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2 0 1 8 COL LECTI O N Volume II Is s ue 16

T HE AGING ISSU E Embracing the mos t n atu ral part of l i fe. 1

Special Thanks To: Anna Laero Salyers Cover Photographer Lee Ann Boersma Cover Makeup & Hair Styling Lindsey Smith Cover Model Debbie Smith Cover Model Mitzi Seibel Cover Model

In Every Issue 05 Contributors 06 Regular Contributors Become a Subscriber

09 Editor’s Note

Shop Previous Issues

12 The List

Join our Private Facebook Community

82 Dear Soul Sister...





In This Issue

14 The Flood of Memories How a grilled cheese sandwich can bring back the sweetest of memories.

36 My Undiagnosed Illness Searching for answers as each test comes back clear.

60 New Age Love The intimacy of romantic and platonic love.

16 Growing Up With My Children A young woman’s journey into motherhood.

38 Embracing Changing Technology The world is changing faster and faster... can we keep up?

64 An Unexpected Season with My Father The transition from daughter to caregiver.

18 Working Hands Perhaps hands are the true windows to the soul.

42 What is the Secret to a Happy Life? Four women share their secrets on life, happiness, and gratitude.

68 The Timeline of Aging Embracing aging and looking forward to mid-life.

26 Self-Image as We Age Extending grace to ourselves and our changing reflections.

48 The Second Half The restlessness of life after all of the milestones have been achieved.

72 Let Your Birdie Fly 3 ways to move forward as an empty nester.

28 Learning to Love From Nancy Reagan How the funeral of a former First Lady inspired lessons of love.

52 Changing Times Women in their 80s and 90s share the impact of changes during their lifetime.

76 Age is Just a Number... Until It’s More Than That A mid-life crisis after turning 40.

33 The Same Person A poem about our identities as we age.

58 Time is On My Side Maintaining a positive attitude about aging.

78 The Age of Dating What is dating like for single women of various ages?


TEAM SARAH HARTLEY Creator / Editor in Chief

MIA SUTTON Editorial Manager

JESS DOWNEY Social Media Manager

MADISEN QUICK Editor's Assistant

CONTACT For press and advertising inquiries, contact For contributions, contact For stockists, contact

ABOUT We’re starting a movement towards more honest media, giving your voice and stories a platform to share your honest lives.

SOCIAL The opinions expressed within each article do not necessarily represent those of the Holl & Lane team.

Thank you to these Patreon sponsors for helping to keep Holl & Lane running: MICHAEL QUICK, BRANDON HARTLEY, JENNIFER DUDLEY, AMANDA FILLIPPELLI, TOM MATTINGLY, JONATHAN WILLIAMS Become a Patreon sponsor by visiting 4

Abigail Barella Model Editor’s Note Photo Alexa Bigwarfe Writer Age is Just a Number Amanda Cleary Eastep Writer, Photographer Self-Image as We Age Amanda King Coco Photographer Age is Just a Number Amisha N Photographer An Unexpected Season with My Father Amy Cook Writer The List, Books Andrey Grushnikov Photographer The Timeline of Aging Anna Laero Salyers Photographer Cover, The Flood of Memories Ben Kolde Photographer Embracing Changing Technology Betsy Grinder Writer Changing Times Brenda Schibilla Writer An Unexpected Season with My Father Chelsea Oliver Writer The List, Music Christine Amoroso Writer Time is on My Side Clem Onojeghuo Photographer Changing Times

Denese Russell Writer The Second Half Dijana Szewczyk Photographer Editor’s Note Photo Drew Graham Photographer The Same Person Erica Musyt Writer The List, Movies Eunice Brownlee Writer The Timeline of Aging Gina Louise Norman Writer, Photographer Let Your Birdie Fly Hannah Lacy Writer, Photographer Growing Up With My Children Ivana Cajina Photographer New Age Love

Contributors LaKay Cornell Writer Changing Times

Lindsey Smith Writer The Flood of Memories Liz Palmieri Writer Changing Times Marietta Goldman Writer, Photographer Embracing Changing Technology Melanie Lentz Writer, Photographer Learning to Love from Nancy Reagan Melinda Bowens Writer Changing Times Mia Sutton Writer The Same Person Mike Tinnion Photographer The Second Half

Kaija Hoyt Photographer My Undiagnosed Illness

Sami Ross Writer New Age Love

Katelyn Ferguson Writer, Photographer What is the Secret of a Happy Life?

Shea Photographer Working Hands

Keziah Kelsey Writer, Photographer Working Hands

Tanja Heffner Photographer Let Your Birdie Fly

Kimberly Knight Photographer The Timeline of Aging

Thera Thibeault Writer Dear Soul Sister

Laci Hoyt Writer My Undiagnosed Illness

Traci Paonessa Photographer Learning to Love from Nancy Reagan


Regular Contributors AMY COOK, Books Wife and soccer mom by day, nerdy bookworm by night. Lover of wine, literature, pie and all things Gone With The Wind.

ERICA MUSYT, Movies Erica is a 30-something Virginia native who is passionate about family, friends, and the movies! She buys books faster than she reads them, loves ladybugs and all things purple. A movie star at heart, Erica is delighted to be a contributor to the Holl and Lane movie section!

CHELSEA OLIVER, Music Chelsea Oliver is a lover of life in heels, coffee in hand, who runs the marketing department of a credit union by day and makes sassy stationery for her own business by night. Chelsea is an old soul in a powerlifting millennial body. She craves authenticity while loving every filter on Instagram and tweeting in all caps as necessary. CHRISTINE AMOROSO Writer Christine recently traded her role as elementary school principal, and her home in southern California, for a chance to live and write in Italy. She actively seeks opportunities to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. Her stories reflect her personal journey, opening her heart and mind to adventure and endless possibilities. SAMI ROSS, Writer Sami is a Chicago-based copywriter by day and Creative by night. Outside of her writing career, she likes to express her creativity through her yoga practice, and is working towards her teacher certification. Currently, her favorite word is erleichda- a Tom Robbin’s creation that means “lighten up.”


Regular Contributors GENESIS GEIGER Photographer

Genesis is a lifestyle and natural light photographer currently roaming Cincinnati, OH. In her work, she is moved by the quiet moments that sometimes go unnoticed, determined to capture the details that can get lost in the excitement, and completely captivated by the love that can be shared among humanity. Through it all, Genesis’ passion is to freeze time and bring people together through her work. ALLI PETERS Photographer

Alli is a midwestern photographer and content marketer currently based in Minneapolis, MN. From start to finish, Alli enjoys capturing raw moments - whether they’re of families and friends or landscapes and events, and using these moments to help people connect.


Linda Joy is a Pacific Northwest native who currently calls Chicago “home”. She is passionate about many things, particularly her husband, creativity, and making memories all over this beautiful earth. When she’s not taking photos, you can find her reading or scribbling away her thoughts on either paper or her blog. JACKY ANDREWS Photographer

Jacky is a Los Angeles-based natural light lifestyle photographer who specializes in candid family photography. Her images reflect the genuinely loving, spontaneous, and perfectly imperfect moments in life, and her documentary-style photos preserve what makes each family special.


Jamie is a photographer based out of Portland, Oregon, where her love for outdoor adventures and natural beauty is sufficiently satisfied. She's passionate about creating images that capture the inner strength and beauty of her subjects, and believes that the best sessions are ones in which the subjects can feel both vulnerable and empowered. Her goal is to create an environment that allows for her subjects to encounter and express the bold nature within, and simply be there to capture it.




Editor’s Note I am officially in my mid-thirties now, having turned 35 in March of 2018. It’s one of those numbers that always felt so far away but wasn’t necessarily a number I was dreading. I’ve never been one to put much stock into age and aging. I have liked all of my various ages to this point and have looked both backward and forward fondly.












But I will admit, there are times when 35 feels awfully old. It’s the days when I see all of the strides a 22-year-old is making in launching her own business. Or when I pass a college kid on the street and assume she’s in 10th grade. Or when I hear that I graduated high school 17 years ago (shudder). Or that some of the people I’ve met through Holl & Lane weren’t even born until the 2000’s. Those are the days when I feel ancient. But still, I’m not ashamed of this age. My 30’s have been my best decade yet. I was a newlywed, I had my first baby, and most recently my second baby. I took the leap to launch this magazine and propel my dreams. So to me, this time right now still feels young. I know I still have a lot of life left. I know I still have a lot more to accomplish. And I can only hope that I will continue to age with this mindset. The ladies on the following pages range in age from their 20’s into their 90’s. It’s one of the most well-rounded groups of women we’ve ever had and I couldn’t be more excited to share their stories. Their life experiences vary so wildly and learning from each of them through their stories has been such an amazing gift to me. And I’m so excited to share this gift with you now. Until next time, Sarah Hartley Editor in Chief






THE LIST What we’re reading, watching, and listening to this quarter. READ BY AMY COOK WATCH BY ERICA MUSYT LISTEN BY CHELSEA OLIVER


READ THE JOY LUCK CLUB by Amy Tan Tan weaves together an unforgettable tale of four Chinese women who get together to play Mahjong and discuss their lives and the lives of their (now grown) children. Alternating between the time they were growing up in China, and their new lives in San Francisco, The Joy Luck Club is a fantastic read that blends together what it means to be a woman, immigrant, and aging adult in a young person’s world.



Lende takes us on a journey of little life lessons she has learned by writing the obituaries for the residents in her small town in Alaska. Funny, real, and full of wisdom, Find the Good shares the stories of people young and old and the magical way they looked at life and, maybe even more important, the things people remember when we are no longer here.

When 80-something George’s best friend Ralph passes away, alone in a nursing home, the week George decides to leave on a get-away fishing trip, George decides he has to find a way to make up for breaking his promise to his best friend: You won’t die alone. He receives an unexpected windfall and decides to purchase an abandoned mansion and turn it into a safe haven for people of a certain age to spend their remaining time. Where River Turns to Sky is a beautiful story of friendship. Have your tissues ready for this one.



Warren Schmidt is at a crossroads. Recently retired, he has no hobbies and no travel plans. When his wife suddenly passes away he decides to travel cross-country to his estranged daughter’s wedding. Along the way, he discovers more about himself and life than he had ever expected.

Retired teachers, George and Anne, enjoy life’s simple pleasures. When Anne has a stroke, their life and the love they share for each other is put to the test. As George deals with his own battle with aging, he ignores his discomfort to care for his wife and is determined to keep a promise he once made to her.


7 YEARS Lukas Graham

NOW THAT I’M OLDER Sufjan Stevens






LANDSLIDE Stevie Nicks

WATCH THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL Lured by advertisements for a newly remodeled Marigold Hotel, a group of British retirees decide to retire in the lush surroundings of India. Upon their arrival, they find it is not as luxurious as they were lead to believe, but a shell of what it used to be. Though their destination is not what they had imagined, they find that life can begin again if they can let go of what used to be.


GET OLD FOREVER Jeff Rosenstock 13




n a rainy Saturday afternoon, I found myself with the most intense craving for a grilled cheese sandwich. I’m not talking a high-brow grilled cheese that you get for $12 with no sides included. I’m talking white bread, American cheese oozing out the sides, and a buttery, perfectly toasted outside. This craving seemed to hit me out of nowhere. I hadn’t craved a grilled cheese in years, so I wondered why it was suddenly coming on so strong. And then the memory hit me. When I was a kid, on rainy Saturday afternoons, my dad and I would snuggle in a large down blanket and watch old reruns of Unsolved Mysteries. My dad would make his “famous” (well, famous to me) grilled cheese and we’d eat it while watching TV. I am definitely a quality time kind of girl, so getting to hang out with my dad and watch a “grown-up” show together made me feel special. The grilled cheese was just a bonus. In 2012, those special moments were slowly coming to an end as my dad was put on hospice and eventually passed in September. I took the entire summer off work to spend as much time with my dad as I could and to ask him all the questions I wanted to ask him. I knew our time was precious, and I wanted to soak up every last second I could. I’d lay beside him on his bed, snuggled under his down blanket, and we’d watch a murder mystery together like nothing changed.

