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?
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 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
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!’
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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If you’ve followed me on my Instagram stories this week, you will have seen some of the behind the scenes from a job that I did for @peanut and also why I had a very disturbed night’s sleep on my first hotel stay since February ‘20! 🙉
The job was made for me in so many ways: 1. It was a totally pink set and I got to wear pink! 2. The styling by @gemmaharrisonstylist and the overall design aesthetic was so visually pleasing to my eyes. 3. I was one of four women representing women of peri / menopausal age and as you know, I am very passionate about being open and talking about this so that we, and future generations, are more informed, less worried and more understanding of the options open to us before we’re in the middle of it! I’m assuming that by now many of you have seen the @davinamccall programme on Channel 4. I don’t know about you, but I found it so refreshing to listen to someone talk so candidly about it, in the way that we often do on here, but is rarely seen in the mainstream media. I will say again that this isn’t a conversation to be had solely by middle aged women. It’s for everyone. Plus I have to agree, if men had menopause, it would definitely be sorted by 2021. 4. I was part of a totally fabulous (and bloody beautiful!) bunch of women and crew and after a year of being a hermit, it was frankly wonderful.
I can’t wait to hopefully share some of the images with you once they come out because I think they are going to be very special.
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!
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!
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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I was 45 years old before I started to learn about the peri menopause. Shocking! Two years later, I’m starting to question how this is even possible? How can something that affects us all not be talked about or properly understood, even by the women that are about to enter this period of their lives? I honestly thought the menopause was just a time of hot flushes and grumpiness with some women hotter and more grumpy than others! 🙈 If it wasn’t for my community on Instagram, I wouldn’t know that there are at least 34 symptoms, that it affects us all very differently and starts, (and comes and goes) at different times, but how I wish that I’d known more about it earlier in my life so that when things started happening, I didn’t question my sanity! I’m talking about this today, because while it may make some of you feel uncomfortable, it may make others feel so much better. Understanding this time in life is key for all of us. We all know, live or work with someone going through this! One of the uncertain things that I faced is when to speak to someone about my experiences. When is the best time to get professional help? My husband said that I was too young. I’d heard too many unsympathetic stories about GP visits and I wasn’t sure what to do. Fortunately, @healthandherltd offered me an online appointment with one of their specialist GPs. I had a 30 minute session where we discussed everything that has been going on over the last couple of years and she made some recommendations for me going forwards. It was a very reassuring half hour. If you are interested in finding out more about your symptoms or have your questions and concerns answered then I would recommend booking an appointment via their website. They will provide you with prescription recommendations if necessary and notes for your own GP. Also, remember that @marvellousmidlife and I chatted about much of this during our #midlifeglowupchat so go to my IGTV to have a listen. Any questions, let me know below! 💕
‘So how come you are so pro-ageing yet you dye your hair?’ said one woman in my messages this week?
Well, as Billie repeatedly sang back in 1998, ‘because we want to!’
Maybe this lady and I have differing ideas of what positive ageing means, but for me, the most important aspect of a positive ageing experience, is letting go of judgment and other’s expectations and opinions of how you ‘should’ look, what you ‘should’ be doing and who you’re doing it with.
Therefore, if I want to dye my hair because it makes me feel better about the way I look, then where’s the problem? Am I dyeing it because society tells me that I have to? No. Am I dyeing it to look younger? No. I dye it because simply, I prefer the way I look with blonde hair when I look in the mirror.
Lockdown 1 and 3 have shown me that I am definitely not ready to embrace my badger roots and maybe I never will be? My nan dyed her hair until her 80s and my mom, who is in her late 70s, has only now, used the past year to grow out her blonde to beautiful white locks.
I follow so many #silversisters on Instagram. I love how empowered they are and I’m fascinated by women of all ages and the different ways that they choose to transition to their natural hair. I love that they’re saying ‘up yours’ to outdated views and stereotypical opinions and making their own choice. In some cases it’s giving them a confidence that they’ve never had before and changing their fashion choices. ‘Because they want to!’
There’s lies the crux of the matter. Age how you want to!
The first rule of positive ageing is to do it in your way. The way that makes you feel your best self. Not what anyone else thinks you should be doing. Especially not that person in your DMs!