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Confidence Begins at an Early Age and The Sky is the Limit!

Looking back at my childhood, I was blessed. Both my mother and father raised me to believe in myself at a very early age. When I had moments of doubts during the challenging teenage years, my parents were there to support me, but always insisted that I make my own decisions and take charge of solving whatever was the setback of the moment. As I got older, it was my dad who consistently reminded me that, when it came to my choice of livelihoods, “the sky is the limit!” He encouraged me to look for a career for which I had passion and alleged that I could do most anything.

It is thanks to Mom and Dad’s reassuring push, that I departed confidently, ready to face the world on my own, and I followed my dad’s advice with my choices. I had a belief in myself with a strong desire to find exciting work and had some amazing opportunities throughout my years! Although I didn’t always pick the job with the most money, I chose what I loved to do, finding that most of my jobs filled my purpose of helping others.

Now, that I’m in my Baby Boomer years, I have found my confidence being reassessed. At this stage of life, I have felt at an impasse. I have the knowledge, experience, and still have the energy and desire to serve a purpose of helping others and have wanted to start something new. Yet, I am pondering, “Am I too old for this?” “Can I do this?” “Will I be successful?”

Then, I read about Ginette Bedard, the 86-year-old NYC Marathon runner, and Robina Asti, the 99-year-old flight instructor and active pilot. Both of these women continued to do what they loved, and age was not a factor! Why can’t I continue to pursue my goal? Thanks to examples like Ginette and Robina, I am off and running once again, unafraid “to reach for the sky!”

So, yes, Dad, you were right, “the sky is the limit.” Or as Maura Beatty wisely advised, “What keeps you from believing that the universe is yours? Reach out, embrace it. The sky is the limit! So, get your bag, get your stuff, and head for the stars…I’ll meet you out there!”

Dress Up

Ode to my Closet – (Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress-up!)

by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

Here I sit with freshly washed, blown-dried hair and a little make-up, ready to have a Zoom meeting. (These days, who wears much make-up due to wearing masks?) I have a nice blouse with a flattering neckline and a modest necklace. Need I say what I’m wearing below the top? You guessed it, sweat pants.


Oh, how I miss putting on a dress and heels! It has been far too long. Here, in my closet, my dresses hang looking abandoned, having not been worn for almost a year! And what about my shoes? The heels, stylish leather boots, and colored flats that I have so loved, stay in place looking terribly forlorn. These days, if I am not in sweats and sneakers, I am in my robe and comfy, fuzzy slippers. That’s a fact. And to think back before the Pandemic, after a long day at work, how I relished the change into my sweats and slippers! Not anymore…I am ready to bounce back into fashion again!


Kate Spade nailed it when she said, I think that playing dress up begins at age five and never really ends. Kate was right! I am a female who has always enjoyed dressing up since my early years. Whether in my mom’s hats, dresses and high heels, my dad’s jacket and fedora, my cowgirl hat and holster, or a party dress, I entertained myself by playing whatever role my get-up suggested. And our family albums prove my fondness for dress-up!

Whether age five or sixty-five, for me, times haven’t changed. Later-adult years have not altered my taste for fashion and dressing up. Walking to my closet to choose the next day’s outfit has been a joy, and I delight in the thought of, once again, pondering over what to wear for a busy day out. When our society re-emerges, I will eagerly don a dress and a pair of heels, ready to play my role as I step forward into the world. I agree with Victoria Beckham who said, I love fashion and that’s how I express myself!

Healthy Pessimism

Pessimism vs. Optimism – Looking at the Whole Picture

by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

The word, pessimism, was always a bad word to me. It was something that I did not want to be associated with. I was raised by parents who had positive attitudes and taught both my brother and me to find the good things, no matter how difficult life might be. When I would be experiencing a big disappointment or hurt, my mother would remind me, Honey, tomorrow, the sun will come out and things will look brighter! And, a good part of the time, she was right. But as I got older, this philosophy became more perplexing for me.

After graduation, my first job was in New York City in the media field. I found myself working with big-city, aggressive contemporaries who seemed to always look at the glass as half-empty. This was uncomfortable for me. Despite their views, I kept my optimistic outlook and sunny disposition, even when it hurt. To them, I was considered a small-town, naïve enigma.

Later, in my 30’s, I ran for political office and had to develop a much tougher skin to survive. Negative vibes were impossible to avoid as a candidate and an elected official, but no matter what threatened me, I still tried to keep an optimistic view, and was recognized with the “Stop and Smell the Roses,” tongue-in-cheek honor upon my retirement.

