You Don’t Look Your Age… and Other Fairy Tales – “This happened to me, learn from it!”

You Don’t Look Your Age… and Other Fairy Tales by Sheila Nevins  is a book after my own heart. In fact, it could have been written by me. It wasn’t! But it could have been.

On the back, it says,“This happened to me, learn from my mistakes and my successes. Because you don’t get any smarter as you get older, you get braver.” This also could have been written by me and is, in fact, the whole reason for … all my blogs … but especially this one.

I have made mistakes – some with the very best intentions and others, because I wasn’t thinking at all. I have reaped unintended consequences for my decisions, as have those I love, simply because they existed in my small world. I call it collateral damage. There was plenty to go around.

I want to talk to you about these things because I don’t want you to suffer needlessly. I want to warn you!

But maybe you need to take a certain path… it is not for me to say. But I can offer something that will help you once you get to the other side. Understanding. Hope. Something of value, I pray. This is what I want for you. This is why I write here.

But back to the book: I’m sharing about the audiobook in particular because it’s how I’ve been “reading” it as I go back and forth to work. And seriously folks, even if you aren’t an audiobook nut like I am, it’s totally worth it for YOU to listen to it! Read by a diverse cavalcade of stars including Marlo Thomas, RuPaul, Glenn Close, Judith Light, Alan Alda, Gloria Steinem and Gloria Vanderbilt (and so, so many more) it will make you laugh, cry and shake your head in agreement – over and over again.

It’s about being a woman in a man’s world… and yes, it actually says that… because… God dammit… it’s still true that too many women are at the mercy of men.

Things are getting better all the time, of course, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

Nevins was a documentary producer and president of HBO Documentary Films for thirty years. With a BA from Barnard and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, she is no lightweight. In fact, she is a powerhouse.

This book has made me stop and take stock a few times. Once, I turned off the CD player and pulled over to cry. I had been listening to Rosie O’Donnell read about a boy named David, with Tourette’s Syndrome. She read a line that broke my heart and it’s something I’ve thought of so many times myself, about my own son with special needs. This isn’t am exact quote but it was something like this:

I wouldn’t want him any other way but I’m furious we’ve had to go through it.

Oh, yes, yes, a million times YES! My boy is perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t want him any other way because he wouldn’t be HIM otherwise. But. What hell we’ve endured – especially him, of course!

The piece was written from a very hurt and frustrated mom’s point of view. She knew something was wrong with her son but didn’t know what it was, nor did any of the doctors she dragged her child to. Teachers didn’t know what to do with David so they shuffled him from pillar to post. Mom was at her wit’s end, thumbing through a magazine at a doctor’s office when an article jumped out at her. She finally had her answer, and she got it herself as she read the symptoms of Tourette’s in a glossy magazine.

Just like so many of us “special needs moms” have had to do to find answers.. Just like I did!

Several chapter later, I was riveted as Ellen Burstyn read about a mother who had no other recourse with her addicted son… she had “enabled” him too long. The doctors said so, the specialists said so, the rehab centers said so. She was told it was time for ‘tough love” and so… she kicked him out when he was nineteen. She didn’t hear from him for months and was worried every second of every day. Six months later, her phone rang and she knew who it was before she answered. The police were calling to say that he’d died in the streets. What does a mother do with that? She blames herself, as any mother would, I think. What do we take from that?

Not all the stories in this book (or in life) end happily.

Some do. Many do. Thank God.

No book on growing older would be complete without a few stories about cosmetic surgery, health, sex with (and without) the little blue pill, friendhips and marriage. It’s all here. And so much more!

This is one of the best non-fiction and yes, self-help books I’ve ever read. I love it.

 

 

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