because I’m “middle aged”

I dreaded turning forty and the unofficial entrance into “middle age.” I think I started worrying about it around thirty-seven and remember going to bed on my thirty-ninth birthday vowing to take advantage of the next three hundred and sixty five days of my thirties. I’m not sure I really did. Honestly, there is only so much “taking advantage” one can do when they work a full-time job, have professional and personal responsibilities, and the days just go by so fast. I lived the year as best as I could. I enjoyed the good times, got through the bad ones, had fun, worked hard, traveled, paid my bills, blah, blah, blah. I handled my fortieth birthday well, but I will admit to anyone who asks that it was mainly because I was dating someone and hoped he would be “The One.”  My biggest fear was turning forty and being unattached romantically. Kind of shallow, I know. But it is what it is and I’m grateful for the timing of that relationship :).

It’s been a few years and I still struggle with aging often. A lot of it is because of how media makes women “of a certain age” feel irrelevant. I don’t want to feel that way, but I’m easily swayed, at least if I’m already feeling down about something. At the same time, I’m beginning to accept the whole “middle age” thing. I’m certainly at the beginning of it so that’s good, right? And, really, all it means to be “middle aged” is to not be “young” and not be “old.”

I’m even able to embrace some aspects of “middle age.” Sure, I have to go to more doctors for prevention than I used to, cover my greys more often than I did a decade ago, if I didn’t exercise regularly, it’s quite possible my slowing metabolism would not bode well for my stomach and thighs, and there is a group of men out there who might not consider me good on paper merely because of the year I was born (even men born five years earlier than me). But I’m not yet at the age where I need to get a colonoscopy (cheers!), I’m not even close to being fully grey, I don’t have many wrinkles yet, my shape is more or less the same as it was in my thirties, and any man who will only date younger women or who would dismiss me based on being over 40 is not a man I would want anyway.

I also see the world in a different way than I did in my twenties and thirties.

Because I’m “middle aged” and not “young,”  I’m able to appreciate how I look now knowing I’m going to keep changing. Even ten years ago, I’d probably take it for granted.

I’m also able to understand that if a man wouldn’t “swipe right” solely based on my age, it’s about his ego and I don’t let it shatter my own. I’m not so sure I’d have been so strong in this conviction even a few years ago.

Because I’m “middle aged” instead of “young,”  I’ve been around long enough to make mistakes, to recognize that they were mistakes, and to acknowledge that they were my fault. Although looking back often makes me want to turn back time and get a do-over (it really does), it also helps me from making the same mistakes in the future. I hope I get the opportunity to use these lessons while I’m still middle aged and not old.

Because I’m “middle aged” and not “young,” I’ve seen a lot of people get sick and die. I hate this fact of getting older, but it also keeps me from taking the people in this world I love for granted.

Rather than look back and lament the ending of my “youth,” why not appreciate all the things I can still do now that I might not be able to do when I’m “old?” For example, today I run upwards of twenty miles a week. Who knows if I’ll be able to do this in a couple of decades?  I hold down a full-time job and just signed a seven-book publishing deal because my brain is intact and I’m healthy. This can change at any minute and I’m “middle” enough to know that. Today, I can go out with my girlfriends and still get hit on by men (“boys”)  in their twenties. I doubt this will happen when I’m in my seventies. God willing, I still have plenty of life in me and opportunities coming my way to make my life a great one.

A big pet peeve of mine of late is when people in my age group refer to themselves (and me by association) as “old.” We’re not old. We’re in the middle! And it’s a pretty great place to be. Let’s enjoy it before we’re old!

Maggie Piper dishes her thoughts on tv, smug marrieds, and turning the big 4.0.

For my blog post this week, I thought I’d introduce you all to Maggie Piper, the heroine of my latest light women’s fiction release, How Do You Know? I’ve asked Maggie a series of questions and she was kind enough to answer them honestly, even some of the more personal ones.

By way of background, Maggie is a thirty-nine-year-old marketing manager who lives and works in New York City. She’s an only child of a broken home, but considers her first cousin, Cheryl, more of an older sister since they grew up in the same house and even shared a room. Maggie’s love life is, well, complicated as you can see from the book blurb:

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 toward 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.  

Appearance-wise, Maggie is 5’5” and doesn’t have much in the way of curves. Her hair is strawberry blonde and she has blue eyes and an abundance of freckles. She looks closer to thirty than forty, although it doesn’t make her feel much better about the impending 4.0. I’ve always pictured Maggie looking like the actress, Sarah Jane Morris.

Maggie Piper

Maggie Piper

Without further ado, let us begin the interview:

Me: Thanks for joining me today, Maggie! Let’s jump right in. What is it about turning forty that scares you so much?

Maggie: Wow! You don’t waste much time, do you? Haha. Honestly, I just thought I’d be somewhere else in my life by forty and fear that my opportunities to get there are dwindling away. At the same time, there isn’t much I would do differently.

