A Podcast to inspire and motivate women in midlife! Let's Calm the Chaos in our lives so we can go after our purpose and passion!
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Alison Wearing is a best-selling author, playwright, and performer. She is also the creator and facilitator of Memoir Writing Ink. In our conversation, Alison shares how she guides people through the process of transforming personal stories into a memoir.
Alison shares her background as a full-time writer and her thoughts and feeling which surround that journey in calling herself a full-time writer! She mentions how writing letters in lieu of conversations helped her to realize that she was a writer when she received some feedback on a letter sent to a former professor. They encouraged her to submit it to the newspaper and how once it was published, she had this feeling of shock and began to see herself as a writer.
She then began being interested and traveled to places that seemed to cast some darkness to see what she could find. Her travels took her to Serbia and Iran amongst many places. Alison’s writings about her travels in Iran led to her first book. She then goes on to share about her journey after that book and how that process was for her mentally and emotionally.
Alison then goes on to share how conducting a public reading in Mexico lead someone to suggest that she do some theater which she hadn’t considered because she felt that she was a writer. ( the stories we tell ourselves ) We talk more about the labels we give ourselves and how often they limit us. The next thing she knew after doing some thinking, she then created a show and began performing a one-woman show across the country! This adventure led to her creating another performance based on her book: Confessions of a Fairy Daughter.
We dive into speaking further about the labels we give ourselves and how that affected Alison and how imposter syndrome haunts so many people, especially women. She shares a couple of stories of when someone asks her what she does, she had a hard time saying that she actually is a writer or does theater. Have you had this happen to you where you wanted to own a new story for yourself but had a difficult time shouting it from the rooftops? Alison recalls a time when she began making a full-time living at acting and yet had a hard time saying out loud that she was an actor.
Alison shares how she started her program Memoir Writing Inc. She was asked to teach a series of masterclasses regarding English and writing. Not having ever taught, Alison embraced the opportunity to do something uncomfortable that frightened her. It felt right at this time to move into the discomfort as she believes that’s where the energy is in the process and that’s where the mystery unfolds. She said YES! Then began figuring out how to do this. ( A big YES for Alison! ) She shares what this process looked like for getting ready for this next journey. From there Alison began organizing her own retreats and taught more. When she would perform, she would give a workshop the next day and the workshops became more of what she did and she enjoyed it more and more. Soon the writing retreats were in France and Mexico.
( Anyone ready to sign up yet? Sounds fun! )
She found in the classes that people had a similar set of obstacles when people began writing their memoirs and she was beginning to cover the same type of information. It was then that Alison began saying the same thing over and over again so thought “ I should record myself saying these things so that I can have their basic questions answered”. This is how the process began with the workshops. She thought that she would love to make this available to anyone, anywhere so they don’t need to come to the workshop and could complete the material on their own time. Her workshop is now a twelve-week program that is comprehensive. Not only is it an online program but she does offer an online community so there is live support with Q & A‘s so you have the opportunity to interact and get feedback.
Alison finds her work teaching her memoir classes very rewarding. Her greatest joy is waking up and opening an email from a student who shares a breakthrough in their writing. Or to say that they just finished their project.
We then go on to chat about why people find it so important to write a memoir. The value of writing the story is not whether or not it gets published, the value is in the “excavation of it”. One of the great primal urges in human existence is to know and understand ourselves. Perhaps that is why getting our lives on paper is so important. When we know ourselves, then we are fuller and richer people. Not just for ourselves but for everyone we come into contact with in our journey. These are Alison’s actual words that she shares and I felt that it was very interesting to share regarding this need to capture our “time”.
Our discussion about writing a memoir takes an interesting turn where Alison shares how when writing your story down, you begin to feel removed from the story and there is an unexpected “liberation” in the process. You begin to take “my story” into “a story”. It no longer defines us in the same way. The story has shaped us but we are so much more than our story and we are more than the story of what happened to us.
You may be asking where do I start when writing my memoir? The challenge is not what to write about. It more what NOT to write about so you have a central theme that can emerge. We are looking for a higher purpose to the story. Alison shares that’s what we’re looking for when we re-examine our life. We are looking and making meaning of our life.
We wrap up our conversation by talking about the literary contest which Alison is running on her site. It is in honor of a woman that attended her retreat in France in 2019. She was 34 years old, Amy McCray and she was writing about a terminal diagnosis that she had received. Alison created a literary prize in her honor to raise money for her living legacy which raises funds for ovarian cancer research.
