Today I start on a new journey with one of my girlfriends. It’s one that I have no experience with even though I’ve been a caregiver for many years now.  Together we’re entering into a world of medical terms we’re forced to learn, side-effects that are unknown and outcomes that are not certain.

While she has an incredibly supportive family, sometimes you just need your girlfriends.  They’re the ones that you can share your fears with because your family will just be too freaked out.

It got me to thinking about the richness of my friendships now and how they are so different than when I was younger.  I still have girlfriends from when I was in my 20’s.  In fact, the first friend I made when I moved to Los Angeles is to this day one of the people who knows me best.  But as we got older the requirements of our relationship changed. In our 20’s and even 30’s we spent most of our time on crazy adventures laughing or consoling each other over our latest break-up.  We talked about our burgeoning careers and our next step up the corporate ladder. Our friendship got real though when my infant son died of SIDS. Within hours of me calling her with the most horrific news I would ever have she was on a plane coming across the country to stay with me and comfort me.

Her way of dealing with tragedy was different. She needed to deal with it privately. She didn’t call me when she was going through a rough divorce and becoming the caregiver for her mother. I didn’t pry – I just waited patiently. When she was ready she reached out and I too was then on a plane across country to listen and support.

There are other women who have entered my life in my 40’s. As is common we were brought together through our kid’s friendships or activities. But our friendships transcended this connection. As I got older I was able to more quickly assess the women who I would form true bonds with and who, like me, needed girlfriends with whom they could be honest and vulnerable. To share hopes and also fears and know it was safe. In my 40’s the conversations changed from comparing toddler’s achievements and celebrity gossip to the evolution of relationships with your older kids and spouses, health issues, aging parents but, most importantly the next steps in our lives towards personal fulfillment. The s&*t gets real.

These are friendships that aren’t perfect selfies (although God knows there are those times that are insta worthy) These are friendships where often what you see is what you get – no make-up, dry shampooed hair in a pony tail and unshaved legs. 

There is incredible beauty of friendships in your 40’s. You’re dealing with the real stuff but also the pleasure of being vulnerable. I was ever so lucky when one of my best girlfriends moved around the corner from me. Being able to sit down after a horrible work day, vent about our kids or significant others or our worries about the future has saved thousands of dollars on therapy. The simple texts we share with one another after one of our chats “Thanks pal for being there” is exactly what it’s about.

So today as I accompany my friend for her doctor’s appointment we begin a journey that will be filled with tears, some laughter and most importantly honesty. As I said last night to her – “we’ve got this.” <3

How have your friendships changed and deepened over the years?  Share some of your girlfriend stories in the replies below.

 

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!

This summer was the season of freedom for my 16-year-old daughter.  Remember that first summer when you had your driver’s license and some spending money in your pocket, and you could head out to the beach whenever you wanted to?  It was exhilarating. With her freedom comes mine.  I’ve got less driving around to summer activities and sleepovers. I’m starting to feel the reigns of obligations slip off me and with that I can feel myself ready to start discovering me.  Not the person I was pre-kids – she’s long gone. This new me has a lot more wisdom and confidence. Here are a few things the new me and my life after 50 is excited to do: The new me is anxious to try new things. I used to be intimidated to try a new class at the gym for fear I’d look like an idiot because I couldn’t keep up. Not anymore.  Now I bravely stand at the front of the class and laugh when I screw up but even more importantly I’m proud that I did it and congratulate myself for the moves I could do. The new me is ready to have adventures.  I saw a show the other day about these two people touring Thailand and visiting these incredible waterfalls. When you have kids it’s darn near impossible to have trips like that. Disney is the ultimate adventure and while that was fun, I’m ready for the real world not a place that recreates adventures. The new me is ready for the next big leap in my career.  For years now I’ve made my living blogging and doing TV segments about safety and wellness.  Don’t get me wrong – I love it and will continue to do that. The way my career started was because of the death of my first son.  It drove me to want to help save other kids’ lives. As I’ve gotten older new things drive me.  Listening to women who are scared to leave a relationship or start a new career or struggle with being a caregiver motivate me. I love speaking to these women and offering them support and guidance. I envision a world of confident and happy women and, through retreats and speaking engagements, I want to create that.

