One of the things I love most about our blog is meeting incredible women over 50 who are constantly creating something new in their life. I love my baby boomer generation – we just never stop innovating.
One such woman is Pauline Durban, who discovered Oops50 and reached out to us about her company, Covered Perfectly, an online retail store selling fashionable tops for women over 40.
A native Brit, Pauline, moved to California in 1992, and decided to launch her company 21 years later (at the age of 57) to respond to a forgotten market – women who want cute and stylish clothes that actually fit them and not their daughters. And, at the same time, covering parts we would rather not reveal. Without going into too much detail, you know what I’m talking about.
I will admit, before looking at the website, I was skeptical. Clothes for women over 40? Surely they couldn’t be talking about me. On the other hand, clothes shopping just wasn’t as fun as it used to be. I mean, how many long sleeve varieties could one department store sell? And don’t get me get started on shoe shopping.
I am pleased to say that I agreed to wear and review one top from the Covered Perfectly store. I told Pauline it was risky, because I was going to be honest. “Fair enough,” she said. For starters, the choices were amazing. I chose a silvery gray top that feels like silk on the body.I wasn’t sure about the right size but followed the instructions on the web, and when my top came, it fit perfectly. I will definitely order more.
Launching a business at any age is challenging and exhausting. I applaud Pauline for being innovative – focusing on women over 40 and getting it right. And that’s why we so love the Brits.
It was an important event. I wanted to look thin in my outfit—well, at least thinner! I’ve put some weight on recently in reaction to stress. (I try to eat stress away and am surprised every time it doesn’t work.) So, I squeezed into my Spanx, put on my fancy clothes and heels, and headed off to the gathering of nice people, where I was going to speak about my organization and convince them all to become members!
The evening started out fine. I nibbled on finger foods and drank a glass of wine. Then, it came time for my talk. Standing in front of people like that always makes my heart beat a little faster, so nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first. I simply started talking and thought, any moment now, I’ll hit my stride and feel comfortable. But the moment didn’t come. And yet I wasn’t really nervous; I simply could not breathe. My breath was coming in little gasp between words. I thought maybe I was having a panic attack. I talked faster, to try to feel more relaxed. Things just got worse. I could feel my face getting hot and flushed.
I looked around the room and could tell from their faces that a few of my friends in the room were a little concerned: this was not my usual presentation mode! Then, all at once, there seemed to be no air at all left in my lungs for breathing. The thought crossed my mind that I might be having a heart attack. I could picture myself collapsing in front of the gathering and being carried out the kitchen door on a stretcher. I wondered if it might be a stroke. I wondered if my husband would ever forgive me for working so hard that I died on the job. I prayed that, if it was a stroke, I would die quickly and not linger for years in a vegetative state while my children came for obligatory visits.
My grandfather, Surry Parker, was more of a myth than a man. I never met him, since he died before I was born—even before my parents got married—so my only knowledge of him was from the stories people told. And there were tons of stories—about, for instance, how he sped into Washington, NC in his Model A Ford, in the very earliest days of cars on the road and speed limits, and got stopped by a policeman, who said he would have to pay a fine for driving too fast. My grandfather handed the policeman double the required amount and told him to keep the change because “I’ll be going out the same way I came in.” Or there’s the one about the one or two times when my mother’s date might have stayed a little too long in the parlor, inspiring my grandfather to throw his shoes down the stairs, yelling, “Janie, tell that young rooster to go home!” Or there’s the much earlier one about how he made my mother, five years old at the time, stand in the middle of a pile of dead-but-still-wriggling snakes in the Great Dismal Swamp (where the family lived in the early years of my mother’s life), so that he could get her picture, since he loved to take pictures. My mother never questioned him; she did as she was told, but she remembered those snakes with terror to the day she died. I was always proud to have Surry Parker as my grandfather, and all those stories played a useful role for me. Whenever I was afraid of doing something bold and daring, or even just slightly out of the ordinary, I would think of one of those stories, and that would give me the courage to move forward.
But there was also a problem with the stories, in that people in my family got so caught up in talking about Surry Parker that they never really talked about his wife, my grandmother, lovingly called “Dovie,” except to say that she was basically one of the best people that ever lived—and that she loved Surry Parker! But I would like to have known her better. I would like to be able to get a picture in my head of the real Dovie, not just the one on the tombstone with the engraving, “Her children shall rise up and call her blessed.” Don’t get me wrong: I loved those words, and I desperately wanted to be the kind of mother who would inspire that kind of saying on her grave. But I also wanted to know more about my real grandmother. I wanted to know what kinds of things excited her or irritated her or made her happy or sad. I wanted to know what her vices were—she had to have at least one, didn’t she?
I’m thinking that kids nowadays are lucky because they have at least a decent shot of having videos of people who have died before them. I would give a lot to have a video of my grandmother—one that included sound! We do actually have one movie of her, since my grandfather also had one of the first movie cameras in his area (he loved technology!), but it’s a very jerky, very badly lighted 16 mm film, and it has no sound. So, the only impression I have of her is of someone walking around like Charlie Chaplin and turning her face away from the camera.
