Let’s agree that marriage isn’t easy.  It’s a lesson in compromise, trust, patience, and perseverance.  I’m not sure if most people really consider their marriage vows – in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer.

My marriage to my second husband tested this to its limits.

I met Greg on Match.com and we were a success story. He lived in the town nearby, was handsome, a devoted dad, an athlete and above all kind.  It wasn’t love at first sight but we both quickly knew that this was something incredible.

At the time we met I had three little kids, one with intellectual disabilities. My dad was declining with Alzheimer’s and I was working non-stop to stay financially afloat after a long, drawn-out divorce. My life was chaotic and busy. This was definitely not the time for something serious. Yet here this man came along with a calm, steady presence.  His kids and my kids hit it off immediately and they all accepted and supported my son with disabilities.  It truly felt like we completed each other.

At that time Greg was a highly competitive golfer (a former pro), had played hockey in college and had been invited to try out for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey “dream team.” He worked out constantly and the beginning of our relationship was filled with dates that included hiking or other outdoor activities.

The only issue had been what doctors had diagnosed as Lyme Disease that seemed to flare up occasionally.  He also had surgery on his leg which led to drop foot as he was recovering.  The first sign he realized something else was going on was when the drop foot started occurring on his good leg and several times he tripped while walking.  He knew before any doctor that something wasn’t right.

By this time, we were engaged and happily planning our future as a blended family.  And then the day came where he sat me down and said he had been doing research.  “Alison, I think I have Multiple Sclerosis.” While I dismissed his worry and told him that couldn’t possibly be the case, inside I was freaking out.  A good friend of the family growing up had M.S. and I had watched his horrible decline and eventual death. This couldn’t be happening!

Getting a diagnosis of MS is a long process filled with MRI’s and spinal taps.  We continued on with our wedding plans and life in general, but we could see things were happening.  The evening before our wedding we hosted a dinner in a vineyard and took pictures walking around the property.  Within 20 minutes of walking, Greg could barely stand and was dragging his legs.  He said if felt as if his legs were blocks of cement that he needed to move.  The morning of our wedding, as I was getting ready, he went to play golf with his friends.  It was the last round of golf he would play for several years.

Four weeks after we were married, as I was driving home from a meeting, Greg called me.  He heard back from the doctors – he was officially diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS.)  PPMS is different than regular MS.  Usually with MS you have “flare ups” – some good times, some bad times.  With PPMS, there are no good times, it’s a rapid decline.  As his doctor said, it’s like a herd of horses galloping out of control through your body.  It’s rare and there are no drugs or therapy.

He rapidly declined from walking with a cane, to a walker and finally to a wheelchair.  He also was no longer able to work. His rage and anger at his body betraying him was evident and his depression was understandable.

At the same time, I was grieving the life I had envisioned and dealing with the fear of being a full-time caregiver and sole provider for my family.  I was sad for the things we would never be able to do as a couple – the hikes, bike rides and adventure trips once the kids were grown.  I also quickly learned how many other things you can’t do when you’re in a powerchair full time, like visit the homes of your friends who have stairs leading to their home and bathrooms that aren’t large enough for his powerchair.  Spontaneity doesn’t exist as you need to consider every restaurant, concert venue, outdoor park and plane trips are massively challenging.

This definitely was not what I had in mind and I admit to indulging in  a self-pity party several times.  It would have been easy to allow myself to fall into the role of victim.  After all, this wasn’t my first life-changing tragedy.  In 1997 my first son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

But allowing ourselves to be a victim traps us. It prevents us from moving forward with our life and keeps us in a cycle of fear, anger, and self-loathing. That doesn’t help anyone and certainly not our selves. You can look at your situation and say, “why me?” or you can realize “why not you?”

You need to recognize that you’re being led down a path. Every joy, triumph, heartache, and failure are leading you to exactly where you’re meant to be to become the best version of yourself and fulfilling your highest purpose.

