There is power in story telling. There is power in community. There is power in sharing. The more we know about one another; the more we understand; the more powerful we become.
This is Melinda’s.
KUEL LIFE: What are you pursuing now, after 50, that surprises you, or might appear to others as if it’s come out of left field?
MELINDA: I’m painting on silk and also sewing. If you would’ve told me 20 years ago that I would be doing either of these, I’d have said you were crazy.
KUEL LIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
MELINDA: That’s a great question. My days and weeks vary based on the work that I’m doing. I consider myself very fortunate that I do consulting work that affords me great flexibility of my time, and that I have a supportive partner who supports all of my endeavors–including the artwork. I spend the early morning hours reading while my teenager is getting ready for school. Some days I make him breakfast, others I simply visit with him. If I’ve got a show coming up, I paint. I do some type of physical activity in the mornings, either ride the Peloton or attend a pilates class. Then the work day unfolds. Some days that includes working with people, others it’s making art in my studio, others it’s doing the boring but necessary computer work that supports all of my work with people. Many days it’s a little bit of all three. Once a week I volunteer at a local public school. I consider it important to do paid work and also service work.
KUEL LIFE: With what do you struggle?
MELINDA: I still struggle with “am I doing enough?”. That seems to be part of my life’s journey. While the struggle and my relationship with it has shifted, it is a constant. When I was younger the struggle was more about doing enough out in the world. Now I struggle more with am I doing enough for my authentic self – because when I do that, I connect with all of my ‘badassery’, and am I doing enough to support others showing up as their badass beautiful self.
KUEL LIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
MELINDA: I follow the bliss. It feels good to eat well rather than eat crap. It feels good to move my body. It feels good to do work that I care deeply about. It feels good to be present for a friend in need. It feels good to boldly stand up for a political agenda that I believe in. It feels good to challenge myself to learn something new. …and when it feels good, it’s motivating.
KUEL LIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
MELINDA: Follow the bliss. Be your own badass beautiful self.I define BadAss as the swagger one feels when they release into one’s self – ALL of one’s self. While it’s an incredibly bold and brave way to be, it’s also a little bit vulnerable, definitely intriguing, very sexy, and completely freeing. It’s “thrive no matter what baby!” because your badass self in all her beauty cannot be held back.
KUEL LIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
MELINDA: I’m a Brene Brown fan, and I really like her definition: “I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” It’s a vulnerable thing to make art and then share it with the public. It’s vulnerable for me to say that I’m an artist, and it’s vulnerable for me to show up with all my ‘badassery’. The only person who makes me vulnerable is me…. and it’s very brave to show up vulnerable.
KUEL LIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
MELINDA: 1.Getting married and becoming a parent. I wasn’t going to do either, but am so glad I did. I thought I knew everything before having children. Don’t get me wrong, I knew a lot about child development, education, and learning…but having children helped me to learn to be present with WHO is there, to be present to what’s emerging, and to ask for help. (You’ve got to accept help when you have three children under the age of five) Before I was married, I was in a long term partnership with someone else. I said it was just like being married, and a very wise woman said..”yeah, except you are not”. She was right. I’m extremely fortunate to have the partner I have now. He loves and supports the me that I am and the me that I continue to grow into. 2. Going to a ropes course. I was scared the whole time to leave the ground and on the edge of a panic attack. Fortunately, there was a kind and patient facilitator who talked me down, and then let me go back up. He stayed present with me while I was fully in my fear. 3. Participating in Authentic Movement sessions. Authentic Movement is Jungian-based work. Some people call it active imagination. The experience has helped me trust my self and my process. You’ve got to trust the process when you are an artist.
KUEL LIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
MELINDA: This is such a hard question to answer. Of course I’m influenced by my parents. Of course there have been numerous colleagues who’ve influenced me. Of course there are teachers who’ve had great impact on my life. But who’s had the most influence? I’ve got to say my three kids. I would not be who I am today without their influence.
KUEL LIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
MELINDA: My friend Rachel gave me the best advice about forgiving. Forgiving is so impactful and for many of us, me included, HARD to do. I’ve been challenged to forgive my self as well as to forgive others. Rachel held up her hands together, then opened them palms up and said “for” then moved her hands closer to me “giving” she said. That simple little shift changed everything for me.
KUEL LIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
MELINDA: Michell Obama inspires me. She’s a total badass beauty! I love how she created and implemented the ‘LetsMove’ campaign. I love how she brought healthier food to the forefront of all of our conversations. I love that when others go low she goes high. I love how she talks about education. She’s a brilliant speaker. She’s clearly a partner to a powerful man. She inspires me to show up and make a difference, simply by showing up.
KUEL LIFE: Are you grown-up?
KUEL LIFE: What do you do for self-care?
MELINDA: I move my body. I eat a plant based diet. I make art. I go for walks with girlfriends. I have quiet time all to myself EVERY DAY that I focus on ME. I’m getting much better at this post 50.
KUEL LIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
MELINDA:1. To hold a badass beautiful retreat at an exquisite mountain house, a large beach house, and on an island. Each with 6-12 women getting in touch with their own ‘badassery’. 2. Hike in Glacier Park with my husband. 3. Visit three more Caribbean Islands. 4. I went back and re-read what I wrote about Michelle Obama. Truth is, I’d love to follow her around for two weeks.