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{}   *Reinventing Myself at 42* 


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Good morning readers!

It is my pleasure to share a story today by my friend Yitta Halberstam who has been a great encouragement to me in my writing.  She has a brand new book out called: Changing Course: "Women's Inspiring Stories of Menopause, Midlife, and Moving Forward."  Today's story is an excerpt from her book.  Yitta is the bestselling coauthor of seven books in the multimillion-selling Small Miracles series.

Be sure to write to Yitta after you read her story and may all of you have a wonderful week!

From my family to yours,

P.S.  We just went over the 1,000,000 mark for page views on our website and now over 500,000 people have visited our site!

If you haven't visited lately, come take a look at our new design at:


Reinventing Myself at 42

by Yitta Halberstam


"If a person hasn't made it by the time they're 30, they're never going to make it!" My editor at Seventeen Magazine tossed out these words carelessly one day, dismissively referring to an applicant of 39 whom she was rejecting for a job. She had no idea how much this cavalier pronouncement would affect me.  It pierced  my psyche like a knife, haunting me for years to come.  As a young, impressionable 22-year-old, I thought this icon -- author of 11 books and managing editor of the special projects division at Seventeen -- was invincible, the standard-bearer of Truth.   Consequently,  I would use her pronouncement as my own personal standard of measurement for close to two decades, and sadly, find myself failing.

It was at 22, in fact, that I peaked.  I had been writing and had been published since the age of nine, and the phrase "child prodigy" was bandied about a lot.  It's a  terrible burden for a child to bear, and the pressure to produce was relentless. Perhaps that was why -- unconsciously -- I  chucked the writing life in my late twenties and opened up a dress shop instead.  It was an incongruous choice indeed for someone whose nose was always in a book and whose clothes were perpetually rumpled and out of style.. I ended up burying myself in that store, and it took me close to 20 years to reclaim my lost dreams.  There were times I was sure it was too late to start over --  my editor's harsh judgmental words were still ringing in my ears.  But for me, recovering my old self was not a luxury, it was an issue of sheer survival -- and slowly, one year at a time,  I clawed my way out of the pit in which I had entombed myself.

As Jerry Seinfeld would hastily say, "Not that there's anything wrong with that!" Not that there's anything wrong with being a shopkeeper, and making an honest living. But for me, being the proprietor of The Better Half -- a plus-size store in Brooklyn -- was torture.  Each morning when I entered the store I felt my soul falling away from me.  I felt diminished and squelched, miserable and unfulfilled.  Certainly, I was not using the gifts God had given me, and the work I was doing did not make my heart sing.   One day, my old high school English teacher stepped into the store and looked at me with surprise, followed quickly by sad reproof.  "Well!" she muttered, as she surveyed the student voted by her classmates as "most likely to succeed" and "most creative."  "This is NOT quite how I thought you would end up." I should have been angemed by her brusqueness, her tactless words -- but shame washed over me instead.  I bit my lip and simply  pretended that I hadn't heard.

Maybe I didn't want to hear.  Maybe I didn't want to acknowledge --  with the sickening thud that such acknowledgment brought --  that the last 20 years had been a waste, a mistake, a terrible squandering of precious time and talent.  I could never retrieve those precious years -- the years of my young adulthood --  when health and energy were abundant and the possibilities endless.  Utter despair engulfed me as I wondered: How had I allowed the parameters of my existence  to shrink this way, and enslaved myself to the power of the dollar --  the only real reason I was still in the store?  And if I indeed found the courage and wherewithal to finally leave, was there such a thing as a "do-over" for a woman of 42?

Somewhere along the line I lost myself,
Somewhere along the line I went off track
Somewhere along the line I left myself behind
And now I'm trying to get myself back

I wrote these words in a song in 1989, and they became tattooed in my brain, a clarion call for change.  I knew I couldn't drift anymore; I had to make a strong effort to re-create myself.  And if I failed, at least I would know I had tried, and had not simply surrendered to my fate.

I began to work with a therapist.  There had been times in my youth when I had scorned therapy as a tool for the weak, but by now I was mature enough to know that self-awareness is the first step towards and prerequisite for change. Then I began to enroll in a variety of adult education classes all over the city.  It was exhilarating to be in the company of readers and thinkers again; stimulating and exciting to participate in intellectual conversations that went beyond "Bottom line, what's the best price you can give me for this shmatta?"  Like a tightly closed flower, the petals of my brain began unfurling, and I drank deeply from the wisdom of the people surrounding me.

