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  • Review of Home by Marilynne Robinson

    HomeHome by Marilynne Robinson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I loved Gilead by Marilynne Robinson so much. The review is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

    But with Home, I had a different experience. I wasn't compelled through most of the book. At about the three-quarter mark, things started to happen and I felt my interest quicken. But here's a summary of my impressions, and my apologies to those who loved it so much they recommended it to me:

    1. I was disappointed to see this other, peevish, nasty side of Rev. Ames.
    2. I didn't like the Rev. Boughton very much at all.
    3. Jack is tedious and pathetic.
    4. Glory almost breaks free but then doesn't.

    Robinson really makes me wait for it, building my conflict between compassion and resentment for Jack. And just when I lose faith in him, there's a scene where the old misogynist/bigot Rev. Boughton asks to see Jack and his brother together in his room, and Jack insists Glory be included. As if he sees her as an equal to the men, rather than just the servant her father expects.

    In this, I felt Jack himself was a Rorschach test for the reader, in that while he seems almost feral, a man born without skin with which to hide himself from the world, easily wounded and always untrusting, you want to abandon him, but can you? If so, who are you? What are your values - what are your limits?

    So now Glory has decided to stop being codependent with her "fiancé", and switch her ministrations and self-sacrifice to her dying father and her feral brother. This is an arc? This is growth? What is Robinson's meaning, at the end of the story, when Glory decides to stay in a town she has said she hates, in a house she agrees to preserve as a monument/mausoleum to the family? It can only be read as failure to respect oneself in favor of service to others! This troubles me deeply.

    I apologize for the length of this next excerpt, but I have to reproduce it, because it's so telling:

    "(Glory) had tried to take care of (Jack), to help him, and from time to time he had let her believe she did. That old habit of hers, of making a kind of happiness for herself out of the thought that she could be his rescuer, when there was seldom much reason to believe that rescue would have any particular attraction for him. That old illusion that she could help her father with the grief Jack caused, the grief Jack was, when it was as far beyond her power to soothe or mitigate as the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. She had been alone with her parents when Jack left, and she had been alone with her father when he returned. There was a symmetry in that that might have seemed like design to her and beguiled her with the implication that their fates were indeed intertwined. Or returning herself to that silent house might simply have returned her to a s state of mind more appropriate to her adolescence. A lonely schoolgirl at thirty-eight. Now, there was a painful thought.

    "She recalled certain moments in which she could see that Jack had withdrawn from her and was looking through or beyond her, making some new appraisal of her trustworthiness, perhaps, or her usefulness, or simply and abruptly losing interest in her together with whatever else happened just then...She found no consistency in these moments, nothing she could interpret. He was himself. That is what their father had always said, and by it he had meant that Jack was jostled along in the stream of (the family's) vigor and purpose and their good intentions, their habits and certitudes, and was never really a part of any of it. He had eaten their food and slept beneath their roof, wearing the clothes and speaking the dialect of their slightly self-enamored and distinctly clerical family..."

    God! Who hasn't known people like this - men like this, children like this - who take and take and take from an ever-hopeful spouse or family and yet never seem quite able to be satisfied, or fulfilled, or happy! When all the sacrificial loving family member ever wants is for that feral person to be happy. Or at least safe.

    Like I said, Rorschach.

    And in this, I have to admit, Robinson delivers again, most profoundly, in pulling back the curtains and showing us, right down to the faint beat of a pulse along a pale wrist, the impact on a family of such a lone wolf. Not that the wolf doesn't suffer. Not that we don't all feel empathy as we struggle to surface from this mire, gulping and gasping air, sorry for Glory who remains below, yet intent on saving ourselves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

    The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    After reading some of the reviews, I felt a bit off-kilter, as if I'm seeing something that wasn't intended by the author.

    Nevertheless, here's my impression: this story is about a man who, because of his physical limitations, resists closeness with other people, to the point that he marries a woman who seems certain to want the same, arm's length relationship. It's only after she dies that he begins to sense that he was wrong about that. During the grieving process, he comes to realize he's been living an arm's-length life.

    I love stories about people who come out of a fog and change their lives, empowered by the realization that they've been missing something important - that their reasoning was flawed, but it doesn't have to remain that way. And Anne Tyler is such a great wordsmith, anything she writes is wonderful. This book is perhaps a bit too subtle to win the raving applause it deserves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

    Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    As I read Lean In, I was intrigued at being able to get inside the head of a dynamic, smart woman who is one generation younger than me, and see the corporate world through her eyes. One of the cultural questions she answered for me was this: why are younger women so averse to the terms "feminist" and "feminism"? Apparently, Sheryl Sandberg and her contemporaries believe(d) the following:

    1. Equality having arrived, there's no need for feminism anymore
    2. Feminists are man-haters who resist makeup and the shaving of one's legs

    Okay, #2 was a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, having observed conditions in the real world for a few years now, Sandberg has come to see that the playing field is not and will not be level until more women occupy positions of power in the corporate hierarchy. She doesn't suggest that this is due to any malicious intent on the part of men, but rather it's simply a matter of ignorance.

    To illustrate, she describes having to park far away from her office door when hugely and uncomfortably pregnant. When she designated preferred parking spots to accommodate pregnant workers, no one complained. It was seen as logical. But prior to her taking her place in the C-suite, the issue hadn't been raised.

