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

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Beware of the Human Hearing Aid Trap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Be a Woman on Fire: Demand More From Your Future by Planning for the Long Term Today

With an aging baby boomer population more and more 40 something women across the country provide care to aging parents and/or young children, while at the same time, having to balance the demands of jobs and careers. With hectic daily living, it leaves little time to think about your own financial future.

You’re working hard at the office, raising a family, maintaining a home and, hopefully, having some fun. But sometimes it seems there’s little time for you, and even less time to think beyond the realities of day-to-day living. Ladies, when it comes to preparing for the future, health and long-term care are some of the most important decisions you’ll have to make.

A recent AARP report found that 79 percent of woman age 65 and older will need long-term care at some point, but in my discussions with women, it is painfully clear that most remain unprepared.

I’m on a mission to change that by helping women think about their own needs. I’ve discovered a wonderful resource through, “Decide.Create.Share.™ ” an AARP initiative for women in their 40s, 50s and 60s that helps them plan for their own future needs. This is a comprehensive set of resources to help women:

  • Think about what kind of future they envision for themselves
  • Create a plan that will help them achieve their goals
  • Share that plan with the important people in their lives

Don’t get caught unprepared, believing long-term care planning is just for “old” people, or “It will never happen to me.” The fact is, especially if you’re over 40, it’s not too soon to think about the future. It’s not too soon to create a long-term life strategy for the days when work and child-rearing are behind you. Decisions you make today about home, finances, health and medical care can help you live your best life – in retirement, or whatever your life stage. Be a woman on fire!

 

 

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Aging But Not Old: Rejecting the Stereotype

This story takes place on a recent doctor’s office visit with my parents. My dad retired about 3 years ago. A 45+ year career in the construction industry left him in pretty good physical shape but, since retirement we’ve watched his weight slowly creep up and attach itself to his stomach. Now recently he’s begun to complain of some minor back pain.

I attribute his weight gain to the fact that his primary post retirement activities consist of sitting, eating, and watching television all day. The back pain, well let’s just say the back has to work a little harder these days just to hold up the front. Since he apparently was not going to confess his inactive lifestyle to his primary care physician, I decided I would. And, as I had hoped, his doctor completely sided with me on the recommendation that my dad increase his physical activity beyond his several short walks each day, to and from the refrigerator.

Then out of nowhere, as if in complete retaliation to my having “told” on him, he blind-sided me with the unexpected. My dad, whom I’ve always respected as one of the most intelligent men I know, stood before me, mentally competent and physically able, and spoke these words, “Well doc, you know what they say, ‘Your children become your parents.’”

Like a scene from a horror movie, the blood drained from my face as his remark chilled me to the bone and made me shudder with disbelief. My own father, a physically and intellectually fit man, absent of any cognitive or physical impairments, with many, many years ahead of him had fallen victim to a set of expectations he had always heard about retirement; as being a time of slowing down, mental and physical decline, and increased dependency on others. Well I see right through you dad and I know exactly what is going on here.

How powerful are the expectations and beliefs we have about aging and growing older, that they would cause us to completely ignore our own realities and instead seek to fulfill a set of unfounded societal expectations. Despite the fact that my dad is, as they say, as healthy as a horse, he had chosen by way of his sedentary post retirement lifestyle, to force his mind and body into a state of early decline and become that frail, senile, clueless “old” guy he’s always seen portrayed on TV. Well, no horses are being put out to pasture today. Not on my watch.

Memo to dad from daughter; I refuse to encourage or tolerate dependence, helplessness, or unproductiveness in either you or mom, so get off your healthy, independent, self-sufficient rump and move it, move it, move it!! The day may come when I have to take on more of a caregiver role in your lives but that day is not today, mister. Until you are no longer able to, you will challenge the muscles in your mind, you will exercise the muscles in your body, and you will re-engage in the world so that society can benefit from your storehouse of accumulated knowledge, wisdom and yes…humor. Oh, and since you have appointed me the parent now… what I say, GOES!

What low expectations about aging have you or your loved ones internalized? In what ways are you ignoring your own realities to fulfill these negative stereotypes?