When you hold on so hard and fast to your vision of the future you don’t allow yourself to be guided by God, the Universe, Spirit. We often have no idea why these things are happening but fighting it is exhausting and leads to misery.  You can either fight the tide or ride the wave.

I loved my husband enough to say “yes” to being a team and dealing with whatever life had in store for us. That meant enjoying one day at a time and not looking too far into the future.  It also meant establishing some ground rules.  I’m a practical person and don’t believe in wallowing.  Problems only remain problems until you find a solution.  I explained to my husband that I would support him in every which way, but  he needed to become the best version of himself he could be.  Maybe he could no longer play golf but that didn’t mean he couldn’t teach it.  Maybe there was something else he was also meant to do.  Whatever it is, he was not allowed to curl up and quit life.

And, I needed to also live my life.  While I couldn’t go hiking with him that didn’t mean I couldn’t hike with my girlfriends or take trips with them.  And even though I would be his caregiver in certain ways, I needed him to be mine in others.  All my life I believed that I wanted someone to take care of me.  In many instances the Universe kept trying to show me that wasn’t the case, but I thought I knew better.  I now realized that I had to redefine what that meant in my head – “being taken care of.”  What that truly meant was a man who was emotionally wealthy – who provided a strong loving presence, who supported and encouraged me to follow my vision for myself.

I also came to understand that there was another reason we were brought together.  My son has an intellectual disability, so he needs help with decision making.  My husband needs support physically.  The two men in my life have formed an amazing bond, helping each other in a way that’s incredibly special.

It took a good deal of time for Greg to get to a place of acceptance and even happiness.  It started when he discovered an amazing device, the Paramobile.  It’s a golf-cart like machine that Greg is strapped into that he can drive around the course.  When he gets to the tee it raises him up to a standing position so he can swing.  This finally allowed him to play the game he loved once again.  From there, he began teaching military vets, stroke victims and people with intellectual disabilities how to play golf. He now sits on the Board of the Stand Up and Play Foundation which donates Paramobiles to individuals.  He readily admits that he feels more inspired and fulfilled doing this work than he ever did before M.S.

Our marriage is a strong partnership.  We have come a long way over 10 years.  We have now taken trips to Mexico, we’ve found hiking trails that accommodate wheelchairs and have many dinner parties at our house with friends whose homes are inaccessible. Greg does chair yoga and modified boxing in addition to golf with his friends and he’s now teaching my daughter how to play. I watch Greg every day live a fulfilled life. Some days are exhausting – that’s OK.  Most importantly, we have both found our passions and life’s work.  I now coach women in midlife who want to get past fear and tragedy to live a life of personal happiness and professional success.

There are no guarantees how our lives will evolve. When women tell me that they want to meet a man who is athletic or has a certain amount of money I remind them that those things can be gone in an instant. Who is the person that’s left?

There are times when Greg asks me if I’m OK with who he is.  To be honest, I don’t even see the wheelchair anymore.  I simply see the man I love.  Are there times, like when we’re at a wedding and everyone’s dancing with their partner that I get sad? Sure.  Do I sometimes worry what the future holds? Absolutely. But those moments are few and far between compared to every morning when I see that man I love lying beside me.  I know that together we will figure out whatever comes our way.

Come on over to my Facebook Group Midlife Mavericks: Fabulous, Fierce, Females! to get inspired and supported by other kick-ass women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

About five years ago when I turned 50 I started using moisturizers that had collagen in them.  It seemed like it was the “anti-aging” thing to do.  But over the past year or so I’ve started to better understand what collagen does, the different types of collagen and why you need to be ingesting it rather than putting it on your skin.  So, if you’re a woman in midlife and care about your beauty AND health read on to understand the benefits of collagen.

