Sue Mell is a writer from Queens, NY. Sue is 65 years old and started writing later in life. She balances her writing time with being the primary caregiver for her mom. Her debut novel, Provenance, was just released in July and won the Madville Publishing’s 2021 Blue Moon Novel Contest. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson, and was a 2020 BookEnds fellow at SUNY Stony Brook. Her collection of micro essays, Giving Care, won the 2022 Chestnut Review Prose Chapbook Prize, and her collection of short stories, A New Day, was a finalist for the 2021 St. Lawrence Book Award.
Holly Totten had been teaching for 30 years with no plans to retire. She loved her work. Life threw her some curveballs forcing her to have to make a spur of the moment decision to leave a job she loved to care for sick family members. When you’re not prepared for a major life change it can be unsettling and leave you wondering who you really are. With loads of support from family and friends she made it through a trying time and has emerged with a better sense of herself. She’s returned to teaching, but it’s taken on a new form. She’s now a writing coach with a passion for teaching people how to tell their story. She also hosts a podcast called Teaching Yourself to Learn where she explores transitions in the 3rd half of life.
When was the last time you surprised yourself? It gets less frequent as we get older doesn’t it? Leslie Kain supported her family as a single mother working in business development in AI and government Intelligence. After her kids were grown and flown, she returned to her roots working in her first love, psychology and serving as director in nonprofits focusing on mental health. Having written technical and marketing “nonfiction” during her varied careers and with so many stories in her, she started to get curious about writing fiction. She started with short stories before she turned to novels. Now, in her 70s, her first published novel, Secrets in the Mirror, is due out in September… Amazing right! But what’s truly amazing is how Leslie surprised herself by simply learning the craft of writing… She was surprised by what writing opened up for her personally.
Sometimes life comes crashing down around you and you are forced to dig deep to find resilience you didn’t know you had. Sometimes you are the driver of that change. My guest this week is Maria Leonard Olsen and she has been on both sides of that equation. In her 50th year she felt lost as she was going through empty nester syndrome, getting a divorce and entering into recovery for alcoholism. That trifecta led her to therapy where she began to heal and eventually started to make active changes for a happier life. She’s since written a book, produces a podcast and has been on the TED stage to talk about her journey in an effort to save others from thinking they are alone in their struggle.
Lydia Kang is a practicing physician who started writing in her mid thirties but had to overcome some fear about even starting to write. It wasn’t her area of expertise and she was afraid that she’d be laughed at for even trying. Now, at the age of 50 she’s written 10 novels and her most recent novel is The Half-Life of Ruby Fielding. Our conversation covers a lot of territory around the idea of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in order to try something new.
Ronnie Loaiza found a passion for learning about health and wellness and decided to get certified as a personal trainer at 46. She also realized that she wasn’t happy in her career anymore and decided to go into personal training full time where she found that she was coaching her clients on mindset. People kept telling her she should be a life coach, so now at 57, she’s pivoted her coaching program to work as a holistic, high performance life coach.
At 65 years old, Melissa Davey made the decision to leave her successful corporate career and become a filmmaker. Now almost 72, Melissa’s first film, Beyond Sixty, is in distribution and she has completed filming her second film which is in post production. Her films focus on the resilience and continued relevance of older women.
Gail Gould is known as the CPR and Safety Lady. She’s been a professional CPR instructor for over 30 years and trained 10k people to save lives. Before the pandemic she was doing it all in person and then… well you know what happened… she had to figure out a way forward. She tapped into her sense of purpose and resilience to find a solution... just like she did when she became a first time mom at the age of 49.
Lisa Strom is a 30 year veteran teacher and Chair of the English Dept at Norwalk High School in Norwalk, CT. For her 50th birthday. She set herself a goal to complete 50 acts of service for her 50th birthday, or as she calls it….Mitzvah 50. She wanted to find a way to incorporate service learning in her classes in a way that highlighted the availability of education in the U.S. compared to accessing education globally. The culmination of her year of service has been fundraising $15,000 through a combination of small, individual donations and a grant from the Fund for Teachers Foundation to build a school in Malawi through an organization called buildOn.