Rachel Lankester runs an online hub, Magnificent Midlife, out of the UK. Yes, we might be considered “competitors”; but instead we’ve chosen collaboration. We women in midlife and beyond don’t need fewer outlets to empower and champion us; we need as many as we can get.
I am thrilled to feature Rachel in the Share Your Story series. She is a brilliant example of the “KUEL” woman. And, you can read my piece on her The Mutton Club – How To Survive Your 50s – The 7 Lessons I’ve Learned.
This is Rachel Lankester:
KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it comes out of left field?
“I believe menopause can also be a very positive transformation”
RACHEL: I appear to have turned the calamity of an early menopause at 41 into both a mission and a business! I’m now trying to rebrand menopause and raising awareness, so women are prepared not scared. Rather than being seen mainly as a time just of loss and struggle, I believe menopause can also be a very positive transformation in a woman’s life. It can be difficult for some, but I see symptoms as the canary in the coal mine, the body’s way of telling us that we need to make changes, whether those be related to diet, exercise, lifestyle or mindset. There’s lots we can do to improve our experience of menopause, midlife and aging in general, and I’m trying to spread the word about that. Now I spend my days helping women deal with any messy midlife stuff so they can create a magnificent next chapter. I genuinely believe midlife and beyond is our time to shine.
KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
RACHEL: I write morning pages as soon as I wake or after a short meditation. Then I go for a run most days. I need to get outside first thing and feel a bit lost if I don’t! After that there’s not really a typical day. It may include recording a podcast or guesting on one, mentoring a client who’s working with me to discover and create their magnificent next chapter, creating content for my Members Club or other online programs, writing blog posts, giving a talk about positive aging, writing or editing my book, or any number of other things. I often work far too late into the evening because I love what I do so much!
KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?
RACHEL: I struggle with staying focused. There’s so much in the world I want to learn about and explore, and I can get lost down many an interesting online rabbit hole!
KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
RACHEL: Morning pages is great for this. I get any negativity out first thing on paper and use this time to explore any issues that come up for me. Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated, especially when battling years of society telling women that aging is somehow something shameful and to be hidden at all cost. But reminding myself of my ‘why’, which is to change all those negative narratives so women can step forward as we age, not be embarrassed to take up space, usually gets me back on track. Seeing midlife role models like the new US Vice President, for example, and what they have achieved, also helps.
KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
“we are more valuable to our communities as leaders than as breeders”
RACHEL: We get better with age not worse. There’s absolutely nothing shameful about aging. I’d like us to be more whale. The only other creature to go through menopause is the whale. Once through menopause, whales become the leaders of their pods, often for up to 50 years. In traditional hunter gather societies, older women were venerated for their wisdom and experience. They knew where the good herbs were, what was poisonous and how to keep communities functioning. I believe the evolutionary reason for menopause is that as older women, like whales, we are more valuable to our communities as leaders than as breeders. The world needs older women now more than ever!
KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
RACHEL: Vulnerability is about integrity to me. Being honest about what is happening personally and willing to be open about that. But when I get flack for being honest and open, that can make me feel very vulnerable. But as Brené Brown says, vulnerability is strength.
KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
RACHEL: Ooh how long have I got! I was a student in Beijing at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. That was pretty massive for me. Then I was in Manhattan on 9/11. Another pretty momentous occasion. Not long after that I got divorced and moved back to the UK to start again pretty much from scratch. Three big events that definitely shaped my life.
KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
RACHEL: So many people. The list is very long. If I have to pick one, I think it would be my son. He has brought so much joy, made me push forward through adversity to create a good life for him and he challenges me regularly on how I see the world as a privileged middle-aged white woman.
KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
“If we shout loud enough, we can change everything.”
RACHEL: So many again! I get weekly amazing advice from the women on my podcast. This is a good one: “If we shout loud enough, we can change everything.” Tracy Edwards MBE
KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
RACHEL: The women on my podcast! Dr Kathryn Mannix, a palliative care doctor who’s written extensively about how to talk about death. Ashton Applewhite, the anti-ageism activist who has spoken at the UN on ending ageism. Tracy Edwards MBE who captained the first all-female yacht crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. Jo Moseley, the first woman to paddle board coast to coast across the north of England at 54. Amazing women doing very cool stuff and inspiring us all to live fuller lives.
KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?
RACHEL: Oh god no! Still not sure what I’ll do when I grow up!
KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?
RACHEL: Meditation, journaling, running, yoga, walking in nature, too much Netflix.
KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
RACHEL: I’m multi-passionate! How can I choose?! Oh go on then. Machu Picchu, my book to be a best seller, a house by the sea. But tomorrow it could be different!