40+ and Fabulous Moving Foward, Fierce, Focused and Full of Life by Sondra Wright

Moving forward fierce, focused and full of life!

40+ and Fabulous Moving Foward, Fierce, Focused and Full of Life by Sondra Wright - Moving forward fierce, focused and full of life!

Evolving Creativity: Mid-Life, Boomers and Bold New Directions

craft fair 1Juanita Dix has been a graphic designer for the past 28 years, but recently she felt creatively inspired to take her passion for art in a bold new direction: an inspiration that would lead the baby-boomer, entrepreneur to a new business venture at the age of 59.

“I’ve always loved art. My high school had a very progressive art program with classes in painting, sculpting and design, that Interacted with one another. When I was in my 20s I earned an Associate’s Degree in Commercial Art. This was, of course, before computers and we did everything on drafting boards; layout, paste up and used press type for mechanicals. I started j.d. Design in 1985, a few years before computers were being utilized for design. When I look back now, the first computer I used in my business had a 20 megabyte hard drive and was one of the first Macs that came out!! As technology and programs developed, I found that in this business, you learn as you go, advancing my design knowledge to always give more to my clients. Since 2004, the internet has added a whole new dimension to my creativity. This digital time is exciting and ever-changing…almost to the point where it’s hard to keep up with all the new developments that seem to happen every day.

About 1990 I started developing an “effect” to a “cause” that grew worse and more debilitating as the years went by. The “effect” seemed to exacerbate, with each death in my immediate family. In 2003, when I moved to Florida I came to a point in my life where I couldn’t take it anymore. I had tried many doctors and mental health professionals and nobody had any ideas on how to help me. I was growing more anxious every day with “inside jitters.” To calm myself, I started spending more time outside; at the beach, or on my lanai, and discovered that the evergreen tree in my backyard had really long needles, longer than I’ve ever seen. During the Fall the needles would drop and form a thick, carpet like covering on the ground, and I thought, “there has to be something I can do with these.” With a little online research, I discovered that pine needle baskets were an old Indian art form which used these extra-long needles. This was my first step in the evolution of creative crafting. I found some books at the library and gave it a try. After a first few basket attempts that didn’t come out too bad, I decided to take some classes. I’m not yet an expert, but I’ve come a long way and am making some pretty decent baskets that are not only nice looking, but functional, and it gives me something creative to do with my jittery hands.

Since then, two additional creative crafts were born; beautiful beachy twig wreaths I create, using the limbs from the Jacaranda and Rain trees in my yard, and lovely paper maché bowls, from all the junk mail I get every day. Making something functional and beautiful out of these free resources allows me to look at recycling differently now. I see the things we throw away and ask how can I use this in a good way? So, I have a new business now.

My design work continues to evolve, and helping someone build their business to be prosperous is something that I love doing. The wreaths, baskets and bowls give me a special satisfaction knowing they will end up in someone’s home and will be something they enjoy for a long time. It takes a lot of time and effort to craft each item but it’s truly a labor of love. It keeps my hands busy, and gives me a feeling that I’m being productive. In my mind, I’m always creating, and as I grow older it keeps me looking forward. I used to paint when I was in high school…my next evolution…is to start doing that again.”

Juanita offered this piece of advice for anyone hungering to try something new.

“I don’t think it’s ever too late to start a new venture or idea, just take advantage of the resources available to you, and by adding a little creativity to your life, whether it’s business or home it’s always inspirational and ageless!”





‘Crucial Conversations’ Help Women Plan for Their Future

Crucial ConversationsTo help women meet their future health and economic needs, there are four important discussions every woman should have. They include her financial affairs, legal affairs, health, and aging in place. A free program being offered in May by 40 Plus and Fabulous in partnership with AARP’s Decide.Create.Share is designed to help women stop procrastinating and have important talks that can lead to a more secure future.

“Although most women know the importance of having conversations, about sometimes difficult topics, they also feel it can just be easier not to talk about it, “said Sondra Wright CEO of 40 Plus and Fabulous and author of 40+ and Fabulous: Moving Forward Fierce, Focused and Full of Life. “Crucial Conversations provides tips, tools and a bit of fun to help women to get past the barriers keeping them from actually tackling topics important to their well-being,” she said.

