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This is your body talking...

health mortality stress Nov 18, 2019

A couple of weeks ago, my 61 year old husband was running on the treadmill at the gym when he felt his left hand and foot grow numb. A trip to the GP confirmed his blood pressure was dangerously high, so he has spent the past 2 weeks while he hasn't been able to work or drive adjusting his diet and exercise regime and popping pills.

There is a human tendency to take our health for granted, to not expect anything to change, to think - even though we know that the thought is quite absurd - that "it will never happen to me."

Although there might be a genetic component to high blood pressure, chronic stress has a cumulative effect. Consistently high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body not only increases our risk of heart attack and stroke (and remember, without oestrogen menopausal women have the same risk factors for heart disease as men), but can cause a whole host of other issues, including headaches, depression, insomnia, low sex drive, palpitations and a weakened...

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Lessons in Grief from a Hiker

Few of us will have remained untouched by loss by our midlife years. For this blog post on grief, I turned to my friend, Forest Therapy Guide, Jill Emmelhainz. Jill and her family suffered the unimaginable loss of their teenage son, James. Since then, Jill has written candidly about grief both as a form of therapy for herself, and to help others walking the same trail.

This 5 point guide to dealing with turbulent times is taken from Jill's blog, The Big Epic, where she documents her adventures on the hiking trails of North America and writes about the healing power of nature. 

Are you a roller coaster lover? Or are you like me—terrified of those torture devices? It doesn’t matter which kind of roller coaster it is, from kiddie ride to mega-coaster, I hate them all the same!

Along the Appalachian Trail in Northern Virginia, there is a 13.5 mile section called the Roller Coaster. This series of a dozen short steep hills comes with a “warning”...

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5 Things to Remember when Life Throws a Curved Ball

change optimism uncertainty Nov 04, 2019

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F Kennedy

Very few of us like change. The status quo is usually where we feel safest and happiest - it's not called a "comfort zone" for nothing! Yet we all know that change is as inevitable as death and taxes.

As I've grown older, I've largely lost my fear of change. I've come to accept - even embrace - it. Here are my 5 things to remember when life throws you a curved ball.

1. Resistance is useless. It doesn't matter how much you want life to stay static, it simply can't, any more than the ocean can stop moving with the tide. As with so many things, the tighter we cling the more painful change will be. You might as well relax and go with the flow.

2. We were born to grow. Becoming an adult was never going to be the end game. Growth often comes from discomfort. Stagnation isn't good for any of us, physically, mentally or spiritually.

3....

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7 Steps to Self Acceptance

I founded the Midlife Movement Membership to help women who are struggling through the perimenopause and all the changes midlife brings, to rediscover themselves and boost their confidence. Over the months, I have come to realise that one of the keys to being happy in this next part of our lives is self acceptance.

What do I mean by that? Well, today's young women undoubtedly are subject to societal pressures about how they look and how they behave,  but I believe we were born in a era where generally (there are always exceptions!) we were encouraged to be quiet, to be, dare I say it, subservient. To be good.

My dad gave me some advice. You're an intelligent girl, Jo, he told me, but if you want to get on in life you have to learn how to hide it sometimes. He meant around men, particularly older men who took exception to a 16 year old taking them on and running rings around them.

I loved my dad. He meant well, and I am sad to say I heeded that...

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Money Matters - Taking Control

finance pensions retirement Oct 19, 2019

For this week's topic, I asked Caroline Anstee, Managing Director and Founder of Financial Designers, Anstee and Co to talk us through pension options for women in the UK.

Question: What options do women have to take control of their finances independently?

Caroline:

  1. If you are in your 40s and still working: Keeping up to date with their pension, having it reviewed regularly and contributing if affordable after looking at the budget. Request a state pension forecast. Have a plan and review it annually, saving as much as you can. Keep protection under review to ensure all liabilities are covered. Review any company benefits and ensure any dependents are secure. Don’t rely on anybody else looking after you in retirement.
  2. If you are in your 50s and still working: same as before but streamline the plan a bit more, review the plan and see if you are on track. Review whether current plans are still fit for purpose.
  3. If you are 50 plus without a pension of...
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Worry, worry, worry

anxiety mental health worry Oct 13, 2019

Worry is such a pointless occupation, we all know that. And yet sometimes when hormone levels start to fluctuate some of us are beset by anxiety that seems to come from nowhere.

