Patricia Heaton Explores Her Empty Nest and Finding New Purpose in New Book, 'Your Second Act'

"Life wasn't handed to me on a silver platter by any stretch," the star tells PEOPLE. "I've worked hard, skinned my knees, [and] cried my eyes out."

Patricia Heaton
Photo: Gary Gershoff/Getty

Patricia Heaton has officially moved on from The Middle to her second act.

Heaton is both the star and executive producer of Carol’s Second Act, and on Tuesday the Emmy-winning actress announced that she’s written a new book that plays off her show’s name. Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention is filled with inspirational anecdotes drawn from Heaton’s personal experiences (from building her career to love and surviving an empty nest) and the experiences of other people who are pursuing their dreams. It will be published by Simon & Schuster on May 5. See PEOPLE’s exclusive first look at the cover below.

“I’m embarking on what I call my second act,” Heaton, 61, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. “I have lived a life beyond my wildest dreams and I’m so grateful. Life wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter by any stretch. I’ve worked hard, skinned my knees, cried my eyes out, regretted, doubted, and second-guessed myself along the way.”

She continues: “For me, handing everything over to God changed my life. I’ve gone up and down many different paths; looking back, I see how the seed for my second act was clearly planted in my first act. I think you’ll find the same is true for you, too.”

Patricia Heaton book cover
Simon & Schuster

Just like her character Carol, Heaton knows what it’s like to have her home empty of children. (She shares four adult sons, Samuel, John, Joseph, and Daniel, with husband David Hunt.) After her kids moved out, the longtime actress took a chance on herself. Carol’s Second Act is the first time Heaton has been both the main lead and executive producer of her own show.

“It’s pretty crazy, and there have been moments I’m like, ‘Why did I think I’d do this?’ ” Heaton told The Associated Press in September about the challenges of the two jobs. “But what’s really important in keeping vital in life is to challenge yourself, and to step out into the unknown and be OK with that. Get going and keep learning.”

The star is also impassioned about her work as an ambassador for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization that helps provide relief and advocacy programs in nearly 100 countries.

Patricia Heaton and sons
The actress with her family. Albert L. Ortega/Getty

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These experiences served as the inspiration for Your Second Act, which is filled with wisdom and “practical steps” that Heaton has relied on while pursuing her newfound purpose. The actress hopes readers will learn that life’s transitions — whether anticipated or not — can lead to exciting opportunities..

“As I read, I felt as though Patricia had taken my hand,” editor Emily Graff said in a statement. “She speaks with honesty, humor, and grace about her second act, and all of the second acts included here.

“She shows the full scope of possibilities awaiting us, from volunteer work to career changes to even another chance at love,” she continued. “If you are seeking something more from life, this book proves that you can have it, and Patricia shares practical tools to use for when you’re ready to start your second act. I know many will draw inspiration and support from this book.”

Your Second Act will hit bookstores on May 5.

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