“While these conversations may conjure up feelings of discomfort or fear of being judged, taking ownership and being proactive liberates and empowers women to fully participate in making meaningful decisions in their lives and the lives loved ones. Avoidance, on the other hand, can have serious consequences, including sleepless nights, compromised health, and a loss of financial security,” said AARP Associate State Director Suzanne Black.

“Not only does 40 Plus and Fabulous encourage women to have Crucial Conversations, it also recommends creating safe spaces for other women to do the same. “It’s time we drag these taboo topics out of the dark and into the light so that no woman feels alone,” said Wright. “We hope Crucial Conversations and the supporting Decide.Create.Share.(TM) resources can be the foundation for women to really take charge and build a successful strategy for their future,” she added.

The 4-part series will be offered on Wednesdays May 1st, 15th, 22nd and 29th at Hemphill Public Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd., Greensboro NC, with discussions planned from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The series will address topics associated with health, finances, legal affairs, and evaluating home and community for future living needs. The series is FREE and space is limited. Please RSVP to Sondra(at)40plusandfab.com

Decide.Create.Share. is a community forum designed for women who want to build a successful life strategy for their future. AARP will provide tools to women in their 40s, 50s and 60s on how to take steps today so they will be prepared for a safe, healthy and secure tomorrow.



Beware of the Human Hearing Aid Trap

Hearing LossThousands of us know someone in this situation; their hearing is clearly declining, you suggest they may want to look into a hearing aid, and they flat out refuse. In the meantime, they’re becoming increasingly dependent on you to fill in the hearing gaps, which makes you something of a human hearing aid.

It started a few years ago. We were at the theatre watching The Blindside, and he leaned over and asked, “What did she say?”

Me:  “I don’t want to name names, but one of the coaches took him to a titty bar and it gave him nightmares.”

He:  “Oh. Okay. Wait!! What did she just say?”

Me:  “I’m not sure honey. I missed it when I telling you what she said in the last scene.”

I missed half of The Blind Side, and half of just about every movie since then, telling him what was said in the other half.

Added to that is the ever increasing TV volume, the times he mistakenly thinks I have not responded to him, and the occasional inquiry out of nowhere, that goes a little something like this…

He:  “Huh?!” He calls out unexpectedly.

Me:  “Huh what?” I respond patiently… and admittedly, sometimes amused.

He:  “Oh, I thought you said something.”

Me:  “No sweetheart, I didn’t say anything.”

It’s frustrating, but even more so is his resistance at the slightest mention of a hearing aid. I try my best to reassure him that hearing devices are not the obtrusive devices that his father wore. Many today can go completely undetected. But that makes no difference to him. He completely rejects the idea and, as it turns out, he is not alone. According to a study by John Hopkins University, only one in seven, of the 26.7 million Americans affected by hearing loss, actually uses a hearing aid.

Listen, I more than most people completely get the stereotypes associated with aging and the implication that a hearing aid would somehow mean decline and weakness. But what’s more aging than denial and resistance to change? The reality is, we are aging and it’s perfectly acceptable to do so. In the process, we are to do all that we can to help ourselves; be proactive and prevent what we can, and make adjustments where we must.

This is my plea, for all who need to do so, to get your hearing checked. Not to do so, is to cheat yourself out of your best quality of life; to be able to be fully engaged in everything that goes on around you, get the most out of your activities, and maintain valuable relationships with friends and family.

Chances are, you or someone you know (whether they know it or not) will be affected by some hearing loss. Don’t knock a hearing aid being your solution, until you’ve given it a try.



Six Ways to Beat March Madness

marchMadnessThey don’t call it March Madness for nothing girls. While your man is spending his time watching the basketball game, that gives you plenty of time to prepare yourself for your summer tank tops, shorts and sandals. No one ever said it’s easy to be a girl! But it sure is a lot more fun!!

