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Looking forward to this roundup! Although not a "thing" - The Lady's Illness Library that Rae Katz is building out here on Substack has been one of the most useful things to me to glean wisdom from other women, mostly in midlife, who deal with chronic illness.

I don't have a specific item of clothing to recommend (I buy secondhand and handcrafted and think this is very personal) BUT want to put out there that I recently read somewhere (wish I could remember where specifically) that in midlife it's nice to dress for flow, not constriction. That has stuck with me.

In terms of specific tangible things, Untamed by Glennon Doyle is the number one book I'd recommend.

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I invest in Moleskine journals for my daily journaling practice. A quality receptacle keeps me consistent. If I don’t use it, I wasted a lot of money on an expensive book. Here’s a link to the one I prefer: https://www.moleskine.com/en-us/shop/notebooks/the-original/classic-notebook-black-8053853602800.html

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I'm the sort of woman who has multiple notebooks, calendars, lists all over the place, and who tries to manage the chaos with To-Do lists etc. I was nervous about making the change, but I watched the Remarkable from afar for a couple of years before making the commitment (expensive, what if it doesn't work, I love paper etc). The Remarkable 2 is my early Christmas gift. As a full-time writer who also teaches, loves learning, manages life (just about) with four kids, it's SO GOOD. (Losing the pen that works with it is my only major stress...): https://remarkable.com/?gad_source=1&gclid=Cj0KCQiA67CrBhC1ARIsACKAa8TOkghv6fV--DQXxdydrxIOrxPJDarB9Dcc5D3IjdeZCxs7ZlFAOQYaAkhlEALw_wcB

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The one not-expensive-but-life-changing kitchen item I always recommend is an immersion blender. It's great for anyone who wants to make soup but rolls their eyes the moment the directions say to pour the mixture from the pot into a blender. Immersion blender to the rescue! Just stick that puppy in the pot and blend. And now you have a big pot of soup.

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I recently bought myself some Loop earplugs and I LOVE them.

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BOOK: Maira Kalman's "Women Holding Things" - I've bought a few as gifts, and a few friends have told me they've been given them as gifts. It's got Kalman's signature humor, wit, pathos, and absolute beauty. https://bookshop.org/p/books/women-holding-things-maira-kalman/18282125?ean=9780062846679

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Dec 4, 2023·edited Dec 4, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

BRACELET: I've given Mint & Lilly's "You Are an Amazing Woman" and "You're My Favorite Bitch to Bitch About Bitches With" bracelets to several gal pals. https://mintandlily.com/products/amazing-woman-cuff-bracelet?mrk_section=template--15193743130697__main

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PENS: I first bought these "Thank You For Being Awesome" pens as party favors. Now, I keep them in a holder by my door and a few in my purse and give them out whenever someone does something awesome. Good if you need bulk gifts or want to add a little something to a card. https://www.amazon.com/Fulmoon-Inspirational-Appreciation-Motivational-Ballpoint/dp/B0CCVFB5PT/ref=sr_1_41?crid=L0BAQ9LRYQHD&keywords=thank%2Byou%2Bfor%2Bbeing%2Bawesome%2Bpens&qid=1701727051&sprefix=thank%2Byou%2Bfor%2Bbeing%2Bawesome%2Bpens%2Caps%2C750&sr=8-41&th=1

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Pants: I can’t shut up about these pants. They are my favorite. Stretchy, FIVE pockets! They wash like a dream, super comfortable to wear, warm enough for Chicago winters (not like a lined pant or snow pant but perfectly fine for commuting or walking) I have I am not exaggerating probably 8 pairs. :D They are my super secret feels like wearing sweats all day but look professional pants. Sent a pair to my mother in law when she had shoulder surgery and needed easy-on pants. Recommended to friends. Was complimented on my “professional” looking outfits at a recent event and I happily hooked a finger into the waistband to demonstrate just how stretchy they are. :) https://www.landsend.com/products/womens-active-5-pocket-pants/id_325911?attributes=8063,44967

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Bird watching: There are a lot of different ones but I have something like this heated outdoor water bowl that gives me loads of enjoyment here in midlife where I’m surprised to find I like watching the birds and other wild critters out my patio door: K&H Pet Products Thermal-Bowl Outdoor Heated Cat & Dog Water Bowl Stainless Steel 102 Ounces https://a.co/d/dgGjnz0

I’m adding a taller bowl heated birdbath to my wish list to put outside a different window.

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Notebooks: I am addicted to these Koyuko notebooks. They are large enough to be my everyday writing notebook, but not so thick that it’s a difficult notebook to tote around. Instead I just go through them every month or two and switch to a new one. Yes, this is the style of notebook I famously (infamously?) left on an airplane, so my advice is to remember if you stash it in the upper pocket with the airline magazines and pack it back up before you deplane (midlife 😒, amiright??) This link is to a friend of a friend’s shop in North Carolina, a BIPOC female owned business: https://honeypress-nc.com/collections/notebooks/products/biz-soft-ring-notebook-b5-lined?

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Dec 5, 2023·edited Dec 5, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

With the disclaimer that I know they're bad for the environment and aren't the most economical, one of my most favorite, use it every day, fall in love with it every day, just for me items: my coffee nook items.

Keurig machine - making coffee any other way is too much work for me and I hate it and it tastes horrible. I love this one specifically cause I CAN make pot coffee if wanted (e.g. for groups) ➡️ https://amzn.to/47Y4bmZ

Pod drawer - sits under my machine ➡️ https://amzn.to/4a0O61f

Flavored syrups - I usually have 4ish in my nook. Vanilla, peppermint, chocolate macadamia are current faves ➡️ https://amzn.to/46Jy1Ku [Tip: Restuarant Depot is a great place to get 'em for cheap, but sadly, no sugarfree ones]

Cute mugs.

Also my TikTok ring! 😂 Or you can call it an e-reader ring if that makes you feel more high brow. I use it at the gym, when I'm on a machine and want to scroll TT ➡️ https://amzn.to/3T9on0o

I do a sexy to me gift guide every Fall; here's 2023's if interested ➡️ https://tinyurl.com/yvsholdr

RE your midlife creator call, 👋🏾! My absolute favorite thing this past year when it comes to my creations is people buying my Adulting Kit for themselves and for loved ones, mostly for the Death section. Best gift you can give loved ones? An organized, simple, with instructions death ➡️ https://macncheeseproductions.com/store/adulting-kit/

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EXPERIENCE: My friend told her adult sons what she wanted for Christmas was to spend the day looking at the family photo albums. ALL of the family photo albums. I told my son that's what I'd like as a gift when he visits from out of state this year, but his boyfriend gets a pass ;)

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