Welcome to #ShieldsDown!
#ShieldsDown began in January as a movement within the movement of Forever Fierce. It is being courageous, vulnerable, and brave enough to take off your armor, let your shield down, allow yourself to be seen, to be understood, and to know you have something that someone needs to hear. It's okay to be who you are, the one with the battle scars, and to know you are not alone.
This week we're pleased to feature Forever Fierce Community member Maria Olsen. Maria leads writing/empowerment retreats for women, is a speaker who talks about overcoming common battles, including divorce, empty nest syndrome, work/life balance, sexual assault, feeling less than, addictions, anxiety and depression, to become our best selves. She is the mother of two children, a lawyer, journalist and author of two adult nonfiction books (including 50 After 50--Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life) and two children's books.
You can find Maria at her website, IG, Facebook, and Twitter.
--Deb Gutierrez, Associate Editor
If you were to give a name to your shield, what would it be? Is there an experience in your life or moment when you decided it was time to let your shield down? If so, what experiences unfolded for you?
"The Malleable Mask" is what I would call my shield. I am bi-racial and never felt Caucasian or Filipina. I just felt other. So, I became a chameleon, attempting to be whatever I believed the audience then required. I did not allow myself to discover my authenticity until I turned 50. In my 50th year, I got divorced and sober, and became an empty-nester, living alone for the first time in my life. My 50th birthday gift to myself was to try 50 new things in my 50th year, to explore the contours of how I wanted this chapter in my life to unfold. I became my best version, because I dropped the masks and the rock of self-judgment. I am continuing to evolve, as we all are, and now am working on 60 new things by the end of my 60th year!
One of those 60 things is that I had a marriage ceremony to myself on the weekend my ex-husband got re-married (to a fitness instructor). I invited my three best girlfriends to meet me at a Colorado mountain for my wedding. Below a moonlit sky in a small stone pavilion, I told my friends how much each one of them meant to me and why, and I said my vows...to myself! I am responsible for my own happiness and now know the difference between being alone and being lonely.
Is there something you believe will manifest this year by being more open to living with your shield down?
I believe that the universe and my HIgher Power have allowed me to learn how to use my past trauma as a force for good in the world. By being public about my sexual abuse, rape, sobriety, divorce and experiences with racism. I have been able to help others not feel so alone and to heal. It is my passion to continue to do so and to make this world a better place each day because I was here.
Is there something you want to inspire or encourage others to do, see, feel, or be, to be brave enough to let their #shieldsdown?
About one in four women in the U.S. will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Until I was able to allow other trusted women to bear witness to my pain from being raped and abused, I was not able to heal. Keeping trauma secret is like holding a beach ball under water. It takes a tremendous amount of mental energy to hold it down and, when you are depleted or not vigilant, it pops up in unexpected ways. I have lashed out before at someone, not for something they did, but because something triggered my old, unresolved trauma. So, fierce sisters, come forward and share your painful stories. You may help heal another person. And yourself.
One of my favorite quotes, by Paulo Coelho, in his book, The Alchemist:
"Before a dream is realized, you have to master the lessons the world sent you... We all have a role in the heart of the world..."
Maria Olsen had the audience in the palm of her hand as she talked about being raised a Catholic, taking a DNA test and finding out she was the product of a one-night stand. She tracked down her Jewish dad and discovered he had played for the Washington Redskins. "He's thrilled I'm in his life," she said, not revealing his name.Read More
50 After 50 made Fupping.com’s choice for “Nice Gifts for Her Birthday”! https://fupping.com/yehoshuabomberg/2019/05/16/15-nice-gift-ideas-for-her-birthday/Read More
At age 50, Maria had drank her way out of her 25-year marriage. She had, against much advice, put all her eggs in the motherhood basket, will-fully derailing her successful law career. As teenagers, her precious children did not need her in the hands-on way they previously had. Her husband and she had grown apart because, among other things, they failed to nurture that important relationship. She was depressed and stuck. When she turned 50, she had the distinct feeling that she was on the downward slope of her life. Actuarially speaking, she was. So when she turned 50, her gift to herself was to go on a crusade to make the most of whatever time she had left.