I ask Alison if there is anything else she would like to share with the listeners and she mentions how much she loves being a woman in midlife and wouldn’t want to go back! She shares that for many of us the expectations of the “should do’s” begin to fall away which is really nice. She also feels that she has so much more to offer the world than when she was 25 or 30.
Kat Vellos is a connection coach and trusted expert on the power of cultivating meaningful friendships! This was perfect timing as I just posted on my blog a post about Making Friends in midlife! Kat cares about connection and having high-quality interactions. Over the years she has facilitated many groups and workshops.
It was after her move to the bay area in California did she notice that it was difficult to establish ongoing friendships. Kat then noticed that others were having the same challenge and she became curious and started to do some research and conduct some interviews to understand why this happens to people. And more importantly, why do we care about it!
We dive into talking a bit about introverts and extroverts and how each type of person has different ways of getting their social needs met and it’s important to recognize that as you move forward in your journey.
Kat shares with the listeners what surprised her the most about her research was how many people said that they struggled to make friends in adulthood and found it difficult to connect with others. We then discuss how a lot of the ways we developed relationships when we were younger are not relevant as we get older and our circumstances change. Our conversation moves into how if you have children their relationships bring you into proximity to other adults and those friendships happen naturally and as times progress if you don’t “name” the relationship and say you want to work on it then it drifts away. A very natural process that I too have experienced with both my kids over the years. Our lives change and evolve and some of these relationships move to different stages. As we now look for friendships in midlife, seeking out friends where we are in the same proximity is a great place to start!
Kat then gives us some advice on not giving up on relationships too soon. Perhaps you’ve extended an overture to someone to have coffee and maybe it went well or was rocky. Cultivating a new friendship is like dating. You need to give it a couple of opportunities for the energy to thrive! She reminds us that the same advice that applies in a dating relationship applies in a platonic relationship! Give it a two-date minimum and give each other enough space and grace to show up. Kat shares that Jeffery Hall’s research says it takes between 90 and 200 hours to convert a stranger into a best friend. And it needs to be 90 hours in the first three months of meeting each other! Now that’s commitment.
We go on to discuss that everything doesn’t need to feel orchestrated or a big event that is stressful to put on the calendar. It can be a bite-size at a time that you are reaching out to connect. A 30-minute coffee chat or a short walk is a great way to connect. You don’t need to commit to a three-hour lunch. Kat gives some great tips on how to create some touchpoints with new friends so you can learn more about each other and cultivate those meaningful connections! She describes this as finding ways to weave your life together. I love that phrase. It’s so fun to think about how you can start weaving another person into your life? Do you have someone in mind right now where you’d like to take that first step and begin to “date”?
Kat goes on to share different ideas on how you can weave various touchpoints into each other’s lives. She has some very creative ways to share. She looks at these as “friendship connection activities”. It might even involve art or music. Just to give you some ideas which she elaborates in the interview. Some fun creative ideas.
We then discuss how reigniting old friendships is a great way to cultivate some connection that you may be wanting in your life. That person already knows you and you have a common history that just needs to be brought up to speed. These people already have context about where you come from and what your life has looked like so far. There is already a built-in appreciation, familiarity, love, and trust that is fertile ground to resprout!
Kat then discusses her book: We Should Get Together and shares some of the most surprising comments she has received from readers. She also shares about how some are guilty of not making time with their friends because they are defaulting all their time to spend with a partner. There are still ways to connect with friends if you do feel that your time is being stretched in other directions and you still want to be intentional about weaving in connections. Kat shares some great tips for bridging the gap.
During our conversation, Kat shares about the Connection Club on her website which she started in the summer of 2020. This was a result of her research and people wanting to stay in touch with their friends but being very busy. This is an opportunity for people to get together as a group virtually and write letters and cards to the people that we care about. It’s scheduled and on the calendar. Who wouldn’t appreciate that? Kat also has another group called: Here to make friends. This is a group for people who want to make friends. She shares all the details about how this group is run and the benefits of being a member. It sounds like a great place to connect and build some new friendships!
One last nugget that Kat shares is to be mindful of what type of connection you need. Who are the people that are most likely to help you meet that need? There are all different types of connections and there is no one-size-fits-all for every human being. It’s so important to know yourself and what you have to offer a friend and be generous with that too!
We also dive a bit into discussing how to manage yourself and your social life while getting back into socializing and connecting with friends after a year we had in 2020. It’s ok to listen to your true needs and honor them. And be compassionate with yourself.
Dr. Keira Barr turns conventional methodologies on their heads so midlife women can feel comfortable in their bodies and the skin they are in. Dr. Barr creates a bridge between hormones, skin, mind, and body to optimize a woman’s midlife experience! Dr. Barr empowers women worldwide to take control of their health, and their hormones in menopause. She is also the best-selling author of The Skin Whisper! I’ve always known that our skin is our largest organ but Dr. Barr goes into more detail about how to honor ourselves and pay attention to our skin!
