I Feel Great About My Hands: And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging [NOOK Book]


Nora Ephron struck a chord with I Feel Bad about My Neck. Women’s advocate and acclaimed writer Shari Graydon set out to counter the supposed downhill slide–inspired grief by inviting notable women from across Canada — all over 50 — to provide an alternative perspective.

I Feel Great about My Hands is a collection of stories, essays and ...
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I Feel Great About My Hands: And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging

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Nora Ephron struck a chord with I Feel Bad about My Neck. Women’s advocate and acclaimed writer Shari Graydon set out to counter the supposed downhill slide–inspired grief by inviting notable women from across Canada — all over 50 — to provide an alternative perspective.

I Feel Great about My Hands is a collection of stories, essays and poems embracing the changes, discoveries and wisdom that come with age. This colourful anthology includes:

Gemini award–honoured funnywoman Mary Walsh on playing a “big, loud, opinionated old bag”
Celebrated poet Lorna Crozier’s hilariously graphic “My Last Erotic Poem”
Val Napoleon, an adopted Gitksan member of Cree heritage applying Aboriginal trickster tales to modern attitudes about aging
Shari Graydon herself focusing her “face-half-unwrinkled” attention on the hands that have helped her nurture life and express creativity and joy
Royalties from the book will benefit Media Action, an organization dedicated to challenging the under-representation and sexualization of women in the media.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Compassion and comedy are combined in this collection of 40 new essays and poems celebrating the challenges and benefits of female maturity. Graydon (past president, Media Action Média; In Your Face: The Culture of Beauty and You) invited dozens of women to write about their experiences as they turned 50 or older, her title a wry reference to Nora Ephron's popular I Feel Bad About My Neck. The result is a wise and humorous multi-voiced collection of 42 pieces, for the most part by Canadian women, that affirms the internal benefits of aging in spite of the outward struggles with wrinkles, weight, and white hair. Topics include the benefits of a good bra or the significance of not wearing one, the companionship among golfers, visits to plastic surgeons, and gratitude for working body parts, even if they are a bit saggy. VERDICT A complement to Ephron's book, this may appeal to the same readers as well as women generally who enjoy discussions of growing older happily. [Royalties will benefit Media Action Média.—Ed.]—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781553658443
  • Publisher: D & M Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/7/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,075,455
  • File size: 581 KB

Meet the Author

Shari Graydon is an award-winning women's advocate, veteran print and broadcast journalist, and bestselling author of two media literacy books for youth. Past president of Media Action, a nonprofit group promoting gender equity through media analysis, she lectures frequently about media and body image issues from her home base in Ottawa.
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Read an Excerpt

From Turkey Flap Wisdom by Lyndsay Green

One winter evening some years ago my teenage daughter and I were soaking together in a backyard hot tub. The moonlight was bright and I caught her staring at me through the steam. She was looking at me as if seeing me for the first time, and she said, with genuine compassion, "Mom, do you mind growing old?"

I hesitated and then responded with my own question, "How do you feel about how you look?" As she made a face and struggled to find the words, I said, "See, you're beautiful and you don't see it. And I'm well past my best-before date and I think I look great."

She responded with sheer amazement, "You do?"

When the author, Annie Dillard was young, she was dismayed to find that her elders were coming apart and seemed neither to notice nor mind. She was revolted by their deterioration but hid her feelings so as not to be rude. In her essay, "An American Childhood", she wondered why they couldn't notice such a "prominent defect" as their "limp, coarse skin" and illustrated the problem using her mother's hand. "I picked up a transverse pinch of skin over the knuckle of her index finger and let it drop. The pinch didn't snap back; it lay dead across her knuckle in a yellowish ridge."

Her mother eventually ended this exploration of her hands with the admonishment, "That's getting boring."

I read this interplay with a laugh of recognition. I have the same response when my daughter amuses herself by playing with my "turkey flap"-her name for the flesh hanging on the underside of my upper arm that has surrendered to gravity. Like Annie's mother, I let my daughter amuse herself for a while before calling a halt to the game. I'm neither offended nor mortified, just bored. Clearly, I'm not taking my breakdown seriously, either.

