I’ll never forget the first time I came across Lorraine C. Ladish’s Instagram page, it was her welcoming yet direct and empowering message that she shared with me, and literally lifted me from a slump and kept me on my path! I was on the verge of turning forty and not feeling the greatest about. I was in a new place where I hardly knew anyone, so there wasn’t going to be any celebrating. I think I started to feel like life had passed me by and I lost track of time being a single mom and working 2 jobs for most of my life!
Her words to me:
“ It pains me that women approaching 40 feel old or like it’s a terrible thing. I hope to dispel those fears. In the last year, I met many wonderful women who are disrupting aging and proudly dealing with age! The 40’s are a great decade, I met the love of my life at 46, it’s never too late!”
This was a total wake up call for me. Lorraine not only took the time to reach out, but we connected that morning and both realized how much we had in common, we both had grandmothers that played a motherly role in our lives, we both had a unique closeness to our fathers and we both had overcame a truly damaging and heartbreaking experience!
At 40 Lorraine was busy having her second baby, at 45 she lost everything: marriage, money and her job. She ended up on welfare with her 2 girls, but not for long. Over the next five years she would re-invent her writing career online and establish her digital publication. At 51 she started yoga again and is a positive light to so many women that connect with empowering words! Her online community Viva Fifty! Is a bilingual community that celebrates your best age & I’m honored to have this opportunity to interview Lorraine on her life’s achievements!
M: I think your upbringing is so interesting. Please share where you are from and where your love and passion for writing originated?
LCL: My father is from Spain and my mother is from Pennsylvania. My dad came to the U.S. following the Civil War in Spain, escaping poverty and a dictatorship. He put himself through college and obtained a Ph.D. at a young age. In his early twenties he was a professor at Franklin Marshall University. I was born in Madrid, but grew up in Scranton Pennsylvania, where my sister was born two years later. We went back to Spain when my parents divorced and I was raised by my dad and my abuelita. I was five. I grew up as a dual national, bilingual and bi-cultural. I came back to the U.S. to visit my family but I didn’t move back until I was 41. That was twelve years ago, going on thirteen. My abuelo was a writer and a linguist and so is my father. My dad is a lexicographer. He compiles dictionaries. He wanted me to be a marine biologist, but my passion was for writing. I always made a living with words, whether translating them, adapting them or creating my own, to this day.
M: You are so open and honest with all of your struggles, yet your accomplishments as well! I think that is such a wonderful trait about you! You wrote a few very personal books particularly your first on “I Feel Fat” a personal experience about eating disorders and REACH -from being a single mom on welfare to a digital entrepreneur? How was your experience writing these book how did it help you grow?
LCL: Writing in this way is not difficult for me. I find it harder to write fiction, which I also have and do on occasion. I really wanted to be a novelist when I was younger. But at 29, I realized that I would never finish any book if I did not write the one that was begging to be written. That one was my first, about my long and arduous eating disorder. It was published when I turned 30. Keep in mind that was a time where the Internet was not a thing yet, and I wrote that book on my first PC, after years of keeping a handwritten diary and taking notes on a manual typewriter. That was before blogs, before sharing and oversharing online. My takeaway from writing this kind of book is that we all have a story or more. It may not be the same one, but our feelings as we struggle are similar. I do recommend writing about one’s struggles once they are over. It´s the only way to do it with perspective.
M: You are such an inspiration. You have written over 17 books. Do you have any favorites? Do you have any others in the works?
LCL: I’ve actually written more, and I don´t say this to brag. I mean that I also have unpublished work. And this in turn means that not everything I’ve written was picked up by a publisher. Some of those books will not see the light, and that’s OK. I kept writing anyway. I´m about to turn in a book to Harper Collins that will be published in Spanish first. The title is “Tu Mejor Edad, para tener una vida extraordinaria”. It´s available on preorder. I will be working on the English version next. I also have a novel in English, “The Party Plan” based on my disastrous and sometimes funny experience with direct sales after my divorce. My favorite is perhaps my book on pregnancy, I´m Pregnant, Now What? I think it´s funny and helpful. I wrote it while raising a toddler and finding out I was pregnant with baby number two.
M: Your bilingual online community VivaFifty.com is so awesome. I love how you are always celebrating your age and making the most out of life with your yoga! Tell us why you started this online community and what types of topics are featured? Can you also share your insight on Yoga?
LCL: I started VivaFifty.com because it made me sad to see women wasting time and energy fretting about age. Unfortunately this fear doesn’t start when you hit 50 or 60. Many women are plagued by it as early as 30. I had turned 50 and did not feel bad about it, on the contrary. I was planning my wedding, I had successfully pulled myself out of a very rough spot after my divorce and during the recession. I didn’t feel old and decrepit, far from it. I wanted to share with other women that getting older is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be some awful experience. Being bilingual, I launched the site in two languages and three years later it’s doing very well. I manage it and have writers who share information about mental, physical and emotional health. We also cover culture and beauty. But really, the most important beauty is inside us. That’s why I’m back into yoga now. It keeps me balanced and helps me get through emotionally trying times. It also keeps my body flexible and limber. I wish more women would take up a sport, any sport and some form of relaxation technique to help them cope with aging.
I was still getting into mermaid pose here. And yet it's not about the poses. I enjoy them, I miss them when I can't do a full practice when I'm traveling. But they aren't the end all of yoga. How yoga really helps me: I can be in a throng of people (see #womensmarch photos), in an airplane or driving at night: all anxiety triggers for me– and observe how I feel without letting it take over. I can observe my thoughts and realize that I don't need to feel guilt for having mental chatter, it's ok to have it. Yoga practice helps me cope with fear, anger, worry, stress … Even insomnia. Yes. The poses are beautiful and fun. But without focus and mindful breathing they are nothing but physical exercise. #namaste #mermaidpose
M: Above everything you are also a mother to your beautiful girls! What advice would you give to young girls trying to achieve their goals in any profession?
LCL: To follow their heart and to realize there is no rush to reach any goal. I was a straight-A student until I hit 17 and was enveloped by an eating disorder. I did not finish college for this reason and yet if I had been kinder to myself as a young woman, I may have. I have managed to live off of my writing without having a degree. Although I hope my daughters go to college, if they prefer not to, I’m OK with that, as long as they work hard to achieve whatever it is they set their heart on. My dad is not a happier person because he has a Ph.D. Degrees are good, but being self-taught works too. I also tell my kids that it’s OK to course correct as one grows up. The way I share my writing has changed dramatically over the years. Who would have told me ten years ago that I´d make a full-time living with my online presence in my fifties? I also tell my daughters, now 12 and 15, that success is what they think it is and that sometimes they will have to defy others, even me, to achieve their dreams. I know I defied my dad plenty, poor guy. But I also know he is proud of me.