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!

An Unexpected Surprise: 56, Grandmother, and Pregnant – OH MY!

6-23I’ve been reading a lot lately about later-life pregnancy and the fact that many women today are waiting until their late 30s and early 40s to have their first child. The media loves stories of over-40 celebrity moms like Halle Berry, who became pregnant for the first time at 41 and gave birth to her second child at 47; John Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, who was pregnant with their third child at the age of 47; and Geena Davis, who had her first child at 46 and two years later, gave birth to twins! These women seem to defy biology as medical science tells us the chances of getting pregnant decrease with age and the probability of a woman conceiving in midlife is slim to impossible. I’ve even heard Dr. Joshua Klein, medical director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York-Brooklyn, refer to a woman’s ability to conceive naturally in her mid-40s as “nearly miraculous.”

Well, hold on Dr. Klein, because miracles do happen, and this story of pregnant grandparents in High Point, NC, is indeed miraculous.

When my longtime friend Sara Harper phoned me with the jaw-dropping news, I was happy not to be in public because my mouth literally hung open. My reaction was the same as it had been for Sara when grandparents Sally and Charles Brown, members of a support group of relatives who are raising relatives’ children, stopped at her home recently to share their good news.

The Browns, ages 56 and 65 respectively, are the adoptive parents of three children, ages 7, 9, and 14. One is their biological grandchild, whom they’ve raised since birth.

“After a miscarriage 10 years ago, we gave up on trying to have children, and that was when we decided to adopt,” said Sally.

Sally received the news during her yearly physical exam, after explaining to her doctor she was noticing some changes in her body. She admits to having a good cry at first, but is happy and glowing after the initial shock, and believes without a doubt, “God is in control.”  Sally, an ordained minister who loves to fish, said she dreamt one night about catching a big fish and began to call around the next day to see who was pregnant. It never for a moment occurred to Sally it might be her.

Sally works in the Guilford County Schools Special Needs Department. Her husband, Charles, is employed with Flowers Bakery in Jamestown, NC, and has not stopped smiling since the news. As a matter of fact, unbeknownst to Sally, Charles said he had been praying for this miracle.

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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?

 

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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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The Age of Becoming All You Might Have Been

You’re never too old to become what you might have been.” That’s what Tanya Hutchinson, winner of reality TV’s She’s Got the Look, told me about transitioning her career, away from modeling, at the age of 47.

Remember growing up and the enjoyment you had for music, drawing, tinkering with electronics, dressing up, photography, drama class, or sports? You could spend hours completely lost in doing what you love.

While many took their childhood passions, and morphed them into great careers in their early adult life, there are others still whose talents appear, or reappear, much later in life. Sometimes even in old age.

These fabulous women in history prove my point perfectly:

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.

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.

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.

Kay Toinette “K. T.” Oslin – country music singer and song writer, released her first, of now 7 albums, at the age of 47.

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.

Melchora Acquino – the peasant woman who, at 84, became a well-known political activist in the Philippine Revolution, to gain independence from the Spanish.

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

Wow, these women have certainly inspired me. What have you been dreaming of doing? Is it singing, acting, writing, photography? Well, I’m here to tell you, and show you the proof, that it’s never too late. You’re at the right age NOW, to become all you might have been.

“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

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Whoever Said Forty was Over the Hill? Bah Humbug!

Whoever made such a statement must have come up the wrong side of it. It’s no wonder people hold such obstructed views of life beyond forty. I was caught off guard when I read a recent article by Leo Stoller who reported that a recent study shows women 40 and over are better off to remain in bad marriages than to divorce.  Regardless of a couple’s reasons for divorce, Stoller’s perspective limits choices and discourages divorce or separation as viable options. I was in an unhappy marriage once and let me tell you, it is a lonely place to be.

The article’s far-fetched divorce statistics states: (1) Women 40 and over will gain an average of twenty-three pounds after divorce (Humph! When I divorced, I shedded the 225-pound-dud and a few pounds of my own!) (2) Out of 5,679 women studied, only 9 percent remarried. (3)  Women in divorce situations can expect to live alone for the rest of their lives and settle for pets as their companions and friends.

Stoller says one need only scroll through “any neighborhood in any city and observe ‘all’ of the middle-aged women walking dogs to confirm this fact.”   ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I hate to nullify these fictitious, far-fetched, and unrealistic claims (actually I take pleasure in doing so), but going to any neighborhood in any city scoping out middle-aged women walking dogs proves nothing. How does this say, “I’m over forty, divorced, can’t get remarried, so I’ll settle for my dog!”?  I guess Stoller didn’t take into account happily married over 40 women who simply enjoys walking their dog, or the “middle-aged woman” who walks her dog to keep fit. Stoller closes his article with a quote from Susan Sarandon: “Women over forty are invisible to men.” Oh, say it ain’t so!

Stoller’s argument is neither neutral nor objective. He seems to have a closed-minded opinion of women 40 and over and was far short of inspiring. Who convinced him that women over forty are limited in companionship to that from a K-9?

Healthy women over forty live fulfilled lives. Women do bounce back from drastic lifestyle changes after forty. Divorce and women is not synonymous with old maid. Women don’t have to fall into potential ruts. For example, women and weight loss has long been a sore spot, but it isn’t a point of no return if women gain a few pounds beyond forty.

There are actions that help avoid “after 40 ruts:”

1.  Avoid letting your circle of friends go stale. Refresh your social circle often by making and socializing with friends who hold different views. It makes for interesting dialog.

