Have you ever asked yourself, “Now what?” That’s exactly what Hélène Tragos Stelian asked herself when she hit 50. Hélène operates an exciting blog called “Next Act For Women”. She is on a mission to inspire women to reinvent themselves in midlife through her blog.
It came as no surprise that Hélène and me hit it off. We decided to interview each other recently for our blogs (find the link to my interview at the very end). I know you’ll resonate with Hélène and I’m thrilled to introduce her to you.
Hélène, tell us about your blog Next Act For Women and how it came about.
When I hit 50, I started wondering what the next half of my life would bring. My husband Peter and I had moved from the Chicago suburbs back to the city, our daughters were in high school and flexing their independence muscles, and the role I’d carved out for myself—as a mother and wife, homemaker and uber-volunteer—just did not seem enough anymore. I needed a new purpose.
While I was flailing about, entertaining all kinds of ideas for new ventures—from becoming a freelance editor to an EMT—I spoke to many women who, like me, were trying to figure out “now what?” I also met others who, in midlife, had done about shifts that lent new energy to their existence.
I realized that what I was going through was not that uncommon, and may even be the female version of a midlife crisis. There had to be a way to share the stories of women who had figured it out with those of us who were searching.
My blog, Next Act For Women, was born out of that yearning.
Next Act For Women is about women reinventing themselves in midlife. Why did you choose the word “reinvention” and what does it mean to you?
I love the word reinvention. To me, it means hope, challenge, opportunity and, most of all, renewed purpose. As you’ll read on my blog, I take a very broad definition of the word. The women I feature have reinvented themselves in so many ways.
There’s Connie, who started a nonprofit to prevent stillbirths after the tragic death of her first grand-daughter; Patti, who became a novelist; Susie, who moved to Martha’s Vineyard to start a small organic farm; Nan, who became a competitive cyclist; Madalyn, who started modeling after she went grey; Jill, who adopted two boys after her only child was grown… And so many more!
As you stay busy with your blog, as well as being an author, wife, and mom, how do you find time to take care of yourself physically and emotionally?
Writing is a very sedentary activity; I can be at my computer for hours on end. As they say, “Sitting is the new smoking”!
So I try to stay active by working out (lifting weights, swimming laps, and taking spin classes) and by taking long walks along Lake Michigan with our dog, Rocky.
My emotional needs are met in several ways, most importantly, through connection: Besides the love and support of my family, I am also lucky to have several deep friendships, and am amazed at the number of new relationships I am discovering through my writing. All these connections nourish my soul.
I am also a big believer in therapy and really would like to learn to meditate—I’m planning to try TM this fall!
What do you especially enjoy about being in your 50s?
I wrote an essay for Huffington Post called “My F*ck You Fifties” that pretty much says it all. The title is based on the work of writer Suzanne Braun Levine, who inspired my rant on loving my fifties. I am more confident, more comfortable in my skin, braver, more impatient, and I’ve lost my filter—a good thing for an introverted former wallflower!
Helene, what is YOUR “next act”?
I have discovered that the secret to my personal fulfillment in midlife is finding a sense of purpose. I need to feel that what I do matters, even in a small way. My blog allows me to do just that, so I guess it truly is my own “next act.”
In addition, I continue to write more personal pieces about subjects that matter to me, mostly related to being a woman in midlife. The article I wrote titled “7 Appeals to Moms from Women Without Children” on Huffington Post really hit a chord, generating 250,000+ likes.
I like to say that in sharing the stories of other women, I have found my own voice.
How can my community best stay connected to you and what you’re up to?
You can find Kim’s interview with Hélène HERE.
Wishing you joyful health in your 50’s,