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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It’s a Ladies Night Out Celebration at the Maya Angelou Center for Women’s Health and Wellness

Tonight is the grand opening of the Maya Angelou Center for Women’s Health and Wellness and they’re celebrating in style with a fabulous ladies night out event. This is win-win line-up ladies featuring an Ask the Doctor Panel, Zumba Demonstration, Cooking Class and a mini Fashion Show sponsored by Macy’s. With door prizes, appetizer and, I’m sure, some fabulous giveaways, what a real treat to be enjoyed by a carload of gal pals.

As a huge advocate of self-care in midlife I was especially excited to hear the announcement about the Women’s Midlife Center. Women, especially at this stage of life, are notorious for running here and there, making sure everyone else’s needs are met, and putting ourselves last. Many in fact, struggle constantly with the belief that putting others first is mandatorry if you’re to be cosidered a “good” person.  Hogwash! The world needs a Women’s Midlife Center in every city to squash some of these old beliefs and help women take their power back.

Do yourself a favor, grab a girlfriend, let the husband watch the kids for a few hours, and get yourself over to Ladies Night Out and the grand opening of the Maya Angelou Center for Women Health.  Your only regret will be if you don’t.

Maya speaks out about the center in her Prime Time Radio interview with Mike Cuthbert.

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Finally Found Your Voice? Don’t Let Your Tongue Ruin it For You

Remember women like your sassy older aunts, the seemingly frail church ladies, or the nosey “neighbor lady” who was always ready to tattle on you? You know, the ones who would blurt out the darndest things, anytime… anywhere – and get away with it? It often seems that being an “old lady” has it privileges, at least when it comes to speaking your mind without apology and with little to no regard for anyone else’s feelings.

As women, many of us live the majority of our lives not getting what we want, simply because we don’t ask for it. We’re so afraid of offending someone, not being liked, or being perceived as overly aggressive, that our true feelings get suppressed and many of our needs go unmet. Somewhere around 40ish we find that buried voice and start making up for lost time. The question is, is that new outspokenness serving our communication or sabotaging it?

I’ve met some wonderful women who, after discovering the voice of their true selves, have become “deliciously” outspoken in midlife. I’ve also encountered women who are completely fed up from having stifled their wants, needs and desires for far too long. Alas, after a lifetime of being invisible, she has found her voice and she’s not afraid to use it. But it’s not quite that simple. While finding our voice can be one of the best things we ever do, the inability to use that voice effectively can damage relationships with our families, close friends and significant others. It can even be damaging to our health.

Speaking up doesn’t mean being tactless, obnoxious or aggressive. Get your needs met? Absolutely! But never at someone else’s expense. Communication must be fair to be effective and every time we open our mouth, we must take personal responsibility for the things we say.

Here’s a few tips to help you get the most out of your new found voice:

They’re not psychic.. they’re family! People, no matter how much they love us, can not read our minds. It’s our responsibility to let others know what we want and how we feel.

Passive is not pretty. If something isn’t the way you want it to be or if you’re being treated in a way that’s not acceptable for you, make the choice to deal with it. If you choose not to deal with it you forfeit your right to sit around brooding about it. And please, don’t be a “yes” woman, you’ll grow to resent it.

Be open and honest. There’s nothing wrong with wanting someone to do something for us. But using hurt or anger to get your way is a foul play. Hurt and anger are both aggressive communication tactics. When you guilt someone into getting your way, you are using hurt. When you intimidate someone into getting your way, you are using anger. You may gain some short term benefits, but in the long run it’s you who’ll be the biggest loser

Payback is a b$#ch! as the saying goes, but payback is something best left out of your dealings with people. Revenge will age you quickly and take more of a toll on you than the one you’re aiming for. Trying to pay someone back or teach someone a lesson by gossiping, sabotaging, withdrawing attention or affection such as touching, talking, or even sex is no way to get our needs met. Payback sneaks in with the promise of making you feel good but in the end, will leave you wrinkled, lifeless, broke (in spirit) and alone.

Within your voice lies the ultimate creation tool – the power of life and death. If you don’t use your voice you’re not really living. But use it with compassion and you’ll live a life well lived. Live out loud ladies! Live out loud!

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Blowing Steam: Real Women Don’t Look Like This

I need to blow a little steam about yesterdays ABC News Entertainment segment called Fabulous Over 40; a slide show of “sexy” over 40 Hollywood celebrities. I’m very aware that a woman’s self confidence in midlife is largely affected by the images she sees in the media – images no real woman could live up to.

The ABC news slide show tells us nothing of the powerful transitions these women are making in midlife but instead emphasizes the physical perfection these starlets have maintained through the years. A physical perfection undoubtedly enhanced by cosmetic surgery, computer retouching, airbrushing or any combination of the aforementioned. What’s fabulous about that?