    Sandberg talks about not slowing down out of consideration for what might happen in the nebulous future. The example she gives, now famous, is of a young woman confiding her fears of not wanting to accept a job with a lot of responsibility due to the impact it might have on her family. The woman was planning ahead - she didn't even have a boyfriend yet.

    With this example, Sandberg makes the point that women, having been highly trained and educated, are waving off promotional opportunities. The jury is still out as to why, but she suggests, and I agree, that part of the reason is this: in corporate America, a woman's decision to go through pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and child-rearing is viewed as a private matter that should not impact her ability to work long hours and irregular schedules, including lengthy and frequent travel as needed. Rightly fearing this may drive her insane, a woman who wants a family may leap off the corporate ladder at a very early stage.

    Sandberg argues that if a young woman stayed on it long enough to secure a more powerful position, she would be able to exert more control over her work life (a perspective the young woman must trust will happen, since at her current low place on the corporate ladder she can only see her lack of power and control.) After a few promotions, she will be able to delegate some of her work to subordinates, afford more help at home, and influence workplace policies that unfairly impact women and families. Who can find fault with this argument?

    Sandberg is honest about her own mistakes, and I found that charming. For example, I was amazed that, for all her intelligence and education, she didn't originally intend to negotiate her starting salary with Facebook. Luckily a nice man (her husband) set her straight, and she made a counter offer to Zuckerberg. Reams of guidance have been written about how this error could have impeded her in later years, both at Facebook and with future employers, yet she didn't know. For other women who have not yet made this horrifying discovery, please read Ask for It by Babcock and Laschever (http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Women-Power...) which in addition to being enlightening and entertaining, offers tons of strategies for preparing yourself to negotiate. And not just for salaries. After reading that book I saved $150 on furniture I was going to buy anyway, by asking one question.

    But back to Lean In.

    I was also surprised that she wasn't well informed about how women can sabotage other women in the workplace, particularly women in power. This is an unfortunate truth with roots in biology, and is brilliantly explained in the amazing book, In the Company of Women by Heim and Murphy (http://www.amazon.com/Company-Women-I...) which I reviewed here:
    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... This also suggests the reasons Sandberg was hit with such a backlash for the well-intentioned Lean In.

    There is so much more to say about Lean In, but let me close with this: I enjoyed learning how this stellar corporate executive struggled, made mistakes, and ultimately learned some strategies that will enable her, her family, and the women (and men) in her corporation to thrive. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's not even pretty, but part of the lesson is to let go of the need for perfection.

    The other message, younger women, is to get as far and as fast as you can before starting your families. Don't opt out just because it looks too hard from where you're sitting now. The view improves with each rung on the ladder.

    View all my reviews

Oprah to Boomers: Drop Dead

Stop the presses! Did Oprah really say she would pursue a younger demographic because after forty, women have things figured out? Nothing more to teach us older broads?

Apparently it’s true. To shore up her biz, Ms. Winfrey said she would like to attract women

in their 30s or perhaps their 20s, to be able to reach people when they are looking to fulfill their destiny.” She added, “By the time you’re 40, 42, you should have kind of figured it out already.

Yah, us over 40s have that destiny thing all out of the way. No sense talking to us anymore.

Okay, it makes sense that she’d want to augment her customer base by adding younger people, but I get the impression she wants to distance herself from the demographic whose undying loyalty made her a billionaire, and that rankles.

Even though I fell out of love with All Things Oprah a couple of years back, I’ve always thought she was one smart cookie, but that comment about having things figured out is ridiculous and self-serving. I mean, look at all the heavy shit we still have to face! Deaths of loved ones, illness and surgeries, loss of jobs, financial challenges, helping our aging parents and/or the younger generations while still trying to carve out some happiness for ourselves, following our dreams even late in life

Does Oprah really think we have it all figured out?
What a failure of imagination.

I understand commerce. Business is business, and she must do what is necessary to keep her financials healthy. So why would she ignore women in the second half of life? It’s a common mistake – I guess some folks just can’t accept that we older women have discretionary income and we’re not afraid to use it. You’d think that would weigh into her biz calcs.

A minor oversight!

Sometimes when you become too rich and powerful, your minions only tell you what you want to hear. Maybe that’s what’s happened to Ms. Winfrey. However, she might want to sneak off to a broom closet with her personal laptop and check out She-Conomy by Stephanie Holland to get all kinds of late-breaking info about who has the bucks in this country. Or maybe catch some of the great wisdom about marketing to women by Marti Barletta. Maybe even invite Stephanie and Marti to present. Hell, Oprah could do a gigantic segment on women entrepreneurs in the second half, from starting-out-on-a-shoestring to Fortune 500 CEOs (all 20 of them).

Oprah seems to be assuming women our age (ahem – her age) aren’t still on a path to conquer old demons and new worlds. But maybe I’m reading her wrong, and what she really meant to say was this:

By the time you’re 40, 42, let alone 60, 70, 80, and up, you’re so completely awesome that I can’t think of anything else I can tell you.

Or this:

I’m only 58. I need to restart my own growth curve and I haven’t quite figured out how to do that. Any ideas?

Yes, Oprah. Start hanging out around Any Shiny Thing, where we could illuminate a small planet with all the wisdom, friendship and warmth we generate! Ladies and gents of AST, what would you advise Miss Oprah to do, personally or regarding her business? Any ideas? And keep it friendly.

