Following in the footsteps of her eloquent father, therapist Sarah Brokaw
will appear at the Traverse City Opera House this Thursday, March 3 to
talk about her new book, Fortytude: Making the Next Decades the Best Years
of Your Lifethrough the 40s, 50s, and Beyond.
In her newly released book, Brokaw gives the reader a revealing glimpse
of feeling like the not good enough daughter of Tom Brokaw, the
legendary news anchor who appeared in Traverse last summer. Her mother,
Meredith Brokaw, a lovely woman who sets the standard for aging
gracefully, is a success in her own right as a former author, teacher,
equestrian, and businesswoman.
Sarah Brokaw, a licensed therapist, writes honestly about her struggle
with panic attacks and not living up to her familys accomplishments.
Still, to this day, I can struggle with the feeling of not being good
enough, especially at moments when Im feeling vulnerable from having
suffered a blow to my ego. I worry that Im not living up to my extremely
accomplished familys standards. None of them has ever seen a therapist,
so I can find myself devaluing my choice of career at times. I havent had
a family of my own yet, whereas both Andie and Jen have, so I can feel as
though Im falling short in my personal life, as well. At my lowest
moments, I become self-critical and think, What have I been doing with my
Brokaw draws heavily on the compelling stories of women to illustrate how
to authentically enjoy midlife by honing five core qualities: grace,
connectedness, accomplishment, adventure and spirituality. But even Brokaw
admits that grace doesnt come easy in a world where women are expected to
effortlessly jam 48 to 72 hours of living into every 24-hour day.
Ironically, our values can, at the same time that they serve to ground
us, also provide a more freeing way to define ourselves. Instead of
saying, This is what I do, we say, This is what I am about. Nothing is
more attractive than a 40-plus woman who has focused on what matters most
to her, as opposed to blindly following a prescribed path, and who
therefore exudes confidence in herself and enthusiasm for her life, she
writes in the closing challenge.
Brokaw, a single woman now in her early 40s, talks about her own
challenge several years ago with the ticking baby clock. Well aware of the
pitfalls of settling for almost the right man or too desperately seeking
out a husband, she decided to see a fertility specialist who advised her
to freeze her eggs. She took his advice immediately, forgoing her
scheduled training for a triathlon.
Brokaw tackles many of the concerns that are on the minds of those hitting
their mid-life yearsthe option of plastic surgery, keeping your sex life
vital, dealing with feelings as a stay-at-home mom, coping with the death
of parents, and reigniting the love with your long-time spouse. Brokaw
draws on a multitude of womens stories that not only offer some really
useful and down-to-earth advice, but leave you oddly thankful for making
it to your fifth decade.
Brokaws March 3 appearance is the second act in the National Writers
Series 2011 season that will include an announcement of two very high
profile authors just added to an already impressive line-up of writers,
including humorist David Sedaris, Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford, and
Paula McLain, author of the anticipated new novel The Paris Wife, which
book industry insiders predict will explode as the nations next
bestseller. Tom Brokaw appeared in the Writers Series at the Opera House
last summer to a sell-out crowd.
Megan Raphael, author of the Courage Code, a personal coach specializing
in womens issues, and the director of the National Writers Series, will
Excerpts from Fortytude: Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your
Lifethrough the 40s, 50s, and Beyond.
The first step in my spiritual journey with surfing was letting go of my
harsh judgments about myself. My surf instructor pointed out that
naturally I wouldnt become an expert overnight. I would enjoy myself a
lot more if I consciously embraced being a beginner, and with it the
wonder, thrill, and anticipation of trying something new.
The acclaimed analyst Carl Jung wrote that people dont complete the
process of individuationor psychologically separating from their family
of originuntil they hit 40. With this perspective in mind, theres yet
another reason for us to look forward to our fifth decade. The fact that
we are establishing our unique identity as we age, and honing in on what
really makes us tick, is likely one reason why people tend to experience a
surge in self-confidence after 40.
While Beths cancer initially was designated as stage zero, the
classification kept escalating. It ended up at stage two because the
breast cancer had invaded a lymph node. Beth asked her doctor, Why do you
keep upgrading me? Is there a sale on? Her husband told her to get
serious, but Beth said, I have to laugh at this in order to get through
The doctor recommended a mastectomy with the option of reconstruction.
Beth chose to have her new breast made with tissue from her own body. I
got a tummy tuck and a boob job out of it! she cried with glee. My body
may be over 40, but this here is the 2008 model.