Days of Wine and Covid

Mindy Littman Holland headshot

A global pandemic certainly isn’t funny, but in author Mindy Littman Holland’s newest book, Days Of Wine And Covid, she takes a wonderful, amusing look at how the crisis affected her on a daily basis. Filled with wit, escapades, and thoughts on the whole thing, Mindy reminds us that it’s still better to laugh at life than cry and bemoan the fates.

Born in New York, Mindy attended Brandeis University, majoring in psychology and fine arts, following which she moved on to study print and broadcast journalism, and eventually even opening her own marketing communications and public relations company. She now lives with her husband, high and dry in Santa Fe, NM, where she focuses the majority of her attention on her writing, art, and fabulous photography of the incredible skies and landscapes surrounding her.

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Interviewed by Debbie A. McClure

Q What made you decide to write a book about your experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic?

A: I had no idea that I was going to write a book about the Covid-19 pandemic. As a lifelong journalist and more-recent blogger, I began to write stories about my experience with coronavirus as soon as my life became impacted by it. All of a sudden, it was mid-February 2020, and I found myself sitting in a plane with a bunch of coughing people amid news that a pandemic was making its way to the United States at record speed. The events of that day, and every day since, became fodder for stories about the virus that was taking the world by storm. I felt compelled to record my experiences, and I posted a few stories on social media.  People began to ask, “When is this going to become a book?” And I told them, “Soon. Very soon.” 

Q You started out working in the corporate world, but have transitioned into the arts in a big way. Why?

A: I come from a very creative family; lots of artists, photographers, writers, dancers, musicians, opera singers, actors – the works. For the most part, we were all encouraged to sublimate our artsy side and pursue more practical careers. The actor became a lawyer; the opera singer became an insurance salesman; the writer formed a marketing communications business for high-tech corporations, and so on.  I began writing and illustrating my own books by the time I knew how to hold a pencil, so I started out in the arts. I had a very successful career in the corporate world, and that afforded me the amazing luxury of being able to return to my artistic roots. Now, I do a little of one, and a lot of the other.  

Q What is it about the arts, including writing, that draws you in and holds you?

A: I have always felt a strong drive to express myself creatively. I was reading and writing at a very early age. Drawing pictures happened when I was prelingual. My head always created stories. I could be sitting in a subway train and get fixated on the face of the person sitting across from me. I would build an entire life for that person, just from the way they tilted their chin. So, what draws me in and holds me are the stories I create, sometimes out of the thin air and sometimes out of a reality that’s so intense, I can’t help but broadcast it. I feel compelled to tell stories, visually and orally.

Q In everything you write, you definitely lean toward using humor and a “let’s sit and chat with a glass of wine” approach. What is it you hope to achieve in your writing style?

A: I am a relationship person; always have been. And I was born with a funny bone.  Connecting with other people is very important to me. Being humorous and making myself accessible makes connection lighter and deeper at the same time. I am fascinated with what makes individuals tick, and I listen very closely to what they have to say. Their stories are rich, and I love what they share. So, what I hope to achieve with my writing style is a sense of connection.

Q What have you learned about yourself in your pursuit of the arts that has surprised you the most?

A: What I have learned about myself is that I don’t discourage easily, and that does surprise me because trying to make a mark in the arts can be very daunting. There are a lot of very talented people out there, and the playing field is extremely competitive. But what is no surprise is that I write for my own joy, and little else.

Q What advice would you give to new writers?

A: I would tell them to write about what they love, and be meticulous in their story-telling, regardless of whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. I would tell them to do their homework, to research, and to learn how to entertain. I would also urge them to understand the demographic of the people they are trying to reach. Some generations prefer to listen to a book rather than to read a book. It’s good to know something like that in advance.

Q When writing, do you set a regular schedule, or write only when the mood moves you?

A: I write when I feel compelled to write, and I feel compelled every day.  

Q What lessons have you learned about the publishing industry and its many challenges?

A: I’ve learned that the publishing world isn’t what it used to be. Unless you’re a household name—or know someone who is—most traditional publishers won’t work with you unless you have a literary agent. And most literary agents won’t work with you unless you’ve successfully published already. It’s a bit of a Catch 22. I have published with traditional publishers and I have published on my own. In both cases, I have had to do my own marketing. I’ve learned that there’s no stigma to self-publishing, as long as you have the ability and drive to do a professional job and promote your work.

