The Midlife Switch – Career Edition

Many assume, or fear, that making major life changes over 40 is just not possible, that it’s too late or not worth the hassle. So as part of my Midlife Memo newsletter series I’m hoping to disprove some of these myths, along with introducing you to some fabulous women, who will hopefully inspire you to believe that it’s never too late.

Today I’m chatting to Liz who gave up a successful career as a teacher and took the leap into launching her own business in recruitment. Six years later, after much hard work, drive and determination, I’m catching up with her to see how how she’s getting on.

You were an outstanding primary school teacher, what motivated you to give it all up and start your own business, in a new industry, in your 40s?

I just felt so miserable teaching (the system not the kids) and I had no real control over my day to day.  I also had young children myself and was missing out of so much time with them because I worked non-stop.  I was treading water all the time!

Did you ever have a time when you almost gave up? What did you do instead of giving up/what stopped you giving up?

I never even thought of giving up (except when Covid hit and we all thought it was the end of the world).  It just wasn’t an option as I had to make it work as I had no back up plan.  Resourcefulness and resilience are key for me and if I can’t do something I just find a way and dig in and get it done.

What has been the hardest part of the journey so far?

Having two members of staff leave one after the other within a two month period.  I was far too close to them personally and you know it hurt – a lot!  One of them told me they were setting up in competition to me and stole my database too – ouch!

What advice would you give to someone who would like to do a similar thing?

Absolutely go for it!  Honestly the only person holding you back is yourself.  Get the right tribe around you and let them cheer you on.  Own your mistakes – you will make them – and work on your mindset as it is the key to everything.

What’s your superpower?

People.  I am genuinely interested in the people in my life – whether that’s professionally or personally.  You can have such an impact on someone’s life or situation just by being there, listening and being interested in them.

What is your favourite quote?

“Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you.”

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Starting the day right.  I love a morning routine.  I get up at 5:30 and have a little time for me whether that be a podcast or journaling and I always try to get some kind of exercise in.    

What did you learn from mistakes you made in your life?

That they are all part of the journey and it’s not what happens to you that defines you but how you respond to it.

You have two sons – which one thing would you like to change in the world for them?

I hope for a fairer world.  That a person’s sex, race, age or colour should make no difference to how they are treated or how they are made to feel.

You can only choose to save one thing. What would it be?

1. Your wardrobe
2. Your makeup bag
3. Your music collection
4. Your shoes

My music collection!

What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

Say my prayers!!!

Who are the three people who have been the most influential to you? And why?

My dad – he taught me the value of being passionate about my career and that anything is achievable.

My mom – she modelled how to be resilient and face adversity full on with a positive mindset as well as showing me how to be a fantastic mom myself.

Jesus – my faith gives me both peace, strength and purpose.  I would be truly lost without this one!

What would be your must-not-miss podcast/book/film recommendation?

Oh my goodness there are so many!  I’m sorry this is an impossible question.

How do you feel about ageing?

I’m embracing it.  I am braver, more confident and most importantly happier than I have ever been.  I think we really do get better with age (like a fine wine!)

What’s the best thing about getting older?

Knowing myself.  I just don’t stand for any nonsense or drama now.  I know what and who I like, and don’t like, and that’s ok.

You can find Liz on LinkedIn and Griffin & Scott on Facebook and Instagram.

Going tortoise!

My Instagram bio says 100% genuine.

Hopefully, most of you will know by now how honest and open I try to be on here. I have a real problem with perpetuating the whole ‘fake/one dimensional’ side of social media. Obviously my feed is still a highlight reel but I’m always me. Anyone who’s met me in real life says that I’m like the person that I come across and that is exactly how I want it to be.

My Instagram bio also says positive midlife.

That’s true too. I’m annoyingly positive. I’ve watched the TED talks and read the books. I’ve cracked the code! I know that our brains are wired to default to the negative for safety and survival (from sabre tooth tigers and the like!) so we have to work hard to exercise the positive muscles of the brain. I know that we are what we think so if we think positive things and feel gratitude then we will feel all the good stuff.

Yay! Sorted! I’m bossing at life! Go me!

Except that in spring I started a slow and steady decline into the valley of negativity. I could feel it happening. It didn’t happen overnight. It was very stealth like. I tried to call in my Positivity SAS – exercise, sleep, eating well, getting outside, stroking the dog, having a word with myself, allowing myself some time to feel a bit shit, immersing myself in work activities etc. But the decline continued right to the bottom of the valley where I started to cry. At some point every day. Normally over nothing. Often before I’d even properly opened my eyes. I mean WTF?

