Summary: When you clear clutter you discard stuff that weighs you down, an essential step to rediscover yourself. But what if you love to shop? 4 easy ways to balance what you toss with what you buy. May contain affiliate links.
From the chilly bathroom stall in Gatwick Airport, I struggled to hear the EasyJet gate agent announce that the flight to Croatia was boarding.
My already knotted stomach twisted once more.
I felt like my toes were over the end of the high dive board. Time to decide. Would I jump…or climb back down?
I believe at a gut level that we women get bolder after 50. I’d passed that threshold some years ago.
So why was my gut now holding me back?
A place to put on your superhero cape…or to escape?
Here’s the problem
I used to get panic attacks at the mere whiff of being outside my comfort zone.
Like years ago, when my daughter left for college in Costa Rica, where she wouldn’t know the language or the family she would live with.
As I watched Molly disappear through airport security on her way to adventure, I pictured myself in her situation.
Immediately, an electrical current zinged my body. I couldn’t take a deep breath. My insides wrenched.
Now, a decade later, I relived those sensations.
Past fears and bold futures
Maybe we need this saying tattooed on our foreheads, so we’ll see it every time we look in a mirror:
Never judge what you can do today by what you were afraid to do last week.
Being bold and brazen is encoded in our female DNA, no matter how fearful we’ve sometimes felt.
And every so often, just to let us know it was still there, that boldness slipped out … like a silent fart.
If you’re over 50, it is time to quit clenching.
The reason we bury our boldness
At our most basic level, women are hardwired for just one thing – the preservation of the species.
And until we got that job accomplished by raising our children to adulthood, we followed whatever path guaranteed we fulfilled that one mission.
Some of us didn’t biologically give birth, but as women, we were still instinctively compelled to do our duty – to create a community that didn’t eat its young, or anyone else’s.
Why women get bolder after 50
Once that “preservation of the species” box was checked, look out! Suddenly, we’re were freed from the responsibility that kept our wombs and our mother instincts ready for action.
Women get bolder after 50 or at whatever age we feel our young are launched.
If you’re 50+ and you still have younger kids at home, you probably feel far from emboldened.
Please don’t get discouraged.
Trust it will happen – once the blow-back can’t hurt your children.
That’s why women 50+ are ready to roam the world or launch into a passionate new project. And at the same time, our male partners might dream of a life of books or Netflix.
Changes in the Way Others See Us
My own take-no-prisoners attitude peeked out more and more often in the waning days of my corporate job.
For my entire career, I sold and marketed for big media broadcasters. In the last few years, I made up one-half of a team in Texas managed by a younger boss in Los Angeles.
As our new boss learned our individual work styles, my younger partner, who still had kids at home, asked him how she and I were different.
LA guy was stunned by the question.
“How in the Hell are you two in any way alike? I’m worried Linda will go out to her truck and get a gun!”
Our kids kept us quiet until now
Just for the record, I drive a Subaru and don’t own a firearm.
And for thirty years, my other bosses considered me the steady hand, the calm soldier. Suddenly, I could rip off that disguise.
When we are in species preservation mode, it’s hard to speak up, even when there are things that beg to be questioned.
Harder to speak up when the rest of the herd thinks everything is peachy keen.
Or impossible to speak up when our paycheck is our children’s college, braces, and healthcare.
Bolder is good for us all
New research looked at how men and women think about moral decisions.
It found women’s distinct voice benefits both business and society.
Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley analyzed data from 33 independent studies with over 19,000 participants. That data showed being fair, honest, generous, and kind resonated with women more strongly.
Their research suggests women are better at creating value through collaborative exchanges.
Once our offspring are safely raised, it’s easier to speak up more forcefully for a win-win outcome.
And continue to speak up more loudly.
Perhaps scaring a few people that don’t hear us any other way.
Feel free to use menopause as an excuse
It’s okay, in the short term, to blame your attitude change on menopause.
I blamed it on the oral hormone therapy I’m on for a mild breast cancer episode.
Menopause is a reason that others can understand easily.
But the more authentic cause is freedom from a responsibility that is now fulfilled. Liberation from others’ expectations.
That is energy coursing through us. Sometimes, it just feels a lot like a hot flash.
As parents, we get bolder after 50 too.
And it can happen right around the time that female power surges meet adolescent defiance. For both parties to grow, this battle of wills must occur
While in high school, my son confronted me on using his truck, a ratty junker registered in my name.
“No,” I said.
“What are you going to do about it?” he said, as he invaded my personal 5’4″ space with all his 6 feet.
“Report it stolen,” I said.
