Women in midlife were sold a bunch of bullsh*t about being super woman – doing it all and having it all. It’s why so many are on anti-anxiety meds and miserable.

Our younger sisters know better. They don’t want to work like crazy and please everyone else.

One of my mentors is a mindset coach named Denise Duffield Thomas. Two of her books, Chillpreneur and Chill and Prosper talk about how you don’t have to kill yourself to be successful.

In my previous life working at a multi-national PR firm, I witnessed this firsthand – women who were working 12 -14-hour days, going home to their kids and barely having a second to themselves. It was expected that we work those hours.  They gave up their life for a job.

I also think of my aunt who was her mother’s caretaker for decades. Her mom had polio when she was younger and needed a great deal of care. My aunt had a high-pressure job and then would come home and take care of her mom. She never had a romantic relationship – there was never time.

And then I look at so many of my coaching clients. Women who gave up a fulfilling career to stay home with their kids. Being a great mom is wonderful BUT losing yourself, your own dreams, in that role is a slow death. Because at some point the kids are grown and flown and these women look up and realize their entire identity had become wrapped up in being mom. And now they’re left rudderless with no recollection of what they wanted for themselves nor how to create a life of their dreams.

You’ve given of yourself completely:

  • To your partner, supporting his career by leaving yours to raise the kids.
  • Your kids by giving in to every whim and want and sacrificing yourself.
  • Your aging parents who rely on you, not your other siblings, for everything.
  • The needy friend who sucks up your time with her latest crisis.

Do any of these situations sound familiar? Don’t get me wrong, yes, there are absolutely things we need to do but there’s a balance to be found.  Because, if not, one day you’ll look up and realize your entire life has been consumed in these roles. And what is it that you have? More importantly, who are you?

In part we’re to blame.  We’re great at taking care of everyone else but when was the last time you sat down and told everyone YOUR dreams and needs?

Have you requested the support you so freely give?

As women we’ve been raised to be the caregivers, the nurturers. We’ve also been brainwashed by the media to be the powerful woman who can do and have it all.

My generation of women probably remembers a commercial for a perfume, Enjoli. It was a woman in a sexy dress and looks like she’s ready for a night out but she’s carrying a briefcase and apparently just came home from work. She whips on an apron and starts cooking. At the same time, she’s seducing her husband. I still remember the lyrics to the jingle:

“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never ever ever let you forget you’re a man. Because I’m a woman.”

For some ridiculous reason, this was the sign of success for our generation.  We can do it all, manage it all without any help.

Please hear this – you are not a failure by asking for help, saying no to people and prioritizing yourself!

In fact, that’s how healthy, happy and successful women behave.

Ladies, now is the time to reprogram and live life on your terms!  I’m giving you permission to think of yourself first.  This isn’t selfish, it’s self-care.  And yes, people in your life might not love the new you but I promise they will adjust.

Are you living the life you intended to?  What changes would you like to see for yourself? To learn more about how I can help you, visit my coaching page HERE.

You can also download my FREE GUIDE Five Steps to Release Fear and Live Boldly.

Only in the past twenty years have life coaches become popular. There are different types for whatever goal you’re trying to achieve – relationship coaches, fitness coaches, nutrition coaches, divorce coaches and money mindset coaches to name a few.

I work exclusively with women in midlife who have forgotten or delayed their personal goals to care for their family.  I help them get past their fear and self-doubt to confidently achieve their dreams and live life on their terms. Because we’re born caregivers, we consistently put everyone before ourselves, coming up with excuses as to why we can’t pursue our happiness.

Here are a few indications that working with a life coach would be right for you:

  • You know what makes you unhappy, but you can’t be specific as to what would make you happy.
  • You frequently do things for others out of guilt or a sense of obligation.
  • You feel like your life is a cycle of “wash, rinse, repeat.”
  • You want to make a change and follow a dream but you feel you’re not smart enough, too old or don’t have enough money to do it.
  • People in your life don’t support you changing and in fact like you staying just the way you are.

If you’re not sure what a coach does, here’s some guidance:

A coach will:

  • Work with you to get clear on your goals.
  • Help you uncover mental blocks that are preventing you from reaching your goal.
  • Shift your mindset away from limiting beliefs and self-doubt.
  • Provide you with or collaborate with you on designing a step-by-step plan to achieving your goal.
  • Offer support and hold space for expressing fear and disappointment when you don’t feel you can accomplish your goal.
  • Hold you accountable and encourage you to succeed.
  • Celebrate your success!

Recently I was included in a round-up story on what qualities and training someone needs to be a great coach. You can read my answer here.

You can learn more about my coaching services and download my free guide Five Steps to Release Fear and Live Boldly here.

You never know the day your world is going to start crumbling.  You wake up, just like any other day, and start going about your business.