Winter cold and dryness has a way of playing havoc on our delicate skin. Time to purchase a sloughing tool. My personal favorite, are those little scrubby gloves that can be purchased at any drug store. I pair them with some moisturizing body wash and exfoliate from head to foot.

No scrubbing is complete without a little extra work on those sexy feet that have been tucked away all winter long. My secret tool stays in the shower all year. This little item has a metal scrub on one side and a piece of sand paper on the other side. First slather your feet with the body wash and leave it on to soften the area. Then use the metal scrub on the spots where you have calluses. Rinse that off and use the sand paper side to smooth the area. Then a little more body wash to replenish the moisture. Don’t forget to shave your legs and underarms. I use the same body wash to prepare and also as my shaving cream.

After bathing and still damp, slather your favorite body cream all over. You will be amazed at how soft and smooth you feel. You have taken the first layer of dead skin off to expose a softer and more radiant you. Don’t forget to have your socks ready to put on after the cream, so you don’t slip across the floor.

This might be a great time to apply some deep conditioner in your hair and leave it in while you are doing your nails. If you can’t afford an expensive conditioner, just Google some recipe’s for hair conditioners using everyday household items. Here’s just one of the many articles I found. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/homemade-hair-conditioner.html

Now you are ready for your manicure and pedicure. The best time to do this is right after that nice long hot shower or bath. Any dead skin around your cuticles can easily be removed with a cuticle nipper and buffed away, to smooth the area. You can use a cuticle softening product first if you’d like. Then file your nails and buff, and you are ready for color, if you choose.

This is just one of the many things you can do to get ready for the upcoming Season. You deserve it; spend some special time with YOU! It doesn’t take long, it doesn’t cost a lot of money, and you don’t even have to leave your home. But I guarantee, if you take this important time for yourself, you will be wearing those summer outfits with a lot more self-confidence.

HS_LindaNext time, let’s talk about which items you will need in your closet to Rock your Summer Wardrobe.

Whether you are an Apple, Ruler, Hourglass or Pear, Linda Your BFF will find you something to Wear!

Have a Clothes Befitting Day, my Dear Befitting Fashion Friends!

Guest Blogger: Linda Eisenstein, Clothes Befitting



Women Over 40 Can Achieve Best Physical Shape

HS_Mumford2When I met Diane Mumford, I was surprised to learn that 20 years ago, when she turned 40, she was 40 lbs., heavier, five dress sizes larger, with a lot less tone and muscle mass, than her body of today.

According to Diane, as a woman in her twenties, the 122 lb. frame she sported, even after giving birth to two children, came easily and effortlessly.

But once she hit the 30 mark, her weight began to climb. And in just 10 years, Diane gained 40 pounds, or, as she points out, “an average weight gain of 4 pounds per year, or approximately 1/4 pound per month!!”

Scared, concerned, and even a little depressed about her size and body image, Diane began a regimen on her 40th birthday of crash dieting, over exercising and eventual burnout!

Seeing her efforts yield no results was frustrating, but it was also the catalyst that led Diane to join a gym and begin working with a trainer. The rest, she says…is “history!”

Because of the success she found, working with a trainer, Diane herself became a personal trainer 16 years ago. “I wanted to make sure that women over 40 heard my message; that they can improve over the years by doing a little a lot — not a lot a little!”

Throughout her 40’s and 50’s Diane competed in bodybuilding and figure contests as a hobby. That hobby would earn her titles in the 2005 and 2009 North Carolina Bodybuilding Championship. This summer Dianne will turn 60 and is not only confident that she can maintain her own health and fitness in the years to come, but can set other women on the path to do the same.

Diane says one of the most important things she has learned and can share is there is no magic or luck involved in getting and staying in shape! She offers these following tips for helping you find yourself in your best shape after 40.

1. Lift weights. Use exercise bands or your own bodyweight to create resistance exercises consistently, twice a week — every week.

WHY? Muscle burns more calories than fat.

2. Movement. Walk, bike, run 20-30 minutes every day.

WHY? A strong heart is a strong healthy muscle.

3. Eat as clean as you can, when you can, and often, rather than crash diet once in a while. A clean eating lifestyle is really the foundation for reaching your fitness goals. This means choosing foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains) that feed your body efficiently.

