Who hasn’t, at one time or another, wanted to run screaming from her life? As caretakers to both parents and children, we women in the middle have often times operated from an empty tank. You drill down, give, give more, and when the tank is empty and the well is dry, you keep on giving.  That’s what you do.  You’re a women…It’s expected.

It’s nice when it’s appreciated, but sometimes it’s assumed.  Mom will take care of this, wife will handle that, and before you know it, you are so small in who you are as a person, that you feel like Alice in Wonderland. Tiny, insignificant, invisible. worn out….

Have you dreamed about walking out of your life and not looking back? Getting in the car, “Thelma and Louise” style, and driving off an imaginary cliff? Even if it’s a great fantasy, it’s not practical and would we really even want to…???

Ladies, here’s a book written by a women who walked away from her life, but only for a year, to get perspective. Written in 2000, “A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman”,  by Joan Anderson,  is a fascinating, hope-filled read.






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After raising two sons and supporting her husband in a stale and unsatisfying marriage, Joan realized at fifty, that she was “unfinished”. (LOVE that word..)

She had yet to live up to the potential of her life as she define it, not as others did. She had no idea who she was outside of what was expected,  but she needed to get out from under the supporting role to find out.

Off to Cape Cod in a rusted Volvo to a live in her tiny summer cottage, Joan spent the year challenging herself and stepping out of her comfort zone.  To support herself, she took a job clamming  and working in a fish market, she ran a marathon, and fulfilled her bucket list desire to swim with the seals off Monomoy Island.

FullSizeRender 85Interesting that after Memorial Day, it was her husband who realized he couldn’t make it without her, and agreed to move to the Cape to be with her, and step in to the life SHE created, on HER terms.

This book has a lot of similarities to one of my other dear favorites, “Gifts From the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Both express a love of the seashore, a response to the ebb and flow of the tides, and both find metaphors in sea shells. But Joan, unlike Anne, is there for the year, not on holiday, and Joan is forced out of isolation to survive.  She even meets a mentor in psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, and they become friends for life.

I find this book to be a great read for any woman searching for the possibility of taking even a small portion of her life back, to paint it as she would have it look.  Authentic and true to who she is meant to be, to herself FIRST, and then to the world.

If you are struggling, read this book, and see if maybe there is some small way that you can grow into who you were meant to be.

If not now, when…??

Have a lovely day, and if you are from New England…THINK SPRING!  ~




  1. I love her books. Ironically, I just came back from a retreat with 35 other women, lead by Joan and her assistant, Cathy. Some women had attended many retreats, and some first timers. Each of us left with a sense of who we were, and a plan. It was lovely. I would recommend it to anyone if they have the chance.
    The books, all of them, are profound.


  2. I did go to the Cape. I live in Rhode Island, so it was an easy drive. There were people from all over the country. This was the second retreat for me. I went to one 10 years ago. It was the year my first child left for college. I have the journal I started that weekend in the Fall of 2004. I hope you and your sister are able to go!
    Oh, and Gift from the Sea has always been a favorite of mine. An excerpt was read at our wedding, and I have given that book as a gift so many times!
    I hope you are surviving the snow!


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