Fairy Tale Wisdom: Stories for the Second Half of Life


Product Details

Elderpress Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.46 inches | 0.66 pounds

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About the Author

William L. Randall is a retired professor of gerontology at St. Thomas University.
Barbara Lewis is a retired psychoanalyst and an Episcopal priest. Always curious about the nature, causes and meaning of people and life, she majored in Philosophy at Mt. Holyoke College and studied Philosophy at Columbia University. She found a psychoanalyst who helped her with the underlying psychological questions and conflicts of her life. Barbara became an analyst herself, earning an M.S.W. from Columbia, and a certification from the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. She had a full-time practice of psychoanalysis in New York City for twenty years, focusing on the myriad issues and workings of psychology in human life. Barbara and her family moved to Pennsylvania, where they lived for ten years. She had a part-time psychoanalytic practice there, and pursued a growing focus on what she saw as the underpinnings of physical/psychological life: the nature and role of the spiritual life. She trained at the Episcopal Cathedral in Philadelphia and became an Episcopal deacon, then studied at Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated with an M.Div. from the General (Episcopal) Seminary in New York City. In 1999, she was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood just prior to moving with her family to Houston, TX. She served as a parish priest there for over fifteen years before retiring. Barbara still asks questions about human life: what it is, how and why it was created, what purpose(s) it has. She continues to marvel at the challenges, the joys, and the enigmas of human beings. To learn more and contact Barbara, visit www.FairyTaleWisdom.com.
W. Andrew (Andy) Achenbaum, Ph.D., is a semi-retired professor of history in the Houston, Texas Medical Center's Consortium on Aging. He is married to Barbara Lewis and is the proud father of two daughters and two grandchildren.Achenbaum earned his B.A. in American Studies at Amherst College, an M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. in history at the University of Michigan. After learning more about the art of teaching at Canisius College and revising the core curriculum at Carnegie Mellon University, Andy served as professor of history and deputy director of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Michigan and then became the founding dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston.For half a century Achenbaum has been critically thinking, lecturing and writing about the meanings and experiences of old age in U.S. history. To interpret intriguing late-life continuities and to fight ageism, Andy has elaborated older Americans' roles in reconfiguring an aging nation's political economy, social and transgenerational policies, and (in)visibility in cultural affairs. Turning 75 in good health this year, he finds it a challenge to balance personal and professional opinions about fairy-tale wisdom and soulful aging in a deeply polarized country.Achenbaum has published six books, co-edited 12 others, and written more than 200 peer-reviewed articles. Routledge will publish his forthcoming book Safeguarding Social Security for Future Generations. A recipient of several awards for his work in gerontology, he chaired the National Council of Aging, and served on national, state, and local advisory boards. To learn more and contact Andy, visit www.FairyTaleWisdom.com


"Fairy Tale Wisdom contains the personal reflections of three sensitive and intelligent people on a few of the great stories. They put themselves into the tales, or put the tales in them, and offer ways to both appreciate important narratives and make sense of your life, especially as you grow older. I like most the sincere probing that goes on in the reflections of these extraordinary authors."

- Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Soul Therapy

"A refreshing, new and practical approach to traditional stories. Now as elders, the authors return to tales that affected them in childhood, and reflect on the evolving impact the tales had on them. Their comments move from personal history to the perennial questions that inevitably arise, such as the meaning of tragedy and chance in life. Their approach invites sharing with other people and would be invaluable in seminars and workshops."

- Allan Chinen, M.D., author of In the Ever After and Once Upon a Midlife

"This revelation of a book invites us to view narratives that formed us in childhood through the lens of maturity. What a pleasure to think about how life has changed us and what matters to us most now. An important and fun contribution to the conscious aging genre."

- Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., author of The Making of an Old Soul

"Fairy tales are for all of us. I am simply thrilled by your book and can't wait to share some of the stories with our granddaughters. Fairy Tale Wisdom is an indispensable contribution to this field of work."

- Harry (Rick) Moody, Ph. D., retired VP for Academic Affairs, AARP

"This unique and delightful book challenges the reader to pack a bag full of familiar tales and plot lines and travel into the turbulent currents of time's quaint stream. Reading it, I became an active traveler who, along with the three writers, found myself navigating, reinterpreting and reimagining the intersections of stories and self over a lifetime. It's not a book that tells you how to achieve growth and wisdom through age but that brings you along for the ride."

- Kate de Medeiros, Ph.D., author of Narrative Gerontology in Research and Practice

"After reading Fairy Tale Wisdom, I doubt you'll see your life or fairy tales in the same way again. The authors' mutual love of and belief in the power of stories to enrich and shape our lives shines through every page. Deeply personal, illuminating the wisdom of each author as they reflect on their chosen tales, you'll find guideposts to help you mine your own stories. Poignant yet playful, this is a beautifully written, evocative book that you can and should pull from your shelf again and again. It is a wonderful meditation on the art of growing older and proof that fairy tales are truly for children of all ages!"

- Karen Skerrett, Ph.D., Psychologist, Consultant, and author of Growing Married

"An inspiring, fanciful, and most valuable new resource for exploring later life, Fairy Tale Wisdom is, in the authors' words, 'a way to the light' and thereby serves as an important counterweight to those images of darkness and decline that so often characterize the process of growing old."

- Mark Freeman, Ph.D., author of Hindsight: The Promise and Peril of Looking Backward

"This is a fascinating journey through the lens of childhood fairy tales, from a soulful exploration of the authors' life stories to the potential wisdom of later life."

- Gary Irwin-Kenyon, Ph.D., author of Pathways to Stillness