Me: By ‘somewhere else’ can I assume you mean married with children?

Maggie: Yes. You don’t really hear about too many forty-year-old women who’ve never been married and the media clogs my vision with images of older men with younger women. I fear that I’m approaching an age where I won’t be appealing to the opposite sex. It makes me antsy and scared of the future.

Me: But you have a boyfriend, right?

Maggie: Had one. We broke up recently. I love Doug, but I wasn’t sure it was right. I wanted time to figure it out, but he didn’t want to give it to me.

Me: What about the people who say it is selfish or immature of you to not have your shit together by now?

Maggie: I say those people haven’t walked a mile in my shoes. There are people who think I’m putting too much emphasis on my love life and should just relax and let things happen. But the people who say that are usually the ones who have never struggled in that department. Navigating the dating world is not easy for most of us. I’m guessing the naysayers have never come so close only to have the rug pulled out from under them. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, hurt someone they cared for deeply because they knew it wasn’t right. It’s like that Match.com commercial with the woman who tells her friend that if she wasn’t married, she’d totally go on Match. She can only say that because she is married.

Me: Bridget Jones referred to them as “smug marrieds.” Do you agree?

Maggie. *laughs* Some of them, yes. But not all. Of my three closest friends, one is happily married, one is recently divorced, and another hasn’t had a relationship in close to a decade. Yet, none of them judge me for feeling the way I do.  These are people who might not understand where I am coming from based on their own experiences, but they are able to look beyond their own lives and appreciate that not everyone figures things out at the same pace.

Me: Onto a less serious question, is it safe to say you have an addiction to television?

Maggie: Ha! Yes, I do. I’ve been binge-watching television since way before Netflix was born.

Me: What are your favorite shows?

Maggie: I’m a sucker for the legal-suspense type shows, like The Following, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order: SVU. But I also enjoy the sharp wit of shows like Grimm, Veronica Mars, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Castle has it all.

Me: What are you looking for in a romantic partner?

Maggie: And we’re back to this line of questioning, huh? I’m not sure. I think that’s my problem. I wanted the break from Doug to figure that out. I don’t want to hurt anyone in the process, but I want to be happy.  As much as I love male companionship (and sex), I want to commit for the right reasons; not simply so I can tick off “married” on questionnaires. But how do you know when you’ve found what you’re looking for? How do you know when it’s right?

Me: I wish I knew, Maggie, as I ask myself that same question often. I hope you find the answer.  Is there anything else you’d like to say to those who read How Do You Know?

Maggie: I would just hope that after people read my story, they pause before making assumptions about where someone should be in life based on the year they were born. Not everyone has the opportunity or even desire to take the more traditional path and some folks have a longer learning curve. Don’t invalidate someone’s insecurities/doubts just because you did not experience them yourself. With each birthday hopefully comes more wisdom, but “growing up” is a life-long process.

Patricia Mann chases happiness as the Age is Just a Number series continues

I’m thrilled to welcome Patricia Mann, author of Is This All There Is and the newly released sequel, Is This What I Want? to close out the Age is Just a Number series. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!

I recently discovered that not only is Patricia a fellow author with Booktrope and a friend of mine, she’s a sorority sister! Yes, we’re both sisters of Alpha Xi Delta. I enjoyed Patricia’s insightful post about learning to chase happiness instead of goals.

Turning forty-six last month left me wondering if it’s finally time to stop chasing the next big high. I’ve done so much, but none of it brought the kind of happiness or sense of fulfillment I anticipated. That’s okay, because I learned unexpected lessons and am now working to find pleasure in the little things that I once saw as too ordinary or boring.

At twenty-four, I had a master’s degree on the wall, a shiny new wedding ring on my finger, and two years of teaching at a university under my belt. I felt ready to take on the world. My long list of goals to accomplish before turning thirty included buying a house, launching a consulting career, and having my first child.

In case this seems like bragging, let me share a tiny bit of backstory. I was a troubled child and teen. I did not do well in school and did all sorts of unsavory things. My Type A personality disorder didn’t surface until I was almost twenty. Extremes have always been my strong suit.

I reached every goal I set out to achieve by the time I turned thirty, yet the night of my thirtieth birthday I found myself in a deep depression. Is This All There Is? I wondered. I have so much, I should be beside myself with bliss, I thought. But I wasn’t. So, like my son’s hamster, who runs around and around her little wheel, appearing to expect some grand treat to magically appear if she just keeps going, I decided to set new goals. In the next decade, I ran a marathon, had a second child, continued to teach while also starting my own consulting business, and began working on my first novel. Not surprisingly, the title of that novel would ultimately become Is This All There Is?.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was blessed to have a loving husband, wonderful kids, and a rewarding career. I tried not to take them for granted. But I always felt this gnawing pressure to do more, to take things up a notch. Looking back, I wish I had allowed for more time to stop and fully enjoy everything in my life. Like a true addict, each accomplishment immediately resulted in the need to go after something new, searching for that greater high. At forty-six, I think it’s time to break the cycle.