Anxiety caused me untold angst during my own perimenopause. It didn't matter how much my head reassured me that all was well, something nagged away inside my brain, telling me it was a lie. I walked around with a vague feeling of dread which sat in the pit of my stomach like a heavy stone.

I would wake up in the morning and was immediately assailed by a horrible sense of impending doom. To try to counter it, I would lie in bed and think about each of my four children. "He's doing x with y and is going to go to z," I would think, "so I know he's ok." "I'm seeing her at lunch, so I can check she's ok..." It was endless.

To be fair, our family were dealing with some serious difficulties at the time. Weirdly, I seemed to be able to cope with the big, obvious stuff. It was the little things...

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Midlife - Time to Start your own Business?

In 2017 one fifth of new business start ups were headed by those over 55, with women leading the way. 

People 50 plus account for less than one third of the workforce,  yet account for over 40% of new business start ups. Furthermore, those over 65 and self employed have more than doubled this decade.

And why not?

“There is a whole third life that people look forward to: it’s not just about sitting under a tree in the sun, it’s about staying active and keeping the brain stimulated. One way to do that is to keep working. And there is a financial imperative to make sure the future is secure as you live longer.” Liz Earle quoted in the Guardian

The good news is that new businesses set up by those 50 plus have been shown to be more likely to succeed than the average. Experience counts for a lot when making the leap.

Many who have had corporate careers who feel they have been  managed out of their jobs post 50, have the funds available to...

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5 Minutes of Fame

What a week that was! Forgive me if I seem naive, but welcoming a news crew into my home, being interviewed and filmed and then appearing on the BBC isn't something I do very often (ie: never)!

It was interesting, and gratifying that the BBC decided to showcase The Midlife Movement's Face it, Own it! Project. It was also frustrating that they cut all mention of The Midlife Movement from the segment. Nevertheless, over 60 women (so far!) have hunted me down and sent their no make-up selfies to be included in the forthcoming book and exhibition.

The project has clearly struck a chord. I have been inundated with emails, not just with selfies attached, but with messages of support like the one below:

"I  just wanted to thank you for taking up the topic of the natural beauty of us all. As a 63-year-old mother and a retired teacher, I appreciate the pressure to conform to a stereotypical, idealised, artificial and unattainable image of womanhood. It's wonderful to see just how...

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The Skin We're In

Skin. When I think about the years I've spent looking after it, moisturising it, despairing of it, taking it for granted...

Skincare regimes need to adapt post 50. For me, it's not about "anti-ageing", it's about keeping our skin healthy, supple and comfortable.

Here are the essentials for skincare at any age, but especially as we get older.

1. Cleanse regularly

2. Exfoliate - gently!

3. Moisturise thoroughly

4. Protect from the sun

5. Drink plenty of water to hydrate the skin from the inside out

6. Eat a healthy, varied diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and good oils

But of course, you knew that. It's not rocket science. Add to that, don't. smoke and drink alcohol in moderation and you've probably got it covered.

I once read quote by doyenne of romance fiction, Barbara Cartland, that said (to paraphrase) that once we get past a certain age we have to choose between maintaining our figure or our face. She claimed that she had chosen to look after her skin and "sit down a...

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Move or Die!

fitness health Sep 15, 2019

That's a dramatic title for a blog post, isn't it? My apologies. But I needed to catch your attention.

As we get older we often start to notice a few aches and pains that never troubled us before. Feeling stiff in the mornings, slower recovery times after exercise, a slower metabolism, feeling tired... it's enough to make you want to give up and sit on the sofa. Which is what I am doing now, actually, as I type this blog post...

I confess, I have never been physically energetic. Mentally, I could win Olympic Gold, but physically... well, let's just say I am more Pooh than Tigger. I also have significant cartilage loss in both knees which makes squatting, running and walking up and down stairs difficult at times. It would be easy to give up and slide gently into old age whilst sitting on my (not inconsiderable) bum.

But here's the thing. The less I move, the more I ache. The more I ache, the less I move - and the more I eat. The more I eat the heavier I get and the heavier...

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