Age is Just a Number Series: Author Hilary Grossman talks turning 25

Welcome Hilary Grossman, author of Dangled Carat, and my friend and fellow Booktrope author to my blog. Hilary compares how she imagined she would feel turning twenty-five with the reality of her feelings on that day. (PS: Happy Birthday, Hilary!!)
It all started in September.
I wasn’t able to put my finger on what was happening at first.  All I knew was that something simply wasn’t right.  I was unhappy.  I was scared.  I was frustrated.  And slowly but surely a feeling of dread began to wash over me.  With every very passing day the feeling got stronger, encompassing every aspect of my life.
In early November I left work early. I  wasn’t feeling well. I had chest pains. I couldn’t catch my breath.  My mom picked me up at the train station and drove me to my doctor.    He didn’t react the way that I thought he would. He gave me a quick exam.  Rather than confirm that I was dying from a heart attack, he simply said I was having a panic attack.
He helped me calm down.  My heart rate returned to normal and I was able to breath easily once more.  But I had to admit to myself and my mother what was causing me anxiety. And by this time I already knew.
November 10th was right around the corner.  My birthday.  I was turning twenty-five and I was dreading the day.  How can I be twenty-five and feel the way that I did?
Hilary at twenty-five

Hilary at twenty-five

Thanks to all the wonderful books and movies out there I had definite ideas of what twenty-five should feel like, and my life was nothing of the sort.  Forget about not having a fairytale existence there was nothing about my life I was happy about!
I spent the last few years studying for and passing the CPA exam. Why I kept wondering? I hated my all consuming job.  I was always on the road with no control of my schedule. I worked ridiculous hours. I was bored out of my mind half the time and the other time I was walking on eggshells because my boss was the modern day version of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde. I never knew what to expect when I showed up for work.  As a result, stomach would constantly be in knots.  I used to wake up every morning and count down the number of days I had until I either retired or died.  What happy mornings those were!
Of course I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time either.  I was okay with that (or I told myself).  What I wasn’t okay with was I had no social life. None, zero, zip!  All I did was work.  Most of the year I worked for the CPA firm 6 days a week. But I also continued to wait tables nights and weekends.  And if there was a lull in that excitement,  I added the occasional babysitting gig into the mix.  #partytime
This was not what twenty-five was supposed to feel like.  Was it?
I started to express my feelings to others. I learned there was a term for what I was going through – a quarter life crisis.  Knowing I wasn’t alone, I started feeling slightly better.  And after the dreaded birthday passed I decided to make some changes in my life.
I cut back on waitress shifts. I started to hang out with friends.  I started to date. I allowed fun back into my life. And when I was presented with an opportunity to shift my career path I jumped at the chance.  Slowly but surely I found happiness.
I am turning forty-one on November 10th. I wish I could go back and tell my twenty-four year old self that everything will be okay. That the sacrifices that were made then would allow for much successes and joy later.  But I can’t. And even if I could, I know that I wouldn’t listen…
Hilary in present day

Hilary in present day

Links:
Twitter @feelingbeachie
Dangled Carat

 

Advertisements

Author Mary Rowen talks turning 50 as the Age is Just a Number blog series continues

Thank you, Mary Rowen, for joining the Age is Just a Number blog series. Mary is the author of Living by Ear and today she shares her thoughts on turning 50. Her comments regarding the randomness of life really does drive home the point that age isn’t everything.

On Turning Fifty

When I think of fifty, the first thing that comes to mind is Molly Shannon as Sally O’Malley on SNL, kicking and stretching. When I first saw that skit, I laughed hysterically. It seemed reasonable at the time—I was in my thirties—to assume that women start to lose it a bit when they hit the big 5-0.

But now that I’m here, I don’t spend much time telling people about my age, or kicking and stretching either, for that matter. And honestly, I like myself a lot more at fifty than I did thirty years ago.

If that sounds crazy, let me explain. Aside from the wonderful teaching job I had in my twenties, my life was a mess. I was in a dysfunctional relationship, and was extremely sick with bulimia. And although I considered myself a writer, I never did more than scribble poems in a notebook.

