Out of the Woods Cover

OUT OF THE WOODS: A Guide to Life for Men Beyond 50

by Alan Heeks

Midlife and beyond can be the most fun a man has ever had, but it’s also a time for fresh skills and a new path. When the roles that define men dissolve – work, marriage, fatherhood – it’s a time of huge possibility and freedom, but it’s easy to feel lost in the woods, with nowhere to turn to.

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This book is a guide for men beyond 50: complete with route-finder, service areas, scenic highlights and emergency callout advice. It gathers the best wisdom and experience of many men on the skills you need to handle the losses and shipwrecks, and find your way out of the woods.

This friendly book offers insights, inspiration, practical advice and resources for further help. The basic aim is simple: enjoy your best years to the full! Out of the Woods provides guidance you might expect, and some to surprise you. Alan shares his experience and others’ about renewing relationships, job changes, ageing parents and lots more, plus there’s a chapter on health issues by a holistic doctor. But this book offers wisdom from the unexpected, like a Wiltshire wood, Sufi mystics, football, car maintenance, and heroic myth.

Available as a paperback from bookshops, online channels, or from Alan direct, and as an ebook via online.

To read a brief excerpt from each chapter, click on the chapter headings below.


  1. Guides, maps and the midlife prime How good it can be, and how to get there. Issues in this life stage: a new kind of adventure. Overview of topics and chapters. Reinventing yourself: finding new role models. Alan’s story. Using this book. Notes for women readers. Top 11 books for maturing men.
  2. Changes and renewal: the basic overhaul Changing old patterns: how shipwrecks help. Handling loss and endings. Into the dark wood, and out again: the Hero’s Journey as a route map. Listening to the inner voices. Creating a support network. Where is home: is this time for relocation?
  3. A fresh look at relationships The issues of this life stage. Intimacy 101: the basics. Renewing a long-term relationship. The Danger Zone – Affairs. Handling a big breakup. Dating skills for Maturing Men. Codependency.
  4. Work, money – and fulfilment Changing needs and new ways to fit work and life together. Re-visioning your work: the portfolio approach. Considering self-employment. Handling retirement or redundancy. Understanding and meeting your money needs.
  5. Health: tuning up and crash repairs Active steps to improve your health: move more, eat well! Handling major health problems. Where to get help, including online. Written by Dr Max Mackay-James who was a holistic GP, and has a special interest in maturing men’s health issues.
  6. Family dynamics: Ageing parents and lots more Typical changes in this life stage. Parents: maybe dependent, maybe dying. Being a father to adult kids. Brothers and sisters: blow-ups and breakthroughs.
  7. Last chance saloon: Addictions, Anger, Depression, Alternatives Six steps to make a difference. Understanding and getting help with addiction. Anxiety and Avoidance. Anger: exit the tragedy. Depression, and getting over it. Alternative approaches.
  8. Dreams, dawns, dying, inspiration Dreams for awakening. Exploring a spiritual path. Sufi wisdom for maturing men. Face your dying to enrich your living. Nature as guide and healer. Hazel Hill Wood: a special place for men. The Wisdom Quest: a rite of passage for maturing men.
  9. Beyond the Shed: friends, groups, communities Learning new social skills. Cultivating friendship. Relating to groups. Finding or forming a men’s group. Communities: What’s in it for me?
  10. Sex: the best years, no kidding! The physical realities. Sex and relationship. The best sexual years of your life. Slow sex. Unpacking the T word: Tantra! Life with a menopausal partner.
  11.  Maturing organically: giving back as an elder Pondering priorities, legacy, and how to meet the world. The big issues: social, including mentoring for younger men, and environmental How to mature organically. Enjoying your elderhood.


