Here it is folks…..the first review and literary commentary on my upcoming book, Returning – AWoman’s Midlife Journey to Herself. Thank you Samantha Smith for your beautiful and challenging words! Here, I offer your words uncensored and unedited! You rock!
Lauri Ann Lumby’s Returning: A woman’s midlife journey to herself
Lauri Ann Lumby, author of Authentic Freedom: Claiming a Life of Contentment & Joy, continues to tackle the issues of authenticity in her newest publication Returning – a woman’s midlife journey to herself. Designed as not only a creative piece, but as an interactive workbook for the reader, Returning shows how artistic creation leads to understanding. Through her poetry and proposed assignments, she equips the reader with new tools to better understand their past, present, and future. Most importantly, though, she gives middle-aged women a space to create something that is for their pleasure.
Western culture’s deeply seeded connection to patriarchy and capitalism, exploits women as unworthy sexual objects, fails to acknowledge their autonomy, and devalues their choices. Lumby’s text nurtures a woman’s worth, and through her guidance, the reader may explore her potential. Her text allows women an opportunity to reclaim their life, their power to choose, and their intersected, beautifully messy, identities.
I felt encouraged to explore my life’s present moment as a twentysomething. There is something unexplainable about the act of returning life to middle-aged women, and it is something I cannot relate to. I felt called to not only reclaim my life now, but to create spaces for middle-age women to be in my life. There is a need in Western culture, to not only identify the socialization of young and old women, but also middle-age women. Lumby’s book participates in a larger conversation about socialization, and seeks to breakdown cultural structures that perpetually victimize women.
One issue that Lumby touches on at multiple points in Returning is motherhood. From an early age, girls are socialized to fulfill cultural models of maternity. Western culture’s expressions of mothering and parenting are deeply complicated and at times hypocritical. A woman is expected to work as a mother, yet in the capitalist structure she remains unpaid, and her work not is not considered in the nation’s Gross National Product. Lumby’s exercises allow women to meditate on the idea of motherhood, what it meant to them, what it means now, what society means it to be, and what the woman herself sees it as for her. Lumby gives women a space to dissect multi-layered issues that middle-aged women face, like motherhood. In the space she gives women, she allows them to experience a full-range of emotions, and that perhaps is the best gift of all.
In addition to creating a space of reclamation, Lumby creates a space for feeling. Within emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, and spiritual awakenings come feeling. Western culture projects rationality, and does not give people a space to process their feelings at their pace. Capitalist production suggests that people need to constantly produce something to be successful. Lumby’s book gives the reader a space to feel at their pace, and reminds them that their true success is self-guided and self-proclaimed. There is a space inside each reader that Western culture did not tarnish with subliminal messages and socialization, and it is in that space that Lumby believes the reader will find creation, potential, and worth. There is nothing like standing in your own truth, and that is what Lumby encourages her readers to do.
Samantha Smith, author of “Robert Gauerke,” in Operation Legacy; the Wartime experiences of Northeast Wisconsin’s Greatest Generation, edited by Scott Delsart & Andrew MacDonald (2010)