Why?

I don’t really know. I still don’t know for sure. 

Options included: the six month winter, a year of Covidtimes, the drastic change to my working life, having a CDB oil break and those bloody unpredictable hormones! Maybe all of the above?!

All I know is that at some point around mid June, the absolute bitch from hell came to camp out on my shoulder and, with the loudest megaphone known to woman, she proceeded to tell me how useless I was, how unattractive and old I was, she even threw in “and you’re meant to be a model!” Who did I think I was trying to create a positive community for midlife women? She also shouted that I was a crap mom, wife, daughter, friend etc. She criticised me in every way that she could about every, single area of my life. 

She was my negative, inner voice and she was proper vile and so very persistent. You don’t want to meet her in a dark alley because she’d duff you up good and proper. I was definitely battered and bruised after my encounter with her. I felt totally useless, inadequate and a complete fraud.

My self esteem and confidence was pretty much in tatters.

When I feel like this I have a tendency to go a ‘bit tortoise.’ I go inside my shell and try and hide from the world, even though this isn’t necessarily the best thing for me. I just can’t help myself…

… a few more weeks have passed since I wrote the above and, while I’m still walking a bit of a tightrope and my self confidence is not totally back in place, things have majorly improved.

Why? I wish I had the answer!

I had a couple of very good chats with great women, I consistently took my CBD oil again and very importantly I started to take a lot more pride in my appearance. This has definitely made a massive improvement to my self esteem. Also my hormones may have fluctuated to a more stable place (who bloody knows what’s going on with them!?) Resilience became my word of the moment and I kept reminding myself that I have an amazing life!

The evil bitch vanished. I started to feel joy again. Frankly I started to feel like me again. 

I just wish that I knew what had changed?!

Maybe I’ll never know and my desire to know the reason why (so that I could sort it out) was only making things worse? 

Maybe at times, you feel just a bit shit for absolutely no reason and you simply have to ride out the storm until you’re plonked back down on the shore, a bit bedraggled, and you pick yourself back up and start again?

All I know is that I’m currently trying to be very kind to myself and it feels so much better than beating myself up!

Natalie Queiroz is Still Standing.

Natalie Queiroz is the survivor of one of the most appalling attempted murders imaginable. After being stabbed two dozen times by her partner, when she was eight months pregnant, she has rebuilt her life and inspired people the length and breadth of the country with her courage and refusal to be bowed by her trauma. Alongside a successful full-time career, she has since become a motivational speaker, a best-selling author with her international book – Still Standing, and, through various feats of endurance and daring, raised thousands of pounds for the Midlands Air Ambulance charity that she owes her life to.

How do you move on after such a trauma? Not only were you attacked but it was by your partner and father of your unborn child. How do you learn to love and trust again?

Trauma is something I believe that we never ‘get over’ but we learn to live with. I read a piece once that describes how trauma permanently changes us. But that doesn’t have to, in my opinion, be negative. So, the first part of moving on is actually accepting this fact and not trap ourselves in a cycle of trying to go back to be a person we just aren’t any more. 

My children, family, friends and psychologist all played their part in helping me move on step by step – even though sometimes it felt like I was slipping backwards. However, by setting myself small goals I was able to progress day by day.

In terms of loving and trusting again – that was huge. But with the help of my psychologist, I learnt to grow my self-worth and like myself again. Plus I learnt to trust in my choices. It has been, and sometimes it still is, so hard. But I was determined that he wouldn’t win. He hadn’t ended my life that day and he wasn’t going to stop me from moving on. After three years of seeing my psychologist, I met my partner Simon through a fundraising event. He has since proposed and we are due to marry next year – a few months after our 3-year anniversary! He has had to be so patient with me and I still can have ‘moments’ but we are a true team with love, honesty and transparency absolutely at the heart of us.

Did you ever almost give up? How did you feel and what inspired you to not give up?

Oh crikey there were many times I felt like giving up. I had some really dark moments where I wished I hadn’t survived as it was so utterly painful and overwhelming. There were days I would have to battle myself to not do something stupid as I couldn’t stand the continual physical and mental fight. But I knew deep down I wouldn’t ever end my life as I knew I could never give up. When I give talks, I always refer to the ‘sink or swim’ moment – and we all have them. I had three children (one of whom was a very small and poorly baby who had somehow amazingly survived it all!) who needed me now more than ever and sinking wasn’t an option. No matter how painful it was – I would get up, shower, dress (always an essential part – can’t scare the neighbours by streaking everywhere!), put my make up on and do my hair. It gave my children security seeing mom look as ‘normal’ as possible and they were and are my absolute world and focus – my pure inspiration to never give in.

