Our Willowberry Age Without Apology Insta Live Series is held over on our Instagram page. These live chats with expert guests are designed to help you navigate age with confidence and style. Here are the highlights of our recent chat with life coach and mentor Tracy Acock of The Wellbeing Wisdom Club. Watch our chat in full here.
Tracy spent years working as a nurse in cancer services before swapping her career for a quiet life by the sea in Cornwall. This seemingly idyllic scenario in reality left her feeling unfulfilled, so instead of settling into retirement she set about building on her nursing skills to become a life coach and mentor. In our chat, Tracy talks about stepping out of the stereotypical expectations of life’s stages, embracing the gym in her 50s and how her new career helps make her feel more seen at 62 than she did at 40.
Tearing up the blueprint on age
“We can get caught up in the social constructs of the timelines of life: that we should be doing something by such and such an age. I didn’t start my nursing until my early 30s. Life evolves, and we can’t always see the end of things but sometimes it’s just about starting something that takes us somewhere. It’s never too late to start something new, start believing in yourself, start changing the way you see yourself.”
Why retirement wasn’t all it was cracked up to be
“I found that my life actually felt quite empty. Although I had worked really hard, and after 25 years in cancer services my soul had taken a bit of a knock and I did need to just take a moment, I realised that I did need meaning and purpose. When women come to me for coaching that’s often something that can be missing from their lives, for various reasons.”
The biggest change begins with one small step
“I’d been in a very structured environment in the NHS, I knew my job, I knew I’d get paid at the end of each month. I’m not saying it’s easy to start something new or to reinvent yourself but with a bit of help and guidance and self-belief, you can make it happen.
Through my Instagram women kept contacting me, asking how I felt motivated, how I was doing what I was doing (which at the time was strength-training in the gym) and so I started a blog and then it became a website. Then I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something with this’, so I basically transferred the skills I’d had before, psychological skills, communication skills, health training and put it together with a life coaching course. So here I am. I couldn’t see the end point, but it was just starting with something.”
Losing your way
“We are all unique. Everybody comes with their own background of life events but often women in midlife can have anxiety, stress, a loss of confidence, just not really knowing who you are anymore. We get caught up in the everyday and the ‘shoulds’, we can lose connection with what really matters to us and even forget who we are. After so many years of caring, we come at the bottom of the pile and don’t really even know what we want any more.”
Where a life coach comes in
“Having any type of coach or therapist is having somebody in your corner. If we are lucky, we have people that care about us that we can talk to, but we need somebody sometimes that isn’t emotionally attached to us, that isn’t just going to say what we want to hear. You need encouragement to believe in yourself and know the steps to that.”
Communal exercise isn’t just for toned twenty-year-olds
“I started going to the gym feeling really insecure and like I’d forgotten to put my clothes on, like everyone was looking at me. Confronting a middle-aged body surrounded by people the majority of whom were so much younger than me. Somehow, I felt the fear and did it anyway.
That was in my 50s and here I am now, I’m almost 63 and love swimming in the sea. What I love about it is the variety of women of different sizes and shapes. It doesn’t matter. It’s just people doing stuff that lights them up. It’s about living your life and forgetting your age. Movement is really important to me. Working with women with secondary breast cancer at the end of my career reminds you to just live life while you can.”
What your fulfilment toolkit should contain
“Movement, sleep, stillness. Find what lights you up, the thing that makes you forget everything else. Find stillness. We are so busy doing and we forget how to be. Create stillness in your mind: if you start your day with a prompt like ‘what do I need today?’, take 5 minutes to write what you need. Once we listen to what we need, we can start to notice what’s important to us.”
Evolving your mindset as you get older
“Part of my purpose now is sharing what I know with other women younger than me, the women coming behind me. It’s not like a toxic positivity of ‘Everything’s Marvellous!!!’. If we feel low, we have to feel that: feel it to heal it, as they say. Loving who you are is a big step for a lot of us because we are so used to giving ourselves a hard time. The relationship with ourselves is key to all other relationships.”
Embrace your inner cheerleader
“I think I feel more seen now than I did when I was younger. One of the positive things about ageing is that you start to worry less about what people may think. We don’t know what people think, we just worry that it’s something negative. We are hardwired to be liked, to be part of the tribe so it’s something to learn, to trust yourself, make a pact with yourself. Become your inner cheerleader.”
What top tip would you give to age without apology?
“I think we’ve been conditioned by the patriarchy to think we, and our bodies, should look a certain way. When you drill down it’s just being grateful to be here actually. Learn to somehow quieten down that voice, love you for you and enjoy life. Let go of some of that stuff and do the things that light you up, find what they are and do more of them.”
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