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!

40 Plus and Fabulous to Celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8

Happy Women's Day background with text 8th March.Embracing every decade of life and challenging the status quo of what it means to be an “older” woman in America. That will be the core message on March 8 as 40 Plus and Fabulous celebrates International Women’s Day with its 3rd Annual FabU Academy Lifestyle Empowerment Conference. The event will be a day of workshops designed to promote positive aging and enhance the lives of women forty and over.

This year’s event takes place on International Women’s Day. The goal is to help women make smart, strategic decisions in areas such as health, retirement finances, family and eldercare, long term care planning, and life balance. Additionally, the long-term impact is to spark creativity and reignite passions, so that positive, significant contributions can continue to be realized through social responsibility and community service.

Sondra Wright is the CEO of 40 Plus and Fabulous and founder of the FabU Academy Women’s Empowerment Conferences. She is a baby boomer on a mission to inspire equality in aging. “It’s a perfect way to celebrate International Women’s Day. Women are living longer than men but are also more likely in those later years to experience poverty and discrimination. We have to prepare by making smart choices today, but we must also demand greater visibility and better access to resources and opportunities as we grow older,” said Wright.

The daylong event which features presentations, interactive workshops, dancercise, lunch, and a “Bring on the Bling” fashion show begins at 10 am and will be held at The Clarion Hotel, Swing Rd. The 40 Plus and Fabulous Woman of the Year Award will also be awarded, in recognition of the outstanding contributions of a woman within the local community. Registration is required at www.fabuacademy.com; there will be no on site or same day registration.

“Whatever age or stage if life you are in, you are sure to glean something from this event,” Wright said.

She said she believes being a woman over forty is not an over-the-hill ending, but a bold new beginning. “This is an occasion to acknowledge and celebrate past struggles and triumphs, and more importantly, to look ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await us as well as the future generations of women coming behind us.”

The conference is co-sponsored by MetLife of the Carolinas, J W Wright & Associates, M and M Meetings and Event Planning, and SRH Travel.

Want to go?

The FabU Academy Lifestyle Empowerment Conference will be held Saturday March 8, 2014, 10 am – 4pm at the Clarion Hotel, 415 Swing Rd., Greensboro NC. Registration is required at http://fabuacademy.com


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.



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!”





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?



Boomer Women in Business: Tips to “Boom-Her” Business


I get so excited every time I hear a report of the record number of boomer women who are starting their own businesses. In fact, it’s been said that boomer women represent the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs. Whoo Hoo!!

In my 15 years as an entrepreneur I’ve seen businesses come and go primarily because they don’t know what it takes to have staying power in their industry. And many of you are wondering right if this is a good time to launch your business or what the future of your business might be in a struggling economy.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you must acquire the ability to think a certain way. I’ve been fortunate to attend workshops and conference and learn from some great coaches and trainers on how to build a solid business. But I had never been mentored in developing the mental, spiritual and emotional stamina to withstand potential challenges. So since the burned hand teaches best, I want to share 3 small tips that have served me well in business.

1.  There are a lot of people walking around with skills and gifts and talents and passions but that’s not enough to be in business. Poor management is the #1 reason new businesses fail! There must be someone n position who is going to study, organize, plan and control all activities of its operations; who’s going to make sure the IRS get’s paid and payroll and employment laws are adhered. If you like to create but can’t be can’t be bothered with those kinds of trivial details, you must add someone to your team who can.

2.  When is doubt, wait and never act out of fear! When fear shows up in your business you have to go inside of yourself and whisper “peace be still” asking yourself how do I choose to be present right now? Deciding how to show up (ex. I show up committed, confident, determined) in a situation puts you back in the power seat.

3.  Be convinced that there is no competition – there is only you. Being in a greedy, selfish, competitive mindset causes you to repel success not attract it. The fastest path to success is when you collaborate and co-create with people in similar industries as yours, not compete with them. Of course you don’t have to disclose your intellectual property or trade secrets to them but you are to work collaboratively with them. No one can beat you, to what belongs to what belongs to you.

