This week, I’m pleased to feature an interview with Hélène Tragos Stelian, creator of the blog Next Act For Women. In her blog, Hélène shares real-life stories about women who are reinventing themselves in midlife. You’ll read about women like Madalyn, who became a model at 50; Tina, who left corporate life to become a college admissions consultant; and one of my favorites Susie, who left her editorial job to harvest her own food on Martha’s Vineyard.
I asked Hélène about her work/life experiences and about what she’s learned from talking with post40 and post50 females:
Tell me a little about your background.
H: “I’m 51 and live in Chicago with my husband of 20 years, my 17-year old twin daughters, and our cockapoo Rocky. I have gone through some big transitions in my life: Moving from France to the U.S. at the age of 13; changing careers from fashion retail to marketing after getting my MBA; deciding to stay at home when my girls were born; becoming an author with the publication of my book Getting Ready for Baby (now in its second edition); volunteering in nonprofit positions after our move to the suburbs; moving back to Chicago after 13 years; and now starting a blog!”
Why did you start your blog?
H: “With an empty nest just a few years away, I needed a new sense of purpose beyond being a mother and volunteer, but I was having a hard time understanding which direction to take.
When I talked to women in similar situations, I heard many tales of feeling unmoored and yearning for something more. And when I met women who were trying their hands at new adventures in midlife, I was so impressed and inspired that I knew their stories had to be shared.
It was also important to me that the stories I told included practical advice for other women who, like me, were interested in discovering their own next acts. I wanted to know how they got started, what challenges they faced, and any and all resources they had found helpful on their journeys.”
That’s how Next Act for Women, came about. I suppose this blog has become my own next act. I’ve only just begun blogging in the last couple of months, but it has already become a meaningful and invigorating part of my life.”
What trends are you seeing with women in midlife?
H: “I see a newfound bravery. While there is risk involved in reinventing ourselves, we are more scared of NOT doing anything than we are of trying and failing. We’re not as concerned about ‘what people will think’ and are more willing to take a leap of faith and follow our passion.
I also hear, time and again, how women in midlife lean on their community of women, drawing energy and power from them. We surround ourselves with women who will support us, cheer us on, and commiserate with us as we navigate the ups and downs of our reinventions.”
What are some examples of career and lifestyle changes that you’ve noticed in the women you have interviewed?
H: “The women I’m talking to have taken the time to self-reflect and understand where they excel. They have a need to contribute their ‘gift’ to the world around them. This takes many forms, from teaching to starting a business, from delving into a passion to launching a charity. The common thread is a keen awareness that this is what they were meant to do and a clear passion for that calling.”
Can women contact you if they would like to share their story?
H: “I am always looking for more stories to feature on my blog. If you have re-imagined your life at 40 and beyond, I’d love to hear from you. Please use the contact form on my blog, Next Act for Women.
Thanks Hélène. Any last words of wisdom?
H: “Here’s to every woman inspired to begin her next act.”