Manage episode 362218214 series 3335979
Turning 40 and Finding Connection Through 50 Fun Things™
Teresa Thomas got divorced at 45 and had a midlife crisis as she neared 50. She felt burned out and had a bad attitude about her upcoming birthday. Despite that, she planned a birthday party for herself around things she thought would be fun. She developed worksheets for her friends and family to fill out. One of which was 50 things she wanted to do in the coming year and left room for people to say which ones they wanted to join her for. All of a sudden, she felt connected and supported and the anxiety and depression she had been feeling lifted and she had things to look forward to all year long.
As an award-winning connector, presenter, networking expert and author, Teresa Thomas ignites intentional, connected and joy-filled living through her umbrella brand Win/Win Connects. Teresa developed the 50 Fun Things® tools and experiences as a way for groups and individuals to look at how they can add fun and fulfillment as integral pieces in their lives, leveraging joy on a personal and professional level.
Teresa is the author of Win/Win Networking: Your Guidebook for Confident and Effective Connections and 50 Fun Things: Enjoy the Small Things (and more recently 50 Fun Things for a Writer's World). She has led, facilitated, and presented for hundreds of events and groups for over 20 years guiding thousands to connect and grow.
Teresa was awarded the title of Women’s Business Champion in 2019 by the SBA (Small Business Administration of Minnesota) for her commitment to helping others succeed through networking. She was named Dynamic Connector and recognized by AARP of Minnesota and Pollen as one of Minnesota’s 2019 50 Over 50 Exceptional Leaders.
Turning 40 and Finding Connection Through 50 Fun Things™
Teresa Thomas was a model people pleaser, doing things for everyone else saying yes to things she didn’t want to say yes to but didn’t feel like she could say no to, putting other people first and finding ways to make other people happy and get along. She says that her fear of disappointing people was bigger than her fear of dying or public speaking.
She now realizes that it’s a bit of a self-absorbed point of view because we have no control over what other people think of us. Now she knows it’s better to live as her best self and have the right people appreciate and show up for her versus trying to be something that she thinks they think they want her to be.
As the mom to small kids, there is some element of putting others in front of yourself, but Teresa realized that something was out of whack. Like the day she showed up to her first neighborhood association meeting and was drafted to be treasurer, despite her protestations that she was no good with numbers. But she didn’t want to disappoint these people (who she didn’t even know!) so she took on the role - and she hated it and had to force herself to do it.
Even friends and work colleagues would give her feedback on her people pleasing tendencies. At the same time as she was giving presentations on win-win networking, she was not allowing others to help her. One person was very pointed with Teresa and told her that the relationship didn’t feel reciprocal and, if she valued authenticity and meaningful connections then receiving is part of relationship building as much as helping others is. That was a lesson that took her a long time to fully absorb.
On the home front, Teresa thought things were going ok, but she was going to marriage counseling by herself, and doing the counseling homework by herself, and realizing that things at home weren’t feeling particularly reciprocal.
Teresa got divorced at 45 and then had a midlife crisis as she prepared to turn 50. She felt burned out and had a bad attitude about her upcoming birthday. She was reacting badly to people saying that, at 50, you’re confident and don't care what other people think - since that’s what she wanted for herself, but wasn’t feeling.
Despite her bad attitude, she decided to plan a party for herself - partly because she thought people would expect that’s what she should do. Her consolation was that she was going to do exactly what SHE thought would be fun.
As a kid, Teresa loved playing school, with worksheets and little assignments, so that’s what she did for her party. She created a couple worksheets for her friends and family to fill out. The first one was, how well do you know Teresa? The second one was 50 fun things she wanted to do in the coming year and friends could put their names next to the ones they wanted to do with her.
She didn’t know whether people would play along but every person at the party filled out their worksheet and some of them said they wanted to do multiple activities with her in the coming year. All of a sudden, she felt connected and supported and the anxiety and depression she had been feeling lifted. She had things to look forward to all year long. She felt hopeful and much calmer than she had been feeling.
Teresa thought this was just something she was doing for herself and she’d post about it on Facebook every now and then, but people started noticing. Friends started asking what her next adventure was going to be. And then a life coach asked if she could use it as a tool with her clients. And then someone asked if she would do a workshop about it. And then more people asked for workshops. She put together a workbook and other tools.
This little thing she created to give her things to look forward to over the course of a year took on a life of its own. Now 50 Fun Things is being used by others and Teresa is filled with joy to hear about the transformations taking place in organizations, groups and families. She’s created a tool that helps people create conversation, remember what brings them joy, try new things, be more present and find their sense of gratitude.
At the end of her 50th year, Teresa felt completely different than she did at the beginning. She felt on fire. She was opened up to the power of speaking your voice and telling people what matters. She felt more alive and connected with the possibilities that life has when we make small changes or shifts.
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
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