Aging? It’s a good thing! If you think Fierce. Here’s how!
I never let my age define me, except of course when it’s in a good way. It’s good to be wise, and have a vast network of friends and media contacts to turn to — and who can turn to me when needed. But being a female founder in your 50s can also be a challenge because when you’ve had one successful career, you tend to get boxed in. I’ve found as I’ve transitioned from being the print to digital it can be confusing for people to understand that I have a new and exciting role. Catherine Grace O’Connell wants to make sure women are not feeling invisible, or worse, irrelevant, as they get to the middle of their lives. “Too often women don’t feel like society values all we have to offer”, she says. Now, Catherine has decided to do something about it—and help women everywhere and every stage of their lives. This Monday, Catherine wants you to do something “fierce” to celebrate the power of women in a way that is meaningful, personal and impactful.
When I met Catherine O’Connell, I was impressed. She is a creating a movement around the fact that women “in mid-life” can be cool and be forward looking. She has good reason, since her health and wellbeing is nothing she takes for granted. A debilitating case of Lyme Disease nearly killed her and it was exactly a year ago that she turned her life around by adopting a new forward thinking attitude to save her life. Forever Fierce, is a new movement kicking on on Monday February 19th. The goal is to reboot and re-energize your way of thinking. No matter what your age, it’s the day to promise yourself and decide that the best is yet to come. Her interview may just change your life, it has already changed mine.
LSD: What made you turn it around? What was the “moment” it all changed for you?
CGO’C: I will never forget it. I was weak and debilitated from Lyme Disease, and nothing had worked in terms of treatment. I was in bed, less than 100 pounds, and so fragile I couldn’t walk around the block. My daughter came over and asked: “What would you do if you were well?” I almost immediately went from ill to well, in my mind! I started dreaming, scheming and creating bucket lists. I thought: “I would do a yoga retreat and I would blog about my experiences.” In that moment, I stopped thinking like a sick person, and started thinking and acting like a well person.
My daughter helped me set up my Instagram account. I had never heard of Instagram two years ago! I didn’t know how to do it, or even what a hashtag was. Her simple question had lit a fire from within, and I started to think in a new direction. It didn’t take long for my dreams to become a reality. I made these things come true. That’s when I realized my work was filling a need: to change the paradigm of how women think at Midlife. I decided to help women of all ages become Fierce … not in a mean or threatening way, but in a way that allows us to be authentic and to own our power. So I created a movement and women have responded!
LSD: It’s one thing to think, “I gotta get better, get out of bed, and start joining the living again.” It’s a whole other level to say, I’m going to start a movement, and make an international day of celebration! How did that happen?
CGO’C: It came through as a powerful inspiration during a yoga class. I heard this loud and clear: “Get off your mat and go get 50 bloggers that are women at Midlife and beyond and connect them.” I jumped off the mat, ran out of class and called 3 of my virtual blogger friends. They hopped on a plane to LA, and The Fierce 50 was born! Women needed it. I stood up because I “saw” that we were invisible and needed connection.
Midlife isn’t an age, it’s an experience. It’s a time in a woman’s life when she begins to feel less relevant and starts being treated differently by society. A community for women at Midlife and beyond didn’t exist so I created it. I decided to “Be the change.” This happened organically and overnight. Women loved the connection! Brands and advertisers took notice started asking to work with our group. This was an idea that turned into a movement organically and it was very exciting.
I believe in letting go of boundaries. I intentionally made myself personally available by sending my cell phone to every person that reached. To me, personal connection is everything. Before I knew it, I had a thriving business that turned into 6 businesses within two years. It all happened because I had a belief system that I followed. I was filling a need – my own need and the needs of others. I needed to feel visible and I relevant and women followed.
LSD: How did you grow it so fast? You have 40 thousand Instagram followers and a vibrant community on Facebook. Impressive!
