EPHS dean of students pens book celebrating aging experiences of over 200 women over 50

The cover for Kim Kane’s book, “Sparkle On...Women Aging in Gratitude.” Kane wrote the book after two years of interviewing more than 200 women over the age of 50 about their experiences with the aging process. (Submitted photo)
The cover for Kim Kane’s book, “Sparkle On…Women Aging in Gratitude.” Kane wrote the book after two years of interviewing more than 200 women over the age of 50 about their experiences with the aging process. (Submitted photo)
Writing a book of any stripe is a lengthy process, between cycles of revisions, gathering source material and more. For Kim Kane, dean of students at Eden Prairie High School, that process included interviewing more than 200 people in two years.

All that culminated in her new book, “Sparkle On…Women Aging in Gratitude.”

Centered on the positive benefits of aging, the book draws on Kane’s interviews, all of them conducted with women who had attained the age of 50 or older.

“In the beginning, it was just me asking a friend to host women in her house so I could get started,” said Kane. “It actually was two full years of putting together these women’s gatherings … It was really women offering up their houses to have other women come in, knowing that I was writing a book and doing some research.”

Kane’s questions touched on what the women liked and disliked about aging, things they wish they’d known earlier, fears, joys and where aging women fit (as well as how they are thought of) in a culture that places a high value on youth.

“It was really a valuable experience to sit with other women and just listen,” said Kane.

The gatherings began in the Eden Prairie area, and spread into other parts of the metro. The women ranged in age from 50 to 80, some even composed of mother-daughter pairs with two
generations of input.

“The goal was to write the book — I’d been thinking about it ever since I had turned 50,” said Kane. “There are just so many changes that start to happen. You start to think about the second half of your life.”

Kane said she had been frustrated with the perception, both in wider society and within those above 50 themselves, that aging is a process involving a decline, away from productivity,
influence and more.

“Our work, our life experiences, are not done,” said Kane. “Just because you reach a certain age doesn’t mean that you can’t still contribute. It doesn’t mean you’re not with great knowledge and wisdom.”

Her decision to focus on women solely was driven in part by her own experience as an aging woman, as well as differences in perceptions on aging with regard to the two genders.

Kim Kane, dean of students at Eden Prairie High School. (Submitted photo)
Kim Kane, dean of students at Eden Prairie High School. (Submitted photo)
“I feel like women, as a group — we have things that are different from men,” said Kane. “Aging — it means that men age, and they tend to get titles of wisdom, of experience, and women don’t always get those titles.”

She noted that the plan was not to exclude or pit men and women against each other, but to hone in more finely on experiences specific to aging women. She pointed out that even more value is placed on youth for women than is placed on it for men.

“I work with young women, and I really wanted to set those conversations up, that the sky is the limit for them,” said Kane. “There’s always these anti-aging products — my gosh, all you have to do is watch one television show … For a lot of women, that’s really hard. They aren’t going to lose those wrinkles, but you can still have fun, wrinkles and all.”

The title of the book refers to aging with gratitude, an approach that, generalized, Kane said has helped in her in more ways than one throughout her life.

“Let’s say we’re going through a loss,” said Kane. “Instead of saying, ‘What am I losing?’ you ask, ‘What have I gained by knowing that person?’”

Kane said that she wrote the book with women most in mind, but that said those not fitting into that category would still find value in reading it.

“I didn’t think of them as my target audience for the book,” said Kane. “I had a few men read it. They said that, a lot of it, they could relate to as well.”

A mini-launch was held for the book April 24 in the Eden Prairie High School faculty lounge, and a full-scale launch will be held May 21 at Russell+Hazel in Minneapolis.

Kane had a few people to thank in her journey to the book’s publication.

“I really, really want to thank the women who hosted and attended the Celebrate Women gatherings,” said Kane. “And, it’s cliche, but my family was so supportive in trying to be that cheerleader from the side, to keep going. It’s tough to write a book.”

For more information on the book, visit kimkaneandgratitude.com.

Contact Sean Miner at sean.miner@ecm-inc.com.