Do You, Can You, Will You, Have a Sense of Freedom About You?

By Shannon Boatwright


“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcase of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.”

  • Shannon L. Alder

As we journey into a new year, I want us to start with as much confidence, hope and positivity that we can grasp hold of. Ironically, as I write this blog entry, I’m quite honestly not feeling very confident and actually have a hint of depression with a side of insecurity. I’m aware of my worth, my skills, my talents & most importantly, my blessings. At my core, I know I’ve got this. Yet, in this moment, I’m hesitant and leery of starting a new year, one that will bring an incredibly busy rest of the school year (one in which just the thought tends to overwhelm me.) This past year there were people I’d hoped to reconnect with, things I would’ve liked to accomplish personally and adventures I wanted to experience with my kids. I have a birthday coming soon and I’m not doing so well with this whole getting older thing. Any woman reading this entry I’m sure will feel me on the issue of dealing with getting older. Though I love the getting wiser part, the physical aging part of the equation certainly has its moments.

That being said, I decided to share the quote above because, well, I think it’s fabulous. I’m a fan of actress and rocker, Juliette Lewis and she recently posted this quote on her Instagram. She’s a firecracker of positivity and I think she rocks. So, in my moment of feeling a bit down, this quote was what I needed.


Have you ever noticed that in your moments of strength and positivity – you know, those times when your confidence is actually at a healthy level – that you indeed have a sense of freedom about you? Yea, those moments are lovely. It’s in those moments that we’re willing to reach for our own positive change, better directions and ultimately create the change that makes a better YOU. And those moments are moments I think we should experience more of!

In light of a crazy past year, let’s look forward in this beautiful future we have the privilege of living, and live it with an air of total confidence, recognizing our worth, taking pride in our many talents, ready at every moment to celebrate our freedom to accept that the fact is, we totally rock.

The sooner we can see that, recognize that and accept that, the sooner we can create it. No matter what your age, range, size or level in life, take pride in your skills & your goddess beauty, inside and out. Freedom awaits. 🙂


Oh Stop It! Not 40! Seriously???

By: Shannon Shull

Ok, so I admit it, when people say to me, “Oh stop! You are not turning 40! Seriously!?” well, I secretively like it, even if they are totally faking their sweet shock. Of course, it’s only after I’ve broken in and divulged the information to some endearing person that can relate, that I ever tell anyone my age.

Sssssshhhhhhhh!!!! Don't tell anyone

Sssssshhhhhhhh!!!! Don’t tell anyone

I quite enjoy not letting anyone know my real age. In fact, I refuse to tell my students how old I am. Kids can be brutally honest, so when my students discover that I have kids of my own and make claims about how they can’t believe I have an 11 and 9 year old, then proceed to guess my age in the 20s or early 30 range, well, let’s just say I prefer to keep their thoughts thinking just that! Suits me fine, I’m won’t lie about that.

So why is that? Why am I literally dreading turning 40?!? Ugh… I get a bad taste in my mouth when I even think about it. Sad, I know. It’s just that I eternally think of myself as a young person. I can’t help it. And now the harsh reality of life is smashing a pie in my face and it’s not funny. How can I seriously be entering my 40s? I mean, I still think of my own mother as being in her 30s!

My Mama & Lil Shannon - Oh to just be a child again!

My Mama & Lil Shannon. Oh to just be a child again!

It’s been an interesting adventure witnessing other friends turn 40. Everyone seems to have a different take on some level. Some, like me, dread it. And, some even go so far as to refuse to talk about or even dare celebrate it. Others go all out and throw down, rockin’ the town with their besties. Some take it very seriously and torture their bodies so that they can enter their 40s with a bod they can also celebrate – we’re talking botox, liposuction, harsh diets and exercise, the whole shebang. And then some let the day pass like “it ain’t no big thang,” it’s just another birthday to them.

…insert deep breath accompanied by a dramatic moan…

I’m thinking I may be a combination of all these different takes. If money was of no concern, I would go full out with body improvements and take myself on some fabulous trip in which I’d do nothing but eat, drink and live up every moment celebrating my grand entrance into the 40s. But alas, my busy schedule will not allow for that. Not to mention, anyone who has an inkling of how us teachers get paid for all our hard work… well, you get my drift. So no fanciness for me, but I do have all the things that money can’t buy!! And that, my friends, is what makes life worth living! All these beautiful things in my life, for which I am ever thankful, will make entering my 40s not-so-bad after all.

