Family Relationships

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Make Your Brain Sweat with Novel Challenges

Interested in narratives of remarkable people who confirm that it's never too late to blaze new trails? Journalist Bruce Frankel’s book What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? is full of stories about those who find passion in lifelong learning, the creative arts and giving back. We asked Bruce a few questions:

Why did you write the book?
Facing unexpected challenges in my career and life in my mid-50s, I decided to write a book about ordinary people who achieved significantly in the second half of life to provide real, not faux, inspiration.

At about the same time, while helping my recently-laid off 84-year-old mother recover from heart surgery, I became fascinated by recent findings in neuroscience about the brain's plasticity into very old age. I took a leap and began researching people whose later life stories demonstrated the remarkable possibilities of reinventing ourselves and the benefits to our brains and lives.

What were the best personal results?
Writing the book and meeting the people whose stories I tell was a gift. They expanded my imagined lifeline for work and provided me with models of how to plow through adversity and find well-being in a life lived with engagement, passion, discipline, and a playful outlook.

I learned the importance of diversifying my activities, rededicating myself to exercise and making my brain sweat with novel challenges. It helped me establish a new career, including public speaking, and to take risks less fearfully, like when I recently accepted my son's request to make a music video with him. Critically, those I interviewed taught me the importance of living life in sync with my own values and dreams. Most amazingly, completing the book, in itself, made me feel successful in ways I hadn't imagined.

In his other life, Bruce worked at People magazine and USA Today. He left full-time journalism, in his 50's, to study for an MFA in poetry.

Read more about What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? and the award Bruce just received at his website. He also writes a blog about later life achievers, the brain and aging, and, occasionally, dance and poetry.

You may want to sign our email list to the left of this post, and receive a free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones as well as download a complimentary ebook, Lessons Learned: Reaching For Your Goals.

And please visit our blog again on Wednesday, March 30, when we welcome Susan Swartz for a Virtual Book Tour. She'll be discussing her two books about women 50 and beyond, the women she calls Juicy Tomatoes.

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Blogger Dr. Erica Goodstone said...

What an important book you have written. So many people have been affected by the changing economy or by health conditions and life style changes. You can help them to realize that life can be an adventure, they can reinvent their life, and they will learn that using their brain for challenges is not upsetting but it is healthy.

5:41 PM  

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