Daring to be Dangerous

I watched a TED talk a few weeks ago by the formidable Pat Mitchell (I am slightly addicted to TED talks and re-runs of ER) on why she was becoming a dangerous woman at the age of 77 and by dangerous it’s not about risk of personal harm but becoming more fearless about speaking truths and standing up for injustices. Her talk looked at global issues but I began to think how I could become more dangerous within my world and the lesson we could all take from finding the dormant dangerous woman inside all of us.

How many times have you kept quiet because you: a)feared losing your job. b)you felt pressured to keep quiet. c)you began normalising an uncomfortable situation? I know I have felt all of these through my life, the times it is easier to say nothing or turn the other cheek or feel relief the injustice or bullying is not happening to you, the times in life when inner strength lets us down, probably because life was exhausting most days and battles need to be considered and energy levels preserved. But now I have HRT and have bloomed into an age where my fuck-it bucket is overflowing, I am no longer permanently physically and mentally exhausted and I am ready to become dangerous.

I have begun to put my dangerous strategy into practice this week to see if it worked, I was going into a meeting that had the potential to become bullying, I went in with my bucket of fuck-its full and my dangerous woman pants on and I am happy to report back that it worked, it was a small win but the feeling of not allowing patriarchal browbeaters to get the chance to hound you down was liberating. All the small and seemingly insignificant wins will snowball together and the dangerous woman within will grow and gather momentum so when the time comes and you are faced with some absolute huge injustice you will have energy and strength to face that dangerous situation as a dangerous woman.

Let’s not get started on why we need to become more dangerous as women, as we reach the menopause or are actively right in the middle of it, the expectation of us changes, the shift is away from thinking about building careers and striving for higher goals, traditionally we are expected to start to flow into an age where we are at the end of our working life, we should adopt a softer tone of voice and become mild and forgiving. We should not let that happen there are still questions to be asked and challenges to be fought, speaking truths our voices need to be raised. When you are with a group of like minded women you have a tribe, you can start to make bigger change, I am fortunate to be part of a tribe and was reminded of the change we have made just this week by one of the amazing woman who is in our group. There was an expectation that was put on us at the beginning to fail by a group of misogynists disguised as pillars of the community, we were told to our faces we would fail because we were women and were not as accomplished as them, they slightly overlooked the fact the group is made up of a strong diverse tribe of women with voices, they said they would be there to watch us when it all went wrong … guess what? We are still going and winning and the misogynists have left the building!

A gathering of lionesses is called a coalition a worthy name for a group of like minded women who won’t be silenced and want to fill their buckets full of fucks and gain momentum and fight even for the smallest of injustices, the personal, national and global, no battle can be too small when you have gathered your tribe. It is time to start to roar to be heard and become a dangerous woman.

Lou x

Where Did My Confidence Go? This and Other FAQs…..

I was a teenager in the early ’80’s under a Thatcher government when money was for making the boys wore more makeup than the girls the country was in the grip of huge social and economic change and with the headiness of youth and Duran Duran playing on the radio those were the days when we believed anything was possible. Confidence oozed out of every pore, it seemed the patriarchal nay sayers were put back in their cupboard and women ruled, how wrong was that! With power suit dressing and shoulder pads like ski slopes woman became the new alpha male. The more we were told ‘no’ the more we pushed we interpreted life as we wanted to live it. The 3 C’s of my youth: Change – was exciting, Confusion – something to explore and Confidence was had by the bucket load. Now in my early 50’s I am in perpetual confusion, my confidence has been lost along the way and my life pivots on permanent change.

Impostor syndrome becomes our nemesis as we gather years, we question our ability to perform at the level we once did, inadequacies and incompetence’s feel overwhelming we fear not living up to expectation the loss of confidence and the fear of not coping with change but remember you have earned your place you don’t have anything to prove to anyone. We need to lose the cynical eye that we view ourselves with and be patient and understanding of ourselves.

As we age the stereotypical images of ageing women come into play advertisers dismiss us unless it’s for an advert for a retirement village or a SAGA holiday! Our ability to perform tasks are questioned, getting a CV together can read like a shopping list of the jobs and skills we have accumulated over the years, we are either over qualified or our qualifications are out of date which is tantamount to saying we are too old, but look at the life skills, experiences we have gained, juggling work and family all to be pushed aside for someone younger and less experienced when there is still the fire of ambition within us and the need to be seen and our voices heard.

