When you think about your professional life, what does it look like as you age? Are you concerned about diminishing opportunities, or worse, discrimination in the workplace?
Barbara and Guadalupe of SecondActWomen are on a mission to obliterate gendered ageism. Personally and professionally, they are strong believers that middlescence is simply a new opportunity to grow, to learn, and to unlock the best in themselves and others. They’ve built a community of professional and aspiring women 40 & 50+ over at SecondActWomen that are doing just that.
We sat down with Barbara and Guadalupe to discuss gendered ageism, menopause, misconceptions, and so much more.
Please introduce yourself in whatever way you see fit.
Barbara: I am the co-founder of SecondActWomen and we are based here in Denver. I’m 54 years young young and a corporate left-over where I was a director of marketing and business development for malls across the nation.
Guadalupe: I am also co-founder of SecondActWomen. I am a four-time entrepreneur turned producer on a short subject documentary. And this is our second company started together.
What is SecondActWomen?
Barbara: SecondActWomen is an organization that was created at a time when I could not get hired. I was 51 at the time. So, SecondActWomen came about as actually being the target demo and realizing what we were going through after experiencing gendered ageism. A lot of women 50+ are starting companies, leaving corporate America in droves. Some are being pushed out and a lot are being furloughed, and they are deciding to launch their own companies purposefully. There’s also another group of women who have no desire to be business owners; career women who are looking to stay relevant in their careers, to up level their skillset, or switch (or swivel) careers.
We are helping these entrepreneurial women advance their businesses, grow their companies, and market their companies. So, in a nutshell, we are a company that is delivering content, growth programs, online peer-to-peer social meetups.
Guadalupe: We are currently on track to be the largest social enterprise supporting women in their second act. We have nearly 7,000 women across platforms, and women from all over the world. Sadly and truthfully ageism exists everywhere, and we really exist to challenge the current gendered ageism that’s holding a lot of our women back or influencing how they see themselves. And as Barbara said, we’re providing the tools and resources to help them get out of their heads, and navigate, succeed, and reimagine what’s possible.
What stage of menopause are you in?
Barbara: I’m in hot flashes and sleepless nights stage. I'm past perimenopause by about a year. I’m 54 and in it! I didn’t necessarily know when I was in it, since it’s been so silenced. There was this huge conversation in our Facebook group about transitioning from peri to menopause and then out of it. So many women posted saying they didn’t know what phase they were in. And it’s just a conversation that has sat too dormant and in the closet. She needs to come out, and we need to talk about it — openly.
What is the biggest thing your menopause journey has taught you?
Barbara: There’s kinship. There’s a sisterhood around it and within our Facebook community, and among friends where I can text in the middle of the night. “Are you up?” “Oh yeah, the fan is on.” And we can laugh about it.
It’s something we all go through at some point in life, and so my journey has just been to laugh at the craziness it causes.
Guadalupe: I think what I’m learning because I’m not in it yet but being around my work wife and our community, and these open conversations, is that this is all just natural. It’s a biological experience we’re all going to go through. And what I love is that we are actually breaking down some of those inherited beliefs that people put onto menopause, and really showing women that you can be 50, still crushing it, and looking fabulous, and you happen to be going through menopause. I love that organizations like yours are normalizing this, and breaking down what feels like a closeted conversation.
If you could give one piece of advice to a younger you, what would it be?
Barbara: Those hot flashes that your mom was going through were not exaggerated. And by the way, my mom was not the type of person to exaggerate. But also, I would have to say that the next chapter of life isn’t scary. It really is a journey and 50 is not old. Own your age. Something else that I would tell myself that maybe is a bit off topic is to learn to be better with your money. My parents were great with money, but I wasn’t taught how to invest in my future. It's the little things like it’s okay to shop your closet instead of having to have something new every week to hit the club.
Guadalupe: There’s this idea that when you turn 40 or 50, you’re supposed to know certain things, and what I’m finding through my own journey, is that we don’t all have our sh** together at this stage.
Middlescence is just another life stage, and there’s immense opportunity to grow, learn, and there should be no shame in the learning game. It’s important to give yourself a little grace to understand that life is a learning opportunity every step of the way, until you’re in the grave. Don’t get down on yourself because you don’t know something, or you’re not exactly where you want to be. Time is on your side.
