As a woman who listens to countless women, I want to offer you an inside glimpse into our journey.
Why? For the past 18 years I’ve been a business owner, wife and mom of three teaching leadership and life balancing. During this time one thing has become crystal clear. American women have more freedom than ever before and live much of their life in transition. With change comes choice. Sometimes liberating. Sometimes paralyzing.
Every decade of life is filled with different seasons. With each new change contains the loss of the familiar and the potential for possibilities and growth. Life sure is an exciting adventure. If we see and accept the seasons of life clearly we can have what we want, for a season. Don’t blink for too long, life changes again.
So, let’s start with the teens and the learning season. Girls are discovering who they are, their bodies, and boys. The surging hormones have teens taking over the world in one breath, and tears the next. There are the never-ending questions about “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” ‘What kind of girl am I?” A sporty girl, a girly girl, a nerdy girl or an artsy girl? She’s full of school work and trying to decide what she wants to do after she finishes school. Oh, the choices.
Women in their early 20’s are busy as a bee learning and growing with work, school and friends. “What do I want to do when I grow up?” They keep adding more to their schedule as they ultimately have to make decisions about work, relationships and family. Enquiring family members and friends ask, “When are you going to get married?” and “When will you start a family? The life and family planning dramas begin, and continue in full force.
If she decides to have children, a woman experiences one of the most wondrous times — co-creating a life with God. The thing is, she also has to raise herself. Therein lies the balancing act. She learns to make sacrifices to serve another person. She is focused on creating loving relationships and making a safe, comfy home, whether it’s in her first apartment or in her first house.
The 30’s woman adds more and more to her plate. She’s growing fast. Work , family or volunteer demands. Relationship demands. Often they are tired, stressed and so sleep deprived some are simply going through the motions.
She compares herself to her peers and her children’s peers. Pop in on any play group and you’ll hear intimate tales of children and “Is my child normal?” with the underlying question of “Am I doing a good job as a mom?”
How can I find enough time to raise good children and do something for me? Are we saving enough for college funds? Women’s days are filled with parenting woes and joys. She is often questioning, “Is this good enough?” Masking the deeper question of “Am I worthy?”
The mid life season. Enter the big 4-0! The decade that begins with “Oh, I don’t feel 40, I still look like I’m in my 30’s. right?” Which quickly turns into,“Do I need work?” Women in their forties are under so much heat that they don’t just feel like a sandwich, they feel like a Panini, and we have the lines to prove it.
Every change — from kids going off to college or the real world, rethinking our life choices and husband, (divorce rates spike at middle age) to co-workers to aging parents — all tug at us. Forget ‘mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? It’s ‘mirror, mirror on the wall, how do I manage perimenopause after all?’
Questions about ‘What is my purpose?” and “What am I going to do with the rest of my life”, creep in and beg answers. Women between the ages of 46-54 are the most depressed age group. With all this pressure mounted on her, you can understand why.
Oh the mighty woman in her 50’s — she’s a feisty one. These are the women who are going through ‘the change’ at the average age of 51. They have raging hormones and the force to know how to use them. Women are letting go of jobs that have grown stale and moms are letting go of children who need to fly away. It is a time of great loss yet, within this, there is the opportunity for new birth — for the woman. It’s time to seriously face aging and her response. No matter how much botox you pump in, your body is still aging.
Mind you, society doesn’t help us when face care products are dubbed ‘anti aging’. ‘Anti’ means something we are opposed to or against. Really? Is aging something we are against? Why are we denying our own bodies and the course of nature? This is ‘for women only’ mind you. For men, they become distinguished as they age. Who wants to age gracefully or naturally in America? I do. I do.
The 50’s woman goes to graduations and weddings. Her eyes are keen, knowing the challenges and joys that lie ahead for younger women and she has greater compassion for older women. Soon enough, she’ll be one. A woman in her 50’s knows a thing or two about life and she’s finally going to tell you about it.
Facing the future season Ahhh, the 60’s. “Where do we go next?” According to the red hat society, it’s time to have some fun! “When do I want to retire?” “What will I do with the next chapter of my life?” Decisions continue. “How much money is enough to live on and how long do we have to plan for?” (Ok – this facing our imminent passage thing is not for wimps.) In this time women ponder, “Who am I after kids and work? It’s at this point so many women dive deep into the world of caring for their grandchildren, a dog or they travel.
The Legacy Season. Women in their 70’s are guru women. ‘Giving back’ and ‘legacy’ are their theme. The time of spiritual enlightenment is here. (If we give ourselves the time and energy to explore them.) Women are dealing with health issues for themselves, their husband or their friends. These women have a history to look back on and have opinions on how the world should work. The 70’s women have hard won patience and grace.
Women in their 80’s are a sight to behold. The lines on their face tell a story all their own. At 82, my Grandma Dora found herself single and in a nursing home. I’ll never forget when she said, “This is one of the best times of my life. My friends are all around and there are so many fun activities. I even met a nice man, Tony, who holds my hand from time to time.”
Then there are the precious women who are in their 90’s & even in their hundreds. These women have seen and heard it all. They get to look back (if their memory holds out) and share their wisdom with younger people. These women often see life as a gift and they know their final transition is coming.
So, guess what? In every age and stage, you have a choice – live your life according to your truth or let other people dictate your values, time and priorities. When you align your true thoughts, words and actions, you’re living your real life.
Life is filled with seasons. At every age and stage, women are faced with choices and from my seat, are pretty amazing. Let’s give ourself and each other permission to smell the roses more often. Let’s stop competing. Let’s lift up other women as we rise.
Every season contains a unique time in a woman’s life. Today is REALLY the day for us to come to grips with the way we’ll live. It’s never too late to design a fulfilling life. If every day we grow in love, than we will live a life we love. So, a woman can have it all, just not at the same time. Over a lifetime of seasons filled with joy and love, passion and purpose, a woman creates a real legacy that lasts for generations to come.
I hope you live the life God gave you in your own loving way. Be outspoken with your real truth — the world needs to hear it. The world needs to change to accommodate women’s voices and choices.
What if like Dorothy found in the Wizard of Oz, we see that the journey is an adventure and we have unlimited influence.
Indeed, “If bluebirds fly over the rainbow, why then oh why can’t I?’
Here’s to you – soaring.