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!

What Are You Thankful For?

11-20This time of year brings our hearts, our thoughts, and our minds around to the things we’re most thankful for; to gather with those we hold most dear, and count our many blessings.  The 40+ and Fabulous Women’s Empowerment team wanted to drop by and tell you what we’re thankful for this year. We hope you’ll take a moment to share with us too!

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I am so thankful for the opportunity to touch the lives of so many women and girls through the work I am blessed to do with our FabU Academy Women’s Lifestyle Conferences and FabU Academy Teen Girl Conferences.  I am thankful for the many women who believe in, support, and help to move my dreams forward, because I  certainly could not do this alone. I am thankful that my mother has been healed of cancer.  Many would consider a diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer a death sentence, but today I am grateful that my mother is cancer free. I am thankful for the love of family and friends, good health, and the freedoms I enjoy as a United States citizen.

Sondra Wright

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I am thankful for God putting the idea of Go Free Pants in my heart so one day I will be able to do an endowment for hospice.  I am also thankful for all the wonderful people who have come into my life and have supported me in my passion and my business, and among them is Sondra!

Tina Ketchie Stearns, owner Go Free Pants

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With so much going on in this world today, I’m grateful for God’s mercy and protection. He has not failed to provide for me and my family. Statistically, I should be here, but I am all because of Him. I’m grateful for my tribe of family and friends.

Yolanda Johnson-Bryant, That Literary Lady

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I am thankful for my wonderful family and friends, both old and new. And I am especially thankful for the opportunities that have been bestowed upon me this year, and I look forward to making 2014 a year I can offer opportunities to others.

 Myra Gaddy, CEO of J.O.Y.

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I am grateful for God’s amazing love and grace; that every single day I have the opportunity to serve others through my work as an attorney and through my GenesisPure business spreading the message of healing and wellness.  I am so grateful for my wonderful, loving family and friends, for my health and the health of those I love.  This has been a wonderful year of growth and personal development and I am so grateful for my abundant, joyful life.

Sue Hunt, Attorney

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In 2013 I am thankful for the challenges that have forced me out of my comfort zone. This is a phenomenal year of growth, both personally and professionally

Christine Moore, Co-Owner M & M Meetings and Event Planning

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I am thankful for the fact that I am alive and still kicking. I am thankful for a mom who has lived a life of example to me that I hope to be a woman as she is currently at 90 years old. I am thankful for family even though we may not be perfect. but then who is. I am thankful for great friends who keep it real without skipping a beat.

My life is wonderful, faults and all and I am not going to let anything or anyone take my joy.

With this being the season of Thanksgiving it is my hope that my life can make a difference in someone else’s life and that whatever I can do to help, I will. It is not always about MONEY, give of yourself, your time and energy

 Halcyon McKnight, Leap of Faith – The HM Academy

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What I Know Now

9-21People often tell me I look much younger that my years and beg me to tell them my secret. While I sincerely appreciate the compliment, I always tell them what they see on the outside is a direct reflection of what I feel on the inside. Here is how I maintain a perfect glow from the inside out.

Age Ain’t  Nothing but a Number

Who knew getting older really was getting better? I said to my husband the other day, I feel more beautiful now than I ever have I my life, and in response, he gave me a kiss and said, “You are.” What do I attribute that feeling to? I believe I have an inner peace and calm now that makes me stand a little taller, walk a little more purposeful, and love and accept myself (and others) in a whole new way.

The Value of Patience

Boy there was a time when I thought everything had to happen right then, right now, quick, fast, and in a hurry! But impatience often comes with a high price tag. I think being an entrepreneur for the past 16 years has really helped to calm that right now mentality. Operating a business takes a great deal of patience and an enormous amount of faith. The ability to take a step back, center yourself and wait patiently, is a gift.

Happiness is a Song

Nothing lifts my mood like music. When I’m enjoying the rhythm, the melody, the beat of a song, there is just no room to think about anything else. I am completely lost in that song.  So for me, total escape is always just a song (or a solo Blurred Lines dance party) away.

Go With the Flow

Things change, that’s just a fact of life. Resistance to change breeds discontentment, that’s another fact of life.   I don’t expect to look like I did at 18, at 27, or at 35. What I want is to be the best version of who I am today. That means spending a few extra minutes on my appearance, stretching my body before I move, and taking a nap to refresh and refocus. After all, I’m worth it!

Laugh ’til it Hurts

How blessed I am to have a partner I can laugh with. The world will never be on short supply of negativity but some people revel in it and I’m sorry but I do not enjoy hanging with the “Woe is me” crowd. You know the ones, even when you try to help them see things from a different perspective, they always hit you with a, “But…” I am fully convinced that there are just some people who love to be miserable. Me, I want to wake up laughing and go to bed laughing.

