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February 22-26 (full with wait list)
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I’m taking a break in the Haven Winter Blog series today to reflect on passion, power, age, and to shine a light on a new friend…
Today is the launch of #TheFierce50, a movement dedicated to women 50 and over who are thriving, creating and celebrating where they are in life. I was selected along with a fierce group of women including Lee Woodruff, Kathy Kahler and Denise Austin to be among #TheFierce50. We each were paired with a fellow #Fierce50 blogger and given the honor to write about her. I was thrilled to be paired with Katheen Baty, one seriously fierce woman. After we got off the phone (3 hours!), I wrote this piece. Click here to read more about The Fierce50 Movement.
I turned fifty last year. Some people say fifty is the new thirty. What I know about being fifty, is that I have accumulated enough life experience to know some things, and to learn from them, and to find my true purpose because of them. Unfortunately, most of the things that have brought me to this confluence of self, had to do with pain. Is pain really gain? Is it true that what doesn’t kill you actually makes you stronger? I would like to think that we’d be stronger from a long walk in the woods, or lunch with a good friend, or floating on our back in the Caribbean. But while those moments help me to be present, or to process the past and imagine the future…they’re not what has helped me find my way. It’s the hard stuff that has. It’s standing in the places where I feel recycled and spat out and spent, and sometimes bashed bloody from hitting walls I somehow haven’t learned don’t have doorways, that have shaken me awake to the basics of self-sustainability.
Is there a cure for this? Maybe. Maybe it’s passion. Maybe it’s knowing what you love and what brings you into true delight and thirst for life…and mining that no matter what’s going on in your life. For me, that passion has been writing. It is what holds me together and always has. I have said many times, “Don’t wait for the rug to get ripped out from underneath you to find your passions. When I went through re-invention 101, I’m glad that my passions were in a row, even if my ducks weren’t.” That’s when I wrote my way through a brutal time of my life and my career as a published author took flight, and that’s when I started my Haven Writing Retreats. At Haven, I teach people to find their voice, their passion, their sustainability through writing, in whatever form they choose—journals, essays, books etc. But there are other ways.
A woman who knows perhaps more about this than any of us want to, is the remarkable Kathleen Baty who for eight years underwent brutal stalking until she was finally kidnapped at gunpoint. Did she let it take her down? No way. Instead she learned every possible aspect of personal safety to stay alive, worked with Law Enforcement because there were no laws at that time making stalking a crime, and eventually testified at the state and federal level to pass the Anti Stalking Laws. Talk about turning pain into passion!
But she didn’t stop there. She started her company, SafetyChick Enterprises, LLC in order to change the way personal safety and crime prevention was embraced by women. Instead of marketing to fear, the SafetyChick Brand promotes strength, courage and common sense. She wants women to CARE about their safety, not run from it. She wrote two books, “A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do” (Rodale) and “College Safety 101″ (Chronicle Books) and believes that “Caring about your personal safety is the GREATEST Gift you can give yourself. IT is NOT about being paranoid. It’s about being SMART and making SMART personal safety choices. Personal Safety is Personal. It’s what makes YOU feel comfortable at the time. Making the decision to CARE about your personal safety translates into every aspect of your life. It makes you a better mother, friend, coworker, whatever, because you are living with purpose.”
What if, then, as young women and men, we fastened this lesson to our hearts: Being passionate for our safety first is our bottom line non-negotiable. Maybe then, pain wouldn’t have to be gain. And walls would become doors, and pain would become passion and possibility. And I’d like to think that a little writing along the way helps…