WOMEN are smart, savvy, sexy and multi-talented. We are also multi-taskers, which is why, after a certain age — let’s call it 40 — we may begin to stop seeing our inherent talents and learned skills as the incredibly valuable assets they are.
The reasons for this are manifold, but, primarily, it’s because we get bogged down in looking after others. If we’re married or in a relationship, particularly if there are children involved, we find ourselves running from morning till night trying to catch up with a never-ending list of tasks from making lunches to dropping and collecting multiple people from multiple occupations and places: school/college/work/doctor/dentist/hospital/optician/garage/soccer/swimming/golf/gymnastics/music lessons/speech & drama/golf/the pub/ the disco/parties/work do’s/bingo/chess/bridge… you know the drill!
And if you have a child or family member invested heavily in an interest at competitive or career level, chances are you’ve kissed goodbye to a big chunk of your life, causing you to minimise the importance of your own career, job, business or personal interests, particularly if you’re a single parent.
Too many women find themselves trying to squeeze between gaps in the lives of others without stopping to take stock of their own needs.
A woman I spoke to recently told me she’d given 37 years of her life to her husband’s catering business, and hated it! That’s a lifetime given not only to something she didn’t enjoy, which may have paid the bills, but it’s a lifetime of not finding her own way! That was also my mother’s story.
This takes its toll. Not doing what you love to do, combined with the daily stresses and strains of life and a diet that doesn’t support you often amounts to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual depletion. Women find themselves trying to run on empty.
Because we do too much, and are culturally conditioned to do so, and be hard on ourselves to boot, (we can never do enough well enough!) we often find ourselves underappreciated, undervalued and becoming increasingly invisible. People around us simply expect us to keep on giving because we always have!
When we add meal preparation to all of this running and racing we more often than not, lapse into whatever’s fastest and easiest. It can seem just not worth it to go to the trouble of cooking with consideration. Trying to round others up for a sit down meal can be a chore in itself — when the food often takes second place to the phone anyway!
Combine all of that with not seeing ourselves represented authentically through various media for the wonderful, appealing beings we are. How many women over 35 do you see playing the romantic lead in movies? Male romantic leads, as long as they can get about without a stick, are partnered with women decades younger than them.
To quote the marvellous Helen Mirren, who recently called out Hollywood for “it’s f***ing outrageous ageism… as James Bond got older and older, his girlfriends got younger and younger” she exclaimed drolly. As any woman could tell you, from Snow White, to Beauty and the Beast, older men and younger women are presented as desirable; older women — invisible. The result is low self-worth.
The media presents the desires and dreams of only a select proportion of the population as valid, so many of us have completely forgotten what ours even were!
And the advertising industry knowingly echoes the ruse, colluding in the diminished self image of women, and taking full advantage with a catch 22 hook — we’ll show you beautiful, successful women, younger or older, but always dressed up, beautifully lit, and digitally retouched to bejazus — and tell you what you already know: you don’t feel worth it, but, if you buy what we’re selling, you’ll briefly tell yourself you are worth it. We’re conditioned to buy the conditioner!
Add to this, weight gain and hormones and comfort eating, and the sudden dawning of the realisation that we’re stuck in the cul-de-sac of our seemingly predictable lives, and unfortunately statistics reflect the erroneous perception. Rising suicide rates among women, deaths from heart disease and obesity escalating to unbelievable proportions.
It may seem impossible to turn this around, but we don’t need to throw in the towel or kowtow to hormones. When we value ourselves enough to eat well, change happens.
Buying into the mainstream cultural diet (I call it the Irish National Standard Approach to Nutrition and Eating — I.N.S.A.N.E, which is now based on the Modern American Diet M.A.D.) exacerbates the situation. There’s a cultural insanity around doing what will damage us, and expecting it not to do so!
Studies confirm that heart disease and obesity are ninety percent diet — at any age. And diet can reverse so much more than just obesity.
Eating well, without deprivation or hunger, can turn our whole lives around, especially when supported with an informed, integrated, whole person transformational programme. Brain fog lifts, clarity prevails, insight manifests, action follows and self-esteem rises to healthy, sustainable levels.
When we’re supported to know better and do better, we wake up to delusions we’ve bought into, and thrive!
My own journey has led me to the point of taking responsibility and committing to my wellbeing; to recognising that the only one who will ever live my life is myself, and the person best qualified to determine it is also me. That journey was not an easy one, so I know only too well what women are facing; my life challenges catapulted me to take action, to seek out the support and training I needed. Throughout I had a sense I’d use what I learned to support others and that’s one of the factors that kept me going through some very tough situations.
If you’ve just about had enough of frustration and want to shift that midlife baggage for good, come along for some inspiring courses I’m giving this month.
Gillian is a Professional Coach and Workshop Leader at Infinite-i. Teacher of Tai Chi, Chi Kung and consciousness expansion. For more on her workshops and courses, including her Get Your Groove Back, starting in October.
She is doing a taster evening at Bru Columbanus, Wilton on Wednesday September 26th from 7-9:30pm. €20 on the door.
Her Get Your Groove Back
programme begins at Bru Columbanus on