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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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!”

 

 

 

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The Day Cancer Came to Sunday Dinner

If you’ve not been fortunate enough to enjoy a Sunday dinner at my mom’s house… you haven’t really lived. Don’t let her 4’10”, 95 lb frame, or the fact that she doesn’t have her own HGTV cooking show fool you – Ruth is a culinary GENIUS. I’m convinced, in fact, that my first husband married me for my mother’s cooking.

It was a Sunday gathering like so many others: incredible food, family, fun, reminiscing about the days past and sharing plans for the days ahead. And like a well placed scene in a Lifetime TV drama, it all came to a screeching halt when my mom’s tiny frame collapsed onto the floor.

Two dizzy spells the month prior were attributed to the heat. Easy enough to accept as a plausible explanation, since both incidences occurred on very warm days while she was out and about running errands with my dad. Funny now is the memory of her trying to convince us that she didn’t need to go to the hospital, after we had just scraped her up off the floor. But it was time to get some answers. Clearly, something was putting her well being at risk.

Four days in the hospital and several tests would reveal the culprit – a 7 cm tumor on her lungs that was partially wrapped around her pulmonary artery.  This tumor was unpredictably causing a squeeze on the artery, thus interfering with her blood flow, and resulting in the dizzy spells. A biopsy the following day would determine the precise enemy we were facing – an inoperable Stage IV squamous cell lung cancer.

Okay, who just hit me? Within a matter of days I had received 3 horrendous blows that would take out even the most seasoned prize fighter. I was feeling a pain deep down inside that I didn’t recognize because I had never felt it before. All the memories that we hadn’t yet created were flooding my mind. I looked at my mom; her head up, shoulders back and confidence unfailing and I was proud to have the blood of this mini warrior princess churning through my veins. I needed to get over myself because this wasn’t about me. This was about putting my big girl panties on and getting in the ring with my mom, standing toe-to-toe in battle against this giant we must now face.

The word cancer has no power except the power we give it and I choose to give it NONE. While I have every respect for the physicians whose care she will be in, and every expectation that her chemotherapy and radiation treatments will be effective, I place my hope in God, and it is He alone who I acknowledge as the Source for her healing. And it is by that faith that I will declare on this day, with all power and authority, that my mom is cancer free.

Be thankful yes but don’t play poor pitiful pearl. Be thankful for where you are and tell people about your life.” ~Eileen Fulton in 40+ and Fabulous

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Waiting to Die: How Breaking A Hip Gave Her New Passion For Life

Wait! Did I just hear this correctly? Did this smart, capable, physically able woman just tell me she had been sitting around waiting to die?

I just got off the phone with the mother of a good friend. She was just settling in from her morning physical therapy session, and I was quite surprised to hear her sounding more like she was on an extended vacation at an exclusive spa and resort than in the hospital recuperating from a broken hip.

For several minutes she gushed with enthusiasm about the activities and exercises that were a part of her rehabilitation; practicing with a walker, workouts to strengthen her arms, simulated bike riding, toe touches, learning to go up and down stairs and get in and out of a car. And though the whirlpool sounded inviting, she had respectfully declined that activity laughing, “I am not about to put this 76 year old body in a bathing suit – they can forget it!

It was the morning April 4th when she stood up to walk to the kitchen. Poor circulation, a side effect of her diabetes, had caused her foot to go numb. Unaware of the lack of feeling – she took the step – lost her balance – and fell to the floor.

“All I can tell you baby is that I have a brand new appreciation for walking. Before my accident I was living a wasted life. I had the same routine every day; waking up around 10, eating breakfast at 11, then watching television until falling asleep for my nap around 1. I’d eat lunch between 2:30-3, dinner at 6, then off to bed at 8. All of my time in between was spent watching television. I never went out, and the only time I spoke with someone on the phone was if they called me – I never made the effort to call my family or my friends. There was nothing wrong with me physically, my diabetes was my only health concern and I was completely wasting my life. Just sitting around – – – waiting to die.”

As drastic as it may seem falling, breaking her hip and going through physical therapy has served as a catalyst for a renewed passion for life. In fact, she describes the incident as a blessing. “I’ve asked my daughters to start locating some groups for me to connect with. When I get out of here on August 7th, I’m going to continue to be active, continue to be around people and just enjoy every remaining day of this life I have left.”

FACTS:

More than 350,000 people are hospitalized for a broken hip every year and about 90% of hip fractures occur in people over 60. ~Robert W. Griffith, MD

White, post-menopausal women have a 1 in 7 chance of sustaining a hip fracture during their lifetime.  ~American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Roughly 25 to 30% of women who suffer a hip fracture will die within one year of the injury. ~Wellescent.com

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Inspiration and Life Lessons From Niecy Nash’s Wedding Bash

As a former wedding planner, lover of all things wedding and huge fan of the funny Niecy Nash, missing the TLC special of her wedding to Jay Tucker was just not an option.