It is time that the tide turned, our generation is awakening into a new dawn, we are the ones living longer, we still have so much to give, it is time those middle aged men who sit in the boardrooms and in government realised what a powerful force we are it is time to break out of the box they want to put us in and shove that box right up their arses whilst imagining we are one of the girls from the Human League or the model on Durn Duran’s Rio video, so listen to the music, dust off those frilly shirts and get heady on the smells that remind you of the times when you felt like you ruled the world and remind yourself you do actually rule your world.

Lou x

Friend.Ship

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Friendships can come and go over the years, through different times in your life new friendships can flourish and others float away, some just simply run their course others can be a drain on your soul and be completely one-sided. Friendships will carry you through times of major crisis when life takes a dramatic change off-course when the storm is too big to weather alone, they will laugh with you and at you, know and understand your weaknesses, bad habits, tell you about them and still love you, these are the most nurturing and valuable friendships these people will keep you afloat when you feel like drowning.

When I talk about friends I mean the real ones not the ones you meet on social media that like the odd photo you share, or the school friend you have re-connected with through Facebook but can’t really remember having a relationship with them before, but you’ve re-connected for sentimental reasons. I mean the small group of true friends that you can rely on when things become unbearable, you can cry and be as vulnerable as you need to be in that moment with them they will never judge you, the ones that will truly delight and raise you up when you have succeeded when everything is against you, they are steadfast those friends are the purest and most precious ones, they will risk everything to make sure you are safe, that no harm will come to you when you are at your lowest, they are always on call at the end of the phone day or night. What we don’t need in our lives is the negative , the draining, all consuming friendships, the fair-weather friends, these are the lilo’s of this world, they look fun but are plastic and not sea worthy enough to come and rescue us when we need them most, they will blow away over the horizon at the first sign of bad weather never to be seen again.

One of the largest changing demographics in the world is older women, we are living longer and more fulfilled lives than ever before according to a recent survey [] there are many thoughts and researches on how and why this is happening, one thought is a solid sisterhood where you can share, counsel and belly laugh it is a powerful force and advantageous for good mental health. Laughter produces hormones that help boost the immune system and release endorphins that give you the feel good factor, according to researchers having very few or negative friendships is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and will decrease your lifespan. If laughter can give you more years I think I have gained decades from my sisterhood, from the antics of a Prosecco filled evening to a shopping trip where at least one of us has crossed her legs from laughing too much, those days are the cherished days.

A good fleet of friends consists of a diverse group, you have the cargo tanker friends, these are steady and carry the load in all weathers for you until you reach a safe place, the cruise ship friends will sail away with you and have fun allow you to forget yourself for a while, the battle ship girls will fight and protect you, they are the ones that would hide the body for you, and of course everyone needs lifeboat friends they will always save you and be on call 24/7, rescue and care for you. My fleet may be small in number but I know as I go through life’s journey they will sail with me through any storm, pick me up, dress me down, and make me laugh till I spring a leak! At a certain time in your life you can set those plastic lilo friends loose and keep hold of those friends that will anchor you and hold you safe.

Friendship is a two way street, there are people out there who actually think they are a good friend to you when all they do is take, they have their own agenda, they drain the marrow from your bones, they put you down and you dread when they contact you, these are life’s Shit Barges (the town I live in used to have one of these when I was a girl that floated down the river carrying the effluent from the sewage works and dumping it out to sea). Theses friends make you feel shitty about yourself they stink of selfishness and you need to set these people free and let them dump somewhere else.

I never take friends for granted, I try to be the person I would want by my side, but at times I am a lazy friend, I love my own company but when the shit hits the fan or there’s a long awaited catch up to be had I’m right there and loving every minute of the company I am with being positive and in the moment. There is a saying ‘You can tell a lot about a woman by the company she keeps,’ and the company I keep is a beautiful empowering fleet of women that enable my creativity, raise me up and make me believe in myself and I feel blessed to have them in my life, if you feel otherwise about your sisterhood it’s time to re-evaluate and set those bad ships free!