I came across this fabulous article written by a lady who has quickly become one of my favorite writers. Christina Vuleta has a fantastic article on the Huffington Post called, “15 Things to Love About Turning 40.” I’m really thankful I came across this article. Let’s just say I needed to read these wise words of hers at this time in my life! I want to share some of the incredible points that she brings to our attention because, well, they’re pretty priceless.

Some things to love and embrace about turning 40…

“You realize that all those people you think are so confident and lead perfect lives… are just as screwed up as everyone else. 

You learn that it’s a waste of time comparing the worst of yourself (your insecurities and flaws) with the best of others (their Facebook profile, family pic, etc.). And on top of it all you realize your flaws may just be assets.”

You know it’s true! People put their best on Facebook and all those other social media sites. Can’t blame them and I’m not slamming anyone, but it’s certainly not fair to compare ourselves to others, ever, because the truth is, we all have our issues! No one is perfect and if they claim to be, de-friend them and RUN – cause they’re not living in reality.

“You ask.
You know your worth and you aren’t afraid to ask for it. You realize that “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” and there really is nothing to lose.”

I can relate to this one because I have certainly learned by this age that we might as well reach out for what we want, reach for those dreams and take chances, because gosh, what in the world do we have to lose!?! The worst we can be told is NO. Better to have tried than to regret not trying.  

“You get your silly on again.
You learn not to take yourself too seriously. You really do dance like no one is watching. You are like a teenager again… but less loud. It’s not for show. It’s for smiles.”

I LOVE this one. Get your silly on! For smiles, NOT FOR SHOW. Amen to that, heh!? The more I’ve learned to just let go and have fun, the more I benefit from it in so many ways. There’s no need to take everything so seriously. If only everyone could just loosen up, the world would be a much better place. 🙂

“You have resilience.
Nothing is the end of the world. You have been through enough downs to know there eventually is an up. Life is long. Time heals. So just give yourself time… and accept your sadness. It’s part of life.”

Oh do these words ever warm my heart. “Life is long. Time heals. Give yourself time and accept your sadness. It’s part of life.” Man, that’s beautiful.

“You respect yourself.
Meaning you can see when someone else isn’t respecting you and value yourself enough to form an escape plan. Get a mantra. Remind yourself daily of your worth.”

Whoa, now that one is deep and so incredibly true. This is something I’ve had to learn the hard way. But that mantra worked and I do try to remind myself daily of my worth.

“You are more beautiful.
Any 40-something woman who decides to eat well and find one exercise they like to do, looks better than they did at 20. Yes, you may lose the baby fat or spring, but there is beauty in living a full life. You see yourself more kindly. You feel at home in your body, and it shows.”

Oh what a lovely one to wrap this up with! I look back at old pictures and yes, my lines are less deep, there are no grey roots… but I do indeed feel more beautiful now. I’m working on getting back to exercising again like I should be to feel and look better. But, I am more comfortable in my skin. I have a confidence I never had when I was younger and it feels so good. Sure I might be tempted to try out Botox and such if I had the fearlessness to actually try some medical procedure! But for now, I have decided to embrace my lines, imperfections and effects from age. I guess I don’t have much of a choice! Ha! But hey, it sounds and feels better to declare that I am embracing my age.

The 40-year-old happy Shannon

The 40-year-old happy Shannon

So there you have it. I’m going to decide right now that my 40s are going to rock. I am making a promise to myself right now that I’m going to make the best of it. To the best of my ability, I’m going to live my life to the fullest! Daggomit, I’m 40! Just don’t tell anybody, ok? 😉

The Fillers

By: Lara Clark

Wednesday was my birthday. Cue the balloon. It was not a significant age, nor of much significance to report. I mean, all birthdays should really fall on the weekend because hump Growing olderday does not exactly scream par-tay. But with the passing of another 365 days, I did spent the day thinking about what my 29th year held and what my NEW 29th** year would have in store. The truth is, the older I get, the less convinced I am that I am ever going to have it all figured out. I still don’t understand much about insurance premiums, IRA’s (Roth or not), or coupon clipping…those things that I thought grown-ups understood.