Imagine you’re writing your memoirs right now. What would the name of your current chapter be?
Guadalupe: “Unraveling.” I’m at the phase in my life right now where I’m shedding a lot of limited beliefs that I inherited that are not inherent to who I am. It’s a process. I will always be a work in progress, and for me it’s been a really eye-opening experience. It’s a beautiful state of rebirth and regrounding of who I am.
Barbara: “50 is the new 50” or as I like to say “54 is the new 54.” Where is it said that just because you sit at a certain age, you’re done and you’re expired? Because that’s not true. We are full of life now than ever before in our second stage. And as a Broncos fan, I know a lot of games are won in the second half.
What is your morning routine?
Barbara: Because I’m in menopause, I’m up at 3AM and then back to sleep by 4, then back up again. When I wake up, I like to read, catch up on news, watch YouTube. I watch quite a few YouTubers in the personal development and business development space. I walk my dog and catch Good Morning America while eating my delicious smoothie. Then it's get dressed, and I’m at my desk in my coworking space or at my home desk by 9, until 7PM.
Guadalupe: My morning starts at 5. I let the dog out and then get to the gym by 5:45. I love a good sweat, so I do strength training, boxing, spinning. I’m out by 8, and then I come home, eat breakfast in that 45-minute magic window as I start getting texts and Slacks, and then I start work.
What is one piece, person, or practice that relaxes you?
Guadalupe: I just reconnected with Sade, and I’m absolutely in love with her music right now. For me, listening to her, winding down, and having a nice glass of tequila or whiskey (single, on the rocks), and sitting out on the deck.
Barbara: Unscripted TV and Dominoes pizza is mine. I’m a Real Housewives fan. New York, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, Potomac, and Salt Lake City because I lived there once. It’s my mind candy.
When you think about the stage of life that you're in, what are you most excited by?
Guadalupe: What I’m most excited about is the not knowing, even though it scares me. The ability to start scripting my own path, figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. I think that’s an exciting journey that has me moving with the ebbs and flows of every day.
Barbara: I’m excited about the deeper connections and friendships. Some are friendships that have been around for years, and others within the last few years. I’m also learning, thanks to my work wife, to be better at handling some of the pressures of being a business owner by disconnecting, listening, patience and delegation. And lastly, that it’s okay to have a good cry and feel the feels. This life stage is allowing a lot of us to be open with who we are, own who we are, and continue learning and doing what we desire.
What do you think is the biggest myth or misconception about menopause?
Barbara: There needs to be more discussion and understanding and awareness. We know about the hot flashes, those aren’t a shocker, but all the other symptoms like body aches, weight gain, mood swings, you name it. Most of us are unaware there are 34 symptoms that can affect our lives.
Guadalupe: There’s this misconception out there that people think there’s something wrong with you, that you’re somehow broken as a result of going through this very natural biological stage in our life. And so as a result, I think that trickles into not having the conversation. There is a lot of shame that comes with it. But it’s a normal stage of life. Don’t feel worse about yourself. Every woman is going through this. We look at menopause as something to fear or something to be ashamed of. This is just a normal stage, and I'm going through it just like I did puberty, and I’m going to come out even better and more beautiful on the other side.
What is your favorite Kindra product and why?
Barbara: I’m going to be honest, I just learned about the product a few weeks ago and I ordered the energy supplement. I love that it’s an all-natural product. I’m really excited to try the whole bundle, but especially the energy when you’re waking up in the middle of the night practically every night.
Guadalupe: I took the quiz (which I love, by the way), and it recommended the same thing for me! I’m in the same boat, as an entrepreneur and being “go go go”, so I’m excited to try the energy boosting diet supplement, too.
Barbara: It will be nice to potentially sit in a meeting and not have hot flashes that's for damn sure.
Guadalupe: to that point, what I love about you, Barbara, is that you could be in a new business pitch or with teammates, and you just put it out there. You weave it into the conversation, instead of silently suffering.
Barbara: And all the women in the room are like “oh girl, yes,”. Even men in the room start to see this as just a normal part of life.
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