So on a rainy Saturday afternoon, some 20 plus years later, grilled cheese was all I wanted. But what I realized is that I was really missing my dad. The feeling that rainy Saturday afternoon gave me was that same feeling I had as a kid. Suddenly, my grilled cheese craving made sense. I was really craving something deeper than a grilled cheese could ever provide. I was craving quality time with my dad. The source of many of our cravings can be found deep in our family memories. Maybe you remember a food from childhood that you loved and got as a treat at your grandparents’ house or a dish your parents made. Cravings for these foods often come out later in life during certain times of the year, around certain smells, or when certain memories come flashing back. I can think back to similar family dishes that bring back memories: my grandma’s pizza sauce, my mom’s butter noodles (yes, just butter and noodles, but why were they so good?), and even my dad’s “famous to me” grilled cheese. Beyond the food itself, the one thing these cravings really bring about are our memories of the people we care about. My childhood mentor always told me that memories are the things that we will always have with us. You can’t box them up, but you can remember them to keep you going. Making memories with our loved ones is something that feeds us well beyond the here and now. Sure, the grilled cheese is good, but it is only temporary. Unsolved Mysteries can be watched again. But that memory of my dad is something that I get to hold onto forever. And on the days when I feel sad or upset, I can eat that grilled cheese, watch an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, and remember how those times made me feel and hold onto those memories. When my dad passed away, it left me, my mother, and my grandmother without both of the men we loved most. The three of us bonded tightly together, learning how to hold onto the memories of my dad and grandpa while lifting one another. I was able to see their resilience and strength through such a difficult time. I was able to see how strong the women in my family really are, and I knew that I got my strength from them. Sharing the cover of Holl & Lane Magazine was more than just having our pictures taken and feeling glammed up for a day. It was experiencing life together, laughing at the jokes my grandma would crack, and recognizing that so much of who I am came from these two women. And at the end of our day together, after everyone packed up and left, all three of us were full. Not from breakfast or the mid-day snacks, but from the memories we made. Now, whenever I feel a craving for grilled cheese, I think about my dad, and then I honor that craving by making new memories with my mom and grandma because it’s the memories that nourish us with far more nutrients than any food ever could. &


Growing Up with



UARE YOU ENJOYING THIS PREVIEW? nless we are talking about wine and cheese, there are few of us who view aging positively. It’s hard to think of aging in healthy terms when we as women are constantly being pushed antiaging products, creams, etc. Our society is obsessed with youth; looking, feeling, and being younger. We need to change this mentality of anti-aging. Instead of associating it with being outdated, we should associate it with growing wiser and more mature. There is such great value that comes with each day that we age.

things can be done, but only a few things can be done well. Children teach us so many things, perhaps one of the greatest is how to prioritize our lives. With the privilege and responsibility of caring for children comes the privilege to see the world through a child’s eyes again. While parenting can age you, it is also a wonderful opportunity to “grow young”. Aging comes with more than physical changes. It also comes with the growth of wisdom and maturity when we are willing to learn from and embrace our experiences. Growing up alongside our children encourages us to grow young by maintaining a sense of joy and wonder and embracing experiences like a child.


Having become a mother at a young age, I’ve always thought of aging as growing older or growing up alongside my children. When you get engaged at 18, married at 19, and find out just a few short months before your 20th birthday that you’re pregnant, there is no misspent youth to regret. There was not much time for a period of self-discovery. But as I’ve grown as a mother, I’ve also grown as a woman, a person, and an artist. As a young mom, the struggle for me wasn’t losing my identity in motherhood but having an identity outside of it. I’ve often been told that the benefit of having children young is that I’ll be young enough to enjoy being an empty nester when they graduate. Or that I’ll get to be a young, fun grandparent. However, I believe the greatest benefit will be that I grew up and aged alongside my children. The older our children get the less they need someone to help them tie their shoes and brush their teeth. Instead, they need someone to give them advice, listen, and be their friend. Being in this position of parenting early in life comes with the unique opportunity of changing how you relate to your children. While our children are young they need to know that we have authority. As they grow older they need to know that we have compassion, open arms, and open hearts.

It seems like just yesterday I was holding my son for the first time. I can vividly remember him saying his first word, and the first wobbly steps he took. Now he is telling me what he wants to eat, do, wear, and most recently, what he wants for Christmas. I’m so excited that I will get to do this all over again with my second son. I’m grateful to my firstborn for teaching me how quickly time flies by. I’ve especially learned that there is not enough time to fear the future - who will I be, where I will be, or what I will be. There is only enough time to open my hands and heart to the present; it is a gift that I will only receive once. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature but beautiful old people are works of art”. Aging comes with its own form of beauty, but like any work of art, it doesn't happen by accident, it starts with intention. We don’t raise children by accident even though some days it can feel that way. But we intentionally love, nourish, and care for them in a thousand little ways. If we are to change our mindset about aging, we must do it intentionally.


I think most parents would agree with me that nothing ages you like children. Starting with pregnancy and continuing well beyond high school graduation, the responsibility of parenting comes with many sleepless nights. I would be lying if I said that being a young mom is easy. I’ve had less time to “waste” on myself, and while often a struggle, it has also been a blessing in disguise. When you take on the responsibility of family and children, regardless of age, you start to realize that there is only so much time and energy to spend. There is only enough time and energy in a day for very few important things. Many

I choose to view aging as a chance to form new relationships with my children, to offer more empathy to them and others. To live with more joy and wonder, and spend less time on things that don't matter. There is great value in living in the present with open hands and open hearts. When I view aging this way, the thought of gray hairs and wrinkles doesn't seem so bad. In fact, they seem more like works of art. If we intentionally say no to fearing the future, then we can grow up, grow older, and grow better for those we love. &








ur hands do the work of our lives; our hands care, feed, wash, build, connect, and love. Over the years of our lives, our hands will perform different work; our seasons of life have works that seem to overtake us, monotonous and grinding but also beautiful in their repetition. I sat down with 4 generations of women to ask them about the work their hands are doing in their lives right now. The littlest ladies were 1 (Lia) and 3 (Zadie) and mostly engaged in the work of learning to be a human. They filled the house with laughter and tears as they went about it; carefully filling cupcake wrappers with buttons and serving them to us, playing a tiny guitar to some magical tune in their heads and of course, dealing with the frustrations of being small. Their mother Shea (35), talked about this season as one consumed by motherhood. Washing bodies, dishes, tiny clothes, and messes from floors; the work of motherhood is so largely about care and cleaning. She talked about how as she entered her motherhood, she found herself using her 22

hands for others more and less for herself; making art less, taking time to adorn herself less, even less time to hold a cup of coffee in silence. Shea’s mother, Linda (65), talked about her season as one of self-care; her hands now return the care to herself. She spends time cooking, gardening, doing yoga, reading, fixing up her home. She cares for her space, as always, and now has the time to use her hands to make things that bring her joy. Shea smiled towards her mother, “Oh that sounds so nice, Mom”. Linda’s mother, Beverley (88) talked about her season as one of cultivation; her hands spend time connecting with her family. She writes letters, knits gifts, reaches out across the space to connect them all and keep their history. Shea asked her grandmother, “Do you get a lot of letters back?” and Beverley said, “Oh no, maybe one or two but that doesn’t matter, I love to write”. She also said that of course, washing is still a big work and we all laughed ruefully. Washing is the constant work of our hands. &




the work of motherhood is so largely about care and cleaning





As We Age 26


he song “Disco Inferno” blasts in the Macy’s dressing room as my mother tests out the “staying power” of her grandmother-of-the-groom dress. This dress-shopping ritual involves bending over in front of the mirror and shaking her groove thang.

Raising myself up in bed the other morning, I realized my own arm resembled a raw turkey leg. Then I thought, what if I intentionally change my perception from the “quick, put on a long-sleeved shirt” default to honoring said appendage instead?

Outside the door, my two daughters and I eagerly await her assessment of the dress. She lobs the garment over the top of the dressing room door and it lands in a glittery heap in front of me. The hanger follows with a clatter. Next, we convince her to try on a slinky, purple wrap dress. “I can’t wear this,” she says from behind the door.

This arm secured babies to my hip (the one that now cracks and pops) as I cooked dinner for my young family. This arm has (at least metaphorically) lifted hundreds of people up in prayer. This arm has held hurting family members, reached out in friendship, offered money and casseroles and heavy lifting, and spun children around beneath its arc in a frenzied dance of joy. This arm deserves respect. Not only from the world but from me.


Throughout my life, my mother, who has never worn makeup or fussed with her hair, has exuded selfconfidence like Chanel No. 5. Now, her voice hints at the uncharacteristic, but increasing, insecurity about her appearance. She often complains about how old she looks in photos. She doesn’t seem to notice her flawless skin and beautiful white hair. I realize her changing self-image not only mirrors, but partially influences, my own as I move into my early 50s.


Overhead, the Disco Inferno lyrics “burn, baby, burn” become a Greek chorus providing unwelcome commentary on my aging body: hot flashes, temper flares, youth turning to ash (or at least flaky elbows). Maybe instead, those words could remind both of us we still “got it.”

“That song is a sign you should buy that dress,” I insist. Mom opens the door for the big reveal, and we gasp. She looks hot. My daughters and I converge on her, snapping pics to send to my dad and convincing Mom that highquality undergarments will keep things in place during the Macarena. Mom flirtatiously pouts at her reflection. That’s more like it. In a CNN article about body image, Kelly Wallace explores how a mother’s negative view of herself influences how her daughter will view herself: “Even if we as mothers constantly praise our daughters, telling them they are beautiful and that they shouldn't worry about what other people think, if we talk negatively about ourselves, that is the message they are going to receive.”1

We live in a society that touts anti-aging above anti-cruelty, anti-racism, and anti-war. We rail against TV advertising, Hollywood, and even the entire male gender. But sometimes our harshest critic can be the woman glaring back at us in the mirror. Rather, if we extend grace to ourselves, we’re better able to extend grace in the direction of our sisters and our friends; the thin models and our overweight selves; our 20-something daughters and our 70-year-beautiful mothers. The other day, I thought how pretty my mom looked in her melon-colored outfit. The next morning I realized I hadn’t told her that even though she had complimented me on my new hairstyle. I had failed to extend the same kindness to her, so I texted her: Me: Mom, I meant to tell you last night that you looked gorgeous in that color! Mom: Thank you! You were stunning with that haircut. Don’t forget to turn back the clocks! Oh...the irony of that motherly reminder. We can’t turn back the clock; we can only move forward. And we can buy the purple wrap dress and dance like everyone is watching. &


When my daughters were little girls, I understood that I needed to tell them they were beautiful--and smart and funny and creative. I also understood that how I saw myself influenced the formation of their self-image. But I’m realizing too that my self-image continues to shape the way my daughters, now in their 20s, see themselves. And I still need my mother to see herself as beautiful instead of complaining about her upper arms.

1 Wallace, Kelly, “The ripple effects on girls when moms struggle with body image,” CNN, June 7, 2017.


learning to love from

nancy reagan



he morticians stood beside the casket like bodyguards. “I’m not prepared for this,” I thought. Truthfully, I didn’t know how to prepare.