I enrolled simultaneously in a smorgasbord of courses: there were courses  that spoke to my  soul -- literature, philosophy, religion, psychology -- and practical courses that might help me extricate myself from the morass of the store. I alternated between classes called "How to Get Published" and "Edwardian and Georgian Literature";  "How to Find a Second Career at Midlife" and "Jungian Archetypes in the Twentieth Century."   

In 1991, I finally gathered up my courage and convinced my husband -- my business partner --  to give me his blessing to seek part-time work in a more stimulating venue, while retaining a strong foothold in the store.  We agreed that two or three days a week outside of the store would provide me with the stimulation and change I desperately needed. 

But now that I had my husband's blessing and permission to pursue more  fulfilling work,  I found I had to contend with the work world itself.  Whereas I had been a marketable commodity in my twenties, with stellar publishing credits and youthful energy, now I was no longer a novelty or even marginally interesting to the media world.  Where had I been for the last 20 years, everyone wanted to know, and what had I been producing?  When I hung my head and mentioned that I had been a storekeeper, everyone's eyes glazed over.

"Tell them you started your store from scratch with no prior experience in retail, and that it was a tremendous success," my friends advised.  "You showed a lot of initiative, creativity, and talent by creating such a store; the experience has to count for something!" they assured me. But they were wrong.  Other stores would have loved to hire me, but no one seeking an editor or writer or their staff gave my resume a second glance.

So, as I was often galvanized to do, I took another course - this one on resume-building. It  urged an emphasis on "volunteer experience," an area I had ignored.  Over the years, I had indeed done a lot of writing -- on a volunteer basis -- for a local politician, who generously gave me an excellent reference. This reference began to open doors previously closed to me.

Ultimately, I was hired as  "director of special events" for a women's nonprofit organization, where my penchant for taking adult-ed classes was parlayed into a stimulating three-day-a-week job that made the rest of the week at the store more bearable.

In 1995, I took a life-changing course with success guru Barbara Sher entitled "How to Be Anything You Want to Be, Even If You Don't Know What It Is!"   This three-hour seminar, together with all the previous courses I had taken throughout the years, gave me the last push I needed. (Every single one of the courses I took gave me something. It may have been only one insight, or one idea, but the confluence of all these courses added up to something significant.) Finally, after a 16-year existence as a chrysalis, a brand-new butterfly -- ME -- was ready to burst out into the world.

Within one month of taking Barbara Sher's course, I wrote a book proposal and sold it to a major publisher.  I then embarked upon what I thought would be the long,  laborious process of actually writing the book.  But hallelujah! there was no laborious process, because the thoughts poured, the words flowed, the sentences coalesced, and a book formed almost magically.  When I wrote I felt a certain kind of transcendence, an almost mystical sense of harmony with the universe.  But of course, what I was actually experiencing was harmony with myself.  I lost track of time when I wrote: hours sped by in what seemed like minutes, and I lived in a different plane.  I felt reborn, renewed, and redeemed.

I felt truly alive for the first time in 17 years.

I thought there would be just this one book.  I didn't think that it would in fact launch a brand-new career.  But when I typed the last words of the final chapter, I felt a poignant sadness that the adventure was over.  Certainly, I had never felt this way when I closed the doors of my store each evening.  It was only relief that I had felt then, not this new pathos, this new regret that I was experiencing now.

In 1996, I bumped into an old acquaintance -- Judith Leventhal -- whom I hadn't seen for many years.  Engrossed in animated discussion on a sidewalk in Manhattan, we decided to go to lunch, where we continued talking about the power and meaning of coincidence.  Judith suggested we try to work together on a book  that would look at this subject through a spiritual prism.  Our husbands thought we were nuts; the agent who had represented me on the first book thought I was out of my mind.  But one publisher -- Adams Media -- believed in our message and acquired the book.

Judith and I had modest hopes for the book, so we were stunned when "Small Miracles: Extraordinary Coincidences from Everyday Life" catapulted onto all the best-seller charts two weeks after its initial publication in March 1997. Six years, five sequels, and a lifetime later, there are almost two million copies of Small Miracles in print, and the book has been featured on such television shows as "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Leeza," "Sally Jesse Raphael," "It's a Miracle,"and many more.