Which makes me think this: you should be careful to tell your children stories about the people who went before them, even the ones who weren’t extroverted or dramatic. And you should take real pictures of people, real videos, of them doing the ordinary things that make up their lives, like cooking or telling a story or laughing. You shouldn’t only take pictures of them on special occasions, all dressed up and stiff. You should capture them in their natural habitat! What I wouldn’t give to have a video of Surry Parker and Dovie not just looking good for the camera but having a real conversation together, maybe arguing about the wisdom of making their five-year-old daughter stand in the middle of a pile of snakes just to get a good picture!
We all know that we can feel loneliest when we’re in a relationship that just doesn’t feel right. When you’re flying solo, you can choose how you feel. You can be “alone”, yet content and happy. When we base our happiness on external conditions, like whether or not we have a wonderful mate, it’s hopeless. So, whether you’re solo or coupled, decide to be happy now.
Give yourself the gifts of self-care and self-love. Today…
~ Eat some delectable, high quality chocolate. Chocolate raspberry truffles, chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, warm chocolate croissants. Chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins that generate feelings of pleasure and promotes a sense of well being.
~ Call a favorite friend or family member and tell them what you love and appreciate about them. Thank them for being in your life.
~ Indulge in a luxurious lavender bubble bath, light some candles and put on your favorite, relaxing music.
~ Relax with homemade buttered popcorn and a fun inspiring movie that speaks to self-love and living life fully, like “Eat, Pray, Love”, “Shirley Valentine” or “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”.
~ Write yourself a love letter. Tell yourself how much you love and appreciate YOU. Don’t worry – no one has to see it. 🙂
~ Relish your time with self. In treating yourself lovingly, you’re telling the universe this is how you expect to be treated by others.
“I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you, you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”– Carrie from Sex and the City
Coach & Trainer, Global Leadership / Intercultural / Transformation through Transition
You think the 50’s and 60’s will be a time for us women over fifty to refocus on our own hopes and dreams. As baby boomers, the children are raised, and hopefully, financially independent. It’s time to question the need of the big house with the big yard, a time to reassess, revamp everything from daily life to long-term plans.
But, for so many of us, tragedy shows up and wrenches our lives apart — heart attacks, breast cancer, the stark realization that your finances are not in the state they should be for pending retirement, or worse: an out-of-the- blue death or divorce.
We’ve read much about recovering from a death, or divorce or cancer, but when it strikes in the 50-60’s, you’re more vulnerable, for you are no longer young, and less flexible because you are no longer young, but neither are you old enough to expect death and, divorce after thirty years of marriage seems as unlikely as losing an arm. It’s hard to go home to Mom and Dad at this age, although I’ve seen it done under the guise of caring for them.
There are paths back to wholeness and life. The following techniques will vary in appeal depending on your beliefs and personality, but those who have traversed a personal crisis successfully have utilized them, not necessarily in this order, not really in any order, and sometimes, all in the same day. And, remember — time is the ultimate healer.
1 .) Meditation- People who don’t meditate often say it’s because they don’t have time. But when you go through a trauma, time seems to lag unbearably. This is a good opportunity to start or build your practice. Start with five or ten minutes and work up to half an hour. Sit up comfortably (if you lie down you may fall asleep) and watch your breath go in and out. If thoughts intrude, gently push them away and continue watching your breath. Sounds too simple to matter, but this practice will center and calm you. For more about meditation, Google Deepak Chopra. Also, pilates and yoga offer a moving form of meditation.
2.) Spiritual – There is nothing like a trauma to make you wonder about God. If you open yourself at this time, you will likely find God in whatever guise you perceive him. Suffering seems to open the channel in a way that being happy or content just doesn’t.
3.) Nothing– There seems to be a whole lot of what feels like “unproductive” time, time that you can’t account for. Daydreaming? Crying? Moping? Whatever — do it. Allow yourself to be unproductive.
4.) Gardening – There is something about promoting life in any form that gives a primitive knock on the soul and mind that not only yes, life goes on but that life is a magnificent, driving force that will not be thwarted. For me, the visual for this is the daffodil or tulip that forces through the asphalt.
5.) Walking– Exercise and endorphins, yes, but walking offers a means to wake up to the world, the neighborhood and what’s going on, the beauty of nature, the feeling of the breeze on your cheek.
6.) Reading – The self-help books do help, so do spiritual ones, but the best are probably the laugh-out-loud ones. For me, that’s Carl Hiaasen.
7.) Be with Friends and Family– You’ll think they don’t understand what you’re going through even though they try, and you’ll be right. But they want to be there for you. When I went through my particular trauma, my closest friends started Sunday Supper, a time where we all got together for a couple of hours, to sip wine, cook and chat. It turned out to be a comfort to them as well.
8.) Change of Scenery – Get out of town. Go somewhere far from your usual haunts, somewhere out of your comfort zone. Everything will feel so unfamiliar that your pain will take a break due to shock.
9.) Routine – And, conversely, find solace in your daily routine. Filling the bird feeder, sweeping the front porch, feeding the dog, and, if you don’t have a job, volunteer somewhere where you can leave your own troubles behind.
10.) Moving forward – Without realizing it, you’ll eventually begin to feel some forward movement. You may continue to relapse into sadness or dismay from time to time, but the push forward towards life is a natural given, if you just let it happen.
From the forthcoming book, Breakdown in Swannanoa, available as an e-book in June of 2014.