Testimonials for Out of The Woods

“We are growing older these days. The late 70?s is the life expectancy for men in the UK and added to this, the rapid culture changes we are facing, 50 can be seen as a new beginning rather than the start of a slow decline.”  Ian Mowll, GreenSpirit

Read more on the GreenSpirit website here

“This is an attractive and well-organised book.  I think that it is a really helpful resource for people in many ways who are trying to sort out their understanding of their lives. It is the kind of book with something for everyone, however long they might have been trucking down their own personal path of self-development.  I appreciated all the many references to other sources where one might turn, both for practical help, and personal growth.  At times I was challenged and occasionally disturbed, maybe from my own sense of falling short from what I might have achieved (given my many talents!), something along the lines of the old chestnut ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’.

I particularly enjoyed the author’s more intimate sharings and appreciated his honesty and bravery in doing so.  This is a rich and thoughtful book lightened by humour and a sense of grace.  It strikes a hopeful note throughout even when addressing potentially difficult issues.  I recommend this book to all who are willing to apply wisdom to their life’s journey.  Let’s face it, It’s a bargain!”  Hugh King, 67, armchair explorer, ex trucker 

“This is a wise and inspiring book for anyone looking for a refreshing but realistic approach to their senior years. Well-researched and grounded in everyday realities Out of the Woods will help readers with all the normal disturbing issues of seniority, ranging from money and status, through to fitness, sex and a new sense of personal purpose. Warmly recommended.” William Bloom, author of Feeling Safe: How to be Strong and Positive in a Changing World.

“If you want to avoid becoming just another Grumpy Old Man, this book provides a great tonic.  But reinventing yourself isn’t easy, which is why the helping hand provided by Alan Heeks ly might prove very useful!”  Jonathon Porritt, co-founder of Forum for the Future, now the UK’s leading sustainable developing charity

“Men do suffer. They get themselves into all sorts of negative downward spirals. Alan beautifully brings his caring for life and all its mysteries into this great survival pack of a book for over 50’s men. Citing the gurus of the Age of Compassion – Joanna Macy, Robert Bly, Kubler Ross and Harville Hendrix – Out of the Woods weaves a super intelligent path through life, pain and reality and will I’m pretty sure be referred to for years to come.” Simon Hinkly (ManKind Project UK)

“As an elder who walks his talk Alan Heeks stands out as a beam of integrity and wisdom.  His writing is inspiring and fresh for this demographic.” Malcolm Stern, co-presenter of Channel 4’s Made for Each Other, leading UK psychotherapist, author of three books on relationships.

“Alan Heeks is a new, refreshing and dare I say ‘youthful’ voice in the ageing conversation.  His valuable guide will help men and women make sense of the inevitable shifts and changes that older age brings.

And what makes this book essential reading for those making the transition into life beyond 50 is that it not only guides you through the changes and challenges of the here and now, but also helps the reader to consciously create a new and exciting path for later life.” Glen Poole, Director of Helping Men, UK co-ordinator for International Men’s Day.

“Alan Heeks is an initiator and a trail blazer.  He has established an organic farm and a woodland retreat centre with a beautiful wooden ark of a building.  He has taken people into the desert to search for the meaning of life.  Whatever journey he embarks upon, he opens it up to others.  This book is no exception.  Alan explores those shady years where middle age slowly becomes old age, with courage and humour.”  Annie Spencer, workshop leader with deep experience in nature-based rites of passage.

“Although the ageing process is universal, men and women experience some of its tasks and challenges differently. So this excellent new book by Alan Heeks—the first comprehensive guidebook of its kind to be written specifically for men—is a welcome and much-needed addition to the eldering/sage-ing genre.” Marian Van Eyk McCain, author of Elderwoman: Reap the Wisdom, Feel the Power, Embrace the Joy

“A humorous and resourceful almanac of wisdom gained from Alan Heeks’ life journey. He has generously revealed his experiences so that men over 50 can rebuild their lives and discover their purpose to fulfillment. Alan demonstrates that by coming to terms with emotional communication, men over 50 can make the impossible possible.” Siri Nirankar Singh, yoga teacher