Dr. Barr’s experience with her skin goes back to her childhood where she had a painful experience being bullied for birthmarks on her face. Her skin became a source of pain, shame, and embarrassment. She then tried to conceal these birthmarks by spending too much time in the sun and as a result, suffered a consequence later in life which was her wake-up call. I’m sure we’ve all been there as teens. I recall being on the beach in California putting baby oil on my skin to “get tan” only to have a severe sunburn. I think a lot of us ladies, unfortunately, had our share of burnt stories.
After this event, Dr. Barr realized that everything she thought she was doing right for herself, she was doing wrong and she was stressing her body physically and emotionally. The stress pushed all her hormones out of whack to create imbalances in the body. Experiencing migraines, anxiety, and bloating the doctors were not connecting the dots.
Thankfully Dr. Barr was able to navigate a new path and found functional and integrative medicine to heal herself. She admits that she is still on the journey as she is always learning new things. Her mess became her mission! She was wanting to help women see their skin differently and as a source of information. She wants to empower women to take control of their health in midlife!
During Covid, Dr. Barr started a new practice that is 100% virtual. Dr. Barr works with women to create a strong foundation of health and then looks at hormone replacement therapy. To create a strong foundation she does a deep dive into looking at how we move, the food we eat, nutrition, and sleep! She helps women peel back the layers on what is holding us back, keeping us stuck and feeling unwell. Dr. Barr works 1:1 but also supports women in the community so that we can learn from others how to transform our traumas into triumphs! Which is so beautiful. Knowing that you are not alone and that you can hold space for one another to learn from one another is powerful.
Dr. Barr has found that for women sleep and stress usually take a back seat. We tend to think “I’ll get to it later”. So often we have that one more thing we need to get done in the evening or we stay up way too late in the evening? Sound familiar? Guilty! Generally, we push through until we hit a breaking point. She goes on to share that normally we don’t realize how much things are impacting us until our body shows us a sign. Our body and skin both give us signals.
The goal of The Skin Whisper is to communicate that our body is sending our skin messages. It’s best to hear those messages when they are whispering rather than a shout! Unfortunately, most of us don’t get that message until it is a SHOUT! We dive into how our skin shows us messages especially in midlife! Dr. Barr shares with us some of the ways that we might see these changes in our bodies. I can tell you that I have started to notice them heading into my 60th birthday month!
We also discuss estrogen and how it plays a significant role in creating collagen in our skin. Progesterone plays a role in skin elasticity too. As these hormones decrease, you may notice more fine lines, skin sagging, and dark spots on your skin. So cortisol does break down the collagen and elastin in your skin which accelerates aging and inhibits healing.
Your skin is a wonderful information center that you may need to give yourself a little more tender loving care. Take some time to look under the hood and see what it might need.
The discussion continues to follow the path of bioidentical hormones. Dr. Barr shares some insight into an old study, its data, and findings. Then say that recent studies recanted their findings that there was not an increased risk. This information was very helpful to hear and may bring some clarity to past misinformation. In looking at bioidentical hormones, it is looking at protection our brain health, cardiovascular health, bone health, vaginal health, and musculoskeletal health.
Dr. Barr shares that “we are a constant work in progress and we need to celebrate every single win along with the way because those small wins add up to huge triumphs”
During our conversation, Dr. Barr shares what is included in her book The Skin Whisper so it leaves you with some nuggets to look into further when reading the book. Your skin is a reflection of your overall health and well-being. Not just on the surface but beneath.
Your skin can be your greatest cheerleader and confidant!
Maryanne O’Hara is the author of the book Little Matches, A Memoir of Grief and Light. Her book is the result of a blog she started while her daughter Caitlin waited for a lung transplant. Since her daughter’s passing, Maryanne became a certified end-of-life doula so she could speak to the state of end-of-life care in our culture.
During our discussion, Maryanne shares that the blog was a way for her to keep everyone abreast of the news all at once and that this waiting went on for two and a half years. It was a lot of waiting and Maryanne felt the need to write and as a result, a wonderful surge of humanity gathered around them. After losing Caitlin, the only thing that made her feel “ok” was writing on the blog.
Writing the blog was a way for Maryanne to grieve out loud and for her to stay connected to everyone including her daughter. She felt that writing the book about Caitlin would help people. She then combined not only her entries but Caitlin’s as well into the book: Little Matches. Maryanne shares how she settled on the title of the book, which was taken from a passage in a Virginia Woolf book. It’s Maryanne searching in the dark for those little sparks of light that make life meaningful. The light that keeps her going.