Nothing Rocks Like Giving Back

I’ve been a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for a few years and I love it. The court appoints me to a juvenile in the foster care system and I am that child’s voice in court; making sure their wishes and desires get heard, and assuring that their needs are met. We also do an annual teen girl conference to empower and embolden our future generations of women. When a child wraps their arms around you, it’s so pure and so genuine; there is no better feeling in the world.

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Who’s Behind Your Mask? A Tale of Insecurity and Authenticity

Behind The MaskRecently I was asked the question, “If you could write a letter to your 18 year old self, what would you say to her?” My response was that I would tell her we’re all afraid, to put her big girl panties on, and just step out and do the thing.

See, the truth that I didn’t always know is behind all the flawless makeup, polished appearances, erect postures, impeccably coifed hair do’s, titles, degrees, perfect articulation and diction, is a woman who feels like a fraud and is totally afraid of getting called out as a fake. She is afraid she’s not a good enough mother, and is concerned you will discover her secret. She is afraid she is not a supportive enough wife, and fears you’ll uncover her weakness. She suspects real and imagined critics doubt her position was earned by her own merit, and works exhaustive hours to prove them wrong. She is reluctant to speak out against social injustice, for fear of isolating her network. She is afraid that her good isn’t good enough, because no matter her accomplishments, society has a way of making us all, at some point, like we just don’t fit in.

Too often in our lives, there is a disconnect between what we feel and what we do. We work when we feel like resting, we say yes when we want to say no, we slow down when we feel like we have more to give, we’re quiet when we want to speak up. We sacrifice who we really are and what we really want to the judgmental eyes and critical thoughts of others. I remember all the nights I worked into the wee hours of the morning, never enjoying a television show with my husband, and wearing the dark circles of sleep deprivation like a badge of honor because I believed that’s what productive people did. My quality of life and my relationships suffered as I made less and less time to nurture bonds, believing there would be plenty of time for that after I reached my goals. There was no balance and I believed I was totally justified in not seeking balance, after all, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do,” right?

I was wearing the Superwoman mask at the expense of things that were much more important in my life, like sleep, family and friendships, and self-care. One day, after months of living and breathing a project, my young niece, clearly frustrated at not having seen me in a while, asked in the curt, perturbed innocence of a child, “What’s so important about it anyway?!” And I looked into her face, realizing in that moment, there was nothing more important than spending time with her, and the time I was losing, chasing whatever I was chasing, I could never get back. I drove down to the League of Justice, turned in my cape and mask; kept the fly boots because they were too cute, and denounced my Superwoman role forever.

I still believe in hard work, but when I gave myself permission to rest, relax and restore, something truly amazing and completely unexpected happened; I had also made room for my creativity to soar. And, as a result, I am able to accomplish more with less time and effort. Today, eight hours of sleep at least four nights a week is my new normal, and I have a handful of favorite TV shows that I try not to miss. The best part is, I am completely out of the closet about making time for rest, making time for family and making time for me, and I don’t care who knows it or what they think about it.

We all have insecurities, but I believe at some point we all have to find the courage to stand up and say, “This is my life doggone it and I will live it the way I choose. I don’t need anyone’s approval nor do I owe any explanations about my choices to anyone who does not pay my bills. I take full responsibility for my life and my happiness, and what people think or say about me is none of my business.”

Here’s hoping you can find the power to live your truth.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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Boomer Woman Kris Jenner Tackles End of Life Planning on Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Kris Jenner, EverydayHealth.com

Kris Jenner is keeping it as real as it gets on reality TV. The 57 year old mom of the often raucous Kardashian clan has come out of the closet with many concerns women can be embarrassed to admit as we age; weight management, physical appearance, and yes, even urinary incontinence – Kris has touched on it all.

Now admittedly, I’ve watched a few episodes of the Kardashians that have left me wondering ‘what in the world is Kris doing and why’ (like going behind Bruce’s back to meet with an ex-boyfriend from 20 years ago to get “closure”)? But this week’s valiant attempt to tackle a crucial conversation with her family that most people avoid had me on the edge of my seat shouting a very loud and supportive “You go girl!”

I’m a long time believer in end of life planning but really came to appreciate its importance after the death of my father-in-law in December of 2011. Watching the family suffer through tremendous confusion of “Are we making the right decision?” and “Would dad have wanted it done this way?” my husband and I decided to give each other and our families a very special Christmas present last year– the gift of peace of mind.