The new me is ready to have a few deep friendships.  When we’re in our 30’s and 40’s we’re building a career and/or family that consumes our time. Our friendships tend to be created around the interests of our kids. Some high school and college friendships remain but get-togethers are few and far between and finding current commonalities is tough. For years my girls have been involved in All-Star cheerleading.  For those of you not familiar with this sport, it’s year-round and requires a lot of travel.  When you’re a “cheer mom” that other moms become your friends. But one day your cheer life ends and naturally these friendships fade. But a few transcend the mutual bond of cheer (or whatever activity your child is involved with) and you connect over the big issues. Now I have time for a few friendships that are based on mutual respect, shared beliefs and willingness to talk about the real stuff.  You know the real stuff – our hopes and dreams but also the fears that keep us up at night.

The new me understands that my health is something I can’t take for granted.  When I was in my 20’s and 30’s I worked out to have a hard body and look great.  Now I work out to prevent osteoporosis and keep my heart in good shape.  I used to choose my food based solely on what tasted good.  Now I select food that tastes good and will provide me the nutrients I need to cut cholesterol and provide the right vitamins.  When the kids were younger, I would always  get them to their check-ups but mine would be missed because there wasn’t time.  Now I realize that making the time for health screenings and exercise is what will allow me to live life to the fullest.

As I’m closing in on another birthday I’m loving who I’m becoming and can’t wait for the next chapter. What’s in your next chapter?  Share below as writing it down makes it more real.

 

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!

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

At what age do we stop asking ourselves this question?  It sounds as if once we hit a certain age that’s it – we’re done.

As women in the second half of life we often feel that it’s too late to shake up life. When do we begin placing restrictions and limitations on recreating ourselves?  What’s “too late” and why?

Why?  Because we’re scared!  We’re afraid to course correct or try something new.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was worried about making a career change because, she worried, “what if I fail?” It led to a few glasses of wine and a long conversation about the giant “what if” question.

Safety = Stagnation

As a motivational speaker and blogger I frequently talk about how fear constrains us from moving forward.   People assume that staying in place, either in a dead-end job or marriage is the safe thing to do. Financially this could be the case but it’s often at the cost of your spirit.  Please understand that I’m not saying to simply quit your job or your marriage without first planning and researching.  What I am saying is don’t allow fear to keep you trapped in a situation that is slowly destroying you.

I tackle the “what if” question in my coaching practice a lot.  Unravelling the fear allows it to become manageable.  Quite simply, the answer to the “what if” question is “then what.” When you realize that there are plenty of options if the “what if” occurs, it’s easier to move forward.

There are numerous statistics on how many businesses fail in the first year.  Often, it’s because people are afraid to course correct.  They don’t see an answer to the “what if” question. Imagine the entrepreneur who was committed to only renting VCR tapes because he was fearful of changing up his business model. (Probably half the people reading this won’t even know what I’m talking about.)  Successful entrepreneurs understand that change is necessary. They get an idea in their head and they run with it.  Yes, they do their due diligence to see if it’s viable but it’s the curiosity and the desire to stretch that compels them.

Vera Wang started out as a professional skater but never make it onto the US Olympic team.  She then veered into fashion.  Marc Cuban’s first endeavor was powdered milk.  Walt Disney began as a writer for a local newspaper and was fired for not having enough imagination.

Yes, change is scary but it also is an opportunity. People often ask me how I’ve continued to re-invent my brand and personally rebuild after challenges.  They comment that they’d never be able to do it.  My reply always is “sometimes you don’t have a choice.”  Sometimes it takes tragedy to motivate you.  I started out in television production. Then my son died and my second son was diagnosed with intellectual disabilities.  That prompted me to find a way to make a difference and help save babies lives.  I found myself passionate about helping families which led me to start my blog and public speaking.

