A big NABBW welcome to Chloe Jon Paul, M.Ed., who’s been a huge supporter of NABBW for years.
We’re excited to feature Chloe, as she publishes her first novel, “This Business of Children,” a wonderful book that pinpoints many problems that teachers encounter in their daily lives, both at school and home. It reads like something ripped from the headlines, proof that she knows what she’s writing about.
A teacher for 35 years, she’s taught every grade except kindergarten. Chloe tells us she lived for days when her students said, ” Gee whiz! Three o’clock already?” Whenever that happened, she notes, “I knew I had to be doing something right!” No doubt.
Teaching and writing have always been Chloe’s passions. She retired early from teaching and turned to writing full time when classroom rules and regulations began to stifle her ability to be creative in the classroom. “We were being forced to ‘teach to the test’ and that was something I refused to do.”
Chloe has previously published several articles and two non-fiction works “What Happens Next: A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits” and her seminal guidebook for Boomer women choosing to take on the second half of life with style, “Entering the Age of Elegance – A Rite of Passage and Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman.” (Note: “What Happens Next” is available in Amazon Kindle format, convenient for those who need instant advice.)
We’re sure Chloe ought to be teaching again. This time she should set her sights on assisting aspiring writers. One of the first things on her class planner: training her students how to find the time to write. After all, in addition to her writing, Chloe always has plenty of other irons in the fire.
Chloe’s many achievements – just since age 55 — include:
- Winning the title of Ms. Maryland Senior America 2003
- Recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship Seminars Abroad award to South Africa, 1996
- Volunteer internship during the 2005 Maryland legislative session as a Legacy Leadership Institute graduate
- Lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project in prison and community workshops on conflict resolution for ten years
- State representative for the National Family Caregivers Association’s caregiver community action network 2006-2008
- Advisory board member: MD, Healthcare Commission and the Interagency Commission for Aging Services: Maryland Dept. of Aging
- Hospice and homeless shelter volunteer
- Coordinator for the Good Samaritan Project at her church
- World traveler – all 7 continents
But let’s let Chloe tell us about her life in her own words…
Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a retired-teacher-turned writer. Perhaps some of my best accomplishments were achieved since the age of 55. Some of them include winning the title of Ms. Maryland Senior America in 2003, being awarded the Fulbright Fellowship to South Africa in 1996, serving as a lead facilitator in conflict resolution for the Alternatives to Violence Project …and much more. My bio can be viewed on my web site.
Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.
I have been a widow since 1996. I have been blessed with a son, a daughter, and 3 grandsons.
What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?
There are many favorite memories but when I think of my life as a teenager back in the 50’s, it really was Happy Days! We hung out at the local ice cream parlor, sipping milkshakes and playing records on the jukebox without a care in the world!
What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?
This question invokes a bit of narcissism (smile). However, it makes me think of three qualities in particular: patience, endurance, and empathy.
What inspires you?
My philosophy of life has inspired me to do things I never imagined I would do and it is simply this: Find a need and fill it.
What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?
What brought me the most pleasure in midlife was seeing my children grow into responsible, successful adults, and giving them wings to fly so that they could move on with their own lives.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
Unless you consider travel a hobby, I would have to say no.
Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.
My favorite book of all time is the Bible. It is, after all, the greatest story ever told! Another favorite of mine through the years has been Harold Kushner’s “When all You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough.” He really makes you think about what’s really important in this life.
Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?
One of my life goals was to travel to all 7 continents and I accomplished that in 2005. I have loved traveling abroad and immersing myself in the local culture.
I have only traveled with a friend twice: to Australia and China. Both friends were great travel companions!
I also took my oldest grandson on a Glacier Bay cruise in Alaska 3 years ago. We had a wonderful time together.
Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.
I don’t take any prescription drugs whatsoever and my doctor keeps telling me,”Chloe, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it because it’s working just fine.” I chose alternative treatments for cholesterol, poor digestion, depression, and osteoporosis. My supplements include enzymes, amino acids, Cal-Mag-Zinc, and Gugalipid. I also take vitamin D four times a week.
What do you stress about?
Fortunately, I rarely stress about anything. One of my favorite mantras is: Let go…and let God. I truly believe that the spiritual life I have embraced keeps me serene and at peace.
Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?
No, it’s not important at all! Why is it that women with wrinkles are referred to as crones while men with wrinkles are said to ”look distinguished”? I wear my silver threads and wrinkles as a badge of honor. I’ve earned them!
Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?
I re-invented myself when I retired from a 35 -year teaching career and began writing full time. I now have 3 published books on the market.
Do you plan to retire?
As I told family and friends several years ago: “I’m retiring from a job; I’m not retiring from life.”
Are you doing anything to GO Green?
Ah yes! I limit my driving by scheduling errands and appointments in such a way that I consume less gas. I recycle and re-use (much could be said here!). I monitor the use of electricity, air conditioning, and heating oil in my home. You would be amazed at the savings!
Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?
Caring for my elderly parents led me to writing my first book: “What Happens Next? A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits…and More.” Battling major depression in midlife subsequently led me to write my second book: “Entering the Age of Elegance: A Rite of Passage & Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman.”
As for “play”, I knew I had set a goal to travel to all 7 continents and I simply said to myself: “It’s now or never!”
Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?
One unfulfilled dream is to see my novel made into a movie. Several people who have read the book have said “Oh my God! This should be made into a movie!” At the moment, someone who writes screenplays is reading the novel so we’ll wait and see what happens.
How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?
One of the things I am most proud of is having established The Good Samaritan Project at my church. We help fellow parishioners in so many ways: respite care for caregivers, rides to the doctor, help with grocery shopping, light yard work, helping with funeral arrangements, meals for the disabled, tutoring children…and more. These are people who are strapped financially, are elderly, or temporarily disabled due to surgery.
One parishioner was so impressed with our work that this individual donated $20K to the Project. I have 28 wonderful volunteers who donate their time and talents to helping others.
Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
Actually there are 2 persons who top the list. First, there was my beloved Grandmother Teresa who came to this country as an Italian immigrant to work for a cigar manufacturer in Tennessee and later for his son, a doctor in Florida. I could write a book about her! She taught me everything I know about kindness and charity toward others.
Second, my dear mother Clotilde, impacted my life with her love for learning. Due to the Great Depression, she was forced to quit school and go work in a factory. She never gave up her desire for a high school diploma and finally achieved her goal at the age of 55! She went on to study at a local community college where she distinguished herself. She was unable to finish because of failing health.
This same woman, who desperately needed a new winter coat when we were children, opted to purchase a set of encyclopedias for us instead! She knew how much we yearned to have that set.
If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.
My mission statement is this:
I will strive to visit these four rooms of my “house” each day: the physical, the spiritual, the mental, and the emotional in order to maintain a balanced way of life.
(Based on what a wise old Indian guru once said: “Man is a house with 4 rooms: the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional. The problem is that he tends to spend most of his time in only one of those rooms whereas it would be in his best interests to visit each of them every day.”)