“Olivia Hoblitzelle is a very wise woman and this book is a reflection of her deep experience with aging, illness, living, and dying. A combination of ancient wisdom, practical pointers,and tender stories, this is a book to cherish—a guide to a rich and challenging time of life.” —JOAN BORYSENKO, PH.D., Minding the Body, Mending the Mind
“...a wise and beautiful book shows how becoming an elder can be full with awakening and grace. Let this book be your companion through the season of letting go, and discover the ever-deepening love and mystery that is possible in our unfolding lives.” —TARA BRACH, Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
Drawing deeply on her own experiences as well as stories and studies about aging from other cultures, Hoblitzelle explores the ways that readers can nourish their inner lives and spirit even as their bodies’ age and facilities diminish. She offers seven guidelines to being attentive to the gifts that grow more valuable with age: spiritual orientation, practice of silence, practice of mindfulness, practice of stopping, finding the sacred in the commonplace, meditation, and the practice of gratitude. She also shares the stories of six “wayshowers,” individuals whose stories illustrate aging with compassion. This heartfelt book invites inspiring reflections on finding beauty in aging, facing death with dignity, and rejoicing in earthly blessings.
Part I Aging: Reflections, Stories, and Mysteries
A New Vision
Honoring the Life Cycle
The Cycle of Life
Archetypes of Aging
The Mind of Great Compassion
A Grandmother’s Gift
The Mystery of Time
A Wordless Encounter
All You Need
Part II Wisdom Treasures
Lighting the Way: Personal Weavings
The Sacred Circle
Know Your Refuges
A Jewel of Wisdom
Practices of the Heart
The Moments in Between
With Softness and Ease
Who Are You Now?
How to Dance in the Rain
Compassion for Yourself
The Old Woman and the Starfish
Part III Passages: Dying Into Life
Life, Love and Death: Personal Weavings
Dhumavati: Goddess of Aging and Death
The Five Remembrances
The Ultimate Mystery
The Thin Place
The Gift of Death
A Gift of Life and Death
Part IV Wayshowers
Polly Thayer Starr For All Shall Be Well
Emerson Stamps Brought Here To Love
Stella Fox The Gift of Recognition
Alice O. Howell Living the Symbolic Life
Maud Morgan The Search For Freedom
Father Bede Griffiths Overwhelmed by Love
"Drawing deeply on her own experiences as well as stories and studies about aging from other cultures, Hoblitzelle (Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows) explores the ways that readers can nourish their inner lives and spirit even as their bodies age and facilities diminish. Hoblitzelle stresses the reflective nature of the aging process: noticing how the body changes can provide space for reflection on life’s gifts and challenges, and aging often brings family members together, creating an opportunity to heal broken relationships. She offers seven guidelines to being attentive to the gifts that grow more valuable with age: spiritual orientation, practice of silence, practice of mindfulness, practice of stopping, finding the sacred in the commonplace, meditation, and the practice of gratitude. She also shares the stories of six 'wayshowers,' individuals whose stories illustrate aging with compassion (Emerson Stamps reflects on his enslaved African ancestors while writing a memoir in his 80s, and Maud Morgan finds solace in the words of Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: 'The world is filled and filled with the absolute—to see this is to be free'). Hoblitzelle’s heartfelt book invites inspiring reflections on finding beauty in aging, facing death with dignity, and rejoicing in earthly blessings." —Publishers Weekly
Navigating the changes that come with age and the inevitability of death can be difficult, especially in cultures where the wisdom of elders is not typically revered. As a counter, Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle offers comforting and empowering reflections, readings, and lessons on growing older in her book, Aging with Wisdom.
Hoblitzelle’s previous book explored her and her husband’s experiences after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, through to his death six years later. This book widens those explorations of aging and death to include many other examples of people who chose to live their later years on their own terms.
Hoblitzelle’s is a heartfelt, heartening guide to the later years. It shares approaches for opening up to the aging process, for finding beauty and grace in the inevitable decline and losses of old age, and for seeking gratitude, humor, and joy in the final stages of life.
The time of life after children have grown up and left their childhood home is referred to in Hindu philosophy as the “forest monk” stage—when contemplation and a potentially more spiritual life can come forth after the busyness of career and child-rearing have calmed. This period should not just be seen in terms of loss, Hoblitzelle argues, but as a time when personal development can come to the forefront.
As much as it is about living well, the book is also about dying well. It includes stories about people who have served as the author’s guides in her understanding of what it means to age with wisdom. It explores a variety of spiritual traditions and includes loving profiles of people who have served as wayshowers to the author as she navigates the challenges and opportunities of growing older.
These stories should help readers to understand what’s happening in the final transitions of life and guide them to having a more meaningful and graceful experience of this time, whether with aging parents or family members or in their own lives." —Sarah White, Foreword Reviews
When Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle’s husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the couple decided they would weather his illness with all the wisdom they had gained as psychologists and teachers of meditation. “We approached it consciously and lovingly,” Hoblitzelle said, and “we became wiser.” She wrote about the end of her husband’s life in her book, “Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s.”
With her husband’s death nearly 20 years behind her, Hoblitzelle has a new book out, “Aging With Wisdom,” in which the 80-year-old Cambridge resident, a longtime therapist, teacher, and speaker, counsels readers on “how to age gracefully, how to age consciously, and how to have a more open approach to death and dying than our culture does.” While the book is not a memoir, Hoblitzelle said, “it came out of a very personal place. I’ve always loved older people,” she added, laughing, “and now I am one!”
Many cultures revere and honor their elders, Hoblitzelle said, but “our culture is all screwed up about age. It’s very harmful for older people. We know how much our perceptions of aging affect how we age.”
“Obviously the body goes through its diminishment. But that doesn’t have to touch the spirit or the energy or the inner resilience.” With age comes “a kind of tectonic shift in the psyche,” she said. “We want to simplify; we want to cultivate our inner life more than we have; there’s a call to some of life’s deeper questions.”
Meditation can nurture resilience, she said, and so can an awareness of what she calls the heroic aspect of aging. “The later years come along when our energy is declining; we don’t have the energy we had when we were 30, 40, or 50. I think it’s heroic to deal with what comes to us at a time when we’re increasingly impaired,” she said. “It’s all about how we live with the challenges that come to us.”
—Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe, president of the National Book Critics Circle