Thanks to my friend Sarah Stockton for alerting me to this intriguing article in the first place. It appeared in the NY Times on November 29.

Leave a comment


  1. Sharon Harris

     /  November 30, 2012

    Oprah doesn’t have children. She doesn’t have close, albeit confused relationships with aging parents. Although she has a partner, the legal and emotional entanglements that pass for traditional marriage are also not part of her life, as is the reality of facing old age solo that is so central to a lot of women over 50. She has, unlike the rest of us, money to “solve” most of her problems without really having to become personally involved besides showing up when the result is good. And no, this is not a personal judgement on her character. It’s an example of how very far an ivory tower is above the trenches. Compared to the rest of us, she’s traveling light into her senior years. I’m 60. My life resembles that of a lot of my friends. Oprah, on the other hand, lives on the planet Harpo, a mythical land far, far, away — and she just does not know how very different she has become from the rest of women her age.

    • Exactly right, Sharon. But the Oprah I originally respected had the talent and mind to see beyond that. Guess not. An amazing story arc, her life. Ending in clueless – not pretty.

      • Sharon Harris

         /  November 30, 2012

        What’s uglier to me the implication that she wants to be identified with younger women who most (in her delusional mind) resemble HER and her lifestyle and her goals. Further, that if we HAVEN’T reached her ideas of wisdom, self-awareness, and success, then we either don’t deserve the attention or nurturing, or that statistically, the effort is lost on those “soon to die.” What I don’t need at this point in my life is any more guilt about what I SHOULD have done. I feel sorry for her. I intend to go out fighting. I intend to be useful for a long time. I intend to change and grow, improve and learn to the best of my ability until I take that last breath. If that does not make me worthy of attention, then Oprah has more in common with MEN her own age who prefer the company of younger women (until they are ill and on a fixed income) than she does with me.

  2. Sharon’s points about children and aging parents were one of my (many) first reactions. As to discretionary income, I had a different thought: women in their 20s and 30s are still spending their discretionary income on hope that their fairy tales will come true. Oprah sells a fairy tale. Sure, it’s an emancipated, independent, anti-Cult-of-Domesticity/Cult-of-True-Womanhood fairy tale, but it’s still a fairy tale. There can only be one Oprah.

    • Hippie, so you’re saying she’s chasing after a more vulnerable demographic? I can see that. Much harder to appeal to us, with our squinty-eyed cynicism, due to maturity.

      • Sharon Harris

         /  November 30, 2012

        Yeah I’m SO without hope and cynical… your’e talking to a woman who just spent $10 on the Powerball lottery. My dreams won’t die until I do. Well one did — I never thought that Oprah was ageist. What I AM cynical about is Oprah selling out OUR age group to mine the younger generation for the funds to prop up her rather unseccessful network — HER life’s dream. I have a 26-year-old daughter who has been rather complementary of late about some aspects of how she was raised. However, I’m not sure that would extend to her view of Oprah’s view of wisdom, and that goes for her friends, too. You know — just another old lady trying to impose the template of her life on theirs. Oprah is the Fairy Godmother for the subsequent generations. She’s back at ground zero for my daughter’s generation. By the time she does the groundwork to pull them in, she’ll be of retirement age, and will learn that the fighting a war on two fronts — saving her network and extending her power base over younger generations — will have been exhausting , and not as successful as what she would have thought.

        • I walked away to squeeze my middle-aged self into Not My Daughter’s Jeans for casual Friday, and it occurred to me that being abandoned for younger women is something I’m getting used to. ::sob, poor me:: 🙂

          • Sharon Harris

             /  November 30, 2012

            I’ve decided to take a break from dating, because it’s been proven to me in rather creatively unpleasant ways that I’m “way too old for men my age.” Two very earnest married male friends told me that when the men had “had enough of younger women,” they’d be back. Yup — broke, needing caretakers, and beyond the help of the little blue pill… My friends were shocked when I said — no thank you — in that state, I really don’t want them. So, you’ll pardon me if I’m not thrilled about taking a back seat again — and this time, the defection is from a woman MY OWN AGE! That doesn’t sit well with me!

  3. Even though I’ve been a lifelong Oprah fan, being the same age as her and having, in a sense, “grown up” with her – I agree with you on this. I’m hoping that her words were taken out of context and she doesn’t mean she’s going to abandon all of us who have so faithfully followed her all these years. However – Sharon Harris summed it up very well for me, too. Especially the money part. This year has been especially difficult for me financially…and I’m single, age 58, no children, my parents have already passed on. Yes, we all know money doesn’t “buy happiness,” but, as Sharon put it, Oprah is “traveling light into her senior years” compared to many of us. At any age, but especially when you’re facing age 60 on shakey ground financially, money can buy a whole lot of security and peace of mind and to me, that equals a whole lot of happiness. I still have hope that Oprah doesn’t abandon us – but, sadly, perhaps she doesn’t identify with us anymore because she is too far up in her ivory tower. I know I still have much to learn – especially about aging gracefully. I’m finding there’s much out there that no one ever prepared me for, and it’s scary at times. This is why I love your blog, Lynne, because I’ve found someone who “speaks to me.”

    • Cindy, it’s a 2-way street. Every Friday I’m humbled by the contributions of our AST circle, today in particular. Such stories from all of you! Is there any better demonstration of grace under fire, maturity, and the steel under the skin that makes you all so impressive?!? In your particular case, I send my love and wish you well.

