I first met Cheryl Oreglia, author of Grow Damn It! via WordPress, specifically, Oreglia’s My Concept of Beauty is Aging Well was the winner of the first Navigating the Change body-positivity contest. She has a way of merging humor with real-life events, so I knew her debut book would be a treat.

SYNOPSIS (from the publisher):

Grow Damn It! is a captivating work by Cheryl Oreglia, who uses uncommon honesty and arresting humor to draw you into her cantankerous life, forty-year marriage, and revolving empty nest. She claims the space between past and future is where our potential is created or destroyed.

If you don’t like where your life is going, dig deeper, and write a new story. By weeding out the things that clutter her life, she invites you into a refreshing space with some of her most popular posts from her beloved blog Living in the Gap.

She surrounds herself with a gaggle of intriguing friends, along with a large and rambunctious family who challenge both her and the reader to live fully in an ever-changing world. Her provocative writing dares us to confront our lives not only with optimism, but courage, and uproarious laughter. Oreglia uses her experience to explore what matters most in life…the degree to which we love and are loved.

What I LOVE:

Oreglia has a way with words. From the essay, “Spoiler Alert,” she writes, “The truth is, our disquiet connects us, my fear pulling on yours, yours pulling on mine as if taffy until our toxicity becomes something new. A variant, if you will, more flexible than its original form and highly contagious.” Words like these are peppered throughout Grow Damn It!, and quite honestly, it’s what kept me reading each page. Oreglia knows how to turn a phrase, and she uses language to inspire middle-aged women to think and move differently.

“Middle-Aged Penance” is one of my favorite essays. In it, Oreglia outlines something I think many active middle-aged women have done, exercised with the idea that they can do what they used to do or begin to exercise, even if they’ve been averse to it in the past. “I’m exhausted after the warm-up,” she writes. After reading, I can’t help but to remember when I was coaxed into doing Cross-Fit in my thirties. After we’d completed some ridiculous fifteen-minute task, the trainer said something similar, “That was just the warm-up!” And I remember thinking I was going to die if I had to endure 45 more minutes of movement. Oreglia perfectly captured this scenario and how it impacted her daily life.

What I DON’T Love:

Grow Damn It! has more than a few errors of varied kinds. For example, Clear Lake is written as Clearlake, Clear Lake, and CLEARLAKE. (I googled it. It’s Clear Lake). Errors like missing quotation marks or mom and dad, instead of Mom and Dad were distracting. At one point, a sentence left me wondering if my knowledge of Jesus’s mother was incorrect. I know Oreglia’s book was edited because she thanked the person in her acknowledgments; however, something was missed in between copy editing and proofreading.

There were also copious amounts of quotes used as epigraphs and woven throughout each essay. Oreglia’s writing is strong enough to stand without these additions.


This book is relatable for anyone who is over 50, married, or has adult children, who for some reason have flown back to the nest. Essays accurately describe the sandwich generation’s joys and challenges. The conundrum of living with adult children and their children, while also sometimes caring for your aging or dying parents, is a unique position that Baby Boomers presently face. Oreglia’s metaphors and analogies offer solace for what we all know as life, and her humor punctuates the sadness that can specifically accompany midlife.

Navigating the Change Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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