First off, a little biology lesson. I had no idea what a big role collagen plays in our body. It’s the most abundant protein in the human body, making up nearly 1/3 of our body’s protein composition.  While most people know it’s in our hair, nails, skin and bones, it’s also in our muscles, tendons, heart, lungs and digestive system.  Collagen is like a glue that allows muscles to be attached to bones and other muscles.  It literally keeps our body in “shape.”

Collagen improves bone density and supports cardiovascular health, two issues that are critically important for women as osteoporosis and heart disease are prevalent among us.

The body naturally produces collagen until around 30 years-old but then it slows down dramatically.  Wrinkles, sagging skin, joint pain, hair loss are all symptoms of lack of collagen. (Ah, those lovely mid-life issues!)  While I don’t have wrinkles, yet I noticed sagging skin and joint pain. And now that I understand how important it is for my bones this isn’t just about vanity.  I’m committed to staying strong as I get older.

Yes, you get collagen in some foods you eat such as eggs, organ meats and meats on the bone but, let’s be honest, there’s just so much of that you can eat and, if you’re like me, there’s no way I’m eating organ meat!

That’s why supplementing collagen intake is so important. There is one caveat to this. Women with breast cancer are not advised to take collagen as scientists believe collagen promotes tumor growth because recurrent tumors have high levels of collagen and breast cancer patients with high levels of collagen in their tumors often have worse outcomes.

It’s important to take the right kind of collagen as well as there are different types and serve different purposes:

Type I – This accounts for 90% of the collagen in our body and is found in almost every part of our body.  This is the one that improves our skin, hair and nails but also is found in our eyes, heart, ligaments and tendons and blood vessels to name a few.  This is the superstar of the collagens.

Type II –  This is found in our joints and helps support digestive and immune function.  This is the one that helps with joint pain.

Type III – This supports organs, muscles and blood vessels and helps support blood clotting

Type V – This supports eye health. (For younger women reading this it also supports neonatal development.)

Type X – This is important for joints and bones. It’s similar to Type II but also necessary.

The good news is that you don’t have to swallow a fistful of supplements every day to get all this collagen.  You can either take it as a gummy, pill or a powder mixed into a drink.

I’ve tried several but am now using Vitauthority Multi Collagen Protein. The first one I tried was the unflavored and it is truly unflavored unlike some others I have tried.  You just put a scoopful in a hot beverage – coffee, tea, etc. – and it completely dissolves with no taste or texture.

They also have several other great flavors including Tropical Punch, Peach Mango, Pink Lemonade and Chocolate.  None of them are overpowering or too sweet.

Not only does Vitauthority Multi Collagen Protein have Types I, II, III, V and X but it also is enhanced with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C which makes the collagen every more potent.

I’ve been taking the collagen every morning in my coffee for about 45 days.  My skin definitely appears softer but firmer, my hair is less brittle (even in the winter!) and most importantly the pain I was experiencing in my hip flexor is gone.

I truly had no idea how critical collagen is to women in midlife but now I won’t go without it.  I’d love you to check it out as well. Use my code ALISON to receive 12% off your Vitauthority order.

 

 

We’ve all had those days.  We start out feeling motivated and excited.  And then little things start chipping away at it.  Then it turns into big things. Then you get pissed off at everything and everybody.

That was me yesterday.  Fortunately, I’ve learned how to literally put on the brakes and change the energy. Here are some tips on how to shift your mindset and re-start your week.

Break the Cycle. I know, you’re going to say you’re not causing any of the problems, and you’re right.  But your focus on problems is causing your day to spiral.  This is Law of Attraction.  It’s NOT positive thinking.  It’s simply where you’re focusing your attention.  By focusing on the thought “I don’t want any more problems”, the universe simply hears more problems and gives them to you.  Literally you need to shift your perspective and focus on whatever, even if it’s the tiniest thing, that’s going right.