I’ve often said I’ll never retire – not because I have to work (although that’s certainly a possibility) but because I never want to stop stretching and exploring.  I want to continue to write the next chapter of my life and continue to answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

 

One of the top New Year’s resolutions is saving more and spending less.  Of course, that means not living beyond your means and tearing up credit cards.  For most people this is easier said than done.  In fact, the average credit card debt per household is $8,400.

Six years ago, I didn’t have the choice.  Because of a really bad divorce, lawyers’ fees wiped out my savings and 401(k).  Add to that the housing crisis in the early 2000’s which had us carrying two mortgages and needing to use credit cards way too often and I was in a really bad financial position.  I was forced to declare bankruptcy.  This meant a bad credit rating and no credit cards.  I’ll be writing in another blog how you can still survive once you’ve declared bankruptcy but here I want to talk about the important life lessons I’ve learned – any my kids have learned as well – about living without credit cards.

You become honest with yourself.  Too many people feel that they need to spend to keep up appearances.  They’re buying clothes, electronics and vacations they simply can afford.  When you don’t have a credit card you no longer can pretend to anyone else or yourself.  If friends ask you to meet up for dinner or a drink just admit you can’t afford it but then suggest getting together for a dinner party at home.  It becomes incredibly freeing to simply admit you don’t have the money to buy something or go somewhere rather than making up excuses.

You become self-sufficient.  Someone to plow the driveway, mow the lawn or blow the leaves is a luxury.  Sure, it can be back breaking work but when you’re finished and can sit back, pop open a beer and realize what you’ve accomplished on your own it’s a pretty great feeling.  Plus, it’s great exercise.  I often refer to my backyard as my private gym and Mother Nature my trainer.

You learn about nice to have vs. need to have. Yes, you can live without Netflix and two bottles of nail polish, a base coat and a top coat is way cheaper than thirty manicures.   A dinner out becomes a once or twice per month treat.  I’ll admit it did upset me when my kids saw all their friends getting tons of expensive gifts for Christmas and birthdays and I couldn’t do the same but when you don’t the money, well, it is what it is.  I’ve come to realize that my kids learned an important lesson, the value of “stuff.”  They’ve often commented to me how they can’t believe how their friends don’t appreciate all the gifts and things they’re given but rather they expect it.  They’re surprised how their friends’ parents will simply add money to their spending accounts as if it’s a never-ending supply.  We’ve had to delay purchases of things until the following month or they’ve saved up for something they really want.  They started babysitting at 13 to earn money for things that I simply couldn’t afford.  I now see that their understanding of budgeting and financial responsibility is the best gift I could have given them.

You figure out what matters most to you – and then how to pay for it. Time together as a family is a priority but with three kids (and two step-kids) a night out at the movies or a trip to an amusement park or even bowling adds up.  A family vacation must be carefully planned out.  Both my daughters do All-Star Cheer, an extremely expensive sport.  But, not only is this what they love, it’s taught them important life skills – self-confidence, leadership, teamwork and tolerance.  It’s something that I want them to be a part of. They know, however, that if this is what they want they need to have skin in the game.  Along with the fundraising I do, the girls fund raise, babysit and put birthday and Christmas money towards the cost.  Bottom line – if you want extras then you need to find extra income.  A seasonal or permanent second job might be required.

It’s still important to give back.  No matter how tight my budget is I find ways to give back.  We turn in our recycling bottles and donate that money. If you can’t give money, give time at a homeless shelter or volunteer with a charity.  Donate clothes to a family who has lost everything in a fire.  There’s always someone out there who has it harder than you and giving back gives you an appreciation for all you have.

Today, after six years, I’ve gotten a credit card.  It actually scares me, and I will only be using it in the case of an emergency.  I know I’ve taught my girls the slippery slope of credit cards – they know how to budget, save and live within their means.  Life’s so much easier without debt.