An Interview with Catherine Grace O’Connell

Hi friends! I have such a fun post to share with you today!

We are going into spring, and doesn’t it just make your heart feel so light? It is like all the earth is getting a beauty makeover! And the new life that is sprouting up seems to have the same impact in our hearts! I love that surge of uncontainable joy that comes in the spring!

This week,  I am so excited to share a fascinating interview with you!  This lady is the epitome of true beauty, strength, kindness, compassion, and fun fun fun! She has a passion for empowering and inspiring the midlife woman, and she is making waves around the world!

I am honored to introduce you to Catherine Grace O’Connell.

I met Catherine through a community she started on Facebook a few years ago, and it is now over 6,000 members from all over the world- the Forever Fierce Revolution. This is a Facebook community for women midlife and beyond. It is filled with the nicest women ever. Kindness rules in this community! I couldn’t believe a place like this existed where I felt so at home! I kept waiting, thinking at some point I would wake up and find it was a dream, but no, it is definitely the real deal!

I was so blessed to be able to meet Catherine at a conference she offered last October, and it was one of the best times I have ever had! I reached out to Catherine to see if she would let me interview her for my blog, and she said, “Yes!” So without further ado, I would love to share my interview with you on my friend, Catherine Grace O’Connell.

Catherine, I know you have literally transformed the lives of thousands of midlife women and given them hope and strength and excitement about life again! Can you tell us a little about you and your journey and the turning point that brought you to where you are today?

Amy, you are such a breath of fresh air! I don’t know that I’ve come across a kinder being in my life and that says a lot as the Forever Fierce Community is filled with beautiful souls.

Thank you for always seeing and acknowledging the good in others. I feel as if I’ve told my story so many times that I hope people aren’t tired of hearing it. But here goes. It wasn’t long ago that I almost lost my life to Lyme Disease after going misdiagnosed for over 10 years. By the time I was diagnosed in spring of 2014, the disease was in my brain. It wasn’t long after that I went through a Near Death Experience and survived. I was shocked to still be here and I didn’t understand why. That was, until this new world opened up. The path to creating Forever Fierce was completely organic. I believe it came from another place. It literally poured through me…the ideas and the inspiration to create this community. There was such a need, a niche to fill that didn’t exist for older women. I had no idea how invisible older women were in our culture until I became one. Rather than lying about my age and hiding in shame, I decided to embrace my age and shout it to the rooftops. Oh, and I decided to bring thousands of women along with me for the ride!

Catherine, you treat every woman with an excitement and expectation that the best is yet to come. I love how you affectionately refer to all women as “Beauties”, it is so nice to be included in that group! But many women feel as though the world is telling them a different story, one where the spotlight and good things are reserved for people under a certain age. What is your message to these women?

I understand these women more than anything. I was one of those women for over 50 years. I held onto a story that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough, thin enough, etc. etc. My mind was filled with disempowering stories. I didn’t believe I deserved anything but mistreatment. I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me and I know that’s a common belief among women. It’s almost as though there’s this mass hypnosis among young women that they have to go along with believing they aren’t good enough. They have low self esteem and non existent confidence. I see myself in these women. If I can come back to life and tell myself a whole new story and create a new life, an empowering life, and feel beautiful and confident, so can they!

You have had your challenges physically but today you look like the picture of health. Many women struggle with health issues in midlife. Can you share your personal tips on how to begin to embrace life and good health?

I have definitely had lifelong challenges with health. I was very sickly as a young child and that continued for much of my life. After I had my daughter, I had a very scary situation where I almost bled to death after her delivery due to a severe complication. I ended up finding alternative treatments that worked. The doctors at the best hospitals in Chicago couldn’t help me but a wonderful chiropractor who did acupuncture took me under her wing. I was fascinated and began studying and practicing everything I could. I’m a Reiki Master Teacher. I’ve been trained in many things including EFT, Pranayma Breathwork, TM, The Release Technique, Hooponopono (what is that you might ask???) and much more. I try my best to live a balanced life. I believe in 80 percent healthy and 20 percent fun! I’ve tried a lot of “diets” from raw to vegan to vegetarian. I’m more Paleo and Mediterranean now. I eat a lot of fish, chicken, veggies, healthy fats and tons of fresh fruit. I try and choose organic as much as possible. I eat at home as often as I can as it’s far easier to make better choices for me. I love feeling well. Plus, menopause has been rough so I have to work extra hard to stay balanced. I try and meditate every day. I work out 5 days a week. I don’t have a lot of time to get to yoga these days so I do my own at home. I have a yoga mat in front of the tv with weights so I have no excuses if I’m watching tv at night. It’s right there in front of me as a healthy reminder! I read something inspirational every day. I pray a lot too!

I love your pictures you share trying different kinds of fashion! You look confident and joyful! How would you describe your personal style? Is there a message you have for people that you are conveying in your style?