Let’s face it, for most of my life, I have been called a “Pollyanna,” due to my defiance of negativity. I don’t apologize for that, as it has carried me through some of my best moments and successes. However, when things did not go as well, it was uncomfortable and hurt deeply and I questioned why life took such a turn. It was puzzling for me to understand why looking through the optimistic lens of life did not always turn out as expected or make me feel happy. Why?

In creating my Beyond the Now program, it was my research, along with an article, When Hope Meets Reality, written by Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry, that I had an Aha! moment.

According to Burnison, it is best to have a balanced view of both optimism and pessimism – which he calls, Healthy Pessimism. With a totally optimistic view, too much of a good thing can be too much—even when it’s hope. Pessimism forces us to see reality, which actually may allow us to reframe the picture, to then instill hope that we will make tomorrow better than today. When critical things happen, seeing the reality (pessimism) keeps us grounded, while the hope (optimism) keeps us inspired.

In my case, I may have been aware of the whole picture, but I refused to see anything but the good interpretation (the optimistic view). I needed to take a more realistic look at the big picture with both lenses. I now realize that by filtering out the negativity (the pessimism), I was not eliminating it, but actually stuffing it. This is what caused my discord.

I am thankful that Mom and Dad taught me to see the glass half-filled vs. half-empty, but I am glad to now see the whole glass! Having this healthier balance is important for living and dealing with life, especially in the world we live in. In challenging times ahead, I still may lean toward the more optimistic view, but Healthy Pessimism is what I will strive for!

Holidays Are Veiled By Pandemic, What CAN You Do?

Holidays Are Veiled By Pandemic, What CAN You Do? Part 3

by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

As a senior, my daughter has worried about my safety regarding a visit with the children who have been in school. As a grandmother, I have worried about the safety of my children’s visit due to my every-day whereabouts and choices. The biggest fear for all of us is, will I get my loved ones sick without knowing I might be carrying the virus?

After much discussion, our family has decided to get together at their home and have agreed to follow the “rules” for a safe, smaller gathering.

In my wildest thoughts, I never imagined life as it has been for these past months. But looking beyond all the stresses and challenges of the times, these are the days when we must feel the spirit of gratitude and joy as we celebrate family, friendship, and togetherness. Whatever venue each family chooses, it is important to not lose the focus for that which the holiday truly represents. Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you CAN do. Be creative and make the best of it and, above all, be thankful for each other.

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What Remains the Same

Holidays Are Veiled By Pandemic, What Remains the Same? Part 2

by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

We, as women, are the big planners. The holidays are a time that we joyously plan ahead with decorating, creating festive menus, arranging travel and visiting accommodations, and shopping, gifting and wrapping. This year, however, we are in limbo and the normal course has been thrown into frenzy, laced with anxiety and unknowns. Our 2020 plans totally hinge on the status of the Covid virus. The big question is: Do we stay home? If the choice is to stay at home, what will the menus in each household be? At the request of my children, (who live 3 hours away), is there a way to make and send my mother’s traditional, Southern, cornbread stuffing? (This has been a staple in our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for over 60 years.)

If the choice is to get together, the strategy encompasses Covid testing (for all attendees), revisiting and possibly revising the small guest list, (who can be trusted to follow the safety rules), masking, social distancing during meal prep and visits, safe-distancing table or outdoor seating arrangements, and safe, protected accommodations. Whew! What traditions will you carry on? What remains the same?

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change

Holidays Are Veiled By Pandemic, What Has Changed? Part 1

by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

I just spent an afternoon on Zoom with some positive-thinking, Baby Boomer women friends of mine, catching up on various topics, laughing, and telling stories. This is what we have learned to do during these unfortunate Covid months of isolation. I have learned to amend my former life of girl-friend lunches, wine get-togethers, and home-visits to occasional on screen social calls… thanks to today’s marvelous technology of Zoom and FaceTime. We seem to be managing it fairly well during this ill-fated period.

Of these friends, some are widowed, some are divorced and a few are with spouses or partners. We all have in common our children and grand children, whom we have seen very little of – if any – over these past eight months of the Pandemic. And when the question surfaced at the end of our chat this week, what is each of you doing for the holidays? the vein got more serious. During a time of year when planning ahead is full of anticipation and fun, most of us were unsure of what to propose or expect going forward with Holiday Season 2020. Is there more? How do I move forward?

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What Have You Learned

Unmasking Your Vision For What’s Next – Part 4

What Have You Learned?  by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

As I’ve moved through my own growth during this pandemic, I wanted to see how other women, similar to myself, were surviving and dealing with this disconcerting state of affairs. I drew up a compilation of diverse, Baby Boomer women and emailed a simple questionnaire. They, too, had been pondering similar questions and, in many cases, had internalized them. This was an opportunity for each to openly communicate her thoughts and feelings toward these months of the necessary but inconvenient lockdown.