In my thirties, things improved considerably. By the time I was thirty-four, I was bulimia-free, married to a good man, and pregnant. My second child was born when I was thirty-seven, so turning forty didn’t phase me a bit. How can you feel old with two preschoolers ruling your life?

And now? Well I still don’t feel old. I’m extremely happy writing novels and working with a great publisher. My kids are in their teens, and although both of them can make me crazy at times, I really enjoy spending time with them. Then there’s our dog, who may actually be part coyote. If he doesn’t get two good workouts a day, he starts destroying the house, so I jog with him every morning. Yes, I grumble—especially when it’s wet or cold outside—but he helps keep me in shape.

On the other hand, living for five decades has given me enough views into mortality to assure me that it’s real, and often fickle. It all started in kindergarten when my teacher—a nun—showed up at school one Monday morning in tears, because the convent where she lived had burned down over the weekend. The poor woman—who must’ve been in shock—told an entire class of five-year-olds about young nuns running through the streets, dying, in burning clothes. It took months for me to recover from that story, but it also taught me that you don’t need to be old and sick to die.

Not too long after that, my mother told me about her brother Joe—a young man just home from WWll—who was killed in a car crash when my mom was only ten. Then, when I was in eighth grade, a classmate lost a brother to drowning. When I was in college, my very first boyfriend—we’d “gone out” for a couple of weeks as high school freshmen—died in a rock-climbing accident. And shortly before I got married, a close friend went out for a jog and dropped dead.

So by the time my father—who was healthy and active—died of a brain aneurysm in 2001, I was already convinced that death sometimes just swoops in takes people down. And if I had any doubts about that, they were dispelled a few years later, when my mom’s cousin—a vibrant, working woman—fell down a flight of stairs, became paralyzed from the neck down, and died shortly thereafter.

So what’s my point? Certainly I’m not attempting to write my own version of Jim Carroll’s song, “People Who Died.” Nor am I a morbid person. But after living for fifty years, I realize that age is only part of the story. Fate—or God, or the Universe—also plays a huge roll, so I try to focus on making the most of each day, rather than thinking about how many pages I’ve torn off the calendar.

Maybe when I hit sixty, I’ll start kicking and stretching. But for now, you can find me driving my kids around, running with the dog, and writing.

Click here to learn more about Living by Ear

From Kirkus Reviews
“Debut novelist Rowen reinvigorates familiar elements… short chapters rife with references to the music scene and pop culture…. A quick-tempo novel that will strike a chord with women’s-fiction fans….fresh, poignant and funny.”–Kirkus Reviews

MaryRowen

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Rowen loves music and is a Boston area mom to teenagers. All of her novels focus on women of various ages growing up, or at least becoming comfortable with themselves. Her essays have been anthologized and/or published on multiple blogs. Mary grew up in the Massachusetts Merrimack Valley, is a graduate of Providence College, and has worked as a teacher, writer, salesperson, and political canvasser. She firmly believes that all of those jobs provide good preparation for an aspiring writer.

Please visit her blog at: http://www.maryrowen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Rowen-Author/128709923953918

Twitter: @maryjrowen

 

Coming soon:

How Do You Know? – December 2nd. 

What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

 

 

 

Age is Just a Number series – Laura Chapman talks turning 25-26

Welcome my friend and fellow author, Laura Chapman (Hard Hats & Doormats), to the Age is Just a Number blog series. In the humorous and heartfelt post below, Laura talks about all she hoped to accomplish before turning 25 and how she reconciled hitting the milestone birthday without achieving it all even a couple of years later. (From me to you Laura – you’re doing great!)

Me at age 3. I suppose figuring out my life isn’t anything new.

Me at age 3. I suppose figuring out my life isn’t anything new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I anticipated a quarter-life crisis when I was turning 25. I was single, in a job I didn’t love and living in my brothers’ basement with two cats (who are amazing, but kind of cliché for a spinster in training). I certainly hadn’t accomplished anything on the to-do list I’d created my senior year of college.

