Midlife Bites: Is Anyone Else Falling Apart or is it Just Me? With Guest, Jen Mann

January 13, 2022 / Mom &… Podcast Episode 53 / Guest: Jen Mann, Author, Midlife Bites

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Show Summary

Jen Mann is on her way to the Mom &… Podcast guest Hall of Fame. She’s back for her second visit, this time to talk about her new book, Midlife Bites: Is Anyone Else Falling Apart or is it Just Me?. We talk about what it’s like to have it all together – on paper, at least – but feel like you’re losing your mind… and physically falling apart… all while wondering what happened to your relationships. Midlife is hard, but it’s also pretty funny at times. Above all, this phase of life is filled with potential. Jen Mann writes about it, and talks about it, with her trademark wit.

More About Jen Mann

Jen Mann is best known for her wildly popular blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She is the author of Midlife Bites: Is Anyone Else Falling Apart or is it Just Me?, as well as the New York Times bestseller People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestselling I Just Want to Pee Alone series. She lives in Kansas with her husband and two children.

Topics From This Episode (Complete transcript is available below… scroll to the bottom!)

  • Zibby Owens
  • Purpose
  • Mental health
  • Humor during tough times
  • Stages of adulthood
  • Stages of parenting
  • Friendship
  • Menopause

Connect with Jen

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Musical Notes

Our delightfully happy intro and outro theme music, “We Will Get Through This” is performed by Young Presidents, and used under license from Shutterstock.

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Transcript* From This Episode

*Please note that this transcript is automatically generated through our editing software. Expect odd errors and misunderstood words. In fact, if you find a really funny one, send it to us, and we may feature it – and you – on our socials!


Susanne: Welcome to the mom and dot.dot podcast. I’m Susanne Kerns, a mom and dot.dot writer, LGBTQ and sex ed advocate. And today a podcast studio arranger up until about five minutes ago, and it is a work in progress and will probably be rearranged before our next interview with Jill Smokler in an hour. 

Missy: I’m Missy Stevens mom and dot.dot writer, foster care advocate and this week. I’m a plant doctor trying to help everything recover from the freeze. It all looks real, real 

Susanne: Ah, 

Missy: but we are going to talk about that today. We’re going to talk about Jen Mann and Midlife Bites. I’m holding it up right now. We are so excited to welcome back, Jen Mann, anyone who’s watching, we’re all holding up our copies.

Um, she was our very first guest, like real guest on a real episode, we had like three intro episodes and then episode four was Jen.

Susanne: It was exactly a year ago to, 

Jen: That’s crazy. 

Missy: Yes. So she [00:01:00] is back. She’s going to be, um, we’re working on like the Saturday night live, you know, they do the five timers club and they get the jacket and they make a big deal out of it.

So you’re on your way to the five timers club?

Jen: that’s so cool. 

Missy: . Okay. So I’ll get into. A little refresher for people who are listening and may not know Jen, which I don’t know how that is, but Jen Mann is known for her wildly popular blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She is the author of the New York times bestseller People I Want to Punch in the Throat.

She is also the editor of the New York times bestsellingI Just Want to Pee Alone series. And she lives in Kansas with her husband and do children. And now she’s the author of Midlife Bites: Is Anyone Else Falling Apart or is it Just Me? And we’re going to talk about the book a lot today. That’s why you’re here.

but I just want to say before we get started, that it’s so funny, but also I cried and I cried these tears of like knowing and being known so well done and welcome back.

Jen: Thank you. 

Susanne: Uh, 

Jen: Yeah, my goal is make you laugh or make you cry or both at the same [00:02:00] time. We’ll see.

Susanne: Yeah. Does it, it goes there and we’re going to talk about that, but first of all, okay, so the book was just released last week, January 4th. Correct. And. Even before the release, I’ve seen these pictures of you all over social media. And I was like, wait a minute. I recognize that women, first of all, was you.

And then Kristin Van Ogtrop, who is another one of our previous guests. 

Jen: see her book there 


Susanne: we’ve got our series of books over here right here. But you and Kristin were at Zibby Owens for some amazing shindig for the authors of books, that she had selected for Katie Couric 

Missy: I mean, 

Susanne: Eddie, correct. Media’s list.

Right. As far as the books that you need to read in 2022. 

Jen: it was kind of two different things. Yeah. So I met Zuby a few months ago when I was trying to find people the blurb, , for midlife bites and I’d found Zibby, I think like all of us do, we all listen to her podcasts, probably, um, moms don’t have time to read and I thought, [00:03:00] oh, wouldn’t it be great if I could like, get her to blurb my book.

But you know, she does a really big deal people. And so. 

Susanne: You’re a big deal person. 

Jen: like a minor deal. Like I will, I will admit, like, I am like, I’m like a minor deal. Like there are some doors that will open, but you never know. , so I sent off, you know, an email and a book and a wing and a prayer. And then she came back and said she was a little bit late.

And so she was like, oh shoot. You know, I think I missed the deadline. , but who loved this book? Could I blurb it still? And I was like, absolutely. And she gave me this amazing blurb and wrote me this beautiful email about it and just was really, she’s such a champion of books in general, but she just really connected with midlife bytes.

, and then I was already going to New York. , in early December, I was going to go see, , faith Salie I blurbed her book, which is called approval junkie. And she had turned it into a one woman show off Broadway. And so I was already going to New York to see Faith’s show. [00:04:00] And I sent Xavi an email and said, Hey, could I take you out for a cup of coffee?

I’d love to meet you in person. And then that’s when she came back and said, I’ll do you one better. I will have a luncheon in your honor, for you and Kristin. So, we did, she had, and then the Couric came out like before, like maybe a week or two before that. And she had already been working on that.

but that was really cool too, that she included me on that list that she included midlife bites on that list, but the luncheon was kind of different and it was more just like a midlife midlife lady luncheon and, 

Susanne: even better. 

Jen: at her gorgeous home and she invited several of her friends and neighbors and that kind of thing.

And we just had a really fun time. And it was the first time I’d really gotten to talk about midlife bites. So it was kind of interesting cause I kind of had to figure out what my narrative was and what I’m going to say about it. And but I didn’t have books yet the book wasn’t out yet. 

Susanne: Oh, shoot. 

Jen: yeah.

So now, like if you’re listening to me, I want to come back and we’ll do another one.

Susanne: I live well, you know what? I already did reach out to her too, because I was listening to her on the hashtag am writing [00:05:00] podcast and she has a really fascinating story. So as much as I love, like all her podcasts and we’d love to talk about that. I just think she has a real, you know, for kids, a really interesting story, as far as she’s in a position where, because of her father and the way that, you know, financially, She’s kind of pretty set.

She’s got the nice apartment. Instead of just resting on that and being like, oh, I’ll just go hang out and travel, whatever. Like she works as if like, as if she’s paycheck to paycheck, like she really works for it. And I just, I love that about it.

And I just, I’m really curious what in her is that, you know, that drive 

Jen: Well, I think it’s funny because so many people saw the photos that we put up and they were all just like, what was it like, you know, what was, what was she like? And I’m like, she’s super cause you’re right. She comes from a very unique background in that, like her father is a billionaire. And so she kind of has a lot of things already going for her, I [00:06:00] guess, in that regards.

But then she is such a tireless worker and she’s so down to earth too. Like I, you know, I didn’t know what to expect. I went, you know, I’m up on the upper east side of Manhattan and I showed up at her apartment and yeah. the, the floor mat outside the door, I took a picture of it and I put it on the social media.

Cause it said, you know, there’s a whole bunch of kids up in here or something like that where you’re just, you know, and I was like, okay, she’s my people. Like, I doesn’t matter. What’s behind this door. Like, I don’t care what she lives like, but it, um, but she’s so generous with her time and her space. I mean, she invited all these people into her home and welcomed them and fed them.

