Turning my passion project into a career – Sandy Lowres

My intro:

I first found Sandy on her Good Girl Confessional Blog site.  I had just written a chapter for a book about recovering from being a Good Girl, so it was a bit of a perfect match.  We corresponded and clicked straight away, enjoying an online friendship for quite a few years, feeling like we were good friends.  We actually finally met in 2019 when I was a guest speaker for an event in Geelong.  Since then I have been a guest on Sandy’s podcast, and I am really looking forward to this magazine release.  Please make Sandy feel welcome to the guest blogs of 2020.BECKY

Turning my passion project into a career has been a long journey but 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year, where I am set to launch my first magazine, Woman Beyond Forty, or WB40 as I like to call it. If that conjures up images of car lubricant, think of WB40 as lubricant for your mind! Creating this project is hard work and there is stress involved to get it right, but it is absolutely a labour of love. So how did I arrive here? Well, I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Everyone I know has had an annus horribilis. One of those years that is forever etched in your brain as a horrendous time of your life. Mine was 2010, a year where I lost my father, my business, my marriage and my family home. It was a year etched in grief, and sadness. When my marriage ended after almost eighteen years, I sold my boutique retail business and took on a role as Executive Assistant in a company that would allow a steadier income. I took the safer road to create stability for my children. I was broke, feeling defeated and exhausted. Licking my wounds took a long time but as a creative, I needed an outlet and eventually I took myself to a blogging workshop.

I’ve always been a creative writer. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing down lines for future stories, or scribbling poetry on loose bits of paper and napkins which I call poetry scratchings. I studied writing at uni and have a background in communications. Starting my blog, The Good Girl Confessional in 2013 was a cathartic outlet. The name was a tongue in cheek nod to how societal and patriarchal expectations are placed on women to be quiet, obedient, “good girls” who don’t express opinions. I was anything but those things having been raised by a flower power feminist, and a supportive step father who encouraged exchanges of ideas. Writing under a pseudonym allowed me to be raw and honest, talking about the ending of my marriage, my divorce, and of course about my stepping into the world of online dating, sex and relationships as a single woman in a no holds barred way. While I didn’t think anyone would read it, and there is a certain freedom in that, to my surprise Elle Magazine once listed me in the Top 5 Confessional blogs to read, and I was nominated for several blogging awards over the years.

The Good Girl Confessional garnished an organic following and over the years it grew to include gorgeous guest bloggers and went from being a personal blog to including articles on women’s issues. I continued to work fulltime in the corporate world and juggled the blog as a passion project. A lot can change in a decade. In that time, I had been engaged and then single again. The blog allowed a safe place to vet the emotions that poured from that. I’ve had four jobs and my children have grown up. All three are now adults, and I made a conscious decision to start writing under my own name. I’ve also found love again with a fellow creative.

I found myself at a crossroads with my writing. Last year I turned fifty and started a podcast, also called The Good Girl Confessional which allowed me to chat with incredible and diverse women about their lives and their experiences. As a story teller, giving a platform to other women to tell their stories is something I’m passionate about. Over the years I kept flicking through magazines and realised that I couldn’t quite find what I was seeking – the voices and stories of women over forty. Western society would have us believe that once we turn forty we have less to offer, that we are invisible and yet I know so many extraordinary women forty and above who are vibrant, kick ass women. I knew these expectations were bullshit. Something else weighed on me. I had grown up with an incredible group of friends. We are still friends to this day. Having that sense of female community as I was growing up, especially in a dysfunctional family unit, made me the person I am today. I have been so lucky to meet so many amazing female friends along the way who have brought so much to my life. Through the blog community however, I started to realise that some women do not have that feeling of community and belonging. Many told me they didn’t have many female friends but they longed for connection.

So, I decided to create the magazine I couldn’t find. A magazine written by women, for women on the topics that interest us – culture, film, books, world affairs, feminism, the environment. I’m a firm believer that all women have a story. This has become the mantra for Women Beyond Forty. Through this platform, we are growing a community of diverse, vibrant, intelligent women who all have a story. We hope to create an inclusive and safe space for women forty and beyond. I’m so thrilled that the website will launch shortly and the magazine will be released in March 2020.

I have had moments of doubt that I can deliver my dream to fruition but when I put the call out to female friends who are writers, and close friends, all were enthusiastic and so generous with advice. Collaborating with amazing women who are writing for the magazine on a range of topics, and for the website has been such an exciting time. I have always found the generosity and wisdom of women to be amazing and this project has cemented that even further. My niche was always writing about experiences beyond forty, and WB40 is proof that we still have so much to offer. Our time is now and I can’t wait for you all to share it.