  4. I really do think you should send this blog as a letter directly to Oprah. She’s 58 years old, same as you and moi. She needs to hear this from someone in her own age demographic. Great blog, as always. Love ya, Lynne.

    • Thanks and back at you, Peggy. We all need a reality check every now and then – I’ve had plenty! My Superwoman cape is ripped, tattered and faded. All Oprah need do is stop trying to be Superwoman and just – settle in by the fire. Right? (Best wishes with your upcoming novel, Raven’s Daughter.)

  5. dhaupt3

     /  November 30, 2012

    Lynne, I totally agree with your other comments here. Shame on Oprah if this is what she meant, but par for the course if she was taken out of context.
    I too am 58 and I guess am naive to think that the world let alone Oprah wants my opinion because let’s face it. It’s the 20 and 30 somethings who have all the answers right.

    • That’s just the thing, Deb. They don’t, so Oprah sees an opportunity to pontificate to a whole new, wet-behind-the-ears customer base. Instead, how much more incredible would it be to see Oprah rise above her own age cohort and show US something, instead of picking the low-hanging fruit. (No offense to the fruit.)

  6. I chuckled when I read the New York Times article and thought, “Well, her loss. Not ours.” Then I read your post and said, “Right on, sister, right on.” There you are filling the gap that she is leaving wide open. We don’t need Oprah. We need you, and others like you, willing to step up like Sharon and say,
    “What I don’t need at this point in my life is any more guilt about what I SHOULD have done. I feel sorry for her. I intend to go out fighting. I intend to be useful for a long time. I intend to change and grow, improve and learn to the best of my ability until I take that last breath.”
    Rock on ladies.

    • Boy, Sharon nailed it, didn’t she, Martha? The thing I’m loving about today is there is a GOLDMINE of energy, strength, power, wisdom — ALL that and more — resonating from this conversation. We’re ALL filling the gap together. I’m honored you’d use my megaphone. We need to get the word out: we’re awesome, but not punitive. Come to us, share in the warmth, learn from us, and TEACH us! It’s reciprocal.

  7. I’m beyond middle age and am still being challenged to learn new ways of being and enjoying it. This quote by R. M. Rilke says it all. “And then the knowledge comes to me that I have space within me for a second, timeless, larger, life.” As usual, your are right on, Lynn.

    • Oh, Dolores, I miss you already! Barbara Strauch, who wrote “The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain,” defines middle age as that vast span between youth and old age. As long as you’re thinking, learning, curious, interacting, and observing, you’re middle aged. Best wishes and stay in touch, my friend.

  8. Brava, Lynne! Excellent post, although I am saddened for Oprah is a “kind of” hero for me, meaning I was not a loyal viewer for 25 years but one who joined the ranks the last two years, when I was 58. Still, she was a lifeline and I will always appreciate that.

    In some ways, I am not surprised by her comments. I am a loyal Super Soul Sunday viewer, and I’ve noticed some moments of exasperation/frustration/exhaustion, which I don’t begrudge her. but I keep wondering if she really wants that network. I think she would do much better with some online version of OWN based on her interests rather than chasing ratings.

    I agree with Deepak Chopra that a global change in consciousness–for all ages–is possible because of advances in technology. Yet, just because we have the technology does not mean we will do the work; perhaps Oprah believed all she had to do was provide a vehicle.

    Finally, I really enjoy reading your blog, Lynne, although I do not comment frequently. Always, you point out just how powerful we are as older men and women; I have always believed our best is yet to come. Thanks, again, Lynne.


    • Karen, I’m moved by the emotion in your comments. I too watched Oprah for years, and there were SO many years when she seemed to genuinely enjoy and find meaning in what she was doing. I believe she has done enough good that she could rest on her laurels for several lifetimes.

      However, I too have noticed she now seems to be running because she can’t stop – just my opinion. She is so ready for the next lesson, and I’ll present it to her now, with the hopes she’ll feel it through some bit of her consciousness: YOU ARE ENOUGH. Slow down, rest, find yourself again, sister. You are enough.

  9. I’m with you all the way here. I’m seventy and it’s supposed to be the new fifty. It’s a wonderful time of life, filled with exploration and findiing treasure amongst the trash and pain. I’ll not be kicked out of my place, until I’m ready to go, and Oprah will be sorry she said this one day!

    • JZR, I don’t know if it will register on her brain, sorry to say. I mean, she’ll wonder why her luster has dulled, and drum her fingers on her desk, demanding of her minions, “Find me the recipe! Find the combination!” But unless she realizes she has so much more to learn – and to offer as a result! – she’ll labor in ignorance, sleepwalking through life. Which as you know we at AST are DETERMINED NOT TO DO.

      One other thought? Seventy isn’t the new anything, to my way of looking at it. Seventy is FABULOUS just as it is! Seventy in 2012 is healthier, more vibrant, better informed, more active, and more involved than Seventy of a couple decades ago, though, on that I will enthusiastically agree! Seventy is awesome, Seventy is powerful. I bow down before Seventy and hope to learn from her.

