Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

When the kids are all grown up, how ready are you for life in the Otherhood?

In 2019, Amazon released the movie Otherhood starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and Felicity Huffman. The film explores the stage after motherhood, Otherhood, when you have to redefine your relationship with your children, friends, spouse, and most importantly, yourself.

The most important difference between being a mother-to-be and a father-to-be is a father-to-be attains dad status at birth. Naturally, men are involved with preparing for the baby to arrive. Most are hands-on getting the nursery ready, making changes to their health and life insurance and, saving money to provide for their little bundle’s well-being.

However, for women motherhood begins the moment the little plus sign appears in the pregnancy test. Once the OB/GYN confirms the happy news, we are in mommy mode. From prenatal vitamins, to eating properly for two during the nine months of gestation everything is centered around the baby.

After birth and the joy of bringing a healthy into the world, mothers are on duty. There is a real sense of the saying, a man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done. There’s the diaper changes, nursing, bottles, midnight feedings, fussiness, colic, and crying. The baby you love more than anything, is also your warden. It can feel like you will never sleep again. Then as quickly as it starts, it stops. The baby begins to sleep through the night, and you survived. Before you know it, they’re toddlers, and you’re coping with the terrible twos. Tantrums and little words like ‘no’ and ‘why’ lead to the battle of wills, which I am going to admit, feels like you have the short end of the stick.

It was then my father imparted some wisdom on me. He said to enjoy these times because little people have little problems that are easily solved. Big people have bigger problems that will feel like you went from an anthill to Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro in your living room. My dad was right. Like many other moms, I weathered the stages, and all the drama, tears, angst, and joy. One of my proudest moments was watching my sons graduate from high school, a moment I know all moms can relate with. Then even though we prepared to meet the goal of raising our children to be productive, self-sufficient, well-rounded happy adults, many of us aren’t prepared for what life will look like after that time comes and the kids aren’t kids anymore.

Mom, I’m an adult

Whether it’s mom, I’m grown, or mom, I’m a grown-ass man or woman. While the phrase is correct, it will annoy the hell out of you at times. When they begin to explain things you already know as if you walked in straight out a glacier. Nevertheless, we have to adjust, and as the person who has been on the job as a mom since they were in utero, it isn’t easy to take a step back. You are on the sidelines for all of their decisions. Sometimes, they will ask for your opinion or advice, but they will pick and choose what information they share. There are just some things our children just don’t want to hear us say.

Now, there are moms whose kids feel free to share everything about their lives. They will call or drop by to talk and get their mom’s advice or opinion on the things happening in their lives. While this is great, it’s also something moms need to be mindful of. Having children that come to you for everything can be detrimental too. It’s wonderful to feel like an oracle in your kids’ lives, but there will come a time when they will need to deal with issues without mom putting her two cents in. So, whether you fall in the former or latter category, or somewhere in between, what can you do to make the transition to a healthy relationship with your adult children in the otherhood years?

Get into me time.

Do something for you

To be clear, this isn’t about being selfish. To be selfish is to lack consideration for others; while being concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. This is about selfness, which is taking the time to do things for yourself to reconnect with the woman you are outside of being a mom. That means rediscovering things you were interested in but put on the shelf. It could mean getting back on the corporate track. Or reviving a career in the arts as a performer and/or teacher. Go back to school and take the classes you wanted to in college, but didn’t because they didn’t line up with your major. If physical activity and exercise are your things, get into yoga, Pilates, or join a gym. Don’t forget to pamper yourself a little. Update your wardrobe. Ditch the soccer mom look for cute activewear, jeans, dresses, and pants. Show off your figure. Buy new foundation wear, and add some cute and sexy things to your lingerie draw that will make you feel pretty. A lot of moms sacrifice trips to the salon to have their hair professionally colored, highlighted, blown-out, or cut to save money. Leave the shampoo and conditioner in your bathroom cabinet and make regular appointments. Get your makeup, or nails done. Hire a glam-squad for special occasions, and learn some tips to up your day-to-day makeup game. Remember that it’s okay to do something for yourself on a regular and not sporadic basis.

Don’t forget “we” time

If you’re married or in a relationship, starting dating each other again. Granted the Covid-19 pandemic had us spending more time with one another than we thought was possible, but take a step back to make it feel new again. Start with going to dinner alone. Get back to the kind of conversations that attracted you to each other in the first place. It’s easy to lose sight of that after years of being mom and dad. Add a little accelerant to the fire that brought you together in the first place. Do fun activities together. Take a day trip. Go on a road trip, or make plans to travel outside the country. Whatever it is, get back to being a part of a couple. Share thoughts, feelings, and goals. Reaffirm being each other’s first-mate for life.

