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deletedJan 25Liked by Jessica Smock
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Hi! Welcome! So glad you’ve resonated with what we are doing here!

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deletedOct 30, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock
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Welcome, Melany! You'll fit right in.. Lots of shy people and introverts here :)

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Hi! Hi! I love this project so much. I, too, am finding so many of my friends and acquaintances are going through soul-rearranging midlife changes. I'm Katrina (Surrendering to Sappho on Substack), and I live and travel full-time in my 35-foot 5th wheel with my partner and two rescue dogs. I came out at 46, divorced my husband of nearly 25 years, and am now living my authentic, queer life. I am a writer, and I love to read every bit of literary fiction and memoir I can get my greedy little hands on. :)

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I am SO happy to see you here, Katrina! Thank you so much for sharing your midlife experience--this is so inspiring and I love hearing stories like yours.

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Happy to see you here! I love your Substack -- we have much in common!

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Love reading yours as well. We do, indeed, have so much in common! :)

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Hello and welcome! I'm Stephanie, co-editor of The HerStories Project and Midstory Magazine. I'm a single mom to 12- and 17-year old girls and two needy rescue dogs. I write at Midlife Mommy, for Real on Substack, produce Listen To Your Mother Denver and Boulder, and podcast at the Mother Plus Podcast. I feel like my 40s have given me one restart after the next, and midlife has been more bewildering, but also my vibrant, than I ever could have imagined. We are so honored to have you here and get to know you.

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Oct 5, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock, Steph Sprenger

Hi Steph! Hi Jessica!

I've been out of the loop for a bit but am always so happy to see you in my inbox.

Hi everyone!

I am Rozi (pronounced Rozee. Yep there is a story there too) I live in Costa Rica with my husband Chris and our ginger white cat Tali. I write in bits and spurts as I've been working on building a life and business in Costa Rica. I finally finished the rental units last Christmas and have been sliding in and out of burn out ever since. Recently we realized we can't stay and have put the whole thing up for sale. We are moving to Portugal. Burnout has me in and out of bed on random days. Today is a stay in bed day but I had to say hi!

I write some fiction, some poetry, but mostly I am writing memoir at this time. I just got a piece published that is coming out in the next 2 weeks! So excited about that one!

I am currently working in FINALLY finishing my book about turning 40 while training in Michelin restaurants in Tuscany, Italy. That's where you will find me on the good days! I am also working on starting something, not sure what, about Costa Rica. Bed time is good for perusing those ideas.

Thank you to Steph and Jessica for the community they created and continue to create. It was there for me when I needed it, and sometimes just knowing it is there is a comfort. See you back here soon!

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Rozi!! It's so fantastic to see you again--I was truly just thinking about you and your writing last week. I'm so glad to have you here and connect with you again. You are such a gift to our community. Welcome back!

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Thank you so much Steph! I think of you guys often, its just been an overwhelming year, but I'm excited to reconnect!

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It’s so good to see you again Rozi. What an exciting re-gathering of beauties ✨

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Thank you Emma! I am happy to be back in such good company!

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ROZI!!!!!!!! It is so good to see you. Where are you going in Portugal? And when can I read this book that will make me hungry?

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Andra! Yay! You are here too! I absolutely loved your book! I probably told you that already but I'll say it again and again. So good to reconnect with you! I have been thinking about you!

We plan to move in the spring to Cascais, but it depends on the sale of the property here. A lot is up in the air... again... LOL.

The work on the book stopped shortly after I last messaged you when i hit full overwhelm on the building. I couldn't keep up the 18 hour days. It needs an edit, and then I should hire an editor, and it needs framing with a first and last chapter, decisions on whether to add recipes and pictures which would add a lot of work. So lots of decisions that I am just getting to the point of being able to look at again. I hope to be able to do this as we sell the place and pack up.

I'll keep you posted!

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welcome and keep writing one word, sentence at a time! Be gentle with yourself!

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Oct 5, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock, Steph Sprenger

Hello - I'm a writer and soon-to-be author of my first book titled Diamonds in the Dirt: Stories from a Junkyard Girl. I am also a personal and relationship coach after a 33+ year career as a marketing and PR consultant. Yes, change can be frightening, exhilarating, and exhausting! I support my clients - many who are facing changes in their lives to make decisions from that true authentic place inside. (Yes, I have my own stories to share and hope to contribute something to this new endeavor of yours!

I live in the Finger Lakes area of Upstate New York and I have a blog here titled More Than Words (search for my name and that title -- I'd love it if you'd consider subscribing and getting your support.)

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It's so wonderful to meet you and connect with you, Laurie! Thank you so much for being here--we will totally find you on Substack! Welcome!

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Hi, Laurie! I'm in Orchard Park (south of Buffalo) so greetings from a fellow western New Yorker! I would love to hear more about your fascinating career journey. Welcome!

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Thank you, Jessica! I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had my first novel, Ex Utero--a bonkers book, lol, a satire about the pressures on women to have kids and the fact that we are so often treated as objects--rescued from the slush pile. Except for one book, where I switched publishers--which turned out to be disastrous--I had the same editor for over 20 years. He passed away a few years ago and I sent my latest novel to them--Coffee House Press--in August, so am now playing the waiting game. I've also written a middle grade novel that I need to finish and send out.