  10. How dare Oprah put us on the back burner, or no burner at all. More like the compost pile. My mother is 94 and still sharp and active, although, due to severe arthritis, she can hardly get around if not for her scooter. But she still chairs a committee at the home where she lives, still sings in the chorus, even though she can’t see very well so memorizes the songs by listening to them on a friend’s computer.
    She goes to Current Events to stay up on the news.
    She and the fascinating people I’ve met at “the home” are truly the Greatest Generation. Mom’s “gentleman friend” is 98 and still composes and publishes organ music which is played at churches across the country. He still gets royalties from decades past. As a conscientious objector in WWII, he was put in a camp where the military did experiments on the men, just how few calories can a man survive on?
    I always thought Oprah was a soulful and caring person. Hey, aren’t the boomers the biggest demographic? Not a smart move, O, not a smart move.

    • Well said, Kathryn, SO well said. In addition to the things your mother and those her age still DO, I wonder what they THINK. What wisdom, what maturity, what calm and insight might they share with us? No wonder Oprah is intimidated. She’s not used to being the student anymore. Thanks for stopping by and best wishes with your upcoming novel, “In the Time of Apricots.” FANTASTIC manuscript!

      • Thanks, and you are so right about wisdom and maturity. Recently my great niece, her s.o. and 1 year old baby have been staying with me. Yes, it’s been something of a strain, but also an opportunity to know them better. We’re talking 20-somethings here, the iPhone and flat screen gen and also a bit whiney sometimes. I said something to my mom about, well, they’re young. Her reply was, “Piffle! When I was that age I had two children, taught school (in a one room Iowa schoolhouse) and was busy being a preacher’s wife.”
        Also I forgot to mention about Mom’s 98 year old “gentleman friend” who still composes music – only recently have his fingers become to stiff to perform organ concerts. I only hope I can be half as sharp at that age – if I even get to that age. I’m thinking of writing a Memoir about my mom and these amazing, delightful treasures whom Oprah has kicked to the curb along with us boomers.

        • I think Oprah might get left behind…let some other entrepreneurial genius climb on the demographic surfboard and ride the wave of midlifers who value age and maturity! Other societies do. We can learn from them.

  11. Kathy Shattuck

     /  November 30, 2012

    Lynne, and others, I’ve not come here to climb back up onto my Oprah soap box, as I did on your face book page, I’m just here as a friend to read, observe and comment to what everyone is saying to this “issue” of Oprah’s assumed abandonment of this age group. And that’s how I’m reading this whole story by everyone, an Abandonment. I feel the feathers ruffled, and feel the skin prickle in angst, and I feel the energy of anger. Feeling is what I do when I read. I’m a sixty-nine year old, who will be turning 70 in January, and I’m still trying to make sense out of life.

    Shooting someone down, because of a few words that may have been, as was alluded to, taken out of context, is not always a good thing to do. I’m, again, not on my soap box, but just trying to put all of this into a perspective I can understand. My lot in life has always been to play the Devil’s advocate, and I guess this is another time to slip into that role.

    I agree with everyone here, as to their roles in life, there is no argument from me on this, but what I wish everyone to see, as well, is the fact that we all learn who we are, as we grow. We grow by many means, and I for one have grown by listening to my daughters, and my grandkids. Life is a learning process and you can’t simply know by living within your age group. Surrounding yourself with all age groups, and having them also learn from you. You CAN become the teachers, and the mentors, to everyone who approaches all ages.

    In saying all of this, I wish to give Oprah the benefit of the doubt, and hope she isn’t just making changes to allow her network, or her magazine, to hang on just for the profits; I’m hoping she’s changing these demographics to appeal to ALL age groups, and having younger readers to learn from all of you, again, hopefully, in articles that they may will read. So, please don’t shoot the messenger, whether it be me, or Oprah in this case. We all can learn from each other.

    Keep safe, healthy, and prosperous in love – this year, and years to come..

    Kathy S.

    • Hi Kathy, it’s early yet. She’s just musing, and I’m sure she’ll weigh the pros and cons. What I’m most miffed at is her suggestion that, after 40, 42, as she implied, we older peeps aren’t pursuing our destiny. Nope, we’re done, no big milestones, hopes, dreams, lessons, hills to climb, battles from which to learn and grow. And she is a businesswoman, so I have to assume it’s a biz decision. But I appreciate your weighing in. Contrary opinions are welcome and encouraged! It’s how we learn.

      • Kathy Shattuck

         /  November 30, 2012

        I see what you’re saying, Lynne, and why you’re miffed, I guess I just didn’t take this as personally as you. I don’t write a blog about this age group, so I’m not as impassioned, and believe me… I do feel your passion and think it’s great. I hope you follow up on this story. I’d like to hear more of her side to this. Maybe she should have you on her show – You could as HER the hard questions…I’d love that! 🙂

      • Sharon Harris

         /  November 30, 2012

        I have friends of all ages. I learn from them all. I don’t stay in my own age demographic or socieconomic group when I am choosing friends — never have. But I know “hip” is not defined by any age or income, and glad for the freedom not to choose my companions based on business decsions. I’m sure that Oprah hasn’t made her final decision yet, but that is why she needs to know how we feel — NOW. Should we stay polite and hope that if we “behave” ourselves, that we will get the respect and the inclusion that we deserve? I think not, because that approach hasn’t worked throughout all of history. Our feelings at possibly being dismissed count.

        And, for the record, I’m really hoping that this was taken out of context, however I don’t think that a person who has prided herself about her consideration for humankind and womankind specifically would want to give the impression (either deserved or out-of-context) that one of the most egregious parts of being a woman — the “cloak of invisibility” that comes with middle age femininity — was in any way perpetuated by something she said and/or did. I’m still here, still valuable, still vital, and if it takes my making a little noise in order to have my form take substance again, I’ll make it.