What accounts for this widely shared disconnect between our appearance and our self-perception as we age? One oft-repeated joke is that our failing eyesight protects us from reality. We can no longer see how far things have fallen. There's some truth to that, but there is also something deeper at work: our expectations have dropped farther than our flesh.

I'm grateful that most body parts still work, and I've lived long enough to know that the present state sure beats the alternative. How could I bemoan my saggy bits when friends have lopped off parts and excavated organs to fight to stay alive? How could I not be grateful to my body for continuing the good fight-in whatever form-thinking about my friends who died too young? They would have made Faustian bargains for this chance to have their wrinkled body scrutinized by their glowing-skinned offspring. So I rejoice at still being here, imperfect as I am, to be played with by my beautiful daughters.

It turns out that this sunny thought process is, itself, a function of aging. While our bodies are deteriorating, our brains are helping us cope. Research studies consistently find that older people are better able to manage their emotions than younger people. One of the explanations that rings true for me is that we are more likely than our younger counterparts to have mixed emotions. Things become less black and white.

For me, having children was the point at which I stopped feeling the pure emotions of joy and sorrow: everything became bittersweet. I would rejoice in being awarded a new business contract, but saddened realizing it would take time away from my family. I would relish my place on the pedestal of wisdom when my daughters were young, at the same time anticipating and mourning the inevitable tumble I would take from the perch. My delight in spending time with them was coupled with the sorrow of knowing that some day they would leave me to launch their own lives.

Apparently having these mixed emotions and avoiding the extremes allows us to manage stress better and helps us recover more quickly from adversity. Neuroscientists can now watch this process on brain scans. Researchers in Wisconsin, for example, identified a group of older adults who regulated their emotions effectively, and studied their brain activity. Unlike others with less emotional control, this group used their prefrontal cortex to rein in the amygdala, which processes stressful emotions like fear and anxiety.

Our emotional maturity means that we don't take offence as easily as young people. Another study in California subjected younger and older adults to personal criticism and then asked them to report their thoughts and emotions. Whereas the younger adults dwelled on the negative comments and demanded more details, the older adults were less likely to focus on the negative. Thinking back to my hot tub discussion, the younger me could easily have taken offence at my daughter's pointed question. I might have grilled her about exactly which body parts lead her to think I was past my prime, and insisted she identify the telltale signs. I could have made her very sorry she'd ever brought up the subject. But, now, as with Annie's mother, it's hard to get a rise out of me.

At times like this I am glad to be getting old. I like the way I think and I'm not alone. Provided we don't have dementia, the older we get, the happier we get, despite the accompanying deterioration of our bodies! Stats Canada research has found that nearly two-thirds of people over 85 report that they're in good to excellent health. They persist in this belief even though they probably have at least one chronic condition, including arthritis and rheumatism, high blood pressure, back problems, heart disease, as well as vision and hearing problems. Here is living proof that, at a certain point, "still breathing" is a cause for celebration.

In the past, younger people could more easily seek out this wise worldview of their elders. Their grandparents lived nearby, if not under the same roof, and elderly relatives and friends were part of religious and social activities. Now we're much more likely to be gathered in age silos that isolate generations one from another.

To remedy this, young people are beginning to use the Internet in ingenious ways to connect with the wisdom of their elders. A website called Elder Wisdom Circle links "cyber-grandparents" across North America with people in their teens, 20s, 30s. More than 600 elders respond to online requests for advice with confidential and personal guidance. Topics cover the range of life's challenges. A 22-year-old asks whether she needs to invite her husband's ex-girlfriend to her baby shower, as he would like. The elder's response supports the young woman's instincts and provides an example from the older woman's own life by way of reinforcement. In another letter a 16-year-old asks, "Do you have any advice on just life in general?" The writer (gender not specified) is doing well in school but feels unmotivated, and pressured by parents to make decisions about the future. The letter concludes, "This may not seem like much of a problem per se, but I just feel confused about pretty much the rest of my life and how to get there."
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Table of Contents

