Happy New Year Dear Queenagers!
The Queenager: Eleanor's Letter (December 31st 2022)
A big thanks for all your support in 2022! And please tell me what being a Queenager means for you!
I hope you’ve been enjoying Betwixtmas – I have been trying to slow down, resisting the lure of switching on the laptop (until now) or just peeking at a few emails in favour of lying on the sofa reading a book, or two… I’m loving Wintering by Katherine May – beautiful and wise on surviving dark times. Re-read our January Noon Book Club title Go As A River by Shelley Read, which made me cry again, it is so good (click on the link to sign up). And gulped down The Garnett Girls by Georgina Moore (a kind of more emotionally powerful contemporary Jilly Cooper, keep an eye out for it when it is published later this year).
Really this email is to thank you all for reading this Queenager newsletter and supporting everything we are doing at Noon. It has been an amazing year – which came to a wonderful fruition just before Christmas when the term Queenager was hailed as one of the key new words of 2022 in several newspapers! I couldn’t believe it. Just shows that we can all make a difference!
Sometimes when I bang on about women in midlife and how we need to change the narrative about what we are and what we are capable of I feel a bit like I am standing in a forest banging a drum and I have no idea if anyone is listening. To find out that by writing about Queenagers, talking about Queenagers, naming this newsletter The Queenager and using the term in several national newspaper articles, for a massive campaign for Vision Express and on the radio and TV – suddenly it is a thing! I can’t quite believe it!
So what is a Queenager? Well I define Queenager as ‘whatever you want it to be’ – I reckon by the time we hit 45 plus we’ve earnt the right to set our lives up exactly as we want them. To go back and find the dreams we had as younger women which life got in the way of… to think about who WE really are. What matters to us, what legacy we want to leave behind – to realise that at fifty in the hundred-year-life we are only half way through and there is so much more to come. Most importantly to seize the day; to realise there is a lot of time under the bridge and if we want to do whatever it is we’ve set our heart on, then we need to get on with it.
I’m afraid in one of the articles the Daily Mail writer defined it like this: “Queenager A woman of middle age or older who leads a busy life, has fun and dresses stylishly” – umm, that was never part of my definition, I don’t think being a Queenager has anything to do with fashion or how we dress. In fact I passionately believe that part of tackling gendered ageism is separating a woman’s value from anything to do with looks.
I’d love to know how you define Queenager-hood. What does it mean to you? How do you feel about being this age? For me I think it sums up both the transitional nature of this time (one of the ladies in our Meet the Queenagers Noon research project said; “I feel like a teenager but in my own house, with nice sheets and good tea”) and also the Queenlyness of having got to this age; that we deserve some respect, we embody our hard-won wisdom. .. we are Queens. I love the way in Jamaica they refer to women as “Queens” – they will quite often say there: “She’s a Queen” – so Queenager sums up for me all of those qualities which is why I love it. And I also particularly love this reggae song: “She’s a Queen” – for me it’s a kind of Queenager anthem
Another bit of great news for the end of the year is that my The Queenager newsletter with my world exclusive interview with Sheryl Sandberg, when she stepped down from Facebook, was one of the top ten most read posts for Substack of the whole year! I was jolly proud about that. Particularly because, as some of you will remember, I did the interview in my car on my mobile from the middle of Savernake Forest where I’d gone camping to celebrate the summer solstice with some friends. I was so touched that Sheryl reached out to me because she thought that more than anyone I would understand her need to transition into a new phase of life. And I am also so pleased that she defines herself as a Queenager – I’m sure that her support helped us make it into the new words of the year.
So what of next year? Well, we’ve got loads of exciting plans for 2023. We’re kicking off with our January Noon Book Club on Jan 18th at 7pm with the amazing Shelley Read (I’ve heard how much you are loving the book from quite a few of you) – she is an inspirational Queenager, who only started writing in her mid 50s and has quite a tale of becoming. So do join us. It’s free but you need to sign up to the Zoom through our Noon Eventbrite, here is the link.
Also: I am leading our first Queenager Noon Tour to Morocco, with Lisa McAuley from our Advisory Board and lots of you have already signed up to come with us (April 28th to May 6th) – there are a few spots left, so do book if you’d like to come! We’ll be a small group, including me and Lisa, walking through Berber country with a Berber female guide and staying with Moroccan Queenagers in the mountains and in Marakesh. This is a really different and amazing trip – a cross between one of our retreats and a holiday. There will be laughs, and adventures, and new friends and sharing. I’d love to see you there!
And, I’ll be telling your more about this soon, but if you’d like to have a sneak peek, we’ve just launched our very own Noon Dating site if you fancy a new partner in 2023 check it out and tell us what you think.
Whatever you are doing to celebrate the New year tonight – have fun and hope to see you at one of our events soon.
And a big thank you to all of you! And to my amazing Noon Team – Diane, Alison, Megan, Joanitta and my co-founder Claire Gillis, without whom none of this would have been possible.
Lots of love
By Eleanor Mills