A necessary evil without the horns: My Life Map by Kate and David Marshall, a book review

To say that reading this book may have caused some sleepless nights and a little hyperventilation on my part is an understatement.

Telling someone who is notorious for not planning her life, someone who prefers to be a minor character in her own novel, that it might be a good idea to sit down with a pen and paper and map out the future, is completely crazy.

And necessary.

Especially when the first half of that life is a distant memory and all that lies ahead is the second half, the part during which I better start running some negative splits should I expect to finish with any dignity and pride.

Of course I am exaggerating.  Just a bit.  My life is great.  I have three lovely children, a semi-solid marriage (I would say solid but that’s what Holly thought too and I don’t want to presume), a roof over my head, and a pair of running shoes in my closet.

But to ignore the fact that I have a long history of preferring to let things unfold as they may, and a habit of doing things like changing my major during my senior year in college, or, say having a third child with a husband who never makes it home for dinner, would be ludicrous.

I need to make a plan.  Immediately.

Most stay-at-home moms must have a crisis about the future at some point.  Especially if they got a college degree, worked their way up in a satisfying career, and then decided to hang around with people 3-feet with limited vocabularies for zero pay in lieu of daily office gossip and paychecks.  It is normal.

What I loved about My Life Map by Kate and David Marshall is that I felt a certain amount of pressure to get going with a plan for the second half of my life, but without the negativity of the unknown.

That is because the Marshalls have created a step-by-step workbook of sorts, which divide your life into parts such as work, play, family and service, and past, present and future.  You can focus on one aspect of your life, or all of them.

And just as with anything that seems overwhelming, breaking one’s life down into bits makes it seem a lot less daunting.

In addition, at the beginning of each “chapter,” the Marshall’s begin with a quote that sort of gets one’s juices flowing.

One that I loved:

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream, which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our Nation.” — JFK

I have chosen to focus on career, because that is the aspect of my life that is dying for a plan.  I have purposefully put it on the back burner to focus on the boys, but I know that having a specific plan to shift my priorities in the years to come is imperative, if not completely scary.

In addition, I also liked the fact that, due to my illegible handwriting, one has the option to fill out the maps electronically.

So even though I was terrified to face the path that my life has taken and the trajectory that I am on, I feel like doing the exercises in this book really  helped me to reconcile my past with my future.

And I couldn’t use my bad penmanship to get out of it.

In short, if, like me, you tend to view life as a series of surprises, and you would like to recover from that misguided outlook, I highly recommend My Life Map.

To learn more about My Life Map, or to join the discussion, visit the BlogHer Book Club Page here.

*Disclaimer:  I was compensated for this review, but all opinions expressed here are my own.


  1. says

    As the co-author of My Life Map, you might be surprised by how much I relate to what you say. I’m not naturally a proactive or long-term life planner either. Also like you, I put my career on hold to raise kids. The empty nest hit me hard: what now? who am I if not “mom?” I was looking for tools to break this down and figure this out. My husband/co-author had done life mapping for years, but I found them intimidating. I was used to introspection, but not the planning. So we worked together to combine our processes of inquiry and mapping, and made the process flow. I’m happy to report that I’m quite happy with my post-SAHM life – working, playing…life is good!

    • Rebecca says

      Kate, I’m so happy to hear that it works out for people like us! Indeed one of the things I loved about your book was the option to map according to your personality. I would love to see more of this approach in education.
      Thanks for the comment and good luck with the book!

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