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The Shift that changed my life

Welcome to The Questions I Always Ask, the new regular Q&A slot that will give you an insight into other women's lives

Me at 55 and decidedly happier than I was at 25, 35 and 45!

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Happy February! We made it! And by way of celebration I’m starting a new regular feature here on The Shift, based on the popular questions I always ask at the end of the The Shift podcast. This is, in part, because I physically just can't make enough episodes to feature all the women I'd like to, but also because I'm always hearing how much you love those questions. So here's The Questions I Always Ask, you'll be seeing this in your inbox most weeks, along with the other newsletters you already receive. I've got lots of interesting women lined up, but do let me know any suggestions you might have by commenting on the bottom of this post. I'm not thinking A-list celebs here, just anyone you'd like to hear more from.) To get the ball rolling, I figured I should put my money where my mouth is and answer the questions myself. Here goes…

What has been your biggest life shift?
For me, it was definitely perimenopause. Not that I realised that’s what it was at the time, I just knew I was losing sight of myself in the most dramatic way –confidence plummeting, self esteem (always fragile) hitting rock bottom, self worth ditto, anxiety attacks every night and sometimes during the day too, combined with occasionally debilitating brain fog. With the benefit of a decade of hindsight this had all started before I resigned from my job as Editor-in-Chief of Red magazine, but I know now that it’s not uncommon for women in peri to put a bomb under part of their lives. It’s like your peri-brain actually does know what’s best for you, even if at the time it looks, from outside, like professional or personal (or both) suicide. Anyway, it was this emotional meltdown, coupled with the physical changes of peri (which is when I realised it was actually peri; even those as ill-informed as I was can recognise hot flushes and night sweats when they tsunami over them) which led me to therapy. And it was that therapy, dealing with things I’d shoved in a box in the back of my brain for three decades, that not only restored my sense of self but actually gave me a confidence I don’t think I’d ever had before. A confidence and determination that was born out of self-knowledge, not sheer bloody-minded I'll-show-you ness! It also made me realise I couldn’t possibly be the only one feeling this way, which led us, well, here.

What do you wish someone had told you about life after 40?
That it can actually be better than life before 40.

The best thing about getting older is?
I have finally realised that what other people think of you really doesn’t matter. (That doesn’t mean I don’t still waste time on Instagram hankering after what other people have. I’m older not a saint.)

And the worst?
Creaking when you get out of bed! Sexy, I know.

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Topic Questions I always ask