middle age joy

Yesterday was my birthday. Reflection can’t be escaped, calculating what age is officially “Middle Aged.” People live longer these days. My grandmother just passed away, two weeks shy of her 97th birthday. She was an amazing woman to the end, always a rake nearby, the woman would heave giant roots from the earth. Her yard resembled a rain forest, compete with a banana tree. She was a phenomenal chef, would cook up a meal for 15 people without notice. People would stop by, and you almost didn’t notice she was even cooking. She didn’t miss a conversation, or a cocktail, as she seemingly effortlessly created a feast. She didn’t use recipes. She just followed her joys: gardening, cooking, and entertaining.

We cannot go wrong when we follow what brings us the most joy. For me I’ve struggled with focus, given that I’m passionate about so many things! It’s similar to being paralyzed from too many choices.

FOOD LOVE. Introducing new foods and flavors to my children, infusing them with my zest and appreciation, learning to relish. The other day I told them that we all show our love in different ways. I express my love through food. I read cookbooks and recipes for pleasure, in particular The Flavor Bible, an encyclopedia of flavor profiles that feels like an artist’s palette.

WATERCOLOR. I’m also obsessed with watercolor techniques and painting. Drawing. Learning. I have such a lust for learning. It excites me. Abigail takes a classic techniques art class and I’m jealous. I want to take a pastel or watercolor class, too. It might be my birthday present to myself.

THEATER. I took drama classes when I was younger, loved singing and acting. I could easily see myself now auditioning for a local production. It’s play, literally. I live for improv games.

STORY. I have a love of story, obviously. Movies are my favorite, analyzing plots, curious about the HOW. How does the writer decide when to flash-forward in the storytelling, letting the reader/audience know what is about to happen, and what’s the advantage in doing so? I don’t listen to music in my car, only audiobooks. I love driving and running errands because I can’t wait to get back to the book.

These are things that bring me joy. Not focus or clarity, but joy. In this coming year, don’t talk about your joy, follow it without apology. I’ve said it before. Look at how you’re spending your time and make sure it reflects your joy.

ROSH HASHANAH. Now I’m off to buy no less than three varieties of apples to bake a pie for Rosh Hashanah. We are going to my cousin’s home. I’m making roasted chicken with saffron, hazelnuts, and honey (24 thighs to feed a party of 12); an apple blondie cheesecake with Vietnamese cinnamon whipped cream; a brown sugar pecan noodle kugel bundt; Sugar & Nut glazed brie with apple slices for dipping.




  1. Happy late birthday! I’m happy to read this today – I love the tone of this writing – calm, mellower, happier than you’ve sounded in a long time. I like contemplative birthdays instead of whiny ones.

    I’m turning 2 times 25 next month, and talk about a time for contemplation!

    The nest is now empty – law school, business school, and an artist’s life have whisked the darlings off into the world…and my world shifts ever-inward caring for the aging, ailing parents and nurturing the relationship with my sweetheart. As the world turns. Great name for a show! Oh wait…

  2. I seriously want to be friends with you in real life for the sole purpose of getting you to cook for me.

  3. Hi Stephanie,

    Bought your book Straight Up and Dirty and wanted to tell you how much your book has positively impacted me and given me perspective about red flags, dating and exploring & learning things. I feel like society sometimes judges success as in being in a relationship and people forget about how we should celebrate our individuality and passions in life and hold on to our decisions on choosing to end things when we pick up red flags about a person we date. Thanks again for sharing your experience and thoughts through your book, I feel like the shared human experience and knowledge is a beautiful thing. :)

    1. Author

      Isn’t it? Thanks so much blue. I think it takes a big gulp of courage to end things because of fear. It is easier when we see that others have made their way through it and are happier for it. I’m so glad that my experiences helped you. And thanks so much for reaching out.

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