A friend from India later complimented me for unleashing “Punjabi Mommy” on his ass.
Many cultures recognize the power of women growing bolder with age.
5 ways to make the most of this freedom
Since women naturally get bolder after 50, how do we take full advantage?
1. Ditch the guilt
Pitch in but don’t let others’ needs drive your life from here forward – unless you want it that way.
Use your freedom for a passion that brings you joy no matter how odd it might seem to someone else.
Lilian Carter, the mother of former President Jimmy Carter, joined the Peace Corps at age 68. She worked for almost two years in the Godrej Colony of India nursing leprosy patients.
After Kathryn Joosten’s kids were launched, she became a Disney Street performer at 53. At age 60, she got a role in West Wing. By age 66, Kathryn had won an Emmy for Desperate Housewives.
But please, ditch guilt if your ambitions for this part of life are less lofty than Miss Lilian or Kathryn.
No comparisons. Every day that we are happy, healthy and independent is a gift.
Success is no longer the primary goal. It’s gratitude for the experiences and lessons that are coming our way.
“I know I’ve just been blessed, and I’ve just been thankful.” – Dolly Parton
2. Downsize your obligations
Leave responsible behavior behind for the breeders, the generation now having and raising kids while holding down jobs and careers.
We’ve finished that part of lives.
If maintaining a big house or an expansive yard feeds your soul, go for it.
But if you do that for others and find no bliss in the effort, lay that burden down.
Instead, regularly practice taking Step 4 in the Grow Bolder Boot Camp – Discard what doesn’t work for you anymore.
And don’t limit yourself to discarding only possessions.
Include attitudes, responsibilities, and behaviors that weigh you down.
3. Embrace embarrassment – it’s not fatal
Dress up, wear jewelry or style your hair in your own unique way.
Embrace the funky label. It’s a huge compliment that means different but cool and interesting.
Test your limits. Sing, dance or speak to audiences of all types.
Or take up a new lifestyle that astonishes friends and worries children – like my friends who became professional rock and rollers after 50.
Get trained in something completely different. Then expect to have setbacks. And don’t apologize for them. Those mistakes are proof you are growing.
Follow author Anne Lamott’s advice: “Screw up right and left until you learn.”
4. Take some risks
Bet on an uncertain future by moving or starting a new vocation. Face some thrills by taking up a new hobby or sport. Travel to a remote corner of the globe…or your neighborhood.
I heard an interview on NPR with a doctor who was working in Africa to combat Ebola. The reporter asked the doctor if he didn’t feel that at 60+, he was old to be taking chances like this.
The doctor replied that he was the perfect age to risk it.
If something happened to him, his family was already raised and cared for. The remaining years in his life were gravy.
5. Minimize the mayhem your passing creates
To make sure we don’t leave unexpected messes behind for our kids to clean up, let’s first take a few “mature” steps.
Here’s a quick overview. Find the comprehensive list for getting our affairs in order at the National Institute of Health (link)
- Make or update a will, power of attorney and directive to physician
- Take care of any debts – financial and moral
- List all accounts and obligations. Tell the family where to find the info along with usernames and passwords
- Make final arrangements for getting rid of what remains when we wear out this body.
How these actions set us up for freedom
Preplanning our final escape is a great gift to the ones who will remember us.
That way, if we meet our maker while exploring in Croatia or canoeing in Canada, all the kids or friends must do is call the Neptune Society and write our obit.
Or run the obit you’ve prewritten and used as your roadmap for these adventurous years.
And in case we don’t go out in a big way, make plans for where to live when we can’t remember our name or how to wipe our own bottoms.
You’re ready for takeoff!
When I was in that Gatwick Airport bathroom, feeling like I was staring down off the high dive, the fear of the unknown paralyzed me.
But in the end… I jumped.
By forcing myself out of that bathroom stall and onto that flight to Croatia, I discovered family relations separated by 7,000 miles and almost 100 years.
These “strangers” didn’t speak my language yet I saw them make my brother’s hand gestures, mimic my mother’s smile, and share my children’s facial features.
We women get bolder after 50. And when we act on that belief, wondrous things appear.
Download your free Grow Bolder Quick Course
This quick course helps you build your boldness while discovering what you want in this next exciting stage of your life.
- 1. Download the free quick course here. Join my weekly-ish newsletter, and as a bonus, you’ll get two printable reminders.
- 2. Print a few copies of the reminders and/or save to your Dropbox on your phone. There’s also lock screen image for your phone.
Share what you’ve learned
How have you overcome fears that held you back in the past? In what ways did you get bolder after 50?
Please scroll down and leave a comment. We are all learning from each other!