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For women approaching or over 50, multiple life transitions can, and often do, occur all at once. This onslaught can be devastating and exceedingly difficult to overcome.
Consider how many women spend years ascending to the apex of their personal and professional lives just to be blindsided by a rapid descent into changes like…
• Skills gaps and career competition
• Prolonged unemployment w/o compensation
• Age/wage/gender discrimination
• Financial distress and bankruptcy
• Menopause and mental anguish
• Failing health/lack of insurance
• Relocation and liquidation
• Divorce or separation
• Sandwich generation/empty nest
• Caretaking or care taken
• Death of a family member or friend
• Generalized stress and anxiety
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "While the gender-gap has been narrowing, females continue to outpace males with longer life expectancy and lower mortality rates at older ages." And with Baby Boomers now all in their 50's and older, the need for this community of women to maintain a strong level of employment, financial independence, mental agility and good health is critical.
What complicates this is that effective solutions to guide women through natural and/or unexpected transitions don't exist. There's a pervasive "get on with it" attitude in our society that allows this issue to go unnoticed or, at the very least, unmentioned. What this demographic really needs is not anonymity, but solutions that return them solidly and respectfully not only to the workforce but to their lives.
If I sound a little too passionate about this, it may be because I'm one of these women. Since reaching 50, there isn't a direction in my life that I can turn where upheaval hasn't occurred. My body, my relationships, my career, my finances, and more! It takes a toll.
How do I traverse this?
I've been groping around looking for answers. Answers for moving forward -- for dealing with these multiple transitions. After disappointing results, I've concluded that the answers I need do not exist.
I have decided my only choice is to leap this chasm first in order to help others. I can't be (and I know I'm not) the only assured woman going through this!
I want to lead a movement fluidly defined by courageous women willing to connect in a public voice. Willing to share in the struggle with the unjust and the inevitable, to pass on knowledge and hope.
Join me in building a social forum. A genuine conversation where women of an assured age can realize that we’re all in this together. We can say what we need to say without shame. Ask what we need to ask without fear. Share triumphs and troubles and know that blame will not be cast.
How can we respectfully and compassionately help women of an assured age who are struggling? What can we do for ourselves and what can we teach others? How do we make today and all of our tomorrows the best years in every way?
We need to stop suffering alone and show that we are still a relevant, powerful demographic that will not be sidelined.
I'm leaping the chasm and I welcome you to follow me. www.leapingthechasm.com
You can help. Leaping the Chasm is asking women of an assured age to help us understand the unique struggles and needs of this age group by answering ten anonymous questions. It's fast, it's easy and it's the first step toward developing solutions.
If you have a tough life transition story and want to share your experience with others or are willing to be interviewed for a column, please contact us. If you are a solution or service provider and would like LTC to review your offering, contact us to discuss.
To join Leaping the Chasm online, follow @leapingthechasm on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Mogul and Pinterest.
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About Leaping the Chasm
Leaping the Chasm™ (LTC) provides candid conversations and social media engagement for women in their 40's, 50's and beyond who are undergoing the personal, physical, financial, education and employment transitions that often accompany mid-life. LTC shares experiences, transfers knowledge, improves outlook, connects people, and helps identify opportunities for this powerful demographic.
I had a plan. I really did. When we were newly married I had HUGE amounts of debt due to my divorce. Our focus was getting that under control, while raising two young boys. We succeeded by selling my home and rehabbing a condemmed house in the neighborhood I grew up in. As the years passed, and the boys grew, so did the expenses of living. I kept telling myself that when the boys moved out we could really start socking away the money for retirement. Our youngest moved out in May 2009. Here we go!!! Now we can start putting away the money we had been spending for his car insurance, cell phone, etc. , right? Wrong. In July, just 2 months into my plan, my husband had a heart attack and my plan went out the window. Now we had huge medical bills, even after insurance, and he couldn’t go back to his physically demanding , decent paying job. In the years since it has been one transition after another including, but not limited to several more heart attacks, deaths of my two beloved long time pets, empty nest syndrome, major dental work, unemployment a new job and menopause. I’m surprised that I’m not a bald lunatic. If talking about it can give others strength, or at least fair warning, I’m all in. Peace.
You are a rock star, Christine! And you are not alone. So many women are going through similar issues and, like you, some have been building for years while others happen in a blinding moment… and too often they happen all at once. Yes, talking about it helps. We need to open up and share our trials and how we succeeded in overcoming them in order to help others. I haven’t been down your path so I don’t have uniquely applicable knowledge to share. What I will share, and strongly advise, for you and other women going through these kinds of financially and emotionally devastating transitions, seek and/or accept help. There is no shame in needing help. Transitions are conquered through the strength found in humility. A few ideas for help with mortgages in the USA include contacting your lender to see if they have abatement or refi programs, contact a HUD advisor, or look into the Hardest Hit Fund. Most of these programs strive to keep families in their homes. For help with medical in the USA, you might try your region’s social services office, check into programs through the hospital or medical provider (My doctor waved all of my office fees with no back billing!), call medicaid and ask about their lower/no income assistance, and, for current or former military, check with veteran’s affairs. I don’t claim that any of this will be easy, but you need help and help is available. If the stress of transitioning is taking a toll on you, please find someone to talk to. Friends, family, your religious or spiritual leader, or a counselor. Don’t suffer alone. I’m so glad that you spoke up here. Keep following Leaping the Chasm online. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or right here on the website.
Nice article. You are right on so many levels.
Thank you. We’ve got more coming and are looking for feedback and candid conversations from women in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond to help us identify the solutions that are needed to ease or prevent these often devasting life transitions. Stay tuned!