Everyone except the morticians and me left the room, and the casket was opened. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s small body was gently lifted onto the embalming room table. Earlier that morning, I woke to a ringing cell phone. My heart sank. Somehow I knew what the caller would say before I answered. “She passed away a few minutes ago,” my colleague said. I was one of the U.S. Secret Service Special Agents assigned to Nancy Reagan’s protection detail in Los Angeles, California. As a former First Lady, she was still entitled to protection, and I had only been assigned to her detail for a few months when she passed away peacefully at age ninety-four. I was instructed to meet at the prearranged funeral home in nearby Santa Monica. When I arrived, other agents were posted around the building along with local police officers. Satellite trucks and press were milling about outside, the whole scene an image of rehearsed chaos. My supervisor gathered our shift into a small room. Another shift of agents was on their way with Mrs. Reagan’s body, and we would relieve them when they arrived so they could go home. “Guys, we’ve known this day would come, and we will protect her like always until she’s laid to rest,” he said. We nodded. “Someone needs to be in the room while they prepare her body.” All eyes widened at his statement. “I’ll do it,” I said after a brief pause, and I often wonder why I volunteered for something so morbid. I was the only female agent on this shift. In fact, there were only two female agents on her entire protection detail. Mrs. Reagan wasn’t a grandmotherly figure to me. We never had a personal conversation, but I sometimes spoke to her briefly about logistics or to inform her of a guest’s arrival at her house. Despite our purely professional relationship, I hoped she would have appreciated my presence in the room, my subtle way of respecting her womanly dignity. Except for a couple breaks, I was in the room for the whole process. ›››


BEHIND THE BADGE I tried to remain composed, and overtly I believe I succeeded. However, behind the earpiece and badge, my life was anything but composed. At thirty-one, my recent divorce brought forth what had been festering as depression, and it also triggered a brief eating disorder relapse. I finally had the good sense to seek help for both, but I was still reeling from all of the sudden life changes and trying to accept that I’d wrongly and unfairly placed my worth in the hands of people who didn’t truly love me.


As the marriage imploded, the bathroom mirror became my sanctuary of self-loathing. I would lean in and stare at the sunspots and crow’s feet, the evidence of years of chaotic workweeks, midnight shifts, constant travel assignments, and long outdoor shifts. The toxic relationship had done nothing for the dark circles under my eyes, either. I likened myself to a used car, once shiny and exciting, but now a convenient trade-in for a newer model. I was not a cherished and timeless classic sports car. According to the reflection staring back at me, I was merely undesirable.


I placated my insecurities with frequent trips to the medical spa. I walked into the waiting room feeling dead inside. The pinch of needles and the sting of lasers left me with an odd sense of relief. I couldn’t seem to fix my circumstances, but I could fabricate a temporary image of youth with cosmetic injections. I could make a statement, but the statement was more to myself than anyone else: I was still alive. Depressed and used, yes, but alive and looking younger than a year ago. &&&

Time seemed to pass slowly in the embalming room as Mrs. Reagan’s tiny frame began to give the illusion of life. Her blood was replaced with embalming fluid, and her ghost white skin turned pink once again. “How are you doing?” the morticians asked occasionally.

“That’s a loaded question,” I thought sarcastically, but their kindness toward me throughout the process was touching. “She looks lovely,” I commented as they finished the following day. Her cheeks were plumped and blushed. Her hair was meticulously primped and her make-up just so. Her designer outfit completed an image of sophistication. Even in death, one could appear alive and younger with the skilled hands of morticians.


There was a private memorial service in Santa Monica for Mrs. Reagan. I was honored to be a pallbearer along with other Secret Service personnel. Following the service, we drove Mrs. Reagan to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for the official memorial service.

Throngs of people lined the motorcade route with flags and signs. I drove my shift in the SUV behind Mrs. Reagan’s hearse. We commented along the way that almost everyone was staring at their phone screens as we passed, completely missing this moment in real time to capture the perfect image. How eerily poetic it seems now: ignoring reality for an image. ›››




A LIFE OF LOVE The official memorial service was held in a large tent at the library on Friday, March 11, 2016. The casket sat on stage, covered in beautiful white roses. The mood was somber yet peaceful, and it began to rain softly as the service began. I was assigned to an area in the back near the press riser during the service.

her legacy less of designer duds, scandals, artificial enhancements, or political opinions. She was remembered for the character traits rooted much deeper than her outward image, the traits with lasting substance. The rain began drizzling again as the service concluded and the guests departed. The tractors, machinery, and workers began digging outside, preparing to reopen the Reagan mausoleum at the library where Ronald Reagan was buried years prior. I was wet and shivering when the giant underground door finally creaked open. I could not see inside the dark space because night had fallen, but merely standing near the hole felt like an intrusion on an intimate reunion. The machinery slowly and gently lowered Mrs. Reagan’s casket into the mausoleum’s opening. The door closed once again, and our job was done. I let myself cry in the car as I drove home, my hair and suit disheveled in fatigue after a taxing week. I stole a glance at myself in the rearview mirror, and, for once, I didn’t feel disgust. Despite the tears, I saw a twinge of something I’d deemed indefinitely lost: hope.


Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney read an old love letter from Ronald Reagan to Mrs. Reagan, and I was envious of their marriage and jealous of her. She was cherished and loved and reminded of both regularly through actions as well as written words. Where had I gone wrong? I had tried to be the perfect wife, but my futile attempts at perfection had nearly destroyed me.


It wasn’t until Mrs. Reagan’s son, Ron, took the stage that my inner pity party was interrupted.

“If my mother had one great talent, I think it was that she knew how to love,” he said. It occurred to me that every speaker before him had also spoken of her love and the signature character traits that stemmed from it.

Journalist Diane Sawyer had said, “Unlike so many people these days, she never seemed to harden differences into definitions. She was way too interested in people.” Former White House Chief of Staff James Baker remembered Mrs. Reagan as a woman who was capable of seeing the good in people, but she trusted her instincts, especially when it came to discerning one’s loyalty to her husband.

“Even a flawed life can leave a legacy of love,” I whispered to myself. Divorce ended my marriage but not my capacity to love. I had failed to love myself despite the flaws and circumstances, and it was only stunting my growth and healing. After all, love’s longevity far outlasts the temporary effects of cosmetic injections and runs deeper than any unfilled fine line. & IMAGE BY TRACI PAONESSA

Journalist Tom Brokaw remembered Mrs. Reagan’s ability to forgive as he had once made statements about Ronald Reagan that she found distasteful. He recalled the moment he earned her forgiveness.

“Back to square one,” she’d said, and that was the end of it. She made her point in a forgiving yet fierce way.


Her daughter, Patty Davis, recalled her imperfect relationship with her mother. Yet, despite all flaws and personality conflicts, Patty spoke of her mother’s love, especially the instances when her mother had been there when truly needed. Loving. Forgiving. Loyal. Fierce. Confident. Strong. Those were the descriptors used to describe Mrs. Reagan at her funeral. Her looks were only mentioned in passing,


Am I still the girl who tries? When I can. When I care. Am I still the girl with curious eyes? If it's safe. If it's interesting. Am I still the woman who couldn't decide? Without a doubt. Without a care. Am I still the one who cries? With every breath. With every smile. Am I still terrified? All the time. All the ways. Am I still surprised? More than I thought. But less than ever.


The Same Person

Am I still the same person inside? Absent a mirror. Without a crowd.

Some things change. Most things stay the same. 33





my undiagnosed illness



y name is called and I rise stiffly from my chair. The clicking sound of my cane as it contacts the floor next to me with each step seems too loud in the quietness of the room. I feel eyes on my back but don’t turn around to confirm that I’m being watched. I follow a woman in pink scrubs down a white-walled hallway and into an exam room. She directs me to a chair against the wall and I sit down and prop my cane next to me.

husband. The chalkboard behind the barista has a list of beverages written on it in white chalk. We have ordered our food and the cashier asks, “Is that all?” My husband looks at me and says quietly, “Didn’t you want a hot cider?”


Later, when the doctor enters the room, we discuss the consistencies and inconsistencies of my symptoms. We discuss new and old possibilities and next steps. I mention that I’m now using a cane even though I saw him look directly at it when he entered the room. And then he says it, the words that signify to me not only an amount of disbelief but also a bias.

“Oh, yeah,” I say and turn back toward the cashier. “One small…um…” Suddenly, I can’t remember the word. I try to get the word to come back into my mind but I can’t come up with it. I look back to my husband for help. My cheeks burn. “Cider…” he prompts, loudly enough for the cashier to hear.


“You’re too young to need a cane.”

The words echo in my ears. I say nothing even though I have so many thoughts bumping up against each other inside my brain. I want to open my mouth and say something but the words won’t come. He turns his back on me and types into the computer. Then my cane and I click back down the hallway as I leave the appointment. This scene will play out again later, over and over like a pop song on the radio. The dizzy specialist will put me through a number of tests, looking for evidence of dizziness and find none and then he will say, “So, given that you pass all of my tests, why are you using this cane?” and I will defensively list my reasons for him—including the dizziness he cannot find—and he will look at me with skepticism while internally little pieces of me shatter.

As I am referred from one doctor to another, I will stop bringing my cane or I will fold it up and tuck it into my purse before going in for my appointment so that I won’t have to feel like I need to defend myself. Sometimes I will mention that I use one in an effort to get a doctor to take me seriously but it will backfire. I will end up on the defensive. The assumption will remain the same.

“Right, that,” I say to the cashier with a laugh, but on the inside, I am mortified. She casually gets my cider and smiles nicely to me but I will worry about this for the rest of the day. Later when I relate this story to a friend, she will say, “That happens to me all of the time. It sucks getting older, doesn’t it?” And I will laugh and be agreeable even though I know this has nothing to do with my age. I am 38 years old. This started when I was 32.

I will think about the lists and notes I have to leave for myself. I will think about how many times in the last six years I have irritated my spouse and my children by forgetting. I will think about how I used to keep our household calendar in my head and now I can forget an appointment in the time between when the reminder rings on my phone and when I get my shoes on to leave. I will think about how each of these examples alone seems normal enough, innocuous even, but how collectively, they add up to a point where I can feel just how poorly my mind is working.