Q What might surprise people to know about you?

A: After a long career in marketing, people might be surprised to know that I don’t enjoy marketing myself. And sales gives me the willies, altogether. Basically, I don’t like asking people for money. On the other hand, I believe my work is well worth reading.

Q How much did your past experience in marketing and public relations help you in your current work?

A: When I majored in psychology and studio art in college, one of my professors wanted me to be an English major because he liked my writing.  I said, “I don’t want to teach English. If you already like my writing, what do I need a degree in English for?” When I did graduate work in journalism and broadcasting, it led to me becoming a corporate writer and a radio news broadcaster. That made more practical sense to me. I ended up founding a company that specialized in marketing and public relations – basically, oral and written communications. The bottom line is it’s all about communications; being able to tell a story in a way that entertains and/or provokes feelings or actions in others, and being able to sell that story to the masses. So, yes, I would say that my experience in marketing and public relations did help me in my current work.  

Q What marketing and public relations advice would you give to new writers and artists?

A: I would tell new writers to use all social media platforms that are available to them to promote their work. I would recommend that they create a compelling website to send people to for more information. If there weren’t a pandemic going on, I would advise them to arrange as many reading engagements as possible, not only in their home market, but all over the place. I would have them do a focused emailing to potentially-interested parties. They should encourage people to review their book, understanding that strangers may not be as kind as their friends. If they have the opportunity to participate in interviews, they should answer questions directly and completely, without going off into the weeds. And they should try to get as much press as possible.

Q What’s next for you, Mindy?

A: I’m already hard at work on my next book. I don’t know yet if it’s going to be nonfiction or fiction because sometimes it starts out as one and ends up as the other. Considering what’s going on in the world, it could end up being the grimmest book on Earth. Or the funniest. After all, humor is at the heart of all my books.We’ll see. I may not be able to help myself. 

 

Bio: Mindy Littman Holland is a writer, artist and photographer living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  She is the author of Wait Until You’re Fifty: A Woman’s Journey Into MidlifeThe Rebirth of Gershon PolokovAll My Funny Ones: A Collection of Short Stories; and Days of Wine and COVID: Fifty-Seven Stories of Pandemic Proportions.

Websites:

http://mindylittmanholland.com

http://books.mindylittmanholland.com

Amazon Links (for Days of Wine and COVID)

https://www.amazon.com/Days-Wine-COVID-Fifty-Seven-Proportions/dp/B08BF2PF7L/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1594345347&sr=8-2 (Paperback)

https://www.amazon.com/Days-Wine-COVID-Fifty-Seven-Proportions-ebook/dp/B08BJ89FDY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1594345347&sr=8-2 (Kindle)

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Mindy+Littman+Holland&ref=nb_sb_noss_2 (General Amazon Page)

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Mindy+Littman+Holland?_requestid=348307 (General Barnes and Noble Page)

Social Media:

https://twitter.com/MindyHolland

https://www.facebook.com/Mindy-Littman-Holland-135748896534912/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mindy-littman-holland-846313/

Email:  mlittmanholland@gmail.com

 

 

 

Wait Until You’re Fifty: A Woman’s Journey Into Midlife

mindylittmanholland

The Big 5-0. The half-century mark. Five decades. The Third Act.

No matter how it’s labeled, women of a certain age can either approach this milestone birthday with unabashed grace or totally freak out. Author Mindy Littman Holland addresses the questions that we have all wanted to ask about the myths of midlife crisis and the potential for stylish reinvention.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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You’ve just penned a new book, Wait Until You’re Fifty: A Woman’s Journey Into Midlife. Two questions immediately spring to mind: (1) Is 50 the new 30? and (2) are there things that women should be thinking about – and doing – long before they hit that half-century mark?

People, in general, are living longer and healthier lives so 50 isn’t what it used to be.  But, is it the new 30?  I don’t think so. If you’re vying for a position in the corporate world, it’s more than likely that the 30-year-old is going to get the job, even with your 25 years of experience.  You’re probably not going to start procreating at 50 – so, no matter how much you’ve agonized over whether you should have children or not, by the time you’ve reach the half-century mark, the point is moot. And, if you’re in the market for a partner, you may find that 50-year-old-men are looking for women who are actually 30 as opposed to the new 30.