And then, but what cracked me up was that, you know, she, we were there for a certain time and I really wasn’t sure, I, you know, I was sort of like, I’m here as long as you want me to be here, you know, kind of thing. Like I’m I got nowhere to be. And then she came back and people, you know, the event was over, but people are still visiting.

Cause again, it’s like this gorgeous space. Why wouldn’t you stay and hang out and be comfortable? She came back and she was like, oh, you guys are welcome to stay, but I’m going to head upstairs. I have to record a podcast. [00:07:00] Like, and then she’d already mentioned that she had something going on that night, 

Susanne: Oh my gosh. 

Jen: And I was like, if I was having a lunch in, at my house for like 30 people, like that’s all I would do that day. Like I would be like, Ooh, and I’m spent, so I just admire her work ethic. And like, you know, and now she started her own publishing company and, I’m on the advisory board for that, which was a huge honor to be invited to do that.

Susanne: Oh, how amazing. 

Jen: a really cool person.

Susanne: Yeah, I got that feeling and I just think that she has a really interesting story. And just, Yeah.

Anyway, we’re talking here to talk about you though Zibby. So 

for people. 

Jen: It 


Missy: when she’s on the show. 

Jen: Everybody always wants to know about her.

Susanne: I know, she seems really interesting. So but for people who have not read the book. Oh, so good. So good. But anyway, we don’t want to give it all away, but just for some of you who want to know a little bit more about it, I’m going to read part of the back copy. So it’s for women who may feel isolated [00:08:00] or overlooked, this collection of original essays offers valuable insights, takeaways, and most important, a productive way forward.

Jen shares her own story, as well as advice and wisdom from the online community. She built tackling everything that bites about midlife, where Nothing.

is off limits. It is a rarely vulnerable book. Yes, this is, this is different for you. You go there and yeah, you say in the intro to the book that it’s a departure for you.

And it, I mean, I was really like, whoa, she wasn’t kidding. It really is. so What did it feel like to make that change and just share in this way that you don’t necessarily always do.

And then also if you have a three easy steps or being more vulnerable, uh, Missy and I would really like this 

Jen: Yeah,

Missy: fix us now.

Jen: I think that’s the thing, you know, coming out of, , people, I want to punch them throat, writing that for years where, you know, I’ll tell you all, you want to know about like my vagina, but then like, but if we’re going to talk [00:09:00] about like, you know, how I’m really feeling, you know, like, you know, and that was really kind of hard for me.

Like I’m really good at making jokes about stuff. And I’m really good at sort of like diverting the conversation or keeping it, you know, you think, you know me, but maybe there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t tell you, but you know me, but you don’t know me. So that was interesting. So when I wrote the book, the book came from a blog post, so. I was feeling overwhelmed and I was feeling all this stuff and I realized I hadn’t been talking about it to anybody and that to my husband, that’s my friends, nobody. And I sorta kind of whispered it a little bit to some close friends. And I was like, Hey, are you guys like anybody else kind of going crazy?

You know? And this was all mind you. This was all pre pandemic too. So it’s like, I mean, now we’re all crazy like that

Missy: before we all


Jen: now we’ve all gotten there. But before this, this is when everybody was still kind of pretending like the world wasn’t on fire yet. And, you know, and I wrote about it on the, on my blog, [00:10:00] on people.

I went to punch in throat and when I hit published that night, I just thought I’m either going to start a really important conversation, which hopefully I’m ready for it. Or I’ve just blown up my humor career. Like, we’ll see. 

Susanne: Yeah. 

Jen: And luckily my editor at random house, Pamela Cannon, she read it, she follows my blog and she read it and she sent me a note.

She sent me an email within an hour or two and was like, this is what your next book should be about. Like, this is what we’ve been waiting. And we’d been kind of trying to figure out, you know, I, I, I only have so much people, I want a punch in throat inside of me, you know, like I only have so many stories I can tell.

And so we’d been kind of brainstorming where to go next. And so this just seemed like the natural transition, but because it wasn’t like my idea of like, normally I conceive of my own books. Like I already know what I’m going to write. I already know what it’s gonna look like. And so for this one, you know, it just was this blog post.

And I’m like, what kind of book? What, what, what am I going to write? And so, and so she worked [00:11:00] a lot with me on that. and she was, and this is our third book together. We’ve done two other people. I want to punch in the throat books together. And I think that helped a lot too, because, you know, I would send them.

And I send off the draft and I’d be like, okay, it’s good. It’s really good. It’s done. You know, and then she’d come back and she’d be like, be more vulnerable. you know, you can do it, I know you can do it. And so she kind of, you know, she, she pushes, um, and she knows where to push me and she knows kind of what I like, what I’m capable of.

Um, and maybe what would be too much, you know, she’d be like, or maybe don’t if that’s, you know, too much for you, but I really credit her for kind of keeping me. Keeping me honest and keeping me sort of open because I would have a tendency to like close off and she’s just like, Nope, Nope, Nope. And then as we progressed, I would get to a point where I would have it almost done.

And then I would have like this epiphany where I’m like, Nope, I have to, I have more to say about that. And so I would email her and I’d be like, [00:12:00] Hey, I need another couple of weeks. Cause I actually just thought of something really great that I want to put in the book. And because she knows me well enough, she was like, okay, I trust you, like go for it.

And so, so we can kind of work together, but it was, it was very much, it was the most collaborative book I think I’ve done ever. And just to have someone else to kind of call you out a little bit 

Susanne: Yes. It’s I mean, but That’s it’s wonderful, but it’s a little painful too, because I actually had that one, I think it was at a mom two session, , and KJ Dell’Antonia and Wendi Aarons, who are two friends of mine, but they were on the panel. And they were reviewing essays, I believe.

And it was, ,

and they had selected one of mine and, you know, they were like, oh, it’s got, you know, a nice voice. It’s humorous. Did it, uh, what’s the next level. And, , I mean, and it’s the same thing, like you were saying, I will talk about my hemorrhoids, , I’ll talk all day about those.

But if someone wants to talk about like my fears or my, you know, these types of things,[00:13:00] I’m like, okay, let’s just talk about my bet some more. 

Jen: Right. No, exactly. , I am, that is how I deal with, , anything stressful as I crack jokes, you know, like I will like get like at my parents’ funeral, like, I will have like a tight 15 minutes, so that be able to do like, and I’ll just be like, how about this? You know, my parents are dead, you know, like I have funny stories all day, but like, I will not stand up there and cry and be like, my dad was amazing.

Like that just is not like who I can, who I am and who I can be, I guess. So that was really hard. But then also though it was like really cathartic, like, because then I’d get through it and I’d write it all. And then I’d be like, and I feel bad, you know, like, cause I think writing is my form of therapy.

And so to sort of put it down on paper and to figure out how I really feel him and to deal with it. Cause I think that’s the other thing is like when you. push these feelings down. And that’s what I had been doing for years was sort of pushing it all down and cracking jokes and covering it up.

And that kind of thing, that it was like, no, you have to like actually [00:14:00] confront who you are and figure out what the fuck you’re doing.

Susanne: And before we, make listeners think that this is like a total downer book, it’s still funny. I mean, it’s still funny, but It. Doesn’t.

lead with humor. It leads with vulnerability and heart, but it also, I mean, you, you can’t do 

Missy: trademark Jen 

Susanne: yeah.

It’s trademark, Jen. 

Jen: Well, I think it’s interesting to you. And I think it depends on who’s reading it because so far I’ve had mostly women interviewing me about the book. Right. And the women were all like, oh, it’s so funny. It’s so funny. It’s so funny. You know, it’s, it’s poignant and it’s vulnerable, but it’s really, really funny.

And then the other day I had a, I had a radio interview here in Kansas city with a guy who we, every book I’ve ever had, he’s interviewed me. I mean, we know each other really well. We’ve had lots of conversations, but he starts in with, well, this book really isn’t funny. And I was like, well, I’m like, cause you’re a dude.