On my husband’s last birthday, his forty-fourth, I gave him a card with a simple message on the front in large, colorful letters. He put it in a spot where we’re both guaranteed to see it every day. I can now admit that the card was for both of us, maybe even more me than him. It reads: Do more of what makes you happy.

Wow. At forty-six, I’m forced to realize that I kind of had it wrong. Maybe it’s time to stop doing all the things I think I’m supposed to do. Maybe my need to over-achieve and impress people was actually fueled by a misguided desire to heal the shame of my shiftless youth. None of it worked. The recipe didn’t quite turn out right. Yet, I’m left with all the ingredients for a truly fulfilling life. Really high-quality ingredients, in fact. All I need is a new recipe.

I think I’ve done a pretty good job of meeting everyone else’s needs. Now I want to start honestly looking at how to better meet my own needs.

I have no big goals to achieve by the time I turn fifty. I mainly want to do more of what makes me happy. Having romantic dinners and laughing with my husband makes me really happy. Spending as much time as possible with my kids, listening to them talk about how they navigate the challenging teen years, playing games with them and watching funny shows together is pure joy for me. Cuddling and playing with our dogs is heaven. Work still makes me happy too, but I need to stop trying to prove myself and settle into feeling confident about what I have to offer. Having fun with friends makes me so happy. I need more time with my friends. Going to lunch with my mom is one of my favorite things to do. I’m often too busy and put it off for long periods. No more. Running with my dad is our special time together and it means the world to me. He would drop everything to go more often, all I’d have to do is ask.

Last but certainly not least, there is writing. I always wanted to write but didn’t find the courage to do it until later in life. If I am truly going to do more of what makes me happy, making more time to write is probably the biggest step I need to take. Not because of a deadline and not because I’m naïve enough to think it’s likely to result in money or fame, but because it makes me so, so, so very happy.

I suppose it’s up to me to keep adding to my list of what makes me happy on my own time, rather than making this post way too long. So I promise I will. I want you to promise me that you will too. Whatever age you are, it’s time for you to do this now. Say it out loud with me, okay? “I will do more of what makes me happy.”

TIATS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My website: http://www.patriciamann.me

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatriciaMann11

Facebook friend page: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.mann.969

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Patricia-Mann/325125214262516

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/patriciamann14/

Is This All There Is?

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Is-This-All-There-ebook/dp/B00J6ELEX8/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/is-this-all-there-is-patricia-mann/1114038095?ean=9781620153581

Is This What I Want?

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/This-What-Want-There-Series-ebook/dp/B00OMNR6CQ/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/is-this-what-i-want-patricia-mann/1120586709?ean=9781620155806 Author Bio: Patricia Mann is a university professor and consultant. She lives in California with her husband, their two kids, and two sweet, silly dogs.

 

 

 

 

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 toward 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.

Welcome Kenneth Bennett to the Age is Just a Number Series talking 54 and the environment

Today on the Age is Just a Number blog series, I have Kenneth Bennett, author of the sci-fi thriller, Exodus 2022, expressing his thoughts on life at 54 and his passion for the environment. I especially enjoyed his comments about redefining the meaning of middle-aged.

LIFE AT 54

I’m 54 years old and having a blast. I have an amazing wife, a wonderful son (now in his first year in college) an incredible extended family and passions—writing, environmental activism, swimming, backpacking, cycling, skiing—that keep me fired up and looking forward. I’m blessed to be able to hang out with funny, positive people who inspire me.  Three of the guys in my masters swimming group recently swam the Straits of Juan de Fuca, from Port Angeles to Vancouver Island (11 miles, 7 hours, 54 degree water). Their ages: 56, 58, and 60. There’s a 70-year-old dude in my cross fit class who lifts weights like a teenager and has the resting heart rate of a sword fern. People like this have caused me to reconsider what it means to be middle aged (and older) and to reject the cultural stereotypes foisted on all age groups.

Of course, like anyone who’s lived more than a couple decades, I’ve lost people dear to me. Witnessed my share of unhappy events. I’m fully aware that life can turn on a dime, that an accident or illness can sabotage the most carefully arranged plans. I try to take things day by day, and right now, I’m enjoying life more than I ever have. I’m comfortable with who I am and the path I’m on, excited about the future.

Perhaps because I am more aware of my mortality these days, I have more clarity about what really matters and what makes me happy.

One of the things that makes me happy is working on environmental causes. The planet is in dire shape. We’re losing species and habitat at an alarming rate. The U.S. Congress is now in the hands of people who set climate policy based on what Fox News pundits tell them to do vs. what scientists recommend. Writing about these things (in novels, articles, blog posts, tweets, and so on) is something I feel compelled to do. Also it’s cathartic. If I couldn’t write about this stuff I think I’d go mad. Example—my wife and I visited Yellowstone National Park in late October. It was just starting to get cold.  Vibrant fall colors. Wildlife everywhere. Not many tourists. We headed for the Lamar Valley, our favorite part of the park—the place where wolves were reintroduced in 1995 and ‘96. The wolves were there. Hunting. Playing with their pups. Living their lives. One evening—right at sunset—we watched four black wolves, likely from the 8-Mile Pack, trotting along a ridge against a platinum sky. It was a magical scene I won’t ever forget.

