Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WLS Book Review: "Changing Shoes"

"The only thing that remains the same in this world is change."

I had a World History teacher in high school who often spoke this quote, referring to the fact that nothing in our world would ever be permanent, and the trick to survival was learning to adjust to change.  Tina Sloan (ex-Lillian, GUIDING LIGHT) has beautifully taken the lesson behind this quote and infused it with new energy and vitality in the inspiring new book, "Changing Shoes: Getting Older - NOT OLD - with Style, Humor, and Grace.

Soap fans are well familiar with Tina Sloan's infectious positive attitude from her work on GUIDING LIGHT, as well her featured roles on the indie web series EMPIRE and VENICE. What you don't know is how this enduring talent has faced life's challenges and overcome adversities in order to learn, grow, and evolve.  She explains how at 67 years old she has had to frequently change roles in life, ie, "shoes", and despite painful setbacks has learned to thrive (and at times even sprint!).  Detailing her roles as actress, wife, mother, caretaker, marathon runner, and even mountain climber, Sloan reveals how she has overcome depression, ageism, caretaker fatigue, and burnout. Yet never at any moment does her writing decline into a "poor me" tone.  She continues to assert resilience, grace, and determination even in spite of challenging circumstances. 

As a male approaching 40 in this society, there are many valuable life lessons that I gained from reading this book.  Aging realistically presents all of us with limits, but at no point does it have to be a barrier to embracing new challenges, trying new things, and pursuing deeper fulfillment.  The physical act of changing shoes is a metaphor for giving ourselves solid and confident foundations to pursue new goals and dreams.  One never has to be a prisoner of their past, and never has to be afraid of the future.  Sloan offers myself and all her readers concrete step-by-step suggestions of how to keep our lives vital and replenishing at any age.

Beyond these lessons, I also gained new sensitivity to perspectives of people around me. I had never so vividly understood from a mother's point-of-view what it is like to have a son who makes independent and at times potentially risky choices.  I had not quite understood in such detail the cumulative impact of taking care of elderly parents for years on end.  And of course I have never been a soap actress who is jarringly moved to the back burner of her show after years of service.  Tina Sloan describes all of these incidents is such clear detail so that I could imagine being in her head during her triumphs and her heartaches, through her laughter and her tears.


WHAT IS IT?:  Tina Sloan's new book, "Changing Shoes: Getting Older - NOT OLD - with Style, Humor, and Grace." available September 16th.

WHY SOAP FANS WILL LOVE IT: You will get the inside scoop on the going-ons behind the scenes not only at GUIDING LIGHT, but you will get some historical and fascinating insights into the politics at ANOTHER WORLD, SOMERSET, and SEARCH FOR TOMORROW as well. 

BOTTOM LINE:  This book is highly recommended for mothers, grandmothers, or anyone who has ever had to cope with a life change.  I certainly intend to read this once a year from here on out to remind myself how to stay replenished and vital.

VERDICT: It is rare to find a book that elevates, entertains, and enlightens such as "Changing Shoes." Save money at the shoe store this holiday season, and give everyone this book instead!

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals, couples, and families in New York City at Mental Health Counseling & Marriage And Family Therapy Of New York. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a very good book for women (and men) to read as they face their older years. I look forward to reading it soon.