She set out to do 50 new things that were significant, at least to her. The list spanned physical challenges, adventure travel, and lifestyle changes. Each taught her something about herself and about how she wanted to lead the next years of her life to come. She ended up writing a book that follows the work she did to overcome addiction and trauma to accomplish those 50 new things and shares with readers how to make their own action lists.Read More
When it comes to heartbreak, most people fear it, citing it as one of the most crushing experiences of a lifetime. Not Chelsea. On the podcast Thank You Heartbreak, Breakup Coach Chelsea Leigh Trescott explores the upside of heartbreak, shedding light on how loss is our greatest opportunity to become meaningful, relatable human beings who are stronger in love, life, and character.
In Episode 106, Chelsea speaks with attorney and author of 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life Maria Leonard Olsen. The following is the transcript from their conversation. Click to listen in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and SoundCloud.Read More
Recommended as one of the best Mother’s Day Gifts! https://www.hempurecbd.com/best-mothers-day-gifts/Read More
Right after turning 50, author and speaker Maria Leonard Olsen's whole life changed. She got divorced, she got sober, and she started taking self-care seriously. These important self-care shifts launched a more authentic life for Maria, one that she bravely shares with others to support their healing.
In our conversation, we speak about the connections between self-care and social justice, how to set stronger boundaries so we can live with more purpose, and why it's important to be vulnerable and share our whole selves in order to heal.
Stretching my comfort zone and trying new things and ways of living distilled for me what was most important to me and how I would design my life in accordance with my values.Read More
Honored to speak at the HCPA’s Impact 2019 Mid-Year conference in Washington, D.C.Read More
Recommendation of “50 After 50” by Boove (U.K.) as a helpful book to build long-term self esteem. https://boove.co.uk/books-on-building-self-esteem/ #fiftyafter50Read More
Maria is an attorney, a cohost of DC’s “Inside Out” radio show on WPFW fm 89.3, a women’s writing and empowerment-retreat leader and diversity speaker, and a woman who turned fifty expecting to find life less satisfying. But while her children didn’t need her as acutely and many of her other relationships had also changed, by setting out to accomplish fifty specific things, she discovered that the key to a meaningful life was still within her power.
Her chosen goals ranged from physical challenges and travel to lifestyle changes, and the project revitalized her life. As she recounts how she selected and pursued her fifty activities, readers will be inspired to choose their own set of objectives for the next stage of life.Read More
Maria Olsen - From addiction to midlife makeover Old Chicks Know Sh*t Podcast
Listen on Apple Podcasts
#002: At age 50, Maria Leonard Olsen drank her way out of her 25-year marriage. She had, against advice, put all her eggs in the motherhood basket, willfully derailing her successful law career. In this interview she shares her story of coming to terms with her addiction, the journey to recovery and finding herself underneath the facade she had created to deal with everyday life. We discuss such topics as the importance of truly getting to know yourself, How the principles of recovery from addiction can be applicable to anyone looking to reinvent themselves and her new book "50 after 50". She has gone on to become a successful lawyer, author, and speaker. Her story of reinvention is poignant, gutsy and inspiring.Read More
I am honored to be appointed as chairperson of the #HerStory Women’s Global Empowerment Conference 2019, Washington, D.C.! The conference will begin in New Zealand July 23-25, and will run globally for up to 12 months. The D.C. conference's dates are dependent on our venue. Once we have the date, I will post it on our local FB page. If you are interested in speaking, volunteering, sponsoring, being a vendor or helping to organize, please register, join the international AND our local FB pages, and view our founder’s message (links below).
Piece I wrote on the most influential books in my life, for BreaknLinks.Read More