A letter from the editor, Lesley Jane Seymour
Midlife Is Not For Sissies
There. I said it. And it’s a fact.
Midlife is when you feel the hot breath of mortality caress the hairs on the back of your neck. When you silently get out your mental ruler and start plotting the distance between your age and the ages of the people in the news and in the obituaries. Let’s see, Carrie Fisher dies at age 60 of a heart attack on a plane. Yes, she is exactly my age. Oh, no. These things can happen to people my age! And people even said I looked like her! Yikes! I guess I AM old. But also, she was a heavy drug user for many years. We know she fought manic depression. So what does that mean? Un-yikes, I guess? Maybe I’m not that old after all? Margot Kidder who also died this year was 69. Geeze. I thought she was waaaay younger. So maybe that can’t happen to me. So I’m ok, I guess….????
(Full disclosure: I got so freaked out about all this sudden vulnerability that my breast surgeon actually banned me from doing my own breast exam because I was finding too many suspicious things that were simply fine!)
And then, of course, there are the people who are not famous. Who are close to us. Who have struggled, are struggling, or have passed away from all kinds of untimely issues.
And then this month we had the death of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain by their own hands. And through these events, we’ve come to learn some grim statistics: The Centers for Disease Control found the rate at which women aged 45-64 committed suicide in 2016 had increased 63% from 1999 and a 2014 report from the CDC stated that women 40-59 have the highest rate of depression. (CoveyClub jumped in and interviewed Dr. Cecilia Dintino, clinical psychologist, psychology professor at Columbia University, and co-creator of Twisting the Plot, a therapy workshop for women over 50 in a must-read piece called “Depression and Suicide Among Women at Midlife.”)
Before I have to sign this as a post from Debbie Downer, I simply want to acknowledge that the primary reason I created Covey is so we could have these serious discussions. I became a magazine editor because I grew up in the 60s as a child of divorce, feeling isolated and alone in an American suburb where I was told I couldn’t play with the kids next door because of what my family was going through. It was Seventeen magazine that made me feel like I wasn’t alone with these issues and gave me not only a route to escape my day-to-day family dysfunction, but also gave me real information for how to handle my life.
My mission since then has been to help women around the world break out of their isolation, share their voices, come together and find solutions. The mission of Covey is the same, except we really, really need each other now more than ever, as our identities undergo yet another transformation. I dare you not to choke up at Alina Tugend’s essay, “Of Love, Loss, and Basketball” about her children leaving the nest. But don’t pull out the Kleenex just yet, we’ve also got some fabulous advice (check out Dr. Olivo’s, “Is Your Mindset Sabotaging Your Success?”) and laughs (scroll down to Erica Baird and Karen Wagner’s piece on adjusting to retirement).
Age forces us to find new ways of being in this world. It’s a painful adjustment, but it’s also an opportunity to show future generations of women how it’s done. We’ve always been trailblazers, after all. Continue to make every day count. Do the things that matter to you. Connect to the people you care about. Make the phone call. Drop off the cake. Take the class you’re curious about. Launch the business you’ve been dreaming about. Have the breast reduction. Let your hair go grey. Do whatever your heart desires. You are #notdeadyet, so keep living. Covey will be here every step of the way.