I've also published three books for Gemma Media. They are a fantastic publisher whose mission is to increase literacy--and they are looking for new writers. If any of you write fiction, and are interested, I can send you out the spec sheet for what they're looking for. Basically, the books have to hit almost exactly 10,000 words and need to be written at approximately the 3rd grade reading level. They also have chapters and can be on almost any subject matter. Is there a way I can post the sheet with the specs? Otherwise, I can probably copy and paste the sheet here if folks are interested. Not sure if they are also looking for non-fiction...? They don't pay any advance because they are so small, but you do get some money from sales. If folks are interested in writing for them--I think they are looking primarily for YA--I can post the specs, or you can email me at fooswriter@gmail.com and I can send the sheet. The editor is wonderful to work with, and writing these have truly been a highlight of my career. If you're interested in writing for them, I can also post a link. It would be good to familiarize yourself with the books. I've written three--The Giant Baby (about just that, haha; (Toast), about siblings where one is on the autism spectrum, and most recently, The Other (2022) about a teenager who was born with wings. They are all inexpensive--only about 10 dollars each, and are available on Amazon. I'd be happy to share more. It's a great opportunity to get your name out there, and if folks have novels they already have going, you can think about lifting a piece of it and publishing it as one of these. I'd be happy to share more information, as I say, as they are definitely looking for writers.

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Thank you for sharing this! What a great resource. Sure, go ahead and post the specs. That would be terrific!

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Ex Utero sounds exactly up my alley! Especially after the last year and a half!

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I am beyond excited that we can connect here on Substack. I love you two and your passion for and ability to gather community. 🙏🏽

As of today (literally collecting from printers this am) I am the author of a book of poetry - Grace, Sophia & Me. It took breast cancer to unearth my poetic voice which I swear is what healed me. So much to share here but I am presenting at an Authors Day tmrw and seriously need to prep! Can’t wait to read and write with you all here. Back soon! Thx J&S ❤️

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Yay for this community! I'm always so happy to be here.

I'm Andra, a NYT bestselling author of the memoir Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace. I currently divide my time between San Sebastián, Spain and Charleston, South Carolina (though the goal is to live in Spain full-time.) It's humbling to learn a new language at 54, even more humbling to attempt to write in it. Other things I love: my husband; yoga; reading; knitting; and hiking. I'm currently trying to sell a memoir about growing up in far-right Christian nationalism and how their tactics apply today. I'll keep you posted.

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Oooh, I grew up similar. Looking forward to hearing more about your experience.

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Hi Andra! Ooph! Your memoir about far-right Christian nationalism (from the inside) sounds like one I’d super love to read! Glad you escaped!

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And Andra! If you haven’t already read it, i just finished listening to a fantastic book, UNCULTURED by Daniella Mestyanek Young about her leaving her parents and the Children of God cult at fifteen. It’s really, really good. Very well told! Ranks up there with Tara Westover’s EDUCATED.

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Hello! Living and working in a relatively small Northern California college town, I'm told fairly regularly that I'm living a "revolutionary lifestyle" as a single, bi/pansexual, Feminist, middle-aged nb-womxn. I'm tired and often feel like the world I was prepared to live in had slipped away to some alternate universe while I was learning how to adult without support from any of my family. The generation I belong to has witnessed radical shifts of Imperialist US American white-supremacist policy and the growth of multi-national corporations as drivers of globalist culture and modern forms of socioeconomic human trafficking through neo-colonial mechanisms of subordination. In the face of these changes, I struggle to find contentment with my privileged and quiet life, escaping the madness to find temporary solace while entertaining my two kitten masters.

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Hi everyone! I live in Phoenix, married, two kids. Work full time in a high stress job. I have lupus and that has caused kidney failure, so I am currently on the transplant list. I lost my mom last year. I write mainly memoir/ creative nonfiction. Never been published but aspire to be.

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It’s hard to click like on this, Michelle, but I’m sending much hopeful energy for a kidney. I’m sorry you’re faced with this while grieving your mom.

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Jessica and Stephanie-- you two are amazing leaders of this community. You always know the next place to turn, and I agree that Substack is a wonderful community. I can't wait to see all the excellent work that will come out of this new publication.

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Oct 8, 2023·edited Oct 9, 2023

Hello everyone! Thank you, Jessica and Stephanie, for this new space to grow your amazing community. I'm excited to connect with folks and read more on this incredible Substack! I'm Natalie, a 47 year old Seattle-based instructor, writer, and mom of two with essays at HuffPost, Insider, Brevity blog, Motherwell, Mutha Magazine, The Manifest-Station, and various parenting publications and literary journals. I write about long-term grief and midlife parenting, and alll the feelings. I can't wait to meet more mid lifers in this space!

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Hey, I'm Robyn. I just turned 53. My face has always been my best feature, because I'm short and stocky and have a big butt and thick thighs. And now my face is falling so I have to get into some radical acceptance about valuing myself for who I am, not how I look. But it's hard to do when you've gone through your whole life with literally everyone remarking on how beautiful you are. Not that it did me any good. My life has been convoluted and traumatic and bizarre and punctuated with mental health crises and abusive relationships and jobs that come and go, and chronic illness joined the party a few years ago. So I would love a place to talk about how all of that came to be, and I appreciate being welcomed here.

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Hi Robyn! I relate to a lot of what you said, particularly the convoluted, bizarre part and have a lived with a hefty mental health diagnosis that has shaped my life into the absurd at times.

I look forward to hearing the beautiful girl’s take on life. I feel like being pretty is vilified by other women, and when that has been a big part of your identity, watching it slowly slip away is terrifying. I can’t say that everyone has called me beautiful my entire life, but my looks have played a large part in my narrative, more so than I’d have liked in some ways.

It’s lovely to meet you!

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Hi Robyn,

It's lovely to see you here. I can relate to some of the experiences that you mention. I'd like to share something a friend of my brother's told me once. It's almost a cliché, but his tone and the carefree way in which he said it, clicked in me and I worked to make it valid for me: age is just a number. I hope you can find someone to help you see your life differently. Meanwhile, we can share the ups and downs!

Much love to you!