I will try to convince myself that I am just being sensitive, that the doctors really aren’t judging me the way it feels like they are, but it will continually feel like they don’t believe that I need it. I am, after all, a relatively healthy looking young woman with no positive test results. I am also the youngest patient sitting in their waiting rooms. &&& I am standing at a cash register in a coffee shop with my


What is happening to me cannot be explained so my experience is often minimized instead. According to neurology, the lesions on my brain can be explained by my advancing age but according to the general public, I’m too young to be struggling to get back up off the floor after sitting down. My joints should be aching at this point, according to my friends over 40, yet I walk more slowly than everyone I know, even those who are over 65. So, for now, I am stuck, undiagnosed, with no good reason for my body to be failing me, while I float along between being too young and getting older. &




The miracle often lies outside of our comfort zone. – Marianne Williamson Change has always been challenging for me. I got my first cell phone in 1997 – not because I wanted one, but because I felt that I needed one. I was home on maternity leave with my first child and was getting ready to head back to work. My commute took me two hours door-to-door and involved a car, a commuter parking lot, a train station, a subway and lots of walking. It was part of a lifestyle in New York that was ridiculously stressful and unhealthy but felt completely natural and normal. I was worried about going back to work and being several hours away from my daughter - what if something happened and she needed me? How would my husband or mom who was babysitting get to me if there was an emergency? I had no idea how to use a cell phone. It was big and clunky and took up a ton of space. I was happy to have it but nervous about actually talking on a phone that was not connected to the wall in my kitchen. Plus, I didn’t want to be that person on the train who spoke on the phone and kept others from getting some sleep. Technology updates make me itch. Every time I am forced to step out of my comfort zone to embrace a new form of technology I get a hot flash and feel hives quickly spreading across my chest. JOINING TECHNOLOGY When I was in my twenties, I worked on the 30th floor of an upscale building on the corner of 53rd and 3rd. I was young and impressed by the wealth in New York City. Our office shared one large word processor on a moveable workstation that we could shift from desk to desk whenever someone needed to type a letter. It was a beast and hard to maneuver, but it allowed us to ditch the electric typewriter and throw away our bottles of liquid white out.

hardware would add value did not make any sense to me. I nodded and knew somehow I would figure it out. The world was changing and that was a good thing, but it was changing way faster than I was prepared for. I am a recovering control freak and classic overachiever. I spent much of my youth and younger years putting all of my time and energy into planning and manipulating so I could achieve the outcome I desired. I was completely exhausted and stressed most of the time and technology was definitely a contributing factor towards my anxiety. As the years went on, I learned some basic programming skills that kept me moving forward and even taught new employees how to use our system when they were hired. I was figuring it out but always with a twinge of fear that something I couldn’t control could go wrong at any moment. THE INTERNET I remember vividly when I first heard about the Internet. I was a Vice President with a financial company and knew the research component of our business would drastically change. Later that year, I was at an annual meeting for the Special Libraries Association and I overheard a group of much older women chatting about how this Internet thing was a fad and would never catch on. I was the youngster in the group, in my mid-twenties, and I thought to myself that these women could be seriously wrong. Since I was still very much a novice with researching, I was open to learning and exploring. It seemed far easier for me to embrace the change because I was not already set in my ways. As the years progressed, I felt a new excitement about doing research online. I was hesitant to let go of the directories and CDs that I used to look up information, but as the data moved online, I was able to dial in and directly access my work from home. What a gift. Technology forced me to step out of my comfort zone and as a reward, I got to lose my commute and spend more time with my family.

I remember the day we were told that each employee would be getting his or her own computer workstation. I felt a weird combination of excitement and anxiety and wasn’t sure how this change would affect me.

The world was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing – I was just now finally realizing that I could relax into the uncertainty and see the change as a good thing or I could stay stagnant and get left behind.

There was talk about floppy disks and large monitors and hard drives that would sit on the floor under our desks. We would be getting something called a server, which would allow us to share data– how was that going to work?

So why am I sharing this with you?

The image the IT department created left me uneasy. The words they used to explain how the added software and

I guess because I blinked and am now the older woman who is trying to create an online presence to share my story. I am a cancer survivor who has learned a ton about healing naturally and becoming your own best advocate when navigating our health care system. ›››


I know that part of my mission and purpose in life is to help other overachieving, type A women make a shift before they ever have to see signs of serious illness. If that means embracing a hashtag or two and telling my story with less than 140 characters so be it.

looked around and then awkwardly made my way to the back of the room where I could get some help. I was the only one who stood up…everyone else had their heads down pinning pretty images of what their dream world could look like. How was I ever going to keep up with this generation?


Technology reminds me of my age. I don’t love taking photos of myself and shooting videos is incredibly uncomfortable. When a coach I work with starts throwing out words like Voxer or Ontraport or Thinkific or Canva I laugh a little and say, “Can you spell that please?”.

As I sit here today reflecting on my youth and my resistance to change, I realize that my struggles were made more intense because I lacked faith. I wanted to control the world around me, instead of just letting go and trusting that whatever was meant to be would come next.


EMBRACING CHANGE I am once again at a place in my life where I am being asked to step out of my comfort zone. Lucky for me, I now understand that real growth only happens when we are ready for change. I just wish change wasn’t necessarily connected to how many likes I have or whether or not I can get people to join my closed Facebook group or attend a webinar. Today’s youth has a definite advantage when it comes to creating an online business. They are connected to their phones 24/7 and do not hesitate to try a new app that can save them time or make things easier.

At the end of 2017, I was at a retreat in Naples, Florida doing some branding work and planning for the products I would like to offer in 2018. The woman running the retreat – a beautiful, kind-hearted 36-year-old- was discussing the merits of using Pinterest to create boards for a Dream Life and a Dream Business. Once again here’s me – deer in the headlights. She asked for anyone in the room who didn’t have Pinterest on their phone to connect with one of her associates. I

Facing serious illness was a gift that taught me to slow down, trust more, and have faith that change was necessary to move forward. To be an entrepreneur in this day and age is exciting and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love that I am working to create tools that women can use to heal. If that means a few growing pains with technology for me, I welcome it with open arms. And yes, it may be easier for the younger generation to move forward more quickly than I can, but when I remember that life is a marathon not a sprint, I relax knowing that I have plenty of time to figure things out. New technology will never be my thing but I am grateful for the way it challenges me. It has brought me closer to my three children who are now okay with me seeing their SnapChat stories or commenting on Instagram. And while I sometimes see more of the tops of their heads than their smiling faces, I know they are proud of me for taking baby steps along the way to step outside of my comfort zone and let change just happen! &





what is the secret to a HAPPY LIFE? WORDS & IMAGES BY KATELYN FERGUSON It’s the million dollar question - what makes a happy life? Is there a secret formula that needs to be shared? We asked women aged 60 and up what THEY believe has led to a happy life and it seems the answer is simple: love, laughter, and family.





Feeling connected to others, especially the ones you love.

Feeling relevant - accomplishing tasks that are productive and useful to you and to others.

Living your authentic self – being honest with yourself and with others, recognizing your weaknesses and strengths, being the best version of yourself you can, always striving to do the right thing. Being curious - about the world, about other people, never stop learning.




FRAN, 60’S

I attribute a happy life to a strong faith in God, having an optimist outlook, helping others, and song. Everyone’s life has “seasons" - rough patches and better times. I didn’t have a real bed until I was 7, but I wouldn’t change 5 minutes of my childhood. I’ve always tried to count my blessings every day. Our world seems to be getting more volatile; you only need to look around you or listen to the news to realize how blessed you are! There is always someone who is going through a much, much tougher circumstance. There’s always an opportunity to pray for those less fortunate. I’m 67 and still working full time. I also volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. It gives me such joy to help these young women get through a tough patch in their lives.


And SING! … in the shower, in the car. I sing every day and love to do the car boogie (when traffic permits, of course). So, care (and pray) for others, always see the silver lining, and sing!




My life (99 years) has been happy as much as I can remember because God has made it so. My health has been relatively good, my children are good and very good to me. I am easygoing, in fact, my favorite saying is “That too will pass”. I have many good friends, love watching sports, especially the Vikings, knitting and volunteering at church, which keeps me busy and happy to be useful.


I believe happiness is a state of mind. You can think positive or negative; I choose to be positive, and that tends to make me look at life in a happy way. I thank God every day for my life as a happy person. In summary, I am happiest when I am happy and so I choose to be happy.


JO, 60’S As I’ve gotten older I have come to realize how important it is to be grateful for what I have around me. I cannot control many things that happen day after day but I can control how I respond to them. Dwelling on things you can’t control will make you crazy so my “secret” is to try and dismiss those things as best I can.


With the help of my gratitude journal app, yes there’s an app for that, I write down those things that I am grateful for. I must admit I don’t do it daily, although it prompts me daily. I do go in several days a week and take a few minutes to log in those things that happened in my day. Since it is a journal, I can also go back and look at previous things I’ve written about. It can be as minor as being grateful for having little or no traffic on the way to work, getting a text from my son or daughter saying, “Good morning, how are you?”, or take time to do what I want to do.


Every day something happens that makes me understand that thinking of those things that didn’t happen or what I didn’t do is far more negative than thinking of the good things that happened. We all want good things to happen and they do, all around us. I have learned to see them and recognize them. It’s a small thing for happiness. &



n o c e S The

f l a H d



AARE YOU ENJOYING THIS PREVIEW? friend, in the throes of addiction called, sobbing, saying she felt so alone. She didn’t want me to come over, so I told her to throw her hair in a ponytail, put some sunglasses on, and meet me at Starbucks. This is a 47-year-old woman with a meaningful profession, people who love her, all around her. She is not alone.

Desperate for a more solid solution than Starbucks, I swung by Trader Joe’s. While I haven’t been through addiction recovery, I do know the last thing anyone wants to do when they’re down is shop for groceries. I handed her the groceries and a Frappuccino, and as I listened, I couldn’t get this disturbing statistic from positive psychologist, Carolyn Adams Miller, out of my mind - middle-aged women are the largest group dying from diseases of despair: alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, drug addiction.


Dying. From despair. Why? And how can we stop it?

Let’s start with the fact that women are not (and never have been) alone in this. Even the ones that seem to have it all suffer from feeling stifled, stuck, restless.

Edith Wharton, born into wealth in 1862, was never expected or encouraged to be anything other than ornamental. She was sick a lot until the years between 40 and 50, the ones she calls her most transformative, when she started shaping her mornings around writing. Eventually, the incredible happened. She had found her voice and became an author.

Judy Blume was living the 1950‘s dream: two children, a house in the suburbs, a husband happy to support them. She was grateful, yet sick and depressed. She hadn’t written before but told her husband that if she didn’t get the stories in her out of her, she was going to lose her mind. She got healthy and we got gems like, “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.” After recovering from cancer, Jo Malone left the global fragrance brand she’d built to rest, spend time with her family, enjoy the fruits of her labor. She went stir-crazy wondering why she couldn’t be content playing guitar on the couch like her husband. She had more in her. She wasn’t done yet. She didn’t feel at ease until she started making fragrance again. Suffering looks and feels different for everyone, but the heart of it is the same: wanting our situation to be different than it is. That feeling is hard enough when you have clarity around next steps, but when you can’t see your way forward, it’s downright debilitating.


Take a look at my madness. I’m 52. I had a total hysterectomy at 32. Throughout those 20 years, I’ve Googled “adoption” twice. Both times ended on Amazon, buying a book or boots. If my heart was in baby mode, you’d think I’d at least have ordered books about babies, or booties. I’ve never ordered a book about babies, or booties. What my heart wants to do is encourage creative spirits. Yet, soul-sucking stuff like this swirls through me: The only worthy desire is to have a child. I’m selfish, somehow less than. Whatever I have to offer, from my heart alone, is not meaningful enough. That I will die unseen, unheard, all my efforts to make sense of life wasted. That my punishment for this decision is that I will never experience the most deepest depth of love: mama love. ›››



And that madness is with 20 years of yoga, meditation, bookshelves stocked with spiritual a-ha’s and friends who, when they’ve had it with my “Maybe I should find a baby” story, tell me, “I think you’re so f-ing afraid to write and teach, that you think having a child would be easier.”

Maybe we start with a curiosity that feels fun, finish it, and see how it feels. I’m not talking writing a book or learning a language here. Think quick hits of happiness, easy wins, while the endeavors that take longer, take longer. Or, you could grab a notebook like the one I grabbed for my friend as I left the house for Starbucks. I knew it was a long shot that she’d use it, but I swear Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” have kept me semi-sane through this mid-life ride.


Point taken.

It’s fear of the unknown that sends us swirling. The first half feels fairly planned out. Go to school, get a job, get married, have children, or not, move, stay put, build a career, make a home. There’s a solid, understood path, whichever direction you’ve chosen.