You Gotta Have Friends

Friends make everything better

Never forget your other partners in crime, your friends. Good friendships can help guide you through this new period in life. Whether it’s through regular calls throughout the day or maybe a regular meetup for coffee, drinks, or lunch, spend time with your friends. Having good friends to talk, joke or cry with is healthy. We need the exchange of energy and it’s good for all of us.

What about the kids?

It’s important to note that childhood in all its phases only lasts for a short time. The fact is we’ll spend more time with our children as young adults and adults. This is a great time to get to know more about them as they go through other milestones such as going to and graduating from college, getting their first real job, moving into a first apartment, dating, getting married, and having a family of their own. It’s an exciting time in life to share with them. Take advantage of it.

It’s possible to redefine yourself and your life beyond motherhood. Take the time to get to know yourself and if you’re still in the trenches with younger children, be sure to carve out a little selfness time. The transition into the motherhood doesn’t have to be hard or something to fear. Embrace it as you have other challenges and changes in your life. You’ll feel happier and healthier emotionally and physically.

Like this post. Join our newsletter

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, Broadway, Amityville, NY, 11701, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Monday Meal Makeover

https://stillachicklit.com/food/

Welcome to the premier posting for Monday Meal Makeover. Here we will try to up your Monday meal game for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or snacks. All the recipes that can be adapted will include:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-Free, Celiac Disease
  • Low Sugar/ Low Carb
  • No Sugar
  • Lactose Intolerance/Egg Allergies

For what I hope will be the first of many, welcome to the first Monday Meal Makeover.

Sign up for our newsletter to get these recipes and more

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, Broadway, Amityville, NY, 11701, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Blueberry Muffins by Tastes Better From Scratch adapted by Chamein Canton

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, millet, sweet or brown rice flour)

3/4 cup granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon or orange zest

1/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil)

1 large egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or egg replacer)

1/3 cup buttermilk (dairy: full-fat, low-fat, or light)  (non-dairy: almond, rice, soy, or light coconut milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, mixed. Let stand for at least five minutes before using)

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon lemon or orange extract, optional

1 cup blueberries , fresh or frozen

Crumb topping:

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar pulsed fine)

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar (Swerve brown sugar substitute, organic light brown sugar)

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, millet, sweet or brown rice flour)

2 Tablespoons cold unsalted or salted butter, chopped (vegan unsalted or salted butter)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a standard size muffin tin with liners, or grease well with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, orange or lemon zest, and baking powder. 

Add oil, egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and orange or lemon extract (if using), and mix just until combined. Don’t over mix (the batter doesn’t need to be “smooth”) 

Toss the blueberries in a spoonful of flour. This will help them not to sink to the bottom of the muffin. Gently fold blueberries into the batter.  

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. 

If you are making the crumb topping:

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Use your fingers, pastry cutter, or a fork to work the butter into the mixture. 

Sprinkle crumb mixture over the tops of muffins in the pan.

Bake for about 5 minutes at 400-degrees, then reduce the temperature to 375-degrees. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. 

Remove muffins from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • The bake time may vary by ovens. It may take a little longer or a shorter time depending on your oven. I tend to err on the side of a toothpick coming out clean or with a few crumbs when inserted in the center of the muffins.
  • I don’t recommend using shortening or butter-flavor shortening. It makes the batter heavier and the muffins oily.

Dinner

Cast Iron Roasted Chicken- Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen adapted by me

1 whole chicken. Fryer or young chicken

Canola or vegetable oil

This is the seasoning rub I use, adapt it to your likes and measure it out to the size of the chicken.

Paprika sweet or smoked

Onion powder

Granulated garlic

Black pepper

Chili powder

Kosher salt

Remove the chicken back. Set aside to make stock

Combine the seasoning in a bowl

Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.

Season the chicken skin side down

Place into a cast iron skillet

Make sure the skin of the chicken is dry. Rub the skin with oil. Season liberally and tuck the wings underneath. Roast In hot oven 450-475. Make sure there’s about seven inches from the rack to the top of the oven.

Roast for about 1 hour. It could be more or less depending upon your oven. So keep a watchful eye. The temp of the chicken should be about 160-165 degrees from the thickest part of the chicken.