Thank you! Fashion is my “thing.” The love for fashion was in my DNA but I had to teach myself everything. My style is very easy. I rarely plan ahead what I’m going to wear. I’m usually playing around with things in my closet and drawers and just trying out different combinations. I live in comfy, cozy clothes – very bohemian much of the time. I also love getting really dressed up to go out. I experiment with everything. The only way to find out what looks good on you is to try different looks. My style philosophy is “Intuitive Style” or Style from the Inside Out. What I mean by that is there is a big difference between clothing and style. Clothing is simply fabric. Style is when we connect our energy and personality to the clothing and make it our own. I don’t believe any woman needs a stylist. We can be our own stylist. It’s easy to learn. Sure, some women are more natural at it than others. The best way to know what looks good on you is by feel. If you try something on and you don’t feel relaxed and like yourself, you won’t be able to project confidence. When you slip into an outfit, check how you feel. If it makes you feel beautiful, that’s all that matters. Go back to being a young girl and thinking of it like playing dress up. That’s all it is. Don’t take it seriously. Fashion isn’t meant to be serious. It’s meant to be fun!

I love your Facebook group, it is a place I visit every single day and it has transformed my life. Tell us a little about your group The Forever Fierce Revolution. How did it start? Who is it for? What happens there?

Oh my! It’s my favorite thing in the world! It all started with a wonderful and crazy idea on a yoga mat. The idea was crystal clear. Bring together 50 women over the age of 50 on the 50th day of the year and create a collaborative, supportive community for women over 50 to celebrate one another. I asked 3 other bloggers to join me and we created The Fierce 50 and that was the beginning. The campaign generated a lot of buzz and I knew I had to start a community. After that, it was simply word of mouth with one woman telling another. Now we have over 6k women around the world and it’s growing every day. Although the community was started by 4 fashion bloggers, it’s never been about fashion. It’s about empowering and inspiring women at Midlife and Beyond to think differently about aging. We don’t place an age on Midlife. That’s for women to decide as Midlife isn’t an age but a personal experience. We have women from 20 to 80! We have a few brave men too. What happens there is magic. Pure magic! It’s a bubble of kindness and compassion. If you want to be uplifted and have your best self mirrored back to you, join Forever Fierce!

Catherine, most people know within just a few minutes of meeting you how you love and value everyone. You are like every woman’s biggest fan!  Are there any dreams you have for other directions you might take your message and influence?

Thank you, Amy. I try. I’m definitely not perfect. I’m just much more aware of both the good and the bad or the dark and the light. I work every day to be the best person I can be. I make all kinds of mistakes. I’m just much more forgiving with myself and others now. I have lots of dreams. My ultimate dream is to be a motivational speaker like Brené Brown. She’s my hero. I love Oprah too. I would love to travel the world and inspire women to embrace thęir age and let go of beliefs and stories that are holding them back. I plan to do a Ted Talk. Hopefully next year. And a book too. I do love writing. Another dream would be to be in a fashion magazine and to be a representative for a major fashion and beauty brand.

I have never met a person with more meaningful quotes because it is as though every time you speak it is part of a tapestry woven to lift others up. What are some of the places you go for inspiration, motivation and a pep talk when you need it? Do you have a favorite quote that moves you deeply?

I do love my quotes! I’ve always been inspired by quotes. That’s been something I’ve loved forever. I began writing my own once I started this journey on Instagram. I just decided one day to begin doing my own and I had such fun writing them. I go lots of places for inspiration. I’m always surrounded by inspiring books. I’m a total book nerd! I also love nature. You’ll find me anywhere in nature, the beach, the desert, the forest, the nature preserve…anywhere…and I’m usually barefoot even when I shouldn’t be!

One of my favorite quotes is by Brené Brown:

”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: 

I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

~ Brené Brown

One of the most profound trips I have ever taken was to your conference last year, FierceCon 2018. Do you have plans to do a similar conference in 2019? Who is it for? What can they expect to find at this conference? How can they stay tuned for details of this conference?

So glad you asked! You bet we do. We are busy planning FierceCon 2019 October 25th through the 27th in LA and it’s open for registration in a few days. As you know from last year, FierceCon isn’t your typical conference. It’s an intimate bonding weekend for women at Midlife and beyond. It’s more a combination of conference along with a retreat experience. This year, we are offering an exclusive masterclass, workshops, beachside chats with inspirational talks, Gala dinner party and dancing, lunch, brunch, photo shoots, keynote speeches and much more. I can guarantee there is absolutely nothing else like it in the world. Every single woman will have a unique and deeply personal experience. She will leave with a fresh perspective on Midlife. Our theme is to Rewire and Inspire.

You also have an amazing podcast with some truly incredible interviews, you are extremely gifted as an interviewer. First of all, how can people find your podcast? Can you share briefly about the purpose behind your podcast and some of the interviews that really moved you or took you by surprise how they impacted you?