With a little age under my belt (and under my eyes) I do understand a little more about unconditional love, heartbreaking loss, pure joy and fleeting time. This birthday, I wondered if maybe those grown-up things are what I should worry about and continue to muddle through the other stuff.

I recently watched the movie Boyhood and – this is not a spoiler, so I will tell you – the mother in the film says something to the effect of, “Life is just a series of milestones.” I don’t know why, but this quote just made me sad. Milestones are really pretty few and far between. I mean, obviously they are important… they are “milestones.” But what about the fillers, the in-between, the birthdays that fall on Wednesdays? I think I might need to hold a little tighter to those. I should free up the space in my mind that currently holds all those insecurities about whether I am where this grown-up should be in life. I am exactly where I need to be today or at least until I learn more and change a little here and there. I am “in between” milestones. Nice texts from my husband or tickle wars with kids on my couch are okay fillers too. Cue the balloons for those.

** I know Chaunte is right and I should tell my age proudly, but for now I will just admit proudly that I am aging.

How Old Am I? I Forgot.

By: Chaunte McClure

Chaunte McClureMy husband often hears: Have you seen my [insert color here] shirt? Honey, have you seen my keys? Where are my glasses?

Based on those questions, you can easily conclude that I lose track of things at home and because my husband is here with me, I guess I kind of expect him to have answers. But there’s one thing both of us lose track of and though it’s not tangible, it’s something that we need from time to time for important documents or just because someone asks. What is it? Our age.

Ladies, how many of you lose track of your age?! That’s where I am in life and apparently I’m in good company.

Last Sunday I posed this question to my Facebook friends and it resulted in a 53-comment thread with several women and a few men admitting to forgetting their age.

For the first 21 years of my life, remembering my age was a no-brainer. Now I have to really think about it when someone asks, or I just give a number and most likely it’s not the right number.

I wonder why that happens? Why do we lose track of our age? I think my forgetfulness started after I turned 22. I could easily remember the milestone years like 25, 30, and 35 maybe, but the years in between seem to have gotten lost in my memory bank.

Today I revisited a Facebook post from December and I noticed that I told someone that I’m 37. Wrong! I’ve been thinking that I will be 38 in March when in fact, I will be 39. Thanks to my high school classmate for getting me back on track. I’m not sure how long it will last, but since 40 is another milestone, I’m sure to be good to go next year.

I have to admit, I am the blogger who told you to tell your age proudly. I guess I need to add an addendum to that – tell your age proudly and accurately.

If any of you have scientific reasons why we forget our age, please share.

Tell Your Age – Proudly

By: Chaunte McClure

Last week I celebrated my 38th birthday. Oops, did I just tell my age? Who does that? There are many women who won’t. Well, I’m not one of those women. I don’t quite understand why women (and I know some men do it, too) keep their age a secret. Does your age help crack the code to a master lock or a mind-boggling riddle? Could that number be the one to help the inquirer win the lottery? Or are you just ashamed of your age? Don’t be. Be proud of your age, whether you’re 18, 21, 50, somewhere in between or beyond. It’s great to age, you know. If you’re not getting older, you’re dead. Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true. We should be grateful that we are living and have lived to see each birthday that has passed.  I’ve heard people say when their birthday comes around that it’s just another day. No, it’s not just another day. It’s your birthday, the date commemorating the day that God, who created you, allowed you to be a part of this world. That’s worth celebrating.

Happy BirthdayI usually don’t make a big deal out of my birthday, but this year was different. I wanted to do something for myself for a change. I wanted a change of scenery and to do something different. I decided to drive to Atlanta, even if I had to go alone. Fortunately, I didn’t travel solo. I was in good company with a friend I met in high school, whom I reconnected with last year. We had a ball! We shopped, ate, shopped and ate some more. I treated myself to a little pampering at one of the most popular salons in Atlanta, too. Besides, it was my birthday.

Well my birthday has come and gone, but I’m looking forward to turning 39, 40, and every age that follows. And every time I’m asked my age, I’ll proudly say it. Regardless of where you are in life right or how you feel about yourself, be proud of your age and be thankful that you’re still alive.

I’m Chaunte McClure, inspiring you to rejoice, be glad and tell your age.