Photo credit: Susielangphoto.com
I'm on Instagram. Yes, at 67 I'm on Social Media!! My page is @the.pro.age.woman, and over the last year, it has transformed into a community of 20K followers sharing content, conversation, information, and connections.
Let me start by sharing how this journey started.
In my early fifties, I worked as a fitness and wellness professional with female clients that were midlife and beyond. I was always inclined to coach women to be the best that they can be. I then began scouring internet shops for activewear and street styles geared toward my age group. And that's when I came to the realization that there was not much out there for the stylish, sophisticated, older active woman. What were all the fashion retail companies thinking? We are a huge market! Anyway, I did find things here and there, but, even now, there's still not much targeted to us. There began my experience with invisibility, and I certainly didn't like it.
I retired in my late fifties; although, I did continue a lifestyle of fitness and wellness.
Then in April of 2017, out of the blue, I was diagnosed with Marginal Zone Lymphoma. If you don't know what that is, it is a cancer of the bone marrow and lymphatic system. I had been void of energy for a few months prior; but, never thought it would be cancer. I was 65 years old, fit, strong, playing tennis, or working out almost every day. The diagnosis came as a total shock! After months spent trying to determine the next step, I started a 6 months infusion treatment. Trying to keep up with my weekly routine was daunting; but, I kept trying.
This was the catalyst for what was to happily, as well as surprisingly, come from that moment in time. In April of 2018, while recuperating, I remember thinking, "How can I turn this difficult life event into something positive?" I thought there's got to be a reason why this happened. I needed to find its purpose. I needed to replace all the negative thoughts with thoughts of how to move forward. As you can imagine, this was not so easy.
Well, after a short time, it hit me. I would create an Instagram page, incorporating my passions to provide inspiration, fashion, and fitness tips to women 50 years old and beyond. For many women at this stage of life, there's a feeling of invisibility and a not-knowing what comes next. I know, for me, there was a sense of "if not now, then when?" The thing is, this is the perfect stage of life to move forward, to dig deep and recognize our passions and act upon them. We have more wisdom, as well as a "care less what you think" attitude. We can be free to grow, transform, and evolve.
I started working on my new passion and purpose. I did what I could on my own, but I really had no idea what I was doing, so I began working with an assistant to help me bring my vision to life. She not only does that beautifully, but she teaches me what I need to learn. It has been a perfect intergenerational partnership. It's been fascinating and fun at the same time. So, as I continue to grow, so does my page. There's no telling where life can lead if you just go for it, and if you don't know all the answers, find someone to help.
Initially, my page was created to help women locate cool, edgy studios and street fashions for those wanting that. My perspective is we've earned the right to wear whatever the heck we want! Those "old rules" of what to wear and how to wear it are just simply "old news." As time passed, I needed my mission to be greater than I originally thought. This is when things really took off. I started building a community of like-minded women; that is, midlife and beyond; women that want to live with positivity, growth, involvement, learning, and don't just sit back and watch the world pass them by. As I encourage them, they encourage me as well. It's been a gift to me that I never expected. I began reframing what this later stage of life can look like, and wow, did this resonate with my peers. I call it Pro-Aging..no more anti-aging or age-defying for us. Pro-Aging is a new and exciting way of defining midlife and beyond. It is the idea that no one age is better than another; that we age on a continuum with each year, bringing a unique perspective and learning. It is the "New Age of Aging."
For me, it is making a conscious decision to age with positivity, that is, choosing to be active, relevant, and visible rather than to disappear and decline quietly.
There are definite challenges at this stage of life; but, we have to challenge these challenges by finding strategies to overcome them. We can learn through others' stories and experiences. Pro-aging is choosing to express who we are, to be who we are, and to lead our lives toward fulfillment. It is choosing to live as a reflection of our wisdom, our years of acquired knowledge, our intuitive instincts, our unique traits; while, utilizing our creativity and developed strength to follow our dreams. All this, while we appreciate and applaud our individuality. It's a time to encourage and uplift ourselves as well as each other... stop the negative judgments and ridicule.
Now, believe me, I know it is not an easy task to think with positivity where aging is concerned. It's a process to train your way of thinking. It can be two steps forward and one step back. Let's be honest; as I've said before, there are challenges at this stage of life; bodily and facial changes, economic concerns, health issues, as well as physical and mental fitness limitations. The trick is to continually reshape our mindset to take action, to make strides towards moving forward. It can be challenging, but well worth it.
Here are some helpful tools to help you pro-age:
- Firstly, try to be conscious of your thoughts and change the negative ones to those with a more positive twist. For example, see the wisdom, not the wrinkles. See the wonder of the way our bodies function, not only the size and shape of it. Yes, I am aware of how difficult this is!