When the second half starts, after doing all we’re supposed to do, we’re weary. So when the restlessness kicks in, depending on how the first half went, we might not have the energy to recover from or change into anything other than a scrunchy and sweats. But what if we re-framed restlessness, recognizing it as a tap from above, a holy, “you’re not done, little one”. Instead of resisting it, what if we snuggled in with it, reconnecting with the one we’ve spent years keeping quiet because we’ve been so busy doing so many other things. Mary Oliver says, “The most regretful people on earth are the ones who had a creative urge and never made the time or space for it.” Sounds gloomy, but stay with me here.

All she’s suggesting is a project, which feels do-able in the midst of the realization that you (hopefully) have time, but not that much time to “find your passion” and make something of this “one, wild, precious life,” (also from Mary).

Morning Pages is the practice of writing, long-hand, three messy pages of madness out of you daily, preferably first thing in the morning. It takes me about 20 minutes. Please note, this is not almighty writing or journaling. These are not thoughts worth reflecting upon. I write mine in .99 notebooks so I don’t feel bad throwing them away. When I do this practice, I feel lighter, answers come, a-ha’s arise, next steps appear. It’s kind of magical. And it offers a manageable, necessary way to navigate the second half. Let’s face it, scary stuff is going to happen. Change, loss, worry, anxiety, we’re not getting out of here without experiencing every last bit of it. We need a place to place it. Keeping it inside keeps us stressed and stuck. I think our craving for depth and connection beyond surface chit-chat is driving that disturbing statistic. The more we get to the heart of who we are at this time in our lives, the more we can hear each other and remind each other to soften, to not be so hard on ourselves. We are not doing it wrong. And we are certainly not alone.


Asked what to do when your life is falling apart, author Glennon Doyle says, sit down. Sit down in it. And make art.


We cannot have women spending their second half questioning their value. This vast, precious, necessary resource of wisdom and love should be flourishing, not floundering. We’re being tapped from above to share our heart. And when we do, magic happens. &

Eat well.

Think less.

Life can be stressful, but eating healthy doesn’t have to be.

to eat +

to love





changing times We know that times have changed drastically, especially for women. But we wanted to see the impact of these changes, so we talked with four women in their 80s and 90s who have lived through the changes and were witness to the differences.



How have you seen the world change for women in regards to their rights? Do you think women are better or worse off than they are now? I think they are better, so many demonstrations – all female. Bringing all the abuse out in the open, even in Congress. I don’t think wages have changed that much – men and women do the same job, the men are overpaid. Maternity leave needs to be taken seriously in every career – we all need job security. What is something that HASN'T changed that has surprised you? For me, I think the way my family has stuck together, especially in my case. Family can live together and support each other and it does not get looked down upon. When you get older, you care about each other so much more. How have you seen technology change and affect our daily lives? Ohhh, it blows my mind! Cell phone and computers – I like the fact that I can see what family elsewhere is up to.


The negative thing is not talking to each other – I like to hear the voice. You hear the excitement, affection, disappointment - those expressions are not heard in a crummy text. What are you most proud of in your life so far? I am most proud of knowing and serving the Lord, and proud of my family. What do you hope will change for the next few generations of women? I would like to see women and mothers be able to work more from home. The importance of children not being home alone after school and not having parents home with them is not cared about as much as it should in my eyes. Having the chance to sit down at the dinner table and talk about their day is very important – I think it needs to be more of a priority. Being able to be attentive to their children so they grow into respectable adults. &

LINDA AGE: 91 INTERVIEW BY MELINDA BOWENS What is something that HASN’T changed that has surprised you? That if a woman stays at home to care for her children she either just doesn’t WANT to work or can’t find anyone to hire her; and that if a woman WANTS to work, she must be a bad mom because how can you be a professional and still be a good mother? I can’t believe people still think that. I was a stay at home mom because that is what I wanted to do. I could have worked if I wanted but I enjoyed staying home and raising my children. Women can do both. Women can work and be wonderful mothers. I don’t know why that still seems to come into question to this day.



Have you seen technology change and affect our daily lives? Oh my goodness. 100%. 110%. For instance, when it came to telephones...we had what they called party lines. Several families in the neighborhood shared a line and you had to wait your turn to use the phone. People would pick up and listen on your calls. No privacy. We had very limited television and mostly listened to the radio. There were “programs” or what they would call “sitcoms” on the radio that we would tune in to each week, just like a television series. The news only came on at certain times of the day. We never knew what the weather was going to be like. Of course, they had breaking news on the radio like Pearl Harbor and when President Roosevelt passed away. The nation grieved together when those things happened. I don’t know if our nation would ever grieve together over something like it did back then. People are too overloaded with technology and information. People were so much happier when they didn’t know every single detail of every How have you seen the world change for women in regards single thing going on in the world. to their rights? Do you think women are better or worse off than they are now? What are you most proud of in your life so far? I think in some ways they are better, but in some ways things My children. I chose to stay home and raise them, and haven’t evolved as much as I thought they would. Women did so to the best of my ability. I am so incredibly proud have better opportunities in business, education, and in the of their accomplishments, their attitudes towards life, and workforce. Overall, their freedoms and liberties are greater what amazing people they grew up to be. They also blessed than they were when I was younger. You see women owning me with a whole lot of good looking grandchildren! more businesses now and more and more are college educated. However, women seemed to have more respect back when I What do you hope will change for the next few generations was younger when they were in the “housewife” role than they of women? do now as they encroach on what men consider their territory. Respect. I hope people learn to respect women more I also feel like the caliber of men for women to choose from and more as time goes by. I am so glad they have the is much worse. Back when I was younger, the men were more opportunities they have now, but that doesn’t mean manly. It was a huge blow to their egos when they weren’t they are respected. Sometimes it seems like the more the sole provider, and would often work several jobs in order opportunities women are given, the less respect they to take care of their family. They were hard workers and actually get. & providers. I just don’t feel like I see that as much anymore. Men are more vulgar and less respectful. They are a totally different breed from when I was younger.



ROBERTA AGE: 86 INTERVIEW BY LAKAY CORNELL when it rang at our house, it rang at 8 other people’s houses, too! We went from that to everyone in the house having a different number and their own phone! Also, we had no TV. The first TV I had ever seen was when my son was a baby and we lived in L.A. They had one that they displayed in a window of a store. And they were having some big whatever going on - and it was in our hometown, so we went down to the store to see what was going on back home. We bought our first one when my son was only 6 or 7. But there was no color TV for a long time. And now everyone has a TV of their own. And there was never an argument about what to watch because we only had one station. So you watched what was on or you didn’t watch.

How have you seen the world change for women in regards to their rights? I never noticed much change at all… in the world that I lived in, women weren’t denied any rights - I wasn’t denied any rights if I wanted them. I know more women work now than used to, but I’m not sure that’s a “right” - I did stay home and take care of my kids, but that was my choice. It was more a choice than a right where I was. Do you think women are better or worse off now than they were? I have no idea….it doesn’t seem to have changed so much for the women I know. For my daughters, I don’t feel like there’s that much difference. I chose to get married instead of getting more education, but that was my choice. One thing that is different is that when I was a kid, most of the women I knew grew up to be school teachers - there probably are more in executive positions and etc. - but I never made the choice to pursue that. More women do go to work and leave their kids with a babysitter or nursery etc. - by choice, not necessity. They chose working over staying home with their kids. Maybe they have more freedom to make that choice, but I’m not sure because I always had that choice. I was around 40 when I started working for the phone company and we had both men and women executives but it didn’t appear to be based on their gender as much as their ability. Which, to me, is more important anyway. How have you seen technology change and affect our daily lives? Technology has changed a lot. One of the great changes was the telephone. We had a telephone and lived out in the country when I was a kid. It hung on the wall and 56

What are you most proud of in your life so far? Probably my children. I don’t know of anything else I’ve done that’s exceptionally fantastic - but I’m most proud of my children. They all grew up to be good citizens and not anything bad. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but they all grew up to be good people and I’m very proud of them! A few years ago, working for the Child Advocates I became aware of some of the things that do happen to children, and I was so grateful that my kids and our family never had to go through any of those things. I even have one greatgreat-grandchild already! They just keep coming along. If it wasn’t perfect I fixed it or got out. The one thing I always tried to do was take care of my children and raise them right. They were always our first concern. What do you hope will change for the next few generations of women? I never really gave it much thought. I hope for no wars, which probably won’t happen, but it would be nice if people could get along. I’d hate to see my great-grandchildren have to go to war like my children and grandchildren did. I just want my great-grandchildren to be good people that are happy - and however they choose to do that will probably be good. They are all pretty smart - so whatever they do will probably be pretty great. I’m not being unkind to others, but I’ve noticed recently that my kids and grandchildren and great-grandchildren all learn pretty easily and make good grades. My life has not always been easy, but it has not been that hard either. My children weren’t ever in a ton of trouble, they weren’t perfect, but you never had to face the fact that there were real problems. For that, I’m truly thankful. Final Comments: I don’t know that I added much, but I’m happy to share my perspective. I mostly just think I’ve had a good life. And I’m grateful for that. &

ARE YOU ENJOYING THIS PREVIEW? How have you seen technology change and affect our daily lives? Big time. One thing I’m against is the time that computers and cell phones take away from personal connections. People are becoming more robotic. People don’t shop in stores anymore so they don’t get to touch and feel what they are buying. Technology has helped to make many parts of life much easier so it definitely isn’t all bad. We just don’t seem to communicate with each other like we should and I feel that technology has caused us to take a step back in that regard.



How have you seen the world change for women in regards to their rights? Do you think women are better or worse off than they are now? I’ve seen that education has improved for women since I was born in the 1920’s. Nobody I knew ever went to college and many of my friends didn’t have the opportunity to finish high school. Jobs were also more geared towards men and a woman’s place was in the home. Now women have many wonderful jobs available to them. Men used to have a great respect for women, but that has changed and now men treat women inappropriately.

What are you most proud of in your life so far? I’m proud of my 4 children because they became selfsufficient and good human beings that help other people. When the birds left the nest, they did a good job. They accept people for who they are regardless of race, color, or creed. Nobody is perfect but they are pretty close. As a mother, that is what I see. I’m also proud of my grandchildren who seem to be achieving success in life. I hope that the way that I treat them impacts their lives and the way they view and treat others. In any phase of life, I hope they treat people the way that they want to be treated. What do you hope will change for the next few generations of women? I hope they get the credit they deserve because when it comes to achieving promotions, they still seem to be getting overlooked. I hope that women also get the respect and dignity from men that they deserve. There should never be a quid pro quo situation. I hope women learn that they are capable of anything that a man can do, especially learning trade skills, like becoming mechanics and plumbers or whatever else they may want to do. &


In some ways, women are better off now and in other ways, it is worse. It is better because women have the advantage to become educated and are treated more equally in the workplace. In my day, everyone was much more familyoriented which I think is better. Household appliances like the washing machine and microwave have made chores like cooking and washing clothes much easier. Unfortunately, women are also treated more like sex objects now and they are degraded by men. What is something that HASN’T changed that has surprised you? Well, to be a little humorous, women are still giving birth to the children. Other than that, most things feel like they have changed drastically in my lifetime.




