The journey starts here. Or rather the journey continues here, since it’s been quite a journey to get to this point. I had the idea for a website called ‘From Forty With Love’ about six months ago, when I was 39 1/2. I talked about it, drew pictures of it, thought about it, slept on it, stayed awake thinking about it, prayed about it, meditated on it, fiddled around with it and finally, finally, decided to just do it. Of course, I’ve had to accept it’s not perfect and it never will be and if you’ve read my Just As I Am – An Experiment in Self Acceptance blog, you’ll know that imperfection is one of the hardest things for me to accept. But as the best-selling author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Seth Godin says (see the videos in my previous post on my Just As I Am blog), it’s all about shipping. That is, just getting it out there. So here I am and here’s my site, with all its imperfections.
So what’s it all about? Well, you can read the ‘About‘ page for a full description. But in a nutshell, ‘From Forty With Love’ is a space for women to learn from each other, to support each other and to share their insight, wisdom and experiences in a way that could help others, be they younger or older. I am a passionate believer in the power of storytelling, of sharing collective wisdom and of mentoring others. We have so much to gain from other people’s experiences.
But what if we had the chance to mentor our younger selves? What would we say to our 20-year-old or our 30-year-old? What if we could write her a love letter? What would we say to guide her through life? Where would we tell her to focus her energies?
I have so much I’d like to say to my younger self, in a loving way, that I could write a book and no doubt I’ll write a number of love letters to her during the course of this blog. Some of the things I’d write might sound obvious: follow your heart, stay true to yourself, trust, walk through your fears, cherish love and relationships above career and achievements. Obvious, but definitely easier said than done. Other messages I’d like to pass on are more specific: bingeing on food or starving yourself to blot out or push down painful feelings will only backfire – either immediately or in the long run. The pain will still be there but you’ll also have to deal with the shame, the weight gain and the physical damage that comes with unhealthy eating behaviours. I’d like to tell her that feelings are painful but that they won’t kill her.
I’d like to explain to her that the hair loss she suffered in her teens and again in her mid-30s (along with acne) was linked to hormonal imbalances and wasn’t her fault or anything to be ashamed of. I’d like to encourage her to share what she was going through and to be able to point her in the right direction to find help. I’d like to tell her that she didn’t have to suffer in silence or take a doctor’s brush-off to mean she was deluded about what was happening to her body. I’d also like to tell her it’s OK to be angry and not to be afraid of other people’s anger. I’d like to tell her to search for God and to hold on to him and his promises. I’d like to tell her it’s OK not to strive and constantly achieve and suggest she spend more time doing what makes her heart sing.
That’s just part of my love letter to my younger self and hopefully explains why this site is called ‘From Forty With Love’. This space, however, is for women of all ages. We have wisdom to share at all stages and phases in our lives, wisdom that could benefit those who are younger or older than we are.
The pages on this site – health, fertility, career change, body image, relationships and others I will add as I go on – cover areas where I feel my younger self could have benefited from some wisdom and mentoring. They’re also areas about which my 40-year-old self feels she has experiences to share that could benefit others or on which she’d like to hear and gain inspiration from other women’s experiences. If you have anything to say about any of the topics I want to cover or if you have suggestions for other topics, please get in touch. I’m looking for women who are willing to share their stories – stories of hope, of triumph, of breakthrough, stories of loss, of grief and of disappointment. I’d love to hear from you, either anonymously or by name, whatever you feel comfortable with. I have 15 years in journalism and believe I have a talent for sensitive storytelling.
I have already shared some of my own story in my Just As I Am blog that documented my attempt to abstain from negative thoughts about my body, appearance and achievements for 40 days over Lent. I’ve imported all my posts and the comments to this site (with some glitches I’ll endeavour to iron out). I will continue to share my story here as I journey through my 41st year, a year that I believe will be one of great change, growth and learning and a year, God willing, of blossoming and flourishing (which is why you’ll see a lot of flowers on this site!).