CGO’C: When I started my page on Instagram, I immediately decided to share an inspirational message with everything that I posted. I tend to be very real, raw and vulnerable. I told my story openly and honestly, and I had people reaching out from around the world wanting to know my secrets. I believe in sharing everything. I also believe in helping others. I always say, “I’m not changing clothes. I’m changing lives.” That’s all I’ve ever cared about. Money doesn’t get me out of bed. Touching hearts and changing lives does! My first year, I spent hundreds of hours helping others via phone or meeting in person. I don’t have that kind of time any longer. Now, I do it in a much larger way with my community. We host events, both virtually and in person. We have a lot more coming. The Forever Fierce Talk Show and Forever Fierce Media Productions started from the launch of the Movement. We have a Forever Fierce YouTube Channel and Newsletter launching this month and global webinars to share what we’ve learned in a big way. The Forever Fierce Show has become the Voice of the community. We changed from “The Fierce 50″ to the more inclusive, “Forever Fierce” because women in their 30s asked: “What about us?” So we rebranded it. Anyone can join and look forward to aging. It’s not a bad thing anymore, it can be cool. I posted that we would be doing a photo shoot in LA and women flew in from as far as from Germany to come and participate.
LSD: So what can women do to participate, who live all over and can’t get to LA for the events of the day?
CGO’C: They can post on any social media platform: What does it mean to be Fierce for you? And tag #ForeverFierce. Also, they can join the community or get the newsletter, listen to our Forever Fierce video talk show, and tell us how you’re being fierce, so when we start our YouTube channel we can share the stories.
LSD: You say that you’re making Midlife cool and including Millennials, so they look forward to aging. I love that! (My daughter, who is 22 and fiercely feminist, tells me that she thinks ageism is “Not okay” so I did something right!) Tell me about your Hintd list. It’s great and a real mix of beauty and wellbeing products you espouse. What went into making your list and why do you recommend these things specifically?
CGO’C: I created a list for “Healing from the Inside Out” and encouraging women to love the skin they’re in. I believe in using natural ingredients to look and feel better. Loving the Skin You’re In is the topic of my list. I take Ghee every morning because it’s a moisturizer and is a great detoxifier. Padma Basic is all about healthy circulation. I put Saranghae products on the list because I believe in Korean skincare. I use these items in my own life. Part of Loving the Skin You’re In is nurturing yourself –treating yourself to a spa at home day. I found Saranghae on Instagram and stalked them! Their products are loaded with natural mushroom extracts that provide tons of moisture and plump the skin.
CGO’C: Our overall mission: To shift the perception of women at Midlife and Beyond. To celebrate empowered women and let the world know Midlife is cool! And to tell women, you can go from feeling irrelevant to relevant, from invisible to visible. It’s up to you. Expand your mindset and what’s possible!
LSD: I love that. It really is up to each of us to define how we age, and not let others tell us what is or isn’t age appropriate. We get to be as young feeling as we want! What is your best advice for someone who wants to truly feel this way, and shift that paradigm?
CGO’C: Surround yourself with other women like you – the best way to change is to be part of a community of other women who feel the same way. We are not about age but about breaking down boundaries. We want to take the labels off and remove all boundaries. Aging is a continuum. “Inside every Midlife woman is a Millennial that was an inside every Millennial is a Midlife woman to be.”
LSD: I love the idea that we have the power to flip a paradigm. I’m flipping, I’m flipping!
CGO’C: Women have to shift their own paradigm and maybe it’s not about a specific job, or money or career, but it’s about expanding your mindset and not allowing society to put you in a box.
LSD: Let’s give them something for flipping the paradigm and feeling Fierce. If they Hint-to-Win-It by adding the Saranghae products to their Hintd list, they can win it! We will give five lucky hinters — who are feeling fierce– a package of this beauty product. Hint, win, feel fierce, and join the Forever Fierce community! Thanks, Catherine! Go ladies!
Interested in reading more about how Catherine is bridging the generation gap? Read on.