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Hi, I'm Suzanne and I'm 50. I did the HerStories writers workshop last fall and enjoyed exercising my writing skills and connecting with other women in midlife. When I was 43, my husband died unexpectedly. I've spent the last 6 years discovering who I am without him and who I want to be in the future. For those 6 years, I worked at the same job but finally left that toxic environment and will start a new career tomorrow. It's a good change - less stress and more money - but change is scary and hard. I'm going from remote work to being in an office so that will be a big shift. My kids are older now (18 and almost 16) so it's time for me to put myself first and see what I can do in this new role. It really feels like I'm turning a page and I'm excited for the next chapter!

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Congrats and good luck Suzanne! Change is hard, and scary but also exhilarating and exciting. Good luck and welcome. I made a big change recently by retiring from my role in PR/Marketing and stepping more into writing and coaching : ) It's hard to make the leap - but I can tell you - at least for me - it's been amazing to do something I LOVE!

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That is inspiring to hear, Laurie! Thanks for sharing! It is all those things - hard, scary, exhilarating and exciting. First day went well and I'm excited!

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I'm a fellow widow of a husband who died suddenly. I'm so sorry, and so proud of you for building a life centered on YOU. May his memory be a blessing.

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Thank you so much. I'm sorry for your loss.

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Hi Lara--.

I'm so sorry for your loss. 🙏

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Hi Suzanne...I'm so very sorry for your loss.

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Oct 9, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hi! I am Traci and I have a few weeks until my 52nd birthday. I am new to writing, but love reading and hope to ramp up my writing over the next year. I am a busy pediatrician and married mom of four and have so many thoughts about parenting over the years and treating my patients from newborn until they graduate from my practice!

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Hi, Traci! Love that you are new to writing! I hope you find us a welcoming place to begin your writing journey.

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Oct 9, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hi, I’m Martha, I live in upstate New York, and I’m turning 54 next month. I was a journalist for 20 years, then found my way to grant writing after a hellish 2 1/2-year detour through the corporate world (marketing/corporate communications). Married, no children. I am in the “are we there yet?” phase of menopause, and it sucks. I talk a good game about aging with equanimity, but I’m thoroughly dispirited by my weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, etc. I’m trying to figure out how to ease the tension between feeling like I still have a massive amount of unrealized potential and accepting that most conventional definitions of success are empty and meaningless anyway, so why torture myself? If I find time to journal, that’s the extent of my current writing off the clock. I would have much more time for both reading and writing if I wasn’t frittering away so much of it by doomscrolling.

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I so relate to the menopause part, Matha, especially the weight gain and fatigue! I'm post-menopause now, so I can tell you that the mood swings and hot flashes get better...but it is so hard to lose weight now. Sigh!

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Hi Martha. I'm also in Upstate! I'm in Canandaigua (near Rochester)! Where are you? Welcome.

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I live just west of Albany, but my first job out of college in the olden days was working as an education reporter for the Daily Messenger (formerly family-owned, now a being run into the ground by Gannett, boooooo. 👎🏻).

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Look at all the upstate New Yorkers in this group! I’m originally from Auburn, which is about 30 minutes from Syracuse, and lived in NYC for 25 years. I’m thinking of moving back near Auburn to be close to my mother and five siblings after almost three very long years in the South. Great to meet you all!

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Hi Martha! I'm in upstate New York, as well. I'm just south of Buffalo (Orchard Park), although I grew up north of Lake George in the Adirondacks. Well, I'm also in the "Are we there yet stage of menopause?" and I'm muddling through that as well as I can. I can relate to the attempted acceptance of unrealized potential.... I hope you try writing with us :) So glad you're here!

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Martha, sounds like you are my people! And I’m so damn tired of playing small and letting fear hold me back (my issues, not saying those are yours). My body seems to have settled in on the menopause front (57) and I’m cautiously optimistic about a tiny bit of pre-holiday weight loss and maintaining some semblance of a writing routine. Will be working on getting back to both in the next week or so!

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Oct 9, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Aloha. I'm Missy and I live in Hawaii. I'm a new parent to two teens — not a new parent, but my youngest turned 13 a few days ago so this particular milestone is all new. I'm pretty happy at the moment — we were able to pick up and move here last winter. At first it was temporary, but we've decided to stay on as long as we can afford it. Even if we have to leave tomorrow, I'm eternally grateful that we were able to make a bold pivot at a time when our family was feeling stuck and that it's opened up myriad new paths for me. I took a break from writing for a few years, but I miss that part of myself.

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Welcome Missy or should I say Aloha!

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Hawaii! I'm so jealous :) I live in western New York, outside of Buffalo, which is pretty much the opposite of Hawaii in every possible way, and ironically I am not a fan of cold and snow so.... My son is 12.5, and I am getting ready for that milestone as well. Welcome to our community, and I hope you start writing again with us.

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Proper use of the word "myriad" makes my heart sing! Nice to meet you, Missy!

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Hi, I'm Laurie, and I live on Long Island--for some reason, we Long Islanders always say we live "on" LI and not "in LI, ha--and I am 57, the single mom of two teenagers. My son has autism and intellectual disabilities, and I am currently in the seemingly never-ending process of applying for the Medicaid and other offices' services that will support him for the rest of his life. I am the author of several novels, most recently, The Blue Girl, and just recently sent my new novel to my publisher and so am babysitting my email:). I have some excerpts that have appeared and will appear in some literary magazines. I've also written three novellas for a publisher dedicated to literacy called Gemma Open Door Media, and I have expanded one of these into a middle grade novel that I really need to finish. I'm not really sure how I got to be 57--they are right about kids; you blink and they're in high school--and one of the positives of this age is that I don't care as much about what people think, lol, but I also have chronic neck and back pain, which is an utter drag, and divorce has definitely hit me in the wallet. I'm always scrambling to make money, which is not where I saw myself (I was married for 25 years). My parents are both gone now, and I miss them terribly. But, you move forward every day, one foot in front of the other, and I do my best to co-parent with their emotionally distant father (that's the nicest way I can think of putting it, haha). So glad to meet you all!