Introduction ix


How Drooping Breasts Led Me to a Truck-driving Life of Adventure Marlaina Gayle 1

Back to School Susan Delacourt Susan Harada 10

Why I Colour My Hair Susan Mertens 19

A Club of One's Own Beth Atcheson 24

Karate for Felix, Tai Chi for Me Liz Whynot 28


A Woman over the Preschool Age Susan Musgrave 35

No Longer Just Acting Mary Walsh 43

Face It Linda Spalding 47

Rust Lynn Miles 53

Connecting (Feminist) Lines Diana Majury 55


Levity in the Face of Gravity Renate Mohr 63

Ways of Seeing Meri Collier 71

Ghosts Susan Lightstone 75

My Grandmothers' Skin Val Napoleon 81

Beauty Redefined Hélène Anne Fortin 87


My Last Erotic Poem Lorna Crozier 93

Cougars and Spaniels Lyn Cockburn 95

The Pleasures of an Older Man Harriett Lemer 100

Skin and Bones Maxine Matilpi 102


The Shady Side of Fifty Constance Backhouse 107

From Feisty to Respectable Elizabeth May 113

Finding My Voice

Struggling to Become an Elder Judy Rebick 119


Dinner Tastes Better than Ever Alison Smith 127

Facing the Void Dawn Rae Downton 130

At This Stage: More Wholly a Fool in Bright Orange Boots Sheree Fitch 138

Bump-Her Stick-Her Ann St James 147


Living beyond Loss Susannah Cohen Dalfen 151

My Colonoscopy Gail Kerbel 156

Of Birthdays and Bibliotherapy Ann Cowan 160

A Work in Progress Bonnie Sherr Klein 168


From Zero to Not Quite So Stupid Frances Bula 179

Turkey Flap Wisdom Lyndsay Green 186

It's All Fine Laura Robin 193

The Joys of Mostly Good Enough Heather-jane Robertson 198

No Country for Old Women? Lillian Zimmerman 202


It Will Be Easy (and other poems) Susan McMaster 211

Kick the Can Sheila Deane 218

Have Genes Will Travel Carol Bruneau 226

I Feel Great about My Hands Shari Graydon 235

Acknowledgements 244

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted February 6, 2013

    When I saw the title, I knew this book is where I¿m at. By no me

    When I saw the title, I knew this book is where I’m at. By no means am I an octogenarian, and I’m double twenty and some.

    A collection of connections on aging, I Feel Great about My Hands: And other unexpected Joys of Aging, edited by Shari Graydon, seems just the thing when pronounced with “the knees of a 70-year-old.”

    I do fit right in among these women who have come of age, the second age of womanhood and third age of life. Joys of aging. I’ve certainly not heard very many olders through the years who gushed with joy about their fondness for the decade behind them and expectations for another incoming.

    The past ten years have been costly on a most personal level. I believed in my health, that one thing we have if we have nothing else—except the illusion parted at age 33 with a diagnosis of melanoma. Six months later in was tumbling through a physical cascade, which was met with an emotional one. By the end of 2005 I thought I had seen the darkest days; I was wrong.

    I read the words between the book’s covers and discovered a more subtle sweetness and far less bitterness. Each person’s writing was a dream of its own under the same sky, and I took the time to stop after each woman had her say. This is nonfiction. Nothing that began ended as I expected, but it is nonfiction.

    I admit to reading bits to my husband and snickering, and crying. Sharon Carstairs pulled the chair from beneath me, so powerful the beginning and ending. Uncommonly familiar, “Finding One’s Voice.” Powerful women, potent ideas, rich, rich experience from which they rise.

    If you’re pondering the pucker around your eyes or the irregular looping in your grandmother’s conversation, consider connecting with these women on a level you’d probably never experience face to face with anyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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