I could completely relate hearing Kris say to husband Bruce, “Some of the worst memories of my mom are what she went through when my dad died and I thought, ‘I never want my kids to be in the position where they have to make these split decisions if something were to happen to one of us.’” And could not agree more when she added, “I think it’s a great idea to kinda make sure everything is in place just the way I would like it. If something happens to me. then my family…my children…nobody has to worry about what to do.”

Unfortunately Bruce was not on board with the idea…

K. “Do you want to be cremated or do you want to be buried?”

B. “I don’t care! You deal with it!”

K. (tearful) “Everyone is going to die, why would you leave the whole situation to someone else?”

B. “Cause I’ll be dead!”

A death in the family is difficult enough without placing the added burden of burial arrangements on the shoulders of those we love. But sadly, like Bruce, many people choose the “I don’t care, I’ll be dead” approach, and to make matters even more confusing, many people do not have a will, living will, or other legal documents to instruct loved ones on how to handle situations if they’re ever to ill to tell them.

What I personally discovered from meeting with a memorial planner and participating in the planning process with my husband is that it felt very empowering. We were able to make very clear decisions about what we wanted and we have the peace of mind that our families and each other will be spared from much of this burden and expense.

One very important take away from Kris this week is that when you talk to your family about your end of life wishes, it may not be the best idea to actually let them see you test drive a casket. As son Rob Kardashian painfully recounts, “Seeing my mom in the casket is such a weird thing to look at. She’s making me uncomfortable and I really don’t want to think about that.” Notwithstanding, making these decisions well in advance is a very loving and considerate thing to do for your loved ones, and a hugely powerful and empowering experience for you; knowing that your affairs are in order; that there won’t be any disputes over what to do; and that you had complete control over these choices.

Congratulations “do-ers!”

 

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Caregivers Baffled About Where to Find Resources and Support

This weekend I received a call from a friend in tears. The night before, she had received a disturbing call for her 88 year old mother who lives alone. “I have a mess around here! Can you please come?” And my friend dropped everything to make the 2 hour drive to see about mom.

Even though she has a sibling in the same city as mom, she is disappointed at the lack of assistance and support she receives. For almost 10 years she has made the 2 hour drive, at least two weekends per month, helping mom with housekeeping, laundry, bills, meals and appointments while her married brother, spouse and their two adult children remain content in allowing her to shoulder the responsibility. “He has the answers for everything but doesn’t have a clue about anything. He is really out of touch with what her limitations are and chooses not to see her as she is because he wants to hold on to memories of who she was. So it’s really a battle and a chore to always have to remind him of what her [health] condition is and what her limitations are.”

And now mom’s distressed call has her standing face-to-face with questions that she doesn’t have the answer to, and decisions she feels unprepared to make. “I’m trying to find the right resources and the right care for her, but I’m struggling trying to figure out exactly what that is. Can she live safely at home or does she require assisted living? Someone to check on her a couple of days a week, do light housekeeping and drive her to dialysis or is she actually ready for a long-term care facility?” And of course there’s the question of, “How much is all of this going to cost?” Adding to the challenge and frustration is the fact that she is left to make these decisions alone, without the support or input of her brother.

My friends’ story is just one of the millions of caregivers, caring for aging parents. Not knowing where to turn to for help or what services exists leads to overwhelm, isolation and guilt. Although you may feel alone, you are not. There are resources and information right at your fingertips to help you navigate this transitional time. One of my favorites is the caregiver resources by AARP Decide.Create. Share.(sm) Placing as much emphasis on the caregiver as the aging relative, Decide.Create. Share.(tm) is a goldmine of tools and information such as the” Prepare to Care” checklist to help families create a caregiving plan, “35 Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents,” 12 Resources Every Caregiver Should Know About,” and much, much more.

It’s heartbreaking to think anyone of you out there would suffer in silence. I simply cannot say it enough, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE!” Whether you’re looking for webinars, brochures, or a community of compassionate people who understand the unique challenges you face, you’ll find the support you need here.

 

 

 

 

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Need Balance? De-clutter the Physical and Nonphysical Junk

Maid cleaningPart of my annual tradition for welcoming each New Year is going through my home and purging the old. It’s a clean sweep of closets and rooms; getting rid of useless items or items not in use, and finding space for that which I intend to keep. This process also extends to my computer; cleaning our old files, deleting old emails, and unsubscribing from old lists. It’s such a satisfying feeling. As much, I believe, as a day trip to the spa.

I can only imaging the feeling of satisfaction I get from this purging process has to do with the order and balance it brings to my life; the feeling of really starting the New Year anew. Because I also work from home, each year is always a mixed accumulation of life and work. The New Year welcomes a time for reorder – letting go of the accumulated old.