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Hello laurieF (Its LaurieR!) ... wow - published works! Good to meet you! I have a writer friend who is writing a book about the struggles of getting her son the services he needs and how difficult it is to navigate all of that! Hats off to you! I may have to pick your brain about getting so much writing done!

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Hi Laurie! Thank you, and good to meet you, too! Last semester I was in a good groove, but this one has pretty much killed me, lol, and it's sort of always catch as catch can. I'm hoping to be able to write during the late November-Jan break. That's so great that your friend is writing that book. Tell her it is so necessary! The whole process is very confusing, and if you don't have people to help guide you, you're really stuck in the weeds. So please let her know, she definitely has an audience for her book. :) So nice to meet you!

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Welcome, Laurie! That's an impressive resume. I can't wait to check out all of your works. I can relate to much of what you wrote... I too have a son with autism and lost both of my parents (my mom three years ago, and my dad 20 years ago). Midlife is no joke. Thrilled to meet you as well!

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Hi Jessica --

I'm sorry about your parents. My dad will be gone 15 years on Halloween and his birthday is Sat. (He would have been 84, died relatively young), my mom 9 years ago. Life is never the same, right?

How old is your son? Always nice to be able to meet a member of "the tribe." Hope your son is doing well!

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Hi from a fellow Long Islander! We say "on" because ... that's the right way to refer to it! We are ON the island, after all. It is stunning how 57 just ran up and smacked me in the ass. I swear I was 35 yesterday.

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That's right! We live ON an Island! Haha! Omg another writer actually lives here?? Where do you live?? I'm right near Huntington.

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Oh, there are LOTS of writers ON the Island. And ... I live in Huntington Station. We're neighbors, I guess.

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Wow! You're close by! I'm in Centerport, actually (a town I'd never even heard of growing up, lol). I've met a few writers here , but the few I've met live out East and a number of my writer friends live in the city. Most of my friends are in academia and so are all over the country. ..

I'd love to meet up if that's something you're interested in!

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That would be great! My email is deniseschipani@gmail.com. I love Centerport. When we moved here 20 years ago (this month!) from Queens, I was aiming for Huntington Village, but we found a house we could actually afford in the Station, and I have been happy here. My boys both graduated out of the South Huntington district which I have been very happy with. It's a good community!

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Hi gals! Hicksville here :) Looking forward to reading your work!

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Oooh, another LI writer! Yay! I grew up in Levittown but now live in Centerport. We should meet up! Here is my email address: fooswriter@gmail.com. Please reach out! I am starved for other writers, lol, as most of my friends are also in academia and are spread out all over the country. Looking forward to reading your work as well!

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I hesitate to call myself a writer in front of this impressive group of people. But I try. I've only had two essays published. I work full-time in editorial and sports television and write a lot of talent copy (uncredited). I have taken the HerStories workshops before and always found the group to be motivating, supportive and insightful. Re: LI - I moved in with my boyfriend, now husband, during the pandemic. He is Hicksville born and raised. I will reach out! I am jaimeekosanke@gmail.com

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Jaimee, of course you are a writer xo

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I’m Alexis, 50, mom to two lively girls - Ruby (13) and Eliza (11). Married for 14 years to David and living in Minneapolis. I’m a child and family therapist. I didn’t actually believe the rumor that middle aged women become invisible until I joined a fancy gym (I don’t look the part) and waited for my smoothie at their cafe. Three times I was sitting, holding my number and the 20 year old walked past me looking to see who the smoothie should be delivered too. It was the most baffling and demoralizing experience. I’m glad to find a space where we’re seen and valued.

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Hi Alexis - wow - so sorry that happened to you. I see you!

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Oh, gosh. I'm so sorry. It's a stark transition, isn't it? The invisibility thing is no joke. On a happier note, my daughter, who's 9, is also named Eliza! I also love the name Ruby :)

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Oct 9, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Eliza is the most beautiful name. So glad there are more of them in the world!! And thank you for the kindness. It's good to be in a space where we are seen and held so lovingly.

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Oct 9, 2023·edited Oct 9, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hi everyone. I'm Shannie, from Virginia. I feel like whenever I read (or write) introductions there is a lot of importance placed on age, marital and child status. I'm in my 50's and actively looking to reconnect to the young woman that took no prisoners and no shit-until she did. I'd like to find the words to describe myself based more on who I am as a human and less how I (don't) fit into the mold. Does it matter if I have kids or a spouse? Does not having either make me an unfeeling ogre? We all want to connect with people who have shared life experiences. The thing is that we all have different paths to our destination. One goes left and the other goes right, but they were together at that fork in the road. I really want for us to learn how to accept one another for where we are, and stop "I'm better than you because..." judgements. I'd like to be seen for who I am and not the status of my womb or ring finger.

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Hi, Shannie! I think you'll find a community here who sees you for more than your status as a wife/mother. In our writing groups, we always have women from all sorts of backgrounds and life experiences. I can relate to much of your introduction, and I'm sure many of us can. Welcome!

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Yes! My path has been different, too. I’m glad to meet you.

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Hi Shannie! Nice to meet you!

I hear you on being judged on outdated values and beliefs, but I have certainly found acceptance and shared life experience in this group. I hope you do as well.

I'd say I'm a serial monogamist with no kids and vagabond tendencies if I had to qualify my life choices. LOL

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Hello Shannie! I was reading the introductions, and yours spoke to me. I have led a fairly unorthodox life to most, and have been scrutinized for my lack of traditional choices. I write about it to share a markedly different perspective on what a woman’s life after 40 looks like, without the big milestones that somehow we are all supposed to desire. I have a loud voice literally and metaphorically, and will be heard, if not seen.

I took Steph and Jessica’s Small Steps workshop during the pandemic, and it was a great experience. It was interesting to read about other women’s challenges in life, and the community of writers were a talented, nonjudgmental group. I look forward to reading your work!