Lou x

The F Word

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Throughout life this is one of the most misused words I hear from women. This four letter adjective we use to describe how we are feeling, it could be we are in the depths of despair, heartbreak, just made the biggest mistake at work or enduring emotional turmoil, but the best way we convey how we feel is the word FINE. It’s a decoy word so we don’t have to explain the shittiness of our lives when we cannot put into words the enormity of our feelings. The dictionary definition of FINE is ‘satisfactory’, it is the most inadequate, deflective and quite frankly the weakest word we can use to describe our emotions and fears as only satisfactory!

Growing up in the 1970’s in a household where expression of feelings was not actively encouraged, mental health swept under the carpet and love demonstrated by the times spent and memories made I learned early on the best answer to give when anyone asked how I was feeling was the word FINE, it became a conditioned response. The word carried me through my teens and early twenties through the raging hormones of youth, the death of school friends taken too soon, the broken heart from a boy at the local disco to the awards gained early on in my career, all grouped together by the F word when anyone asked how I felt. Maybe you don’t want to tell the shop assistant how you really feel when they ask ‘how are you today?’ but it’s about time we start to use different words to describe how we feel, happy, sad, low, excited, scared, good, even not bad has to be better than fine… the list is infinite, and much more honest.

The generational statistics for mental health in the 55+ age group are half of adults have experienced mental health issues, 1 in 4 people said they felt it was more difficult to discuss mental health issues anxiety and depression as they believed they were seen as weakness [ ] . We need to talk and support each other, to be honest and more open about how we feel, by breaking the habit of a deflective reply we can work towards more compassion and understanding for each other, this in turn will help as we age and promote mental well being.

It is time to stop the facade we put on, that type of self preservation only lasts as long as you can keep it up for, the cracks will soon show and you will get tired of carrying the weight around. Freedom of age has taught me to be more honest and vulnerable, expression of feelings are important, for people to truly understand that you actually are not fine (satisfactory, remember!) it is liberating. I have made a conscious decision to not be fine any more, the importance of honest emotion and feelings should be celebrated not swept away with the F word.

Life doesn’t have to be an open book, we don’t have to spew out every emotion every time someone asks how we are, just learn to be more honest with yourself and stop using the F word. So to quote Helen Mirren, ‘if I could give my younger self one piece of advice it would be to use the words Fuck Off much more frequently.’ I can’t see Ms Mirren using the word FINE somehow when asked how she is feeling, so if someone asks you how you are you can always use the much more interesting F word and wait for their response….?

Lou x

The Mirror

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Is this mirror lying to me? A question I ask myself every morning as I get ready for the day, I look at my reflection and wonder who the hell is that woman looking back at me? Are my eyes really that baggy? Do I honestly have crows feet that large? Why is my skin falling south? Just to prove the mirror wrong I then get out my 20 x magnifying mirror and it confirms my fears that I look 20 times more haggard than I first thought! How many times have you started your day like this? With your positivity running out the door when realisation arrives because you can’t find the face or the body of the girl you hope will be looking back at you.

I now absolutely love skin care, but I never realised the real benefits until my early forties, before then it was soap and water and a flick over with a flannel (I know this face should be a whole lot worse but thankfully there are some reasonable skin genes somewhere in the family). There’s the science side to why we age as we do, from around the age of 25 our skin starts to produce less collagen and elastin in our dermis layer and over time lines and wrinkles start to form around the areas where we use the muscles more, notably the eyes and mouth, our skin tends to dehydrate more quickly (probably not helped because at a certain age we don’t want to drink too much water due to bladder issues!) We have less oestrogen so hairs sprout from the chin, we have usually incurred damage from the sun causing skin pigmentation and so the list of ageing facial ordeals goes on…!

Then there’s your hair, white hairs start to appear usually around the temples and hairline, hair is not grey there is no natural grey colour in hair, it is white, the follicle loses its natural melanin, it only looks grey as it grows next to a coloured hair. But those white hairs are wiry and unruly when they first grow that’s because the cuticle scales that protect the inner part of the hair become thickened so any colours you put on your hair don’t take as well because the white hairs are resistant, and pulling them out is a definite no, there’s no melanin so when the hair grows back out the follicle again it will still be white.

