Peggy-Sax 2Peggy: February 10, 2012

Today the new issue of “Journal of Systemic Therapies” arrived in my mailbox. Imagine my delight to find a newly published article by our very own Bonnie Miller entitled, “Narrative Gerontology: A post modern reading of the latter stage of life: A conversation with William Randall.” Bonnie, I really enjoyed reading this interview. Is it possible for you to share an earlier author’s manuscript here so everyone can read it together? Can you tell us more about what drew you to publishing this interview about an alternative view of aging as “the postmodern stage of life?” What especially stands out to you about the inside dimensions of aging? What was a highlight for you in conducting this interview and writing it up?  Any idea how this experience is informing your own relationship with your life story?


Bonnie-Miller 2Bonnie: February 12, 2012
These are wonderful questions Peggy. I am a big fan of Bill Randall’s his work is really interesting! thank you for your kind words re the interview!

I’m happy to share the article in an earlier form… though the ‘earlier’ forms are a bit incoherent, so this is not much different from the JST article.Obviously, its just for the use of the group : )I like your questions Peggy.

I was asked to interview Bill at the Winds of Change conference in Halifax two years ago, and we refined it over the phone afterwards. My first shot was not accepted- too unstructured. So I re-interviewed Bill and we shaped it into something with more focus.

After I did the first interview, I had time to read “Storying Our Lives” Bill’s book with his colleague Beth McKim, and really, really liked it. SO in the second interview I had a better sense of his work.

But really, Bill is just incredibly generous and thoughtful; the ideas are very clear in his work. So, ‘postmodern stage of life’ is his phrase.

The timing could not have been better for me- I just started at the health clinic, and a big percentage of the people I see there are older adults between the ages of 60-85. I’ve always worked with kids, so this was new to me.

And the idea of ‘narrative openness’ really took hold of me- I think it’s a wonderfully useful concept. I used it to structure my recent workshop on ‘life transitions’… The idea of the ‘inside dimensions of aging’ having to do mostly with the development (and reading) of a rich, meaningful and complex set of stories is quite encouraging- it definitely has me paying more attention to the passage of time, the ways that I use my days, and the intentionality with which I ‘story’ my experiences…

A highlight for me in conducting the interview… was when Bill said that our interview was allowing him to experience the richness of his own life in a different way- a lot of that material didn’t make it into the final version of the interview, but it gave me such a clear sense of how his ideas fit with narrative therapy; and how to do an interview with an older adult in a way that is helpful and generative, even when the real, physical facts of the person’s life are quite grim-seeming.

A highlight of writing up the interview was discovering the usefulness of structure, and headings, and the excitement of organizing the material. That was fun!

If folks are interested, I’m happy to chat more about these ideas ; )

Peggy-Sax 2

Peggy: February 18, 2012
Hi Bonnie,I’m very interested for a variety of reasons. I trust others are as well (it just might take us a little while to congregate around these ideas).The timing is really good for me – personally. Next weekend, I’ll be traveling to join family in celebrating my mom’s 87th birthday. Over the past couple of weeks, she’s been experiencing a health crisis that has rallied the family together. We are having conference calls, lots of conversations, etc. Having read your interview really made lightbulbs go off about the relevance of narrative concepts and practices. I look forward to hearing and sharing more.