Sadly, wolf hunting is legal outside the park and the 2014 season has been a bloodbath.  Fifty one wolves have been taken in the Montana hunt since it opened in September—including some wearing radio collars—collars used by Yellowstone wildlife biologists to learn about wolf migration and behavior. Believe it or not, for some hunters, killing a collar-wearing Yellowstone wolf—a wolf that during its lifetime delighted tens of thousands of park visitors—is like winning the lottery. An achievement to be celebrated and bragged about on Facebook. The only way I can deal with this stuff is to write about it, work to educate people and fight for better laws. By the way, I’m not anti-hunting. I grew up hunting with my dad and brother-in-laws in Arizona and Alaska. I eat meat. What I’m against is trophy hunting and the senseless killing of highly intelligent, highly social animals that depend on intact family units—packs—to survive.

I’m optimistic that we will find ways out of this and other environmental messes we’ve created and I believe well-crafted stories can play a role. EXODUS 2022, my new sci-fi thriller, has received more than 100 reviews on Amazon to date and many readers mentioned that the book caused them to think about the planet, and other species, in new ways. One of my favorite comments came just a few weeks ago, from the educational curator of the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island: “… A must-read for anyone who cares about the oceans, wildlife, and the environment, and likes to think that the animals will win in the end. It’s my new happy place… Kudos to the author for creating a really imaginative way out of this environmental mess we’ve made of our planet.”

Such feedback keeps me writing, gives me hope and helps me stay focused, motivated and moving forward.

Thank you Meredith Schorr for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts!

Sincerely,

Kenneth G. Bennett

KenBennett

Amazon buy link for EXODUS 2022:
twitter: @kennethgbennett

 

 

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 toward 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. 
 

Dishing biological deadlines with Emily Clanton – Age is Just a Number

Today on the Age is Just a Number blog series, I’m very pleased to welcome Emily Clanton, Social Media Manager for Booktrope and self-proclaimed “social media geek.” Emily works tirelessly to promote Booktrope authors and so I am thrilled to turn the spotlight on her. Emily talks, not about a specific age, but about those pesky biological deadlines.

Biological Deadlines and the Future

As I cruise along in the summer time of my life, I really can’t say that I have a particular age that I’m afraid of reaching. I know. It seems a bit counter-intuitive for a lady (who had a birthday at the beginning of the month) to write something like that, but it’s true. Instead the source of my apprehension is reconciling the idea of hard biological deadlines that conflict with my chronological life plan.

Growing up as the eldest child in my family I wasn’t allowed to do very much. Even when I was old enough to get a job and save money for things like concert tickets, I wasn’t allowed to go. So, for me, college was when I was really able to hone my skills of goal setting and working to achieve these goals. For example, I graduated debt-free with a degree in art, and I had a job in Japan lined up within a few months of graduation.

Once I began to mentally sketch out plans for the end of my 20’s and into my 30’s, however, I stumbled into an issue that I had never seriously considered before: having children.

After hearing it described by friends, I don’t think this is my biological clock doing the thinking – at least, not yet. But the abstract idea of a baby isn’t far from my mind these days. When my husband and I discuss the house we want in the near future, it has to have enough space for our creative passions – visual art and music – as well as room for kids. Thinking about turning my art into a business, I mentally bullet list how much time I would need to carve out of a day away from the demands of these youngins who don’t even exist yet!

