I had the honor of giving a 4-week class on stress management at a law firm a few weeks ago. And the class was entirely women from the ages of 23 – 33 (I would guess). They had different jobs and different relationship levels inside and outside of work, I think one had kids. They were smart, capable, funny, dedicated, and carried stress from various parts of their life (sometimes it was relationships, sometimes work, sometimes family, etc). If they would have let me, I’d love to have had a drink with them all after work and talked shop.
When it came to talking about boundaries and handling their anger and communicating well, they had a lot of questions.
How do I handle it when someone is raising their voice and they have more power than me?
How do I tell someone ‘no?’
How do I talk to my partner about handling more of the responsibilities?
How do I take some time for myself?
Why can’t I seem to have the same dedication for my family activities as I do for my work ones?
What’s okay to speak up about and what isn’t?
And the thing about their questions was- I actually had answers. I will admit: my ego felt good about being 43 and being able to answer their questions. Like, ‘damn! I have learned a thing or two in 20 years of working in the world!’ But it also felt really good to know that I was helping them move along the path a bit faster because they could get answers from me, and not have to work it out for themselves.
It felt really powerful to be able to have the answers and to help them.
I’ve been thinking about mid-life power a lot lately. What is it? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do we know if we’re ‘there’ yet? I haven’t got all the answers, but there’s one thing I know for sure: mid-life power looks different for every woman.
Power is not necessarily big, bold, or brash.
Sure, for some of us it will be. In certain situations big, bold, and brash are what’s called for, so we do that. But for other’s of us, ‘power’ is just doing our job, taking care of things, and being fulfilled by that. Some of us are Wonder Woman in her fancy boots and cape, and some of us are Wonder Woman in her tan suit and dark glasses. Some of us are powerful like a waterfall, some of us are powerful like the mist. (And a lot of us are both and everything in between!)
As women in this society, we are given less power than men. We have to work harder, often longer, and jump through more hoops to gain power that is acknowledged by others. (This is even more true for BIPOC women- Black, Indigenous, People of Color- women who are disabled, and women who identify as something other than heterosexual. We have very clear data that women from these groups are given far less power than other women, and most certainly less power than men.) But that doesn’t mean we’re less powerful, necessarily. It has been my experience that once we start taking our power, owning it, saying, “Yes, I am capable of this, I have these skills, I know some things, I have inherent value” we start to feel powerful. And I think that’s a really important point- we need to feel our power at mid-life. Again, it does not have to be brash or bold, we just have to feel it.
And the really cool thing about women feeling and having power? We tend to use our power to help other women. (Go us!)
So, I would invite you today to start feeling powerful.
When was the last time you felt powerful? What was that like? Where were you?
When are other times you’ve felt powerful?
What are your best skills and talents? Are you using those somewhere that’s important to you?
If you were talking to a group of women twenty years younger than you, what wisdom would you share?
What does ‘having power’ mean to you? And do you have it, by that definition?
I believe that power is something we all have. Especially if you are in the Sex Surge®, okay? You have power at, like, goddess levels. At the very least, we all have the power to choose. I believe we have accumulated a lot of valuable knowledge and experience by the time we reach mid-life. And if we can take that knowledge and power and bring it into the world – our workplace, our community, our family- we will make the world a better place.
Women are powerful as fuck, and mid-life is the time for us to stand tall in this power, in our own way.
Standing with you,
Joanna :: xoxo