Thank you to the 365 Days, 365 Women project for including me and my reimagined midlife story in their selection of inspiring women. I was honored when they reached out to me, and excited to see the published piece. If you’d like to check it out on their Website, go here.
Please introduce yourself
Hi! I’m Natalie Wester and I am reimagining midlife. I’m a 61-year-young retired teacher, former company VP and business owner, solo around-the-world traveler, The Hot Goddess blogger, and a whiskey distillery intern with a passion for making bourbon.
Describe/define yourself in your own words
I’m that goofy friend who cracks you up, has your back, speaks her mind, keeps it real…and you probably don’t want on speakerphone if your kids or grandkids are in the car or room.
I finally gave myself permission to be happy at 59, and I’ve made it my mission to change the life I was living so I can live a life I love.
At 61, I am having a blast living my authentic life, inspiring other midlife women with humor (vibrating remote-control panties, anyone?) and stories of transformation (from opiod overdoses and a nearly successful suicide attempt in my 20s, to Teacher of the Year in the Oval Office of the White House in my 50s).
What is your favorite thing about yourself?
Just one thing? I have two superpowers. One is my Curiosity. Wanting to know more and learn new skills as a beginner and lifelong learner has been key to my overcoming fear and finding joy. The other is my sense of Humor. My ability to laugh at myself and willingness to be silly means I bring my own fun wherever I am, and makes every day a happy day. I think we really underestimate the power of humor and laughter as medicine.
Tell us a story. Have you had an experience that’s defined you or made you stronger?
After my father died and a long-time romantic relationship ended the same year, I decided to retire from my second career as a teacher. I was 59. From that decision, I made the next choice to travel around the world for 70 days by myself, as a first-time solo traveler. US, Portugal, Morocco, Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan, with only one carryon bag. I carried other invisible baggage, though. The kind of baggage you hope to lose. And I did lose it, thanks to my solo journey.
I am afraid of flying. Afraid of heights. Afraid of getting lost (I am not the one you want in charge of navigating). I almost canceled the trip the night before I was to leave because I started to panic. I had to talk to myself (plus do a couple shots of whiskey) to take the first step of just getting to Portugal. I told myself I could then cancel the rest of the trip after I got to my first destination. It was a little bargain I made with myself to manage my fear. Knowing I had an out helped me find the courage to just begin. I didn’t need to use that out, because I learned I had the courage and ability to do it all, all by myself. That first-time solo journey was the most empowering experience of my life, so far. If you are afraid to do something you’ve never done before…afraid to make a bold move… afraid to change your life, just take the first, single, small step.
After my first-time solo journey, I’d say my blackboard to bourbon journey has been pretty damn transformational. I’m a bourbon whiskey drinker, and was curious about how bourbon is produced. I proposed an unpaid “Midlife Reimagined Apprenticeship” to a local distillery, and they agreed to a 12-week internship! I was the only woman and oldest person on the distillery floor. I felt like a Bourbon Badass — flipping bourbon barrels and pushing 800-pound whiskey tanks. I even created a Whiskey Workout on my blog. I “graduated” from the internship July 30, and now am all set to fill in as a Substitute Booze-Maker when workers are absent. It really is thrilling to learn new skills. Such a confidence boost!
What is one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
I just wrote this on The Hot Goddess:
“I wish I could go back in time and tell my 20-year-old self that a lot of what she will chalk up to her ‘intuition’ will actually be her insecurity talking, and it will lead her down a path of recurring self-sabotage and self-fulfilling prophecies.
“Intuition comes from a place of confidence, power, and strength. Insecurity comes from a place of fear and doubt.
“I wish I could tell my 20-year-old self that most of what she feels is insecurity, not intuition. I wish I could hold her hand, giving her the confidence to listen to what really is intuition that could save her from harm. I wish I could tell her it gets so much better. I wish I could tell her this is coming.”
What does being a woman mean to you?
“What I love most about being a woman is possessing and wielding so many superpowers. Women combine strength, resilience, and grit with intuition, compassion, and empathy. We are badass nurturers, problem-solvers, and givers of life. Our ability to “do it all” and soldier on through physical pain and emotional despair is unmatched. I love our creative minds, our changing bodies, our deep passion, and our power to choose ~ to stay, to leave, to grow, to start over. I love being a woman who is empowered and in control and living life my way. Even on a sh*tty day I know my light will shine again because I am Woman.”
~ Natalie Wester,
Who is one woman that inspires you? What would you say if they were here now?
There are so many women who inspire me in so many different ways. Maya Angelou’s poem, And Still I Rise, is my mantra. If she were here now I’d say “Thank you.” Then I’d grab a bottle of bourbon and a couple glasses, and we’d talk all night about everything.
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