4.  Don’t question whether the current economic climate presents the right timing to step out as a boomer-preneur. Simply trust that it is. Make up your mind that regardless of what may be going on in the world this is the greatest time of opportunity for you. Train yourself to think in this way. Mindset is your greatest asset.


Media Targets Boomer Women With Anxiety Induced Articles

Vintage thoughtful girlA very exciting study came out last October. It explored significant trends that will impact both consumers and small businesses over the next 10 years and among its most significant findings is that baby boomer women will emerge as economic powerhouses. What? You mean you don’t remember seeing financial gurus making early morning talk show appearances discussing the importance of this information for women. Of course you don’t

And that’s probably because this study, which defies traditional roles for retirement age women, got virtually no media buzz.

However, this month, one year later, another story is getting some major attention. Chris Jansing’s NBC Nightly News story “Baby Boomer Women Least Prepared Financially” is getting top story billing on popular media outlets like Today. The major difference is this study supports the traditional roles and stereotypes for women not faring well financially after the divorce or death of a spouse and single women being worse off financially that their male counterparts.

The media plays an all important role in the information that gets trickled down to the public. When information is skewed so that stories which support traditional roles for women get popularized while studies to the contrary get ignored, anxieties are created that have no basis in truth. And you fail to capture the truth when you only tell a part of the story. So Dear Media, don’t sell your anxiety to boomer women with widespread stories of a bleak financial future. Instead, use the same energy and resources to encourage, uplift and inspire boomer women about a bright and promising future. I see a future where boomer women are working beyond retirement, not because we must, but because we can and we want to; a future where boomer women emerge as an economic powerhouse who controls the majority of consumer wealth and saves the world from financial ruin. That’s the future I see for boomer women. And that future looks mighty bright.


We Held a Million Dollar Solution Ladies, In the Palms of Our Hands

I’m totally addicted to a new show called Shark Tank. Okay, maybe not so new but definitely new to me since I’m only 3 episodes in.

For those of you who may not be so familiar, entrepreneurs with small or “start up” companies pitch their businesses to millionaire moguls (aka, the Sharks). The hope is  that a Shark will like the idea enough to invest their own money and expertise in exchange for a share of the company.

In the few episodes I’ve seen, I’ve witnessed dreams come true and reams get crushed. But one segment in particular stands out to me more than any other. Cut to Shane Pannell from Maricopa Arizona.

Shane is the stay at home day to his 9, 4 and 2 year old children. He says it’s a tough job and has no idea how women do it. Shane invented something called SweepEasy, a broom with a built in scraper to ease the task of getting dried on, stuck on stuff off the floor as you sweep.

Shane came to the Sharks asking for a $40, 000 investment, in exchange for a 25% stake in his company. But when Shane hit the lever on his broom and that scraper came flying out, so did the sharks teeth.

What I witnessed for the next few minutes was unbelievable. The offers were coming at Shane so fast, Barbara Corcoran cautioned Shane to, “Slow down and think. You’re a nice guy!” But at the end of the day when the dust settled and the feeding frenzy was over, Shane walked away with $80,000, twice the money he was originally seeking, and the expertise of two sharks instead of one.

Now ladies, I said all that to say this. We’ve been sweeping floors for thousands of years. Our kids have spilled gunk on the floor for as long as there has been a floor. And for centuries we have dutifully, and painstakingly, interrupted our sweeping to bend, stoop or squat to scrape the gunk up. All of a sudden a guy comes along; sweeps the floor for what – a week, a month, a year maybe? And after a brief time realizes there has got to be a better way to get the job done.

Witty inventions and ideas come to us all day long. In fact, I guarantee one of you got the idea about this broom. Don’t beat yourself up about it. But I do want to challenge you to begin to take those ideas seriously. If it solves a problem for you, chances are, it could solve a problem for millions. If you have an idea that seems like an amazing opportunity, don’t dismiss it. Start to keep an idea journal. Truthfully, so many thoughts come to us all day, everyday, we couldn’t possibly act on all of them. Some of my most creative moments happen when I’m doing something ironing, vacuuming or even taking a shower. Be prepared to capture those moments ladies. You never know when what may seem to be a fleeting thought, is really the Universe gifting you with a million dollar, problem solving idea.