Bolder and Wiser by Sarah Dale
Remarkable conversations with older women
I met Sarah around eighteen months ago when she asked to interview me as one of the twenty voices in her book “Bolder and Wiser”. It was an easy, relaxed conversation, although recorded, like you would have over a cup of tea at a Bring and Buy sale. Sarah had seen me regularly on TV, or was it radio? when she was young, and I chatted away about this and that as she worked through her set questions. Some reflections dug quite deep but most were family and friend centred, about dreams and achievements, about now as much as then.
Now her book is published and she is in the exciting process of launching it to critical acclaim. If you believe in basic sisterhood, of the precious bond between mothers and daughters, of the protective understanding between mothers and sons, in the important celebration of female intuition, then this book is for you.
To learn more about it let’s hear from Sarah herself. Sarah is a chartered psychologist and accredited coach. She divised the Creating Focus programme and is the author of Keeping Your Spirits Up. This is what she says.
When I set out to hold conversations with twenty women over sixty, to ask them ‘what matters?’ and ‘what doesn’t?’ I was expecting an interesting project. I was delighted when women readily came forward to talk to me. I recorded, transcribed and responded to the conversations and the result can be found in the book.
What I don’t think I expected was the impact that the whole process would have on me. The publication of the book feels like the start of something rather than the conclusion. Seeing my own thoughts, and my participants’ comments, in print has made something visible that isn’t always obvious.
These are women who have led varied and interesting lives but at the same time are similar to women all over the world and at all times throughout history. Some have raised children, some have cared for elderly relatives. All have worked. Many still do. Some have been ill. Some are married. Some are grandmothers.
So much of what was said was simultaneously the reflection of everyday experience as well as being deeply profound. It’s a powerful mix, one that playwrights and novelists have long understood. It’s easy to relate to – much of what these women spoke about was familiar to me, as I prepare to enter my fifties. And yet much of their perspective shed a subtly potent new light on the way I go about my life. It was calming, reassuring, challenging and emboldening.
As a result of this process – not only the conversations but the writing about them too – I feel more accepting of myself and more prepared to step outside of my comfort zone. It has been liberating, and is allowing me to feel more secure in my own skin than I think I did previously. The memory of the conversations is with me more of the time than I had anticipated – and particularly if I feel nervous, remembering them is like a welcome gust of air in my sails. I feel more able to step up to the plate. In fact, I feel urged to step up by these quietly determined and encouraging voices.
I have increasingly been reflecting on how women can be heard, especially in relation to some of the issues that affect all of us in the world we live in. Older women’s stories, perspectives and suggestions are as important (not more important) as anyone else’s and we need a place at the table alongside men and younger people, in many areas of life. We’re all stronger together. My hope is that Bolder and Wiser is one step in helping women’s voices in mid-life and beyond to become just that little bit louder. Including mine.”
Well, as an actress whose fight goes on for more female-centred stories to be written, produced and broadcast, I’ll say “Amen” to that. Good luck with your book Sarah, and I hope totally4women readers embrace it.
Bolder and Wiser is published by Creating Focus