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HELL YES to being able to make “unorthodox” life choices without judgement! (Spent yesterday 1/1/24 with my sister-in-law.🤦🏼‍♀️ EESH!) My younger self took a whole lot of shit. {{shudder}} And I am utterly and completely over taking shit from anyone. After being a young single mom my life choices since have been pretty heteronormative, patriarchal, run of the mill. I’m mothering four adult children AND I’M TIRED. Your ability to live your life as you choose without judgment enables all of us to make less “orthodox” choices, and that’s something I’m working on for myself (like maybe buying a duplex and my husband living in his side and me living in my side...I don’t know!!!). Anyhow, I wanted to lift up those efforts and send some support your way because what you said resonated in a way that might seem odd coming from me. But our liberty is enduringly bound to that of our peers, so we damn well better learn to support each others choices, conventional or not.

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Hello, I am Krissy in Minnesota. I loved doing one of the HerStories small groups in the past, and am excited about this new community. I have written parenting and mental health articles for several online blogs, and right now am focusing mostly on writing and attempting to publish several middle-grade and ya novels. Midlife is pretty much the most perplexing stage of life thus far, where things I used to know I don't know anymore, and I'm discovering new things I'd wish I'd known a long time ago. I saw a meme the other day that said something about life being a mix between wondering why I didn't get invited and figuring out how to get out of going. And I felt that hard. It's multiplied by a million as I parent my 14, 13, and 8 year old, who are really the only people I want to hang out with anymore :) And then to be away from for a while! ;) I actually love aging though, it's a beautiful thing. I'd never want to go back, and can't wait to see what lies ahead. The middle is a good place, too. I'm a middle child, so maybe I'm crazy, but I'm enjoying the ride. Thank you for this space! Nice to meet you all.

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Krissy! So good to "see" you again! Midlife is perplexing, isn't? One second it's great and you feel gratitude for your wisdom... and the next second you feel like you have no idea what you're doing. I love how you're comfortable being "in the middle" and enjoying the ride.

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So good to see you too!

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Nice to see you here Krissy! I relate to that take on midlife. Looking forward to more of your work.

I love how much of the community is still connected here!

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I'm a few months late but just seeing this! Good to see you here, too!

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Hi. I'm Morgan in Houston. I participated in the HerStories March summit. It was my first foray into an online writing community. Actually, to a writing community of any kind. I began writing last year after my father took his own life. It started as a way to process his ten-year struggle with mental illness, my childhood with him, etc, but has evolved into something much more for me. I've been exploring creative nonfiction, fictional short stories, poems and other genres. I'm still reticent to share my writing, but trying to find the courage because I know sharing is the best way to make my writing stronger and find connection with others.

I'm 46 and have 3 kids (13. 12 and 9). I describe myself as a former attorney and forensic accountant now acting as the COO of a busy household. Motherhood is by far the hardest job I have ever had! Loving every minute of it. Ok, that's a lie. Loving most minutes of it though!

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Hi, Morgan! So glad you could join us again. I'm thrilled that you have continued to explore writing. You said that your writing "has evolved into much more." What does that look like for you? I hope that you will feel comfortable sharing some of that writing with us, either here or in one of our writing groups. Welcome!!

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It looks like something I am doing for myself. So much of our lives we give to others, especially when parenting or caring for family, and I've learned the importance of keeping a piece for yourself. Something you invest your energy in that's for you, whatever that may be, without guilt or shame.

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I'm a recently laid-off publishing publicist, former radio producer, sometime cookbook author, semi-pro thrift shopper and non-believer in astrology who nevertheless is the widowed mother of a 24-year-old son who is the Libraest Libra to ever Libra.

I live in Marin County, California, about which I joke, "If you like rich white people, you'll love it!" I often describe myself as somewhere on the spectrum between Pollyanna and Plath, and I just participated in my first Mrs. Roper Pub Craw. It won't be my last.

I've recently started my own Substack, "It's Kind of a Long Story... " and I'd be much obliged if you subscribed. You won't be sorry. In my inaugural post I describe being caressed by Jon Hamm. Yes, caressed and yes, that Jon Hamm.

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Okay, I'm intrigued. :P

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Hi Lara!

It's a good thing to have long stories though isn't it?! We wouldn't want life to be a short story. The Mrs. Roper pub crawl has been on my list of curiosities for a while now! Sounds like an interesting life! Can't wait to hear more!

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Thank you so much! I think my next Substack will be about the Mrs. Roper crawl. A bit of a palette cleanser after the last one, which was kind of heavy. Literally. It was about the night a giant oak tree fell on my house!

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Hi! I'm an editor and writer and late midlifer (57 is late midlife, right?) living in Huntington, Long Island, New York. Mostly empty-nester -- my boys are both in college at the moment (a sophomore and a senior). My day job is as an editor at a custom publisher, producing publications for mainly healthcare/hospital clients. I've been a writer my whole life. Long career before this job in consumer and custom mags, and a long stint as a freelance writer/editor, and now this job. I wrote a book 10 years ago, Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later (Sourcebooks), that grew out of my now-silent blog of the same name (yep, another mommy blogger here!). The last couple years made me switch all my gears -- I was diagnosed with breast cancer in spring 2022, and had surgery in July 2022 -- double mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction, and then radiation. I'm free of cancer now, they tell me, but not free of the work it takes to heal, emotionally as well as physically. So OF COURSE I've been writing about it (on a blog for Everyday Health called "Doing My Breast: Adventures in Cancer). And I'm starting work on a memoir-in-essays about my experience.

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Denise, so thrilled to see you here! I've been a big fan of your wriiting/blog. Thank you for joining and supporting us. I know that many women can learn from your journey.

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Thank you! I am appropriately flattered, and appreciate your comment. I'll share this about my decision to work on a memoir: I'd written about my experience for my college alumni magazine, and they asked for a quick two-line bio. I started with the usual "Denise Schipani is a writer and editor in the New York metro area." And then I stopped, and thought, and then wrote, "She is working on a memoir about breast cancer." I wasn't, at the time -- but you know. I put it out there. Now I guess I have to? lol.