Human beings can do just about anything that they set their minds to at almost any age. Just as you can skydive at 90, you could play beautiful violin music at 10. That’s why my stomach hurts just a little bit when I think about the future. I know my husband and I are problem solvers and will figure things out when the time comes, but, in the meantime, having this unseen biological checkered flag flapping somewhere in the distance is more than a little stressful. Thank goodness for books, Dr. Mario on the Wii, and white wine!

~~~

Emily is a book-loving social media geek and creative type based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the Social Media Manager for Booktrope and oversees the curation of the company’s social media accounts, its blog, and newsletter. A graduate of the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, Emily enjoys painting, cooking (and eating) delicious things and the sudoku-esque challenge of crafting the perfect tweet.

Learn more about Emily’s current art project, Ratios and Recipes, wherein she is researching the best ways to make sustainable, water-based paints from natural pigments: http://ratiosandrecipes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EC_Clanton
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RatiosAndRecipes
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.

Welcome author Justin Bog to the Age is Just a Number series – fearing 40!

I am pleased to welcome Justin Bog, author of the newly released Hark—A Christmas Collection, to the Age is Just a Number blog series. I enjoyed hearing a man’s perspective on aging. Today, Justin talks about his fortieth birthday. And keeping reading for an excerpt from Hark—A Christmas Collection.

The Age I Fear . . . Turning 40 and every birthday afterwards.

I don’t love to live in the past. I don’t think about my past much, or reflect on nostalgic moments. I barely remember childhood birthdays, and I am a twin sharing this date with a brother born fifteen minutes ahead of me towards the end of July summer heat right smack in the middle of 1965. I live in the cliché of now, the present, and this is my mindset. I don’t worry about the future, the ups and upheavals to come since I cannot change either the future (or the past). I can only imagine doing so, and this helps when I create the fictional stories I tell.

I’ve had one major birthday celebration, and while a fantastic gathering of friends in Victoria, B.C. when turning 40, I felt unmoored. Since I don’t seek attention, the spotlight became something too bright and I continued to feel ephemeral and unworthy—I didn’t earn this. One participant jokingly said, “All this is for you?” He shook his head with disbelief, and I did as well. I’m from midwest roots where sticking out in any crowd is wrong, and even more scoundrel-like if anyone is sticking out in a crowd for doing something wrong, ill-mannered, or without a concern for how any action will touch someone else. Empathy became a charming companion. I placed others before myself, and still do. I now follow The Four Agreements whenever I’m facing conflict or difficult moments—and it does take some time to not take anything personally.

Seeking attention is the rub, and can’t be avoided on birthdays. Being a writer has made me falter at times on the marketing front because authors are supposed to be approachable, entertainers while reading their work in public, savvy at social media, but not too loud, not too self-centered, and there is a fine line that authors do end up crossing. Recently, I went to a gathering where I became too chatty, and myopic about writing, a deadly combination, and I learned a valuable lesson: less is more less is more less is more. I was in a room full of strangers, lovely people, but my own anxieties, frailties, chipped away at the role I was playing.

This huge 40th birthday party was unknown to me, a huge surprise, but intuition told me there would be something I’d have to be grateful for later, and I was (I am). The hardest thing about aging is a physical decline, and for some a mental decline rides right alongside the body’s decay. I watched my parents’ health decline, my mother’s passing at too young an age a few week’s prior to her birthday; the year before my father’s death filled with the stress of a familial betrayal, not living long after his birthday, unable to read any celebratory card. Birthdays, all of them now, are totems, markers where I can check my own frailties, how they progress or lessen. Many of the past several birthdays I’ve spent alone without any kind of cheerful party, and this solitude is welcome even though fear creeps in. When I do celebrate a birthday again, I’ll handle cheer much better, I promise, since I do know a lifetime is fleeting.

HarkAChristmasCollection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An excerpt from Hark—A Christmas Collection’s short story Seducing Santa:

It’s Christmas Eve and I have the whole night planned. I make dark chocolate rum cookies and spread them artistically on my good French china and, afterwards, I take a bath with jasmine-scented skin softener. I put on a new red lacy negligee, with a matching (warmer if I’m going to wait long) robe with dainty, feathery slippers, the kind that look like you have racy pompoms on your feet. I light all the candles in my living room, tall ones, thin ones, and wide ones, placed on the bookshelves and the end tables and turn off all the house illumination except for the flickering white lights of my small, tabletop Christmas tree. Then, I settle a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rosé into the ice bucket, ready to serve, and sit on my puffy couch, my legs tucked under me, waiting.

 ***

Is it silly to want someone so badly you’d do anything to be around that person? I’m known as a person who doesn’t rein in her passions. The Mr. Spocks of this world can kiss my sweet personality. Believe me, I’m really not speaking as any kind of stalker. I’ve never been a fan of celebrity. And, no, I didn’t have a poster of Kurt Cobain or Luke Perry on my wall …really (Okay—I will say one thing—I don’t think Courtney Love is a great role model. Who does she think she is anyway?). I’m not that desperate. You be the judge. Ask me if it’s silly to want someone so badly you’d act like a complete fool, I’d have to answer: no, with reservations, of course. I think murder is out of the question. I can’t think of any situation where I’d kill someone just to get what I want. On the other hand, I’ve been thinking about Mrs. Claus a lot.

