One of the Succulent Women in our group commented on a post of mine that she was blown away by my openness and honesty. My first thought was "oh have I said too much? Maybe I shouldn't have shared". Even in the face of a positive I reacted as if to a negative. That familiar reaction many of us recognise that comes from social conditioning that taught us it's not ok to stand out, to say what you think, let alone to say what you feel. My post sharing was not (to me at least) overly personal, it was a snapshot of an experience and how that experience led me to a few moments of introspection, a story which I think I told with candour and humour the beginning of which was on my Facebook page and the rest shared in my private group.
"I know a few people who are genuinely happy with their lot in life"
I've thought a lot about my Facebook Page 'Perennial Coach' and what I'm hoping to do. You can read more about me and what I'm about on my web site and get a feel for who I am in my posts. This is more than an online business for me. This is the way I choose to live my life and I want to share this with other women. I understand what I'm talking about and the ideas and discussion I put forward are not for everyone. That's a positive thing. We are not all the same and thank goodness for that! We have different ideas different values, we might be on the same journey and taking a different path. I know a few people (only a few mind you) who are genuinely happy with their lot in life. I know quite a few who sort of are, and a few more who say they are - yet something in their body language, their comments on social media and their energy (if you are a believer in such things as I am), their energy tells a different story to their words. Women, and men, are increasingly telling me, and the online world, that they are unhappy. The search for happiness is very big business. Let me be really clear here I want you to be happy, hey I want to feel happy, but I am not marketing happiness.
"being 50 or 60 or 70 or whatever age doesn't mean the doors have closed"
I love to talk about happiness and hear about what makes you happy and I'd love to hear your definition of "happiness". (Lots of mentions in one sentence about happy). I want to hear about your hopes and dreams and what you wish for. I want to know what you need more of and how you are planning to have it - now or next week or next year. I want to encourage you to feel that life has a lot to offer, that being 50 or 60 or 70 or whatever age doesn't mean the doors have closed on finding whatever it is you still have in the back of your mind, in a corner of your heart.
"Life is not an advertisement"
I set up the Private Facebook Group 'Succulent Women’ so I could invite you to come into a space where you can share openly and without fear of being judged. (You can request to join the group) There are so many websites, pages and groups targeting women out there and having looked at many of them the common themes seem to be advice on how to look, behave, date, and feel as we age. The Facebook sites I found online are generally supportive and share images and memes and tips. While many of them have a community of followers with shared interests they’re usually not offering connection, conversation and strategies to change something to improve the lives of us perennial women. Clicking ‘like’ or the links to other sites or buying the advertising doesn’t often meet our real needs.
Sometimes women want much more. Sometimes we want to move on move out move up whatever we just want more. The role models held out for us to relate to are often successful, fit, younger, they might be television personalities, athletes, survivors of something, or movie stars and public figures. It’s not often we read a story and think “she is just like me”. We are sold diet, exercise - think yoga pants - how to go naturally grey and dress in an “age appropriate style” (blow that!). We are sold group travel as "solo travel” (but in a group), and bus tours and cruises rather than exploration, adventure and romance. Sometimes I think the marketing people are young and uncomfortable with the idea of people their parent’s age wanting to have sex (I can hear my children groan). We are advised on dating strategies to attract men our age who are successful fit and financially secure (this message was the same in my school days). The images on advertising portray women over 50 as smart, silver or blonde hair - I read "grey is the new blonde" recently - muted toned clothing (read beige) and paired with a matching man ( ok that's maybe an exaggeration but every image tells a story). I admit my research is limited at the moment to advertising related to cruise ships and senior insurance ( I don’t often read magazines unless I’m at the hairdresser or waiting in the supermarket queue) but there appears to be a general advertising assumption that we all retire in our fifties financially secure…usually still married to a man around ten years older than us.
"loneliness is the biggest risk as we age"
What about the reality!? Increasing numbers of women over 50 are single, financially challenged, and likely to be working until….pick a year. Many women in their 50’s and 60’s are at risk of homelessness and experiencing depression or low levels of confidence and self-esteem. Then there is the loneliness and this is the biggest risk to us as we age. Men and women alike. The lack of connection and the desire for companionship is something I hear about all the time - it’s talked about on social media and written about by best selling authors like Brené Brown. I’ve just been listening to her latest book Braving the Wilderness on Audible and the research statistics on the impact of loneliness on health is staggering - loneliness is a greater risk to health and longevity than smoking high blood pressure and something-else (I’ll have to check).
The internet has improved connectivity and at the same time decreased genuine connection. Social media is great, I love it! Social media doesn’t provide what human’s need though - face to face interaction and physical connection including intimacy. Enter the rise of internet dating and wow this is such a topic for further discussion!! Seriously have any of you seen what's available of the dating websites!?! No I'm not going there in this post but give me time...
So what can I offer? I don't know until you ask me. My intention is to create a space for women to come together and connect through posts and live feeds and face to face chat spaces. I’m more than happy to be open and share my stories and I hope as we build the private Facebook Group we will make other connections and even friendships. I’ve certainly had a lot of adventure romance and change in my life some of it wonderful and some of it devastating, so I'm definitely "life experienced" and I do have qualifications I've been a therapist, counsellor and coach for over twenty five years now.
"we might be on the same journey and taking a different path"
If you like my page and you enjoy my posts and you think you'd like to join the group send a request. The “Join Group” button is on the Perennial Coach Page. We’re a small group but we're growing, come for a visit and if you like it stay and if it's not for you you can leave. What are you waiting for? What do you need to know before you join us and pass on the page to your friends? I’m happy for you to PM me via messenger.