Yes, we want Hollywood to stop putting actresses out to pasture at 40. Yes, we want Hollywood to stop placing higher value on aging male actors than females. But, we also want the media to realize the role you play in a woman’s self esteem. When you flash these images of women like Bo Derek, Iman, Jennifer Lopez, Elle McPherson, Sarah Jessica Parker as the ideal 40+ female beauties, they should come with a disclaimer “The images you see are not real. They have been digitally enhanced to achieve our idea of perfection.” C’mon, no one looks like this! Even Cindy Crawford once said “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

I can’t compete with the Photoshop woman and I don’t want to. Instead, I choose to be me; strong, tall, imperfect, and FABULOUS!

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A Note From a Reader

I woke up this morning to the greatest gift; a note from a reader expressing what 40+ and Fabulous has meant to her…

“Thank you so much for writing 40+ and Fabulous. I just finished reading the book…and in doing so, rejuvenated the JOY of being over 40!

The thought of turning 40 was REALLY tough for me. No Children, Single and 70 lbs overweight? With the statistic that a woman over 40 had a better chance of being struck by lightning looming in my brain (LOL..funny now but I wasn’t laughing then!), along with all the over 40 stereotypical nonsense, I decided to do something about my weight and self out look.

Well, I lost the 70 lbs, did a ton of things to improve my health and over all self esteem! I have been working so much and so hard lately that I had forgotten to embrace life in my 40’s and beyond!

I love having the book, the stories of other women to remind me to ENJOY ME….at every age!”  ~ A. Hall

Thank you Ms. Hall. What a tremendous blessing it is, to know that I’m making a difference.

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal. ” ~Albert Pike


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Transformation by Fire

Who among us can honestly say we arrived at this age without hitting a few bumps in the road? You know, a rocky detour, here and there, that made the ride all the more interesting. Those challenges we faced and lessons we learned about happily not always being happily ever after, job today – gone tomorrow, everything no one told you about raising a family, and so much more, often made life feel like one long hidden camera television show. No wonder we sometimes feel tempted to pull the covers over our head and just stay in bed.

I’ve been reading recently about metamorphic rock, which is the transformation of an existing type of rock type into another, after it has been subjected to extreme heat and pressure. Some of the most valuable rocks in the world are formed over time, underground, because of the enormous pressure heat that exists deep within the earth.

A good example of metamorphic rock would be limestone changing into marble. Both rocks are used commercially, for different reasons. Because limestone is more porous, it can’t take much wear and tear. Therefore, the rock is more suitable for less demanding jobs. Marble is formed from the metamorphosis, or transformation, of limestone; after limestone has undergone some intense heat and pressure. Because of its strength and durability, marble is highly preferred for areas such as floors, doorways, and steps.

Another noticeable difference between the two stones is their appearance. Although it can be polished and improved upon, limestone generally will have a somewhat plain appearance. Marble, on the other hand, has variances that range from pure white, to beautiful swirling patterns that show off various colors of blue, grey, purple, grayish-white, black, brown, green, pink, salmon, and rose. It’s an expensive material to work with, but its beauty and versatility, makes it a worthwhile investment.

When life hands us difficult situations, or when we choose to take on challenges and bold new directions, the increased heat and pressure serve a very important purpose in our lives. Each rocky path brings with it learning and growing. Regardless of the outcome, we take new revelations, new insight, and new wisdom from each experience. We are forever transformed as we become stronger, more magnificent, and more valuable with every encounter along the journey.

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Growing Up 1970’s: Remembering My Good Ole’ Days

It’s a beautiful, unseasonably warm and sunny, winter day, and I was suddenly struck by the eerie silence of my neighborhood. Not at all like the childhood I remember; when the sound of children; running, playing, and laughing, seemed to always fill the air.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day. The only rule was to be back inside before the street light came on.

Thirst was quenched by a quick drink from the water hose. We didn’t have cell phones, so you’d better stay within earshot of your mom calling you from the porch. The last thing you wanted was for her to have to come and find you, like Rod Wilson’s mother did one day. Not pretty.

We’d spend hours, jumping off of anything that was high enough to jump off of. From Renee Royster’s shed, to the tractor at my uncle’s house, you could find us with a sheet baby pinned around our necks, yelling ‘Fly Robin Fly’. Sometimes it was lively and animated; like four square, rolling to the bat, or dirt dobbler – a game my brother and some of his friends made up. At other times, it was quiet and easy going; like lying in the grass identifying cloud shapes, or catching grasshoppers, or butterflies. And who could forget Babydoll and Cindy, flying around the neighborhood on their moped; no helmet, no license to ride one, jumping the railroad track without even tapping the brake.

