What would you do if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ear, and I’ll sing you a song.
And I’ll try not to sing out of key.
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.
~~The Beatles/Joe Cocker
It’s no secret that I am on the verge of turning forty. It is something that I consider both an honor and privilege, but also a rite of passage. I wear my almost-forty title like a badge on my chest, and I dare anyone to say anything negative. The media’s idea of a woman in her forties may be filled with untruths and manmade unrealities that we are washed up and no longer “the beautiful ones”, but I beg to differ. Show me a beautiful woman, and I will show you one who is authentic, wise, and is comfortable in her own skin, traits of a middle aged woman.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Bloggers at Midlife Conference in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland. Created and designed for women of middle age, it was the opportunity for all of us to get together and network, learn, fellowship, and have a good ‘ole time. As a mom of a soon to be 21 year-old, I’ve always identified with this crowd. And now that I am one step closer to being one of them, it was awesome to be a part of the community and becoming one of their own.
As a part of the keynote conversation with BlogHer co-founder, Elisa Camahort Page, I got to ask her questions about everything from suffering from middle kid syndrome, to living up to her parent’s expectations, to reinventing herself again and again, to co-founding the hugely successful BlogHer company and community when she was 41 years old. Elisa’s story is proof that finding your sweet spot often takes time, and as middle aged women, we go through many of the challenges, roadblocks, and uphill battles to get to our secret sauce. We can’t stop now, even if others are thinking we are no longer viable. Our voices prove that we are a strong and diverse community of amazing broads— (pardon The Carpenter’s pun) We’ve Only Just Begun.
Elisa then turned the tables on me, and the interviewer became the interviewee. I was asked about my own personal reinvention. I shared my story about being a teem mom, pregnant at 17 and a parent at 18. How I disappointed my family and delayed many of the things I wanted to do because I had to take care of my child. But with this, came the realization that going through the hard stuff was preparing me for the good stuff. Many of us take detours along the way, but our ending still brings us to our purpose.
And where our purpose is is where we live and thrive and grow.
I had women coming up to me all day, hugging me and thanking me for sharing my story. A few even told me that they were also young moms and could identify with my journey. I never felt as accepted and loved as I did during BAM. I wish I could bottle up that feeling and take it with me wherever I go.
The Bloggers at Midlife Conference was a day filled with camaraderie, respect, love, and most of all, purpose. There was plenty of gems dropped, cheese eaten, Goo Goo Clusters shared, and kinship that will always be remembered.
We learned that failure breeds reinvention from chef, party planner, and Food Network Star finalist Martie Duncan, how to brand ourselves like a pro from humor columnist and author Tracy Beckerman, and so much more. Memorable, poignant, real, and life changing, BAM was a phenomenal event.
There was no competition, no cliques, no egos, and no foolishness. Because when you are comfortable in your own skin, none of that matters.
Thank you to everyone who attended, listened, learned, fellowshipped, and shared. We are a unique group of women, overlooked by others, but fabulous just the same.
We won’t let others define who we are—and in that, we will and always will be victorious.
I love you, sisters.