Missy: You

Jen: And I was like, ask your wife if she thinks it’s 

Susanne: Yeah, exactly. 

Jen: he, said, he’s like, you don’t lead with the funny. And I’m like, and I don’t. I did though, because then another guy later that day I [00:15:00] was interviewed by another man. My second, my third I’ve only had three men interviewed me about this book so far.

And my third man, but third man liked it. Cause I opened with, uh, something about getting kicked in my lady garden. And so, you know, and I did know that I did know, I wanted to sort of like open it with like, you know, a punch, literally like a people I want a punch in the throat kind of, but then kind of really get into it.

And it did, we did, that was something Pamela and I really tried to balance out too, was that we kind of, we wanted it to be serious, but I also, I was like, we got to start laughing by like page 20 or else I’m going to lose 

Susanne: Yeah. Yeah. 

Jen: So it’s a balance, but it is. I think it’s very funny and I’m glad, it’s funny because again, I think the last probably two rewrites at least were all during like lockdown and you know, and it’s like, and everyone was terrified. Not that we’re not scared now, but we were so much more. Frightened back then when we didn’t 


Missy: much more unknown.

Jen: Yeah. Well, you know, you’re wiping down your groceries and, you know, 

Susanne: Oh my God. I was just [00:16:00] thinking about that. 

Jen: like, 

Susanne: Oh my God. I was just thinking about that yesterday. I was Like,

you know what? As horrible as things are, at least I don’t have to quarantine all my groceries in the garage for 24 hours anymore. 

Jen: yeah. You know, you’d

come home and like strip your clothes, 

 you know, take your Silkwood shower. And you’d just like,

Susanne: I know.

Jen: so it’s like, so it’s like, everybody was so scared and I wasn’t trying to like crack jokes and like keep people entertained on the internet cause everybody’s trapped at home and trying to make this book funny. And so when the first reviews started coming in and they’re like, it’s funny. I’m like, oh, thank God.

Cause man, I didn’t feel funny. 

Susanne: no, I, I got the humor of it, but I also was like, this is special. This is a little different to different.


Missy: But it’s a testament to your sense of humor and your ability to be funny that you were able to find the funny in a time when we admittedly, a lot of us did not feel funny and did not know if it was time to make jokes or if it was time to be so serious

or the end of the [00:17:00] world or what? Yeah.

Jen: That was the other thing I was like, can I make fun of this? Well, fuck it. I’m going to, and I think it helps that I’m like most of the things I’m making fun of this time in this book are myself. Like I’m, I’m not really poking fun at other people or what they’re going through with their midlife crises.

It’s more just like, this is, you know, these are my two lopsided titties. Like I’m not going to talk about yours so

Susanne: I think when you said 

Missy: who 

Susanne: one of my favorite lines of the book was that one’s longer than the other. Yes. I said longer.

not larger. 

Missy: longer. 

Jen: longer. Yeah. 

Welcome to midlife.

Missy: It’s so great. 

Susanne: But I think some of the elements are outside of even midlife. I know Missy and I were talking about the, what have I done conversation. 

Missy: Yeah. I mean, I think that does hit people at a variety of times. It’s not so much a chronological midlife point. It just could be at a mid career stage or something, but [00:18:00] that’s really what we’re trying to do with this podcast is figure out the mom and.dot dot. Like what’s beyond that outside of our role as moms and the word purpose is so huge and, a little overwhelming at times.

and you talk about it a lot in the book, and I’m just wondering if the process of writing it helped you gain some clarity on that concept of purpose. And can you share with us where you are with that big word?

Jen: Yeah, I think purpose was kind of interesting to me. Cause I think with anything sort of self-help realm, you kind of already know, like you’ve heard it so much that you kind of don’t even understand like, like you said, it feels like a big word, but then when you start breaking it down, you’re like, oh wait, I have purpose.

Hold on. Like, you know, I don’t need to cure world hunger this week. Like, it doesn’t need to be my purpose. Like my purpose could just be like, I entertain people during the pandemic. Like I make them laugh. Every I’m goal is to make you laugh at least once today, you know? And if I can do it by 10:00 AM, I can have an app.

And so, [00:19:00] you know, and I, I think that purpose is something that’s very fluid too. I think it changes a lot. I think a lot of people feel like they have to kind of have like one purpose and that has to be their whole life’s mission. And I don’t think that that’s necessarily true and I don’t think you need just one purpose.

I think you can have multiple. And, and so for me, You know, I think once I started writing, I started writing 10 years ago. And once I started writing at first, it was like a hobby and it was more like a, like a way to sort of, I don’t know, like let out steam and, you know, be creative and that kind of thing.

But then once I started developing this audience and having this sort of these people relying on me to make them laugh, to entertain them, to, you know, you know, I would hear from people, they say, oh, I read your book while I was going through chemotherapy. Or I read your book while I was, you know, dealing with some really hard stuff at work and thank you for making me laugh.

And then I realized like, that’s, that’s a purpose. Like, that’s my purpose. And that has been my purpose for a long time. And [00:20:00] yes, I am lucky enough that I get paid to do that. But a purpose doesn’t necessarily have to pay you. I think a lot of people feel like their job is their purpose. And maybe it is, especially if you, you know, I mean, especially if you.

Someone who’s like teaching children are saving lives and, you know, but I think maybe it might be a little bit harder for somebody who’s like, I’m an actuary, you know, like, what is my, you know, is that my purpose? I dunno. 

Maybe like, you know, 


Missy: my purpose or is that my paycheck?

Jen: right. And so, and if it’s not your purpose, then you should probably find something else.

Like, and, and I think that it’s, you know, purpose is just, oh, of course my phone, sorry. Purpose is just like something that like, it gets you out of bed in the morning. Like, what is it that’s going to get you up and get you moving. And that’s where I think a lot of people, especially right now are struggling.

We have a lot of mental health problems going on right now. And like, I’m seeing it definitely like with teenagers, I have two teenagers and it’s like, what gets you out of bed? What are you working on today? Cause I need you to find something to work [00:21:00] on and to, to motivate you.

And, so we’ve, we focused on it a lot as adults, but I think even as young people we need.

Susanne: Yeah. And not even So much. Well, I guess as adults, I don’t know, maybe I’m an exception to the rule, but I feel like mid-life has given me a lot more permission to even think about that. And it is kind of a luxury, it’s a privilege to even be able to think about your purpose. It’s kind of a high class problem, depending on, you know, what your economic level or your social socioeconomic level is.

Um, so, but I do think that there is this beautiful thing about where we are now, this no fucks left to give newness that comes with getting close to 50. And so I just wish, I wish I could give it back to my 20 year old self.

Missy: So what would we have done

Jen: Well, and I think that’s a lot of it too, is that when you’re kind of in your early twenties, you’re sort of like wandering through and you’re like, what am I going to do with my life? What am I going to, you know, what am I going to be even? And it’s like, and I’m, yeah. I want to go back now and like slap that girl and be like, do all other things do [00:22:00] at all, try it all.

Who cares? What if you fail? Cause like, that’s the other thing I think at this age, we’re not afraid to fail anymore because we failed enough at this point that we’re like, we didn’t die. We were fine. But back in their twenties, we worried about that. Then I think for me, at least with my thirties and early forties, motherhood was a huge part of my purpose and like making sure that I was raising like good humans and that they were alive and 

Missy: It’s say fed them and shit.

Jen: Yeah, exactly. And now that they’re teenagers, I think that’s the teenage years are different though, too, because I really felt like I’d have more free time with teenagers, but I don’t, which really surprised me. And so now I’m really looking forward to like the emptiness. Like now I see why you are ready for emptiness.

Because like, when my kids were like, I remember when my oldest was five, I literally started crying. I was watching him play on the floor and I started crying and thinking like in 13 years who’s going to leave me and he’s going to go to college. And now we are like, like one and a half years away. And I’m just like, can I help you pack?