        • Thing is, would we want Oprah to change her approach? I’d almost rather find a new Oprah. Somebody who’s in her seventies, maybe, or eighties. Somebody who’s been there and knows things.

        • Kathy Shattuck

           /  November 30, 2012

          Sharon, I agree, a little noise is necessary to making important points. As I’ve said before, I believe Oprah is genuinely a good and kind person, but I also agree that she could have lost her way…along her way to achievement, whatever that is in her mind. We can’t know what’s in her mind, unless she speaks it, and I’d love to hear more from her on this issue.

          • Sharon Harris

             /  November 30, 2012

            For over 30 years of an unhappy marriage, I was the most polite person you ever saw. I hinted. I carefully asked for what I realize now are rights as opposed to privileges. Finally, I complained. How dare I! I’m much happier now… But maybe, if I’d piped up sooner, or married somebody who actually liked me enough to want the best for me, life would have been a bit smoother and I would have achieved more and lived up to Oprah’s standards for my age group. Learning at 50+ is better than never learning… And so I’ve pledged to keep on learning and developing.

          • Kathy Shattuck

             /  November 30, 2012

            Sharon, I say BRAVO to you for standing up for yourself! Yes, learning at 50+ is better than never learning.

            I think Lynne gives everyone that message in her blogs, and in the same breath, I’m still thinking there is more to learn from, and teach to, the younger readers, if that’s what Oprah has in mind.

            Teaching is high on my list of priorities…..showing by example is part of this change that is necessary…But what I think is the most important thing to know is, Nothing is truly learned by words alone, learning comes from experience. You don’t forget those experiences. My one warning would be…Again, we are all assuming something about Oprah that hasn’t reached the factual stage, yet. I have the feeling she’s still learning, and only hope she can still realize this.

            Whether anyone here likes Oprah, or not, giving someone the benefit of the doubt is how I see this.

          • Sharon Harris

             /  November 30, 2012

            You will note in a previous post that I said that I hoped that this was a miscommunication. Wen I SAY something like that I MEAN it.

            The wait and see approach, however rearely works with someone who is as insulated and revereds as Oprah.

            Frankly, someone at THIS point in time, needs to flat out ask her — is that what you meant?

          • Kathy Shattuck

             /  November 30, 2012

            Yes, Sharon, I agree.

          • Sharon Harris

             /  November 30, 2012

            lol sorry for the misspelled words in the above post — I had a repariman on the line and was trying to ost this before I closed out the window! NOW — who is gonna sk Oprah this big question? lol

          • Kathy Shattuck

             /  November 30, 2012

            Ha! And forgive mine..
            I elect Lynne!
            my text box is nil…sorry
            for the short answer.

  12. Roxanne

     /  November 30, 2012

    Hi Lynne –
    Another insightful blog, thank you! Admittedly, I lost respect for Oprah many years ago when she strolled onstage with the forty pounds of fat she lost. I liked the plus-sized (and natural) Oprah who gave an Oscar-nominated performance in the Color Purple. I wish she stayed with acting in movies, instead of real life. I believe little of what she says or does is authentic, but it or rather she, is a money-making machine. I respect her wealth, but like many of the uber-rich, she forgets how she got there. Not a fan of Oprah, but a HUGE fan of Lynne!

    • What a sweet thing to say, Roxanne. You’ve put a BIG smile on my face! Oprah is a money-making machine, for sure, and she’s an amazing American success story. But as to your point that she’s lost touch, I remember that time she and Gail took a road trip. It was featured on Oprah’s show. They pulled in to a gas station, and OPRAH COULDN’T REMEMBER HOW TO PUT GAS IN THE CAR. She had forgotten how to do it! She had a time figuring it out, but you KNOW she must have gassed up her car herself before the days of a chauffeur and fleet. To me, that was the first indication that she might have forgotten her beginnings, for sure. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Thanks, Lynne. Yes, maturity and wisdom. My great niece, her s.o. and 1 year old have been staying with me lately. A strain, but also a chance to know them better. We’re talking twenty-somethings, the iPhone, flat screen gen, and also a bit whiney at times.
    Recently I said something to my mom like, “Well, they’re young.” And Mom answered. “Piffle! When I was their age I had two children, taught school (in a one room Iowa school house) and was busy being a preacher’s wife.”
    I also forgot to add about my Mom’s “gentleman friend” who composes music at 98 – only recently have his fingers gotten too stiff to perform organ concerts. I’m thinking of writing a memoir about Mom and these amazing treasures Oprah has kicked to the curb along with us boomers.

  14. Oh durn, and just as I subscribed to O Magazine, I suppose I’ll have to find my inspiration elsewhere…here for starters! At age 51, I’m just now getting going!

  15. oldervoter

     /  November 30, 2012

    Boy. I got something very different from the NYT article. The comments from the article re figuring stuff out by your 40’s were part of the comments about her magazine. And the fact that the magazine’s demo’s were older than most successful publications. But the key quote, for me, was “‘what we have to say in this magazine about fulfilling your destiny, who you’re meant to be, living your best life.’ That’s the kind of product Ms. Winfrey predicts people, regardless of age, will continue to pay for.” NOTE: regardless of age.