Barbecue Sauce

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion finely chopped

3 cloves of chopped garlic

1 cup of ketchup

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup molasses * (sorghum syrup)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire

1 teaspoon mustard powder

pinch of cayenne

1 tablespoon chili powder

pinch of allspice

In a saucepan over medium heat, saute onions until tender, about four to five minutes. Add garlic, and stir for one minute. Add the tomato paste, and carmelize it stirring for two minutes. Add the ketchup, molasses, cider vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir for one minute. Add the chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pinch of cayenne, and allspice. Stir. Add 1/4 cup water and cook stirring for four minutes until thickened. Take the sauce off the heat and let cool. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also use a blender or food processor, but be sure it’s cool. It will make for quite the science lesson and a mess.

  • Spruce Eats list of molasses substitutes

If you don’t have molasses, you can make one of several quick substitutes. Replace one cup of molasses with one of the following: 1 cup dark corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup. 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup water

These substitutions may alter the taste of your recipe a bit. If the molasses flavor is vital to the success of your recipe, try the brown sugar substitute. Since brown sugar is granulated sugar and molasses it’ll be the closest flavor match. Maple syrup or dark corn syrup would be the next best choice.

If you have to use granulated sugar or honey as the substitute, consider increasing the spices in the recipe a bit to make up for the flavors that the molasses would have contributed.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

You’ve written a book. Now what?

You sat down, organized your thoughts, and got to work writing. Whether you wrote a novel or a how-to book, you should give yourself a pat on the back and take a breath. There are more things to do ahead.

After you’ve reached the end of the writing process, for now, what do you do next?

Once the book is edited, you must first consider if you want to publish it or not. This may seem like a non-sequitur, but not everyone is looking to give up their baby. It may be something you only want to be shared with your family. Or it could be one less thing to check off a bucket list. Just be sure you’re ready to move to the next step to getting your book (manuscript)published.

First, there are three basic ways to get your book published

Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales. Traditional publishing is the dream scenario for most writers/authors.

Traditional publishers have the advantage of distribution, promotion, marketing, and name recognition. Most don’t allow author submissions. They only consider works represented by a literary agent. Some of the mid-size to smaller publishing companies have short open submissions periods during the year when they take the submissions of unagented writers. You can get more information through Writer’s Market, Reedsy, or other literary/writer focused publications and/or sites.

Traditional publishers

The Big Five and numerous imprints

Penguin/Random House.

Hachette Book Group.

Harper Collins.

Simon and Schuster.

Macmillan.

Top Nine Independent Publishers (NY Book Editors 3/2020)

  • Europa Editions.
  • New Directions
  • Mango Publishing.
  • Graywolf Press.
  • Melville House.
  • Akashic Books.
  • Algonquin Books.
  • Catapult.
  • Kensington

  • Sourcebooks (not on NY Book Editors list, but a large publishing house)

Best Independent Publishers (Reedsy 2021)

  • Akashic Books. Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction. …
  • Bellevue Literary Press. Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction
  • BOA Editions. Publisher of: Poetry and Short Fiction
  • C&R Press. Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry
  • Catapult Books
  • City Lights Publishers
  • Coffee House Press.
  • Enchanted Lion Books

Additional Publishing Models

A hybrid press or hybrid publisher is a publishing house that operates with a different revenue model than traditional publishing while keeping the rest of the practices of publishing the same. To be a hybrid publisher, a company must uphold longstanding publishing industry standards and best practices. This model usually requires the author to contribute financially.

Most offer packages to choose from with differing levels of author/marketing support and distribution. Do your research and talk to other writers that have gone this route for their feedback. Atmosphere Press is an established hybrid publisher.

Self-publishing is the publication of media by its author without the involvement of an established publisher. The term usually refers to written media, such as books and magazines, either as an e-book or as a physical copy using POD technology.

Self publishing has lost a bit of its negative stigma, but it’s still a cautionary tale. Authors retain all of their rights, and have total control of the book from cover design to marketing. To self-publish a book and have it wind up on book shelves is a hard proposition. Business people and public speakers do well with self-publishing as a result of back of the room sales at seminars or conferences. Self publishers have to pay for distribution, warehousing, shipping, editing, marketing, and public relations. So, it gets pricey.

Writer Beware

Vanity press publishing, also called subsidy publishing, differs from selfpublishing in that the author assumes all the risk and pays the publisher for everything. The editing, formatting, cover design, and even marketing the book are paid for by the author through the various packages offered when an author signs up.

With vanity publishing, authors pay to have their books published. Because authors are paying to have their book published, there is little to no editing. It results in books with grammatical and typographical errors to name a few. Some authors have been scammed out of thousands of dollars with little legal recourse.

Do your research.

