The four books that have come out of my experiences have all been best sellers and many have been printed in foreign languages. My big boost came when Oprah called and invited me on her show — not once, but twice! There have been several appearances on the Today Show, eight book tours, and numerous articles headlining me as the ‘woman who got away,’ ‘the runaway wife,’ or ‘the woman who took a sabbatical.’ Actually, I’m not any one of these descriptions. I am simply a person who wanted to become a scholar of self and soul.”
A vocation has come as a result of her search and her books. She conducts weekends by the sea on Cape Cod for women seeking nourishment and weekend retreats in other parts of the country and abroad such as Sonoma, California, Sedona, Arizona, and Iona, Scotland. She keynotes women’s events and leads workshops.
Her fourth book, A Weekend to Change Your Life: Find Your Authentic Self After Being All Things to All People was written because so many women told her that her three memoirs had made a difference in their attitudes but now they wanted to take that next step. How could they, not only move beyond the various roles that they played, but truly develop themselves in the process?
“It is no easy trick to unravel a self, to drop old habits and climb out of the box. When I looked back on how I managed to change my life during that year by the sea (and then develop a workshop program that would help other women do the same) it all boiled down to the six R’s:
2. Retrieve strengths from her past
3. Repair the worn parts of her body and soul
4. Regroup by getting rid of unnecessary baggage
5. Regenerate by taking new paths and having adventure, and then (and only then)
6. Return to her old life as a new person!”
Sounds like a big job, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. With a skilled guide like Joan, you’re in excellent hands whether you attend one of her retreats or create your own personal retreat and follow the exercises in the book. Or, have her in to keynote your women’s event and inspire your audience with her candor, eloquence and humor.
After devouring her books one after another, I called Joan and we had a long and lovely conversation. While I have not had a chance to see her speak in person, which as you know is my preference, I checked out her references and they were absolutely glowing. For an invigorating keynote or an insightful retreat, I highly endorse Joan Anderson.
And, now I’m looking forward to her fifth book, A Second Journey. Stay tuned…
Off the Hook
Despite my good intentions to clean my bookshelves to celebrate Jennifer Louden’s Freedom from Self-Improvement Day this week, I found myself looking longingly at the titles on the shelves and wishing I took more time to read them. The fact is that when I got married and moved almost two years ago, I hauled away trunkloads of books to re-sell or donate, so they’ve pretty much been pared down to my favorites (and the ones I haven’t read yet). I also vowed to use the library more often. So, these days, the stacks of books by my bedside are primarily from the library and, from speakers who send me their books – it’s a hazard of the job.
What I did do to honor myself on Freedom from Self-Improvement Day was to decide to be satisfied with my life just the way it is. While the longing for something more or different or better will always be there, (and I believe that goals and dreams are still a good thing), I’m going to spend more energy reveling in life just the way it is. And that includes gratitude for all the self-help books, motivational speakers and seminars that got me to this point! Like Joan Anderson, being a scholar of self and soul seems to be in my DNA.
Until next time, be good to yourself just the way you are, for your good health and those you love.
Yours truly in good health,