My Days with Emma
Title: My Days with Emma: A Soulful Path to Elderhood
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Release Date: January 21, 2023
It’s simply not true! Your aging does not mandate rounds of golf and martinis, while staying out of the way of progress. Loss does not have to be the most salient aspect of aging. If you allow the years to be instructive, valuable insight can be passed on. As you are not so preoccupied with achieving worldly pursuits, your inner world becomes more accessible. What you have learned and what you can teach become unequivocal.
This text offers a touching and edifying portrayal of the author being mentored into elderhood. He is introduced to elderhood with its appropriate trials and ordeals. The Power of Being becomes a new way to see himself and life, releasing him from the need to prove something.
My Days with Emma – A Soulful Path to Elderhood offers readers a blueprint for being a valued resource while aging. Find out how your maturity can be a worthy way to serve in the winter of your life, yielding a rich legacy.
“Gentle ruminations on aging with joy and authenticity—My Days with Emma will inspire and guide the reader’s own journey through the final stages of life.
“My Days with Emma combines elements of philosophy, psychology, and spirituality into an elevated self-help book.
“It digs deep into the existential questions posed by aging and end of life. Author Paul Dunion, a
psychotherapist and consultant, set out to better understand the challenges of aging, both for his own benefit and to care for his clients. The book’s framing device is a series of meetings between the narrator and an older, wiser mentor, “Emma.”
“In each chapter Emma introduces the narrator to a challenging topic, which they discuss. For example, movement into elderhood can be thought of as an initiation, and their first session analyzes that concept. Another chapter is called “Befriending the Here and Now.” As Emma explains at the narrator’s first session, “Most of us believe that we are the ones doing the living. Well, the news is that life is mostly living us. Life has challenged you, called to you, shaped you, stimulated you, puzzled you, hurt you, thrilled you, and provoked you. All the while, you have convinced yourself of being the one living life.”
“For each topic the narrator shares memories, thoughts, or feelings evoked by the session’s subject. Often the narrator poses a series of self-analysis questions, helpful to the reader considering what the material means to them
“My Days with Emma is a book to ponder, slowly. It inspires the reader to find their own answers to the fundamental questions therein: to process their pasts, and to move forward into fulfilling elderhood. The book rightly cautions readers to seek “in real life” help for this journey, either from a trusted friend or mental/spiritual health professional.
“The book takes a cerebral approach to the heart work needed for “soulful eldering.” Some brief, personal examples are shared. The language is that of highly educated people and tends to utilize the special nomenclature of spiritual/philosophical writing. The book’s reference list makes an excellent further readings resource.
“Interestingly, the narrator, his older client (used as an example), and even Emma, the mentor, are all professional people still activity engaged in their careers. They’ve experienced changes and losses—the narrator has a troublesome chronic condition impacting his life—but much change and loss are still ahead. The practical problems of old age in modern society—poor health, lack of material resources, isolation, and erosion of civil rights are not the subject of this book. Yet it would be appropriate to consider the challenges of graceful aging for elders who are in a struggle to survive.”
–Kathy L. Brown, Independent Book Review
“Paul Dunion’s My Days with Emma: A Soulful Path to Elderhood is not only a wise book; it is a practical guide to the reconfiguring of one’s life. He covers the questions, the resistances, and the develop- mental tasks of aging as well as anyone I know. His conversations with Emma, a wise woman senior to him, is both an outer encounter with a woman who has lived the journey and reflected on it, and an inner encounter with his own questioning, anxious, yet resourceful anima. This book is especially practical for men because it asks questions for them that rest still unspoken in their hearts, and for women who want to know more about those strange creatures we call men.”
–James Hollis, PhD, Jungian Analyst; Author, The Broken Mirror: Refracted Visions of Ourselves
“In his latest book, My Days with Emma: A Soulful Path to Elderhood, Dr. Paul Dunion offers us a moving and incredibly soulful accounting of the vulnerability of aging and the profound movement into elderhood. He shares with raw candor his own inner exploration of the themes of mortality, physical frailty, and the poignant terrain of the initiatory journey and the maturation process of befriending Mystery.
“The book pivots around amazing soaring dialogues between Paul and his mentor Emma that provoke reflection and illumine the important life questions, thresholds, and lessons of this final third of life we are all marching toward. Whether you are young, in midlife, or entering eldership, these pages will lift you up, challenge you and help you to navigate your inner life going forward.”
–Amy Elizabeth Fox, Chief Executive Officer, Mobius Executive Leadership
Author Paul Dunion’s inspirational book deals with mindful aging and teaches readers to accept gracefully that life happens to all of us, not the other way around. Although our ego loves to believe we are in control, we forget how much of life is actually not in our control. Death is the only constant, and life is but a journey toward this final destination. The only way to stop being afraid of the mysterious and unpredictable nature of life is to relinquish this assumption of being the one doing the aging and instead realize how it is our lives that age us. With a candid yet philosophical style, the narrator discusses the ordeals one has to face in becoming an elder.
My Days With Emma certainly puts the spotlight on Emma as a tribute and a genuine expression of the author’s gratitude for her contribution in enabling and encouraging him on a path of soulful aging, and understandably so, since Emma plays a significant role in Dunion’s life as both his spiritual mentor and life coach. But, although the book is centered on the theme of aging, it is not necessarily a book for the older generations. This is what makes it so fascinating. The narrator talks about his own fears and insecurities, but as a reader, irrespective of our age, we can relate to his experiences because aging can be relative.
It is not uncommon among us to compare ourselves with the younger members of a circle, be it in our professional life or social life. We often compare and then feel bitter about their success or victories when we associate their gains with their youth because, unlike other factors, we have no control over our age. This simple truth often leaves us feeling profoundly disillusioned and defeated. Yet, the fact that the knowledge and wisdom we gather over the years can be an invaluable resource that we can use to help others, in turn, doesn’t easily cross our minds. This is where Dunion steps in with his book to remind us. It gives the kind of validation and reassurance that we all deserve from time to time about our own worth in other people’s lives.