WHY? Fat feeds fat. Protein feeds muscle. Carbs are an energy source.

4. Just like a baby your adult body needs food, exercise and rest on a regular basis.

WHY? Your body responds to consistent routines both in exercise and eating habits.


  • Age makes you fat
  • Hormones make you fat
  • Gender makes you fat
  • Stress makes you fat
  • Lack of sleep makes you fat
  • Medication makes you fat

The above list contributes to being fat but is not entirely responsible for directly causing you to be fat.


Your number enemy in your war against FAT is FOOD! Eating too much food and/or eating the wrong foods leads to obesity and poor health.

Diane says more than fancy equipment and expensive memberships, a woman needs some strength training combined with cardio, clean eating, and consistency, to achieve and maintain the best physical shape of her life!



Women’s History Month: Celebrating Achievements of Women in Later Life

Completely inspired by the celebrations of individuals and organizations all over the nation, 40+ and Fabulous has chosen to focus its celebration of Women’s History Month around the ageless potential of a woman. Where women fail to fully understand their potential in later life, there is limited motivation to plan for the future. This month, we will spotlight the achievements of women in later life, and promote the message of expanded opportunities for creativity as we mature.

There’s tagline I love from a commercial that says, “This is the age of knowing how to get things done.” If you’re in your 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s and you still haven’t written that play, earned that degree, or started that non-profit – it’s not too late. We want to encourage you to keep those dreams alive. Refuse to abandon those lifelong passions. This can be easier said than done when we live in a culture that places extreme emphasis on youth, but you must realize and take ownership of the advantage that age and the accumulation of wisdom, emotion and intelligence gives you in your bringing forth something into existence that is needed and valued.

While we still have a proliferation of negative stereotypes and negative images of aging paired with creative decline, ours is also a rich legacy of some very inspiring women who have gone on before us, to show us what is possible.

Check out a few of my favorites…

Melchora Acquino – a Filipina peasant woman who, at age 84, became a well-known political activist in the Philippine Revolution. She became famous for her contributions in helping the Philippines gain independence from Spain.

Susan Boyle – the 48 year old show stopper on America’s Got Talent who wowed millions of viewers. The amateur singer stole the finale and brought us to our feet. And although it took her close to five decades to do what she was clearly born to do, Susan is proof positive that birthdays don’t matter, you can still make you mark.

Ida Keeling – in February 2011, the petite (4-foot-6, 83 lb.,) 95 year old ran a world record 60 meters in 29.86 seconds. Her daughter, a high school track coach convinced her to take up running at age 67. Since then, Keeling has been setting records and becoming one of the world’s oldest sprinting legends.

Grandma Moses – due to painful arthritis, Anna Mary Robertson Moses was forced to abandon a career in embroidery, but she didn’t let that stop her. Grandma Moses, as she is best known for, began a career as an artist at age 76. She became one of America’s best known folk-artists and continued to paint until her death at age 101.

Irene Wells Pennington – the wife of a wealthy oilman, became a 90 something year old business woman, straightening out her husband’s 600 million dollar enterprise, after his mental health began to decline.

Peg Phillips – began a professional acting career in her late 60’s, and is best known for her role as the storekeeper, Ruth-Anne Miller, on the television series Northern Exposure.

Mary Wesley – wrote her first novel at age 70, and went on to write 10 best sellers before dying at the age of 90.

Laura Ingles Wilder – became a columnist in her 40’s, but it wasn’t until she was 65 that she published her first book, Little House in the Big Woods. This would be the first of her 8-volume Little House series of children’s books.

And if you need other inspiring examples, just go to this link at the Museum of Conceptual Art website. Here, you can actually enter your age to display a list of accomplishments other people have achieved at your age.

I hope by celebrating these heroines you can see that your ability to move into a new direction and change the course of your life, your family, your community, your world is independent of age. But let me ask you something… if not now, when?