    As for me, I joyously gave up five-year plans when I passed the 50 mark and watched my nest empty. Then I started a business doing exactly what I wanted to do. Retirement years are here now, and I’m using this freer time to write a novel–a (steamy) romance about people who meet in their 50’s. I suspect that Oprah would applaud my journey. But, quite frankly, as she suspects I would turn to her for neither advice nor approval.

    I do confess that I have had a lucky life. Married to my friend, lover, and partner for 46 years, he has always been my cheerleader and a supporter for what I wanted to do “next.” I hope I have been his–such as when he took up the violin on his 66th birthday.

  16. I got over Oprah years ago too – but I still subscribe and like much in life, pick and choose what works and speaks to me. Love Older Voter’s comments above – just getting going in our 50’s. Me too. And look forward to reading her steamy novel some day. I remarried at 50 and know a bit or two about steamy romance. That’s something that can happen regardless of age too. Right?

    • Barbara, I’ve been meaning to do a post on steamy romance after fifty, but I’m embarrassed to, because my kids read my blog.

      • oldervoter

         /  December 1, 2012

        Lynne, I do SO understand.

        Several months, a discussion of FSOG with writer friends resulted in a challenge to craft a story, either erotica or erotic romance, where the power between her/him was truly equal. But I fell in love with my characters (30-somethings) and wrote almost 40,000 words of an erotic romance in six weeks! Problem. I wouldn’t/couldn’t read excerpts in my (coed) writers’ group. At that point, I realized that I would NEV-er publish that story. (Not judging those that do, it’s just “not me.”)

        So now, I am writing a story that would best be described as “steamy.” And I’m sharing in writers’ group again. That’s my marker for whether or not the “kids” (ages 38 & 39) will be shocked.

        Re kids and their parents sexuality, I think it was shortly after I became a parent that I recognized that my parents were actually fully human including sexuality. (Ah, the changes parenthood brings.) And I was definitely right about my parents. Taking care of Mom’s things after she passed away this past January at almost 92, my sisters and I found the racy cards that she and my dad had exchanged. In their late 70’s. Live on!

        Susan in Texas

        • How cool! What a great think to know. I remember my dad always told us, “Your mother comes first.” We felt more secure with it that way, and mom sure did too.

          • Kathy Shattuck

             /  December 1, 2012

            Humm, Lynne…”Your mother comes first”. Are you sure he wasn’t telling you something else? Okay,sorry..but after reading these posts, you know where my “steamy” mind wandered too…? You can’t say our little writer’s group hasn’t had its share of interesting and steamy conversations, especially the guys, or maybe you missed that one!…I’d love to hear your ‘story’, Lynne, but this is another topic for a hopefully later conversation, so I’ll shut up for now! Ha!
            Come on, Lynne…Write the blog!

          • oldervoter

             /  December 1, 2012

            Fortunately I read Kathy’s comment this afternoon. If it had been in the morning, I would be cleaning spewed coffee off the keyboard. LOL. Susan

    • oldervoter

       /  December 1, 2012

      Barbara, I love to hear about 50-60-70-something romance! And I promise when I get to the happy-ever-after-the-end of this story that I will be shouting from the rooftops! Susan in Texas

  17. Sorry to be late to the party. I was out being abused by the airlines this week. Excellent post and such great comments. Whenever I start to think about quitting blogging, I have to be reminded that we are creating important conversations that put us smack in the middle of relevant. That’s why we do this. Thank you for the inspiration.

  18. I agree with Donna, that we are “creating important conversations. This conversation is revitalizing me and I want to compliment you, Lynne, for launching the dialogue. I am 66 and starting a new business as a personal historian. I launched the business last spring, but then knew I was having foot surgery. The recovery has kept me housebound and feeling old for the past three months. But this conversation has reminded me that the effort I’m putting into recovery (on several levels at once) will be well worth it. I refuse to give up and be irrelevant. I spent a decade taking care of mom until she died last year at 101 and ten months. Now, I’m taking care of myself so I can look forward to vibrant 70s. It’s a slog, but you out there are giving me energy. Thanks.
    BTW, I remarried at 60 after 19 years of being single, following two divorces. I couldn’t be more grateful for his love and companionship. But no passionate romance novels will be forthcoming. Just a “me and mom” memoir that continues to percolate. Something else on the 70s to do list.

    • Aw, come on, Martha, give us a steamy novel! No, I’m really happy for you. I’m on my third marriage also, and I feel like Goldilocks: first husband was too mean, second too lazy, this one just right! And as for all of your energy toward your recovery and new biz? I feel motivated just reading about it. Best wishes!

  19. Message to Oprah: I think that as a daily TV Hostess you brought recognition and great discussion to many social problems that have paralyzed our Society. Everybody including me sometimes couldn’t wait until we came home from a day job and were eager to spend an hour with you to see how you were going to solve the next big problem.

    But now I am very puzzled and confused about what you are trying to do to re-invent your life at the age of 50 Plus. Presently, you have your own Television station where I think you wanted to be a force in the whole world. As a Canadian, I have never even seen your new TV Format. I tried to understand it through social media. What I have seen is there are more photo opps. and self-interest promotion and trying to BEG people to come over to Oprah TV. I think that it was a BAD business decision and now I understand that you might be abandoning your own age group the 50 Plus. Should you be focusing on the Younger age demographic? Young people today have countless opportunities through new technologies and I would imagine they will tune you out, and pursue their own interests. You have a paper magazine in circulation that in an era where just about everybody is going digital. So, again I think that your going in the wrong direction.