Each woman was asked to write the first thoughts that came to mind.

Question: In one sentence, what have you learned about yourself?

With this question, 97% learned something positive from their experiences. These lessons included: I learned how to enjoy my own company; I will not take advantage of freedom ever again; I can adapt when necessary; I must stay stimulated and engaged with new things; I can depend on using my creativity and resourcefulness; I can learn to go with the flow; I know I need to let go of that which I have no control; I will work to remain positive and look for the brighter side of life; I need to do more acts of kindness; I can overcome my anxiety through mindfulness; I am stronger than I thought.

These results, on the most part, did not surprise me. We, as women who have lived 55 or more years of life, have dealt with many a challenge. Some of us have faced divorce, lost loved ones, lost jobs, combatted illnesses, and taken care of others in need — to name just a few of life’s ordeals. The common thread I found through this survey is that we can find the good in the worst of times and through that, we do more than survive, we thrive.

As we personally move ahead, we find that the sadness, fears and inconveniences of the Covid-19 pandemic still exist, of course. But the time we have had to reflect and contemplate perhaps has strengthened us and helped us to cope and form a new vision toward what we need to do next. Although the years behind us may out-number the ones we have ahead, we know that we can have the energy, creativity, and drive to thrive.

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What Three Words Describe Your Experience

Unmasking Your Vision For What’s Next – Part 3

What Three Words Describe Your Experience?  by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

Having the time to look back at (the lesson of learning to “Dance in the Rain” during my husbands Alzheimer’s experience,) I ask myself, why wouldn’t this work now in dealing with the stagnant circumstances of today? The fear of the pandemic virus is still terrifying, but I understand that patience, attitude, and creativity have helped me to find new methods of safely taking part in life and fulfilling my purpose. My time alone has given me the chance to see with more clarity.

This was my learning, but I wanted to see how other women, similar to myself, were surviving and dealing with this disconcerting state of affairs. I drew up a compilation of diverse, Baby Boomer women and emailed a simple questionnaire. Of those gaged, the majority responded immediately, expressing an appreciation of the invitation to share their thoughts on this issue.

Each woman was asked to write the first thoughts that came to mind.

Question: With the seven months of unyielding solitude during this quarantine, what three words come to mind to describe what you have felt?

Of the 35 participants, 70% listed at least one positive word to describe their spirits including such terms as Hope; faith; peacefulness; blessings; comfort; resilience; flexibility; empathy; reflection; renewal. The most used description among them was gratitude and gratefulness.

On the other hand, 30% listed only negative descriptions such as: Uncertainty; purposeless; loneliness; anger; limitation; social disruption; boredom; and, understandably, the most used terms of: anxiety and fear.

View Part 1 View Part 2 | Continued next week.

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Learning to Dance In The Rain

Unmasking Your Vision For What’s Next – Part 2

Learning to Dance In The Rain by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

Living through this pandemic brought back the same feelings I had when my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Ten years ago, the same questions emerged. I remembered how I struggled and played victim for a few months after his diagnosis. I felt my world had collapsed around me, and it wasn’t until someone shared a bit of wisdom with me that I decided not to let this defeat me! One day in my self-wallowing, I ran into a neighbor who was also caring for an invalid spouse. She wisely told me, Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain. I realized that I had the choice between being a victim or survivor. It was then that I decided to learn to dance with the uninvited circumstance that had entered my life!

For the following four years, our lives were filled with adjustments that fit the situation and still brought us happiness and contentment. The disease was yet present, but we continued to live our lives by enjoying the little things in life. It all had to do with having patience, changing attitude, and employing creativity.

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Unmasking Your Vision For What’s Next

How Do I Move Forward?  by Margo Ewing Woodacre, MSW

As our country enters into the eighth month of the Covid-19 Pandemic with its uncertainties, frustrations and fears, we find ourselves at a crossroad looking for direction of what might be next for us, our country, and for our world. The benefit, perhaps, from this bedlam has been the unyielding amount of time that has been imposed upon us, which has allowed self-introspection of where we have been, where we are, and where we want to be with the rest of our lives in this changing domain.

As a female, Baby Boomer widow, who has lived a life full of transitions and self re-invention, I have struggled to find answers during this Pandemic nightmare. When the world seemed to stop, I wanted to get off! I felt fear, anger, loneliness, and frustration. At 70, with the reality kicking in that I was in the latter segment of my life journey, these startling questions baffled me, Is this it? Is there more? How do I move forward?

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