With the exception of vanity or subsidy presses, decide which avenue you’d like to travel for your journey to publishing. Talk to fellow writers/authors who have been published traditionally, with a hybrid, or as a self-publisher. They will provide you with the pros and cons of each.

Follow Still A Chick-Lit

This post is a part of a series on publishing and writing. The next post will focus on literary agents, query letters, and representation.

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, Broadway, Amityville, NY, 11701, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Do you have an idea for a book? Get a bird’s eye view of the process from an agent and author’s point of view

https://stillachicklit.com/chamein-canton-literary-agency-cc-literary-agency/

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, Broadway, Amityville, NY, 11701, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Has anyone ever said, you’re so knowledgeable, you should write a book? Or maybe you were watching a movie or television show and thought, if I was the writer, I would have taken it in a different direction. Maybe it’s time to put your money where your pen is.

As an author and literary agent, I’ve heard something like this countless times. The only other question I hear more than that one is how do you start writing? As much as it pains me to say it like Nike, but it’s apropos, just do it.

Fiction or nonfiction, it’s up to you

The first thing to consider is what do you want to write about. If you’re a person who loves to read particular genres like mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy, to name a few, then you’re interested in fiction. Think about what kind of fictional story you’d write, then outline the characters, setting, and extrapolate what the overall story will be about in a paragraph. I know it sounds like a lot to do, but it will pay off big in the end.

Perhaps you’re in business, maybe you’re an educator or just someone with a hobby that you are passionate about. Nonfiction can open doors for you to grow your business, demonstrate and market your expertise, or share your love of knitting, cooking, restoring cars, etc.

You know what you’re going to write about. Now what?

This is when discipline is key. Recently PBS aired Hemingway, a documentary by Ken Burns. In addition to being perhaps America’s second literary treasure alongside Mark Twain, the documentary explored Hemingway’s talent and how disciplined he was when it came to writing. Now, he didn’t have to deal with a house full of children. His wife created a space for him to work. Find a way to create one for yourself.

https://stillachicklit.com/2021/03/13/writing-and-baking-to-find-my-creative-zen-place/

Just as your body recalls movements through muscle memory, your mind will do the same once you develop a routine. Design the routine around the time of day or night that works for you. Don’t try to make a schedule that doesn’t jibe with your internal flow. That’s a recipe for failure.

Once you have figured out the particulars of when and where you’re going to write, comes the hard part. You have to get others to respect your space. If you are like most women who lead full lives with spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, coworkers, bosses, friends, boyfriends, and partners, this may prove to be tricky. Writing is a very solitary thing and writers may be islands in and of ourselves, but it will take diplomacy to carve the time you need without hurt feelings.

When do you need a professional editor

If I had a nickel for every time someone said they were good in English, or had a relative who is an English teacher, or someone who reads a lot edit their manuscript, I’d be wealthy. The fact is there’s a difference between editors readers who edit (proofreaders)

What is an editor, copy editor, or proofreader?

An editor focuses on the meaning of your content. They focus on your writing to be sure your ideas are being communicated clearly. Editors ask the questions authors might forget to think about. Conversely, the also keep writers from inundating themselves with unnecessary lines of dialogue or description. They are all about the meat of the project

A copy editor proofreads text and corrects spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. For nonfiction, they verify the factual correctness of the information, Additionally, they check text for style and readability.

Proofreading almost always happens for the final copy of the manuscript or proof. If you are still in the submission stage for agents or publishers, this is the person who makes sure the manuscript is clean. In every case, proofreaders do some light editing to be sure the final text is homogeneous.

I do encourage you to have people you trust read over your manuscript and give you some feedback. As writers, we are too close to the project. Therefore it’s hard for us to be objective. Another pair of trusted eyes is very helpful.

Ask yourself if you are one of the few, the brave, the non-onion skinned

A common anxiety dream is one where you walk into a public situation like work or a classroom naked. I don’t know anyone who would want to make that dream happen in waking life. However, writing is sharing a piece of yourself with others who may or may not understand. While it is true that everything is subjective, it doesn’t mean it won’t sting. Make sure you’re ready to hear criticism as well as compliments. Rejection and critiques are a part of any creative’s life. Some of today’s top selling writers faced their fair share of rejection and critical ire.

If you are ready to make your dream of writing the next great American novel, or a reference book that will launch you as an expert and raise your profile, then start writing. Good ideas are always welcome, but remember to try to strike a balance between persistence and patience. It will be worth it and I can tell you as an agent, it’s appreciated as well.

Want to learn more?

