Life Lessons:
Jude Callirgos

Are you happy at the moment?

At this precise moment, yes I’m very happy. It’s the weekend and a gorgeous, sunny autumn day here in New England. Everyone I love is safe, my dog is asleep and my husband and I are planning dinner. Life is very good.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16 year old self now – what would it be?

Jude, be patient. You’ll look amazing when the braces come off and you can get contacts. Keep writing; it’s what you do best. Say good riddance to the people in your life who are negative and just “don’t get you.” And for Pete’s sake, stop worrying about the boys. They’ll be putty in your hands by the time you’re twenty. Oh, and don’t get married until you’re 35.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

This was a big year, so I have 3 major things? I learned that my husband is a superhero; that my job does not define who I am, and that my writing can actually impact complete strangers. Not too shabby.

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I want my book, “Breast Left Unsaid” to sell like crazy so I can be a louder voice and advocate for a cure for cancer; I want to be able to tolerate the chemotherapy I’m on and beat back the monsters in my liver and lungs; and I’d like to stay as close to my family and friends as I can get without squishing them and wrinkling their clothes.

What’s your secret to happiness?

Honesty and humor: Being able to see myself in the mirror with complete honesty, humility and gratitude; and cracking jokes. It’s a delicate balance.

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Yoga. And visiting my mother. Not necessarily in that order.

What’s your biggest regret?

Not going to university. Although I love how my life turned out in spite of it; I believe I could have really done some damage with a college degree or two.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

A step-mom is a sort of a family-friend-mom hybrid, so I tread very carefully. Julia’s mom, whom I adore, and dad have done an amazing job and I don’t like to mess with a good thing.  But I know for a fact I’ve taught her how to make a legendary tuna tartare and  that it’s cool to know your way around the kitchen and herb garden.

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

Being a fastidious Virgo, I honestly could not think of one bad habit. So I asked my husband and he answered without hesitation, “Shoes. You have too many shoes.”

I’d like to go along with this one, but I think I just discovered a bad habit of not being very self-aware.  

Aside from motherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

Having pursued so many careers and not getting locked into “one version” of who I should be. I have a long list of things I’ve done for a living and for a love of the arts; and now I’m writing. So I’m proud to have experienced so many facets of the working world while doing what I enjoyed – and not bringing shame to my family in the process.

When were you happiest?

I am happiest whenever I am making someone else laugh or smile. There is no one happiest time.

What ten words best describe you?

Strong. Intelligent. Funny. Gregarious. Artistic. Proud. Communicative. Planner. Tree-hugger. Fashion-slave.


Jude Callirgos lives in Connecticut with her husband Philip, dog Sophie, and assorted woodland creatures. She is also a wicked step-mom to daughter Julia, enjoying college in Vermont. Despite her ongoing fight with advanced breast cancer, Jude intends to continue writing, blogging and advocating on this and other topics for a long time to come. Breast Left Unsaid is her first full-length book. She invites you to visit her website at, and looks forward to your feedback. Jude also thanks you for buying her book “Breast Left Unsaid” and wants you to know that a percentage of the proceeds will go toward medical research focused on a cure for breast cancer and other diseases affecting her family.


More From GEM

Survivor Stories: Shirley Lewis (VIDEO)

Ask The Good Enough Guys: Porn Problem! Did Dad Handle This The Right Way?

The GEM Debate: Could You Handle An Open Marriage?