Like, have you thought about where you’re going? [00:23:00] And when he asked me, he’s like, are you going to turn my room into something? And I’m like, I

haven’t decided yet. Like, I don’t know, like we have a guest room, you’re welcome to stay in the guest room when you come home. Like, I don’t know yet. 

So, but I, I think that that’s part of it too, is that like, and he’s ready to go.

Like, so then I feel like, okay, cool.

Missy: the natural order of things

Jen: Yeah. 

But I do think as you reach middle age, you do have more, not more time, but you, you have the no fucks, you have less fear of failure and it kind of have more, you know, freedom in that you have that you have a cushion. I feel like, I feel like I have more cushion than now with, you know, that we can afford for me to fail or we can afford for me to kind of like take some weird risks or 

Susanne: Yeah. And one of those risks I’m sure was writing this book, but are there any other, like with this new found knowledge of like, I can do whatever I want. Is there anything else that you’re , thinking of trying? 

Jen: , you know, I’ve been talking for years about writing a fiction book [00:24:00] and, and I keep saying that I was going to write this fiction book 

Susanne: Well you wrote a young adult. 

Missy: Yeah,

Jen: I did, but I never really, I mean, but I really didn’t do it justice and it needs a lot of work and it needs, you know, it was supposed to be a series and I let it go because I had other opportunities come along that paid the bills more than that thing did.

And now I feel like, no, I’m going to just, you know, this is a huge departure. Why can’t that be a huge departure? Like, I’m just going to start doing what I want to do and we’ll see where it goes. I’m not as, um, I’m not as concerned I guess, about my audience and what they’re going to think. Cause I mean, at this point, if they’re going to buy midlife bites, then they’re going to probably like my fiction, I guess.

I don’t know.

Susanne: Yeah. Well, I think your audience. 

is growing with you. 

Missy: Yes. And there may be an audience for your fiction that isn’t the same as your Midlife Bites or there’s just a little bit of overlap or It doesn’t matter.

Like they 

Jen: matter. 

Missy: people.

Jen: Yeah, but I’d like to write what makes me happy, [00:25:00] you know, rather than, rather than do that actuarial thing where I’m just writing for the paycheck. Like I’d like to write what makes me, what brings me joy.

Missy: yeah. And speaking of joy, I really, really connected with and loved the parts of your book about community and relationships. I think that’s where a lot of our joy comes from. We need it. And I think we all struggle in different ways with creating it for different reasons. And it’s, for me, being a mom was really time consuming and I would throw myself into groups where maybe I didn’t fit, but I just was desperate for some sort of connection.

And it’s taken years to sort of unlearn how I was throwing myself into these groups. What have you learned? I love what you say in the book about like, go get yourself some friends, but what have you learned about being a friend and keeping friends in this midlife phase?

Jen: Yeah, well, so soon after I wrote the blog post and it went viral, I started hearing from just, you [00:26:00] know, emails and messages from tons and tons of women that were feeling the same way. And so I thought, well, I’m going to create a Facebook group. Like Facebook is sort of, I have a million fans on Facebook over a bunch of different groups and pages.

And, but I just thought Facebook is kind of where unfortunately, or fortunately we’re, middle-aged ladies hanging out. I’ve tried moving them one time. I got them to Google plus Google plus died and they’ve never forgiven me so they won’t move anymore. They’re stuck on Facebook. And so it was just us and conspiracy theorists. But I thought I’m going to start this private group on Facebook and see if I can get some women to join me and we can have some real conversations. And so right away, I mean, I think we have 28,000 women in there now, but you know, right away, I just started getting, you know, hundreds of people in there and people were a little reluctant to talk at first.

But then when they did like the main topic that came up over and over again was friendships. And that, how do I find friendships at this age? That so many of them had relied on their kids, [00:27:00] friends, parents to be their friends. And then they had outgrown sort of those activities and things. And the parents had gone with the kid.

Right. And so they’re just, women were just like, how do I find friends? And then I started thinking about, and I was like, yeah. Cause I feel like I’m really lucky that I have a lot of friends, but my friends will live in the computer. Like nobody really, like, I can’t just go to lunch with you guys today, you 


Like, and it’s not the same. Sort of zooming. And I think that was something actually that the pandemic taught me was that, you know, , I felt like I was like, oh, I was made for this. Like, I hate pants. I hate leaving my house. Like, I’m going to zoom the hell out of people, but it just, wasn’t the same sort of connection.

It wasn’t the same as looking someone in the eye and talking to them and you know, and there’s like, we’re not allowed to hug, but even like it’ll elbow bumps, you know, I just was like, it’s not the same. And so I started thinking about my own friendships and what kind of friend I am. And I am very much like, uh, I forget about friends.

It’s nothing personal, [00:28:00] but I just kind of get, I get zoned out. And like, if I don’t see you, I forget to text you or I forget to talk to you. and I thought. Wow. You know, my, my friends have all kinds of like left me cause I’ve left them. Like I’ve sort of changed too. And you know, or, or I was really good at saying no to things I really enjoy saying no.

And, um, you know, and people would be like, yo, do you want to go bowling with us? And I was like, that sounds terrible. No, thank you. You know, but you have fun. and then I had to start to unpack that I was like, why do you not want to go bowling? Like, what is it about like, What 

don’t you like about bullying?

And I’m just like, I don’t know. Like, and so, so before the pandemic hit, I had made a kind of a deal, like a, like a quiet deal. I didn’t put it out there on the internet or anything, but I just made a deal with myself in my head where I was like, I’m gonna try to say yes to everything I’m asked to and I’m gonna see if I can make some friends.

And so I start, you know, I was like, do you want to go bowling? And I’m like, yes,

Missy: sure.

Jen: I have my own [00:29:00] shoes. Cause I think the bowling shoes are gross. That’s what I decided is freaking me 

Susanne: Was that your why? 

Jen: Yeah. Right. So I bought bowling shoes on, on Amazon and I take my own shoes now, you know, and now 

though, like I’m gonna have 

Missy: to me to do that,

Susanne: Oh my. 

Jen: sanitizer in the holes cause then to get my own ball.

Missy: comes with a bag. I’m all about a bag.

Jen: Yeah. Right, exactly. Right. I love the accessories. Let’s do this, 

Susanne: now you look like the world’s biggest bowler 

Jen: Oh, I do. I 

Susanne: because you don’t like, 

Jen: Come in with my big old ball. And then like I put it right in the gutter and people, you know, they’re really intimidated until they see me actually go, you know, they’re like, look at their, oh wow. Who’s she, you know?

And he was like, oh yeah. Oh yeah, here it 

Susanne: no, I love the idea of kind of asking that why though. Cause we talk a lot about boundaries and saying yes to too many things. So when I read that chapter, I was like, Ooh, I don’t know if I agree with you Here 

Jen: Right. 

Susanne: but I think

Jen: think 

Missy: It’s a different kind of,

Jen: people there. And I think [00:30:00] there’s two different types of people because the thing I was noticing is I would see women kind of putting themselves out. I would see this in my groups where they’d say, well, I put myself out and then, but the people would say no new friends, which how bitchy can you be at 45 years old?

Now there’s no room at my lunch table for you. Like rude, you know? Oh, I don’t have the bandwidth for another friend. And. On one hand. Yes. I understand what you’re saying, but on the other hand, geez, what the heck, like take a chance on some people and then, but the other frustrating part I felt like was though that they had a lot of people complained to me, myself included, you know, oh, I have no friends and I never get, I never do anything.

Well, I’m sitting home by myself on a Friday night. Like, how am I going to meet anybody? Where am I going? Like where, who is someone going to come knock on my door and literally drag me out? Like, so that’s why I had to say yes to more things, because I wanted to sort of at least try it and see what would happen.

And now I’m in a balanced, whereas yes and no, like now I can pick and [00:31:00] choose. Now I’m quality over quantity. Do you know what I mean? , or I really like let people know if I’m saying no, there’s a reason, like, that sounds great, but unfortunately I have something else going on and then I try to reschedule right then, but could we do it, you know, could we go bowling next Tuesday?

