What empowers you, scares you, or makes your heart sing in a way that you think every woman should do the same thing at least once in her lifetime?
For me, I wanted to start my own business. After working in public relations at a theme park for a few years, I decided I was done with corporate life. I was tired of having my ideas squelched, needing layers of permission just to do a simple task, and having my salary and “upward mobility” determined by other people. I wanted to be my own boss, set my own schedule, work with handpicked clients, pursue new ideas, and watch my income soar as my business took off. No limits, baby! But maybe that’s just me.
At The Girlfriend, we decided to ask women over age 40 what they think every woman should do at least once in her lifetime. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Sandee Koehler (51, homemaker/retired PTA, Glendora, N.J.): Every woman should “kidnap” her significant other from work to go on an unexpected, romantic, long weekend.
2. Julene Weaver (66, psychotherapist after working in AIDS services for 21 years, Seattle): When you identify something you love, make sure you dedicate the time, effort and money needed to go further into your interest. Make your desires a priority.
3. Tracy Line (53, freelance writer, Noblesville, Ind.): Travel alone. Women so often bend their needs for their family and friends. Going solo is empowering. Doing exactly what you want to do is a gift to yourself.
4. Heidi Flaming (44, hairstylist, Omaha, Neb.): Climb a 14K mountain! The experience builds confidence that you can physically and mentally tackle the challenging things in life.
5. Anonymous (54, writer and caregiver, Bethesda, Md.): Don’t miss out on having a one-night stand with a guy in his 20s. It’ll bring a smile to your face for years and remind you that you’re still sexy and desirable and never too old for an adventure.
6. Danette Bielecki (54, dialysis nurse, Center Moreland, Pa.): See the Grand Canyon!
7. Tzippi Moss (61, life coach, Jerusalem, Israel): Do something you think isn’t possible. I didn’t think I could backpack 1,000 miles with my family and raise lots of money for charity. I did both and raised the bar on my life.
8. Kathryn Streeter (50, freelance writer, Washington, D.C.): Live abroad if you get the chance. Though there will be difficult times, it will be a life-changing season. You’ll see the world through new eyes and learn a lot about yourself.
9. Shirley Kaminski (60+, retired, Winter Springs, Fla.): Do things by yourself — go shopping, out to dinner, to a movie. It gives a woman more confidence and an opportunity to make new friends.
10. Brenda Mavromatis (47, interior design and home-stager, Portland, Ore.): Visit a developing country with your husband/partner. The experience of being so far from the familiar, not knowing the language, spotty to nonexistent internet coverage, etc., all worked to bring my husband and me closer because we had to constantly be figuring things out. At the same time, the exposure deepened my empathy for others.
11. Patty Blakley (70, retired teacher, Zionsville, Ind.): Read the Bible from beginning to end at least once. Truth, wisdom and peace resound from each page.
12. Joyce Roberts (54, internal medicine physician, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.): On the practical side, be completely responsible for the finances and details of running a house. This includes paying all the bills, understanding how insurances work, car maintenance, etc. Many couples share these responsibilities and if something happens to one, either from illness or divorce, the other is left dangling having to learn the hard way. On the fun side, get “day drunk” with your girlfriends at least once in your life!
13. Nelly Smirnow (60, life coach, Montreal): Stand up for something you really believe in, even if you know there may be a price to pay for doing so.
14. Mary Beth Tubbs (56, health care administrator, Lumberton, N.J.): Go zip-lining — especially if you’re afraid of heights! Not only because you conquer a fear, but also because you get to see things from an entirely different perspective.
15. Jan O’Brien (56, real estate broker-owner, Las Vegas): Discover and follow your true business or career passion earlier rather than later in your life. Take the risk, follow your heart, and know you’re capable of balancing the demands of family and business life.
16. Barb Peterson(46, sales rep, Bellingham, Wash.): Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Besides helping others, it makes you grateful for what you have and makes your own problems seem small.
17. Lonnie Ostrander (54, collaborative pianist, Grand Rapids, Mich.): Learn a dance out of your comfort zone. As in, a middle-aged woman should try twerking. A young woman should try waltzing. A rigid woman should try samba. An urban woman should try Southern line dancing. The body movement helps to bridge differences and connect understanding.
18. Charmaine Lillestrand (56, nonprofit executive, Austin, Texas): Determine what’s your best contribution and offer it to others.
19. Arlene Hegarty (78, retired Realtor, Orlando): Raise a child. You have to grow, learn and develop as a selfless person.
20. Laura Vinogradov (50, teacher, Rockville, Md.): Cook a personal, thought-out meal for 20 people that reflects your care, love and fellowship around a table.
21. Devorah (66, writer, Boston): Go skydiving — it’s a way to overcome perhaps our deepest fears.
22. Gina Marsicano (54, legal assistant and Pennsylvania state constable, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. ): Stand in front of the mirror in your birthday suit and take it in! Look through your imperfections and love yourself just the way you are. Kiss your spouse with your eyes open, and make love with the lights on! Enjoy the freedom.
23. Shannon Miller (47, pharmacist, Winter Springs, Fla.): Great things happen when you go out of your comfort zone. It could be speaking to a group or taking a hip-hop class.
24. Kim Jobst (61, registered nurse, Pa.): Go on a retreat. I had to do this for a religious class and dreaded it. It turned out to be the most peaceful three days of my life!
25. Rachel Mansour (51, counselor, McMinnville, Ore.): Commit to reading a wide range of biographies. They’ll expand your understanding of others who live very different lives in places you’ll probably never be able to visit.
Lisa A. Beach is a freelance journalist and copywriter. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Eating Well, USA Today Best Years, and dozens more. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.
Everyone needs a girlfriend!
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