Aging Gracefully (Or Not): The dissertation

Aging Gracefully (Or Not): The dissertation

Natalie Gelman

I came to fully understand the process of entering midlife when I researched, reflected, and wrote my dissertation. The awareness that others shared the same experience was validating and clarifying. Hopefully this writing is helping others achieve the same appreciation.

I named my dissertation "Prime Time - The Experience of Women Entering Middle Age," because I discovered that the essence of the experience is a positive one. I wrote the following poem reflecting what I learned about that time:

The Revolving Door

It moves forward
With persistent tugs backward.
One day it is the most freeing

    uplifting
    spiritual
    wonderful
    opening
    exciting
    creative

adventure which makes me feel alone with myself.
Another day it is the most constricting

    frightening
    saddening
    fleeting
    withdrawing
    purposeless
    empty

routine which makes me feel alone with myself.
It feels, at times. Like a revolving door—
Moving toward something new and open,
Only to be pulled back to the sameness.
What has changed is that I know it now.
I recognize its angles.
I am aware of the game.
It is life.
I know that nothing stays the same.
I take advantage of my freedom when it is there for me.
I wait out the constriction, allowing it to keep me

    in touch with the past and the prospect of the future’s end.

For some reason, I smile.

When my dissertation was done, a couple of people encouraged me to expand on it and publish it. I was working full time, raising three children, and was tired of focusing on the subject, having worked on it for almost four years. I chose not to write a book at that time, but the interest in eventually doing so lingered.

In retrospect, I realized that the individuals who encouraged me to turn my dissertation into a book had the foresight to realize how many potential readers there were for the topic. Now that I have this awareness, I am eager to create something meaningful for this large age group.

Natalie Gelman can be contacted at drnataliegelman@gmail.com. Her website is http://drnataliegelman.com.