There was no Playstation 1, 2 or 3, but nothing brought friends together like a game of neighborhood dodge ball. No Nintendo’s and Xbox’s, but turn the water sprinkler on, and we’d run and laugh for hours. And as day gave way to dusk, we’d get in a good game of tag, or hide and go seek, knowing it would not be long before the first flicker of the street light signaled it was time to head home.

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A Humorous Look at Aging Through the Comedic Eyes of Sinbad

It’s not often I watch stand up comedy because the language can be a bit offensive for my taste. But the other night, surfing the channels, I ran across Sinbad, a wonderful comedian known for keeping his comedy “clean.” I caught the show as Sinbad was sharing wit and wisdom on aging and found myself laughing out loud.

Sinbad on Older Men, Younger Women

“To all you men out there, 55 years and older, trying to date some girl who’s 20, are you out of your mind? She wants your house! I don’t see any 20 year old girls with a broke down, 55 year old man, with no money. She wants you to die! And if you keep messing with her, you will.”

“You want a woman who understands the signs of a stroke. If you go to dinner with a woman who’s 55, and your lip begins to curl, she’ll get you to a hospital and save your life. But a girl who’s 20 is going to look at you and say, ‘Stop making faces at me. It’s not funny anymore!’ Now here you are, all stroked out for the rest of your life because your cute little girlfriend didn’t know the signs of a stroke.”

Sinbad on Menopause

 

“Women, we go through things with you that you don’t even understand. Your menopause is our menopause, and that first hot flash is scary because it looks like a heart attack. On my bed now, I have a parka and some gym shorts, because I don’t know what the temperature is going to be when I come home. When my wife asks me if I’m freezing, I put my parka on. Five minutes later, when she asks me if it’s burning up in here, I put my gym shorts on.”

Sinbad on Cosmetic Surgery

 

“Let yourself get old. All this surgery doesn’t fool anybody ladies. You earned being old, so let yourself get old! Be sexy! If your breast are dropping, put them in your pocket or fold them up. Getting a face lift is not sexy. It just makes you look old and tight. And who told women that putting all that collagen in your lip was sexy? It’s not! Men don’t want that big lip coming at ‘em like that.”

Aging is inevitable, so let’s laugh and enjoy the journey. With a little humor we can stay focused on the funny side of aging, and help each other get though midlife, without the crisis.

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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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Ditch a Few Innocent Habits to Put the Squeeze on Aging

Simple, everyday habits may be more than just that. They could actually be practices that speed up our bodies aging. By eliminating these habits, we can turn back the hands of time and extend our life expectancy. Let’s look at some easy steps to aging well.

Have you ever seen a person under so much stress, they got old right before your eyes? Nothing beats the body down like stress. While overcoming obstacle and facing difficulties is a natural part of life, the inability to deal effectively with stress can lead to issues such as chronic pain, sickness, a weakened immune system, dementia, and an overall shorter lifespan. Healthy coping strategies, like meditation, deep breathing, learning to say “no”, and effective time management can significantly reduce stress and add years to your life.

Scrap the sugar and reduce your wrinkles. That’s right! Experts now say that there is a correlation between sugar and wrinkles, and that the intake of sugar can actually lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin in our skin. Collagen and elastin is what gives our skin flex; that firm look and appearance. When collagen and elastin is damaged, skin becomes dull and dry, and begins to wrinkle and sag. Remember this the next time cake, cola, or cookies are whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Limit your sugar intake to prevent premature aging of the skin.

Know your fats. We’ve probably all heard the message, to cut fats from your diet in order to maintain a healthy body weight and good heart health. That doesn’t necessarily mean to avoid all fats. Saturated fats and trans fats are the bad fats to avoid, or enjoy in moderation. But you don’t want to cut your good fats, like the ones found in fish, olive oil, nuts and avocados. Omega 3’s are necessary for optimal dally functioning. With benefits like improving hormonal balance, reducing the risk of heart disease, enhancing brain functioning, and improving the health and appearance of skin and hair; omega 3’s may just be the essential anti-aging fats. It’s important to remember that our bodies do not produce fatty acids, and depends on us to supply them trough our diet. About 93% of the population is deficient in the essential fatty acid. Improve your health and increase your lifespan by including unsaturated and monounsaturated fats in your diet.

Not only can burning the midnight oil cause bags, puffiness, and under eye circles, but lack of sleep is also a factor in memory loss and age-related chronic disorders like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. I realize this may be a challenge for us night owls, but eight hours of sleep helps to restore the body, repair cells, rest your heart, and improve your daytime functioning.

Spend time enjoying the company of good friends. Marriage, hanging out with your girls, and spending time with family have all been linked to longevity. Avoid the trap of letting a busy lifestyle turn you into a recluse. Make time for friends and family and use everything at your disposal to stay connected. In person is always best, but don’t ignore the power of a text, email, phone call, or Facebook post, which can go a long way.

Live long, live strong, and be well.

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