According to my life plan (which I rescued from the trash folder on Google Drive to refresh my memory for this post), by the age of 25, I was supposed to have:
• Worked at two newspapers—one small, one mid-level—as a news/features reporter
• Quit my newspaper job to pursue my master’s degree (in mass communications or literature, because both of those are so useful), and be one year into the program at this point
• Taken a new job as a graduate assistant
• Spent a summer studying abroad in England
• Followed that up with eight weeks traveling Europe (and according to my notes, this was for pleasure and research for another book)
• Written four books
• Landed a literary agent

Yeah, I was nowhere close to achieving any of these things. The only thing I’d done remotely close to this was writing the first draft of Hard Hats and Doormats. At that point I had no idea how much more work it was going to take before publication date.

So there I was, 24 going on 25, prepared for an epic meltdown of tears, self-pity and a lot of asking, “Why me? Where did I go wrong?” And it didn’t happen.

Instead, I took the day off from work. I went to Omaha to visit my parents, who took me out for a lunch of pizza and beer. Then my mom and I went for coffee, followed by cupcakes and a sushi dinner. I received sweet texts and phone calls (not to mention the annual reminder of casual acquaintances from Facebook), and felt pretty good about my life. I was only 25 after all. I had plenty of time to get my act together.

Turning 25 never tasted so good.

Turning 25 never tasted so good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast-forward one year. I was turning 26. Still single, still at the same job and still living with my bromates. But since turning 25 wasn’t nothin’ but a thang, I was cavalier about becoming 26. It was only a year later, and I didn’t have that many more things I was supposed to check off of my life plan list. Aside from writing—and publishing—two more books, receiving my master’s degree and starting my “someday own a bookstore just like Nora Roberts’s Turn the Page only make it my own” fund.

So for my birthday I cleaned the house, invited a bunch of people over and set up games in our backyard for a good old-fashioned summer barbecue to celebrate me, myself and I. People came, I scored two sets of stick-on mustaches and two princess wands. My mom even made a bunch of desserts (including an amazing caramel apple cheesecake) and I capped off the night with cocktails.

It had been a pretty decent day. But once I returned home, put on my pajamas and curled up on my chair with the cats it hit me: I was a year older and nowhere closer to being the woman I always wanted. I wasn’t sure I even wanted all of that fanfare and worse I had no clue of what I wanted to do with myself. Sure, I still wanted to be a writer and a successful one. But by now, I’d realized it was going to be much harder than I ever anticipated. I still wanted to find great romance and independence, but I had no clue where to start on either front.

So I cried. Not just a little sniffle, but a full-on Kim Kardashian-style cry. I probably would have gotten away with my epic moment of self-pity if my little sister hadn’t shown up. She was locked out of her apartment and needed a place to crash for the night. Instead of finding a place to sleep, she ended up spending the next while (let’s be generous and say 30 minutes) listening to me go on and on about everything bugging me in my life. I probably should have been embarrassed, but I was too far gone.

I wish I could say the crying helped, but it didn’t. It didn’t hurt anything either, though, which hopefully counts for something.

In the two years since my birthday weep-a-thon, my life has changed quite a bit. I have a new job, not one I love, but one I like. I’m still single, but the cats and I have our own place now, and we like it. I’ve published a novel and two shorts. I’ve written two more novels, and as you’re reading this, I’m hopefully working on the first draft of number four (Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone!).

Nothing has gone exactly, or even remotely, close to the plan I’d naively drafted when I was 21. Sometimes I still give in to the urge for a pity party, but I’m doing a better job at living in the moment. Or at least managing my expectations about what the next moment might hold.

About Laura
Laura Chapman is a former journalist-turned author and blogger based in Nebraska. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, she is a devoted fan of football, British film, writing in bars and her cats, Jane and Bingley.

Connect with Laura:

Website: http://laurachapmanbooks.com/
Blog: http://www.change-the-word.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurachapmanbooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lmchap
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lmchap614
Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00H7OME88
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hard-hats-and-doormats-laura-chapman/1117661135?ean=2940148851479
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/hard-hats-and-doormats

 

 

Coming soon:

How Do You Know? – December 2nd.

