By Lynn Venhaus
Glory be, I have accomplished one of my life’s goals: Published author.
Although writing is a solitary pursuit, it took many other people to help me get to this point. This has not been an easy journey, but ultimately fulfilling, and cathartic, during a very rough — yet resilient — year. The best thing is that along the way, I have met my fellow contributors from across the country – and these are wise, warm women, all over 50, with not only something to say, but special people that have been a pleasure to get to know better.
We’re all part of our astonishing friend and visionary Marqueeta Curtis-Haynes’ book: “Ageless Glamour Girls: Reflections on Aging” that will be published on Dec. 5, and pre-sales are now underway. We’re hitting social media and local media during the next 36 days, and will gather together for a live group Zoom the night it is officially out that anyone can join, too, and celebrate with us..
My chapter is titled: “You Are Not Alone: Dealing with Grief and Loss.”
Talk about an abundance of life lessons! Turning pain into purpose has been one of my goals since my oldest son died nearly five years ago. It’s been a process navigating grief after Tim passed, then my brother Matt nine months later, and then my dear uncle/father figure last year. I have reached an age where by now, many other family members and friends have passed, and it can be overwhelming, especially when there are more empty chairs at every holiday and special occasion.
While I struggle to make sense of the world and summon the courage to just keep on keeping on, I thought that if I shared this very personal experience, it may help others. I hope it’s relatable and lets people know they’re not crazy or alone. It’s my raw, real story, and I don’t pretend to be an expert.
Marqueeta is a former colleague, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., and a force of nature. She lives in Florida now, and we reconnected through Facebook. She has an Ageless Café page, too, and you will be immediately captivated by her sunny spirit.
As fledgling reporters, we worked together at the Journal Newspapers of Southern Illinois, part of the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis – I want to say 1980-81 (and even played together on a benefit basketball team that will remain one of our most ‘what were we thinking?’ experiences that we can laugh about now).
She left our dingy Fairview Heights newsroom to go into broadcast writing — St. Louis TV news (KMOX then – Channel 4) then onto the big dream of CBS News in NYC, and other career opportunities, while I moved on to O’Fallon Progress, then my dream job at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and after that folded, Belleville News-Democrat, Centralia Sentinel, and other stops along the way while raising two sons..
She is such a game-changer and I’m so glad the world’s going to know her name. As we older women know, there is something about our journey that is worth talking about – especially in a world that wants to dismiss us. We have survived, thrived and lived to tell about it.
When Marqueeta asked me and 12 other women to share our stories, I figured there would be power in this endeavor. Here is how she described her quest::
“Still on a mission to become a vehicle to help women manage aging, I created Ageless Glamour Girls. (I cover the origin of the name, in my chapter. My vision was and still is today, to provide a platform in which women of a certain age (50+), can “gather,” to get and share information on various topics, including caregiving, finances, second acts, menopause, plastic surgery, dementia, sexual health, and everything else from finding love to finding the best mascara that stands up to hot flashes. Our goal is to inform, inspire, empower, motivate, and yes – entertain.”
Recently, when she announced this achievement, she called her co-authors “some of the most fierce and inspirational women ever!”
She said she is a better woman because of it. I feel that way too.
This has been a year where I confronted my own mortality (twice), which changes one in many ways. And while writing my chapter this spring/summer, I somehow learned more about myself too. That chapter was one of the hardest things I ever had to write, but I accomplished it, overcoming doubts. If I can reach people, it will have been worth re-living some dark days.
I finally articulated this feeling on Tim: “What I miss most is seeing the world through his eyes.”
Maybe something else I wrote will resonate with a reader.
I am thrilled to join Lisa Bedian, Cheryl Collier, Sandi Badash, Ciriaca Yolanda, Maria Gonzalez, Karen Lindauer Herlands, Dionne Jones, Melinda Rinzivillo, Marian R. Featherson, Wendy Campbell, Patricia Desamours, Leah Irene Victoria, and Marqueeta. There are a few of us based in St. Louis, so you’ll likely see us together promoting it.
It’s quite a collection. The women write, straight from the heart, about leaps of faith, careers, being a mom, grandma, second and third acts, and weathering change and storms. Among the chapters are “The Unicorn: A Journey of Grace, Healing and Rarity Grace,” “Butterflies,” “The Positives of Being 87,” “The Antidote to Aging is Belonging” and “Finding Joy.”
And it’s been terrific to work with our very patient publisher Germaine Miller-Summers.
If you are interested in ordering a copy now, the $24.99 includes fees, taxes, and shipping. It will be available later on Amazon (after it’s published), and we’ll have more information as the date gets closer.
To reserve your book, you can scan the QR code, or hit the link in the bio, or cut/paste right here: https://90daybookcreation.com/ageless-glamour-girls
On Dec. 5, after the world-wide release, you’ll be able to chat with us ageless glamour girls that evening at our Virtual Zoom Launch. If it’s anything like our Zoom chat “happy hours,” I guarantee laughs and sparkling conversation. This has truly turned into a team effort.
My heart is filled with gratitude. I have so many people to thank – first and foremost Marqueeta, for her support, guidance and encouragement when I really needed it.
Here’s my acknowledgement that I wrote for the book. I am sure I didn’t thank nearly enough people, but we had a limit as to what we could say (of course, with 14 co-authors!): I’d add my nephews, nieces, colleagues and so many people I’ve connected with through my writing.
“These past five years have been a difficult journey, but also one of insight, connection and comfort. I am grateful to my sisters Julie Modde and Mary Clare Gastro and their spouses Dean and Ken — we are Zipfel Strong!, my son Charlie Venhaus and his wife Maria and her Gencev family, his dad Bob Venhaus and family, my dearest friends and family members, and the many people in Tim’s life who loved him so much. Because we knew him, we have been changed for good, and will forever share that bond.” – Lynn Venhaus
As always, we want to engage with others, so feel free to send me your thoughts and reactions. Onward and upward, and thank you for taking the time to read something I wrote.
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Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.