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Letter to my Younger Self

memoir personal reflection Aug 13, 2019

What would you say if you could write a letter to your younger self? It can be a meditative exercise. I wrote this ten years ago on the blog I was writing at the time, and it is included in my book: "Oh Crap - I'm 50! A Journey from Fearful to Fabulous (Sometimes)" available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions, and as a pdf download here on the website

Dear Jo,

If only I could stand at your shoulder and whisper in your ear, there is so much I would like to say to you.

If you were still the little girl in the picture I am looking at, I would hold you tight and rock you and tell you that it’s ok, YOU are ok, that it’s not your fault that some of the adults around you are so screwed up. I would tell you that you are a good, kind girl, that you don’t need to be afraid for much longer.

If you were five years old, I’d say, you know that lump in your throat that stops you from swallowing? That’s not your fault either. You won’t...

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Menopause in the Workplace

 

Neurological symptoms of the peri-menopause can include brain fog, which causes  difficulties such as loss of concentration and poor short term memory and impaired word retrieval. Along with anxiety, hot flushes and sleeplessness, they can severely impact a woman's confidence in her own performance the workplace.

Half of the British workforce are female, 3.5 million of those women are aged 50 and over and with increasing pension ages, this figure is set to rise. Studies show that 75% of women in this age group experience symptoms that are attributable to the peri-menopause, with many feeling those symptoms have adversely affected their performance at work. 1 in 4 actively consider leaving their roles as a result.

It makes good economic sense for companies to make reasonable adjustments for menopausal women, just as they do for any other condition. In this interview with Menopause at Work Trainer, Julie Dennis, she explains why neuro-diversity awareness is so...

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7 Ways to Support Someone who is Depressed

If someone you care about is in the throes of a bout of depression it can be really difficult to know how to support them. I've been clinically depressed and I've supported people who are depressed, so I have experience of this horrible condition from both sides as both carer and cared for.

I've been talking to fellow sufferers and, drawing on their experience and my own, here are my tips on how to support someone who is depressed:

  1. LISTEN Don't try to "fix" them. It's tempting to try to come up with solutions - "why don't you..." "Look at it like this..." but actually, it can be really unhelpful. The best thing is to listen - really, really listen. You can reflect back what they have said to you so that they know you have heard them, but don't go overboard! The very act of being willing to listen can be a huge help.
  2. ASK THEM WHAT THEY NEED They might not know, but the fact that you are willing to ask can be comforting. If they do know, then act on it. They know what...
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I'm Fine, Thanks

I'm fine, thanks. That's what we say, isn't it, when asked how are you? I'm fine, thanks. But what if you're not? What if you are sinking, struggling, not fine at all?

I live a fairly public life insofar as I have written about myself on blogs and in books, I show up regularly on Facebook live videos, on Youtube and, now, on the new Midlife Movement Podcast. Most people know me as optimistic, generally happy, always smiling.

If you follow my output regularly, though, you will know that I have had my battles with anxiety and depression throughout my life at various points. I always know when I'm starting to "slide".

There are warning signs that I dare not ignore. These include:

  • Staying up late into the night, usually working to distract myself
  • Not wanting to get up in the morning (and not just because I'm tired after staying up late!)
  • I don't want to shower (I do - I promise!)
  • I don't want to talk to people
  • I put off returning messages, or making phone calls
  • I feel as if I need...
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7 Things I learned at 50

Turning 50 made me realise with a jolt that I probably have more years behind me than in front of me. It threw me for a little while, but then I realised my “midlife crisis” could be turned into a “midlife opportunity” if I could change my attitude. Here are just 7 things I learned at 50:

Knees don’t necessarily bend easily forever!  You don’t realise how much you take your body for granted until a part of it starts to hurt! At 50 I learned that regular exercise is no longer an option - I have to walk regularly, drag out my yoga mat and lift weights to keep me strong and stop me from feeling stiff all the time. It doesn’t stop me from feeling 101 when I wake up in the morning, mind, but at least I can do something about how strong and flexible I will be at 60, 70, 80 and beyond!

Failing eyesight isn’t always a bad thing. Without my glasses I can’t see my wrinkles, grey hair or whether my legs need waxing! (Maybe the last...

