By Kay Newton
In the Western world, it is common to hear women over the age of 50 express feelings of invisibility, unseen by the rest of society. It can be for many reasons, for example, an empty nest, divorce, retirement or the lack of meaningful connections. Yet, ageing does have advantages as does invisibility. Here are two women who have used age and invisibility to great aplomb.
Jacqueline (Jack) Perez
Jack Perez has lived a brightly coloured life, including running a successful business in the dot com era, backpacking around the world for a year (without any modern technology), dealing with her biggest life challenge ‘motherhood’, training in the martial art of Taekwondo achieving a 3rd Dan, and even going back to the stage to sing and dance at age 50.
Then something profound happened.
Says the founder of US-based Kuel Life, “At 52 or 53 years old, I became invisible. Period. I was just not there anymore. Also, my body began betraying me. I suffered from arthritis. Back fat appeared from nowhere. I started to look for information on the internet. The message seemed to be the same: use Botox and look 25 or 35 again! I could not believe it. I am not against looking good; it was just that I was 52 and not planning on dying anytime soon. I began to ask myself, ‘What was the second half of my life going to look like? Would I not completely matter?’”
As Jack did more research, she realised that women over 50 are the largest cohort of people on the planet. They are also the healthiest and wealthiest in history.
She says, “We are not our mothers or our grandmothers. As well as not slowing down, we make 90 per cent of the big-ticket purchase decisions of the Western household: cars, vacations and buying homes. Yet, nobody wanted to talk to me anymore.”
Based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Jack started a website as a pet project locally. She would research midlife topics, find experts and populate the site with content.
“All of a sudden I was getting emails from other women who write about their midlife expertise. At this stage in life, we have so much wisdom and talents to share. It is fabulous that we now have a place to do this. Everyone is welcome, the table is always big enough for another sister,” she says.
Many women are re-inventing themselves in their Second Act, she goes on. “Women entrepreneurs are the bravest women I know. I’ve built a Kuel Shop on the Kuel Life platform that allows visitors to ‘purchase with a purpose’ – to support other women in midlife.”
Jack has a second mission forming; she is thinking of dusting down her backpack in order to meet in person all of the wonderful women who are part of the platform. She may just knock on your door sooner than you know.
Based in Trinidad, Rowena Daniels is a travel planner and concierge who customises vacations to individual requirements and lifestyle, while she herself stays invisible and out of the way.
She says, “Everyone needs a vacation. It makes sense to relax and rejuvenate from your everyday life. It turns you into a great storyteller, gives you a memory for a lifetime. But finding the perfect holiday is an investment. Using an expert who knows the ins and outs can create a hassle-free experience. Another advantage of hiring a travel planner is that if any problems arise whilst you are on holiday, I will sort them out for you. All you have to do is pick up the phone.”
Rowena likens herself to the swan, calm and serene on top of the water, while paddling away below the surface to make sure all is great for her clients whether rich, famous or otherwise.
“My goal is always to create an experience that will never be forgotten. In order to do that, I first spend time getting to know you, your needs, wants, likes, desires for your perfect vacation. I then take some time to do all the research and find your dream holiday. I plan everything and send you a list of choices.”
The list is detailed and includes all other important information, such as the documents, vaccinations and insurances you need.
Rowena continues: “A client recently had a two-week business/pleasure multi-trip holiday. To start, she needed a hotel near the conference where she was speaking, and she loved the one I chose for her. I also sorted the rental car for the second stage of the trip even when the flight was delayed and the rental company was closed. I was able to sort out the problem for her without causing too much stress or interruption in her work. That is my goal, to invisibly make everything as smooth as possible.”
Recently, Rowena lost her younger brother unexpectedly. She says, “Tomorrow is not guaranteed; one day you are here, the next not. I challenge anyone to mark off holiday dates in your calendar now.”
Rowena’s recommendation for your next getaway is Germany for the Oktoberfest.
Kay Newton is an award-winning speaker, writer and midlife strategist. Follow her on KayNewton.com.
Lead image: Pixabay. First published in eShe’s September 2019 issue.