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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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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Safety and Self-Defense: A Woman’s Right to Fight

7-17We hear more and more stories everyday about women being attacked; almost 2.5 million women are victimized in personal crimes each year, and very recently the World Health Organization has described violence against women as reaching ‘epidemic proportions.’ This widespread problem certainly does not mean we should live in fear, but it does mean that women can not afford to be reactive about their personal safety and protection. Statistically, a woman’s odds of surviving an attack are much greater if she fights back but women often lack confidence about fighting because they haven’t been professionally trained. It’s important for women to know that we have the basic human right to be safe, and that you CAN and SHOULD defend yourself. The good news is, you don’t have to master complex techniques or have years of martial arts training to be able to do that. Enrolling in a good women’s self-defense program can build your confidence and give you the assurance to know – that YOU ARE ABLE to do a number of things if attacked.

Your Best Protection

When most women hear the term self-defense they automatically think of learning how to land a solid kick to the groin. While learning some basic kicks and strikes is a component of self-defense, it’s not the most important. The first and most important component of self-defense begins long before there is ever any physical contact; it’ awareness. We know the bad guys are out there studying women and choosing their victims. But, they also want it to be easy. They’d prefer not to have too  much of a challenge, so they are looking for telltale signs of weakness and are much more likely to choose a woman who appears unaware of what is going on around her, than a woman who appears confident and alert. So just knowing who and what is around you at all times, is one of the best ways to protect yourself and avoid physical contact altogether.

Everyday Weapons

It’s important to stress that if faced with an attacker your ultimate goal is not to win a fight; your ultimate goal is to get away to safety; to be the survivor.  So to that end, I want to stress running, as one of the best self-defense techniques out there. Having some non-lethal self-defense weapons on hand like pepper spray, is always a good idea. But women were born with some natural, innate defense mechanisms that we’ve been socialized, as good little girls, not to use.  And yes in polite civilization we wouldn’t dare bite, scratch, or poke someone in the eye. But I submit to you that there is nothing polite or civil when it comes to being attacked or defending yourself. So biting, scratching, a poke in the eye, everything goes when it comes to protecting yourself and your family. Plus, these are all techniques that can catch an attacker off guard, perhaps momentarily throw him off guard and present you with an opportunity to escape to safety.

Tips For College Women

Students will soon be heading back to school and violence against women on college campuses – this is a huge concern. Research suggests 1 in 4 college women today, that’s 25%, have been victim of rape or sexual assault. Because these attacks are so grossly underreported, we can be pretty sure the actual numbers are even higher than that.  So I encourage young women to establish some non-negotiable ground rules for your personal safety and protection:

  1. Avoid walking on campus alone at night. Becoming comfortable with your campus surroundings can give you a false sense of security. Walking alone at night from the from the library, work, class or the gym only increase your chances of being the target of an attack.
  2. Understand that awareness is your best defense so you must be alert and observant at all times. This means no dual ear buds in your ears; it is imperative you are able to hear what’s going on around you, and no texting while walking; your head and eyes should be up and scanning the environment.
  3. Remember to walk with confidence. You want to exude an air that says to anyone who may ne watching, that you would be extremely difficult to get.
  4. Always trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s NOT right, so get the heck out of there!!

Practicing simple habits such as these can greatly reduce your chances of being the target of an attack.  And please ladies, report any incidence of violence that you see or experience to your campus safety immediately.

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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.

 

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‘Crucial Conversations’ Help Women Plan for Their Future

Crucial ConversationsTo help women meet their future health and economic needs, there are four important discussions every woman should have. They include her financial affairs, legal affairs, health, and aging in place. A free program being offered in May by 40 Plus and Fabulous in partnership with AARP’s Decide.Create.Share is designed to help women stop procrastinating and have important talks that can lead to a more secure future.

“Although most women know the importance of having conversations, about sometimes difficult topics, they also feel it can just be easier not to talk about it, “said Sondra Wright CEO of 40 Plus and Fabulous and author of 40+ and Fabulous: Moving Forward Fierce, Focused and Full of Life. “Crucial Conversations provides tips, tools and a bit of fun to help women to get past the barriers keeping them from actually tackling topics important to their well-being,” she said.

“While these conversations may conjure up feelings of discomfort or fear of being judged, taking ownership and being proactive liberates and empowers women to fully participate in making meaningful decisions in their lives and the lives loved ones. Avoidance, on the other hand, can have serious consequences, including sleepless nights, compromised health, and a loss of financial security,” said AARP Associate State Director Suzanne Black.