I Used to be an Hourglass and then… Life Happened

I just googled fashion for women over 40, and you know what I got? Confused! A lot of time and space has been dedicated to complicating something that’s really not that hard. There are so many sites and blogs; offering style advice, clothes etiquette, strange tips and tricks, and what’s hot and what’s not for women of a certain age. And as numerous as the sites and blogs are the endless contradictions about hem lengths, patterns, colors and styles. So amongst all the hoopla I was thrilled to discover a rare jewel called Clothes Befitting. Not a bunch of absurd guidelines, rules, or should nots for the 40+ woman, but uncomplicated flattering fashion based on the uniqueness of our individual body type. What a novel idea. Forget how old I am, just give me fashion that looks good on my body! And the owner of this darling boutique, Linda Eisenstein, calls herself your BFF. No, not your new best friend forever, she’s better than that, she is your personal shopping concierge, your Befitting Fashion Finder. Ladies, meet Linda Eisenstein, and Linda will be dropping in on occasion to help demystify fashion for women over 40.

Yes, it’s true. Life happened and now, instead of an hourglass, I will introduce myself as a “Ripe Apple.”

Isn’t it funny, when you are in your twenties and you look in the mirror and say, “If I could only lose another 5 or 10 lbs., I would look great and I would love myself. “

And then you have children and you look in the mirror and you say, “If I could only tighten up my tummy and have my boobs lifted and lose about 20 lbs., I would look great and love myself.”

And then you go through menopause and you look in the mirror and you say, “If I could only lose 30 lbs., get rid of those lines in my face, and that turkey neck, I would look great and love myself.”

Well, if I could only have all the time back, that I wasted in my life wishing I were someone else, I’d be 10 years younger- Ha!

The fact is, times marches on, whether we waste it by complaining about our bodies, or actually enjoy our life in our bodies.

The body is a beautiful vehicle that carries our shining spirits. I heard the cutest line, though I don’t remember from whom, but it went like this… “I must have been playing cards when God was handing out the hourglass shapes.”

My whole life has been a struggle to become friends with my body. And in the last few years it has become a reality. I love life, I love having fun, I cherish my friendships and I think of each day as a new adventure.

Recently, I have become an entrepreneur, founded my dream clothing boutique and am helping women dress so when they look in the mirror- all they see is a beautiful woman. Using my struggle, to help other women enjoy their life.

I have learned all about how to dress my new post-menopausal body, which I so fondly refer to as a “ripe apple”. It corresponds well with my chronological age. Have you ever tasted a perfectly ripe apple or any perfectly ripe fruit for that matter? Well, it seems Father Time is kind to fruit and women. We only get better and sweeter.

Don’t waste your life wanting to be in someone else’s body. Because someday, you will look back at a picture of you in your twenties, and think how beautiful you really were, and wonder why you wasted so much time fretting. Enjoy what you have NOW! Dance, laugh, sing and have fun. You are beautiful, right here and right now. My name is Linda and I’m your BFF (Befitting Fashion Finder).



Go Smart for the Cure – Get Heart Smart for Heart Health Month

It was during a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show  that I declared 2013 as the year I resolve to take better care of my heart. My first step on that journey is to better educate myself on heart disease; its risk factors and the steps I can take to lower my risks.

Eight million women in the U. S. are living with heart disease, and nine out of every 10 of us have at least one risk factor. Heart disease is one of those “silent killers” claiming the lives of more women each year than all the forms of cancers combined.

Our busy lives as moms, wives, bread winners, and caregivers can often mean putting our own health on the backburner. Who has time to investigate a tiny ache or pain when our children and families need us to look after their aches and pains? So for women, getting to the doctor can just take a little longer. This is not a good or admirable thing ladies.

Some of the major causes of heart disease appear to be things we can actually prevent. They include stress, which means we need to occasionally slow down, smell the roses, relax, meditate, go to bed early, sleep late, or other methods of self-care. And then there’s high blood pressure and high cholesterol that we can help prevent simply by some of the food choices we make. These days I’m dedicating more space on my plate to fruits and vegetable along with lean protein, like soybeans and chicken breast, and fish. I love Salmon.