Susanne: Okay. But now have you become an activity initiator in all of this or are you still just a responder to other people’s activities? 

Jen: Yeah. Um, I’m still kind of a responder, unless there’s something I really want to, let’s see. I am a person though that I am happy to go places by myself though, to look if it’s something that I really wanted to do. Like, you know, and so I would say that I am an initiator I’m trying to do better because I think that is where I am bad.

Like, and I’m lucky enough that I get invited to a lot of stuff. And so I do have that opportunity, but it hasn’t always been that way in my life. And so I’ve had to be the initiator sometimes, but if there somebody there there’s somebody that I want to connect with, I [00:32:00] do it. And then I’m really good at like, kind of like, I hate when people are like, oh, we should get together sometime.

And if I really do want to get together with you, I’m like, get out your phone. 


Missy: Yeah, 

let’s figure it out 

Jen: let’s do it right now because I know you’re like me, we’re going to go home. We’re going to forget about it for the next month and a half. And then the next time we see each other, oh, we were supposed to get together.

Weren’t we

Susanne: Yes. Yes. 

Missy: guilty of the, I definitely have been guilty of saying I don’t have the bandwidth. And when you really start to examine that, I don’t think that’s the case. It’s not that I don’t have the bandwidth it’s that I’m afraid of something, or it feels really vulnerable to put myself out there with new people.

And sometimes it feels difficult even with old familiar people. Not that they’re old, although all my friends are old, but, uh, you know, just with the familiar, you’re like, well, if I’m the one to initiate and they say, no, what am I going to do with that?

Jen: right.

Missy: There’s this having to say it’s okay. Because they may have legit reasons for saying no, and I can’t make it about [00:33:00] me.

It’s not, they don’t want to spend time with me or if they don’t. Okay. Like,

Jen: Well, right. And if they don’t, they don’t well, and there’s another part of that too, where it’s like, you’re, you’re putting yourself out there, but yet if you don’t put yourself out there, you’re not gonna get anybody to notice you any other way.

So you kind of have to, and I always kind of admired us like every now and again, you’d know, you’d meet somebody like, and they would just be like, hi, I mean, I like you, you seem great. Like, let’s go hang out. You know, here’s like, 

Missy: yeah. And come meet my other friends and their 

Jen: yeah. And I always say that, like, I need like an extra for the person to drag me out.

And then maybe, then I’ll kind of be more friendly. But, and then I think the other thing too, is that for me personally, I always have like a sense of dread. Like, I’m always thinking that like, oh, bowling is going to be terrible. Like I’m going to get there. I’m going to suck in and I’m going to hate it and I’m going to not want to do it.

But then I go. And as long as you’re with good people, you have fun. It doesn’t matter what the hell. And then I forget, like I come home and I’m like, oh, that was fun. That was stupid of me to like, I dunno, [00:34:00] I don’t know if that’s a form of fear or just my general, like disdain for life, but one

Missy: It’s my personality to a T I feel like we are cut from the same piece of that cloth, because it does not matter what it is I’m going to do. It doesn’t matter how excited I was when I planned it or bought the ticket or agreed to it or whatever it was. There will come a moment in the day or days leading up to it when I’m like, oh, this is bad ideas, bad idea.

I shouldn’t go. Why

was I thinking I don’t even want to do this. I don’t have any clothes. Yeah. Yes. It’s a kind of rain that day. Yeah. For 

Susanne: Remind me, not to invite you two anywhere. 

Jen: No, but

just know Susanne, if we show up, like, it was huge. Like we ever came so many things like to

Missy: I overcome 

Jen: that’s the thing, like we really, like, you.

Missy: Yeah. And every time I do anything, anything I come home and think, I’m glad I did that. If only for, you know, maybe something that maybe it didn’t go well, but I’ll be glad I got out and did it for one, at least one reason.

Jen: I mean, the only [00:35:00] thing I can think of that I would not enjoy going on. It would be like a marathon or something like that. Like, you know, so it was like, Jen, would you like to join? Like, I have a good friend who she runs triathlons and she was like, oh, uh, we could put together a team and you know, you could, she’s like, are you a good swimmer?

And I’m like, I mean, I don’t drown, but no, like, no I’m like, that sounds terrible. I was like, no, I’m like too bad my year of yeses over.

Missy: that’s part of being in midlife and like knowing yourself and you try a bunch of things and you know, you don’t want to do that, but you can find something else to do with that friend.

Jen: Oh gosh. Yes. like, 

I’m like, I’ll cheer you on 

Susanne: I love that you still have a chapter dedicated to saying yes to things, but then with that caveat of, you know, if it is something you want to say no. to, or yes, to be why? Like, why am I doing

Missy: Yeah. 

Jen: Acknowledge it at least own it and understand why you’re making that choice.

Susanne: I love it. Oh

there’s so many great lessons. I mean, we could go on And on about every [00:36:00] single chapter but I mean, the purpose, the friendships, all the

Missy: And 

Susanne: about 

Missy: chapter ends with like a special Jen take, what do you

call them? 

Jen: It’s so funny. Yeah. 

Those Jens Gems Jens 


Missy: they’re all great.

Jen: Uh, thank you. Well, it’s so funny because the other night I had an event here in Kansas city and, we were talking about kind of, there were some writers in the group and they were asking me like, how do you balance, with your editor, when she wants you to do something that you don’t want to do or vice versa.

And . I was like, so Jen’s gems. , I didn’t want to do Jen’s gems. Like I didn’t, I didn’t like it. Like I was like, man. And I had named them. I think I named them. Bites or bite, bite something with bites and she didn’t get it. Cause I was like, like they’re like nibbles, like they’re like bites, you know?

And she was like, oh, I did not get that. And I was like, oh Okay. So we came up with Jens gems cause I like alliteration. So I was like, Jen’s gems. But I was like, these are so silly. It’s like TLDR, I didn’t read the book. I didn’t read the check. [00:37:00] So when I said this in the group though, like everybody was like, oh, I love the gems.

And I was like, see, and this is why you have an editor because they know these things. Cause, cause I just did not think that that was at all interesting or fun. 

Like, you know, that’s the 

part I skipped. 

Susanne: gems. No, Lisen Strombergs a work, pause, thrive book has those two, just like, and they’re not even necessarily at the end of it. Sometimes they’re in the middle of the chapter, whatever, but I just love it. It’s just like, this is what I want you to know. Like if you get nothing else do this. 

Jen: And I was like, I can’t reward them for being lazy and not reading.

Susanne: I read it. Dammit. Oh, okay. So We’re about ready to go into the look, listen and learn segment, but I’m trying to think. Did we miss anything? Missy? Is there anything else we 

needed to 


Missy: obviously people can find the book now and buy it. Um, anywhere that they buy books, they

Jen: anywhere that you buy books, or your library should have it. And if they don’t, they can easily order it for [00:38:00] you.

Missy: And then what about events and places they can see you?

Jen: I don’t know. So I’m going to Las Vegas this week. I decided to do a destination book signing my first, like, so in the past, Susanneknows this because she’s hosted me before, but I used to travel around and I literally, like, I think we did a pizza place 

Susanne: Yes we did. Kristin Shaw 

Missy: Kristin’s pizza place

Susanne: Yes. 

Jen: we did. Kristin’s pizza place. I’ve done, you know, hole in the wall bars. I’ve done library, like people’s living rooms. Like I went on this whole, like, you know, suitcase book tour a few years ago and it was a blast. It was so much fun. And then, uh, COVID hit. And so I decided that I do like one party and I was like, I’ll do Las Vegas.

Cause people will like to come to Las Vegas and then they can see me and they can actually go like have fun in Las Vegas too. And so that’s on Saturday, so you can still get to Vegas. I still have a few more spots. I limited it due to COVID, but I still have a few spots to expect to see you guys there.

