In Marin / CONVERSATION
From crisis to creativity, this Kentfield resident
is redefining how we think about midlife.
BY LAURA HILGERS • PHOTO BY JACK WOLFORD
EVER SINCE SHE was a child, accom- panying her physician father as he volunteered at retirement homes, Barbara Waxman has been fas- cinated with aging. She earned a
master’s degree in gerontology — the study of
adult development and aging — shortly after
college. When she later became a life coach,
she specialized in clients who were at what she
calls “midlife and better.”
But as she worked with numerous clients
over the years, Waxman realized how out of
sync our perceptions of midlife are with real-
ity, especially now that Americans live longer
than ever before. What was once considered a
time of crisis or stagnation, Waxman believes,
needs to be celebrated as a period of creativity,
vitality and growth. She’s even given this life
stage a new name: middlescence. Waxman’s
e-book The Middlescence Manifesto: Igniting
the Passion of Midlife was recently published
and she’s working on a print book on the
In calling her book a “manifesto,” the
Kentfield resident is making a statement.
Through books, articles and work with
clients, Waxman hopes to ignite a national
conversation and revolutionize the way we
think about midlife.
Your mission is to redefine midlife and actually name it as a new life stage. Can you talk
about that? As a gerontologist and life coach
for more than 30 years, I’ve witnessed a lot of
suffering that people experience around aging.
We’ve added more than 30 years to our lives