With the proper attitude and maintenance, 50 can be tolerable and maybe even fine, a time of reinvention and spiritual growth.  However, it can also feel like a protracted journey through a seemingly endless wall of fire.

Women who are approaching 50 should be thinking less about how they can emulate 30 and more about how they can enhance their minds, bodies, desirability, confidence and creativity going forward.  I also think that’s true for women approaching 100.

What was the inspiration for this book and how did you go about planning its structure and content?

When I was in my early 40s, an older friend waggled her finger in my face and gave me the title of my book.  She said, “Wait until you’re 50.”  That certainly gave me something to think about because I wondered what difference a few years could make.  Then, I found out.  And, I’m still finding out. 

Wait Until You’re Fifty: A Woman’s Journey Into Midlife is not a clinical book.  Content is based on interviews with strangers from all walks and climes of life – women and men of all ages speaking from their own experience and perspectives.  No concern or issue is trivialized.  It’s real stuff.

Your academic background was a dual major in Psychology and Fine Arts. How did these two areas of study contribute to your world view and what you wanted to say to your target demographic?

Before I was a dual major in Psychology and Fine Arts, I was a dual major in Theater and English.  After I graduated from college, I went on to study Print and Broadcast Journalism.  Since then, I went on to a career in Marketing and Public Relations.  Today, in addition to running a long-term business, I have authored two books (nonfiction and fiction), write a blog, paint, dance, play piano, cook, bake, sing, hike and practice financial management, photography, yoga and Pilates.  My relationships remain the most important part of my life. 

All this to say – we can participate in this world in unlimited ways.  What I would like to say to my target demographic is “Use every bit of the buffalo.”  Try stuff.  If you fail or don’t like it, try something else.  Do whatever you can to keep your mind and body healthy and your eyes facing forward because unless you check out early, aging is inescapable.  Embrace it and move on with your journey.

During the 1950’s, marriage rates were high, divorce rates were low, couples tied the knot at a younger age, 90 percent of children grew up in homes with both parents, and most families were able to live comfortably with just one breadwinner. Fast forward to the 21st century and the realities of midlife divorce, retirement dollars that fall woefully short of expectations, and an empty nest that vacillates between a permanent state and a revolving door (i.e., “Hey, Mom, is it okay if I move back in ‘til I find another job? Oh, and is it also okay if I bring my girlfriend and our three kids?”). What does all of this say about as a society and, specifically, the challenges and transitions that a lot of women over 50 never anticipated?

We are living in a society that says “If something doesn’t work, throw it away and try something else.”  I am seeing more of my friends divorcing after age 50 – basically, after the last kid is out of the house.  Many are living alone for the first time and some are handling it better than others.  Some feel liberated and others are terrified.  Midlife divorce, the prospect of getting old and going broke, aging alone and feeling simultaneously responsible for adult children and aged parents are issues I am covering in my next book.     

One of the issues you’ve addressed is that of “becoming invisible.” How do we allow this to happen and are there ways to reverse its effects?

If you feel like you’re disappearing at 50, it’s because you are.  You’re going through one of the biggest transitions of your life , beyond puberty.  You know what you looked and felt like going in, but how are you going to look and feel when you emerge on the other side?  The media reinforces this feeling of fading into the background.

If you are accustomed to garnering a lot of attention from the opposite sex, this sensation of invisibility can be particularly debilitating.  You become overly self-conscious, compulsively stealing peeks at mirrors, seeking reassurance that you are, in fact, still there, still beautiful, still desirable.  The minute a woman slips into this trough of insecurity, she cuts her sexual desirability in half.  Actually, that goes for women of all ages.

As you mature, recognize that your appeal is more a matter of presence than appearance.  You are so much more than your face and body.  Carry yourself like you’re proud and you will be seen.

“The magic of first love,” wrote Benjamin Disraeli, “is our ignorance that it can never end.”  According to a recent report of U.S. Vital Statistics, over 40 percent of people getting divorces are 50 or older. In addition to being overwhelmed with financial issues, downsizing a household, and dealing with reactions from family members and friends, there’s also the angst of whether true love will ever manifest with a new partner. What are your thoughts about the forecast for midlife romance?