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Hi Denise!

Some of the best things I have every accomplished started with just putting it out there. Now we will be asking for updates!

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I hope people do ask me for updates! Accountability! Thanks.

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Hello! I'm always so excited to get a HerStories/Jessica and Stephanie email in my inbox. I am 45 and my big news is I was recently diagnosed with ADHD! I self diagnosed about a year ago because of TikTok, which is weird to say, but social media has some amazing benefits. And my evaluating doctor heartily agreed with my diagnosis, as well as a couple anxiety disorders which is not at all surprising. I have 5 kids ages 14 to 26, and boy oh boy do I like the teen and young adult years better than the toddler years, though I won't say it's been easier. The difference is I get more sleep and more down time in the daytime. Most days. I haven't published anything really other than my own blog, and I once had an anonymous story published in a book and also read on stage - that was surreal. I'm a lifetime journaler, and I've been told many times, based on my facebook posts, that I need to write a book someday. I've decided on memoir since I journal so much, and I actually wrote a zero draft intro today. So, progress, right? As many of you, I also have kids with disabilities and mental health disorders, and it's hard AF.

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Welcome Jeannine! Self diagnosed ADHDer here, too! 👋🏼

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Hi folks, I'm Sally 👋❤️☺️🙋🥳

I live in Ireland with my youngest son who is nearly 17 (my other son is in uni abroad) our beloved cat & dog.

Slowly beginning to think about where being an empty nester might allow me to go in a couple of years. I had my first son when I was 25 and ended up staying in the small Irish town I had always wanted to escape from.

Now I'm 45 and I don't know what might be possible for me next, what my identity will be when I'm no longer a hard working single parent.

I've been single for 10 years and I wonder at that, I can't believe it really. Will I be single forver? Do I even care?

I'm always too hot.nothing else to add. Just roasting all the time.

I'm exploring what happens if I delete social media and focus instead on Substack & writing. I set up my communications business in 2016, welltold.ie in 2016 and I've been figuring it out and learning as I go since then.

Glad to be here. Really like what I see & feel so far!

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Hi everyone, I'm Deb. I live a few hours north of Yellowstone National Park. I work in higher education and have taken a long time to embrace the writer moniker. I have lots of bits and pieces I've written but none have completely been finished or found their way to the outside world. My current writing project is finishing a dissertation so I can defend it in April. It's an autoethnographic case study, so I have been weaving in personal narratives in with my participants' experiences as instructors in the first-year seminar. I collected data in 2020 but between the intense work schedule and the stressors around COVID and working in higher ed, I didn't get much accomplished until this past summer. Now I feel like I'm making progress and I'm looking for the light at the end of the tunnel - sometimes I even catch a glimmer - but it's been a long haul.

I've been a part of the HerStories Project workshops on and off since the COVID lockdown, so when I saw Jessica's newsletter in my inbox, I thought - Yes! I have a Substack (Agitating the Muse) but haven't posted anything yet (hence the agitating part). So, I'm looking for some inspiration, and I've always enjoyed my interactions with my fellow workshopping writers in HerStories.

Midlife...it's a weird time. I've recently made some big decisions about my health, my career, and I've been really working hard to embrace a better work-life balance so I can work on my writing goals more. I've recently realized that I've gotten to that place where I care less what others think about me, my clothes, or my awkward nerdiness. I don't hate my 53 year old body or its saggy skin (despite losing over 150 lbs in the last two years - so the skin sag is real), but the weight loss journey has been an exercise in patience and forced curiosity (something I should write about). Most days I thank the sun for showing its face and shining. I'm trying to appreciate the small things.

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Hi I'm Joan. When I started writing with HerStories in 2020,, I was firmly in the messy middle, wholly absorbed with caring for parents in their 90s and enmeshed with my kids' problems. Since then, I've lost my parents and become an empty nester --and I'm 62 -- so I may no longer qualify as being "mid-life." But until I've stopped trying to find my purpose, remake my life, and set boundaries so that my "adult" daughter no longer has the power to derail me, I'm going to continue to declare myself a member of this community! Writing is how I make sense of the world and rewire my brain (I got a TBI in 2012), but I've stopped submitting my writing for publication after an editor dismissed a deeply meaningful personal essay as cliche. (At some point I will share the "unsent letter" I'm writing in response).I'm hoping to get back to some kind of regular expressive writing, at least for myself, and the timing of the new Small Steps class couldn't be better. Meanwhile, I've expanded my journal coaching training to include a focus on Positive Neuroplasticity (based on the work of neuropsychologist Rick Hanson) and am looking forward to offering workshops on how our personal writing can be a vehicle for changing our lives by changing our minds.

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Really excited about this. I write about Generation X, mostly from a financial perspective (thewhateveryears.substack.com), and I am looking forward to Midstory to help me with my creative writing.

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Hi, Annie! Love the angle of your Substack. Have you read WHY WE CAN'T SLEEP: Women's New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun? So much of it is about financial worries specific to Gen X. Welcome!

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I will have to add it to my list. Thanks for the suggestion!

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Hi, Annie! Glad to see you hear. I love The Whatever Years. So spot on.

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Oct 13, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hello! Sounds like a great project, congrats on the launch! I am 47 and mostly write fiction, but occasionally I'll write some nonfiction, usually looking at life through a lens of (slightly warped) humor. Nice to meet you!

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Nice to meet you too! We do have fiction writers here too. Welcome, Jen!

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Even as I wrote that I thought of your mantra. You are a writer. Thank you Jessica! Glad to be back here

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Yes, you are! xo

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Oct 14, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hi! My name is Autumn. I live in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio.

Thank you so much Jessica and Stephanie for leading this project and guiding so many women writers.