Give yourself a time out. Literally – like just say no to whatever you were planning. Yesterday I got stuck in traffic and the minute I got home I needed to start thinking about dinner because I needed to pick my daughter up from her cheer practice.  I love cooking and I was planning on making empanadas, but I found myself annoyed and resentful as I was looking at the clock.  I finally said, “screw it”, threw some burgers on the grill and put a bagged salad on the plates and voila – dinner was served which allowed me some time to go out for a walk and relax. Way more important than cooking a meal that would have taken up that time.

Breathe. Seriously. When we’re stressed we tend to hold our breath.  If you’re sitting at a traffic light, if you’re at your desk or even if you’re in the bathroom practice relaxing breathing.  Breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4 and breathe out for a count of 4.  Do this 5 times and you’ll feel your body relaxing.

Write it down. While all the little annoyances built up over the day, chances are that they’ve become way bigger in your head (which is probably ready to explode.) Write down a list of all the things that happened.  This will do two things –

  1. It will get everything out of your head which will immediately relax you
  2. You can look at the list and probably realize there wasn’t as much as you thought but you can also figure out practical steps for dealing with it all.

Do some aromatherapy. I have several essential oils – lavender, eucalyptus, orange and peppermint and use them to help my mood and my overall health.  Certain scents can invigorate you or calm you down.  I put them in a diffuser, dab on my temples, put a few drops into a hot shower with me, even just sniff them.  They help tremendously.

Get your heart pumping. There’s nothing like getting your endorphins to kick in for clearing your mind. If it’s too late to go for a walk outside put on some music and dance. Even do jumping jacks. Whatever you want to do to get your energy up. Whatever you do, don’t just sit there!

Tune out. The last thing you need to do is go on social media and get annoyed by posts or watch the news.  Stay away from toxic energy.  Instead read a book or turn on a comedy. If you have a friend who you know will make you laugh or put everything in perspective reach out but if it’s someone who’s going to try and top your complaints stay away.

We all have crappy days and that will always be the case. But by creating perspective and practicing self-care they don’t have to cause us to spiral down.

Are you committed to achieving your personal and professional goals in midlife? Join my group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce, Females!

As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

August is almost here, which means that move-in time for college students is quickly approaching. Leaving for college can be stressful, especially when it’s your first time, as you’re flooded with lists stacked with items you’re supposed to bring and textbooks you’ll need to buy. To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of five must-haves for any college freshman or college student in general who’s heading back to school this fall.

Mattress Topper

mattress topper for a college studentOne of the biggest parts of your dorm is your bed. After all, you’ll spend most of your time in your dorm sleeping. However, dorm beds can be quite uncomfortable if you don’t come prepared with a mattress topper to soften the blow on your body. With LUCID’s Memory Foam Mattress Topper, you can transform the average dorm room bed into a plush and comfortable bed for sleeping. The 4-inch mattress topper is made of gel memory foam that adds a soft and comforting feel. Infused with gel material, this mattress topper captures and distributes heat for a cooler memory foam experience. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3gaFc4u

Storage Cart

Storage cart for college dorm

 

It’s no secret that some dorm rooms can be rather small. Students have to learn to utilize storage wherever they can so that their rooms don’t become overwhelmed with clothes, textbooks, and more. Luckily, there are storage containers designed to make the life of a college student easier. The Studio 3B 4-Drawer Storage Cart is one of those products. Not only is this storage cart perfect for textbooks, notebooks and other school supplies, but it can also double as a night stand for next to your bed. Plus, it has wheels, which makes it perfect for move-in. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2Bl4sFX.