If you leave now, if you start 


now you can make it. 

Susanne: it’s pretty close to Texas. 

Jen: Yeah.[00:39:00] 

So, um, and then I don’t know, I’m hoping, I had two other events in-person events here in Kansas city that were postponed or to Alma Cron. Um, I’m hoping that when I get back though, like they’re saying that it’s gonna like, you know, dip again, And so 

maybe I can get out before spring break hits again, and then we haven’t,

Missy: Okay.

Jen: but I would love to kind of do my, my suitcase book tour.

Again, I really enjoyed that where I just kind of hooked up with my readers in different cities and we had a blast. And, um, I dunno, so I guess follow my website, gen JenMannWrites.com and as we get closer, you know, I will let you know when things are happening and if you want to host me, let me know. Let’s, let’s set it up.

If you have a spot for me, let’s do it.

Missy: You should definitely come to Austin

Susanne: I know. 

Jen: want to get back to Austin. Austin was a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun in Austin and I did want to Dallas I’d find a Dallas. , so yeah, I, I in Texas is always good and it’s an easy to me. I was [00:40:00] like, I have to be able to fly on Southwest because I need to check two bags for free. ’cause one bag is clothes and shoes and one bag 



Susanne: Yes. 

Jen: And then I just, and then I get my little rental car and I just drive all over the state and I stop in and see everybody and it’s, but I had so much fun and I really would love to get back to that again.

Missy: That’s an easy direct flight from Kansas city. 

Jen: Yeah.

Susanne: yeah. And you had people for the Austin event. People drove up from San Antonio, like they came from all over. So yeah, Texas is a big state. Is my stamp two events here. 

Jen: Yes. Well, shoot. I mean, aren’t you like another, like, I dunno, six hours from Dallas or something like you guys are far from 

Susanne: It’s about a three hour 

Missy: like 

Jen: Oh, is it that 

Susanne: Yeah. I went up,

Jen: I should say.

Susanne: Oh I should give MK a shout. Uh, , holy hot mess. See, I put all my books back here cause I always ended up turning around and going away from the microphone. So I was like, any book I’m going to talk about is right behind me today. And I can just grab it, but Now, I’m wrong because I went up to Dallas for, uh, Mary Katherine, MK [00:41:00] Backstrom as holy hot mess, 

Jen: That’s such a 

good book. 

I blurbed that one. That was a good 

Susanne: Yeah, that was fun. So I went and hung out with her at that and , it was her first event. So just trying to keep her, keep her for going cuckoo as she’s getting ready for that. But, um, but Yeah.

So it’s about a three hour drive. 

Jen: Okay. So it’s closer than I thought it 

was just feels like a frickin gaze drive, but,


Missy: it’s a long, you know, it’s either 35 and it’s a nightmare at times, but

Jen: right. So I dunno. So, but yeah, hopefully if the amacrine, when I get back from Vegas, I’ll do my quarantine and if I’m healthy and the numbers are coming down, I’m getting on the road. 

Susanne: Yay. We will host you. You’re 

Missy: Yes. And we’ll post everywhere.

Jen: Thank you.

Susanne: All right. So let’s jump in. If this is your first time listening to the podcast, welcome, we are so happy you’re here. , the look, listen, learn segment is the time when we just talk about some of the stuff that we’ve been, either watching, reading, listening to podcasts, music, or learning [00:42:00] about it could be an amazing class you’re taking or a new shampoo you have found, but it says just a opportunity to add some of those must dues to your list.

In case you’re feeling yourself getting stuck in our read on Netflix or the books you’re reading and stuff. So we never liked to put our guests in the hot seat first. So we’ll start out with Missy. Have you been look lists and learning anything? 

Missy: I have a look and listen, and to learn 

this week. I always feel like that’s a big week because some weeks I’m like, well, I didn’t learn anything. Um, so, uh, I am, well, this is sort of a look. Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t learn anything for a full 18 months really, 


Susanne: how to wash your groceries. 

Missy: and then learned, I didn’t have to do that. Um, um, this is a book, but I’m actually listening to it. So it’s kind of a look and Alyson, but I am listening to the The House in the Cerulean Sea it’s a book. I see your face. Did you read it? Yes. And it is not my normal [00:43:00] fare. And it was recommended in a list of books where it was a mix of like every kind of book.

They weren’t all YA they weren’t, it was all just jumbled in. And she did not specify like this one’s YA or this one’s like this. It was just like, these are books. That are amazing. So I’m like I’m going to read it. And, um, I highly recommend listening to it because it just brings these little weird characters to life, but it’s about an orphanage for magical children, but it has a ton of parallels to our current world.

And, it’s a really beautiful story about loving people as they are, where they are and treating them as equals and people not weirdos and the care, some of the characters are adorably, funny, and some of them are adorably scary. And, so I highly recommended the House In the Cerulean Sea, and I think the author is TJ Klune.

Jen: Yeah, 

Susanne: is it a why? A book or 

Jen: it 


Susanne: okay. 

Missy: a, it’s got a, um, an LGBTQ storyline as well. And, it’s just adorable. [00:44:00] I mean,

Jen: That’s a great one to share with your teens.

Like, I’d heard about it on, on the Tik Tok and, uh, I picked it up from, from the Tik TOK table at Barnes and noble and, um, and then I shared it with my teenager and she read it too. And we both just really enjoyed it. It’s a great one. So if you have any sort of like, you know, book clubs that you do with like all ages or somebody be a 

great one. 

Susanne: Okay, good. Okay. 

Missy: it’s very, um, like I have a couple kids who love magic and that kind of weirdness, like they love that kind of stuff. I have one who’s really into world-building and stuff. So anyway, I think it appeals to those kids as well. Um, I have one child who says, why would you ever read a book about a regular person in a regular world?

Like we live that every day. You know, he just wants to read about things that are out there. so I highly highly recommend it. 

 It’s not my normal stuff, but I loved it. Um, my listen, which is also kind of a look I’m all, all over the 

place today, uh, is Kathleen Madigan, do y’all know who Kathleen [00:45:00] Madigan is? She’s a Midwesterner. , she’s a comedian and she’s from a huge family. And so her family stuff is really funny. And, , I had to drive a ton this weekend for swim meets.

I did like four different legs. I was all over the state and, my son and I listened to Kathleen Madigan on our way home from a swim meet yesterday and just laughed, laughed and laughed. I just think she’s funny. And, I love her delivery and we’ve, I’ve seen her live, I think she’s worth seeing live for sure.

, but I highly recommend Googling her and listening to when we listened to yesterday was Bothering Jesus. Um, and it’s really, really funny. 

Susanne: okay. We need to check that one out. Zoe loves to listen to comedians.

Who’s the John, John. Who’s the one who just had the baby,

Missy: John Mulaney.

Susanne: John Mulaney. She listens to that. No matter where we go, she just listens to John Mulaney. over and over. She probably hasn’t memorized. 

Missy: I love John Malaney. So funny. Kathleen is very different than John, but very, very funny. I’m am I learn? I think I’ve talked about this before, but [00:46:00] I just want to remind everybody, go get your skin checked, do it more than once a year. If you have to, if you are one of the invisible people, like I am, you may need to go more than once a year, but I had, I’m showing it on the camera.

I had a couple biopsies right near my ear, kind of in that place where I’m, when I’m driving the sun beats in. 

Susanne: Oh, 

I never thought of that. 

Missy: yeah, it’s like this side of my face is definitely gets more even though now I’m really good about my sunscreen. 

I was not always, now I take care, but this is old stuff popping up. So I actually went in to have this one closer to my ear looked at.

And then she was like, I don’t like the spot next to it. And it turns out the one closer to my ear was nothing but some weird age bump and the one in front of it that she didn’t like was pre-cancerous. So I’m going to go get that taken care of. but it was a reminder that the, even the little things like this one that I would’ve thought was nothing is it’s different and it shows up and you haven’t seen it before.