 Book Description: A beautifully written collection of short stories from critically acclaimed Pacific Northwest writer Justin Bog, Hark—A Christmas Collection explores the range of emotions surrounding the holidays. From melancholy to madness, loss and despair to hope and forgiveness, these six tales shimmer with feelings, some we’d rather stuff away, that Christmas can evoke.

Set in colorful locations around the United States, from Anacortes, Washington, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Sun Valley, Idaho, each tale focuses on people who struggle to make good choices, learn lessons, and maybe even find peace during the holiday season.

A bonus story, Poseidon Eyes, from Booktrope’s upcoming reissue of Sandcastle and Other Stories—The Complete Edition, is included.

Buy links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hark–Christmas-Collection-Justin-Bog-ebook/dp/B00PL81XFC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1416160882&sr=1-1&keywords=justin+bog&pebp=1416160895315

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hark-justin-bog/1120747106?ean=2940150387997

 

 

Justin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My website is: Justin Bog A Writer’s Life: http://www.justinbog.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JustinBog1

Twitter: Follow @JustinBog or https://twitter.com/JustinBog

Author Bio: Justin Bog lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island. Justin Bog was Pop Culture Correspondent and Editor for In Classic Style. He is an experimental cook, a lawn mower who colors outside the lines, and treat master to two long coat German shepherds, Zippy and Kipling, and two barn cats, Ajax The Gray and Eartha Kitt’n.

 

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 toward 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.

K.M. Randall is “getting over” birthdays as the Age is Just a Number series continues

Please give a warm welcome to K.M. Randall, author of Fractured Dream and The Reaper’s Daughter, to the Age is Just a Number blog series. K.M. dishes fearing the big 2.5. and how she finally no longer dreads birthdays.

Getting over birthdays

My hatred of birthdays began when I was twenty-two. I could already see the passing of my youth, and since I’d reached the legal drinking age the year before, what good was getting older? But it was my twenty-fifth birthday that I’ll always remember as the year I was misery personified. I wanted nothing more than to let it go by without anyone the wiser. I wanted to forget it, or at the very least pretend it wasn’t happening, pretend thirty wasn’t only five years away. Mortality beat a constant drum inside my conscience.

My friends, however, refused to let me stay twenty-four and had planned a night out dancing. To make a long story short, I was so sunk in my joylessness I ended up leaving the club and walking across the street to a friend’s house where I went to sleep, too depressed to have fun. That was the worst year. That was the year I floated, waiting to start grad school, finding myself in a relationship that was wholly unhealthy and abusive to myself, the year I wrote in a dark office but felt less accomplished than before I’d begun.

The birthdays after that weren’t as bad, although for the longest time it was a running joke between family and friends that I hated getting older. But when I was twenty-eight I fell in love, and even though he was three years younger than me, age didn’t seem to matter as much anymore. By the time thirty actually rolled around, age just wasn’t such a big deal and I only half-heartedly and jokingly grumped about this mark of time. My group of friends passed off the pink walker to me, a gift the birthday boy or girl had to store until the next friend hit a milestone, and I took it with good humor. I was thirty-two when my son was born and my thirty-third birthday later that year was merely a moment to reflect and enjoy my first year as a mother.

I’m not sure exactly what changed. Perhaps it was the inevitability. Maybe I’m just too busy to worry about getting old. I still don’t like it. I don’t like the health issues, the aches I sometimes feel that I didn’t have ten years ago, the passing of family and friends. But I like to believe that instead of dreading the turning of another year, I’ve learned to welcome life. It goes forward and so must I. I turn thirty-six this month, and instead of dread I’m excited for what’s to come. Now, when I hear someone younger than myself lament their age, I laugh to myself. I’ve been there. But I don’t dread my birthday. No one teases me anymore about my distaste for getting older because I choose not to focus on it as a negative. Instead, I look forward to the celebration of a life that I believe is more well-lived every year. Plus, it’s always a reason to drink good wine.

 

 

kmrandall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio

As a girl, K.M. always wished she’d suddenly come into magical powers or cross over into a Faerie circle. Although that has yet to happen, she instead lives vicariously through the characters she creates in writing fantasy and delving into the paranormal. When K.M. is not busy writing her next novel, she is a freelance editor and writer, and she also serves as an editor with Booktrope Publishing. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in English-Lit from Nazareth College of Rochester. K.M. lives in Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region with her husband, her extremely energetic little boy, and their crazy Goldendoodle Luna. Her first novel, Fractured Dream: The Dreamer Saga, was published in June 2014, and her upcoming YA paranormal novel, The Reaper’s Daughter, is slated for release in February 2015.

Blogs:

KMRandallAuthor.com
TurnThePageEditing.com

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/authorKMRandall

Twitter:
@KM_Randall

Pinterest:
http://www.pinterest.com/katrinamendoler/

Book Links:
Fractured Dream
The Reaper’s Daughter

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.

