A Weekend to Change Your Life By Joan Anderson
I’ve had a book sitting on my desk for two years. The title is A Weekend to Change Your Life by Joan Anderson. I kept waiting for a weekend when I could devote myself to this book, and it took this long to find one. I actually got almost three weeks alone and caught up on lots of reading, including this supposedly life-changing volume. Joan Anderson has made a reputation for herself by encouraging women to think about their own needs in order to live more satisfying lives. At the age of 50 Joan Anderson spent a year alone at her cottage on Cape Cod to take time out after raising a family, to think about who she was, independent from her husband and children. At the end of that year, her husband thought that he should retire to the cottage, and he has done so. Joan wrote a couple of books about her experiences and how other women can do the same – she hosts retreats, speaking engagements and her book A Weekend to Change Your Life is a sort of weekend retreat in a book. She gives the reader tools to assess the true quality of their days – the calendar exercise was especially interesting. Take your calendar for the past months and look at how many of the events you attended were ones that left you feeling invigorated – and how many left you feeling exhausted, or let down, or simply bored. Do we really need Joan Anderson to tell us what to do?
I was pleased to find that I’m not in such bad shape, according to Joan Anderson. I have, in fact, over the years since my children left home, made time for myself and for the activities that I enjoy with friends. I have travelled independently, made decisions for myself, and I have, for a very long time, not often done things that I do not enjoy – life is indeed too short. Those of us who are still working need to find a balance between work and leisure. And there are many women who have not remained independent - women who entertain people they do not enjoy spending time with, women who have never been away by themselves, women who are not feeling fulfilled at home or at work, women who are afraid to change. Joan Anderson encourages women to take a break from their day-to-day lives, to spend some time in solitude, and to do this on a regular basis as they reassess their lives and discover the personal satisfaction that comes with being self aware.
Joan Anderson’s most recent book is The Second Journey - the Road Back to Yourself. Here she re-caps the core of her philosophy and tells us of the most recent years in her own life. Joan had become such a success as a writer and speaker and retreat leader that she was facing exhaustion. She was trying to be a perfect mother to her adult sons and their wives, and perfect grandmother to her grandchildren, and attentive daughter to her aging mother – not to mention her husband, who mostly let her go her own way and got on with his own life. Joan had spent the past 10 years teaching other women not to do what she found herself doing. She was feeling discouraged and feeling that she had again lost the woman she had worked to become. She was feeling disconnected from herself – it was time for a change! How many women do we all know who never let go – who obsessively control their families, facilitating, organizing, and then complain of being tired and let down. Joan Anderson says “the goal is to turn your mid-life crisis into a mid-life discovery.”
Joan eventually took a trip to Scotland, alone, to walk and think and write – to re-asses. She also recognized that she must look after her body, that her recent lifestyle – the rush of it all – was taking its toll on her aging body. And she started to say no more often than yes.
There are many stories in this book of women who have made changes in their lives. One woman, who, with her husband, decided not to renovate the kitchen, but to go on a road trip to escape the stagnancy of their lives – together. The woman who related this story, was surprised to find that her husband was as open to change as she was.
We all have this choice, and we can choose for ourselves how to make our lives great.