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Knowing Pains

By Molly Tracy Rosen

New Book about Life as a Forty-Something Woman Today

Reads Like a Juicy Diary

All book proceeds donated to breast cancer education and advocacy

As I approached my 40th birthday, I sensed some major changes happening in this new decade of life. I had twenty years of experience at work behind me. My kids were no longer babies. And I felt more self-assured than ever, though without the cockiness of youth.

However, years of sunning in California were starting to leave lines on my face. My blond hair was showing signs of grey. There was no mistaking it – I was getting older.

I talked to friends about life in their 40s. I started asking, "What is it like to be in your 40s?" to women at work and moms at the soccer fields. What I found is that just about everyone had an opinion on the topic, usually a strong one.

We are at this "in-between" time. We are no longer "too young" for the Director or Vice President title at work. But we're starting to be "too old" to get pregnant, to be the young superstar at the office or to feel completely confident about the invincibility of our physical selves.

Once I turned 40, I somehow felt differently. I know it was really just one more day – that nothing had really changed that significantly. But I realized that the change I needed to make was to take a "career hiatus," to work on something new, develop new parts of myself.

So I quit my job, and decided to ask women to tell their story about life in their 40s. There were plenty of books written by experts about the physical and psychological changes women go through in their midlife. But nothing by "real" women on what they experienced, how they felt, and what they chose to do in this decade. I wasn't ready to read about menopause. Being in our 40s isn't just about what is going on physically. It's about the power and opportunities we have at this time in our lives. It's about our choices. It's about changes in relationships and changes in how we see ourselves.

Knowing Pains: Women on Love, Sex and Work in Our 40s is a series of true stories by successful women from a variety of backgrounds in education, business, and the arts. The growing pains of youth that caused our legs to ache in the middle of the night are over. They left us stronger, bigger and grown up. The "knowing pains" of mid-life are also painful, and also sometimes wake us in the night. They are caused by experiences that are hurtful at the time, but leave us wiser, more empathetic and oftentimes more confident and resilient to take on the experiences that lie ahead. They may be sudden – caused by the death of a parent, by the desertion of a spouse, or by a career failure. They may be gradual and internal – as we understand and accept our strengths and shortcomings. Knowing pains may be caused by positive experiences too, like rediscovering our passions and letting ourselves fully enjoy pleasures like our favorite musician, yoga or hiking with a close friend.

You will meet Natalie who reports on her "hair experiment," and Ona who tries a different kind of experiment through a love triangle. Get inspired by the passions of Nancy and Ana. Share the heartache of Maria and Regina. Samantha, a software project manager, shares her experience of being single and dating at 40. Lori, a nonprofit consultant, shares the humor of being a "geriatric mama." Elizabeth talks about her acceptance of God. Elaine talks about her rejection of retail store dressing rooms.

These women are the women around you – the women in your life who have a story to tell. These are the women in our lives who get more interesting, more kind, and more powerful as they navigate rocky relationships, social expectations and their own dreams. Some are married. Many are not. Some have children. Others do not.

There are experiences in everyone's life that cause us to "find our voice" and compel us to pause and reflect on how we got here and how it feels. These writers have found their voice and they tell their stories. Through these stories, I have found inspiration, companionship and a lot of humor – and I think you will too. —Molly Rosen, Editor

Check out Knowing Pains: Women on Love, Sex and Work in our 40s

 Women on Love, Sex and Work in Our 40s is available online at

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