By Dorian Martin, I Start Wondering Founder
What do women want currently in their life? In the first, I Start Wondering poll, we asked women who have reached midlife and beyond what they were interested in learning more about through I Start Wondering. Those who responded gave us some great feedback (and yes, we’re listening).
For some, paring back has become essential, whether that’s their commitments or their emotional turmoil. Others’ primary focus involves finding ways to enhance their lives, whether through better health or choices that are more aligned with their life values.
Top Requests: Health and Role Models
Two areas, selected by 70% of the respondents, rose to the top. The first involved addressing health issues that mature women face. One of the respondents asked for self-care tips as well as how to take time to replenish without feeling guilty. Another wants to learn about how to have more fun, noting, “Laughter is essential to health!”
We’ve already been addressing these types of issues, with columns on nutrition, craniosacral therapy, and the benefits of fun. But be sure to look for columns on physical, mental, and emotional health in the future.
Respondents also had a strong desire to see role models of vibrant women at midlife and beyond. One respondent commented that many women in her area “seem to structure themselves into an ‘old’ thinking mode and lack the confidence to do something differently!”
We agree that breaking the mold can be easier when you see another seasoned woman fearlessly exhibiting a quality of vibrancy. That’s why we’ve started featuring some women who are breaking the mold in relation to aging. You may have heard of some of them, like fashion icon Iris Apfel and dancer Wendy Whelan. Others are inspirational individuals who we know in our daily lives, like video storyteller Amy Ahlbrand Robinson and artist Mary Lynch.
Next Up: Reinvention and Spirituality
Two other areas—reinvention and spirituality—were selected by 60% of respondents. It seems like these two areas match up together so well since we have to have faith to be able to make these major life transitions.
Midlife and beyond bring a lot of transitions, and many of them are unplanned. Making those shifts isn’t easy. One respondent said she is trying to navigate widowhood while another commented that she is interested in learning how to find like-minded people after retirement. And one of our readers said she was interested in a different kind of transition: exploring how to change ingrained family patterns that inhibited initiating friendships or joining groups.
The I Start Wondering team has started exploring these various transitions. We’ve written columns on the grief of widowhood, the uncomfortable stage of transition, how to bounce forward after a setback, and learning to release the stories around family history. And because many on our team are currently in the midst of their own personal transitions (retirement, relationship changes, having aging relatives move in, and exploring entrepreneurial urges), I think I can safely bet that we’ll be addressing this broad topic more in the future.
Speaking of having faith…. While I Start Wondering as a whole doesn’t embrace a specific religious perspective, each of our team members has individual spiritual beliefs that we’re deepening. Some of our columnists practice specific religions, and you’ll see that reflected in their columns. With that said, we’re also trying to encourage open-mindedness and exploration of various religious and spiritual traditions. You’ve seen columns on the gifts of a spiritual retreat, engaging inner wisdom, the wisdom in slowing down, and the power of “I AM”—and with your feedback, we have the guidance to write more.
Creativity and Travel
The other two areas of note— selected by 45% of respondents—involve creativity and travel. We’re exceptionally happy to see these two areas selected because they offer us and our readers a chance to explore our inner and outer worlds.
Creativity is such an important topic as we age, but—sadly—it’s all too easy for that wellspring to become stagnant. So, while I Start Wondering already has covered creativity from a variety of angles (how to make a place for creativity in our daily lives, embracing your inner idea diva, and how to engage creativity in relationships), we also are embracing the idea of creativity in new ways. For example, several of our team are learning to write columns, conduct interviews, develop videos, and use different social media platforms. We’re also learning how to work together effectively so we can create I Start Wondering with intention and collaboration. We hope that you’ll do the same in embracing your new adventures in life.
Speaking of adventure, travel is increasingly feeling safer, and we have a group of columnists who love to travel. So be looking for more a-ha’s about how travel can help us stretch and think differently. For example, our columnists have shared their stories about being a solo traveler, the power of packing meaningfully, the benefit of taking a spur-of-the-moment trip, and the reasons why you can’t afford not to travel.
All the other areas on our poll—lifestyle, caregiving, personal finance, career, entrepreneurism, creating a legacy, the changing needs of the family, community leadership, and fostering collaboration—received interest from 40% or less of the poll’s respondents. With that said, I am sure we will continue to address these areas in some of our columns but will keep respondents’ feedback in mind as we move forward.
Additionally, one respondent suggested some new areas for us to consider: identity and intersectionality, anger and voice, and racial consciousness. Those are interesting and timely ideas that give our team something to ponder and learn. We’ve tried to create an I Start Wondering team of women who are diverse not only in skin color but also in beliefs and viewpoints. We’re on a quest to find ways to collaborate and celebrate each other—and to encourage our readers to do the same.
And—one last piece of good news—we did get one 100% response! It turns out that everyone who responded to the poll requested to be added to the I Start Wondering e-newsletter list. If you’re interested in joining to receive our missive (currently published monthly), sign up at the bottom of the page.
Again, thanks to everyone who responded. We really appreciate your feedback. And look for a new poll early in 2022!