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Lasting Powers of Attorney

finance legal practical Jul 03, 2019
Few of us are comfortable thinking about our own mortality, let alone talking about it. We might recognise we need to sort out our affairs, but we put it off until, too often, it's too late and our loved ones are left with a legal and financial mess to clean up at a time when they are dealing with grief.
 
This is not my area of expertise, so I have asked Dani King of father and daughter firm, Wellingborough Wills, to write an occasional series of guest blog posts for us. This week, she explains Lasting Powers of Attorney. Over to you, Dani.
 

Perhaps you have heard the term Lasting Powers of Attorney, or LPA, but are unsure what they actually are. Maybe your older relatives have asked you to act as an attorney for them, but you’re not certain what the role entails. Here we will cover what LPAs are, what they are used for and how you can make one. 

What are LPAs?

An LPA is a legal document that nominates someone that you know and trust to look after your...

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In the Media

press publicity radio Jun 26, 2019

I have been getting out and about this week spreading the word about The Midlife Movement and our mission to change attitudes to ageing, one woman at a time!

Following the feature that was published in the online edition of Northampton Chronicle and Echo (my local newspaper) on 13th June, about my own midlife "reinvention",  on 21st an interview titled:  Find how experiencing a difficult passage through her own midlife inspired Jo Blackwell to create The Midlife Movement appeared on the Talented Ladies Club Website. In it, I talk about how I set up the Membership site and about self employment in general.

On Friday I was a guest of Helen Blaby on BBC Radio Northampton, my local radio station. Helen has just started to experience peri-menopause, with severe hot flushes and mood swings, so she was really happy to use the platform of her radio show to talk about it. The more we talk, the less alone we feel and the more we can work to remove what stigma remains around...

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Introducing the Experts - Sarah Gray

fashion shopping style Jun 19, 2019
 

One of the ways you know you've hit midlife is when your clothes suddenly start to feel a bit uncomfortable, as if they don't quite fit, especially around the middle! You might have nailed your "style" years ago, but this is a good time to reassess.

Not because there are any rules any more, and crimpelene, the mainstay fabric of the older woman in our mothers' generation has long since been consigned to fashion scrap yard - thank goodness! No, this is more of a fun way to rethink how we want to be seen in the world going forward. 

Clothes don't just keep us warm (and out of court), they make a statement, whether we like it or not. Retail therapy doesn't just deplete our bank accounts - it can give our confidence a much needed boost.

Personal Stylist, Sarah Gray  has put a great little course into the Membership about decluttering our wardrobes, and how that can make us feel. I found it fascinating and it's proving to be a popular series of videos with Members.

During launch...

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Letter to my Father

Seven years ago, I wrote this letter to my father on the anniversary of his passing. Now for Fathers' Day, I am resending it, with love.

Hi Dad, it’s me, Jo.

Hard to believe it’s been 15 years since I held your hand, 15 years since I kissed your    familiar, Old Spice scented cheek.

I wish you’d allowed us to talk about the fact that you were dying. We all had to say goodbye in so many coded, oblique ways in those seven short weeks of your illness. Do you remember? I said to you, “I can’t imagine a world without you in it,” and that was the closest you allowed me to come to “I love you.”  

The nearest you came to admitting you knew you wouldn’t be leaving the hospice was: “do what needs to be done.” You meant, don’t let me suffer and the wonderful staff there made sure that you didn’t.

It’s true that time is a great healer. After 15 years I don’t think about you every single...

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Why I am Embracing "Selfishness"

Last week I flew into Bordeaux, wearing my other "hat" as a Portrait and Personal Branding Photographer. I had three lovely ladies to photograph, all entrepreneurs, plus some "action shots" of the Business Retreat, run by coach, Karen Kissane. As I was there for the whole three days, I got to take part in some off the sessions and took advantage of the time to take a step back and really think about the direction I am taking with both my work and personal life.

Why am I telling you this? Well, it struck me that some of the exercises I did and the epiphany that I had might be relevant to many of my fellow "midlifers"!

This is a time for us to stop and reflect, a time of so many changes, challenges and opportunities. The Midlife Movement is about so much more than just the menopause!

The exercise that gave me most pause for thought was one on values. We were given a sheet of paper with lists of words like "family", "independence", "trust", "home" etc - you get the picture. The...

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