    So, what to do? I think that you should go back to daily television programs and/or Internet to help Adults 50 Plus regarding the big transition to a second or third Act and to retirement life. However, to be able to teach in this important area you will probably need a ‘mindset change’ along with focusing more on Lifelong Learning, and what it takes to become an entrepreneur after the age of 50. Finally, we don’t need people that are not going to show respect for the 50 Plus demographic, but understand that we also have many complexities. Also, we cannot assume that by the time we reach 40, 42 or 50, 52 or older that we should have kind of figured it out already.

    Good Luck in your transition stage!

    Joe W.

    • Amen, brother! Thanks, Joe, for your thoughts on this. You are right; there is SO much more to learn, know, discover, figure out, and master. If Oprah can’t see that, or is afraid to take it on, that’s a shame.

  20. I don’t watch Oprah so I’m not familiar with who advertises on her show. But could it be that her advertisers only sell to women who need haircolor, eat bad food, fill their lives with toxic chemical cleaners, etc. ? Women 40+ start to think of their health and the health of the planet and start demanding choices that are better for us and the earth. Yes, we have the money to purchase…but maybe the advertisers won’t sell us the practical and useful products we want to buy?

    • It could be that she’s trying to cater to her advertisers, which again makes me scratch my head, because women OUR age are a more lucrative market. Of course, I’m talking pure dollars, and you’re right, maybe the younguns haven’t yet figured out they’re selling snake oil.

  21. This change of business plan has obviously created a lot of ill-will for Oprah among women our age. It will be interesting to see what younger person comes along to become the next quasi – Oprah.

    • Sharon, I doubt many women know about it, but it’ll become clearer as Oprah’s topics become less and less relevant. Thanks for stopping by.

  22. Glory Be

     /  February 1, 2013

    I think you should forward your thoughts to Oprah’s media outlet. You have a lot of important things to say. Keep writing and seeking support from like-minded women. Clearly it’s not all about the money/marketing. I think your essays would also be good in other print outlets.

    Sincere wishes –

  23. One last thought about this — Oprah ought to watch it. Abandoning Boomers impies a certain amount of self-loathing and denial…


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  • Lynne Spreen

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    Lynne Spreen's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
  • Review of Private Life by Jane Smiley

    Private LifePrivate Life by Jane Smiley
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Maybe this book is better than my capacity to appreciate. I don't tend toward writing that is obscure, or dense (or makes me feel dense). However, sometimes it's better to roll along with the storytelling and let the deeper meaning work its way up from subconscious to conscious.

    The ending of this book is extremely powerful. Margaret, due to the traumatic incident that happened when she was five, lived in a fog her entire life, married to a wacko genius, and not waking up until she was in her sixties and everything/everyone is sad and tired. Yet she seems to catch fire, fueled by bitterness, in the very last 3 sentences of the epilogue. It was a long time to wait for the enlightenment.

    I gave the book 3 stars because there's too much backstory too soon, making it hard for me to develop an interest. Once there, I felt frustrated at the repetitious nature of Margaret's obtuseness, even though she's a bright woman, and her deferring to Andrew, even though this is what people - women especially - do.

    It went on for her whole life! That she was living in a cloud due to, I believe, the trauma of the childhood incident, and that she was ill served by those around her, didn't make it any easier to like this story. I know Smiley is a master writer, and I feel like a goof not giving her a better rating, but this is my honest reaction.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Up At The Villa by Somerset Maugham

    Up at the VillaUp at the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Very much enjoyed this short book, which I read in one night. The settings are lush, dialogue snappy, and the characters realistic and strong. The plot and writing are compelling. I enjoyed it because a theme might be, "people are not what they appear to be." A character acts one way and you think, okay, he's good and upstanding. And maybe he IS, but the "why" of it is enlightening. Maugham is a respected author for a reason. What talent! A very good story.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Benediction by Kent Haruf

    BenedictionBenediction by Kent Haruf
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Ever in search of stories about midlife and beyond, I set up a page on facebook (www.Facebook.com/midlife.fiction) and asked for suggestions. I got 38 great recommendations, and I hope to read and review every one of them. Herewith, then: Benediction by Kent Haruf. What a masterpiece.

    Benediction centers around an elderly man who is dying, but the story encompasses many rich characters, and their small stories touched me. In fact, I think this is what made the book so special for me: I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. Each one resonated. I felt again what it was like to be a lost little girl, a lonely divorcee, a misunderstood introspective, a grieving wife, a person who is coping with serious illness. I longed for the small-town atmosphere described here (the Fourth of July fireworks over the high school football field is a stellar short story all by itself.)

    Although the central character is dying, the book is not negative. Far from it - Benediction reflects on the everyday goodness (and tawdriness) of people. His characters are beset by the normal difficulties of life yet buoyed by simple beauties and kindnesses.

    Yet, nothing in Haruf's writing is overly dramatic or in the least saccharine. In fact, that's one of the aspects of Benediction I enjoyed the most: being surprised by tears on the completion of a plainly-written paragraph, phrase or description.

    I couldn't stop reading excerpts to my husband, since he also loves beautifully crafted writing. This book put me in mind of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. If I could describe it in one word, it would be "elegiac."

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