In 1999, my husband and I finally closed The Better Half after a 20-year run. I was sure that after all the years, all the emotional and financial investment, all the hopes and dreams that had been invested in the store,  it would be a bittersweet experience to finally close it.  I did feel terrible for the saleswomen who lost their jobs when we closed, but other than pain for them, there was no remorse.  The only regret I had was that we hadn't done it sooner, and that I hadn't stood up for myself long before. I consoled myself with the lesson I had learned from peoples' stories in Small Miracles: that there is always a reason for everything, even if we can't see the plan ourselves.  Perhaps I needed the years at the store to evolve into the person I eventually became (even though I had seen myself as a person in decline).

Perhaps I needed the barren, lackluster, unfulfilling years at the store to be able to truly appreciate the opportunities I was blessed with now, in middle age.  Perhaps success had come too soon, too easily when I was a child, and I hadn't cherished God's gifts enough. Perhaps if all the wonderful things that have come my way in the last six years had come much earlier, they would have meant far less to me than they do today.

And I say with the strongest conviction to anyone reading this essay who has not yet followed his or her dream or achieved his or her bliss: it is never too late to start anew. As Barbara Sher so brilliantly says, "It is only too late if you don't start now."

My editor at Seventeen Magazine is long dead, and I can't tell her personally how preposterous was her proposition: "If you're not successful by 30, you'll never be successful!"  Grandma Moses was in her seventies when she painted her first picture, Belva Plain was 65 when she published her first book, Grace Bloom was 86 when she attained her masters degree.  And exactly how old was Golda Meir when she became prime minister of Israel?  If people in their late seventies and eighties can reinvent their lives, so can you.

I can speak about reinvention in middle age with authority, because I'm living proof that it can happen to anyone.

Yitta Halberstam

Write Yitta and let her know your thoughts on her story!

Yitta Halberstam has worked as a reporter, public relations director, high school and college teacher, and special events director.  Before launching the "Small Miracles" series in 1997, she owned and operated a store in Brooklyn called "The Better Half."

To purchase Yitta's book from click on the link below or cut and paste the link into your browser:


"Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the you are sure to succeed."--Abraham Lincoln

Verse for the Day:

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."--Deuteronomy 31:8

Kid's Thought For The Day:

"If you can't find a way through the crowd, make one."

Parent's Thought For The Day

"What is a home without children? Quiet."--Henny Youngman

Coach's Thought For The Day

Triumph is a little "umph" added to 'try."

Writer's Thought For The Day

"Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise the muscles seize up." --Jane Yolen

Deep Thought For The Day:

"It takes money to make money, because you have to copy the design exactly."


Michael's updated book Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter," is finally here! ($13.95)

Visit the link below to preview the book!  Personalized autographed copies are available at no extra charge and we pay the shipping for you!  An E-book version is also available for just $6.95!

The book is also available through,,, and


Have you been to the website lately?  If you like what you see and would like to have your own professional looking website, visit the link below.  Bizstudio has been a wonderful service for and with 500,000 visitors in the past three years, the website has been a tremendous tool in helping us to "Touch Lives, One Email at a Time." Although I had no prior experience building a website, I was able to create and build the site easily utilizing Bizstudio's online editor.  It includes an Online Site Editor, Unlimited Updates, Unlimited Pages, Professional Themes, Pre-Programmed Features, E-mail Accounts, and free Search Engine Submission.  If I could do it with no prior experience you can too! Check it out at this link:


Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business

Dear Michael,

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever!
Silverhill, AL

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Do you feel as if life has no meaning for you?


Reading Books, Changing Lives!

For those of you who would like to purchase the books from the bookstore via your credit card, you can now do so!

You can now order a number of different autographed best-selling inspirational books for the same price you would get them in the store, the shipping to you is paid for, and you are helping change the lives of teenagers and those they come in contact with!


A number of people have written to us asking what an EBook is, since our book is being offered in both print and EBook versions.  An EBook is a book that can be downloaded and read right on your computer. The advantage of ordering the EBook is that is costs less, $6.95 (No other charges), as compared to $13.95 for the print book. Plus your EBook will arrive the same day you order it and you can begin reading the stories right away!

EBooks are read via Acrobat Reader, which is software that is already on your computer. So for those of you who don't want to wait for the print book to be delivered, check out this link to order the EBook version of Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter."

Transfer your photographs or old home videos over to DVD or MP4 files! Give the gift that will touch your family's heart and soul.

You can join the 15,000 followers on his Facebook Nature Photography by clicking on the link above!

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