As a woman in my early 50s, I have spent the last two decades searching for ways to embrace the best version of myself.
I discovered that this cannot be accomplished without the voices of other women. Women older and wiser. Younger women, more independent than I was at their age. Women in print or on the big screen. Women from all different walks and stages of life, from the maiden to the crone. Strangers who come into our lives can be just as important as a sister or a close confidant.
Recently, through my own recovery readings, I was learning about the importance of “we.”
We can be defined as a symbolism that an individual is not enough; we are all in this life together. There are others who have walked and are walking similar paths; our paths may be shared, cross, or intersect. By listening to each other through friendships and fellowship, our personal paths become easier to navigate.
This is why we need girlfriends in all stages of our lives.
Our independence started in our late teens and 20s. We went to college, got a job, married, started a family. We conformed to society in our 30s. Began questioning existence in our 40s and said f*ck it in our 50s. Hopefully, I will travel the world and peace out in my 60s, 70s, and 80s.
I truly believe the best is yet to come because of our past experiences—what we have learned from them and the paths we chose going forward because of them.
My new momma friendships were forged on the playground. Our kids were all within a year of the same age. We would meet a few times a week for playdates for our children’s benefit as well as our sanity. We shared all the struggles of early childhood; our children molded their first friendships.
It was quite a tribe, including an actress, a hippie, and a vet. We loved each other with great passion, and then life tore us apart. As our children were reaching preschool age, we scattered across the county following our husbands to the next step on their career paths.
New city, new house, and I knew no one. This was the first time in my life I felt like a complete outsider. My friends became parents of children my son went to school with. I dove into room mom mode, PTA, volunteering as needed, and coach of “Girls on the Run” (even though I had a son). I like to think I made a difference. I met some incredible moms, cancer survivors, literary agents, women who spent their Saturday morning skipping across the finish line with a girl on the run participant.
To have some chill downtime, my girlfriends and I would meet at the YMCA for a morning workout session or in the evenings for weekly neighborhood viewings of “Grey’s Anatomy.” We soon expanded our experiences to include afternoons on the lake.
We would meet on my dock mid-morning and take my husband’s boat out on the water. I was a novice boat captain, but that did not stop us. We were there to decompress, to have some girl time, from the silly and mundane to the serious and life-altering.
Singing at the top of our lungs to Pink, hair blowing in the breeze, we would drop anchor halfway to the lake front restaurant, share a bottle or two of wine, swim, sunbathe, and chat. Finally arriving at the restaurant buzzed and skin golden from the sun, we would eat and sober up just in time to be in line for carpool. We called it GOTL—Girls on the Lake. It was epic.
We laughed, we cried, we loved, we grew, we had each other’s backs.
Then middle school hit, and it was time to let go a little. I started to flounder as the big 4-0 was looming in the too near distance. I think women change. I started to notice a shift in my and many of my friends’ marriages or relationships. After all, males and females are both wired differently. Why should we grow up and want the same things? The majority of the women I know started to question what they were doing with their lives.
Jumping forward 15 years or so, some of us “girls” got remarried, divorced, and should be divorced. We have buried our loved ones, been challenged by alcoholism, joined the workforce, and had grandchildren. We learned to live in a world post COVID-19 that has created all sorts of anxiety in our kids. We changed the way we used pronouns. Life has not been easy, nor did we expect it to be.
Most have turned into Facebook friends, but bottom line is they taught me the who, what, and why of strong, self-sufficient, problem-solving women. Most of us live within 30 minutes of each other and I know for damn sure that I could call any of them and they would be on my doorstep in a hot minute, as would I for them.
Now I am in the fifth decade. Post-menopause, college-aged young adult child, sold the lake house, downsized to Charlotte, lost three amazing dogs, still married, and caretaker for aging independent parents.
Social media enabled me to reconnect with older friendships. The circle of women in my life expands; and the beauty is that we all picked up exactly where we left off, even if it was decades ago.
Now I live in a quaint neighborhood, and an older, wise neighbor has become my friend. Most of my friends are Yogis, and I go to class in that community at least four times a week. I meditate, I write, and I tend to my flowers. We are empty nesters. An incredibly spoiled black lab is our child. His name is Tucker; his mom is from my preschool tribe in Memphis.
I flounder less and have found more peace. I credit this exponentially to the amazing network of women in my life.
As women age and our trips around the sun begin to add up, we start to crave change. We have had the roles of mothers, wives, caregivers, and professionals. We have had successes and failures. Now it is time to shine brightly with a different purpose.
One of the golden rules is loving, nurturing, listening to, and taking care of yourself first. Only then we can successfully show up and share our love and light with others.
Wanting more out of life, nourishing ourselves, and showing up differently is all part of embracing who we are.
Maybe it is the hormonal shift of menopause, or an unease of slowly becoming an empty nester, or the monotony of the workforce that made you yearn change. Maybe you just got fed up and found a voice, broke through chains, and started living louder. Whatever it is, embrace it with your tribe, your unique support system.
When we begin to realize that we are part of something bigger than our personal experiences, we embrace the richness of our overlapping lives with other strong women and our personal journeys enhance.
Maybe this means a career change, or a life-altering decision. For me, presently, I have connected to a higher power, and am learning to trust my intuitive self through meditation.
Let’s make it a practice to share our stories, our struggles, and our lives unconditionally, furiously, lovingly, and without judgement. As our community grows, more hearts open and we leave a positive imprint on Mother Earth.
Together—just as the woman reading this before you—take a moment and a deep breath. Reflect on your tribe, every female from your earliest memory. In your mind’s eye make a collage of all those incredible souls who have crossed your path, helping you become the badass woman you are today. Notice how their faces fill up the entire universe.
Take a few slow deep nose-to-nose breaths, feel all the feelings—gratitude, sadness, joy, humility, vulnerability, and grace. Then take a deep cleansing breath and give that love away.