And then a moment happens. Maybe it’s a phone call, or a knock on the door or a news alert or the sound of brakes or a horn before the crash.

For me it all started with a phone call from my daycare one Tuesday morning. “There’s a problem with Connor.  He’s not breathing.”

Four hours later I would be holding my lifeless 4-month-old son in my arms, trying to comprehend that it would be the last time.  Trying to understand how a perfectly healthy little baby could die from something mysterious called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

While I realized in that moment that my life would forever be changed, I didn’t realize how much:

  • One year later my second son would be born who would later be diagnosed with Intellectual and Development Disabilities.
  • Over the next seven years I would go on to have my two daughters after two devastating miscarriages.  At the same time my marriage was imploding.
  • Two years later I would end my marriage which had become toxic and left me a shell of my former self.
  • One year after that I would be forced to declare bankruptcy due to the insurmountable debt we had run up in our marriage that he walked away from.

And then, after meeting and marrying my incredible second husband, I would be faced with his devastating diagnosis of Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and be thrust into the role of caregiver and sole provider.

It felt as if I was up against the ropes and the Universe just kept pummeling me. I didn’t have time to grieve or heal because I was too busy simply trying to survive and remain standing for my kids and my husband.  They needed me so I was on auto-pilot.

At some point, however, I realized I could no longer deny my pain. It was eating away at me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I had to allow myself to crumble and then take some time to understand who I wanted to be as I rebuilt myself. I had to unravel years of grief, pain, betrayal, shame, and imposter syndrome.

I needed to learn how to be at peace, to be courageous enough to be authentic as well as vulnerable enough to ask for support. That’s when I started doing everything I could to heal.  I started following personal development gurus such as Wayne Dyer, Abraham Hicks and Eckard Tolle. I literally devoured their books and podcasts and would post quotes from them all over my house. I began a daily practice of meditating and journaling.  Journaling was perhaps the most important thing I did.  It allowed me to release all the negative and limiting beliefs I had developed and express the grief I had over the death of my baby and the fear of my future.

I hired a life coach who helped me get past my limiting beliefs and recognize that I am a strong, confident, and capable woman who didn’t need to be “taken care of.” That was a big story I used to tell myself. I stopped comparing myself to other women and focused on my triumphs from advocating for my son and caring for my husband to growing my business and no longer being fearful about money.

I became more self-confident and OK with the fact that not everyone will like me as the new me. Drugs and alcohol weren’t my addictions – it was attaching myself to people who kept me down and weren’t supportive. I learned how to create boundaries to eliminate these toxic relationships. Actually, it took the Universe interceding and doing the work for me in ending a few of them.

I’m able to look back now and see how far I’ve come from the insecure, impressionable, naïve, and ultimately sad young woman I was. I want to hold her and give her the reassurances and comfort she never had during those crazy and scary times.

I’m still a work in progress especially when it comes to ending my people pleasing tendencies and imposter syndrome pops up every now and again. But through the work I’ve done on myself – retreats, immersing myself in personal development teachings, coaches and most importantly journaling, I’ve become a stronger, more confident woman.  My life is what I always dreamed it could be, peaceful, happy, and abundant.

I’m committed to helping other women get past fear and self-doubt and create the life of their dreams.  You can learn more about my coaching services here.

You can also get my free guide – 5 Steps to Create a Chill Life by clicking here.

 

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.

 

Are you stressed by all of the demands on your time from family and work? Get my free guide 5 Steps to Create a Chill Life.

If you would like to join a group of supportive women in midlife who are ready to get past fear and self-doubt and live life joyfully and abundantly, head over to Midlife Mavericks: 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.

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.

 

Are you stressed by all of the demands on your time from family and work? Get my free guide 5 Steps to Create a Chill Life.

If you would like to join a group of supportive women in midlife who are ready to get past fear and self-doubt and live life joyfully and abundantly, head over to Midlife Mavericks: Fabulous, Fierce, Females!

 

 

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 stressed by all of the demands on your time from family and work? Get my free guide 5 Steps to Create a Chill Life.

If you would like to join a group of supportive women in midlife who are ready to get past fear and self-doubt and live life joyfully and abundantly, head over to Midlife Mavericks: Fabulous, Fierce, Females!

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.

 

Are you stressed by all of the demands on your time from family and work? Get my free guide 5 Steps to Create a Chill Life.

If you would like to join a group of supportive women in midlife who are ready to get past fear and self-doubt and live life joyfully and abundantly, head over to Midlife Mavericks: 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!

 

Are you stressed by all of the demands on your time from family and work? Get my free guide 5 Steps to Create a Chill Life.

If you would like to join a group of supportive women in midlife who are ready to get past fear and self-doubt and live life joyfully and abundantly, head over to Midlife Mavericks: Fabulous, Fierce, Females!