And then there’s getting a little exercise in. I’m not big on gyms. I prefer things I can do in the comfort of my own home, preferably using my own body weight or equipment that doesn’t take up much space. My husband bought me a Cardio Mini Cycle which I love. It’s small and portable. I can move it and cycle at my desk while I work or in a chair when I watch the news. Because I’m like most women, who seem not to have enough hours in a day, I’m attracted to the 10 Minute Trainer by Tony Horton. I haven’t tried it yet, so I have no feedback at this time but, I will definitely keep you posted.

February is Heart Health Month. Take this opportunity to learn about a preventable disease that needlessly claims the lives of one out of every three women. Too few of us, only about one-third, have any clue of breadth of this deadly killer. Listen to your bodies, know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, and get the facts. Together, we can give heart disease a TKO.



Powerful and Free is the Queen Who Rules Herself

Control. Too many of us seek to have more over others than we have over ourselves. We point out what’s wrong with them, show our disapproval and nag them to change. Less obvious are the things about ourselves we should seek to gain control over; our thoughts, our words, our moment to moment actions. Too often we believe that if we can just get that other person; our spouse, our co-worker, our fellow committee member, to just think or act another way, our lives would be a lot easier. Newsflash. Gaining power over others won’t make you happier. If you want to be happier try taking control of you.

Taking self control might sound frightening at first but it’s really about setting yourself free; free from worry, free from expectation, free from the living up to the standards of others. You’re worried that aging inevitably means mental decline and poor health; you’re unhappy because you feel underappreciated and invisible in the workplace; you’re self-conscious because society’s standard of beauty don’t include grey hair and wrinkles so you feel less attractive and less desirable, you’re old because someone else said so. These are the thoughts that make us feel small and powerless.

Don’t throw your hands up in defeat. Remind yourself that you are ageless and your possibilities are infinite. Commit to love your whole life. If you’ll care enough to take control of your thoughts, body and spirit, 2013 can be the year life began for you – your rebirthing as a woman. Your best days are still ahead of you. Chart a new course. Set sail in a new direction. Yes, there will be days when you feel overwhelmed, discouraged or possibly even a little afraid. But relax, take a few deep breaths and center yourself. Don’t give unruly thoughts permission to run amuck in your head – take control of your mind, still your body and quiet your spirit. Grab a cup of hot tea and your 40+ and Fabulous and draw the wisdom and inspiration you need to move forward. You are the master of your universe, the ruler of your queendom, the queen of your life.



One-A-Day, 31 Day Throw Away Challenge to Declutter and De-stress

I’ve had it!! After tossing out some freezer burnt Birds Eye veggies last night and then some documents from 2003 I ran across today( but surely would not have been able to locate them had I actually needed them), I am issuing a 31 Day Throw Away Challenge to declutter AND de-stress. Fact is, clutter zaps our energy, drains our time, and increases our stress. So clutter, you have got to go, and here is what I propose:

Every day, for the 31 days in January, you are charged with the task of identifying one item daily to give away or throw away. In your quest to identify one, you’ll inevitably run across many, and when you do, don’t save the extra item(s) for the next day, go ahead and get rid of it all. For the purposes of this exercise, the objective is to keep it simple by taking baby steps. The goal has been intentionally set at one item each day, because trying to declutter all at once or too much at once can, shock the system and lead to withdrawal. The end result then is that nothing will get accomplished.

If you have a home office, I recommend starting there. Decluttering this space will certainly lend to a more relaxed and productive environment where creativity can flow freely, thusly improving cash flow.

Closets are another great place to identify items you no longer need or want. Think about all the space you can create by spending some time decluttering here.

And check that freezer for freezer burnt veggies and meats. Not all of these items may be ready for the trash. Salvage what you can in soups, stews, or baked dishes but don’t hesitate to get rid of what could be potentially harmful to eat. Some of you can actually survive a week or two just eating what you already have in your freezer. Think about the money you’d save just decluttering your freezer.

Remember, identify one item a day to throw away or give away. This strategy is one that will definitely empower you. By the end of the month you will feel more relaxed, more productive and have greater overall sense of well-being.  Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!