This type of balance, which I find so essential for my sanity, also hold true for the work we do on our inner selves. Those of us on a personal development journey, after going through the process of accumulating new knowledge, wisdom, and life transformational experiences, must now do the work of transforming and letting go of the old.

Likewise, those of us on a spiritual journey must be willing to purge old habits and the old belief systems that fuel those habits. In speaking with a dear friend this weekend regarding her own spiritual path it became very apparent how not doing the work of letting go of old beliefs, many handed down from our parents or left over from our upbringing, can create havoc in our minds and lives. New spiritual insights and revelations and our old or traditional ways of doing things can not coexist, and therefore leave us feeling weighted down and overwhelmed.

So if a little mindset housekeeping is on your 2012 “to do” list, don’t delay! Transforming old beliefs can happen through a simple daily practice of hitting the delete button on faulty thoughts (“I’m too old to…” “It’s too late for me to…” ) and continue moving those files to the trash bin. This frees up space on your internal hard drive for you to replace them with new thoughts (“I’ve been preparing my whole life for this” “People value and respect my opinion” “Just as I am, I’m more than enough.”

It feels incredible to purge the old and bring natural order and balance back into our lives. If you need some support call a friend to help you get rid of your junk filed. But choose wisely. Now is not the time to call the enabler, nut the one who is honest and willing to help you take out the trash.

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For the Perfect Gift this Season, Unwrap the Gift of You

We live day in and day out constantly bombarded with unsettling news. Is Herman Cain in or out? Is Eddie Long’s divorce off or on?  Is unemployment up or down? Is Newt Gingrich gaining ground? Is a pregnant Kourtney Kardashian “shocked” or not?  Never mind the health, financial and family issues in our own worlds. It’s a wonderful life, right?

So how do we encourage the hope that this season is intended to inspire as well as find a little piece of magical hope for ourselves? How do we make ourselves joyous enough to survive this season of joy? My advice is to take time to take pleasure in the things you know you can depend on – whether it’s time spent with a child, whipping up your favorite sugar cookie recipe, indulging in a yummy seasonal treat, a casual stroll through your local botanical gardens, or stealing an extra hours sleep on a chilly weekend morning.

Whatever happens there is one thing that is certain; no matter how insane or stressful this month becomes; no matter how many get together you attend; no matter how tall the tree, elaborate the décor, or sumptuous the hor dourves, some of the most cherished and significant memories of this holiday season will be the moments you spend in the comfort of home and the closeness of those you love.

It doesn’t matter if you run from store to store chasing the elusive “perfect” gift. What matters is that which you give is given in love. Because at the end of the day, there is no greater gift that to spend the next several days ahead with the people you love, who fill your heart to overflow and make you laugh to tears. The gift of time will leave you – and them, with a holiday to remember.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store?  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?  ~Theodor Seuss Geisel

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Boomers and Women Over 40: Taking Responsibility for Our Own Future

So I’m sitting here once again, reading two conflicting articles that came out last week. One is another bleak reminder that boomer women are struggling to maintain a decent standard of living; the other touts boomer women as having the largest amount of wealth in the world and a key demographic for the next decade. So which is it; are we broke or are we wealthy?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll continue to say it until we all get it. Don’t let the world “should” on you, don’t let the world impose its ideas on you, don’t let the world impart its fears in you, and never, ever conform to society’s thoughts about you. Your job is to be  aware, stay informed and take responsibility for yourself and your future.

Here are two important components to taking responsibility for your future:

  • Learn To Overcome Your Circumstances – People are always blaming their circumstances. “No one ever gave me a break.” “I gave up my dreams to raise my family.” “I didn’t get the chance to go to school.” “My husband never supports anything I want to do.” Don’t be overcome by your circumstances. We live in a country that, although not perfect, gives every person the chance to overcome their past and rise above their current situation. But the ultimate responsibility is ours and realizing that is the all important fist step in living the lives we want.
  • Pursue Your Dreams With Optimism And Passion – Choose not to be an “I always wanted to, but…” kind of woman. Too many women are wasting their over 40 years discussing life as though they’re a mist in a far off corner of the church, staring at their cold, stillness as friends and family bid them farewell. You hear it said in different ways: “I always wanted to go back to school and become a nurse, but…” “I always wanted my own catering business, but…” “I always wanted to. . .play piano; see a Broadway show; serve on a Board; spend more time with my family; start that foundation, but…” Failure only exists in the grave! Stop referring to your life as though it’s already ended. Take responsibility for your future by taking action today. Dig up of those dead weed seeds that have taken root in your mind and plant seeds of hope and expectation, and then cultivate the right actions that will turn your “buts” into achievements. The clock is ticking. Now get to it!
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