Go have someone who went to school for that. 

Susanne: Okay. I’m due for a check. [00:47:00] 

Missy: Yeah, schedule it, get it done. And of course they’re scheduling like three years in advance because they have no people working so call now and get on their schedule. 

Susanne: uh, that’s how I feel about everything. Yeah. I need to get ahead of it. . All right, Jen, I see that you were drinking some water and muting. Are you okay? Do you have a tickle? Are you coughing? 

Jen: I’m coughing. I have my having a coughing attack over here, but 

Susanne: I can go. I can go into mind if you need some more time to cough. 

Jen: Okay. 

Uh, is it my turn? 

Susanne: Yes. 

Jen: okay. So, um, when I’m watching is so I’ve been watching, I feel like , you know, since 2020, I’ve watched everything on Netflix. Like I know we don’t have cables, so it’s all I have is like Netflix and Tik TOK. and I’m pretty much recent and a Tik TOK this week. So now I’m starting to watch like Korean, I’ve watched a Korean reality show.

Yeah. So I’m obsessed with like, I dunno, just, it’s so interesting, like from a cultural [00:48:00] point of view, because, so it’s a dating show where they’re on an island. They’re like, it’s called like singles Inferno, 

Missy: Ooh. 

Jen: Inferno, like I’m so used to like the bachelor, you know, where he’s like making out with eight girls at once in the hot tub, you know, and on these shows, it’s like, may I touch your hand?

 So it’s like, they call it singles Inferno, but it there’s no heat. I mean, it’s just like, like there’s absolutely no heat. And so they’re just sort of like, you know, I admire you greatly, you know, it’s almost like watching like a Jane Austen book, but like, but like everybody’s wearing like modern day clothing and it’s really cute.

And so 

Susanne: Maybe Inferno just doesn’t like translate appropriately . maybe it just means sitting politely. 

Jen: Right. Just, you know, respectfully talking to one another and so they’re on like a deserted island and then they have to , connect with one another and then they can go to like a paradise hotel, which again, like I’m so used to like the paradise suite, meaning like we’re going to get it on, you know, my faith, the black kind of thing.

And they get to the paradise suite and all they do is eat. Like, they’re so excited to like [00:49:00] eat food and like talk and that’s when they can first ask like personal questions. Like how old are you and what do you do for a job? , and so, , it’s just the sweetest, most innocent thing. And I really enjoyed it.

So I just finished it last night. I’m really sad. So I need another new, and then they always have these hosts because I also watched this Japanese one where they live. It’s almost like real world. They live in a house together and they all like do stuff, but they always have these hosts that come on in between.

And they started like interpret and they’re like whole, did you see that? Like, they were almost holding hands there. You know, I think something’s heating up and you know, and you’re just like, oh, like they’re 30. 

Susanne: So Like, newscasters doing that or does some human come into the room where the people are. 

Jen: No, it’s like a studio, like, 

they’d get like, they’ll cut to the studio and they’ll be like, what are you guys? And they’ll be like, what do you think is going to happen? Like, how’s it going to go next? And so it’s really fun and they’re almost always, one of them is like a comedian, so there’s always like someone cracking jokes or whatever.

So I really have enjoyed, uh, the Japanese and the Korean reality shows on Netflix. I really,

Missy: right.

Susanne: That’s amazing. 

Jen: if you’re

out of things to watch, [00:50:00] 

Susanne: Yeah, because we’re almost done with the Sopranos, so yeah,

Missy: Hmm. 

Jen: yeah, it was really started game of Thrones over. I was like, I don’t know what else to do at this 

point. So, 

Susanne: We’re 

Jen: and then reading. Um, as I said before, I’ve joined the tick-tock. And so I have started following my algorithm first. It was showing me like lesbians making bread, which was really fun to watch.

enjoy that a lot. Like they can need a loaf of bread, like nobody else. , but then I got into like book talk, which was cute, and that’s where I found like this resiliency and all that kind of stuff. And that was real cute. But now I’m in like smut talk and, um, I’m not leaving and I don’t normally read 

Susanne: It’s the Inferno. 

Jen: There’s the urine Ferno. Exactly. Yeah. Cause I don’t normally read that , but I’m so impressed by like, I mean, there’s like a woman right now who does this week and I wish I could remember her name, but I’m going to read her book next, but she, she it’s a two-year-old book that, you know, she self published it two years ago, but Tik TOK got ahold of it and they put it to number one over the weekend and you know, and [00:51:00] I just love these kinds of stories.

I love like from a writer side, from a business side, you know, so now like I’m watching. So there was the first one that I saw this happen to was, , Ruby Dixon’s book, which was, , the ice planet barbarians where, you know, women are stranded on a deserted ice planet, but ravaged by hot aliens. Um, so, and I was like, sounds plausible.




Missy: read that,

Jen: yeah, I’m deep into that series. 

Susanne: I think we see your next John rhe books. You want to write? 

Jen: Well, I keep saying that I’m going to write, you know, this is all research, cause I’m going to definitely write some sort of like I have to, but I’m going to have to write it under like a pseudonym and then, you know, 

Susanne: I know, cause I wouldn’t want my mom to read it but no, you told me that you told me that the very first time we ever met, like five years ago, we were talking. No, were we let’s see, we were talking, we met over our love, uh, for Hugh Howey and

Jen: yeah, 

Susanne: And so, but you were like, you know, what really sells [00:52:00] romance? 

Jen: does It’s 


Missy: out of it. I mean, those books

Jen: Those those writers are so, and they’re so smart the way they do it, because I remember with Ruby Dixon with the ice planet, barbarians, like that one caught fire on Tik TOK. And I immediately went to her, you know, Amazon and apple pages and stuff. And she was so smart. Like she dropped the price and was like, here you go, folks for, you know, less than three bucks.

And I was like, buy, buy, buy. Like I bought it all. Cause I was like, okay from, you know, cause if I’d gone there and it was $15, I would’ve been like, Hmm, do I like, do I like horny aliens that much? I don’t know. I’ve never tried one, 

Susanne: but for 3 99, I’ll give horny 

aliens a 

Missy: want to check out the horny

Jen: So I just, I think they’re so smart and they just really understand and they know their audience because I’m not their audience.

Cause I read it and I blush, but I’m just sort of like, damn you really, if you think I went there, you should 

see what they.

Missy: there? 

Susanne: well, no, and I do think romance writers are some of the [00:53:00] smartest savviest, uh, Sarina Bowen, who is now , on the hashtag am writing podcast. She used to just kind of pop in every once in a while, but now She’s there quite a bit. Um,

Missy: She’s permanent hosted.

Susanne: she’s so smart and they would usually bring her around to be like, okay, tell me like the 10 things I need to know about , self publishing or the algorithms of the Amazon search engine and all those kinds of stuff.

It’s amazing. Everything

Jen: I mean, if you were interested in self publishing in any genre, you should be friend a bunch of them and watch them all and how they do it because they are always, they always have their finger on the pulse of like, whatever’s next, like, , wherever we should be next, they’re already there.

And they’ve been there for awhile.

Susanne: Yeah. Okay. I, you know what, I’ve never read a romance, but I, I need to try one. I needed to try one, 


Jen: such, you know, 

Missy: 50 shades.

Jen: Well, I 

will say, okay. So I 

don’t think, I don’t think, 50 shades is actually a really good example now that now that I’ve become a con a sewer, I’m not sure. Like, [00:54:00] I mean, I think 50 shades was like a really good like entry point for a lot of us who had never read romance or erotica before.

But now that I’m really reading, like what the real erotica people want you to read 50 shades is like, you know, it’s barely a Inferno island. I mean, it’s just, it’s it’s tepid.

I mean like if you’re, you know, cause that’s the thing. I was like, I w I was just talking to my husband the other day.

Cause we were brainstorming about my smut book, then I’m going to write and I said, well, if they’re not having sex by page two, I don’t understand why I’m there. What am I doing? They’re like, we need to be, get to the action. So. 