What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

Age is Just a Number Blog Series – Whitney Dineen talks turning 30 and then 40

I’m stoked to get the Age is Just a Number Blog series rolling. First up is Whitney Dineen. Whitney is the author of She Sins at Midnight. Her post shows that contrary to popular belief, sometimes life gets better as we get older. (Hooray!) 

The morning my mom turned thirty, she slammed back two martinis before lunch, ostensibly, to inebriate herself into submission. Even as the proud mother of two (beyond adorable children), wife to one, homeowner, budding gourmet cook and journalist, she needed sedation to handle this milestone.

Enter me. I always assumed that by the time I turned the big 3-0, I’d be head of the P.T.A. , proud mother of between two and four stellar offspring, happy owner of a state of the art minivan and still manage to keep my size six 6 rear end in quarter bouncing shape. I would do this by playing competitive tennis at the local country club where I would be dining 1-3 times a week; the fact that I had never played tennis never entered into my fantasy. Oh, and I’d have a cleaning lady. Cause with my rigorous duties as June Cleaver, there would be no time to clean my own toilets. I think I might have had a gardener too, but I’m a bit fuzzy on that.

The reality was a radically different animal. I was married to the man of my dreams and had been for eight years. So yes, score one for me! My svelte size six butt was buried deeply under what I like to call think of its protective layer, my size fourteen butt. My children were still in egg form so there was no need to own a minivan, the P.T.A. didn’t want me without kids and still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Happily, my husband and girlfriends threw me a surprise party so I could join the family tradition of tying one on to “celebrate” entrance into my fourth decade of life.

In great contrast to my misery over turning thirty, turning forty was full of joy! I was happily pregnant with my first daughter after several miscarriages. I decided minivans were ugly and I didn’t really want one. The dream of playing tennis and having a size six derriere seemed so foolish as if not to even matter anymore, and while I did have a gardener, I valiantly cleaned my own toilets. When I turned forty, I was convinced that life couldn’t possibly be any sweeter.

Here’s what came next. In the last five years, our house came perilously close to burning down in the San Gabriel fires, my father-in-law died, we packed up our lives and moved to Oregon, we added another healthy pregnancy and daughter to the mix, my butt never did get smaller, I am my own gardener, I still clean my own toilets, and my husband was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

This is what growing older has taught me about life. Age is just a number, not a deadline on happiness. Health and love are the most important forms of prosperity you can own. Who cares how big your butt is?

bookjacket_edited-1

 

 

 

 
Link to She Sins at Midnight:
http://www.amazon.com/She-Sins-Midnight-Whitney-Dineen/dp/1496150457/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1411315886&sr=1-1
Kirkus Review:
“This whirlwind comedy/drama…centers on Lila Montgomery and her high school crush, a hilarious cat fight with a Hollywood starlet and her award-winning romance novel nobody know about. This fun, quick read examines the envies and dissatisfactions in women’s lives, reassuring reader that no one’s life is truly perfect.” –Kirkus
Author Bio:
While attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, Whitney Dineen was discovered by a local modeling agent and began an unexpected career as a plus-size Ford model. She modeled in New York City before moving to Los Angeles with her husband.
When she wasn’t modeling, she was in the kitchen, baking delights to share with friends. Soon, her friends began asking her to send baskets of her wonderful candies and cookies to business associates, agents and production studios. Word spread like wildfire, and the rest, as they say, is history. Whitney’s sensational creations are still in great demand by her loyal celebrity clientele (www.WhitneysGoodies.com).
During “The Hollywood Years,” Whitney was bitten by the writing bug and started creating characters that are inspired by strong women with a great sense of humor.
In addition to her love of chick-lit, Whitney has also written a series of adventure books for middle readers The first of which, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory, is nearing completion.
Whitney and her husband, Jimmy, have recently relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to raise their children, chickens and organic vegetables.

 

Coming soon:

How Do You Know? – December 2nd.

What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.