Welcome!

I’m glad you found me. I’ve been looking everywhere.

Amid Life is a home for self-discovery and new beginnings written for (and by) resilient, rebellious, reinventing women.

Midlife woman looks at the horizon over the Carribean ocean under stormy skies
This photo, taken in the Bahamas in 2017, captures the moment I decided to quit my job (at 56) and pursue my purpose (whatever that might be). On the shiny surface, I was living a “perfect” life. Underneath—I felt broken. Something had to change and that something was me.

I bet you’re amid something or other too—work, personal reinvention, career crisis, grief— and maybe also trying to become the best version of yourself while caring for everyone else and, at the same time, balancing all of the shit that it seems mostly women must balance while also carrying the heavy load of expectations that was heaped on you by the world in which you were raised and that load is getting heavier every day in this unsettling world thanks to —say it with me—the patriarchy.

And yes, that was a run-on sentence, and you’re out of breath—
because life can be hard and you.never.stop.

I see you. I am you. In this newsletter, I share vulnerable stories and practical life lessons with a nibble of humor. Let this be a place where you can share your stories, too! The goal is to connect, to feel a little lighter, to make someone else smile, and maybe ease the load for a while—maybe just to feel a little less discombobulated or alone—in a word, SEEN. Because isn’t that what we all want—amid this life?

I am a tenacious, curious, impatient life learner. Subscribe, and we can share our homework.

Monthly newsletters will be short (5-10 minute reads) with lots of interesting links and lots of chat threads (both thought-provoking and silly), as well as occasional longer-form essays and guest-written things.

All subscribers will…

  • Be the first to see new posts via email or the Substack app.

  • Be the first to share your thoughts, add comments, ask questions, and connect with other readers.*

  • Get inspirational quotes in Social media-ready formats to save and share.

  • Find reading recommendations, resources, and links for deeper discovery.

  • Receive sneak peeks from my midlife memoir, Typing Lessons. Wherein I, a menopausal mid-level corporate manager, move to rural Vermont, hire a life wizard, and quit my job to embark on a frantic search for purpose.
    🦁🐯🐻 Oh my!

*most posts will be archived behind a paywall after one week

Paid subscribers will:

  • Get that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting midlife women striving to make their voices heard. And my wholehearted gratitude!

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  • Access to the complete Amid Life archives, including previous versions of this newsletter.

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Ready to write your story?

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Who is this Substack author?

I’m Catherine Palmer. Happy to meet you.

I bought an old farmhouse in rural Vermont on my 50th birthday. Six years later, I was scraping perimenopausal rock bottom (later than average, I know!) and suffering from career burnout. I was used to being a driven perfectionist and goal-getter, but suddenly, I was spiraling like a twister.

So, I clicked my heels three times and hired a life wizard. I told her I needed a plan. She told me to stop steamrolling my life. When I left my three-decade marketing career, the only thing I knew for certain was that I would not (could not) retire.

For a year, I made lists and plans—some more effective than others. I read books, journaled, went on “artist’s dates,” and returned to the yoga mat. I listened to Podcasts and TED talks, took classes, and tried on new vocations, like a royal wedding guest trying on hats. I thought I’d become an Instagram influencer. Who knew the job required more than 132 followers?

I was on a frantic search to find my so-called purpose.

White Vermont farmhouse and barn with a red roof, set in green meadows and blue sky
Home, where I do not raise chickens, make jam, or rescue a small-town newspaper. Life is not a Hallmark movie.

During the race to reinvent myself, I craved “likes” like I used to chase atta-girls and spot bonuses. What I like about writing on Substack is the ability to create a no-comparison, filter-free, no-judgement zone.

I thought I just had to figure out what I might have been and do that, but the story I had woven about myself—as a career woman, a mother, a daughter, a needy, awkward, introverted gold star seeker—was difficult to unravel.

What I really needed was to give myself a break. And I will—as soon as I learn how. Let’s learn together.

I write from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, in a crooked room under the eaves of an 1800s farmhouse. I live with Kitty, my one-eyed cat, an anxious yellow Lab named Rangeley, and my life partner, who captures the stars and says I can write anything about him I’d like, as long as I call him Felix.

When I was in high school, my mom told me to learn to type so I’d always have a job. I began as a receptionist, then secretary, and so on, climbing midway up the ladder in the corporate world (the view was just fine). I used to manage brand and thought leadership marketing for Fortune 500 and Nasdaq 100 technology companies, now I am writing my own story.

I hold a B.A. in English from the University of New Hampshire and an MA in marketing communications from Emerson College. I added an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast (University of Southern Maine) in 2022 —a great use of pandemic lockdown time.

I’ve published in The Boston Globe, American Literary Review, and other literary journals. I am a frequent contributor to AARP’s The Ethel Magazine, and I am writing a memoir Typing Lessons.

Thanks for joining me here—amid life.

Swirling pink line with three leaf green clover, signature Catherine

What’s with the clover? A three-leaf clover reminds me that no matter how lucky I am (and I am. very.), luck only gets you so far. Work hard. Be brave. Believe.

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Amid Life is a home for self-discovery and new beginnings written for (and by) resilient, rebellious, reinventing women.

People

Recovering corporate marketer. Used to write stories for tech companies. Now I write my own. Published in The Boston Globe, AARP's The Ethel, American Literary Review, and elsewhere. Currently writing TYPING LESSON, a memoir of midlife reinvention.