Our bodies change shape during peri, menopause and post menopause, with the falling levels of oestrogen the hormone in-balance within us our abdomen becomes thickened, it doesn’t help that during the peri and menopause stages we crave white sugary foods, and the thought of getting your body out to exercise is a daunting prospect.

With all that going on it’s no wonder we can feel less positively about ourselves and that’s before the mood swings from the hormone deficits and fluctuations kick in making us feel isolated, insecure about ourselves and our once outgoing personalities seem lost.

More than anything else when you look at that woman in the mirror you are looking at someone who has lived, is surviving and actually thriving. The odds of us being born are 1: 400, 000, 000, 000 that’s one in four hundred trillion, we truly are miracles. So we got here, we are on this planet, we have built a life, we can select the people we want in our life, and we hopefully have the freedom to choose how we deal with what happens to us. We can opt to eat more healthily to nurture our bodies, to go for that walk, swim, cycle, run or do a yoga class; use our hands to learn new skills when we feel we could not possibly learn anything new.

Yes the alcohol, unhealthy foods, work, stress, family, and most days paddling like crazy to keep your head above water all play their part in how that person in the mirror looks, but we have defied the odds to be born. So the mirror doesn’t lie but that gorgeous person reflected back at you in the mirror may not be the girl you once were with the skin and body you think you should still have, with your body parts all in the right places (youth is definitely wasted on the young!) but it’s you, the woman you are in your superb glory the one who has lived and still has plenty yet to give and learn.

Failing all of that Spanx, fillers and botox are always a plan B!

***Edited***

After chatting to a friend last night about the post, we talked about the loss of a friend of ours who was taken too young a few years ago t cancer, so remember we are the lucky ones we get to see the wrinkles and appreciate the memories our bodies give us.

Lou x

Welcome

Thank you for landing on my blog. If you want truths, tears, unfiltered thoughts and laughter about the life of a 50 year old redhead, the ecstatic highs and shitty lows of life then this is for you. I believe all bodies are beautiful and all humans have so much to offer. I want to empower and demonstrate that we all have potential.

x

This is Me

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I am that woman who dresses like she has her shit together but is standing in a supermarket carpark frantically looking through her handbag, throwing tissues and a purse to the ground desperately looking for her car key that she was only holding 2 minutes previously. The one stood like she owns her World but can’t remember where she needs to be next without setting an alarm reminder on her phone, the one with immaculate lipstick but has hairs sticking out her chin, the one who has tears pricking at her eyes but hides behind her sunglasses, the tears caused from not only loosing her car key but the tears of a woman scared she is loosing her mind, but she will smile at you as you walk past. That woman, she is me.

I’m not sure when it happens, I can’t remember waking up one morning and realising I was never going to be sat on the young beautiful people table at a wedding, but shoved on table 19 with life’s other anomalies. There’s a shift within you that sees fear and worthlessness in everything you do. When you hit that age you are walking into the next phase of your life and when that door is firmly slammed shut you have to work out what the hell happened to the woman who powered through life shouting ‘Fuck You’ while juggling children, a husband, a full time job, a house, a degree and a social life. Looking back the expectation on us is heavy, the pressure is overwhelming and it is no surprise we have to break before we can be reborn.

It’s a time to embrace the next phase in our lives, this chapter is about an awakening within you, now the ovaries are redundant and oestrogen levels plummet, you have an opportunity to become curious, a wanting to learn new skills and have an overwhelming desire to use your hands creatively, this primal urge to re-create yourself is the siren within you calling. Your circle of friends diminishes to those that truly have your back through the desperate lows and the giddy highs, these friends are your pack, they know you, they understand you and most importantly you have reached an age when you can sniff out a fair-weather friend at 20 paces!

A positive is you do not sweat the small stuff that ship has sailed (unless you loose your car key!) I recently listened to a podcast for Happy Place with Fearne Cotton who was interviewing the brilliant Holly Tucker, Holly said something that literally stopped me in my tracks, in fact I wrote it down, ‘we have 29,000 days on this planet everyday is a countdown’. So you beautiful people let’s start making every day count, throw away the shitty stuff and let’s find some happiness.

Love

Lou