Maryanne believes that grief and joy can coexist and she is always going to grieve Caitlin. Which is so beautiful to share. So many feel that there is a period for grief and we must move on but here Maryanne gives us hope that we can live in two realms at the same time. Maryanne goes on to share how she has lived with grief and joy.
Maryanne decided nine months after Caitlin’s passing that she wanted to write something more permanent than blog posts and to have it be a tribute to Caitlin and serve other people. She then heard about Dani Shapiro’s memoir writing retreats. She signed up and had a goal to write ten pages before the start of the retreat. The retreat was a beautiful experience, it was in a lovely inn with yoga, meditation, and plenty of writing! During this writing process, Maryanne learns more about writing, her style, and how she views writing fiction vs. non-fiction.
We then discuss what Maryanne learned about herself in the process of writing the book. For her, it was hard to write the personal and it took a lot of bravery on her part and at one time waking up in a panic and thinking, “what have I done?” She felt that Caitlin was braver than anyone she has known and if she can be brave then why not me?
Maryanne shares about Caitlin’s writings in the book and how while waiting for a lung transplant a lot of her time was spent writing and being a good friend via text and email as they had moved from Boston to Pittsburgh. Caitlin had a lot of old soul wisdom which comes out in her writing. A lot of her writing is full of good life advice. Maryanne then goes on to share a passage of Caitlin’s writing from the book.
We also talk about how Maryanne feels about trusting her compass. We are all born with a sense of intuition but women seem to trust in more in midlife. She has found that not listening to her intuition, it’s a big mistake. Maryanne believes that our intuition does not let us down. She goes on to talk about focusing on being a decent, good person and focusing on your relationships, and making them strong and healthy. That’s the only way to live. As you get older she feels that’s going to be the only thing that matters.
Maryanne shares what prompted her to become an end-of-life doula. She has always been a volunteer and after Caitlin’s passing,, she wanted to do hospice volunteering and shares with the listener the role of an end-of-life doula and why this individual is so important and their role. Taking the class was also helpful as she is not out talking about the book which will include medical professionals and wanted to be able to speak to that in her engagements.
Maryanne goes on to share how she enjoys helping with the legacy writing for an individual and it’s always a good time to reflect on the path you are on and what you’ve done with your life so far. She loves it so much that she will be offering some workshops for people so they too can learn how to write their legacy papers.
I love this quote from my interview with Maryanne, “ I think that if you at least acknowledge the fact that you aren’t going to live forever, it can help you live better now and appreciate your life”.
Maryanne also goes on to challenge the listeners to think about What are you doing? What do you want out of life? What makes yourself happy and what do you lose yourself in? Whatever it is and makes you feel content and gives your life a feeling of purpose then embrace it. We are temporary and not here forever. Be true to yourself and listen. Find your purpose as it gives your life meaning.
Adele Stickland has over twenty years of experience in the well-being industry and has a unique insight into stress and negativity and their effect on weight gain for busy women.
She has an online platform and offers a twelve-step coaching and nutritional program.
Adele started her career in the corporate world and felt like she did all the things you were supposed to do, got a law degree because she thought it would be the right thing to do. But when she finished her law degree she realized that it wasn’t for her future. She then landed in advertising and continued on that path right up to the birth of her son. After the birth of her son, the demands of the career and wanting to be at home for her son got to be too much. One day there was one incident and she walked away from the office, her career, and never looked back!
It was then that Adele decided to do something she was passionate about and that was to start a career as a fitness professional. She then began to learn more about fitness and nutrition. She soon realized that her clients needed more than exercise and nutrition to succeed in their wellness goals. It was all about having the right mindset. Now she starts the clients’ journey by focusing on mindset and brings in the exercise and nutrition through the backdoor! Her coaching evolved through her own experience and client interaction.
This brought about her best-selling book: Gorgeous! How to Be, Look and Feel Fantastic Every Day which is now an international bestseller! ( Congratulations Adele! Quite an accomplishment )
We dive into discussing the importance of knowing you are why when making any transition and how that played a role in her leaving her corporate job and making the transition in those early days with her coaching. The corporate world felt very much like masculine energy, a push and pull where what she is doing incorporates more female energy where you let things come to you and it’s not forced. A big key to creating more female energy is to incorporate more reflective time for yourself to look back and ask yourself questions. If you don’t take quiet time to reflect then you miss the clues and breadcrumbs!
Adele shares how midlife menopausal women aren’t served in the same way as everyone else and a lot of the studies conducted do not include women over forty and there are so many changes in our bodies to consider. We also don’t eat or exercise in the same ways and our hormones are changing which makes our muscles tighter and that’s why moving, stretching and posture are so important in midlife.
Adele is obsessed with posture because of osteoporosis! If we don’t use our posture, we lose it! If we are kyphotic ( rounded shoulders ) Hovering over a desk all day we not only get the rounded shoulders and poor posture but we lose our muscle and bone density. Once you start to lose it, bone degradation starts to happen. This is why our exercise routines should be different as we get older to support the needs of our bodies now! She walks us through those exercises which complement our bodies in midlife and do not rob our adrenals.
Adele continues to share some exercises we can do at home to get those shoulders back and use those muscles in our upper back! By going to Adele’s YouTube channel she does have some Pilates workouts that can get you moving, stretching, opening up the upper body, front of the chest, and strengthening the upper back.
We circle back the conversation to getting in touch with your WHY for wanting to be healthy and lose weight. It’s so important when starting with any goal, and that’s the reason why I have in my coaching this worksheet: Understanding Your Why as the second worksheet in your journey to self-discovery. Without that, you are likely to have a tough time obtaining your goal. Adele shared a story of how one of her clients found their WHY.
Adele shares with the listeners her Gentle Reset Program which is offered every six weeks. This is her group coaching program. She shares how fun it is to get women from various backgrounds together and how they share their different ways of seeing things and sharing their perspectives. You get the group adherence and you also have self-development at the same time. It’s also a great way to create community.
We dive into her book Gorgeous and the process of her writing that first book. The first part of the book is the concept of mission, mindset, and purpose and how to get out of your way. Then she dives into the nutrition part of the journey.
Adele shares how she calms the chaos in her life and how she discovered meditation and that journey today. She shares how going on a retreat to India was her first step to discovering the practice and how that trip impacted her life. Adele also shares how this year she feels like she is in the flow of life and that’s because she’s acknowledging what she’s grateful for and letting go of being in control.
This week’s conversation is with Kelly Page who helps women over forty drop weight, increase their energy and find balance! Her website is where she makes available resources for you to dive into opportunities to connect with not only herself but her community
Kelly shares with the listeners her journey from corporate America to the Tasting page! During her time climbing the corporate ladder she was doing everything she could to stop on top and stay healthy! Working towards eating the right things but asking why she didn’t ever feel good. She just assumed that everyone was stressed out like herself! She continued to ignore these feelings and went on climbing the corporate ladder even though her adrenals and hormones were off.
It was one day when she was called into the “big office” and offered the promotion and then she did what most people would love to do. Wait for it! She shook his hand and said “thank you”, quit and then moved to Paris! Kelly shares how a life-changing event gave her a new perspective on her life which helped her to make this decision.
During her time in Paris, she combined her passion for writing and food and began writing for the food scene and travel. It began to be easy just working for herself.
It was after coming back from Paris Kelly attended nutrition school and felt that when she was done with her studies she wanted to share this information with others. Knowing that women over forty were an underserved area it became a passion of hers to start a community.
Kelly shares the most common topic that women come to her for help when hitting midlife. We discuss how she onboards her clients to get them from where they are at right now in their health journey to where they could be. Part of that process is evaluating where the biggest obstacles are and start working to remove them. Food is a big place to start that process.
We also get into “snacking” and the importance of a full nutritious meal with all the right nutrients so you don’t need to snack. This helps you in watching your insulin levels and helps to avoid insulin resistance which we go into a further discussion on why that’s so important.
We also dive into how stress plays a part in our overall health. When we are stressed the cortisol is secreted and when the cortisol is high then our blood sugar is off. That’s why it’s important for her to look at food intake and stress reduction.
Kelly shares some success stories with former clients and how have worked together impacted their overall sense of wellbeing. Originally they will come into work on one thing and be able to target a lot of other areas and feel more confident in their body!
Her website has a lot of valuable resources where she shares great recipes to keep you balanced and articles about what she is seeing in her community. There is also a healthy living quiz. She looks at the five important areas that contribute to your health.
We also dive into midlife women and alcohol consumption and how it gets harder for us to metabolize the sugar and the carbs from these beverages. A lot of women are stopping their use of alcohol altogether and feel so much better.
Kelly shares how she calms the chaos in her life and why meditation is such an important part of her daily ritual. She also encourages her clients in this practice of coming back to their breath in the process. The practice of meditation has a wonderful effect on you throughout the day even when you are not in the meditation moment. Kelly shares that what’s great about meditation is that “it’s magical, free and you can do it at home anytime you want”