Social Links:

To follow along with Women Beyond Forty, and for launch dates, collaboration opportunities or advertising information: https://mailchi.mp/5010c7a28821/wb40 or head to info@wb40.com

Website (coming soon) : https://wb40.com

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-good-girl-confessional_1

The Good Girl Confessional is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, I Heart Radio, iTunes and where ever good podcasts are found.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GoodGirlConfessional/

WB40: Women Beyond Forty Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/womenbeyondforty/

Podcast Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thegoodgirl_podcast

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

How I Became an Author – Denis Murphy

I met Denis through the kind introduction of another author (Jodie Lane – you can check her guest blog out here. Denis and I spent over an hour recording a podcast for his show and discussing all things mindset. You can check that out here . He has kindly started the 2020 year of the guest blog for me with this discussion on how writing can be good for your mental health.  Denis is an incredible and resilient human being and I know you will enjoy his story so much that you will check him out on the socials which are listed at the end with his Bio – Becky

My relationship with writing has been a rather complex one to say the least. In school I was good at English but I wasn’t very connected to my voice as a writer. Technically I was good at English which led me to studying other languages but I had no sense of what writing could become for me. I lost touch with writing and creativity as I matured and developed into an adolescent and a young man. I started to see it as something that would make me stand out and be teased for. I didn’t have a strong enough sense of why I would voluntarily put myself through what looked to me at the time to be torture so I let my insecurities take control of my decision making process. In hindsight the uncomfortable decision to study French at university became the thing that kept me connected to my voice as a writer, although I didn’t know this at the time.


Indeed the French language is what eventually provided the opportunity that would make me deal with my personal demons from the past and fall head first into the world of writing. It wasn’t the introduction I was expecting, in fact it was quite the opposite. Going through a mental breakdown, while I was writing my first ever blog, in a remote part of France made me feel like I had lost my mind for good and there was no coming back from it. I thought I was now doomed to a life of subservience and dependence on other people. This was my initiation into the world of writing. I could either ignore this wakeup call from the universe and self-righteously hold on to my victim mindset or I could choose to grow from the experience no matter how bad things got. As cliché as it sounds, I decided I would grow from it and turn my mess into a message worth sharing.

Psychology became my gateway drug back into the world of writing. In order to move forward with my life I had to study and make sense of my own psychology and why I had a mental breakdown. I knew that if I wanted to make a full recovery then I couldn’t outsource this completely to a doctor or a psychiatrist. As good as I think modern medicine is it can’t take into account the human spirit and why things happen to us on a spiritual level. As I began my journey of self-directed learning I started to learn about my mind and what my insecurities were built from. The next step was to externalise the thoughts and what better way to do this than writing?

Initially writing was an outlet for me to vent and at the same time make sense of the world. It became a form of self-therapy and a form of self-education. I learned that when you take the time to write something new down, there is a higher chance you will retain it. My path to becoming a professional software developer was in part paved from the many blog posts I wrote describing what I was learning in the early days.

As the years passed I realised there was so much I was learning that could be very helpful to people who are struggling just as much as I was. I was an unknown blogger who was beginning to gain a sense of purpose and direction but who also wasn’t very sure of his ideas and had the habit of downplaying his knowledge and life experiences. This cocktail of knowledge and self-doubt is what gave me the idea to start a podcast. I already had access to mentors and I thought that their confidence in their ideas could help me reach more people and help me get over me fear of being seen by others.

I started The Happy Mindset podcast at the end of 2017 with a rather vague premise and an even vaguer title. I knew the idea of happiness was a core concept I wanted to explore as reflecting on this is what has helped me through my darkest and most hopeless moments. I knew that I wanted to explore the wide ranging world of psychology with the goal of helping my listeners learn about how their mind works. I was also hyperaware that most people would put these two words together and conclude I was a guy with his head in the clouds, denying the dark parts of reality before ever listening to understand where this podcast was really born from.

The podcast is what eventually led me to writing my first book – Taking my Life Back and becoming an author. The book outlines the key principles and lessons I learned after my mental breakdown. The purpose of the book is to help people rethink how they think about mental illness and how they think about people who have experienced a mental breakdown. I want to give a voice to the person going through their experience, another perspective to the psychiatrist, therapist, coach or teacher as well as to shine a light on the spiritual lessons that lie on the other side of such a traumatic experience.

The book came about because my publisher, Lisa Caprelli, was doing research for her book on happiness. Initially a podcast title that made me feel really uncomfortable is what led me to the opportunity to write a book. Lisa connected me with her cousin Davey Villalobos who happened to illustrate books. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I would work with Davey because I have a vivid memory as a young boy being told by the world that becoming a cartoonist wasn’t a viable career path. I believe that synchronicities will emerge when you have the faith to follow your curiosity, imagination and your heart.

My message is that although life can be extremely tough and frustrating sometimes there is always a light in every dark tunnel. The light I have found has been a journey where I decided to believe in myself again and dedicate my time, energy and attention on cultivating my skills and focusing on what truly matters to me.

Bio

Denis is an author, podcaster and software developer from Ireland. His many interests range from foreign languages to computer programming. He speaks 4 languages including French and he is currently learning Japanese. On his podcast, The Happy Mindset, he explores human psychology, creative writing and what it means to lead a happy and fulfilling life. He discovered his love for creative writing after some mental health issues he experienced in his early 20’s. His first book is called Taking my Life Back.

Social Links

Website: https://thehappymindset.com/

Podcast: https://anchor.fm/thehappymindset

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thehappymindsettribe/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehappymindset/

Taking my Life Back: https://amzn.to/2rxKOla

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience