What a week! Between being back in Brooklyn, my first book coming out, heading off on tour (please come see me in DC, NJ, CT, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, LA!), and the group growing like a very beautiful weed, my head is, frankly, spinning.

Two lessons stand out, and I’m trying to focus on them at every moment. It’s deeply moving to discover that there’s a seemingly endless number of brilliant, fascinating, funny women with whom I want to connect. I’m meeting you at events and online, and as our numbers grow, so do my friendships. Each of you has powerful stories that I’d like to hear, and that’s both invigorating, and yes, a little overwhelming. Which brings me to point number two: I have to, and we each have to, diligently practice self-care so as not to cry and crumble when things get daunting. We have to set limits — say no sometimes even if it pisses people off. We have to get enough sleep. We have to exercise, and not drink too much, and meditate. And breathe. I’m not quite doing all these things as well as I’d like to, but just writing it here helps me know it’s true (the power of writing as healing!), and I’m off to SoulCycle right this minute.

Love, Nina

What We’re Talking About

That adage about old dog, new tricks? We’re not buying it. As our community demonstrates every single day, passion, talent, pure grit — these qualities know no age. Just look at Laura Ingalls Wilder, who, after a full career as a teacher, began the Little House on the Prairie series when she was 65 years old. In that spirit, Woolfers recently shared their latest hobbies, offering each other inspiration and encouragement to try something new.

Here are our top 10 ideas for new hobbies: 

  1. Take up the ukulele (we recommend this one).
  2. Go Geocaching, a.k.a. letterboxing, which is like a grown-up treasure hunt, and there’s even an app.
  3. Become a Dancer. It’s social, mood-boosting, and, according to the NYT, keeps your brain young.
  4. Play Games. Check out the daily quizzes at www.jetpunk.com or find partners to play Scrabble, Chess, or Mahjongg.
  5. Master a Foreign Language (try the Duolingo app or News in Slow French).
  6. Learn to Read Tarot Cards, one place to start is here
  7. Build DIY Dollhouses, we especially love this mini-library.
  8. Birdwatch, which is apparently a favorite pastime of writers.
  9. Silversmithing, here is what you need to get started.
  10. Explore Your Neighborhood, because, really, you never know where it will lead.

Woolfer Wisdom

“Party on the Pelvic Floor. Everybody say ‘Hey’!” 

– A Woolfer

Hands down, “kegel” is our favorite Woolfer PSA. We cannot possibly extol the virtues of kegel-ing enough. Like everything else, our pelvic floor weakens as we age, leading to such fun things as peeing a little whenever we laugh, and who the hell needs that? Luckily, the solution is fairly simple: the kegel exercise. (Although it’s important to do them correctly. Here are 5 common mistakes to avoid.) The hard part? Remembering to do them at all. Experts say women should kegel three times a day, 10 repetitions each time. That’s a lot of kegels. Train yourself to do them at stoplights, on the elevator, while brushing your teeth, until it becomes habit. Or, as one Woolfer suggested, kegel while on WWVWD (clench and scroll!). There’s also this reminder app just for kegels. Last resort: Thinx’s Icon Undies has come out with some pretty, pee-proof underwear.

Woolfer Reads

Did any of us not read I Don’t Know How She Does It?, the 2002 mega-bestseller about working motherhood by Brit Allison Pearson? On June 3, the sequel, How Hard Can It Be?, featuring the indomitable Kate Reddy, will be released in the States. Kate is now about to turn 50, and when Nina read the galley this week, she could not stop laughing. Everything Kate is going through, and we mean everything, will resonate with you.

We recently had the opportunity to ask Allison a choice question, and here’s what she had to say:

WWVWD: What do you think Virginia Woolf would say to us about women and midlife invisibility?

Allison Pearson: Woolf would be particularly good, I think, on ageism and the invisibility of the middle-aged woman. She might say something like, “This is our prime, and we must live it in the sun, not in the apologetic shadows.” To quote Woolf herself: “Then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down.” Isn’t that just wonderful? You can be sure the woman who wrote that would not want us to go gentle into that good night.

p.s. TV rights were just sold to the producer of Big Little Lies!

Woolfer Wins

Nina’s current obsession (for cuteness, for relaxation, for smell!) are these MUJI aroma diffusers, which are around $60 and so easy to use. Fill with water, drop in a few bits of scented oil, and voila! Like a spa on your nightstand.  And speaking of delicious scents, check out The Woolfer  for six member-approved perfumes we’re psyched to try for spring!

Woolfer of the Week

Camilla Gray
Age 64. Recently moved from Pine Plains, NY to Stockbridge, MA.

Tell us what you’d like us to know about yourself, in under 50 words. Eight years ago I left a marriage to begin again as a single woman, in reduced circumstances (genteel poverty, I call it). I am a talented shopkeeper, interior design consultant, and buyer. I love literature, art, theatre, music, design, and the mix of a country life with an urban aesthetic.

If you could turn back time, what would you do differently? I would have trusted my instincts more. I might have been in a happier relationship sooner.

So…you’re in a happy relationship. How did you meet? We met online. We’ve been together for several years.

Online dating success? What advice would you give Woolfers? Be aware of your reactions. I learned so much about myself by being with new people. I learned as much about myself as any of the men I was dating. It was a chance to break old patterns of thinking. 

What do you wish people understood better about you? That I’m an introvert with an extrovert personality.

What do you in your downtime? I love to sing. After eight years of neglecting that passion, I’m excited that this summer I’ll be joining a local choral group. I collect American art pottery, e.g. Weller, McCoy, Roseville, etc. And I also love to collect vintage posters from World War I featuring women.

What are you reading? The Price of Illusion by Joan Juliet Buck.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My daughter. I’m also really proud of the after-school theater program I led for many years in Maine. I taught the sons and daughters of lobster fishermen to love Shakespeare.

What is your mantra? To thine own self be true.

Bonus question: Xanax or weed? 🙂 Weed doesn’t do anything for me and I’ve never tried Xanax. ICE CREAM is my drug of choice.

What Woolfers Are Watching

At The Woolfer, we’re always on the prowl for new shows to watch (hello insomnia!), and a recent discussion in our Facebook group yielded such a behemoth list of recommendations that we decided to put together a handy reference guide for your viewing pleasure, beginning with our favorite category, Badass Women Over 40. (Of course.)  So grab the remote…here goes:

Killing Eve, a genre-bending espionage comedy starring you-had-us-at-Grey’s Anatomy Sandra Oh (BBC America). The atmospheric family drama/crime thriller, Ozark, starring Laura Linney (Netflix). Here and Now, about a multi-ethnic Portland family (HBO), although the biggest draw might be Holly Hunter’s clothes. The comedy drama The Durrells in Corfu (based on books by Gerald Durrell), featuring Keeley Hawes as a widow who moves her family from England to, yes, Corfu (PBS). Santa Clarita Diet a horror comedy about realtor-turned-zombie realtor Drew Barrymore (Netflix). The hilarious Catastrophe, in which 40-something Sharon Horgan finds herself pregnant after a sexy one-week stand with a stranger (Amazon Prime). And don’t miss the documentary Seeing Allred, about controversial women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred (Netflix).

For a more comprehensive list (brace yourself!), click here.

We love this vintage poster by artist Neysa McMein, and part of Camilla’s collection of World War I posters that feature women.

Woolf PAC

A national collective of women, Woolf PAC supports progressive non-profits — large and small — at risk in our current political environment. Members contribute $25/month for four grant rounds. Last quarter, Woolf PAC donated almost $8500 to gun-control non-profits. This quarter, the issue is criminal justice reform. Nominations for potential donees are open until June 1st. For more information and to join Woolf PAC, click here.

See you in two weeks, xo

Nina, Stephanie, and Kris

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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