We’re beginning a series about writing on the Still A Chick-Lit podcast. A new episode will be available on May 3rd. Check back for updates. Email us with questions or ideas at stillachicklit@gmail.com

Check for new podcasts each week

This week’s bonus Baking, Blogging, and Writing recipe is Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Blueberry Muffins by Baking A Moment adapted by Chamein Canton

Streusel

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (vegan butter)
3/4 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum flour, sweet or brown rice flour)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

Muffin

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum flour, sweet or brown rice flour)

1/2 cup granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)

1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (unsalted vegan butter)
1/2 cup sour cream (Greek yogurt or buttermilk* can be substituted) (dairy; light sour cream, plain low-fat yogurt, Plain Greek yogurt) (non-dairy: almond, coconut, and soy milk yogurt)
1/8 cup milk (dairy: whole, 2%, 1%) (non-dairy: almond, soy, rice, or light coconut milk)
1 large eggs (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or egg replacer)
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cups fresh blueberries (or 1 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries)

Instructions

TO MAKE THE STREUSEL CRUMB TOPPING:

Toss the melted butter, flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest together with a fork, until crumbly.

TO MAKE THE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and lightly mist a muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to combine. Set aside.

Whisk the melted butter, Greek yogurt, milk, eggs, and vanilla together in a large liquid measure until well incorporated.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, and stir together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, just until ALMOST combined (you should still see streaks of flour).

Add the berries, and fold carefully. (Overmixing will cause the berries to bleed and the muffins to be tough.)

Divide the batter equally between each well of the muffin tin, and top with the reserved streusel.

Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees F, then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees F (without opening the oven door) and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of a muffin comes out clean.

  • Parenthesis- Ingredients are for substitutions to make the recipe gluten-free, sugar-free, no sugar, or vegan/dairy-free
  • This is a small batch recipe that makes 6 muffins
  • This recipe is easily doubled
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Take A Deep Breath and Exhale, You’re Ready For Your Second Act

There was a time in life when being a teacher, postal worker, secretary, or any other occupation or job was enough. People put their time into a company, school, state or federal government agencies with the view towards retiring with a pension and in some cases, a gold watch.

This was the generational ideal for many years. It only began to crack when the Silent Generation gave way to Baby Boomers and post-war America. The fifties are seen as an idealized time portraying life with a mother, father, and children. Dad works and mom stays home to take care of the children and the house. People liked Ike and Pat Boone was an acceptable rock star. This staid atmosphere led to changing ideas of gender, family, and sexuality underwent. The idea of women being more than just a wife, mother, to complement a man took hold. Boomers ushered in a sense of freedom young women responded to. It opened the doors to male dominated careers.

Even though boomers are now in their sixties and seventies, the legacy of pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo is a part of Gen-X and still very much alive. Women over forty and fifty are changing careers or turning hobbies or side hustles into a full-blown business.

Changing lanes career-wise

Whether they’ve enjoyed a long career as a teacher, professor, engineer, architect, or lawyer, more women are changing careers to pursue long-held passions. You’ll find former lawyers and paralegals becoming writers or chefs. There are engineers and architects who decide to use their attention to detail to become pastry chefs, painters, or fashion designers. Some go back to school or intern to get educated for their career change. It may take time, but the bottom line is pursuing a passion is fulfilling and satisfying.

Feeding the Fires of the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Starting a business to do something you love ensures that you will never work a day in your life thereafter. It sounds corny but it’s true. Many women are using the skills someone else paid them for and are using them as the foundation to build an empire. Women over 50 are the top demographic worldwide who are starting businesses. So, you’re in good company.

Thinking about a career change? Here are some things you need to consider

  • If you know that you want to make a change, but aren’t sure what you want to do, look into taking a self-assessment to help crystallize your interests and what careers are best suited for your personality
  • Think about your skillset in terms of transferrable skills. These are the talents and abilities you have acquired from doing one type of work that you can use in another. For some careers, you may even be able to substitute your transferable skills for formal training.
  • When deciding between a career that requires additional schooling and one for which you can use your transferable skills, you may decide to choose the latter. It will allow you to transition more quickly and with less effort, at an age when you may want to limit your expenditure of time, energy, or money. 
  • In addition to learning what the educational qualifications are for a new career, look into the job or industry forecast in terms of economics. What’s the median salary? What’s the expectation for growth in the field or industry?
  • Beyond the salary, what type of benefits are offered? Is there a 401K? If you’re in your early forties, is there a possibility of becoming vested within ten years? Health benefit dollars are important, how much does your employer cover, and how much are you responsible for?
  • Even though this is a second-act career, how much paid vacation time is offered. If you still have school-age children or senior parents, how much personal and sick time will you receive if they get sick?