2.  Exercise and stay active. Exercising keeps the body toned and fit. It increases energy, stamina, and body confidence. Determine the healthy weight for women of your height and work toward your goal.

3.  Say goodbye to frumpy, dumpy, and grumpy. Are you long overdue for a wardrobe and attitude overhaul? Think textiles, patterns, colors, and NEW! When you look better, you feel better, and others notice you.

4.  Turn on the charm and have a little fun. Nothing keeps women over forty feeling younger, sexier, and vibrant than a healthy dose of flirtatious compliments. Complimenting others makes them feel good and they take notice of you.

Undoubtedly, remaining positive is important to combatting over forty ruts. Your perspective and outlook are key to staying fabulous after forty and enjoying all that life still has in store for you!

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Who Are You Calling Old? The Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride

Last week, while attending Steve Harrison’s Publicity Workshop in Philadelphia, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the spicy, inspiring and downright fabulous 87 year old, Ingeborg Johnston of Whidbey Island, WA.

I was completely drawn to the giant energy of this barely 5”0 woman as she stood before me making a power statement in a beautiful deep red suit. I listened in absolute awe as she told me about her life; escaping from post war Europe, surviving Berlin bombings, drug smuggling, scuba diving all over the world. In 1979 Inge entered the very first Mrs. Philadelphia Pageant. Her motivation – her then husband scoffed at the idea telling her she wouldn’t even be able to pass the interview. “Not only did I pass the interview, I won the damned thing!”

Winning Mrs. Philadelphia meant an automatic invitation to Atlantic City to compete in the Mrs. America Pageant. But since Inge was not a citizen at the time, she was ineligible to compete for the US title.

Nonetheless, her life has been filled with many wonderful adventures. Eight years ago, at the age of 79, Inge took Aerial Combat Training, flying a T34 Naval training Plane. She handed me her business card, the front, a photo of her sitting in the plane dressed in full flying gear. Last year, at the age of 86, Inge published her first book “Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride” and today she is still going strong. She lives a very active and fulfilling life as a motivator, fundraiser and president of a distant learning institute for alternative health professionals. “I have places to go and people to meet!”  And I am so happy to have been one of them.

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A New Revelation of Hope

Do you recognize the picture on the left? You may have a vague recollection of it from your college humanities or fine arts course. It’s called Hope by Victorian era British artist George Frederick Watts. I know what you’re thinking. The painting appears to depict anything but hope, right?

In Hope we see a woman playing a harp while sitting on top of the world. To me, the world seems dark and depressing, perhaps suffering under the weight of war, corruption, and violence. The harpist is dressed in rags, her head is bandaged, and there are lacerations on her face, arms and legs. Perhaps she has just risen from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the recent Tsunami in Japan. I can imagine her harp, once an instrument of magnificent beauty where she created music that stirred the soul. But now, missing all but one string, the harp is merely a scrap of its former self. It’s a distressing scene, yet the artist chose to call the painting Hope. Why?

I have had times in my life where I felt like the lady in the picture looks; lost, alone and filled with despair. But I believe, no matter what things look like, as long as you have just one string left, you can still play one more song, strike one more tune, and strum one more note. In a world where we experience heartbreak, setback and disappointment of every kind, it’s important to remember that there is always hope. Whatever trials may be on the painting of your life today play the one string you have left and the world will pour out her resources to you.

A fresh, new perspective on an old situation can make your entire world brand new again.

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The Age of Knowing How to Get Things Done

As we journey through the stages of life, our individual travels eventually lead us all to the same fork in the road. It’s a place where we pause to check our life compass; take stock of where we’ve been, look at where we are, and question which path we want to take with the rest of our lives.

We each look for the answers in our own unique ways. For me, it has meant many a night on my knees asking God, “Who am I, what is my purpose here, am I contributing anything meaningful to the world?”

What about you? Are you sleepwalking through life, or are you filled with a desire to find and fulfill your purpose? I believe were all connected; we’re all interdependent, we’re all depending on each other, and if you don’t figure out what your purpose is, and contribute it to society, that missing piece will have a ripple effect on society as a whole. People are missing out because of you.

Life opens up when you do!

Somebody is reading this and thinking that your time has passed. That you have put your dreams off too long, or missed your opportunity, and there is no way possible for you to get there now. I want to challenge your thinking.

This is the age of knowing how to get things done. Take one step towards your purpose, and watch God take two. Watch Him put the right people in your path who will help you fulfill the dream.

Pursue your passion with the confidence of experience at your back. Your entire life has been in preparation for this moment. Raising a family and managing a household, making executive level decisions, and everything in between, has ALL been relevant. You’ve been training, you’ve been conditioning, and you’ll never be more ready than you are right now.

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There’s No Better Age Than Now to Create the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of

Have you ever begun to feel like your goals are out of reach? Perhaps you gave up a career, or a passion you once pursued, for marriage and family.  With kids grown and gone you find yourself wondering if the time is now and questioning whether or not you still have ”it.”

It isn’t your age that’s holding you back but more likely your own sense of self defeat. It’s how you feel about your age that’s the problem. If you tell yourself you’re too old, you’re absolutely right, and if you tell yourself this age is the perfect time for you, then you’re right about that too. You are the one who holds the power and the ability to push your life forward.

There is no better time than NOW! Whether now is 40, 50, 60 or 70 – it’s time to reclaim your power and create the life you’ve always dreamed of. I promise you it’s possible and the only one who can keep you from it – is the one reading this post right now. People all over the world, in every situation, of every age are making it happen everyday. Make the decision to join them. Wishing you luck!

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