Spring, metamorphosis, discovery. As hard as things sometimes get in our lives, it’s always true that we just never know what’s around the next bend; that a month from now, or three, there may be a new job, or new love, or an email that changes everything. Did you hear that Michelle Obama is going to be making films for Netflix? How awesome is that? And surely unforeseen.

But it’s not only the famous, of course. The stories of surprising life changes are everywhere. Among us, we have women who unexpectedly had babies in their mid-40s (Stephanie Staal); women who quit hugely successful careers to follow creative paths (Hillary Richard); women who became pig farmers (Rai Bernheim). For myself, I can hardly believe that two years ago I started an online group for women over 40 because Margaret Lee and I were wanting support for our midlife malaise. That group was so interesting (and addictive) that it propelled me to write a book, and now that book is actually being published—it all has me a bit stunned, as well as deeply appreciative of the weird revelations life has to offer.

Possibly the best thing about aging? As we learn things the hard way (and there is no other way), we discover what’s important to us—how and to whom we should be allocating our time, energy, and resources—and, if we’re lucky, we find the room to make some different choices and have new adventures…

Love, Nina

What We’re Talking About

Antropofagia (1929), Tarsila do Amaral

Dating, dealing with exes, getting through breakups—these are perennial topics of conversation in the World of Woolf, and for good reason. By the time we reach our 40s and beyond, relationships have become, well, complicated (for lack of a better word). Illness, divorce, loss, and just the sheer messy experience of life have shaped our perspective. In looking back on past loves, Woolfers recently opened up a fascinating discussion about that moment when we knew our marriages were over. Enter Alison Kinney‘s exquisite personal essay The Man in the Mirror about falling in love after a brutal rape, only to be betrayed. Her ability to choose vulnerability after violence, and discover strength in the face of heartbreak, reminds us of our amazing capacity for reflection and resilience. “There is a huge gift in the telling of this story, for you and all of us,” summed up one Woolfer. We couldn’t say it any better.

Woolfer Wisdom: Shoes

As we get older, there usually comes a time when we have to say no to high heels. They just hurt too damn much. Either our feet have gotten so damaged from years of abuse that they rebel (as memoirist Mary Karr described in her wry New Yorker article about kicking her high heel habit, “my feet had gnarled up like gingerroot”), or, if you’re anything like Nina, you’ve gotten afraid that you might fall and break an ankle. Anyway, let’s be real, no one young or older wants to be hobbled. Which is why ditching high heels is also becoming a feminist issue, according to the NYT and WaPo.

So okay. There are a ton of reasons to go flat-ish, or at least chunky heel/wedge. But we’re the first to admit it: the transition can be tough (“I want a little edge still, little quirk, little sexiness, little fantasy…” confesses Monday Michiru Mariano).

We’re here to help. Drawing on Woolfer recommendations, we give you a condensed list of our favorite comfortable, yet glam, shoes: For all around walkability from desk to dinner, our go-to brands include Cole Haan (Nike technology!), Paul Green (Nina adores the one pictured top left above), Gentle Souls (yes, we appreciate a good pun), and Arche (“I’m someone with a fairly thriving nightlife and I wear Arche to dance parties,” says Dina Seiden—we’re sold!). Those who love the look and feel of the clog can turn to DanskoHasbeen, and our absolute fave No. 6. For casual and athletic, you really can’t go wrong with Kork-Ease (Kris King is a devotee), Birkenstock (either the Gizeh thong or the classic two-strap in a fun color, like this one in “spectacular rose”), and Adidas  (I have become obsessed with Adidas. I wear them with dresses!” says one member of the group). Woolfers also tuned us into some very cool, below-the-radar brands like CoclicoGolden GooseChie MiharaAllbirdsCydwoqFly London, and Fluevog.

If your feet are comfortable, you win.

– Mary J. Blige (age 47!) was recently quoted in New York magazine. Hear, hear!

Woolfer Reads

Perhaps it was all the talk of intermittent fasting (thank you, Valerie Frankel, for this awesome take on it), or the evils of sugar, but cooking has been on our mind recently. So while not a Woolfer Read per se, we’re highlighting our shortlist of must-have cookbooks: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook; Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everythingand Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins (who didn’t know they were both Woolfers!), The Silver Palate (if you haven’t tried it yet, their Chicken Marbella hands down won “best dish” among Woolfers). For regional flavor, we recommend Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking; Diana Kennedy, The Art of Mexican Cooking; and The Balthazar Cookbook (Woolfer Kathryn Kellinger is a co-author!).

WWVWD Book Club: The next meeting of our virtual book club is coming up on March 20th. We’re very excited to be discussing Ginger McKnight Chavers‘ novel, In the Heart of Texaswith the author herself! You can learn more about Ginger’s book here. For more information about joining the book club, please visit our Facebook page.

Woolfer of the Week

Dena Grushkin

Age 59. Teaneck, New Jersey

Tell us what you’d like us to know about yourself, in under 50 words.  I’ve spent the last 14 years of my life bringing education to an underserved community in Nigeria. I am hoping to inspire others through a film called, “From Jersey with Love” (for a sneak peak, click here). Looking for love and support—my Kickstarter just launched today. You can also check out my work at www.NigerianSchoolProject.org

What is the strangest thought to cross your mind as you lay awake in the middle of  the night?  What kind of cookies do I have downstairs?

What is on your nightstand?  A large bottle of coconut oil, several essential oils, glasses, books, tissues, a framed picture that says “Fucking Brilliant!” (Ona—otherwise known as Orm Orm—says it’s the first thing I should see everyday), vibrator necklace, hair tie.  
What’s the one thing you most hope for personally in the coming year?  Launching a successful post-retirement career.

Woolfer Wins

Those of you who are new to WWVWD might not know that we have a mascot,  (secret handshake?) and it’s this wonderful necklace by Crave

It’s actually not just a necklace, but also a vibrator (it works—we’ve tested it). Super stylish, it comes in silver, gold, and rose-gold (Nina wears the gold religiously and has gotten into trouble more than once with TSA). We love this thing so much that we created a whole store on thewoolfer.com so we could sell it to all of you! And now, in a moment of synchronicity, CRAVE has become the very first WWVWD sponsor, donating TWENTY necklaces to raffle off at all the book pub events!

Upcoming Events

Nina’s book tour has been announced and here’s the schedule—she hopes to meet as many of you as possible at these events

Current Crush…

This trailer for an upcoming documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turned 85 last week (celebrate here with her best quotes), gives us actual chills. It’s that good. The film recently premiered at Sundance to critical and audience acclaim, and we’re literally counting down the days until it opens at a theater near us. Notorious RBG, you give new meaning to the word badass—we love you!


And, in case you missed it, here’s our final send off: The brilliant Marisa Acocella shooting Harvey Weinstein into space.
You can watch it here. Blast off.


See you in two weeks, xo

Nina, Stephanie, and Kris

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The Woolfer Newsletter Team
Stephanie Staal and Nina Collins have worked together and adored each other since 1994 when they were both babies in the world of book publishing. Stephanie is a lawyer, journalist, & author of READING WOMEN, and Nina is the founder of "What Would Virginia Woolf Do?" Hillary Richard is also a lawyer and co-host of the Raging Gracefully podcast. Sidney Morss is a recent NYU grad and the youngest member of our team.

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