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Sonoma County Gazette
Dr. Susan Stewart
Dr. Susan Stewart will discuss her recently published work, Winter’s Graces at the Petaluma Library. Photo credit: Abbey Levine

Winter’s Graces:
The Surprising Gifts of Later Life

Jan 29, 2019
by Lyndi Brown


The surprising gifts of later life are the subject of a free public program on Saturday, February 23, from 2–4 p.m. at the Petaluma Library, 100 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma.

Winters GracesDr. Susan Stewart will discuss her research and recently published work, Winter’s Graces: The Surprising Gifts of Later Life. 

The event is hosted by the nonprofit Village Network of Petaluma.

Drawing on folklore, recent research, the world’s wisdom traditions and the experience of elders themselves, Professor Stewart will describe a balanced and heartening view of age that acknowledges its challenges and celebrates its many gifts. 

“It takes an abundance of audacity, courage, ingenuity, humility, and humor to age well in a culture that mistakenly equates aging with devastating decline,” says Stewart. “Fortunately, these and other life-enhancing qualities tend to ripen with age.”

Decades of research have established that the catastrophic conditions often associated with late life, such as severe dementia and debilitating frailty, are the exception, not the rule, says Stewart.  In addition, she has found in her years of research that older adults generally have 

— a deepening acceptance of themselves and others, imperfections and all 

— a growing sense of being embedded in something greater than themselves 

— an increasing ability to find ingenious solutions to complex and important problems

— enhanced capacities for contentment and for enjoying simple pleasures 

A conversation with the audience about growing older follows Stewart’s presentation. She will also share how making dolls helped her overcome writing challenges. Copies of Winter’s Graces will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

Susan Stewart, PhD, is an emerita professor of psychology (Sonoma State University), a retired psychotherapist, and a regular contributor to Psychology Today. Winter’s Graces is published by She Writes Press, Berkeley, Calif.

Village Network of Petaluma is a non-profit membership community of support and connection for older adults living in the Petaluma and Penngrove area. Founded in 2014,  it is one of 250+ villages nationwide, and part of a groundbreaking approach to create vibrant, active, and connected lives as we age. 

For information contact Village Network of Petaluma at or phone 707 776-6055.

Farewell to Harriet Boysen

Longtime residents of Penngrove will join me in bidding farewell to Harriet Chambille Boysen, who passed away on December 30 in Petaluma. Born and educated in Petaluma, she graduated from Petaluma High in 1939, studied in San Francisco, and lived in the San Jose area before marrying high school friend Soenke Boysen. They settled in Penngrove, where she became Penngrove's Post Mistress until retirement in 1984.  Harriet often weighed  newborn babies on the postal scale or stamped the hand of neighborhood kids.

She loved Penngrove. and was a member of the Penngrove Advisory Committee that devised the Penngrove Area Plan, adopted 1984.  The Plan implemented strong zoning restrictions against development and to this day, is the bulwark that can retain our rural character —  as long as we fight for its guidelines! In Harriet’s honor, take a look at our “Constitution “. You’ll find it posted on our Nextdoor Penngrove under Documents. It is titled Penngrove Specific Plan, posted by Rick Savel (July 13,2016). The 82 page document includes: historic features, zoning, land use, groundwater, open space information with maps and more

Farewell Harriet, you'll be remembered.

Free Little Library 

Eartha  McClelland reports on her new little free library. “Our neighbor David Valente, owner of Valente Building & Remodeling, took it upon himself to rebuild the little free library outside my house at 286 Woodward Ave. David donated all labor and materials. Son Michael was a big help, too. Now I’m looking for a glass door, 30” wide to keep the rain out. I found a home for the old one - it’s now on Maria Drive, and I gave the new owner a starter set of books, to get going.”  


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