To balance – I would allow myself times to cry away from my children – where I would let it out in torrents (this was a daily ritual for the first few months especially) and my psychologist helped me every week; but at the core of it all was my children.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

The thought that I am taking that next step into really making those changes I want to still do. You never know who you will speak to, connect with or have a conversation with in a day, which could bring an opportunity that could change so much. Every day could be that win.

You have three daughters – which one thing would you like to change in the world for them?

A kinder world. That sounds really cheesy but basic kindness and thought for others would make this world so much better. There are so many people who have become so hardened or concerned with themselves at the detriment to others, it makes me quite sad how awful people can be to others.

How would you describe yourself in no more than three words.

Honest, loving, stubborn/tenacious* (* you decide!)

What’s your superpower?

It has been said I can be the human equivalent of the ‘Energiser Bunny’! I have an ability to dig in and find an endurance to just keep going at times in a fairly unhuman-like way! I also will keep going to find a positive option even in a fairly rubbish situation.

What is your favourite quote?

Ok so I’m cheating a bit here as it isn’t a quote, but a positive affirmation. There are many quotes I love, but a simple positive affirmation which has got me through so much is: “You’ve Got This!” 

Whenever you have those little moments of panic or self-doubt – just keep repeating it to yourself and trust me you will believe yourself. When I was in my really tough times, one of my best friends, Harrie, kept texting and telling me the same thing when I was getting overwhelmed. She would always say, “Nat – You’ve Got This.” I took this through to the prison with me the day I faced him. Just before I was taken up some very cold, hard concrete steps to the room he was in, waiting for me to face him for the first time properly since the day he tried to murder me. I popped to the toilet (as you would – it is a rather nervous, wee-inducing moment!) As I stood washing my hands, there was a tiny mirror above the sink and I remember looking at myself and just saying firmly “You’ve Got This” to my reflection as I stared hard at myself. One deep breath later, I left the toilets and was taken step by step up and into the room to see him sitting looking at me as I entered… I smashed that meeting!

Who are the people who have been the most influential to you? And why?

My clinical psychologist taught me so much – about self-belief, self-love, going with my instinct and not settling for less – always holding out for what I actually want. She didn’t teach me new values as such but helped me discover the real me, who I hadn’t appreciated for pretty much my whole life. She showed such passion, fire, kindness and compassion it truly inspired me.

In terms of other influential people, I have met some incredible people in my journey these last five years, so it’s hard to pick out just a couple. But in terms of my work and desire to support young people and look at their issues from a totally different angle, an amazing man called Craig Pinkney is absolutely up there in terms of influencing me. Craig is a Criminologist, Urban Youth Specialist, an academic (soon to be Dr) and on-road youth worker. His knowledge, experience and strong voice to drive change is just awe-inspiring. So many could learn so much about our young people and the issues today surrounding them if they just listened to some of his work (check him out on You Tube!).

Another amazing influential person in my life is the beautiful and amazing Madeleine Black. Madeleine is an author (her book ‘Unbroken’ is her own memoir which is both horrifying in describing her experiences of rape as a teen but also a truly inspiring one.) She is a two times TEDx speaker, a motivational speaker and a powerhouse voice for change around the issue of sexual violence. Madeleine personifies kindness and support, as well as being a person of strong values and passion and drive for positive change.

You can only choose to save one thing. What would it be?

1. Your wardrobe

2. Your makeup bag

3. Your music collection

4. Your shoes

Aw no.. I’m genuinely torn. Music is so important to me. I’m one of those people who listens to lyrics and I adore P!nk. However, I’m going to be cheeky, on the basis that I can stream my favourite music online and don’t need my actual collection, I’m going to go for my make up bag. Firstly, I’m 45 and it is a fact my face needs help! Secondly, make up has always been an important part for me to feel complete and ready to face the world. Yes it was my mask but it makes me feel good. Who can argue with a good eyeliner and mascara (oh and a good eyebrow pencil after the ‘90s literally destroyed my eyebrows through over-plucking!).