 

Personal Safe

Personal safe Life with a roommate can be nerve-wracking at first, especially for students who have never shared a living space before. When it comes to your most valued items, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when sharing your room with someone else. With Master Lock’s Personal Safe, you can ensure that your expensive items remain safe and secure when you’re not in your room. This portable Personal Safe is designed with a four-digit combination that you set yourself and is shock absorbing with an earbud and charging cable access port so students can charge devices or listen to music from devices that are locked inside the safe. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2V5xkZX

LED Desk Lamp

LED desk lamp for dorm deskLet’s face it: college dorm lighting isn’t great. The lights provided can be harsh or too dim, and make it difficult to do work at night when light is no longer pouring in from the windows. Luckily, Yostyle has created the perfect desk lamp to solve this problem. With their LED Desk Lamp Light, students can adjust their lighting with the 4 adjustable brightness settings. Plus, the light has 4 USB ports and 2 outlets, allowing students to charge devices while at their desk, or wherever the light is to be placed. Don’t just settle for average dorm lighting. Make your life easier with Yostyle’s LED Desk Lamp. Buy here: https://amzn.to/31UZv22

Shower Shoes

Shower shoes for dorm bathroomThe idea of a “communal bathroom” can be frightening at first, but once you get used to it, it’s really not that bad, as long as you have one very important item: shower shoes. When utilizing a communal bathroom, you’re sharing the showers with multiple other students on your floor, so to avoid potential fungal infections, shower shoes are an essential. With Ranberone’s Shower Sandal Slippers, you can enjoy your showers without any worry. Built with drainage holes throughout the shoe, these slippers are quick-drying and are perfect for the shower, plus their anti-slip design gives your feet a good grip without any fear of slipping. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3dzBNKV

The idea of moving to college can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! With these items you’ll be well prepared to enjoy your time this fall.

 

As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

With the past few weeks being filled with high school graduations, students and parents alike are realizing that the inevitable fall semester is arriving faster than they expected. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that colleges and universities will be making changes to adjust to what we’ve begun to know as the “new normal”.  Below are five items that I think any and every college student could benefit from having on the new versions of their campuses.

Customizable Mask

Customized facemasks You can’t drive around your town or walk into any building without seeing at least one person wearing a mask. In fact, some states like Massachusetts have even made it illegal to walk around outside without having a mask on your face. For students, in-person classes may require you to wear a mask, so why not have one that also promotes school spirit? With Just Customized’s Reusable Customizable Mask, students can do just that. The polyester/spandex blend makes for a comfortable, breathable mask that’s made right here in the United States. It’s washable, reusable, and perfect for students who don’t want to wear a boring mask when sitting in their lecture halls. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2YtdMj5

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizerAs we all learned at the beginning of the pandemic, hand sanitizer can be hard to come by which is unfortunate considering it’s been rather crucial during this time. When on a college campus, students can come into contact with a number of things, so with PURA D’OR Cruelty Free, Non-Toxic, American-made hand sanitizer, students can be prepared to rid their hands of any germs they stumble into during their daily-life. Plus, with a two-pack, students can keep one in their backpack at all times, and the other in their dorm room so they’re always ready to sanitize. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3hxkqxs

 

Multi-Surface Cleaning Spray

Mrs Meyer's multi-surface cleaning sprayWhen it comes to college surfaces, they can be quite dirty after being touched by so many students. One important item to have in your dorm room at all times, is multi-surface cleaning spray. Whether it’s for your bedroom, kitchen, common room or bathroom, to avoid contact with COVID-19, it’s necessary to be maintaining a clean space. With Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner Spray, students can ensure that their living space is clean and COVID-free constantly. This lavender scented Cruelty-Free spray is perfect for keeping those surfaces clean. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2MRdsF8

 

Food Containers

Meal prep containersDining halls are a huge part of the college experience. They’re filled with pre-made food, they’re social and they’re often scattered throughout campus, making them easy and accessible. However, they’re also crowded, filled with students who need something to eat or a place to study. During this “new normal” students may choose to eat their food elsewhere, whether that be outside where it’s safer, or in their dorm room where they feel more comfortable. With Freshware Reusable Food Containers, students can still get their food from the dining hall but have the ability to bring it somewhere else to eat. These containers are microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe, and are reusable, stackable and leak-resistant. Students will get the food they want while avoiding large crowds. Buy here: https://amzn.to/37pXs6A