Author Julie Farley talks turning 41 on the Age is Just a Number blog series

Welcome Julie Farley, author of The New Ever After book series, to the Age is Just a Number blog series! I love reading about individuals learning to accept themselves, warts and all. Not that I think Julie has any warts, of course. Keep reading for her thoughts on turning forty-one.

When Harry Met Sally was one of my favorite movies when I was in high school. As I went through my twenties and then my thirties, I always remembered when Sally was lamenting the fact that she was going to turn forty…in eight years. But as I approached the big number, I had the opposite reaction. I wanted to be forty. All of my friends were a little bit older than I was and for some weird reason, I longed to catch up with them. I craved the authority and respect that came with being forty. So the big day came and I roller-skated into the night with my BFFs and the milestone was reached with nothing but smiles.

And then forty-one arrived without any hoopla or excitement. Just another year older. And forty-two came with even less. At first I missed the celebration, multiple cakes and plethora of balloons that came along with the previous year’s milestone, but then a sense of satisfaction and contentment coursed through me something I hadn’t felt in the preceding decades.

I’m finally comfortable with my imperfections; the hair that turned grey rather prematurely, the spider veins I earned from carrying four children, and the muffin top that slowly creeps out of my low-rise jeans. I appreciate people who are real and their messes especially when they’re sprinkled with honesty. I’m on a path that I chose and one that I enjoy. I don’t care about being seen, the next new thing or dancing till dawn. I prefer intimate gatherings, conversations under the stars and things that tickle my whimsy even if they’re not the popular choices.

Life at forty-two is more raw and precious. I’ve gained an appreciation for carpe diem and YOLO the hard way. Moments are treasured and no longer taken for granted. The sky is a little more blue, the tulips a little more yellow, but my eyesight a little bit worse. Forty-two finds me relishing the crisp and the blurry and happily looking toward forty-three.

JulieFarley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to book one in The New Ever After Series http://www.amazon.com/Tripped-Love-Ever-After-Book-ebook/dp/B00NUHIN04/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414967428&sr=1-1&keywords=tripped+up+love
Link to book two in The New Ever After Series http://www.amazon.com/The-Ever-After-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00OCZDN3U/ref=pd_sim_b_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=00DSG5KCEMN15Y8976JD
Follow me on twitter @juliefarley1
Visit my blog at http://www.juliefarley.com.

 

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.
Meredith Schorr, best-selling author of light women’s fiction, digs deep in her newest novel and raises the age old issue of the ‘proverbial clock’ that haunts many women, in a way that is refreshing and sassy no matter your age or relationship status.

Talking 60 with author Arleen Williams – Age is Just a Number

Welcome, Arleen Williams, author of the Alki Trilogy, to the Age is Just a Number series. While reading Arleen’s wisdom-soaked post, I was moved to begin enjoying each and every moment of my life to its fullest. If only it wasn’t easier said than done…

The Final Third

“It’s time to start buying bananas one at a time.”

I can hear Dad’s voice in my ears. If he were here, he’d be teasing me now as I enter the sixth decade of life. But Dad passed a dozen years ago, and I’m giving myself at least another decade or two before following that particular piece of his advice.

“The older you get, the faster it goes.”

This too, Dad was apt to repeat in a voice filled with an odd mix of frustration, bewilderment and warning. Reluctantly, I’m beginning the see the truth in those words.

But mostly, as I enter this final third of life, I realize I’ve begun to count backwards. If I live to 90, that gives me 30 years. 85 gives me 25. So what am I going to do with those remaining years?

When I was younger, I took each year, each day, as it came, more reckless than I care to remember, blind to the reality of limitation. Life is not forever. Nor is health, strength or beauty.

In SATORI (Coffeetown Press, 2014), Jack Remick’s  latest collection of poetry, he includes a poem titled “I Eat My Vegetables Every Day.” Here are a few lines:

I peel the fat off the skinless

chicken breast that I broil

and I eat broccoli and cauliflower

but I will not live forever.

 

Like Jack, I eat my broccoli and cauliflower. I exercise like a maniac, completing my first 200-mile bike ride last summer. And I try to make the best of the assets I was born with. Does any of that make me look or feel younger? Does it tighten the sagging skin or smooth the wrinkles? Does it add years or make the remaining years more enjoyable? Who knows?

I suppose what matters most is to live each day to the fullest, finding joy in every moment. Or as many as possible because “life isn’t all fun and games.”

But we’ve heard that before. Maybe, I wish I’d wasted fewer years wandering aimlessly trying to figure out who the hell I am. I began writing at forty-eight. My writing career will be shorter than that of others. So I make the most of the time I have. I count backwards and prioritize, deciding what’s important and what to let go.

If Dad’s right — and he seems to be — the final third will slip by in “the wink of an eye” and I refuse to squander a single second.

CoverRunning Secrets cover art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My links:

Website:              www.arleenwilliams.com

Twitter:                @arleen_aw

Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/arleenwilliamsauthor

 

Author Bio:

face

