I’m celebrating women who are fiercely, fearlessly, fabulously, forty with this series and so I decided to feature Celeste first because it was through my conversation with her that I was inspired to start this series!
I really hope that through this series, you will be both inspired and empowered by the amazing women I am going to feature.
So let’s dive right in!
Meet Celeste, diagnosed as menopausal at age 40, Celeste felt like her life was over, that is until she learned to embrace “being me”, learning in the process that 40 is not a dirty word and finding a new lease on life in the process!
Name and age:
I am Celeste, 41 years old.
Where can we find you online:
My blog address is www.Beingme.co.za
How do you feel now that you are in your forties?
When I turned 40 in January 2016, I was very excited. I felt like it was a turning point and that things could only start getting better from here on in. I was adamant that I would not be one of those people who hit 40 and suddenly go into full swing midlife crisis. That year was particularly hard for me in various ways, and by the end of it, I had hit a slump and started feeling as if I was falling apart. I was starting to feel very weird too, like there was something wrong but I did not quite know what. I was super emotional and anxious all the time and I was convinced I was having a nervous breakdown. I became increasingly moody and was probably the worst I have ever been to live with. Nobody could do anything right. There were other telltale signs too like, Insomnia and skin issues which led me to realize that what was actually happening to me was that I was in a state of Peri-menopause and that hit me like a ton of bricks. I could I be going into menopause, I had only just turned 40! It was a hard pill to swallow. Suddenly I felt like an old woman. I chatted to my Mom and she told me that by the age of 42 she had already been completely through Menopause and that I was probably going to be just like her. WOW, that was not something I expected. Suddenly all these fears hit me, I am getting old, There is still so much I want to do. I feel like I have just started getting to be me again after being a Mother to small babies and children, who required sapping every bit of energy from me. I can read a book alone now. I can go wee by myself and not have an audience; I can take a bath and not have to share my water with three kids. I can even go out with friends in the evening and know that if I leave my kids with their Dad that they will manage. Best of all I don’t have to wake up for babies all night long and can lie in on a Saturday guilt free. I am not ready to be turning into an oldie, not now. It was like a switch that was turned off. I felt so ambivalent about everything.
I just went on with the daily slog and did what needed doing. I let a number of things by the wayside. One of which was my blog. I suddenly felt like I had nothing relevant to say. Everything that would come out of my mouth would be about the trials I was facing and it felt like nobody would want to hear any of it. They may be bored by it or feel that it was just me complaining. Many of my readers were younger women; they did not want to be hearing about me going through the first stages of a massive life change. Therefore, I stopped writing, because everything I wrote felt fake and forced and in my opinion absolute drivel. For a while, I did not even want to post any pictures of myself on my social media because I felt like all I could see was unwanted facial hair and wrinkles and lack lustre skin and certainly, that was not noteworthy or entertaining, well not like I had intended. I was not going to be relevant to the greater female public blog readers.
They wanted to see the beautifully made-up wrinkle free faces of their favourite Beauty and lifestyle bloggers who were doing exciting things like eating gorgeous Sushi and copious amounts of wine and sundowners, attending exciting events and holidaying at fantastic destinations because they have no real responsibility yet. I was sure they didn’t want to be seeing me trying to get rid of my middle-aged spread or unwanted facial hairs or covering my grey’s or talking about what hormone therapies I may consider . Recently however I suddenly had a wake-up when I realized I honestly was not the only one feeling this way and that I did still have a lot to offer. I had relevant things to say and that I absolutely had to say them. I decided to put my very “big girl panties” on and put my goals down on paper for what I wanted to achieve for myself from now on and also what I wanted to achieve as a blogger. Suddenly it was like a whole new world had opened up and I saw a little bit of light. I can do this. It is not the end. Just because you are in your forties does not mean you have to stop living with passion. If anything, there is more reason to now because you are doing it for yourself and for nobody else.
What has been your greatest achievement since turning forty?
I have not won any Pulitzer prizes or anything but, I have done some courses to up my skill set at the office and got a certificate in Public Relations and Crisis Communications through an online University.
I recently read an amazing book, by Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook, where she talks to younger Executives of childbearing age, not to “Leave before they leave”. This basically means that when you are planning for a family and even before you fall pregnant, you shouldn’t completely lose focus in your work and career becoming all engrossed with growing a family and forget about what you have been working so hard to achieve up until that point.
I did that, I was only married for two years before I fell pregnant with my first child and the minute I saw those two lines on that little pee stick I became pregnant mommy to be, and lost all focus in my job and career. Three kids later and still working full time, I see all sorts of missed opportunities. I have regained my focus and am trying now to rectify some of the damage done. I am planning to do some more courses and possibly even try for a degree. Who knows but I know that I can if I want to. Maybe by the time I am 50 I will have that BA degree I should have gotten in my twenties.
Now, as a mature woman, do you have any regrets? Anything you wish you could go back and do differently?
I regret not realizing that I had the ability to go to study for a degree after college (I did not go to university after school) it all just felt so overwhelming, and with having babies and life in general, I just did not see it as a possibility and it was. I know that if I had taken five minutes to realize that it was something important I could have done for myself then I would have. I regret losing myself totally to “Parenthood” I love my children and I love being a Mother but I let it become all-consuming, and that is something I know all Mother’s struggle with. I just wish that I had seen it earlier. Why did I only realize this now?
If you could talk to your 20 or 30 something self, what would be one piece of advice you would give yourself.
Save and invest what you can. Do not hike up the debt to set yourself up. You will need a great deal of money when you do settle down and have kids. Set up your career, be focused and when the time comes sit at the table and only leave when you have to. My biggest advice would be to be fearless and focused about what you want. Set goals and then tick them off your bucket list one by one.
What has been one/some of the biggest changes you have noticed within yourself since turning forty?
Since turning forty my biggest changes have all been emotional and health wise. I have not felt the need to resign my job and run off to a tropical Island or buy a Motor Cycle. I do not think I am having that kind of midlife crisis. I did recently get permanent make-up and have just gone blonde and am going to be cutting my hair very short, maybe that is my mid-life thing?
What do you still hope to achieve in your forties?
I hope to at the very least, complete a diploma course for myself through Unisa. I also want to travel, because it is something I never did as a young person, I have never been overseas. That is something I have to do, and at the same time as I am sorry I never did it before I was married, I am excited to share the experience with my husband who has never travelled either.
What advice would you give to women who are fearful about approaching forty?
Do not be fearful, it has to happen. Be accepting of it, and look at it as a new journey that can only build your character and personality. Just remember that you are still you, just wiser, and perhaps more full bodied. Like a good bottle of wine. Just getting better with age. Take the knocks, and roll with the punches and know that you are still relevant. You are not what you think the world defines you. You must define yourself.
What is one of societies stereotypes about women in their forties that you wish you could change?
Woman in their forties are still vibrant and fun loving women. We may have a few extra wrinkles and rolls around our tummies but we can still rock sexy clothes and make-up. We are not, hung up on what people think of us anymore. Just because you are in your forties does not mean you are suddenly not a vivacious, fun loving or exciting person that you once were. I can still wear a Bikini to the beach even though I have had three babies. I do not have a six-pack, and I burn like crazy so slap on that sunscreen, but I feel comfortable enough in myself to know that nobody actually cares as long as I do not care.
Any parting thoughts or comments?
I do not have it all figured out. Each day presents me with new challenges, but I have at least taken the first step and that is to accept what is and love each day as it comes. My new motto is “Forty is not a dirty word.”
Were you inspired by Celeste’s story?
Would you like to have your forty something journey featured on The Blessed Barrenness? Then email me for the interview.