Shower Caddy

Shower caddy for dorm showerOne thing that most college freshmen can look forward to is communal bathrooms. When using such bathrooms, it’s important to utilize a shower caddy. During this “new normal”, students should be careful to protect their shower items from coming in contact with other people using the communal bathrooms. With Handy Laundry’s Dorm Shower Caddy, the items stay covered in the easiest way possible. Plus, the caddy can also fold flat for storage, making it perfect for packing. Made of porous and durable nylon mesh, this shower caddy can go straight into the shower. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2UEUyFT

While this “new normal” may seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that companies are pushing products to make it easier for you. Regardless of where your student may be going off to school, their safety is most important, but that doesn’t mean that college can’t be fun and enjoyable. Stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy your fall semesters!

 

 

 

As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

I’ll admit, even though I feel like I’m in my 30’s, the reality is I’m smack dab in midlife and health issues I would have never considered before should now be more in the forefront of my mind.  Yes, I eat healthy, work out and get regular mammograms.  But I’ve never even considered the various tests I should be doing to see about potential underlying health problems. It just wasn’t top of mind and, to be honest, I can’t imagine taking an entire day or several days away from work to get all the testing done. But recently the company LetsGetChecked reached out to me to review their home health testing kits.

Let me start by saying I had no idea how many tests existed.  LetsGetChecked has five different categories – Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Sexual Health, Wellness and even COVID testing for those who are eligible.  They even offer testing for Lyme Disease which is a huge concern for me as I live in a heavily wooded area where deer tics are prevalent.  Under each category there are at least 10 – 20 tests with explanations as to why each is important.  For example, under Women’s Health the suggested tests include Female Fertility, HPV, Thyroid, Liver, Cholesterol, Celiac, Colon Cancer Screening and Iron.

I decided to do the Essential Vitamin Test which tests my levels for Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12 and Folate Serum.  When you click on the test you want to order it tells you about the collection method (meaning finger prick or urine) why this test is important, when you should test and how often you should test.

A few things that concerned me were:

What lab do they use to test my results? Samples are processed in the same labs used by primary care providers and hospitals.

What about privacy issues?  All data is completely anonymized to ensure that your privacy is maintained throughout the process. They will not share your information with any third party.

What happens if I get an abnormal result for my test? LetsGetChecked has a team of physicians who will review your order and results. Their nursing team is on standby throughout the testing process and, if you test positive, you will receive a call to discuss your results and treatment options.

The directions are easy to follow and everything you need is included. Be sure to activate your test online before starting.  You get 4 lancets in case you need to prick your finger more than once as you need to draw enough blood to fill up to the line. I admit I was a bit squeamish at first at the thought of piercing my own finger but it was really no big deal.  Once you collect your sample it’s important to seal it tightly and turn it upside down a few times to be sure to mix it so it’s preserved for the lab results.  Collect the sample in the morning so it can be mailed back the same day.

Once your sample arrives in the laboratory, confidential results will be available from your secure online account within 2 to 5 days.

Check out the various tests available and get 20% off by using my code  ConfidentialHealth20  HERE.

 

 

 

 

Twenty-three years ago, when my baby died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome I thought my world would crash down around me.  How do you survive the death of your baby?  Somehow I did.  As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And that was certainly everyone’s opinion of me -that I must be incredibly strong and that they could never survive such a tragedy.  People never realize what they can survive when there’s no other choice.

Since then I’ve experienced many more hardships – my other son is Intellectually Disabled and my second husband was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis four weeks after we were married and is now confined to a powerchair.  I was financially ruined from my first marriage and now I’m the only source of income for my family of six including my mother who lives with us. People hear my story and they look at me in wonder or pity or awe.

Despite all of this I’ve built a life of abundance and joy.  I am resilient.

I’m certainly not alone. There are so many stories of life-altering tragedy and how people have  overcome incredible loss and come out the other side stronger.