Arleen Williams is the author of three books. Running Secrets, the first novel in the Alki Trilogy, is about the power of friendship in helping overcome the dysfunction of family and life. Biking Uphill, book two of the Alki Trilogy, touches on thought-provoking contemporary political issues including immigration. The Thirty-Ninth Victim is a memoir of her family’s journey before and after her sister’s murder. Arleen teaches English as a Second Language at South Seattle College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for close to three decades. Arleen lives and writes in West Seattle. To learn more, please visit www.arleenwilliams.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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 – Julia Park Tracey talks turning 31

I love this post by Julia Park Tracey, author of the upcoming Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop, on how differently she felt turning 31 compared to turning 30. I especially love her thoughts at the end on getting older in general. Enjoy!

JuliaParkTracey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I’m 31 – A Horror Story
By Julia Park Tracey

When I was 29, turning 30, it was super cool. It was fun. It was fab, in fact. I had married young, I had birthed three kids already, and I felt ready to take on the accomplishment of surviving the decade. I threw myself a party. Got a babysitter for the kids. Asked for presents. I felt able to mock myself turning the ripe old age of thirty.
My party invitation was this poem:

Come to my 30th birthday.
Come gaze at this wonder.
Be with me as I come crashing
like a Chinese acrobat
through a paper hoop
into my fourth decade.
Measure my girth.
Marvel at the elasticity of my skin.
Witness the tiny clawmarks of time
around my eyes.
Carbon-date me.
Count my rings.
Come press the flesh
that in all those late hours with you
held a glass or laden tray,
a telling tale or a wailing bairn.
Come sip, sup with us
on this grand day
when I cease to be almost precocious
and set about sedate
and seemly middle age.
I finished with a flourish: “Do drop in – misery loves company!”

Funny stuff.

With that sass and flair I held my 30th party, I enjoyed the gifts, and I cruised through the year saying, “I’m thirty! Look at me – thirty! Isn’t this something? I. Am. Fabulous.”

And then. Full stop.

My birthday came around again. As they do. And O.M.G. It wasn’t good. Because there was something pert and saucy about being thirty. But 31? No. Not cool. It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t funny. It was just – old. It didn’t matter. I don’t think we did a thing to celebrate. I cried and sulked and ignored the day, and then was outraged that everyone else had ignored the day. I got the usual card from my mother which was the bouquet of flowers on the front and a Hallmark rhyme inside and I hated her and I hated myself and why did I have to be 31?

It was a hard one.

What made it so hard? Why was the round number OK, but the number plus one just ego-crushing? I think the difference was, maybe, hope? Despair? Seeing life catch up?

Comedy team Garfunkle and Oates, two bright feminist musicians who sing hilariously on-point songs about current events and social issues, have made a song about this most trying of ages, called “29/31.” (Watch it here – it’s amazeballs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-gfxjAaZg0.)
The 29-year-old sings, in light, trilling tones, these words:
“I’m at the top of my game, possibilities are endless, and I just feel really pretty.
I’m holding out for someone who meets my standards, won’t settle for anything less than perfect.
I know what I want and I can have it; I’m surrounded by love and peace”
And then the 31-year-old bursts in, shrieking:
“There’s nobody left, I’m all alone!
Why the fuck did I wait? what’s wrong with me?
In two short years, I’m gonna be 33!
Who the hell who want me then? my ovaries are shrinking!
I’m disgusting and everyone feels bad for me
And I never get invited to dinner parties anymore”

The key distinction here, for the two ladies, is also hope. I think at 29 and 30, I had still the joyous bounce in my step of irrepressible energy, despite three young children. I could still get by on four hours of sleep. I still thought I was where I was going, if that makes sense.

Or where I wanted to be.

But when I hit 31, I felt boxed in. Tired. As if I had done all the things I would ever do, and that I was staring down a chute toward the dark end. I hadn’t traveled anywhere. I didn’t have a higher education. I was 31 with three kids and a strange marriage that kept getting stranger.

Turning 31 was hard.

Did I survive it? Yes – I’m writing this twenty years later, with several trips to Europe, a Master’s Degree, three grown daughters, a different husband, two grown step-children, and five books in print. It’s hard to see where we’re going sometimes, especially when you feel boxed in. When you haven’t stretched your wings yet. Thirty is not the end. Neither is forty, nor fifty. It gets better with every decade. Not easier or less stressful – but richer, deeper, more satisfying, less fraught. Better. In every sense.

So 31. You almost had me. But we’re cool now.

BIO
Julia Park Tracey is a freelance journalist, writing and editing newspapers and magazines in California and the author of forthcoming Booktrope novel. Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop is inspired by Julia’s real-life reporting. Julia has published a literary zine, taught writing classes, and helped start a newspaper. She is also the author of Tongues of Angels, and two award-winning bios about the Roaring Twenties, the Doris Diaries series. She has been blogging since 2003 and has won several awards for her personal essays and advocacy reporting. Julia lives in Northern California with her husband and son and adorable cat. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon, and at http://www.juliaparktracey.com.

Blurb on forthcoming Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop:
Veronika Layne. Sassy, tattooed, twenty-something newspaper reporter. Never saw herself working for the “man.” When her small weekly is swallowed up by Singh Media Group, that’s exactly where she ends up. Stuck writing fluff pieces that might as well be ads, how can she resist digging into rumors that a real estate developer is destroying native burial grounds? Warned away at every turn by her editor, she worries whether the story will see the light of day? And, dazzled by her sexy rival-turned-coworker, what is she going to do about her love life?

 

 

 

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.