40 Is My Fabulous
Follow your dreams. Find yourself.
I recently turned the dreaded 40 years of age. I had been scared of that milestone as if it meant I would turn into a dried up husk of middle-aged womanhood overnight. This was it, my life was probably more than half over and I hadn’t done many of the incredible things I had planned. I spent my days working and my evenings herding cats, actually trying to get my school age children to be decent human beings but it is just as difficult. I would worry about making them and my husband happy and I catered to them. They picked the television shows, the days when we attended sporting events and what the dinner menu would consist of. I had let go of my power and had had enough. I was no longer a vital, sexy and smart woman, I was a wage-earning pod that shuttled her children around on weekends and nagged her spouse to do household repairs. This was no way to live happily ever after. My own thoughts were sabotaging me! I gave myself the figurative kick in the butt and decided to look at turning 40 as a chance to try some new things that I had always dreamed of but been afraid to embrace. For years I wanted (quietly since I feared anyone finding out my aspirations and laughing at me) to try my hand at writing a novel. It was time to go big or go home.
Inspiration to get going came from an unlikely source. I teach in a tough inner city high school as my day job and while it is challenging it can also be rewarding. It was in this setting that I learned to go for it. One of the students in my history class gave me the motivation. She was an urban teenager with more baggage than I’ve ever come across. This girl was a smart kid with a ton of charisma. Often times I would catch her on the computer typing away but not about what was assigned. I’d try and redirect her and she’d say, “Miss, I can’t do that, I’m writing my novel.” I would get her to do a little bit of the class work and then she’d be back at her writing. It was both frustrating and inspiring. I went home and reflected on this student’s determination to write and it was contagious.
I started a book that evening and by the end of a week had forty pages written. It was slow going, but whenever I wanted to give up I just thought about my student who kept writing despite all the very real roadblocks life had thrown at her. What was my excuse for quitting? Could I really give something up because I had some writer’s block or was too busy? What would I be too busy doing at nine at night? It took me six months to get a polished draft ready to send to the publishers for consideration but it was worth it. I got some rejection letters but finally three publishing houses offered contracts and I chose Liquid Silver Books because the acquisitions editor reached out to me with all kinds of support and encouragement.
I waited until I had a contract to tell my family and friends (and that inspirational student) that I had been writing. I suppose I was afraid to let them know about the writing for fear of it not being ‘good enough’ whatever that means. My first romance novel was out and the reviews were very positive. I had done something I’d dreamed of doing and it worked. Once I came out of the writer’s closet I began enjoying some wonderful support from friends, family and fellow writers.
But writing wasn’t the only thing I embraced. I recently took up horseback riding lessons. It was scary to be a first timer at a horse training facility since I had zero prior knowledge to pull from but totally worth it. My teacher is incredibly patient and supportive which is huge. I am now able to groom, saddle, walk, trot and do some simple dressage with a delightful quarter horse named Sancho. It is going so well that my daughter is taking lessons with me at this point and we love it.
My new zest for living and leaving behind old insecurities led to some unanticipated physical changes. I dropped those last annoying fifteen pounds that had taken up residence on me since the birth of my second child. I wasn’t intentionally dieting so it was a pleasant surprise when I noticed the looser clothes and changes on the scale. Probably all the horseback riding, walking and better attitude helped me burn more calories and eat a bit differently. I didn’t try to find happiness in snacks and began cooking dinners with more of the foods I wanted to eat and less of the kid type foods that my family wanted. After all, I love asparagus, grilled fish and cucumber salads but hadn’t made that type of meal in years because the kids didn’t like it. Did that mean my wants weren’t as important as the rest of the family’s? In short, I started thinking of myself as an important and talented person and not just as a wife, mom and employee. I no longer felt guilty for wanting to do some things just for me, whether it be spending time writing, pursuing a new hobby or having a manicure and facial. Being more mature has meant being less molded by the opinions of the rest of the world and more introspective of my own nature.
I have since written and had published two romance novels and am working on a third. The reviews have been great and I love the e-mails I get from readers. This was one of the best things I have ever accomplished and it gave me the confidence to try other new things. I am a better wife, mother and teacher because I am modeling ways of following your own path and not the herd. My children see me valuing myself and they respect that. They also know that if they tell me about their hopes and goals I am going to say, “then do it” and expect them to drop the excuses and make it happen.
I still teach full time and am better at it. I feel more creative in the classroom and more confident about what I am doing. The epiphany I had at turning 40 has lasted.
Here is a recent reader review:
“Isabel’s Awakening is a smoking romance blossoming between a naive school teacher and a British musician after they meet when Isabel crashes into his arms when she trips over a stepstool at her local bookstore. He gives her tickets to tomorrow night’s show and she brings a friend, never in a million years expecting him to be the lead singer of a popular band.
It’s safe to say that by the end of the book Isabel is no longer as naive as when the book starts.
I loved the story, I loved Isabel and I especially loved Thomas, despite all of his British slang, but I do think the story and the mystery of Thomas’ postcard stalker wrapped up too quickly and neatly at the end. I would have loved to see it drawn out a bit more or have the existing epilogue as the final chapter and a new epilogue included showing us where Izzy and Thomas are a bit into the future.
Overall though, very good book. It was hard to put down once I started reading it and I look forward to more books by T.D. Hassett in the future!”
T.D. Hassett grew up reading the romance greats, Jackie Collins, Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught. She was certain that life should be like a romance novel, lots of passion, some incredible adventures and a guaranteed happily ever after. She attended college in New England earning a B.A. in history and a M.S. degree in clinical psychology before changing her mind again and studying education. Currently Ms. Hassett lives in Connecticut with her very patient husband and two young children. Her rambunctious family shares their home with 3 crazy cats and a darling golden retriever named Delilah. Her eccentric relatives and their quest to make her feel like the only normal nut in the family tree inspire her writing.
T. D. Hassett