Things to consider before diving into entrepreneurship

  • Just as with a career change, one of the most important things you can bring to a new business venture is experience. Do you have the experience that relates to your business?
  • Where will the money come from? You must have a cushion. Tapping into your IRA isn’t what you should do. You’ll need it down the road.
  • Get educated for free. Take advantage of SCORE, a partner of the Small Business Administration. They provide free business mentoring and education for those looking for experienced help from experienced entrepreneurs.
  • Look at the market and see what you have to contribute that no one else is doing. Then, do the job first. It’s one thing to cook or bake for the holidays or parties, it’s another to do it every day. Working with a caterer or at a bakery will give you an idea of what you can expect a workday to look and feel like.

In the end, follow your heart

The one thing age teaches us is that time is fleeting. It seems like one minute you’re bringing your new baby home from the hospital, then you’re dropping them off at college. It all goes by too fast. We seem to go from twenty to forty in a heartbeat. Therefore making the most of our time is important. Whatever you do, follow your heart and make it happen. The only thing better than doing something you love is knowing that tomorrow, you get to do it again.

For more resources:

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/career-change-at-40-4152909

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/25/here-are-seven-tips-for-starting-a-business-in-your-50s-and-beyond.html

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Chronic Illness- Old-fashioned advice for what you can do to manage and thrive in spite of the pain to continue to live your best and healthiest life.

Like women, fine wines get better with time. Wines become more nuanced and complex with age, also like women. Our value increases as we age and come into our own. We are powerful. However, we’re vulnerable too. Many women who are north of forty have found themselves facing a chronic illness. It can put a damper on our health and affect our mind, body, and soul. The key is to take ownership of it, so we have the condition, but it doesn’t have us.

What is a chronic illness?

Chronic illnesses are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases can include heart disease and autoimmune diseases like MS, Lupus, Epilepsy, and Diabetes. It also encompasses injuries sustained that affect your knees, back, or hips.

According to the CDC, six in ten adults are living with a chronic illness. Four in ten adults have two or more chronic conditions. The leading causes of death and disability are heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. The key risks for these diseases are tobacco use, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol use (CDC 2020)

https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm

Ben Franklin wisely stated that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Many women who are north of forty and fifty-plus, are used to being the person who is counted on. Whether as a wife, mother, daughter, or sister, women tend to be natural caretakers and nurturers. All of us have a role we play in our families, and it’s something we take to heart. Nevertheless, we must realize that if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will do it for us. We are our own best resource. So, find the time to take care and deal with your chronic condition.

Your Medical A-Team


The right doctor, nurse, or physician’s assistant is an essential part of your healthcare team. A doctor who is knowledgeable and has your full health history is an important asset in determining the measures taken to mitigate any issues of pain and discomfort that arise from your condition. Talk to them if you’re on medication and would like to add vitamin supplements to boost your health. Vitamins, like over-the-counter medications, can interact with doctor-prescribed medications. Also, if you’re on medication, and you lose weight, be sure to see the doctor particularly if you’re taking something for a condition like hypertension. Your doctor takes your weight and height into consideration when figuring out the dosage. If you lose a significant amount of weight, he or she may want to reevaluate it. The same goes for pain medication.

While your doctor has a lot to do with your well-being, you are always in control. Try to find activities that relieve stress. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming, provide a workout that lessens stress on your joints if you have issues with your legs, knees, or back. Many things like yoga, pilates, and Tai-Chi, can be modified to accommodate your level of fitness and disability. If you don’t want to join a gym, you can go on YouTube where they have channels dedicated to different types of workouts. Fitbit, Peleton, and more have apps to assist you with finding an exercise program suited to your needs. Find a physical activity you can commit to. You’re more likely to keep up with it when it’s something you enjoy.

Design a diet that works for you

Healthy Food Choices

Moderation is the way

Think about your diet. No need to subscribe to any diet program with pre-measured food that comes in a box. Create a diet that works for you. Drastic changes like veganism or no-carb can be a shock to the body. Eating a healthy diet filled with vegetables, lean protein, fruits, and lots of water is a great way to go. Limit processed foods, salt, and too much sugar. That doesn’t mean you are going to graze and eat tofu for dessert for the rest of your life. The key is moderation. Before there were Weight Watchers, Nutri-System, Jenny Craig, or Keto-anything, there was moderation and portion control. Portions in the United States are larger than most countries. In France, they consume butter, cream, and cheese, but they have a low rate of heart disease. By eating smaller portions throughout the day, the French keep their bodies fueled efficiently. It makes a difference.