I am almost a year into 50, and trying to decide who I want to be as I grow up, and my kids need me less, but my parents need me more.

I currently work as a library assistant at a middle school, but volunteer as an ESL teacher which is my first professional passion.

I write fiction and nonfiction; a few half-baked novels, some published stories and essays, and many unpublished ones.

I'm excited about this community and hope to grow with it.

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Hi, Autumn. You are here xo. I can't tell you how happy I am to see you here. Welcome, my friend.

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Oct 15, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Happy to meet you too, Jessica!

My name is Joyeeta, about 43 years, reside in Singapore. Originally from India, I am a mom to my 10-year-old daughter. Both my spouse and I. we're trying to wrap our heads around what happened to our 30-something selves, haha! Agreed, mid-life is messy but isn't it also liberating, in so many ways? Well, am very glad I came across the Midstory project. Looking to become a subscriber soon. Love & support towards your initiative:))

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Welcome, Joyeeta! So thrilled you found us! Yes, I absolutely agree that midlife can also be liberating. Thank you so much for your support xo

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Oct 16, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hi! I feel like I may have just walked into the wrong classroom here (#1- I had no idea what a substack is until I looked it up, and #2 - I may be too old to be called mid-life, but I'm going with it). My name is Laurie and I live outside of Seattle. I'm a recently retired middle school teacher (it took me 20 years to get out of 7th grade) and I have to say, being retired is the BEST. I'm single and have four adult children and two grandchildren (zillions of stories there!). I love to read (mostly historical and realist fiction) and I'm into writing creative non-fiction right now. I would love to get up the nerve to send something in with hopes of getting published; but in the meantime, I'm super excited about "hanging out" with all you fascinating and inspiring women.

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Hi, Laurie! You're not in the wrong classroom :) You are not too old. I'm a former teacher too. I taught seventh grade during my first official year of teaching. I lasted one year in seventh grade! I quickly moved to sixth and fifth grades and then high school. Seventh graders are *tough* as a teacher — so many hormones! I was not made of strong stuff, I'm afraid. :) We hope you do send us something, and we're thrilled you chose to hang out with us!

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Well hey there ! I’m Lindsay , a Canadian mom living in the Danish countryside with my four young kids . I have published two children’s books, I write for Kinship by Mother Wild on Substack, and fancy myself an incognito poet.

I hope to launch my own soon (Fresh Air Family) ....because outdoor oxygen is keeping this lady sane + all the small humans satisfied in the chaos of family life .

I can’t wait to get to know your community better, Midstory seems like such a necessary publication .

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Hi, Lindsay! The Dutch countryside? That sounds wonderful. Please keep us updated about your own Substack. We are still learning all the Substack ways here as well. Welcome!

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Danish = Denmark :) This is a super common mental swap. Would love to compare notes, you've done a glorious job getting Midstory set up on here and looking legit! :) Bravo!

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oh my gosh. I'm such an idiot. Of course. I promise I'm not that ignorant (just mildly sleep-deprived and perimenopausal.) And thank you for the kind words and would love to compare notes :)

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Oct 24, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hi, I'm excited to be here too! When does "midlife" end? I worked for a bazillion years in the Jewish community, got really burned out (burned up?), decided to switch gears so I could semi-retire, got divorced (finally) and I just wrote my first children's book. Waiting to see if an agent picks it up but whatever happens I'll get it out there no matter what. I raised 2 fabulous sons and I live with the older one, his wife (my amazing DIL) and my 6 yr old granddaughter.

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Congratulations on your first children's book! How exciting! We think of midlife as more of a state of mind — feeling in the "messy middle" of life — than a certain age bracket. Welcome, Cheryl!

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Thanks Jessica! I definitely feel like I’m in the “messy middle”!!

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Hello! I'm so happy to find you. I feel like I am a river finding the ocean. What a journey to get here, NOW, to broken open wholeness. What a gift to find this tribe and community after going it alone for so long. In mid-life, more than ever, my sisters are my wellspring. I am a poet, singer/songwriter, nature lover, and educator living with a gentle footprint in Northern, CA. I lead online writing workshops for women and we have a blast! We laugh and cry, get down and dirty, and rise up shining. I am the author of Write a Poem, Save Your Life, the upcoming Writing by Heart (Feb 2024, New World Library), and three poetry collections: Songlines, River Spells, and Yuba Witch. I spend my summers camping and writing beside rivers and oceans. Join me for a workshop and express the wild beauty of your heart! www.meredithheller.com

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Nov 20, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hi there!

Love MIDSTORY!

I'm Amy Cuevas Schroeder, founder of The Midst (formerly Jumble & Flow). I live in Phoenix, am 47, in the thick of perimenopause. I have so many feelings about midlife and that's why I started The Midst, but I can't remember them all, thanks to brain fog. :)

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Hi I am a 54-year-old Cartoonist and writer (dictating, excuse typos but I do this to avoid RSI and not be as slow) from the UK but living in New Zealand and wondering about whether I’ve picked the right side of the globe! I have a syndicated daily comic strip with an environmental theme call Arctic Circle and I have published humour and kids books but I moved into writing books without pictures this year with the publication of The Keeper under my pseudonym A XWilkinson. It drew on my experience of an affair with a teacher as a teenager and was kind of a way to learn how to write I guess. I’m now working on my Second novel and might be brave enough to put it under my real name! Hope that isn’t TMI LOL.

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Wow! Your life sounds fascinating! So pleased you’re here! Welcome :)

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Nov 25, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Hi there! Rachel from Melbourne, Australia. 56 years, queer writer, poet, gardener and substack virgin. Some short work published and two unpublished manuscripts and I work in communications, so lots of business writing.

Looking forward to learning more and connecting.

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Welcome Rachel!