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I apologise to all vegetarians/vegans reading this as it would have to be meat based. I just love meat. I know it’s bad and I’m sorry! For versatility I would say chicken as I can season it and have it lots of different ways. Chicken with salad I know sounds very sad and lame but it is my go-to food (mixed in with a bit of chorizo and mushrooms and you’ve got me sold for life!). 

What’s your top tip for positive ageing?

Embrace yourself! Be happy from the inside and it will radiate out. Oh and keep a good hair cut/style and colour if you want to. I am not giving into the greys yet but I know a day will come when I will go for the full on silver hair look (probably dyed silver too!) A good cut and style makes the world of difference. I think we have all seen in lockdown what a difference it makes, I honestly felt I looked older when my hair started going all outgrown from its style. It literally took years off my when I had it chopped. 

If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great 12 months it has been for you, what did you achieve?

If I can be part of bringing out conversations to normalise the discussion around domestic abuse and domestic violence and be part of taking that stigma away and changing the narrative around it so more people can get support that would be an amazing 12 months!

Thanks so much Natalie for sharing part of your story with us and for being so honest and open, you really are an inspiration to many. Much love for the future xx

Periods are rubbish!

Hey, hey, hey!

I’m back again banging on about my mailing list subscriber giveway! 🎉

Now let me introduce you to two fabulous brands who are saving the earth one period at a time!

As Wear’em Out say – periods are rubbish!

No, really. Did you know the average person uses 22 disposable sanitary products per period? And they all end up in landfill, or even worse, on our beaches and in our seas. 

@wearemoutpads has gifted us a ‘lighter trial pack’ of pads.

Lauren is mum of four and founder of the new award winning reusable period pad brand that is taking the world by storm. Wear‘em Out pads are manufactured in the UK and made of high quality, hard working fabrics. Each of the four pad sizes are designed with comfort and confidence at the forefront and aimed at modern lifestyles.

And

@periodpantsclub has gifted us a pair of bamboo hipsters.

Sam, the founder of Period Pants Club, trained and worked as a lingerie/swimwear designer for 15 years. In this time she learnt a lot about pants but, as her eyes were opened to the struggles our planet was facing, she knew that she wanted to do more. So she created a brand that she truly believed in and @periodpantsclub was born.

Her aim was to engage more people into the wonderful world of reusable period wear. To offer more than your basic black brief. Being on your period didn’t mean you had to wear boring pants! 

PS both products can help with other little leaks too! Please do give both of these fabulous brands a follow and don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list before the end of June. Add your email below.

I’m already a smug convert – yes, you feel very virtuous as you wear them. Would you give them a try? 

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Jodie Fern Jewellery

I’m really happy to say that I’ve joined up again with the incredibly lovely and talented Jodie @jodiefernjewellery to add some shine to the subscriber giveaway prize.

Each piece of Jodie’s jewellery is carefully handcrafted and made in small, made-to-order batches in her little workshop in Warwickshire.

​The making process is carefully considered with sustainability and ethics at its core and each item is carefully gift wrapped in recycled tissue paper and posted in an eco-certified box.

I have a number of Jodie’s pretty items and admire all the thought, love and care that goes into what she does.

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a pair of these earrings all you have to do is subscribe to my mailing list before the end of June! Sign up via the link below.

I am so bloody chuffed with all the lovely people and brands that have joined with me on this subscriber giveaway. They are all so special so please do give them some love and support!

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Silver Sisters

I’ve been really shocked to read some of the posts from these ladies in the last few days. They’ve spoken about the negative comments that they have received from strangers about their choice to go grey.

And that folks is something that I will never understand about this social media malarky. Just because you have an opinion and can share it, it doesn’t mean that you have to!

Personally, you already know that I’m not ready to go grey, however I wish I were, because I feel like I’m being left out of the world’s most supportive, inspiring and empowering girl gang! Obviously though, I’m very pro age and therefore feel angered by the ageist comments thrown at them.

Yet why do some feel the need to judge and criticise others for the personal decisions on how they want to look and feel? Particularly as we age, which can be hard enough some days. 

Frankly, I think it comes down to the person writing the shit. A reflection of their inner issues and rarely anything at all to do with the person who’s sharing a bit of themselves on here. Or maybe they’re just a dick?! 🤷🏼‍♀️

And yes, I do think that it is worse when it’s a woman criticising another woman.

We’re hard enough on ourselves sometimes so let’s do more to build each other up not drag each other down! As the old saying goes, ‘if you haven’t got anything nice to say, then shut the f*k up!’ 