“Not only does 40 Plus and Fabulous encourage women to have Crucial Conversations, it also recommends creating safe spaces for other women to do the same. “It’s time we drag these taboo topics out of the dark and into the light so that no woman feels alone,” said Wright. “We hope Crucial Conversations and the supporting Decide.Create.Share.(TM) resources can be the foundation for women to really take charge and build a successful strategy for their future,” she added.

The 4-part series will be offered on Wednesdays May 1st, 15th, 22nd and 29th at Hemphill Public Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd., Greensboro NC, with discussions planned from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The series will address topics associated with health, finances, legal affairs, and evaluating home and community for future living needs. The series is FREE and space is limited. Please RSVP to Sondra(at)40plusandfab.com

Decide.Create.Share. is a community forum designed for women who want to build a successful life strategy for their future. AARP will provide tools to women in their 40s, 50s and 60s on how to take steps today so they will be prepared for a safe, healthy and secure tomorrow.

 

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Go Smart for the Cure – Get Heart Smart for Heart Health Month

It was during a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show  that I declared 2013 as the year I resolve to take better care of my heart. My first step on that journey is to better educate myself on heart disease; its risk factors and the steps I can take to lower my risks.

Eight million women in the U. S. are living with heart disease, and nine out of every 10 of us have at least one risk factor. Heart disease is one of those “silent killers” claiming the lives of more women each year than all the forms of cancers combined.

Our busy lives as moms, wives, bread winners, and caregivers can often mean putting our own health on the backburner. Who has time to investigate a tiny ache or pain when our children and families need us to look after their aches and pains? So for women, getting to the doctor can just take a little longer. This is not a good or admirable thing ladies.

Some of the major causes of heart disease appear to be things we can actually prevent. They include stress, which means we need to occasionally slow down, smell the roses, relax, meditate, go to bed early, sleep late, or other methods of self-care. And then there’s high blood pressure and high cholesterol that we can help prevent simply by some of the food choices we make. These days I’m dedicating more space on my plate to fruits and vegetable along with lean protein, like soybeans and chicken breast, and fish. I love Salmon.

And then there’s getting a little exercise in. I’m not big on gyms. I prefer things I can do in the comfort of my own home, preferably using my own body weight or equipment that doesn’t take up much space. My husband bought me a Cardio Mini Cycle which I love. It’s small and portable. I can move it and cycle at my desk while I work or in a chair when I watch the news. Because I’m like most women, who seem not to have enough hours in a day, I’m attracted to the 10 Minute Trainer by Tony Horton. I haven’t tried it yet, so I have no feedback at this time but, I will definitely keep you posted.

February is Heart Health Month. Take this opportunity to learn about a preventable disease that needlessly claims the lives of one out of every three women. Too few of us, only about one-third, have any clue of breadth of this deadly killer. Listen to your bodies, know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, and get the facts. Together, we can give heart disease a TKO.

 

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Resolving to Save More in 2013? New Aging App May Help You Keep that Resolution

Every year, saving more money tops the list of New Year’s resolutions made by women, and year after year many women find themselves a little short of that goal. Well this year, a new application by Bank of America and Merrill Edge called “Face Retirement” lets you literally stare retirement dead in the face and may be the encouragement you need to keep that resolution.

Bank of America has taken some extreme measures to get you to build a larger, healthier nest egg. Using a webcam, you can now see a picture of what you will look like, 20, 40 or even 60 years from now, a shocker intended to help you think ahead to the future and motivate you to save.

A wage disparity between the sexes, combined with the fact that many women simply are not planning for their financial futures keeps women at greater financial risk. A handful of campaigns, like AARP’s Decide.Create.Share., have been launched in recent years with one goal in mind — to help women take steps to secure their financial futures.

The shock factor behind “Face Retirement” is one I believe will definitely resonate with women. At minimum it’s definitely something that will spark conversation and get you thinking. Not only does this app digitally age you but it also gives you an idea of how much things will cost you in the future, at that age.

So, if you haven’t already, go to Merrill Edge and meet yourself in retirement. Wishing you a healthy, happy and proserous new year!

 

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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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Healthy Aging Means Continually Reinventing Yourself

When we hear healthy aging we immediately think of things like nutrition, eating well, exercise and routine medical exams. But, in combination with good habits in all those areas, we also need a healthy outlook, resilience, flexibility, and a willingness to reinvent one’s self over and over again.

