There wasn’t a time too long ago that I hit a milestone birthday. I remember bemoaning to friends that we should get some kind of letter in the mail saying “Congratulations! You’ve hit the bit X-0! This is what you can expect,” followed by a list of everything we have to look forward to. Well, I wish I had “Don’t Forget Your Sweater, Girl: Sister to Sister Secrets for Aging with Purpose and Humor” by Dr. Marilou Ryder and Jessica Thompson, because that would have fit the bill perfectly!
“Don’t Forget Your Sweater, Girl” is a book filled with advice and stories from women over the age of sixty. The format is super reader-friendly. First, there are spot-on drawings that humorously show what’s running through our minds. Then, “A Day in the Life” vignettes where women share their routines (glad to see I’m not the only one who makes time for wine). There are bits of advice and stories outlined in a box and then full-on interviews conducted by Ryder and Thompson. The variety and length allowed me to pick up the book and randomly select a story, put it down, then pick it up a day or so later and not miss a beat. Not only that, I find myself revisiting it and sharing some of these women’s stories with my own cache of friends.
Dr. Ryder and Ms. Thompson ask the same questions to each woman and it’s amazing how many offer the same advice, regardless of their different backgrounds. They all say to stay physically active – and I mean ALL of them. They like to live in the moment. And they all have a pretty normal and regular schedule filled with various activities. However not all kept a secret stash of money for themselves (the way these women answer that question is one of the funnier moments in the book). I enjoyed “meeting” the various women featured and was taken by their honesty and frankness. These women willingly and gladly share their biggest regrets and worries along with their greatest joys. I was especially taken with Fannie and Gwen, the two centenarians that close out the book.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Thompson and learned that she and her sister, Dr. Marilou Ryder, collaborated on this project almost entirely electronically as one lives on the East Coast and the other on the West Coast. They got together just once to hash out all the details. She talked about how much fun they had writing it, which is evident in the style and content. Ms. Thompson told me the whole process gave her a new, positive perspective on aging. She and her sister were enlightened by the women they met and after reading, I can understand why. Each of the women featured bring so much positivity, warmth and humor that it’s hard NOT to feel good about aging. Really! Jessica and Marilou wanted to provide us with a book that shows women of age still have value and they succeeded brilliantly. I know a few women getting ready to hit a “Big X-0” who will love when I gift them this book. And P.S. this would be a fantastic Book Club addition with the bonus that Ms. Thompson herself will attend. You can find her Rthompson22@comcast.net.
Dr. Ryder and Ms. Thompson were so inspired with the project that they are now working on a second book aimed at women twenty to sixty years old: “Don’t Forget Your Lipstick, Girl: Sister to Sister Secrets for Gaining Confidence, Courage and Power.” As Jessica says, “Women have a whole platter in front of them now and we want to help them navigate their boundless possibilities.” This new mission almost makes me wish to be young again. But just almost. Instead, I’m happier to have gained these bits of wisdom from my fellow “women of a certain age”: Be positive. Be thankful. And keep moving.
Thank you for reading!
Lynn Alexander is a recently published author and long-time book, food, cat and college football lover (Go Green!). Her career journey started in upstate New York, writing and recording commercials for radio. She moved to Venice, Florida to manage a restaurant which led her to Naples and Marco in 2002, where she currently books weddings and events for a local resort. Alexander is a Leadership Marco 2015 alum which fed her passion for history and learning. A butterfly at parties but a loner at heart, she loves nothing more than baking yummy desserts then retreating to a quiet corner to read.