 

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A Floppy Summer Hat and Sunglasses: Not Just Fashionable but Rational

By now we’re all aware of the harm UV exposure does to our skin; UV-B rays tan and burn the skin and UV-A rays break down collagen and elastin and accelerate the aging process. What we hear much less about is the very serious damage exposure to this same radiation, or ultraviolet rays can do to our eyes.

We’re all born with a protective coating on the retina of our eyes, sclera or the “white of the eye” as it is known, that by the time we’re 40 has already started thinning, by the time we’re 50 has significantly diminished, and by age 60 is virtually nonexistent.

With the passage of time this natural thinning produces a yellowing of the eye, and that yellowing is further exasperated by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. Unfortunately, a little yellowing isn’t the only thing we have to worry about. Both blindness and cancer of the eye can occur as a result of too much damage by the sun’s rays.

Ladies, this makes a super important case for our investment in quality UV blocking sunglasses and an assortment of fabulous sun protection hats to shade our eyes and support good eye health. The cheap stuff may not bust your budget, but if it won’t give you the UV protection you need, you may as well flush the dollars down the toilet. Shop for sunblock hats that not only flatter, but protect your face; and make sure those designer sunglasses come with a UV coating. Now when your mate says “I can’t believe you spent that much on a pair of sunglasses!” or that voice in your head tries to chastise you for splurging on the more expensive hat, you can answer confidently and in earnest, “I need it, I deserve, I got it!”

Photo Credit: Physician Endorsed Retro Chic Sunglasses

 

 

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Marketing to Boomer Women? Ladies Understand Your Value Before Opening Your Purse

It seems these days wherever I turn someone is offering advice on strategic marketing and advertising to baby boomer women. But my BS detector is going “ding”, “ding,” “ding” and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing at full attention. Why? Well it’s the same question ladies of, “Is he marrying me for love or is he marrying me for my money?” Think about it! Just a few short years ago ours was a demographic completely ignored or stereotyped in the industry. In fact, let me just put it out there… television and print media, known for its emphasis on youth and beauty, didn’t give a damn about us boomer women, doing more damage than good by continually exasperating negative or non-existent images of “older” (I prefer “mature”) women on television. Now that the economic tide has shifted, and companies are grappling to get their hands on consumer dollars, the boomer woman is suddenly a HOT commodity; the new “It” girl! But let me share with you something my dad always cautioned against, “Don’t fall for the okey-doke!” And we should all be asking ourselves, is it the value of our person of the value of our purse that has them looking at us with love in their eyes?

Now back to mom’s wisdom, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” It is absolutely imperative that we understand our value as the most influential group of women in society, worthy of respect and recognition. Don’t hand over your assets to just any “Joe” (no pun intended to my first husband) whispering sweet nothings in your ear. If they want something of value from us, they should happily commit something of value to us. If advertisers and marketers want to harness our spending dollars then there are a few things we have the collective power, the right, and the duty to ask, expect, and receive in return. First and foremost, we deserve advertisers and marketers who will depict us in a realistic and positive light; not the way society has historically seen us; as old-fashioned, confused of thought, arthritic, denture wearers, but as we see ourselves; vibrant, clever, passionate and fun. Next, let’s close the inequality between the sexes. Older men outnumber women on TV but not in real life. In the real world, women live longer and therefore outnumber our aging male counterparts, and we should see those numbers represented in advertising and television. Finally ladies, advertisers have had plenty of laughs at our expense; amusing their audiences with the depiction of older women as nagging, out of touch, incompetent, or even fallen and unable to get up. And the media’s negative influence has had far reaching implications. Since they can’t afford to ignore us, or the power of our purses, the real win-win would be to partner with us. Let’s commit to spend our dollars only with those who commit to invest in us; in our movement to change the way society sees and treats older adults, to improve the overall perception, status, and opportunities for maturing women, and help create post-retirement programs that would assist women in the use of our experience, leadership, skills and talents in ways that would allow us to remain vibrant, productive members of society while still enjoying the leisure of retirement.

Don’t give them an ounce of milk girls, until they commit to preserving the cow!

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For Women Over 40 – Depression and Suicide Does Not Have to Be Our Story

Hold the presses! Haven’t we already determined that today’s boomer women are better off than we’ve ever been; healthier, better educated and more wealthy than any generation of women before us? And for the most part, ladies, we are! But that doesn’t mean everything for boomer women is coming up roses.

