In yet another guide to enjoying the good life, Stoddard (Things Good Mothers Know, 2009, etc.) offers advice on how to grow old gracefully.
Based on her own experiences—she and her husband are blessed with good health, comfortable financial circumstances, and successful daughters and grandchildren—she shares the wisdom she has accumulated over the years. The book is full of a series of platitudes—e.g., “As we make steady progress in understanding life's purpose, our lives will become deeply meaningful and fulfilling”; “Look for the cause in every effect”; “Nature teaches us that we are not in control”; “Getting organized is a wonderful accomplishment.” She recommends giving back to society through charitable efforts, and she warns against gossiping or dispensing unwanted advice. She also extols the virtues of being debt-free, eating a healthy and environmentally sustainable diet, and savoring the simple pleasures of daily existence. She argues for the benefits of paying for tasks such as gardening and using a taxi service rather than owning a car. Stoddard explains how she and her daughters share life-enriching insights in dealing with thorny problems—e.g., regarding the intrusiveness of technology, her daughters turn off their cellphones during dinner, and the author schedules her time online. She also shares an experience when she and her husband coped with disappointment: After a planned trip to Paris with her daughter's family was canceled at the last moment, she and her husband swallowed their distress and popped off to Paris on their own.
An annoying tone of self-congratulation pervades this disappointing collection of commonplace adages.