- Keep busy with the things YOU enjoy doing (i.e., join classes or hobbies of interest to you). Get involved in group activities with like-minded people.
- Listen to your gut instinct. It will not steer you in the wrong direction.
- Take time for YOU. Learn to say no.
- Stay physically active for heart and bodily strength as well as for mental well-being.
- Eat healthy foods. Yes, you can indulge in moderation.
- Learn ways to manage stress.
- Create a sense of community and friendships. This is so very important. This is what Pro-aging is all about...continually growing and evolving, being bold and fierce while continually emerging. Let's be each other's cheerleaders and reach for the moon.
I'm so looking forward to watching where the Pro-Age evolution takes us. It certainly has been and will continue to be an exciting ride!
We are living in a time when women are rising to new heights which means they are regularly being confronted with the fear of being "too much". For women in business this is pervasive and costly.
A few ways women can be perceived as "too much" are:
Speaking up about their successes and achievements.
Sharing one too many photos of their cute kids.
Telling one too many people about that date night.
Looking a little too good in that swimsuit.
These can lead to being publicly attacked on social media or privately slandered which in turn leads to women dimming their light and walking on egg shells in hopes of avoiding conflict and judgement.
The minute a woman feels it's unsafe to shine she will begin to overthink, worry, and fear how she shows up in the world.
Forgetting to announce the book is done and the interview is live.
Choosing to focus on what's still on the to-do list rather than what's been checked off.
Many female entrepreneurs are subconsciously altering their behavior in an attempt to not attract too much attention to themselves, rather than focusing on allowing authenticity and magnetism to attract their ideal clients and community.
Women are afraid of being criticized, ostracized, and abandoned by other women for simply being who they are. This leads to quite the quantum when being who you are is simplest way to accelerate the growth of your business.
New research shows men are far more comfortable with self promotion than women are. Researchers found that men rate their own performance 33 percent higher than equally performing women. What we know is that self promotion pays off and this is where women are missing the boat.
The world needs more women to step into leadership roles and no longer be intimidated about creating six and seven figure careers.
Here are five ways to release the fear of being "too much":
1. Approve of yourself.
While it feels good to receive outside validation it will never be enough if you don't first appreciate yourself. The key to having a healthy support system is to make sure you are part of it. Being your biggest critic is what your mother's generation did. It's now time to be your biggest cheerleader. Becoming aware of self talk will reveal what belief is ready to be re-wired. Create a simply mantra that affirms how incredible capable you are.
2. Connect deeply to those you serve.
One powerful way to shift out of people pleasing behavior is to get clear on who actually matters to the wellbeing and success of your life and business. Leadership is not about being the most popular, instead it's a decision to be brave for those who can't be. Take a few minutes each day to visualize and meditate on those your business serves and supports. See your future clients moving toward you every time you choose to stand in your power and use your authentic voice.
3. Remember the legacy you wish to leave.
Having your life purpose and legacy in writing is one of the most transformational exercises you can do. Reading this often will keep you focused on what matters. Knowing what you wish to leave in the hearts of those you love most is incredibly grounding. You didn't come here to keep your mouth shut, dilute your truth, or dim your light-you came here to make a difference.
4. Forgive those who have been unsupportive in the past.
The past has a way of informing the future in a negative way when there is unresolved pain. Take a few minutes to get quiet and ask yourself who you have unforgiveness towards or maybe their name came to mind as you read this article. Listening to a forgiveness meditation or writing a letter to the person you are ready to forgive are both simple and effective ways to process and heal.
5. Be part a community of bright, successful women.
Meaningful relationships with others who have similar aspirations is what will keep you out of isolation and playing small. These connections can happen in a networking group, online community or a local Meetup. Thriving in every area of life is depend on you knowing where you belong and being celebrated there. Don't wait to be invited, go actively seek out people and places that support your dreams and desires.
6. Accept you can have it all.
Women have been fed a lie for generations that says, you can have love or money. Decide you can have it all and allow it to flow to you. You can have a successful career and an amazing mother. You can balance motherhood and loving marriage. Don't let anyone write the rules for you. This is the time to create the life you desire on your terms.
7. Celebrate everything!
The fastest way to leave the haters in the dust is to celebrate everything! At the end of each day lay in bed and recall the best moments. At the end of each week, publicly acknowledge and celebrate what's good in your life. Once a month, have a celebration dinner and share it with those who have helped you in the journey. If there's something good happening, talk about it with everyone who will listen!
May you be a woman who chooses to shine so that others may be reminded of all they can be and do.