Frequently I’ve had women say to me, “But I don’t know how to reinvent myself.” Ladies, it’s important we don’t let this word confuse us. Reinvent emerged on the scene as a popular buzz word about 2 years ago, around the summer of 2010. But the act of reinventing; to redesign, make better, start anew, is something we boomer women have done many times throughout our lifetime:

Once single and dating we reinvented ourselves into wives. Once childless, we reinvented ourselves into mothers and stepmothers. If a job ended or we were dissatisfied with it, we reinvented ourselves into a new career. And so it is, from changing careers, going through a divorce, grieving the loss of a loved one, there are countless numbers of ways in our lifetimes that we have reinvented ourselves; said goodbye to what was and made room for what will be.

Now that we’ve reached that sweet spot in the middle of life where our best years lie ahead, it’s not at all uncommon to find ourselves pondering the questions, “Who and I?” “Who do I want to be now?” and “What’s next for me?” And just as before, there are countless ways to reinvent a new you, and countless ways we must continue to reinvent to navigate aging successfully and with a greater sense of fulfillment. With some accumulated wisdom and experience under the belt tapping into undiscovered potential, starting a business, going back to school, or even taking a chance on a new romance can lead one on an exciting new adventure. So c’mon, you know how to do this, you’ve done it all before. Reinvention is nothing new. It is a never ending process. It’s simply waking up every day, in hot pursuit of your best you.

Resource: Do you have your living longer living better plan mapped out?  Women Planning for Long Term Care   is a group for smart Boomer women who are planning and making decisions about their futures, and those of their families. Topics include health, home and community, finances, and legal plans for your future lifestyle plans.

 

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Boomer Woman Kris Jenner Tackles End of Life Planning on Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Kris Jenner, EverydayHealth.com

Kris Jenner is keeping it as real as it gets on reality TV. The 57 year old mom of the often raucous Kardashian clan has come out of the closet with many concerns women can be embarrassed to admit as we age; weight management, physical appearance, and yes, even urinary incontinence – Kris has touched on it all.

Now admittedly, I’ve watched a few episodes of the Kardashians that have left me wondering ‘what in the world is Kris doing and why’ (like going behind Bruce’s back to meet with an ex-boyfriend from 20 years ago to get “closure”)? But this week’s valiant attempt to tackle a crucial conversation with her family that most people avoid had me on the edge of my seat shouting a very loud and supportive “You go girl!”

I’m a long time believer in end of life planning but really came to appreciate its importance after the death of my father-in-law in December of 2011. Watching the family suffer through tremendous confusion of “Are we making the right decision?” and “Would dad have wanted it done this way?” my husband and I decided to give each other and our families a very special Christmas present last year– the gift of peace of mind.

I could completely relate hearing Kris say to husband Bruce, “Some of the worst memories of my mom are what she went through when my dad died and I thought, ‘I never want my kids to be in the position where they have to make these split decisions if something were to happen to one of us.’” And could not agree more when she added, “I think it’s a great idea to kinda make sure everything is in place just the way I would like it. If something happens to me. then my family…my children…nobody has to worry about what to do.”

Unfortunately Bruce was not on board with the idea…

K. “Do you want to be cremated or do you want to be buried?”

B. “I don’t care! You deal with it!”

K. (tearful) “Everyone is going to die, why would you leave the whole situation to someone else?”

B. “Cause I’ll be dead!”

A death in the family is difficult enough without placing the added burden of burial arrangements on the shoulders of those we love. But sadly, like Bruce, many people choose the “I don’t care, I’ll be dead” approach, and to make matters even more confusing, many people do not have a will, living will, or other legal documents to instruct loved ones on how to handle situations if they’re ever to ill to tell them.

What I personally discovered from meeting with a memorial planner and participating in the planning process with my husband is that it felt very empowering. We were able to make very clear decisions about what we wanted and we have the peace of mind that our families and each other will be spared from much of this burden and expense.

One very important take away from Kris this week is that when you talk to your family about your end of life wishes, it may not be the best idea to actually let them see you test drive a casket. As son Rob Kardashian painfully recounts, “Seeing my mom in the casket is such a weird thing to look at. She’s making me uncomfortable and I really don’t want to think about that.” Notwithstanding, making these decisions well in advance is a very loving and considerate thing to do for your loved ones, and a hugely powerful and empowering experience for you; knowing that your affairs are in order; that there won’t be any disputes over what to do; and that you had complete control over these choices.

Congratulations “do-ers!”

 

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