ften enough when people learn my age they are surprised, usually guessing that I am younger than my nearly 58 years. Throw in the fact that I have adult children in their late thirties and two grandchildren and they really get excited. I love the compliments and graciously accept them, but I don’t think I look so young. Maybe I am being compared to a grandmotherly image tucked away in their minds. If that’s the case, I guess I would appear youngish. I think a youthful mindset has been my secret to fooling the aging process. I cannot stop the birthdays, but I can refuse to act my age. I don’t freak out about growing older, or make decisions about my appearance based on my age. And I will never be too old to have fun. I smile and laugh a lot. I love being goofy with my girlfriends and my grandson. Get me out on a Saturday night with my brother and my sisters and we revert to our partying days in the eighties, dancing the night away without inhibition. My hairstyle is somewhere between long layers and hippie chic and I often wear pigtails or braids. I don’t limit my wardrobe to a specific age group or style, and I still love a sexy swimsuit. I did give up short shorts last summer, afraid I was teetering on the edge of age inappropriateness. But when I arrived in Italy I was the odd girl out, older women wore them everywhere, loud and proud. I changed my mind, and jumped back on the bandwagon. Truth? The struggle to maintain a positive attitude about aging is real. Unless I look in a mirror I don’t consider my age. I feel the same on the inside as I did thirty years ago. However, once I catch a glimpse of my reflection, my inner critic takes over and the scrutiny is relentless. Studying my face, I zoom in for closer inspection. First the eyes, noting the crow's feet, the slightly hooded lids, and then the puffy little bags beneath. My gaze moves upward to my permanently furrowed brow and the horizontal lines across my forehead. And the sun damage, yikes! Now I’m wishing I had traded my cocoa butter for sunscreen and taken better care of my skin. Yep, without a doubt I have aged. Heavy sigh . . . damn those mirrors. I want so badly to genuinely and gracefully embrace the physical changes that come with aging, and in most ways I do. I admire the beautiful silver-haired model, aged 60, looking gorgeous as she bucks the industry standard. I find beauty in the deep creases and weathered faces of elderly women with ancient grace. I support the media movement that calls on women to say no to touching up photographs and yes to seeing beauty in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and wrinkles. I generously praise and appreciate the wisdom and beauty in the aging of others. However, when I look at my face, I tend to focus on the increasing number of flaws, frustrated by their appearance, despite my consistent application of serums and creams. My ego has a strong opinion and vanity weighs in - both value a younger reflection. Their desires represent a material world of superficial wants and wishes that can never be satisfied. I take a breath and allow my wisdom to kick in, a knowledge that would not exist had time not been my ally. Precious time provided challenging learning experiences, pushing me to grow spiritually and strengthen my soul. Over time, I released guilt, regret, and shame. I opened my heart to forgiveness, gratitude, and unconditional love, creating a beautiful inside and transforming my life forever. There is no turning back. I would not trade these lessons, or my wrinkles, for what is only skin deep. Perhaps when others remark on my youthful appearance, maybe what they see is a growing light, my ageless spirit glowing from the inside out. I once heard it said that everything is perfect until it is compared to something else. Today is as good as any to stop comparing, and to accept and love my beautiful and wise, aging self; perfect, exactly as she is. &



new age love




n a rotting wood porch perched precariously high above the Chicago neighborhood of Lakeview, my tearful and tender college boyfriend told me we had to break up because he would never be ready to marry me by age twenty-seven. I avoided his wet gaze and stared aimlessly into the piles of dirty slush that always seem to be present during the most emotional Midwest moments. A hysterical laugh crouched deep in my chest. At twenty-two, had I believed that marriage was on the horizon? Had I ever vocalized such a thought, perhaps as a late-night slurred daydream or during some moment of forgettable pillow talk? Surely, this guy, this boy, had it all wrong. As a sexually-confident and ambitious woman, who happened to be at her goal weight for once, the idea of settling down with my wide-eyed, overwhelmed partner seemed eyebrow raising - right? That uncomfortable question mark lingered quite comfortably in the background of every relationship I had after that.

relationship left me wondering if this was intimacy - a constant battle between pain and pleasure. After that relationship sputtered out like a dying car, I thought that my bright love would dim. Except it didn’t, not at all. I had memories of dancing all night in Mexico City, wine-drunk stumbling through ancient ruins, blissfully empty at the Witching Hour. I carried long days spent in the golden Icelandic light in my heart. Nights spent spooning on mattresses slipped between mountain ranges, laughter-filled showers at campsites, and one particularly memorable eight-hour hot tub soak. I had car rides, broken rules, 4 AM whiskey talks, and more “I Love You”s than I knew what do with them. These moments weren’t shared with a lover. They were between me and my friends.


Somewhere around age twenty-five, that question reached a fever pitch. When my friends and I debated the nuances of true love, there was a frantic, sweaty quality that crackled like a lightning storm. A memorable quote from the classic movie High Fidelity said it best. “Only people of a certain disposition are frightened of being alone for the rest of their lives at the age of 26, and we were of that disposition.” We were firmly rooted in a constant tug-of-war. No one was good enough for any of us, and somehow, none of us were good enough for anybody either. And then I fell in love. I felt it strong in my heart, my gut, my limbs. This was real love, Mary J. Blige style. It radiated from me in sunshine-bright vibrations. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t shining on the right person. I thought that these feelings of pure, unadulterated, gooey goodness could only be the direct result of romantic love. However, my flailing

A dear friend of mine recently explained the concept of Yuanfen to me. It’s the idea that living beings are connected by fate. This can be romantic, platonic, or even the connection between a human and beloved pet. I have experienced this natural, fluid connection with people in my life that seems to fill the void of marital expectation. Yuanfen is that feeling you get when you look at your friend’s expression and just know, “she really wants to leave this party and get a burrito.” Beautiful, right? I know someone who will sit in the bathroom and play the ukulele for me while I shower - is that not an intimate act of love? In my twenties, I spent so much time thinking that soulmates and love were clearly defined and something to achieve. However, as I get older, I’ve realized that I’ve built a new kind of family unit. There was no ceremony, or white dress, or cake (okay, there has been a little cake from time to time) but “Until Death Do Us Part” still rings true. Regardless of my relationship status, I know wholeheartedly that I am not, and will never be, alone. &








an unexpected season with my father WORDS BY BRENDA SCHIBILLA // IMAGE BY AMISHA N



n Valentine’s Day, my mother was put on hospice. Her last dozen roses came just five days before she died. As I sat beside her dying body, the correlation of a failing heart during the month of February just didn’t seem right. I will forever wonder about her birth and death in the same month. The first beat and the last falling during the month of love—the one set aside for hearts. She left us just before her 80th birthday as if to say... enough! I grieved the loss of my mother and best friend. I grieved the big party we would never throw for her. I grieved the loss of picking up the phone and hearing her voice. I grieved for my father who with her last breath became a widower. As her death became a reality, my own heart broke and I found myself in an unknown and lonely place. Death is the least desirable of life’s events. It shows up at the most inconvenient times. There is no predicting its arrival. With little preparation, it cuts deeply and alters the rest of your life. After the death of my mother, our family found ourselves wondering how to navigate the unfamiliar landscape of readjusting to one parent. Mom and Dad had lived in a small town for over 50 years—same house, street, and church among lifelong friends. Now, Dad was alone, 6 hours away from his only daughter. In no time at all, he made the bravest decision of his life. He moved from his hometown to our big metropolitan city. There he began the hard work of grieving his loss. He became a resident in a senior community and at the age of 84 started life over without his wife. A move like this is difficult, but it seemed my dad gained strength by meeting new friends who had also lost spouses. They provided a safe place for his life to go on amidst grief and loss. Exploring the big city brought a new perspective and distracted him from loneliness. Initially, the transition seemed effortless and my dad thrived in his new world. Then came more losses including selling his van and not renewing his driver’s license. He graduated from walking independently to using a cane to finally relying heavily on a walker. Somewhere along the way, I moved from being his daughter to becoming his caregiver. ›››


MY NEW ROLE I first realized this at church. One week when the communion elements were passed, we both reached for our tiny plastic cups—the ones with the wafer hidden in the cover and the juice below. He struggled to open his packet until I reached over and helped. Suddenly, I realized I became his hands as I offered him the bread then carefully gave him the cup. In that holy moment I was transported back to the first time my dad helped me with the bread and the cup. I remember his strong steady hands offering me my first step toward spiritual independence with God. Now I was helping him take final steps toward utter dependence on God and others. I realized that going forward I was no longer relying heavily on my dad but he was relying on me.



The years as a caregiver have since been draining. I would be lying if I said it was easy. Dad lives in an independent apartment with all his meals provided. However, there are many things he can no longer do. I shop. I schedule and accompany him to every doctor’s visit. I do his laundry and scrub his toilet. I pick up snacks, prescriptions, hair gel, toilet paper, and denture cream. I make his bed. I drive him everywhere. At times, it can be exhausting. Outings involve parking in a handicapped spot followed by trying to navigate the restaurant entrance to hopefully get a spot near the door. After safely securing his walker, I order and grab his root beer. It often reminds me of when I hauled my toddlers off to McDonald’s. Rather than having a break while the kids play, my dad’s and my activity consists of talking and listening. We talk about everything: new residents, people who have died. upcoming medical appointments, the status of each of the grandkids. Sometimes we drift into conversations about yesteryears where, with unimaginable strength, my dad overhauled school buses and drove tractors. Often we miss Mom. We talk about a simpler life when we both had the freedom to go where we wanted and when we wanted. In the middle of a noisy restaurant, I catch the lump in my throat and hold back the tear in my eye. This man I call my dad has lost so much. In some ways, I have too. My dad’s favorite saying is “Aging is not for sissies!” He used to say it with a smile and a chuckle. More recently, it is with deep emotion. It seems unfair that one of the toughest stages of life comes as one’s strength fails and motivation fades. Yet I have watched my dad embrace these years with great courage and little complaint. My dad is the bravest man I know. As I contemplate Dad’s current life, I wonder about navigating the cane and walker stage myself. I ponder how to prepare for that day. What will it be like to give up my taken-for-granted privileges? Who will have time for me? Who will hold my hand when, to me, it seems like the most important activity of the day? Who will become my hands and open my communion cup when that day arrives? HEALING FOR US BOTH These days, I stop myself when I am tired and want to complain. I know all too well there will come a day when I won’t be able to pick up my dad and head out together to another lunch. This caregiving season will be over just as unexpectedly as it began. Until then, I have come to realize that this season has been a gift. The death of my mom offered unexpected time with my dad. Her death rearranged everything and provided the best therapy for two people with broken hearts. Time together has brought healing to both my dad and me.


I love that my dad talks often about the birth of his only daughter. On the coldest night of the year, I showed up in his young, strong, and loving arms. I imagine his heart swelled with pride as he promised to do anything and everything for this helpless little girl. He has certainly kept that promise. Throughout my entire life, my dad has always been there for me. Now it is my turn. This challenging season is far from easy and filled with occasional and tender tears as hope gives way to reality. In spite of this reality, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my dad in this final season of his life. All along he has been my hero and role model. Just as he has been there for me since the beginning, I plan to be there until he takes his final breath in the end. &


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timeline OF AGING




he way people handle getting older has always been interesting to me. From the time we're born until we're about 25, we get excited about every birthday. We count down the days, we celebrate half-birthdays, we plan for weeks or even months the celebration of our last passage around the sun. Then a funny thing happens–we approach mid-life and start to dread that anniversary as though we’ve been cursed. A birthday becomes “21 again,” and it’s especially pronounced for those that feel younger than they are. I’d like to believe that I’ve always been okay with getting older. I’ll never forget my sixteenth birthday. It was back when making t-shirts with puff paint was cool (was it really ever cool?) I had painted it to say, “Sweet sixteen and never been kissed,” on the front and “YEAH, RIGHT!!!” on the back. I think it was my attempt at proclaiming myself to be the rebel that I wasn’t. My two best friends at school had ordered up a ridiculous bouquet of balloons that I had to carry through the halls, bonking people in the face as I went, smiling and thanking people for the birthday wishes. It was a tradition among the three of us, and I relished every moment. It was snowing, the typical late-April snow of northern Arizona, and my dad picked me up from my after school activities and popped half the balloons wrestling them into the back of our Suburban. The other half succumbed to the cold and were garbage by the time we completed the harrowing 10 mile drive home. Having forgotten to buy a cake to enjoy after dinner, my dad stopped at the corner market by our house to let me pick out some ice cream. The choices were meager, but I selected butter pecan–one of my favorites.

