Gail Sheehy

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  • Born: November 27, 1937
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Writer

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Gail Sheehy is an American author, journalist, and lecturer. She is the author of seventeen books and numerous high-profile articles for magazines such as New York Magazine and Vanity Fair. Sheehy played a part in the movement Tom Wolfe called the New Journalism, sometimes known as creative nonfiction, in which journalists and essayists experimented with adopting a variety of literary techniques such as scene setting, dialogue, status details to denote social class, and getting inside the story and sometimes reporting the thoughts of a central character.

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Adapting to our Second Adulthood is not all about the money. It requires thinking about how to find a new locus of identity or how to adjust to a spouse who stops working and who may loll, enjoying coffee and reading the paper online while you're still commuting. Money, Coins & Minting
Ah, mastery... what a profoundly satisfying feeling when one finally gets on top of a new set of skills... and then sees the light under the new door those skills can open, even as another door is closing.
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another! Life
Back in 1968, when I was 30, my entire life blew up. I had a life plan, and it collapsed for no rational reason. Life
Be willing to shed parts of your previous life. For example, in our 20s, we wear a mask; we pretend we know more than we do. We must be willing, as we get older, to shed cocktail party phoniness and admit, 'I am who I am.' Life
Being a pathfinder is to be willing to risk failure and still go on. Failure
Career-driven millennials are strategic about working obsessively while they are single and earning enough money to afford advanced education. Most are patient enough to wait until 30 or later to develop their dream. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Money, Coins & Minting
Changes are not only possible and predictable, but to deny them is to be an accomplice to one's own unnecessary vegetation.
Character is what was yesterday and will be tomorrow.
Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties.
Eventually, all mentor-disciple relationships are meant to pull apart, usually sometime in the mid-30s. Those who hang on, eventually the mentor drops the disciple, and that's no fun.
Family caregiving has become a predictable crisis. Americans are living longer and longer but dying slower and slower. Families, Children & Parenting
Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.
I actually interviewed other people about myself, and that alerted me to the fact that I had to really investigate my memories.
I actually like getting out of my comfort zone. It shakes me up.
I dare to do things - that's how I survive.
I did not give my daughter the kind of childhood anybody would want. The vision of the divided loyalty between a mother and father who don't live together and don't share in decisions is a great depravation for children.
I do think taking the 20s to take the most chances you can is important, because you're not going to hurt anyone else during that time. And if you do have a partner, you need a couple years to rehearse that relationship. Time
I do think women can have it all - but not all women. If you take daring steps and are smart about it, you can probably have it all. But you might have to wait a while. Women
I found that female pathfinders generally integrate characteristics commonly associated with being women - like the capacity to be intimate - with 'male' ones like ambition and courage. Women
I found the happiest woman in America is between 50 and 55, is happily married, has made significant progress in her career, and lives in a community where she can easily exercise outside. But the most important single thing was she had her last child before she was 35.
I keep returning to the central question facing over-50 women as we move into our Second Adulthood. What are our goals for this stage in our lives? Women
I know I'm never going to probably see the Taj Mahal or, you know, climb Mt. Everest, but I can still maybe influence peoples' way of thinking by a story that I do, by something I learn about the world.
I was devastated when I got the review for my first book. The book came out a couple years before the women's movement broke through, and people were putting it down, asking, 'Why does the woman in this book need to get a divorce? Why can't she just shut up and be happy?' Women
I'd visually have that idea. I'm diving off the end of the diving board. I'm not going to be worried about if I'm going to dive into a jellyfish or the water's going to be too cold or the boys are going to beat me. I'm just doing it. And if I do it, it's a good chance I'll make it.
If every day is an awakening, you will never grow old. You will just keep growing.
If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living.
If you begin to think you are solely responsible for keeping your loved one alive and safe, you will eventually find yourself playing God. This phase can develop into an unhealthy, codependent relationship. Religion & God
If you're the person living closest to the parent who's going to need help, and you take on the whole role of primary caregiver, you can be pretty sure your sibling who lives farthest away is going to call you and say, 'You don't know what you're doing.' Because they're not on the spot, and they probably feel guilty.
I'm a liberal, but I think there's so much that the private sector can do and does do.
In 2009, I served as AARP's Ambassador of Caregiving. With a producer and cameraman, I traveled the country for months, interviewing hundreds of caregivers.