Susanne: I feel like I am the Inferno island of like, may I touch your knee? Okay. I gotta, I gotta get out of my comfort zone. I’m going to say yes to horny aliens. 

Jen: Aliens. Yeah.

Susanne: say yes. Okay. Well my Localist. Yeah, my look, listen and learns. Okay. Look very PG now. Um, let’s see. So my look, I’m so proud of myself. I read a [00:55:00] book like with my face instead of listening to it, I’ll listen to three books a week, but I actually read, read, as you can see behind me in my feed books here, um, midnight library, which. 

Jen: one’s so 

Susanne: so good.

Which was a look, listen, learn of Missy’s I think like months and months ago. And I finally got around to reading it. , but I just love any book. That’s like a sliding doors or 

like, what are these alternate lives I could have had if I would’ve made this different choice along the way. And I, the one thing I was, and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything you guys can tell me and I’ll edit it out if I am.

But the event that starts it all off is, , a suicide attempt, which I found that like really potentially triggering. And I found it a little, like not glamorizing it, but like, Ooh, what a fun thing to happen because I tried to commit suicide so that I was like, Oh I don’t like That 

Missy: yeah. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I don’t

Jen: Right. I guess I, yeah, well in that, Hey, you [00:56:00] know, the author, he is someone who has dealt a lot with his own sort of demons and depression. And like he has the whole new, what is it? The comfort book. Is that what his 

new one is like? Um, so I I’m sure, I don’t know him personally, but 

Susanne: He probably had sensitivity, readers and stuff then, but to me, I was just like, Oh, I was like, I feel like I’m almost wanting to give a trigger warning before I talked about it in the sense of just like, I mean, not that it glamorizes it, , but I just love, love, love, love, love the book though. I don’t want to put anybody away from it, but just if that is a concern, 

Jen: All right. So then to

Susanne: Just be it, be aware of that.

and Yeah. I was so proud of myself for actually reading a book book. 

Missy: With your 

Susanne: I, I read a lot of non-fiction book books, uh, for research and all that kind of stuff. But, for fiction, I usually do audio, but oh, the other most exciting thing, they amazing races back, which is our family viewing. Um, we have watched the [00:57:00] kids even yesterday.

They’re like at season 34, I can’t even remember. And they’re like, they’re like, have we seriously watched all 34 seasons? I think they were mentally doing the math of how 

Missy: Yeah. They’re like, how is that 

Susanne: we spent together on the couch watching all these. Uh, but I mean, our kids have had amazing race theme, birthday parties. We take our amazing rates very seriously around here.

and so this is their pandemic. not episode, but there’s Series. I guess, season. Um, because the first episode was everything’s normal. They’re running around London, kissing people, hugging people going on whatevers. And I think it’s after the

third, it’s the third leg where everything gets locked down. So we’re watching, like in real time, every time they like kiss someone or hug someone or go through an airport where like you just gave them a, COVID just like, I know it’s the amazing race.


Jen: ones who spread it. 

Susanne: I guess then They paused for like a year, same contestants. [00:58:00] and then they start back up with a lot of precautions in place.

They have private jets instead of, you know, the usually having to run to the airport and all that kind of stuff and get tickets. So I’m really curious to see, you know, just from a production standpoint, how they actually deal with that. So I’m really fascinated, but it. also is just kind of fun to see.

This is kind of like when you’re driving down the road and you see an accident is backed up for miles and then you see the cars just kind of coming and they don’t know what they’re about to hit. I feel like that’s what I’m watching. Are these people driving up and I’m like, dude, you’re gonna 


Jen: back. Well, and then, like, I, that’s interesting that they did it that way with like private jets and stuff. It’s a good thing as the 34 seasons, they have that kind of 

Susanne: Yes. Yes. So I don’t know 

Jen: Because that’s always, the fun is like, they’re always like, you know, there’s four different flights they could take, you know, if they take the first flight they get in three hours before everybody 

Susanne: Yeah. I saw an interview with Phil where he said that they still make it hard. And now. the hardest thing is probably the driving. Cause they’re, I don’t [00:59:00] think they’re using any public transportation and they can’t use cabs and stuff. So

it’s Yeah. And all those dinged dots, like who goes on the amazing race after 34 seasons.

And it’s like, I don’t know how to drive a stick shift and


Jen: how I

feel about 

Missy: what we would always say. Like I would practice driving all kinds of cars. I would practice driving on the wrong side of the road. I would practice everything.

Jen: Well, that’s like survivor because we are into survivor in 

this household. And I’m always amazed at the people who go on survivor and one didn’t bulk up and put on 40 pounds of fat before they got there. Cause hello, like let’s, let’s live on that for a while. Like I’m like, I would live forever out there.

And then who can’t swim, who can’t swim. Like you’re what you can’t

Missy: You know, you’re going to stand on something tall and fall into the water at some

Jen: that to who, like let’s practice, let’s let’s work on these 

Susanne: serious immersion therapy for y’all before you go on there. But yeah.

so I’m so excited and I’m so excited to see what they do with the amazing 

Missy: Is this the one who were the internet, people who make the videos, are they 

Susanne: the whole grins or the 

Missy: [01:00:00] Holderness

Susanne: Holderness. 

Yeah. it’s so funny because everybody on this season has some type of internet fame. Touchpoint either they, something went viral about them or whatever. And some of them are kind of nice. Like people save people’s lives or, you know, they stopped a terrorist attack and that went viral or whatever.

But after like the third introductions, my husband was like, I am not going to like this season. So Yeah.

we’re waiting for, we’re going to be rooting for ‘

Jen: ’cause Chewbaca lady on there and

Missy: Oh, that’d be 

Susanne: uh, for, to buck a lady. She didn’t, 

Jen: she didn’t capitalize. 

Susanne: it didn’t roll if You borrow, you got to go girl.

Jen: You got to get on a girly.

Susanne: Speaking of getting to go girl, , we got to our next interview coming up back to back here. We’re going to be talking. Here we’ll we’ll preview it. Cause she’s going to be the week after you. Jill Smokler.

Scary mommy, so Yeah, we’ve gotta to go.

down some food before we talked to Jill. So we don’t 

pass out and get some food. And I [01:01:00] know you probably have like 10 more interviews lined


Jen: say I’m just getting my thing set up over here. I’ve got one coming up in about 15 minutes. Does I gotta get on? Uh, so 

Missy: You also need to pee and 

Susanne: yes, go pee, get fluids. 

Jen: I’ve got my fluids. I’m good to go. It’s more just pain. So it’s like an Amazon worker. I’ve got an empty cup around here somewhere. 

Susanne: Okay. Go 

pee. So you’re ready for your 

thing. Yes, but we are so, Okay. Everybody hold up your books again. I’m getting mine from the back row here. Midlife bites, go check it out. And if, if you’ve read anything by Jen Mann before you’re going to love it. If you have never read anything by Jen Mann, before you were going to love 

it, even though it goes deep, it’s vulnerable.

It still has the Jen Mann that you know, and love. And, that gets you through life with a little bit of 

Missy: Yeah. And I, and a menopause, a menopause hack that, uh,


Jen: Oh, yeah. We didn’t even talk about that.

Missy: I know, I don’t want to talk about it. I want to tell people, just go find 

Susanne: okay. That’s the 


Missy: and then let us know if you try it.

Jen: Right. The [01:02:00] sensational part of that book is a, yeah, it’s a great hack. So read it and tell me if you like 

Susanne: yeah, that’s going to be our Easter egg. Everybody has to let us know if you saw it. 


Jen: not in the gems.

Susanne: It is a gem.


Missy: It is a gem.

Susanne: Oh, well, Thank you so much, Jan. It’s always so 

fun. Chatting with you. and congratulations on the success already one weekend and you’re already kicking butt. Awesome. 

Jen: thanks guys. Appreciate it. 

Susanne: Take care. Bye.