We arrived home to find that both my younger siblings were having sleepovers with friends and my mom was complaining that I didn’t choose a flavor of ice cream that included chocolate. It didn’t feel any different than any other day. I didn’t have a big birthday party planned. I didn’t get my driver’s license. I had turned another year older and it was no big deal. I had a feeling that day that I would feel the same about all of my major birthdays. THE THIRTIETH MILESTONE By the time thirty approached, I was feeling really good about my age and where I was at in life. Even though I hadn’t lived out the most conventional of timelines– married, divorced, became a mother, and working on my Bachelor’s degree, in that order, I was satisfied at where I was in life and didn’t think that thirty would bother me like it seems to bother most people. Thirty has somehow become the milestone birthday that society projects we should have things all figured out and be prepared to start adulting. As an avid (some might say die hard) FRIENDS fan, “The One Where They All Turn 30” is a favorite episode of mine to watch the writers explore how each of the characters handle turning thirty differently. It’s hilarious to me that they all seem to be intimidated by this milestone, with the exception of Phoebe, who is mostly disappointed that she miscalculated her birthday and was behind on her bucket list. By the time we get to this age of societal adulthood, it seems pretty normal that we start to check our life script for the gaps. For me however, I thought that I wasn’t going to be bothered by a few missing checkboxes on my life’s resume. I wasn’t expecting to have any sort of emotional meltdown over entering a new decade. I thought that thirty was going to pass through me the same way that sixteen did. ›››


As on my sixteenth birthday, it was snowing, (normal late-April weather in Colorado). My parents were driving from Arizona to visit me for the weekend. My daughter and I had been anticipating their visit and spent the whole day cleaning the apartment while we awaited their arrival. I was receiving text updates from my mom as to their progress, and prayed for their safety as they braved the storm to be with me on my special day.


When they pulled up, I opened the door to greet them and instead was surprised by my little nephew coming up the walk, followed by his sister and mine. I looked up in disbelief and could see my brother’s head over the top of the fence and cried when I realized my whole family had driven through that storm to celebrate me. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend together and when it came time for them to leave a few days later, I got really sad. Something wasn’t right. Thirty was bothering me, but I didn’t know why.


I awoke to a text message from my boyfriend that simply said, “happy bday,” and I got really upset. He and I had been fighting the week prior, so I hadn’t invited him to spend time with me and my family. As I stood in the shower that morning, watching strands of hair swirl down the drain, it hit me that I didn’t have my life as together as I wanted it by the time I turned thirty. I was living in a dumpy one bedroom apartment, a single mom, in a relationship that made me miserable, and I was waiting tables in double shifts again while I figured out what my next career move was. Other than motherhood, my life looked exactly like it did at eighteen, and it was depressing. I dropped to the floor of the shower and began sobbing uncontrollably. At that moment, I wished I could be twenty-nine again, just to have another year to figure things out. I couldn’t shake the idea that I was too old to be surviving life–I needed to be at a point where I was living it. A TWO-YEAR TIME OUT That day, I broke up with my boyfriend, quit my job, and used the last $100 I had to my name to caravan back with my family to Arizona for a bit to think. What was supposed to be a two week sabbatical from life turned into two years of living at home and trying to find my identity. And let me tell you–if you ever want to feel sixteen again, move back in with your parents when you’re thirty.


What I realized during my two year time out is that there is no perfect age when you need to have it all figured out. I see people reinventing themselves at forty, fifty, and even sixty. I’ve watched people end twenty-five-year marriages and been happier than ever. I’ve known people that have started brand new careers after retiring from a previous tenure. And while I know a few that have lived that perfect timeline, most of the people I know are living life and age is not a factor in anything they do.

My sister teases me because I’ve been telling people that I’m “almost forty” since I turned thirty-six. I’d like to think that I’ve been saying that for the past two years, not just because I enjoy the shocked look on people’s faces when I disclose my age, but because I’m actually looking forward to reaching the middle of my life. It’s time that I embraced all that I’ve accomplished over my lifetime, rather than mourning what I haven’t, and just embrace my age for what it is. &



Let Birdie

Your Fly



ARE YOU ENJOYING THIS PREVIEW? W e used to get this robin’s nest on our porch. It doesn’t get any lovelier than the blue spotted little eggs. I kept a stool near our door, so when mama bird was hunting and gathering, I would sneak a peek and stand there on my kitchen stool in awe, carefully being on the lookout for mama. We're all fierce about our babes!

A friend of mine told me a beautiful metaphor that still brings me comfort. She asked me if I had ever thought about why the term is “empty nester”? She said that just as my little blue eggs didn’t stay in the nest on my porch, neither will my little birdie stay in mine. She said just as I watched the mama bird eagerly care for her babies for months, I too have spent my time as a mama bird courageously, cautiously, relentlessly, tenderly watching over my nest. And she added, “The babies had to fly away, and learn to make it on their own.” Insert sobbing face. It was so hard to hear, yet beautiful at the same time! I recall those babies in the nest taking their first “steps”, just as I recall my little bird taking hers. The mama robin was so protective. If the little robins slipped while they were attempting their flight, she’d swoop down, grabbing them by the neck, and bring them back to safety. Because nothing can go wrong if they are in OUR nest, right?

created just for us, (a fun empty nester thing we did after my daughter moved out). I had already gotten into the routine of calling my daughter every single weekend, asking her what she was up to. I went to reach for my phone on a Friday night and my husband touched my hand and said, “What are you doing?” In a nice, curious tone. “I’m um, I’m gonna call Madelynn and see what she’s up to.” He responds with, “No you’re not, Gina.” I said, “What do you mean? Why? I have to know what she’s doing! I have to!” He gently responded, “No, no, you actually don’t.”


It’s our time to choose surrender to the great, big world out there, and to allow that place to be the teacher.

Our worry feels endless. It’s a simple equation, we worry because we want them safe. It’s quite irrational, but we do it thinking we will prevent them any harm. Only, this isn’t true. Harm happens. To me, to you, to our beloved children no matter if they are in our care or not, and no matter if we are spending endless hours worrying.

Wow. I didn’t have to know what she was doing. That was a crazy truth to me. Did I somehow think if I knew what she was doing it would ease my worry? And would she be telling me the truth of all of it anyway? This was hard. What was I going to do? I felt so lost. I knew I had to find my way in this new normal, just as she was out there finding hers. I would think to myself, “Am I done being a mom?” I wasn’t sure what I was doing, and in fact, wasn’t even sure who I was anymore. Motherhood can take on a “goddess” culture, and I can see why. Motherhood is epic. But it can also be a slippery slope. Putting all our eggs in the motherhood basket, or nest in this case, it has the power to leave us feeling useless. Think about it. What if and when our child goes away to college, or we lose our child in a court battle, or our child passes away. What then? We aren’t mothers anymore? We are still and always will be mothers. But in life, our roles and the ways we mother may shift, they need to shift. It’s the natural process. We may want that birdie to stay in the nest until it’s old and gray! But do you think it’s good for the birdie and for you?


When my daughter left for college, I was only 39 and had no other children, so I had a double whammy. I raised her as a single mom for about 8 years, so when she left for college, my nest was completely empty. Many of my friends still had children at home who were their focus. Apparently, the world was my oyster, but all I wanted was my little wee bird.

One night, three weeks after my daughter left for college, my husband and I were in our new TV room that we

I had to find new perspectives in how I see motherhood, and how I was going to live my life now, because suddenly there was no more hiding behind my homecoming queen, or my straight A student, pointing and cheering, “Look at my kid! Look what she can do!” No more endless hours of devotion to motherhood. This felt sad. It was odd and different. But now I had to move forward. Here are three of many ways that helped.


REINVENTING MYSELF My husband and I might have taken this to a whole other level. My husband loved the tech industry, we both loved San Francisco. After my daughter left for college, he approached me and asked if we could move there because he wanted to work at a start-up. I was already struggling with her gone, but to move cross country from Minnesota to California with my baby girl still in college seemed not only crazy but irresponsible as a parent! How can I leave her? But after much prayer and support from friends and family, I was able to confidently, although sadly, make the move. In the end, it was about supporting the person who I share my life with, who I made promises to, and I chose to support him in his dream. Leaving where I lived my whole life was gut-wrenching. We’ve lived in San Francisco for three years and after my daughter graduated from college, she chose to move out to San Francisco to be near us and is working a full-time job in the city!

We can gently ask questions, but keep our boundaries intact. We can check in with them in the middle of the week. We can ask them if they’d like to have family dinners weekly. I like having special coffee, check-in dates with my daughter. There is nothing wrong with asking them if they need help, ideas, or any encouragement currently in their life. We can hold our tongues when we see them make mistakes. We can invite them to stuff we are involved in. I have found it’s very important to stay intentional in my relationship with my daughter. They will usually respond well to these positive attempts.



WORRY It truly doesn’t change a thing. If you want something really tangible that I believe can make a difference, PRAY!

So while it is tough to shift and transition, agonizing to let go, and scary to gain new perspectives as a new or veteran empty nester, it holds its own set of promises, and it too has a future. I’ve learned that there are many gains and losses in life, and it can be confusing, beautiful, uncertain, and wonderful all at once. What is more wonderful than your little bird returning as a dynamic, mature, loving adult birdie herself that you get to share your life with? I don’t think anything is quite so lovely. &

Worry comes from a good intention. If you can learn to trust whatever it is that you trust in, the Universe, God, Karma, then give your children up to that, because we simply cannot be with them every waking hour of their lives. I know we wish we could. We don’t control the universe, despite our vigorous attempts. The quicker we accept that, the quicker we’ll see that our kids must live out in the big open spaces. Which leads me to my last tip.

LET THEM FIND THEIR WAY Just like when I wanted to pick up the phone and find out what my daughter was doing for the weekend, it’s the same with me wanting to insert everything I think she should do or say in life onto her. I think I know what’s best still, and you know what, I might. But I had to find my own way. I can’t give her the paved path, and even if I did give it to her, that doesn’t mean that now as an adult, she’d take it. Believe me, I’ve tried! The path has to be paved by her. Her way, in her time, in the universe’s time. It’s her journey. There is a lot we can do, though!




age is just a number... until it’s more than that. 76


y 41st birthday came and went with little fanfare. I was showered with hugs and kisses from my husband and daughters, followed by a snugglefest with my five-year-old and a delicious breakfast cooked up by my seven-year-old and my husband. The ten-year-old boy came into my bedroom and quickly said “Happy birthday, Mom” en route to join his friends on the Xbox. It felt normal, calm, and happy. Nothing remarkable to the outsider looking in, but extraordinary to me. Because I almost lost all of that in my 40th year. There’s something funny that happens to some of us when we hit certain milestones in our lives. For me, it was turning 40. Age is just a number, yet as I approached that particular number, I set in place a number of actions that only led to pain, humiliation, and regrets. And nearly cost me everything I hold nearest and dearest to my heart. I am the free spirit of my family. I’m spontaneous, I’m not much for planning, I have big ideas and when I get them, I want to act on them NOW. Before marriage and children, I loved excitement and adventure. My junior year of college was spent in France. After finishing my final year of school, I returned to Europe, to travel and work in Paris. When it was time to come home, I moved to the beach and bar-tended until I could “find myself ”. During this time, I met the man I would marry. With him in tow, I turned my wanderlust in a new direction and joined the Air Force. Three deployments to support the wars and almost three years in Germany translated to extensive travel and numerous career accomplishments. I was massively driven, I was independent, I had a great life. Then the little people started arriving. I found motherhood to be a very challenging transition, and for years, I have been at war with what I know to be the “right” things for me as a wife and mother and the “me” things that make me feel fulfilled. I managed to mostly balance it until everything was thrown off-kilter with the biggest life-changing event of all; the birth of our identical twin daughters, very pre-term and suffering from a disease called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. One of our beloved daughters passed away two days later, and I found myself grieving, depressed, confused, and out of sorts with who I was and who I wanted to be.