Focus on your likes and dislikes to come up with a diet that works for you and your lifestyle. If you can afford it, try a pre-made meal service that delivers weekly. If that doesn’t fit your budget, but you’re not crazy about cooking, keep it simple with recipes that require a minimal amount of ingredients and don’t take much time. Eating healthy is possible on a budget. Shop around to find the best deals and sales. Also, change things up with different cuisines. Or try new food. Variety is the spice of life, and it keeps mealtime interesting.

Lean on family, friends, or call a professional for support

We all need a support system. Many of us are used to being the one who is there for others. There are days when even the toughest and strongest of us need an ear and a shoulder to lean on. Allow your friends and family to be there for you. Moreover, feel free to talk to a professional about your feelings. A little talk therapy goes a long way. Then again when all else fails, try chocolate. This one-bowl chocolate cake recipe from King Arthur is low-fat, dairy-free, and a snap to make.

https://anchor.fm/chamein-stillachicklit
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Got a Story To Tell? Discover Your Literary Voice

Writing and getting your voice out there

Early on in life, there is a drive to fit in. To be one of the boys or girls. From the first day of school, we innately look to find a place where we feel comfortable, and then we want to blend in with everyone else. No one wants to be separated from the pack.  We seek protection in the sameness. For most people that begins to change a bit during the teen years. Most teenagers want to blend in, but they also want to stand out. In high school, athletes are held in high regard. Many follow that path. For those who are not as athletically inclined, academic achievement is another area students seek to excel and stand out from the rest of the class. The rest of the students usually find themselves somewhere in the middle.  Some will use fashion as an identifier. Bohemian, nerdy-chic, rocker, metalhead, Goth, and eclectic fashions are just some fashion teenagers used to express their individuality.

The sea of sameness doesn’t go away, it just changes form. For the purposes of this post, I’m limiting it to writing and the publishing industry. There is no shortage of things we can write about, yet it’s important to realize that there’s nothing new under the sun. We may not be able to reinvent the wheel, but we can bring a fresh take on the wheel into the spotlight.

What is Voice?

In both fiction and nonfiction, it is all about voice. According to Masterclass in literature, “voice” refers to the rhetorical mixture of vocabulary, tone, point of view, and syntax that makes phrases, sentences, and paragraphs flow in a particular manner. Novels can represent multiple voices: that of the narrator and those of individual characters.

When it comes to your voice. There is no right or wrong. It’s your writing style, dialogue, or turn of phrase, just to name a few aspects. Each adds to the way your story flows and is distinct to each writer. It will be evident in anything you write whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. In addition to Covid-19, 2020 was a big year for issues such as race, gender, civil rights, and the wealth gap. Publishers rushed titles dealing with these subjects and more to the online and book and mortar bookstore shelves. Especially if the authors were women of color. It’s tempting to hop on and ride the issue train to get a publishing contract. Writers should be able to connect with the material on a deeper level on every page. That is not to say it can’t be done. You would have a book that is grammatically and stylistically correct, but it will be bereft of soul. Think of it this way, if you love math and you write a book on algebra, the love you feel for a topic that’s antiseptic to most people will come alive with your excitement and passion for it.

Use fiction to speak up about the issues you care about

As wonderful as it is to have the opportunity to have a platform and to hopefully be a part of the change in issues that affect our communities and society-at-large, there’s another group of voices to be heard. Other writers may take a different approach to confront major issues. They weave it into their stories as a sub-plot, through the main and supporting characters, or through the setting. While writing is a solitary endeavor, no woman is an island. We are aware of the changes happening throughout our world, and we don’t ignore them. We use the power of the pen to raise a literary fist in protest and support. As a writer, you are only as limited as your imagination.

The people who write about heavy and pertinent topics like race, African-American relationships with law enforcement, the chasm in wealth, and the pay gap between men and women in America, are passionate, knowledgeable, and formidable. We want to hear what they’ve got to say. However, when they’re done being a gladiator, who is to say they don’t want to kick off their sandals, hang up the sword, and read a book that makes them laugh until their sides hurt. Or maybe they want to go on a thrill ride with a criminal mystery. Or even read a scary book with one eye covered before the monster returns on the next page.

In the end, do you! Write from your heart.

