In Claire Cook‘s latest non-fiction entry, “Shine On: How to Grow Awesome Instead of Old,” we are fortunate enough to be served double and triple helpings of good and wise advice, humor-filled entertainment, lovely and touching memories of events from the author’s very full life, and dollops of her unique ability to communicate ideas for helping “forty-to-forever” women face the challenges and vagaries of advancing age. And to become more awesome to boot.
One might have thought that after “Never Too Late,” her recent set of recipes for developing the courage to try new and exciting experiential experiments and projects, she might run low on new ideas for “shining on.” But she proves here once again that she is a veritable fountain of exciting and practical suggestions for women who want to make sure that even though one cannot help growing older, she can indeed keep from growing old.
And Cook covers so many avenues toward self-fulfillment that it is virtually impossible to offer an inclusive summary of her many ideas. There is an incredibly wide range of suggestions here: for physical activities to develop and maintain strength; for occupational ideas to freshen and spark one’s life; for commercial products to help us look good and feel good; for personal relationships that can help assure us that we can feel loved and loving; for developing and maintaining states of mind that can lead to successful coping with life’s inevitable vicissitudes.
Like “Never Too Late,” “Shine On” features lively recountings of many of Cook’s most memorable life events. But her ubiquitous and often self deprecating humor ensure that her memories of difficult — even terrible — times are not a plea for pity, and her memories of great successes — and there are many — are not a plea for praise. Instead, those recountings of the past are extraordinarily effective examples of the ways she has chosen to deal with challenging issues in order to present options to her readers to cope with similar ones — sort of “I tried it, but I wouldn’t recommend it for you; it didn’t work very well,” or “This worked surprisingly well for me; perhaps it will for you, too.” And to her everlasting credit, she stakes no claim to super-wisdom. She simply says, “Try it! It may work for you, it may not. But the effort itself will bring its own rewards.”
Claire Cook is a marvelous communicator with a huge heart. Readers will be thankful that she so unselfishly chooses to share all she has learned and offers us the opportunity to learn as well. And oh yes — to have a heck of a good time while doing so.