Yes, humans are remarkably resilient. No doubt resilience is what’s needed to survive in a world that’s becoming increasingly unpredictable. Resilience is needed in your career and your relationships.  Yet there’s a trade-off when we’re super resilient and that’s the loss of vulnerability.  Who among us hasn’t been burned in a relationship and reluctant to let our guard down with the next person we meet?  Don’t get me wrong, honing our BS meter with people is important in order to avoid getting screwed over but that’s different than never allowing someone to get close to you for fear of being hurt again.

While I’m happily remarried, it took me a while to become vulnerable and really open up to my husband.  When I had done that in the past my feelings and dreams were trampled on and my insecurities were used as weapons against me. I realized, however, that if I had any hope of having a successful and authentic relationship I needed to take the risk.

As a caregiver for my husband, son and mother and parenting my daughters I have a bunch of people who rely on me. There are times when I feel I just need to keep my head down and move forward.  I’m in charge of keeping all the balls in the air and if I take my eye off one of them the entire system I’ve created will come crashing down.  Caregivers are beyond resilient which doesn’t allow much room for vulnerability.  We don’t have time to explore our feelings nor do we feel we have the right to complain or admit our fears. This leads, however, to becoming resentful of our role.  Being able to share feelings in a safe place with either a friend, therapist or support group is so important for maintaining your own emotional well-being.

Resilience and vulnerability in your career are equally tricky especially for women entrepreneurs.  When we are tough at negotiating with a vendor or client we’re perceived as a bitch.  If we discuss the challenges we have raising kids, caring for our aging parents while working a demanding job we’re dismissed as not being strong enough.  But intuitively we know that for a business to succeed we must connect with our clients in authentic ways.

We need to show up as a human being, with our faults and vulnerabilities.

Finding the balance between vulnerability and resiliency isn’t easy.  I know for certain that when my son died a piece of my heart died with him.  Since then I hardly cry when another friend or relative dies.  When my favorite uncle, even my dad died I hardly shed a tear.  It’s certainly not that I didn’t love them but it’s as if my soul knew it needed to become super resilient to withstand another tragedy as great as the death of my baby. My threshold for tolerating grief is quite high.

Vulnerability is a luxury that some are not allowed. People who are in abusive relationships or a hostile work environment can never show their weak spots.  Being vulnerable requires a level of trust that some have come to believe shouldn’t be granted to anyone.  That’s not cynical it’s self-preservation.

Vulnerability requires courage.  It’s much easier to be resilient and avoid authentic and meaningful relationships.  Resilience doesn’t require you to feel.  Being vulnerable means you’re taking a risk on yourself and others.

Have you learned to be vulnerable and was it successful?  Share here and help someone else who might be struggling.

Want to connect with other Fabulous Fierce Females?   Join our Facebook Group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous Fierce Females!

 

Let’s face it – most women are pleasers. We grew up playing with baby dolls and being “mommy.”  We are taught to be caregivers for everyone. Our parents wanted us to “dress appropriately” and “act like a lady.”  In school our grades reflected whether we got along well with others and followed instructions.

In short, the message we received was that our job was to be kind, take care of others and don’t make waves.

That’s still the message women receive and we are harshly labeled by the media and society when we don’t conform. At work if we advocate strongly for our idea we’re a bitch. If we get into a debate the adjective used to describe our interaction is “shrill.”  And of course, if we really go nuts then we must be on our period.

The adjectives used for men are completely different – confident, tough, a good negotiator.  And hormones are never a factor.

Several years ago a new phrase became popular – “disruptor.” Companies and products that are redefining a category or shaking up their industry with new ideas are disruptors.  The people who are disruptors are considered visionaries.

Women in midlife need to be disruptors as well.  We should be envisioning our future and living life on our terms as joyfully as possible. Doing so requires us to be laser-focused on what we do and don’t want in our lives and manifesting it, regardless of what the people around us think.  Here’s the thing, most people in our lives don’t want us to change. It either will inconvenience them or threaten their view of how life should be lived. And people looooovvveeee to tell us what we should be doing!