I do love the talk show/podcast. It’s been a dream come true. I didn’t have a voice for most of my life. I talked about starting a podcast over 10 years ago and here it is. I’m completely self-taught. It’s felt very natural. I’m surprised how easy it’s been. I still have lots to learn as I’m hardly a professional but I love doing the research on my guests. I spend a great deal of time on research. Once the show begins, I rarely use notes and just stay very present moment and conversational with my guests. The purpose behind the show is sharing inspirational stories to shift the way we think about aging. I interview a wide range of guests from celebrities to every day heroes or heroines. Every interview is message based and designed to empower and inspire my audience. I didn’t know a thing about how to do a talk show. I didn’t have any connections at all. I just began reaching out to people to ask for interviews. I decided to go for it and not hold back. My first interview was with Hannah Storm, the number one sports journalist in the world. I learned so much from her including the way I research for my interviews. I loved meeting Cheryl Richardson in person. She was such a delight. She was dealing with an illness at the time but she was so determined to not miss the interview. I loved how kind and compassionate she was. And, Davidji is just a rock star in my book. He is absolutely amazing. He is the real deal. So positive and upbeat with a powerful story of reinvention. He shares the epitome of a Midlife wake up call where he decided to choose a completely new path that fed his soul rather than his personality. Midlife is a time when the Phoenix tends to rise. When she’s ready to rise, you can’t hold her back!

For the woman with a dream or goal of any kind who has not yet taken the first step, what would your advice be?

First, I would begin with some inner soul searching. We spend most of our time searching outward. Midlife is a return to what matters. What matters is what’s in our hearts. We tend to live in our minds, disconnected from our hearts. When we look back at our childhoods, we can see our authentic selves. What made us happy are usually very simple things. We are all creative. Life is about creation. We come from creation. We are here to create in our own unique way. I would highly recommend that you don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Don’t try to do what someone else is doing if it’s not authentic to you. That doesn’t work in the long run. Once you have clarity after delving into the inner world, I would begin making a list of 3 simple action steps you can take to direct you in moving forward to creating your dream. We are either moving forward toward our dream or being pulled backwards. Moving forward takes energy and momentum. Staying positive and focused on your dream will keep you moving forward but you also have to take action steps. Even tiny steps add up. Without taking steps, we stay stuck or we move backwards. Every woman has the power to change her life if only she believes she does. If your beliefs are limiting, change them. Unlimited beliefs mean an unlimited life filled with possibility.

If you were to take a day to spoil yourself, what would it include?

Oh my. That sounds lovely. Do I have to choose? I suppose it would be beginning my day with a delicious yoga class and meditation. I would spend some time at the beach with a wonderful book. I would head over and get a Thai massage as that’s pure heaven! I would take a nap after laying in bed reading inspirational books or magazines. I would also order out one of my favorite meals. Something yummy but healthy and then I would probably finish it off with a bag of salt and vinegar chips. They have become a recent addiction. I have no idea how I went 56 years without them!

What are 3 bucket list items you want to include in your life story?

  1.   Travel around the world and try some things I have never tried before. I would love to meet as many Fierce sisters as I possibly can.
  2.   To swim in the wild with dolphins!
  3.   To take my daughter to an Equine therapy retreat with Koelle Simpson. She is absolutely amazing and it’s a life changing experience.

Thank you so much, Catherine for your beautiful and thoughtful responses, and for allowing me to share these lovely pictures! How can people find you on your various forms of social media?

Thank you, Amy. This was pure delight!

They can find me in our Forever Fierce Revolution Community almost every day. They can also connect with me on Instagram. I would be honored if they would follow me on my blog, CatherineGraceO.com. It would be a dream if they would subscribe to my talk show/podcast on Itunes. I’m also on Twitter and Linked In if that’s their thing! If they want to send me an email, they can reach me at Catherine@catherinegraceo.com.

Many thanks to Catherine Grace O’Connell for all she is doing to change the perception of midlife for the modern woman. She has found her purpose and continues to find fresh ways to “Master Modern Midlife” with joy and fun and positivity.

What I so appreciate is that when she discovered she had this passion to be a champion for the midlife woman, she could not sit on that dream. She was compelled to act on it. It occurred to me that all of us have something that we care deeply about. What if we all chose to simply “do something” to make positive change in this world? Yes, it might be messy, we might hit roadblocks, but we might also make ripples in eternity with the power of that little word, “yes”. Isn’t it exciting to think what influence we might have?

Thank you, my friend, for doing this journey together with me! Have a wonderful weekend!

I’ll be back Tuesday with another post.

Love Always,

Amy

I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.   ~Mother Teresa

 

 

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16 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful & inspiring interview! I requested to join the FB group, I love positive and supportive groups. This post is wonderful.

    1. Thank you so much, Loretta! This was just so much fun! Like interviewing you! When you really love the dreams and ideals of the person you are interviewing, it is like this extra special blessing!

  2. Thank you for sharing this inspiring interview Amy. I’m first getting to know many of the fabulous women in this group, including Catherine. Her spirit permeates every post and I’m thrilled to have found this empowering spirit!

  3. I really enjoyed this interview Amy! I recently joined the Forever Fierce Revolution and while it was completely evident that Catherine is a kind & beautiful soul, inside & out, I did not know her story! Thank you so much for sharing!💕💕

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