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Hello! I'm Alice and I'm excited to find this space. My writing life has led me to several published books for young readers, but now I'm in my 40s, I've written a crime novel for adults. It's with my agent now and I don't know what the future holds, but I'm enjoying this midlife phase. Four kids at home who are growing up (sort of, youngest is eight and collapsed next to me with a fever), so I'm not needed in the same way as I was. Life is blossoming, maybe? Also, I'm always tired. It's a full season. I'm looking forward to the gift guide, to reading on here, to connecting! xoxox

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I'm so pleased to discover mid story! At 66, I'm writer of literary fiction and creative nonfiction, but I'm also the primary caregiver for my 94-yr old mom, who has mid-stage dementia. In 2022, I published a debut novel as well as a chapbook of short essays about caregiving. My short story collection, A New Day, forthcoming from She Writes Press September 2024, and my Substack, So Much Stuff, is about how the things we collect—and can't let go of—express who we are. I live in the house I grew up in, in Queens, NY, with my mom and a gray tuxedo cat named Poppy, and am a daily feeder of wild birds, squirrels, and feral cats. Midlife, which I already feel on the outer cusp of, is . . . hard.

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Hi all! I'm Kim from Michigan and I'm finally genuinely working on an actual draft of a book I've been talking about (and making lots of notes about in the app on my phone) for over six years. Mother Activist: Raising Ourselves and the Men We Fall For, a love story, is part memoir, part political commentary (I ran a doomed state senate race in 2022 because Michigan had a reproductive rights initiative on our ballot and I'm an abortion rights storyteller) about the prices we pay when we "get political" and what it costs us when we don't. I'm mothering four adult children, a generation of millennial daughters (had my daughter alone at 20 and very much helped raise my stepdaughter from age 3), our son was born after six years of infertility when our daughters were 16 and 14, and we raised our nephew from the summer before both boys started 7th grade. I've watched the Barbie movie five times so far, three of them in theaters, once with the three men I live with. It's pure joy and says exactly what I've been trying to say with my book, that patriarchy harms all of us, men and boys, too. Found the Her Stories Project on Threads (have joined a couple of groups in the past) and was thrilled to come follow Jessica's and Stephanie's amazing work over here, too. Cheers and happy New Year!

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Hola, I’m Jessica. I currently live in Destin Florida. Mom of 2 sons 17 and 20. I’ll be 40 in May I’m definitely a midlife mom.

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Welcome! (From another Jessica!)

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Thank you for having me!

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Hello everyone!

I am joining this community from the south of Chile. As you may guess, my first language is Spanish and my second language is English. I learned English at the university before Google and Wikipedia, which makes me feel very proud of my achievement, to be frank. I never married and I don't have children. But I've been a daughter and a sister, so many of your comments and stories resonate with me. I haven't lived them, but I'm not a total stranger and that gives me joy.

I spend at least an hour reading your introductions and I am in awe for so much courage and love that you have given, a woman's heart is a real mystery and I find myself lucky to have the chance to read and write about what it means to be a woman in her mid life.

I am 50 and I want to live until I am a hundred years old, so I say to myself, "I'm half way there!"

Much love to all of you from the sunny southern hemisphere!

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Much love to you as well, Pilar! Reading these introductions bring me joy and connection as well. So glad you've found us :)

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Hello! I'm so happy to have found this community! I'm Michelle, born in Australia of Dutch parents, and global nomad since after I graduated from uni in 1991. I lived in Japan for a couple of years then moved to the UK and stayed there long enough to marry and divorce and acquire the passport, then I met a man whose craving for adventure matched mine, and we've since lived in six different countries and created twin travellers to join us in our adventures. I celebrated turning 50 by throwing a lavish party in Fiji, and I've since moved to China, given up drinking and started writing about my adventures here on Substack at Oblivious Witness. My midlife is enriched by the unexpected presence of my eight-year-old boys, who I had when I was 44 after years of IVF... I love being at this stage of my life! Looking forward to reading more Midstories. x

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Wow! So many adventures! I'm hooked on your story after less than a paragraph :) Just wow. I can't wait to check out your Substack. I think you'll fit in here with us quite well!

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Thanks so much, Jessica! 😊

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Hi! I'm so happy to have found your Substack! I write a Substack called prism, about various aspects of midlife and coming out later in life. https://jenberlingo.substack.com

I'm the author of Midlife Emergence: Free Your Inner Fire. https://a.co/h5UDU4Y

I’ve been a coach, licensed counselor, and art therapist for about 20 years, and I work with people individually and in groups who are coming out later in life and/or who are shedding layers of social conditioning to live a more authentic second half of life. https://jenberlingo.com

I’m a recently divorced, queer mom to a non-binary teenager living in Boulder, Colorado. I love painting abstractly, exploring new cities, going to see live music, dabbling in tarot, and cuddling on my couch with popcorn, comforting tv shows, and my 2 kitties. Happy to meet you!

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Hi! I'm Lindsey. I live in South Carolina, where I write, teach, and run a writers community called Writeshare. I am working on a nonfiction book project that combines memoir and research to examine the ways and reasons people change their minds and dismantle their inherited worldviews. I read an unhealthy amount of moral/developmental psychology and cultural criticism. I'm turning 40 in a few months and completely. freaking. out.

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Welcome! I’m excited to explore your substack more and to check out your writing community. I can relate to the freaking out… I turn 50 (gulp) during the summer and am having trouble wrapping my head around thar.

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Never too late to late to connect! Recovering corporate marketer. Used to write stories for tech companies. Now I write my own. In my mid-50s, I moved to Vermont, hired a life wizard and quit a three-decade career. I live in a 200-year-old farmhouse with a one-eyed cat, an anxious yellow Lab, and my partner (who says I can write about him as long as I call him Felix.) Yes, I moved to Vermont, but I do not raise chickens, make jam, or save my small town—life isn’t a Hallmark movie.

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Definitely not too late to connect! Welcome, Catherine!

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