We need to change our mindset of what is acceptable behavior for us and the people in our tribe. By advocating for what you want and creating standards for what you will not allow you’re not a bitch your self-empowered. This is true in your professional and personal life.  It’s time to stop excusing rude, insensitive comments couched as advice and concern that leave you feeling badly about yourself.  Whether it’s your sister, friend or business colleague they need to hear from you in very confident language that you will no longer engage in conversations that you consider to be toxic or not supportive.

Recently on my You Tube Channel I did a video on establishing boundaries with family, friends and business colleagues who aren’t supportive.  We talked about having the right to say “No!” to relationships, situations and obligations and how to do it.

How often do you find yourself doing something because you think that’s what you “should” be doing? We don’t want to join the committee or go to the family party but we do it because at some point we were programmed to believe that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Stop and ask yourself the question – how would my life be positively or negatively impacted if I said “No” to these things?  Chances are, if you shut down the voice inside your head that tells you that you must do them, you’d not only feel happier but you’d have time to spend with a friend or work on your passion project or exercise or simply relax on the couch.  

There are positive outcomes from “No”

When you’re a mom and working long hours, it’s natural to want to give your kids as much of your time as you can.  There’s not a working mom alive who hasn’t heard the words “You never have time for me!”  Saying “no” to spending an afternoon with your son or daughter and instead exercising, reading a book or visiting a friend, seems incredibly selfish to most moms.  But not only is it important for your emotional and physical well-being, you’re also sending the message to your kids that caring for oneself is important.  Additionally, kids need to understand that your job is something you enjoy doing and their requests for you to stop working will also be met with a “no.

At work, “No” is extremely useful when a co-worker is trying to dump his/her share of a project on you or when your boss consistently asks you to stay late.  There’s a difference between being a team player and being taken advantage of.   The same holds true when you own your own business. Do you have a problem saying “No” to someone who isn’t willing to pay a fair price for your service or an employee who constantly shows up late or asks for time off?   These are just a few reasons your business might not be growing as you would like.

Do you say “No” enough?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How much time did I spend yesterday doing tasks/favors for other people?
  • How did I feel as I was doing them?
  • When was the last time I said “NO” to something I didn’t want to do?
  • How did that make me feel?

I’ve had my own struggle with boundary-setting and saying “No” lately.  Ever since the pandemic started I’ve been feeding my family of 6  Every. Single. Night. Before this, my daughters had afterschool activities and we rarely all ate together.  On many nights when either my husband, my mom or I were shuttling kids back and forth from activities dinner was “catch as catch can” meaning whatever you could find in the refrigerator or make yourself.

All of a sudden everyone was home and very quickly I found myself stressing as to what I was going to make for dinner.  I couldn’t focus on work past 4 o’clock as the thought of dinner loomed large. To be honest a great deal of this had to do with my mother (who lives with us) envisioning family dinners all together which rarely happened under normal circumstances. My daughters are great at making dinner for themselves and even my son with Intellectual Disabilities can whip up a mean plate of pasta and meatballs for himself.  I found myself very quickly becoming cranky and resentful.  If I wanted to go for a walk or exercise or have a social-distance cocktail with my friend I had to time it so I could still make dinner.

I discovered that I needed to say “No” to cooking dinner and eating together every night.  What I now do is state at the beginning of each day whether tonight would be everyone for themselves or dinner all together. By doing this I found I enjoyed mealtime much more and a ton of stress was lifted.

Please hear this:

It’s not your job to make anyone happy but yourself.

Think of something you consistently do that you would like to say “NO” to.  Practice stating to the person that you no longer will do that task.  When speaking to the person, even if it’s your child, be assertive and don’t apologize.

What would you rather be doing with that time you just saved? I’d love to hear from you!

Want to join a group of midlife women who are also deciding to live life to the fullest?  Join my Facebook Group – My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce Females!