Over 40 single ladies, be inspired! If love and marriage are on your radar but you feel anxious that your chances may be diminishing with age, stop lying to yourself. Forget the hype, the stereotypes and myths with messages like  “You have a better chance of getting struck by lightening twice than you do of getting married after 40” and instead look for examples of over 40 women who are finding love and marriage and go for what you want.

The vivacious 41 year old Niecy Nash – previously divorced mother of 3 whose own mother lives with her and her children – had fears of her own, “I was afraid I wouldn’t find anyone who wanted to marry me, my kids and my mama!” But the 2 hour TLC special was a 40+ and Fabulous affair full of insight, wisdom and ah-ha moments culminating in an unforgettable Memorial Day weekend wedding. Let’s see what important life lessons we can take away from Niecy Nash’s Wedding bash.

When I Fall In Love…

“People think the first time you fall in love, it’s the last time. That’s not true!” ~Niecy

You tell ‘em Niecy. I personally have had 5 proposals, 3 engagements and am presently enjoying husband number 2. If it were not for the capacity to love over and over again, I would be deprived of knowing the joy and fulfillment in the marriage I have today.

Despousing the House

Every day I look at this closet I see dresses and hangers and shoes. I don’t see room for me. I can not condense 10 years of my single life into one closet. All this furniture you shared with your ex. We need to start our lives brand new.” ~Jay

The plan was for new husband Jay to move into Niecy’s house after the wedding. This is very similar to my situation except my ex husband never shared my home with me. I purchased it post divorce and had always occupied it alone. Now for any couple in this situation – where you won’t as newlyweds be setting up a new home together – but one will be moving into the already established home of the other – it’s very important to take steps to make it feel like “our” home and not just your place that your spouse moved into.

While Jay was away on a business trip Niecy did a complete bedroom makeover. She even went the extra mile of moving all of Jay’s things out of his place and into “theirs.” Jay returned and was so moved by the surprise; he got down on one knee and proposed all over again.

Flexibility Has it’s Advantages

“The very thing I said I didn’t want ended up being the exact thing I want for my wedding.” ~Niecy

Niecy and I share something in common; neither of us are keen on outdoor events. Competing with the elements of sun, wind, rain, heat, cold or insect of any kind is an iron clad deal breaker and Niecy made it crystal clear to wedding planner Michelle that an outdoor wedding was out of the question. So when Michelle had Niecy meet her at a venue clearly intended for an outdoor ceremony and reception, both Niecy and I thought Michelle had lost her mind. But the place was undeniably enchanting and completely softened Niecy’s resolve. See, when you’re so stuck on your own opinions and ideas – you can’t be shown anything – and in many cases you’ll always lose out. But Niecy moved out of her own way, opened herself up to change and as a result her outdoor wedding was sheer perfection.

All That Looks Lost Is Not

“I believe the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. Something is coming that I think can bring us all together, if we just stay committed to making it happen.” ~Niecy

As a stepmom, I know first hand when there are children involved there is always concern for how they will accept this new marriage, this new individual, and transition into this new family unit. Neither of Neicy’s children seemed particularly overjoyed about this union but thankfully Niecy didn’t allow it to derail her happiness. Both she and Jay remain hopeful and positive that with time, patience and consistent effort this family will indeed mesh as a cohesive unit.

I Am Not Going To Lose My Cool – Not on TV Anyway

“Don’t tell me to just get over it!” ~Niecy

As a former wedding planner my first priority was to keep my brides on budget. So I was really put off by wedding planner Michelle’s cavalier attitude about Niecy’s money.

7 days before the wedding Michelle phoned Niecy to inform her she was not $1,000, not $3,000 but $12,000 over budget. I mean, how does a number grow to that proportion and you not know? Not only was she over budget, but she had no flowers or chairs. That’s right, wedding planer Michelle had failed to include banquet chairs into the rental contract. At this point I’m thinking Niecy should have called David Tutera. In her sit down meeting over the budget faux pas with a visibly and understandable upset Nash, Michelle retorts, “I’m sorry it took me a day and a half to discover the chairs got left off! Get over it!” Okay, forget David Tutera, someone please dial 911 – we’re going to need the police and an ambulance.

Not only was I thankful for the presence of television cameras and a crew of witnesses, I was thankful for that thing that happens to us as we mature. The arrival at a place in our lives where we’ve found our voice, we don’t allow people to walk over us, we don’t think it impolite to speak up for ourselves, but even in intense moments we can respond to insensitive and idiotic remarks with poise and grace. I admire Ms. Nash…excuse me…Mrs. Tucker for her fine example of being in that place. Congratulations Niecy and Jay!

 

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Over 40, Fabulous and Loving Life!

“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout:
This is me da#@ it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love! I am a whole complex package. Take me… or leave me. Accept me – or walk away! Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don’t fit your idea of who I should be and don’t try to change me to fit your mold. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision. When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad – you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you.”  ~Stacey Charter

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