In a story that grieved me dearly, allvoices.com reports “a forty-nine percent increase of visits in the emergency department for drug related suicide attempts from women fifty years or older” and “Suicides in maximum numbers of women between the ages of forty and sixty-nine…”  These numbers are staggering, disturbing, heart breaking and unnecessary.

Just this week the Today Show aired a Today’s Woman segment titled, “Facing Forty.” “It used to be turning 40 symbolized the end of youth. Now, it’s the beginning of something better.” The segment showed women celebrating themselves and the big 4-0 by running triathlon events, visiting Italy and enjoying a beach and spa getaway. But as Sarah Brokaw, licensed therapist and author of “Fortytude” points out, and I agree, it’s a time of mixed emotions and feelings amongst women are split. While some women are excited about approaching this new era many more are fearful and anxious about what 40 means and view it as a time of loss or an ending of something instead of the wonderful new beginning it really is. Trisha Ashworth, co-author of “I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids” confessed that for her, after the celebration and the 40th birthday party was over she felt “blindsided” as the black clouds of doubt began to roll in. “What’s the next chapter for me? What do I want for my life and who am I?” These were all questions she had not taken the time to reflect on but these are very real questions women grapple with everyday. As children age out and move away from home, as the marital relationship changes due to death or divorce, women are feeling disoriented and are asking themselves, “Who am I now? “What’s next for me?”

While there are many aspects of aging that can be a little frightening the majority of our fears are unfounded and rooted in societal stereotypes. Contributor to the All Voices story, psychologist and licensed clinical social Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, discovered an alarming rise in the number of suicide attempts amongst women ages 45-64, and cites disappointment as a factor. “Middle-aged women are more aware of their mortality and could be disappointed or let down that it is too late for happiness.”  For years society has portrayed the over 40 woman as miserly old women who lock ourselves up in the house to die with nothing but a cat and unrealized dreams. But that’s an old story and I triple dog dare you to be bold enough to write a new one. Any dreams, wishes or desires a woman holds can still be realized regardless of age. If you want to go to school, go to school. If you want to get married, get married. If you want to start a business, start a business. Women are doing it everyday and are realizing greater fulfillment in their 40’s and 50’s, even 70’s and 80’s than at any other time before. Aging is a beautiful journey, ladies. And it’s time to change the way we see ourselves, love ourselves and value ourselves as aging women in this society. Write your own story! Go ahead..I dare you!

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When Aging Fears Lead to Depression: Helping a Girlfriend Cope

I always love seeing the light in a woman’s eyes when she has a positive and vibrant attitude about aging. The truth is, the majority of women are fearful about aging. I have also discovered that many women are depressed because they 1) have some misconceptions about what it means to grow older or 2) feel time has passed them by and it’s too late to achieve their dreams.

Depression is very real and can prevent us from maximizing our potential and living a full and productive life. Physical appearance, finances and health, range amongst the top shared fears that women have about aging. Still a woman may not openly discuss her concerns with anyone. Not even her closest friend. For decades depression has carried such a terrible social stigma. That, combined with the fact that the majority of women believe depression to be a natural part of aging, leaves far too many women to suffer in silent despair.

While she may not be direct with you about her feelings, there are a few signs you can be on the lookout for. Depression can manifest itself in many ways, including anxiety, loss of weight, loss of hair, overeating, not eating, lack of sleeping, or too much sleep. Also, listen carefully to her words. Depression is often masked behind phrases like, “I’m just going through some things right now,” “I’m just feeling a little down in the dumps,”  or “ I’ve just got a lot going on.”

If you’ve never experienced depression yourself you may not fully understand what your friend is feeling. Don’t beat yourself up about what to say or what not to say. A compassionate listening ear is more priceless than a thousand words. She may feel like cutting herself off from you and everyone else around her, but be patient and continue to be a friend. Get together with a group of girlfriends and amp up the fun factor. Share stories, encouragement and most of all laughter. Humor is to depression what kryptonite is to Superman. If she seems to be getting worse or you think she might be in danger of harming herself, don’t worry about whether or not she’ll be angry with you, speak up and insist she get some help.

Watching a friend suffer can make you feel helpless. But with a little support and understanding you can be the catalyst to turn those grey clouds into blue skies again.

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