Cincy Chic: In your opinion, what's a "Late Bloomer"?
Amy Cohen: A Late Bloomer is someone who discovers his or her strengths later in life than expected, which was definitely the case for me.
Within a year I lost my mother; my sitcom writing job of three years; my boyfriend, who broke up with me; and then my face (when I got an eight month rash. Yes, nice right?) I was left reeling and asking, "Who am I" and through the long, hard road to finding out, I found strengths I never knew I had.
I was a Late Bloomer not only to being okay with not being a wife and mother at the time I thought, or having exactly the career I thought I would, I was also a Late Bloomer to being okay with myself.
My relationship with my father is another kind of Late Bloomer success story. We'd had a tricky relationship my whole life and when my Mother got sick we gradually became inseparable. Our relationship now is one of the great surprises of my life. So Late Bloomer has all sorts of definitions.
Cincy Chic: Do you think a lot of women are late bloomers?
Cohen: Before the book came out, every time I mentioned the title someone said, "Ah! That's me! I'm a Late Bloomer, too!" When I wrote the book I had no idea how many people would identify themselves as Late Bloomers – I thought it was just me.
I've gotten so many letters from fellow Late Bloomers telling me their stories: of career changes (one woman, whose kids were off to college, got her communication degree at 47, so she could work in TV). I met a woman at a party who said, "You wrote a book about Late Bloomers? I decided to have a child at 45 and I got pregnant the first try!" Then I found out that Lucille Ball was almost 40 when "I Love Lucy" debuted. And then there's Grandma Moses, who didn't start painting until she was in her 70s.
I think women are especially ripe for blooming late. So many women are choosing to get married and have children later. Other women who choose to get divorced, find themselves at a crossroads, wondering, "who am I now?" which often leads to their feeling eager to bloom. And then there are the other women I've heard from, the ones who "had it all" (Husband, children, even career) and begin to think "Now what's next?" So Late Bloomers are an eclectic mix.
I love hearing people's Late Bloomer stories. It's fantastic. They're eager to share their stories and say, as I did, "Don't get discouraged! There's hope!" I wished so much someone had told me that everyone doesn't grow up or figure things out at the same pace. Some people bloom in their teens, others in their 20s, 30s and yes even 40s, 50s and beyond.
Cincy Chic: Why did you call the book "The Late Bloomers Revolution"?
Cohen: I started telling myself that I was a Late Bloomer just to calm myself down when my life seemed to be careening out of control. "Everything will be alright," I told myself. "I'm just a late bloomer. I'm just a late bloomer."Miraculously, the more I said it, the more I believed itÉ and then it actually became true.
As for the revolution part of the title, I just can't emphasize enough how little faith I had in myself for the first thirty-plus years of my life. I saw myself as the emotional equivalent of a cheap piata, one hard blow and that would be it. I desperately wanted to change and grow up, but I thought, "I'm 35. If it hasn't happened by now? What's the likelihood?" But thankfully I was very wrong about that.
Cincy Chic: Assuming you were a Late Bloomer yourself, tell us a funny story how being a late bloomer made life a bit awkward…
Cohen: Well, the title chapter, "The Late Bloomer's Revolution," is about how I taught myself to ride a bike at 35. That was pretty awkward and painful to watch, as I would constantly veer into cars for the first few months I was riding.
Cincy Chic: What's one Late Blooming achievement you're the proudest of?
Cohen: Teaching myself to ride a bicycle at 35. I'm as proud of being able to ride a bicycle as I am of being willing to look like a complete idiot day after day doing it. Teaching myself to ride a bicycle and tackle wheel revolutions was my turning point, the event that convinced me that I could one day see myself as strong and scrappy.
I loved that someone told me the great metaphor about bicycle riding is, "You can't look too far ahead or too far behind or you'll crash.You have to just keep looking forward," which I thought was such a terrific metaphor for how to live your life.
Cincy Chic: Any advice to other late bloomers out there?
Cohen: Believe. It's not going to be easy. People will say well meaning things like "aren't you a little old to be trying that?" or "Listen, Toots, That ship has sailed." But keep on keeping on. There will be many rough days, months, even years, but if you really believe in yourself, it will happen. Maybe not in the time you think it will (I'm still not married, and last time I looked I had no kids). But I'm proof that if you keep believing, anything can happen. Trust me, if I wrote a book, you can do anything.
Cincy Chic: Ever been to Cincinnati? If so, what's your favorite thing about it?
Cohen: Unfortunately, I've never been to Cincinnati, but I have a special love for Ohio, because that's where my mother grew up. She was from Shaker Heights.