In my memoir, I admit that I've been as fearful of success as of failure. In fact, when 'Passages' was published, I so dreaded bad reviews that I ran away to Italy with a girlfriend and our children to hide out. Failure ;Success
In rough times, pathfinders rely on work, friends, humor and prayer. They develop a support network. Humor ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
In the case of my husband, we found that facing a life-threatening illness prodded us to make a dramatic change in our lives.
In the first phase of shock over, say, your mortgage being called in or your job washed out, it's essential to engage with others and share the fear, release the feelings, do fun things to take your mind off it.
It is a paradox that as we reach out prime, we also see there is a place where it finishes.
It seems like, to me, somewhere between 30 and 35 is a really, really good time to turn your eggs into babies. Time
It was my very good fortune to find a mentor, Clay Felker, who started my career at the 'New York Magazine' as a freelance writer when I had to quit my job at the 'Herald Tribune' to stay home with my young daughter.
It was so naive to think that there was nothing interesting that happened after 55. Come on, there's a whole second adulthood!
I've had the experience of having a book praised but then it doesn't sell. Or not praised but then it sells.
Jill Clayburgh's life so closely paralleled mine, I feel as though a part of me lived a little through her and died a little with her. Life
Like everyone else in the first weeks after the tragedy of 9/11, I was looking frantically for some way to help.
Married at 23, a mother at 24, and blindsided by divorce at 28, I found myself struggling, like many young women I meet today, to strike a balance between my personal life and my career. Life ;Women
Most women have learned a great deal about how to set goals for our First Adulthood and how to roll with the punches when we hit a rough passage. But we're less prepared for our Second Adulthood as we approach life after retirement, where there are no fixed entrances or exits, and lots of sand into which it is easy to bury our heads. Life ;Women
My husband, Clay Felker, died 17 years after his first cancer due to secondary conditions that developed from treatment.
No one can control the aging process or the trajectory of illness.
No sooner do we think we have assembled a comfortable life than we find a piece of ourselves that has no place to fit in. Life
One of the ways we women often handicap ourselves is thinking that once we've made a decision or a commitment, we can't change. Women
Over the next few years the boardrooms of America are going to light up with hot flashes.
People in grief need someone to walk with them without judging them.
Sex and older women used to be considered an oxymoron, rarely mentioned in the same breath. Women
Spontaneity, the hallmark of childhood, is well worth cultivating to counteract the rigidity that may otherwise set in as we grow older.
Stress overload makes us stupid. Solid research proves it. When we get overstressed, it creates a nasty chemical soup in our brains that makes it hard to pull out of the anxious depressive spiral.
The delights of self-discovery are always available. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The dream for many millennial women is to make a difference as social or political entrepreneurs. They are using the social media and marketing tools they have mastered to empower less fortunate women and direct them onto career tracks that women have traditionally avoided, like science and technology. Women ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The feminist spirit still lives! It shows most boldly among younger women from the millennial generation. Women
The first thing one notices about Jill Abramson is her short stature. The second is her intensity.
The perceptions of middle age have their own luminosity.
The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests. Life
There is no more defiant denial of one man's ability to possess one woman exclusively than the prostitute who refuses to redeemed.
This is something caregivers have to understand: You have to ask for help. You have to realize that you deserve to ask for help. Because you need to keep on working on your own life. Life
To be tested is good. The challenged life may be the best therapist. Life
Very few women manage to have it all; certainly not all at once. Women
We have to move from the unbridled pursuit of self-gain at the expense of others to recovering appreciation for what we gain by caring and sharing with one another.
We really only have two choices. Play it safe, or take a chance. For me, pulling back because of fear has always made me feel worse.
We see it in the body, that if you just give the body enough rest and comfort, it has remarkable self-healing capacities. Well, so does the spirit.
When I was immobilized by fear, I might have a panic attack. I've had a couple of panic attacks in my life. Life
When men reach their sixties and retire, they go to pieces. Women go right on cooking. Women
Would that there were an award for people who come to understand the concept of enough. Good enough. Successful enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Socially responsible enough. When you have self-respect, you have enough.
You don't have to feel confident to act confident. In fact, it's the most important acting job you can learn.
You have a new role: family caregiver. It's a role nobody applies for. You don't expect it. You won't be prepared. You probably won't even identify yourself as a caregiver. Families, Children & Parenting

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