Logo for: North Carolina Writer's Network
Back to Book Buzz

Finding Beauty in the Gray: Stories and Verse From the Third Age

Finding Beauty in the Gray: Stories and Verse From the Third Age

By Hugh J. WillardPublisher: Warren Publishing, Inc.ISBN: 978-1960146793Genre: Aging; Self-Help; Creative Nonfiction; PoetryPrice: $32 (hardback) $16.95 (paperback)

In this brilliant collection of essays, Finding Beauty in the Gray invites you into the living rooms, backyard gardens, mountain apple orchards, and coastal boardwalks of folks approaching, or in the fertile soil of, their retirement years. This landscape offers excitement, and maybe some trepidation, as Third-Agers navigate the questions: "Who am I today? Who or what matters to me now? What gifts do I have to offer myself and my community?" Follow Hugh Willard as he shares the stories of Third-Agers gathered at cocktail parties; by neighbors' mailboxes; in his counseling practice; and even at the literal feet of two-story, recycled, wooden trolls in coastal Maine. Hugh gives voice to their experiences and some of his own through lively, joyful, and, at times, gritty essays. Complementing these essays and themes are some of Hugh's poems-verses of love, loss, legacy, play, and always beauty.

Hugh Willard is a psychotherapist, singer-songwriter, and author with a career spanning more than thirty years. He has developed and taught courses on exploring identity, meaning, and creativity in the second half of life for numerous Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, including those at the Universities of Duke, Georgia, and North Carolina State at Asheville. As a companion to this book, Hugh has a podcast series titled Aging Well: Finding Beauty in the Gray. For each episode, he interviews guests who share a variety of stories and expertise relevant to living and loving life in the Third Age. Hugh's published works include a children's chapter book series known as the Goodwill Vulture's Club, a YA novel titled Degotoga, and a novella titled Clive's Crossing. Concurrent with the publishing of this book, Hugh is happily hip-deep in getting his MFA in creative nonfiction at Bay Path University.


In moving poetry and prose, Hugh Willard offers an inspiring and highly relatable ode to growing older.

Sari Botton, author of And You May Find Yourself ... Confessions of a Late-Blooming Gen-X Weirdo and editor-in-chief of Oldster Magazine

Like an intricate, exquisite tapestry, Hugh Willard weaves poetry, stories, advice, and research about our ‘Third Age’ of life into this beautifully crafted book. As a therapist with a strong interest in helping those who are transitioning/new to retirement, Willard makes the point that ‘to live is to choose.’ This book will help you choose wisely.

Jan Cullinane, retirement speaker and best-selling author of The New Retirement (Wiley) and The Single Woman's Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

In his book, Finding Beauty in the Gray, Hugh Willard invites the reader on a lovely journey combining stories and poetry, as he explores some of the challenges of the Third Age. As he illustrates throughout his book, ‘authentic stories are the connective tissue that binds and reinforces relationships.’


Dorian Mintzer, MSW, PH.D., co-author of The Couple's Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together (Sourcebooks)