The one thing I’ve discovered about at this point in life, is now my voice is clearer and more defined. I’d like to think that age has given me a modicum of wisdom. I meet so many women who want to write, and I’m happy to encourage them. Write what you feel and the world will listen.

https://anchor.fm/chamein-stillachicklit
https://stillachicklit.com/baking-blogging-and-writing-using-the-pan-in-pandemic-to-keep-up-with-both-sides-of-a-professional-literary-life/

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Strawberry Cheesecake Forever

Besides more daylight hours, spring is also a time when the fare at the table gets lighter (relatively speaking). Spring vegetables like artichokes, spinach, fava beans, and asparagus have recurring roles on many dinner tables. With swimsuit season a mere few months away, many of us are trying to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into our diets. That doesn’t mean the food can’t be tasty or that we must forgo all things sweet.

Spring fruits like pineapples and apricots, add a nice bit of sweetness to any dessert or on their own, but as wonderful as these fruits are, they still stand in the shadow of strawberries. This heart-shaped berry is packed with vitaminsfiber, and has a high level of antioxidants. They don’t contain sodium, are fat and cholesterol-free. According to WebMD, strawberries are a good source of manganese and potassium. They’re also quite versatile. Add them to your favorite yogurt, plain with a little unsweetened whipped cream, or add them to a salad for a pop of color and taste.

Nevertheless, the most popular way to enjoy strawberries is as a dessert. Strawberry shortcake, tarts, pies, and trifles are delicious. Then there’s strawberry cheesecake. I’ve found that like carrot cake, cheesecake tends to be a dessert people either love or loathe, with very little middle-ground, that is until you add strawberries.

There is something about a strawberry cheesecake that seems to defy convention. Usually made with cream cheese or even mascarpone cheese, it has a silky, fluffy, cloud-like texture. You barely chew it, and if you are like me, I can justify calories I don’t chew. How else can I order a caramel macchiato and still call it just coffee.

Although I don’t need an excuse to make a strawberry cheesecake, I made one in time for Easter, but this is a recipe you can use all summer, it’s a no-bake and doesn’t require much hands-on time making it. I love to be sure everyone who would like to make this can. So, there are adaptations in the recipes for different dietary needs, including gluten-free, low-sugar, and no sugar versions.

Strawberry Cheesecake

1 Graham cracker ready-made pie shell (Oreo ready-made pie shell, Gluten-free graham cracker ready-made pie shell

1 lb strawberries* cored and sliced

¼ cup white sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed finely)

1 package gelatin* (2 ½ teaspoons agar-agar powder)

1 ¼ cups whipping cream (full-fat coconut milk)

24 oz cream cheese* full-fat, brick-style (for lighter cheesecake, you can use 2 ½ packages of light cream cheese and  ½ package or 4 ounces of full-fat cream cheese) (non-dairy 2 ½ packages of Violife Cream Cheese, or Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese plus 4 ounces of full-fat coconut cream, you will need the vegan cream cheese to be softened. Once the coconut cream has separated from the full-fat coconut milk, beat it into the vegan cream cheese until light)

¾ cup powdered sugar (organic confectioner’s sugar or Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute)

To Serve (Optional)

whipped cream

sliced strawberries

Instructions

Cheesecake Filling

Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender.

Push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds. (Optional, but recommended). 

Add the puree to a medium saucepan with the white sugar and bring to a gentle boil while stirring. You will need to continue stirring. It will begin to thicken and it will reduce to  about ½ of the original volume (about ¾ cup when it’s finished boiling). 

Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the boiling strawberry mixture. Remove from the heat and give the mixture a stir to ensure it’s dissolved.  If you are using agar-agar powder, mix the powder into ¼ cup of water. Let it stand for ten minutes. When the strawberry mixture begins to boil, add the agar-agar to the mixture, stir well and remove from the heat. Stir until agar-agar is dissolved and let cool to about room temperature, don’t put it in the fridge.

In a large bowl beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until softened.

Carefully, beat in the cooled strawberry mixture into the cream cheese a little at a time. You can do this through a sieve as well to make the strawberry mixture is smooth.  Ensure it is fully cooled first.

Gently fold in the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it’s even.

Spoon the mixture on top of the crust, smooth the top, and place in the fridge to set for 6 hours.

Serving

When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge.

Optionally, decorate the cheesecake with whipped cream and strawberries.

Slice with a very thin, sharp knife ensuring to cut all the way through the crust.

Notes

Frozen berries work too. You’ll need approximately 4 cups sliced strawberries. 

One envelope of gelatin is about 2 ¼ teaspoons. It should be enough to set 2 cups (500 mL) of liquid. 

Cream cheese should be softened to room temperature before getting started. 

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.