Thanks to these inspiring #silversisters:

@thesilverlining_1970 

@mrsimperfection 

@thin_latin_moose 

@thefiftyist 

 #Bekind

Anyone for a new newsletter with a slice of cake?

Anyone want some cake?

Well now I’ve got your attention! I’ve done a thing and I want you to be part of it! There ‘may’ be cake later so keep reading! 🧁

You know how when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade? Well life gave me some really nice Instamates and I want to make the most of it!

I have therefore created a mailing list so that we can stay in touch.

1. Because I’ve heard too many stories of people losing their Instagram accounts and therefore all their connections.

2. Because I am starting up The Midlife Memo monthly newsletter where I will be curating loads of positive news, info, features and stuff and I’d love to be able to send it to you! I suppose it’s really an extension of this account but with lots of input from other wonderful people.

This is a work in progress so lots still to work on and think about but in the meantime, please do sign up to keep in touch by adding your email to the box below!

Oh and even though it’s called The Midlife Memo – it’s a really inclusive and welcoming place for all ages – younger and older. So if you like what I do on here, please do come along and join in.

Really exciting bit! If you sign up before the end of June I’ll put you in a draw for some fabulous stuff too. There may even be cake! Well there will be if any cake makers would like to send some cake to the winner! Any offers? 😂

Please do share this post to your stories and encourage your mates to join in too! Muchos luvos! 💕

Any questions or if you’d like to get involved in some way, feel free to send me a DM xx

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Where for art thou mojo?

Okay – got to admit, I’ve lost my mojo folks and the problem with having “100% genuine” in your Insta bio means that I can’t fake it with a pretty picture and an uplifting quote!

There are a few reasons I think, although I’m really not totally sure of the root cause. Covidtimes catching up with me. Missing my job. Thinking about what I’m doing/going/where I want to be. Working hard on a couple of new projects behind the scenes but progress, when you’re starting off, is often slow. Having so many ideas but getting frustrated at being just one person with not enough time (or energy or motivation at times!) The moon. This shit weather. My cold bones can only take so much winter weather in a year. Etc. Etc.

I’m fine though. Honestly. Just more pissed off at my own, self inflicted, inertia I suppose.

So, I’ve chatted with a couple of people today, given myself a kick up the arse and set up a little office workstation rather than working in the kitchen where I very easily get distracted by house chores. Just clearing out the junk space to an office today already gave me a little burst of focused motivation so I’m hoping it lasts and I have a few more superwoman days going forwards!

What do you do to clear out a head funk?

Top Tips for positive ageing

I often talk about positive ageing but I have had a few comments about what it actually means. So this is what it means to me. 

I think that these work for everyone, whatever your age. I know that my worst phase of ageing was my late 20s heading towards 30. I absolutely dreaded it and had a bit of a ‘midlife’ crisis!

For me personally, it’s mainly about having a positive mindset as much as possible (Remember – having a positive attitude can add another seven years onto your life!) and taking control of the areas of my health and wellbeing that I can actually influence.

However, I’m sure that positive ageing means different things to each of us so I’d love to hear what it means to you in the comments below. I look forward to learning more! 

Getting to know you!

Well it seems like it has been 18 months since my last ‘getting to know me’ post so I thought that it might be about time for another! 

I don’t want to repeat myself, so I’ll post the last two from 2019 to my ‘hello’ highlight on Instagram if you want to find out more useless stuff about me!

1. I can tap dance. My favourite step is a quadruple time step!
2. I can’t sing but I love to do it so much. Loudly and badly. But I can’t tell you how I’d love to be able to do it so that it didn’t make ears bleed! Magic wand please! 
3. If I had to live in a totally dark world or a totally silent world, I would choose a dark world as I could not live without music.
4. Food is one of my greatest joys in life.
5. Change your thoughts and you’ll change your world is a quote that I live by.
6. I’m not a fan of small talk but love anyone who gets real and open.
7. I’m a water baby. I love being in it, next to it or on it.
8. I don’t like coffee but still ‘go for a coffee!’
9. I have a weird fascination with wind turbines.
10. Quite often I prefer dogs and plants over humans but when I find wonderful human beings, I think that they are bloody awesome. Luckily for me, I’ve even found some beautiful souls on here! 😘

So there you go! Learnt anything new? Any mutual feelings there? 

Happy weeks ahead. Hope the sun keeps shining for you. 

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