Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community
By Susan Freiband
This is the title of a slim book published in 2013 by Gaon Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Its author, Patricia Gottlieb Shapiro, is a professionally trained social worker, lecturer, writing coach and yoga teacher. She has written or co-authored nine non-fiction books. Her specialty is writing and speaking on issues of women at midlife and older. The subtitle of this book, “Portraits of Twelve Jewish Women” indicates its content. The women included in the book range from ages 76 to 102. They come from different parts of the United States, have different lifestyles and economic backgrounds. However, they all were selected because they can serve as role models for aging well. They lead active, full, vibrant lives. They overcame obstacles, including physical problems or conditions of aging, focusing rather on their activities, relationships, passions and beliefs. The book is based on the author’s interviews with each woman. Each portrait includes a narrative and quotes, as well as a photograph.
In the conclusion of the book, the author identifies ten keys to vital, healthy aging. These are: (1) stay involved and active; (2) build a support system; (3) take good care of yourself (stay active physically); (4) continue to learn; (5) foster your creativity; (6) develop a spiritual life; (7) adopt a positive attitude; (8) cultivate generativity (ways to give back); (9) find yourself a mentor; (10) develop resilience. These qualities, according to the author, have contributed to each woman’s longevity and vitality; their empowering life stories.
As I think about my own family history, I realize that my mother who lived a rich, long, active life, until one month before her 106th birthday, clearly exemplified these qualities. Perhaps the most important for her were a positive attitude, staying involved and active, and resilience. Each of us can learn and enrich our own lives by reading about the lives of others, especially those who have been fortunate to enjoy the privilege of aging well.