Dr. Joyce Knudsen, in her recently released book: Refusing to Quit—True Stories of Women Over Sixty, shows us the way. Her mission is to exalt the societal worth of elder women. With facts, antidotes, her personal story, and 20 contributing writers we can, with fascination, reevaluate the under-told contributions of seniors. These remarkable women took chances and made dreams come true. Their tales of self-compassion, courage, creativity, and embodied authenticity spark our imagination, motivate us to persevere and, quite possibly, to reinvent ourselves. The reader’s reward is a heart full of respect and inspiration, and a good dose of wisdom.
The late philosopher, Richard Rorty, claimed that it is through sentimental stories that we can develop the necessary virtue of sympathy. In this way, we have “an increasing ability to see the similarities between ourselves and people very unlike us as outweighing the differences.” Gaining an understanding of people or sharing a common feeling with others through stories, whether they are oral histories or written words, is vital to the human condition. For we all share the essentials of our common existence—life-long learning filled with emotions, aspirations, conflict, and mortality.
Here we find twenty-one essays by remarkable women that embolden us. The main author, Dr. Joyce Knudesen, wrote this book and anthologized the stories despite serious visual challenges. Her impetus was to live by the motto “pay it forward”, by giving others a voice. She demonstrates the ideal of loving work and life, having goals, pursuing them, and being productive and generous in the autumn of our lives—inspiring us to “refuse to quit”.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a world-renown psychologist, wrote the foreword. As she rightly suggests, and these stories highlight: being true to who we are, at our deepest core, is the ultimate aim. Indeed, it is the wellspring of strong women everywhere.
Here are some of the women you will meet in Refusing to Quit. Dr. Connie Mariano, who became the White House doctor to three sitting American presidents. Ninety-three-year-old, Frieda Rapport Caplan, who remains (actively) the most successful marketer of specialty fruits and vegetables in the U.S.A. (if not the world). Yoga teacher, Ann Barros, who was made famous in Elizabeth Gilbert’s, Eat, Pray, Love. Ruthie Barnes, a Nashville singer and songwriter legend with records still being released. Soraya Devi Raju, who went from a career in high finance to being a textile expert after specializing in her mother’s collection of 1,000 saris, and now is an award-winning image consultant and philanthropist. A petite French woman, Collette Michelle, who lived through the German occupation during World War II, immigrated to the USA and became a Corporate Fashion Director and continues to be active in the industry. Sharon Boone, who started selling cosmetics at Macy’s (after cold-calling the owner of the company), and ended up, with sheer tenacity over the years, becoming the President of that company—Flori Roberts Inc. These seven women exemplify the spirit and unique accomplishments of all 20 essayists in Refusing to Quit—True Stories of Women Over Sixty.
Refusing to Quit—True Stories of Women Over Sixty (2016) by Dr. Joyce Knudsen is available on Amazon in paperback and as an eBook: http://amzn.to/23L2kf3
Full disclosure: I do have a personal interest in this book as I contributed an essay, the epilog, and collected a few of the stories.