Love can show up on your doorstep at any stage of life, and usually does when you least expect it – even if you’re both toting 20 years worth of baggage.  Some of your bags now contain wisdom, compassion and a true desire to connect.  You may now finally find the love of your life.  In fact, finding love at midlife can make the back 50 feel great – better than a bathtub full of chocolate.

What’s your favorite quote about getting older?

“Aging is not for sissies.”

Who are the top three women over 50 that you most admire and why?

I can name 20 but I can’t name three!  The women over 50 I most admire are those who focus more on living than on aging.  I’m not talking about women who have achieved celebrity – not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I am talking about women who have achieved health and sanity and who use every bit of themselves – women who take responsibility for their lives and live with a sense of purpose, vitality and creativity.

As we age, we often discover that there are names in our address books of acquaintances we once thought we could never live without. Were they the ones who took the first step of moving out of our orbit or did they only fill a time-sensitive niche – i.e., a newcomer to the neighborhood, kids on the same soccer team, officer coworkers – that we outgrew without realizing it? How do we reprioritize our friendships without feeling guilt or abandonment issues?

I consider myself extremely fortunate that so many of my friendships have survived my 50 some odd years, but some have certainly fallen by the wayside.  People change and we live in a very mobile society.  Solid relationships typically stay solid through space and time but you can’t be all things to all people. 

When I speak of reprioritizing friendship in midlife, I mean assigning it a higher level of importance.  You get to a point when work can only fulfill you so much.  Your children grow to independence and leave, if you’re lucky.  Your spouse spends more time on the golf course than he spends with you.  The pool boy is getting long in the tooth.  And, you may have fewer responsibilities and more time. 

Old friends share your memories and reinforce that you have lived your life, for better or for worse.  New friends bolster the notion that you still have much to offer, perhaps now more than ever.   Nurture the old and new friends who add joy to your life.

Menopause. Eeek! The dreaded “M” word. Is there life after it?

I looked forward to menopause about as much as I looked forward to the arrival of my first gray pubic hair.  Menopause is like being on the wrong end of puberty.  At this point, I’ve had several years to hate this period (so to speak).  However, yes!  There is life after menopause – and a rich life it is.  When you emerge from this chrysalis of change, you will have a far greater appreciation for what lays beyond the tiny space that is your physical life.

How can adjusting your attitude help toward accepting changes that you’re just not keen on?

Life is a series of events, good and bad.  It’s hard to appreciate one without the other.  By the time you’ve reached midlife, you’ve had a pretty good dose of both.  You begin to recognize that your time here is finite and you start to contemplate what happens when you leave – especially if you’re not all that happy with the hand you’ve been dealt. 

As we age, we frequently reach out for something bigger than our work, our children, ourselves.  Allow a little spirit in. Adjust your expectations.  It’s not all going to work out the way you want it to.  Live with it.

All right, so you can’t slow down the aging process but what are a few simple things you can do to prepare for Life in the Back 50 and, if necessary, reinvent yourself?

Wisdom is supposed to be the big prize of aging.  If we are savvy enough to pay attention to all that life has taught us to date, we have a crack at real happiness going forward. 

If you love your work and have the stamina to continue with it, don’t retire.  Surround yourself with positive, upbeat people.  Don’t impose age restrictions on sex and other physical activity.  Have it as long and as often as you can.  If you die, you die. Take inventory of your life’s accomplishments and figure out what else you would like to do.  Having a sense of purpose will keep you going.  And, finally, understand we are all just aging children.  Never lose your sense of wonder.

So what’s next on your plate? Any new projects in the works?

I am currently promoting my new novel, The Rebirth of Gershon Polokov, which tells a story of how conjoined souls find each other in different lifetimes.  I am also working on two new books: one is about the nature of the long-term relationship and the other is a sequel to Wait Until You’re Fifty.  I am generating at least one short story a month on my blog.  And, I will be hanging my art at The Screen at the Santa Fe University for Art and Design in January 2013.

Where can readers learn more about you? 

www.mindylittmanholland.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDQcL9CfirE&feature=g-crec

https://Amazon.com/author/mindylittmanholland

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mindy-Littman-Holland/135748896534912

https://twitter.com/MindyHolland

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=773622&trk=tab_pro

www.littmanandassociates.com

Anything else you’d like readers to know?

I would someday like to try stand-up comedy and flamenco – hopefully, not at the same time.