I was never worried about aging. Then 40 began to approach. I had an onslaught of insecurities and fears about the future that led to a chain of events that resulted in what is probably classically a “mid-life crisis”. I found myself with pink hair, a big but beautiful tattoo (in memory of my infant daughter), and alone. I gave up on my struggling marriage, and in my crisis, I set out to find the “me” I was before children and life while still trying to be the best mother I could be. I learned that nothing mattered if I didn’t have the people I love the most in my life. Thankfully, I got a second chance. In my time of crisis, I wanted to get back to a time that I was only accountable to myself. Impossible as a mother, and in all honesty, not what I want. I know now that what I have is far more valuable than the need to feel young and free, and the most important thing in my life right now is being with the people that I love the most. I know that those “glory days” of youth are over, but there is still much excitement, joy, and love to be found in the years to come. This is my life and only I can choose to make it rewarding and happy in the place where I am. The place where I can begin to let go of the “before” and embrace the rewards of midlife and into the next phase. Thanks to the craziness of my 40th year, I've realized it’s far more beautiful in this place than I realized. &



The Age of Dating

What is dating like at various ages? Does it get easier as you age, or harder? How are women finding potential partners? We asked single women to share with us how they’re finding dating at the age they’re at now. Here is what they said...


For me dating has been terrible. The men are crazy and only want to date for sex even though they tell you that they want an actual relationship. I've had friends who have tried fixing me up with guys and I've tried the dating sites and they all ended the same way. They either stopped calling or I ended things with them. I think it doesn't matter what your age is if most women would be honest they will say dating is a nightmare. I've decided that I'm going to embrace life without a man and just enjoy my family and friends. - Barbara J., 59

It has been really challenging. I think the idea that there are other fish in the sea has made it really easy not to look at the person in front of you as an option because you can just keep swiping. I've had men 'date' me for sex, even though I was looking for a committed relationship. I was ghosted after being in a 4 month relationship. It's been hard. You try to view each new dating experience as an opportunity for love and companionship, but at the same time you have these horrid examples and you need to protect yourself. - Kandy C., 43

It really isn't pretty at any age. But the older you get, the more baggage comes with the person, the more bitter they become, they become more set in their ways and unwilling to compromise. There's also the men (or women) who don't want to work and will just sponge off the person they are dating until the person gets wise to it, then they leave. Or they want a mommy. And of course, the ones only wanting sex. And then having to worry if they're being truthful about any disease they might have. If I had to date again, I'd skip the whole thing and just get a dog for company. - Joy S., 60

I’m almost 39 and dating still scares the bejeezus out of me. It feels just as awkward as it did when I was a teenager. I’m very picky about the men I date now, having dated a collection of nightmares (including the one I married), so all he has to do is sneeze funny and I’m out the door. It’s funny, it’s become so easy for me to find a flaw worthy of moving on than actually getting to know the guy. I am completely smitten with the guy I’ve been seeing, but even with him, I can easily find a dozen reasons it won’t work out. Ironically, I’m not a pessimist. Just when it comes to men! - Eunice B., 39

I could write a book with all the encounters I've had in just the past 10 years! I'll be 62 next week and I can honestly say from my perspective, I wouldn't choose to go through all that again. Several of my dates just wanted sex (if only to prove to themselves that they could still get it up!) And to top it off, a few just wanted cyber sex, that way they didn't have to deal with the wining and dining thing (saves the cheap old s.o.b.'s drinking money). I'm now in a relationship with a man I went to school with 40 years ago (though we wouldn't have dated then), and it can be challenging at times because we are both set in our ways, but we try to be good to each other and for each other. - Cindy R., 62


Dating has been a nightmare the last few years. I personally feel like there aren’t many people out there who want to build genuine connections. I even tried online dating and that was just awful. I miss when people actually enjoyed getting to know one other to build a relationship instead of jumping into something. - Stephanie L., 32

I married my first boyfriend, the guy I met when I was 17 in my first class on my very first day of college (2002). In 2016, we got divorced, and I was literally single for the first time in my adult life. My friends told me everyone is finding “matches” online now, and we downloaded Bumble on my phone a couple months after my ex moved out. I talked to a lot of people, met a couple in person, slept with one I fell HARD for and quickly realized I was born in the wrong decade/century. I realized after being in a committed relationship for so long that I am incapable of separating the emotional and the physical aspects of sex, and I’m “supposed” to in order to survive in this dating jungle. I think that’s been the hardest thing for me: lack of intimacy in a romantic sense. There’s a big temptation to change just to feel some semblance of intimacy because, while having dogs and great friends and a “I don’t need a man” attitude is all well and good, there’s been a deep loneliness that none of those people or attitudes can fix really. - Mel L., 33

I am 43 and single (never married), so I have essentially been dating most of my life. There used to be romance in trying to find a mate and now it's more like work. You saw someone you were attracted to, checked for a ring, flirted, dated. It was sometimes nerve-racking, but fun. Today, I feel like it is almost impossible to meet someone you didn't find online. There is no attraction beyond the pictures they want to show you. Then all the talking is done online or by text, so by the time you meet, something has been lost. Online dating is just a process...of eliminating the ones you have no attraction to, clearing out the ones who only want younger women, and the "self-employed" just to hope he is not a pedophile, cheater, or worse. I would still rather meet the old fashioned way, so I can talk face to face to see if there is chemistry, before I waste another 3 weeks texting before the man I built up in my head turns out to be the exact opposite and I have to start the process all over again. - Charlie M., 43

Dating is different at this point than it was for me even just a few years ago (when I startedin my early 30’s after my divorce.) I attribute that to time- being older and feeling different in my mind and body, and experientially having given myself a period of exploration, attempting something serious a couple of times, and especially giving myself a two year hiatus which I just came off of. During my hiatus I entertained the idea of staying single, which I still could, but now I don’t want to and while there is not a feeling of desperation there from before it is really just a comfort with myself and love of life and the desire to share in pleasures and problem solving and possible adventures. I’m actually currently going through an interesting phase of awakening to embracing happiness without worry, joy without fear, and in that re-learning what it means to be truly present and also take time to give myself the tenderness I want. Dating is now about just enjoying...a person, an experience, an atmosphere and being secure in myself before after and during. Side note: My 11 year old daughter is always trying to marry me off to every good looking nice guy who says two words to me (grocery shopping, sporting events, place is safe...and she still doesn’t know how to whisper. - Erica B., 37


Image by Rachel Rouhana 81

Dear Soul Sister... Yeah, I saw it, too. Another silver hair to match the handful you found last month. Probably only one dye-job away from making this a long-term relationship, you know. Also, that under-eye cream that could have been a car payment…I’m not noticing a difference either. Are those weary circles and crow’s feet really here to stay? As you took your calloused, bunion-riddled feet to the city streets, I saw your eyes linger and long for the tight and lithe-bodied days, scantily-clad and smooth, suffering a visual onslaught from every billboard, bus side, and every boutique window. Lost in your sweet, youthful memory, I saw you nearly steamrolled by a man busy with his black suit, cell phone, and schedule. But you also saw her too, didn’t you? A woman, no more than 30, with the posture of an 80 year-old, and the apparent weight of a life on her shoulders she won’t be able to live out. Clearly sick beyond being able to even stand straight, her hair is stringy and thin. Her hands are skeletal, dark shadows filling in spaces where muscle and sinew should be. Her shoulders are caving around her chest. “Trying to protect her heart,” you think aloud. She has already felt too much of the world before she’s even been able to be a player in its game. You ask many questions about our own mortality: Will my hair fall out? Will my husband still find me attractive when I’m droopy and soft? Did I make a difference? What happens when we die? And in your harried, clandestine efforts, you try to cover any traces of years your body has seen: tears you’ve fought and lost to, hours succumbing to joy in the sunlight that grew into freckles, pain and stress manifesting into unwelcome grey hairs. You’re desperate for a way to erase proof that you smile a lot, a method to smooth your stretch marks and buff away scars you’ve earned. And you’re set on covering up that you’re trying so hard to un-age. You’re busy escaping the grip of time which gets you no further from your end. You’re distracting yourself from the most important part about life: the part where you’re alive. The young woman on the street would give anything to facilitate stretch marks from carrying a life inside her. She’d fall to her knees if she were given the gift of years to wear proudly on her face and in her hair - to be an old woman. I bet she would set those freckles free and tell her scars’ stories if she had time. You have time. No one says you have to love getting older. But I want you to appreciate that you have the chance to. Every wrinkle, every line, every shred of evidence showing you fought to speak, feel, and live passionately, fiercely and unyielding – wear it. If not for you…if not for me…for her. Because she can’t. & Love, Your Soul Sister Thera Thibeault


ISSUE 16: AGING I sincerely hope this issue inspired you, moved you, made you feel something new. Holl & Lane was strictly created to help us connect with one another in our shared experiences, and I hope you were able to connect with another person through these stories. So, what now? SHARE OUR MISSION - tell your friends and family about us. Let them know where to buy the issue. It helps us reach more women who might need us and our stories. Be sure to tag us - @hollandlanemag JOIN US DAILY - Our private Facebook community is filled with inspiring women from all across the world connecting with us and each other. It’s an incredibly beautiful place. Join us at PASS US ON - Know a friend, non-profit, library or other community who could REALLY use our stories? Pass this issue on to them so they can be inspired, too. REACH OUT TO US - We LOVE to hear from you. Don’t be shy in emailing Sarah, the Editor in Chief, directly at We want to hear your feedback. REVIEW THE MAGAZINE - Leave us a review on our Facebook page, or write up your own blog post about it. We value very single comment. Thank you for being a part of our journey. Our souls are fueled by you.


T H E HOLL & LA N E M AGA Z I N E M A N I F E STO At Holl & Lane, we know that your story is powerful. We invite you to step into the light and know that you are not alone. The tapestry of life can be heartbreaking, and it can be breathtaking. Your strength is woven through it all. We are a sanctuary for your soul, a refuge from judgment and misunderstanding. It’s OK to laugh, to cry, to rage, to struggle. It’s the bittersweet beauty of being alive. We believe in the power of stories and how they connect us all with shared experiences We believe in truth because it will truly set you free. When we own our truths, the iceberg of fear begins to melt away. We believe in community because you do not have to go through life alone. We care about you and what you have to say. Shout it out loud! We believe in empathy because “me, too!” is the shortest way to making a connection with another human being. We believe in inclusion and diversity because you are ALL welcome here. There’s no secret society or special password. Your sweet soul is the only RSVP you need. We believe in strength because it manifests itself in truth. When you share your story - the trials, the triumphs, the tears, the smiles - your strength shines through as you embrace vulnerability and shut the door on shame.



Holl & Lane, Issue 16 Preview (Aging)  

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Holl & Lane, Issue 16 Preview (Aging)  

Get the full issue at