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Episode 4 - Positive Aging for Women

Faith Agugu, Founder Silver Sirens

Trailblazer, Faith Agugu, chats to Cheryl about founding the organisation Silver Sirens, with the aim of empowering women 50+

Episode 4: Positive Aging for Women, feat. Faith Agugu, Silver Sirens

Faith Agugu, Founder, Silver Sirens

headshot of Cheryl Gray, Womens Network Australia

Cheryl Gray, CEO, Women’s Network Australia

Trailblazer, Faith Agugu, chats to Cheryl about founding the organisation Silver Sirens, with the aim of empowering women 50+

As women, we’ve been working hard for our rights and equity for longer than any of us have been alive, but it has only been in the last fifty years that we’ve gained momentum. As many of us reflect on the successes we’ve had earlier in life, whether it was a successful career, raising a family or both, the challenges we face as we age come from more stereotypes society holds about women at the intersection of ageing. 

It’s no surprise that many of us feel a sense of loss when the nest becomes empty and the faces and tasks that used to fill our days are no longer there. But what if instead of despair, you could feel a sense of excitement about the next chapter of your life? Many women are now embracing the opportunity to explore new territories and redirect their energy towards birthing projects that contribute to growing the kind of world they want to live in and to leave for future generations to enjoy. 

Faith Agugu is the founder of Silver Sirens, an organisation for women 50+ who are undergoing major life changes and making the challenging life choices to create the life they want to live. In this episode, Women’s Network Australia CEO Cheryl Gray chats to Faith Agugu about her personal experience as she grows older and the amazing work Silver Sirens is doing to empower women to live their best life beyond fifty. We deserve to remain visible as we age, and if Faith has anything to do with it, that’s only the start. 

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Guest this episode:

Founder of Silver Sirens, redefining aging

Show Notes

Here’s some things mentioned during the episode.

Faith Agugu

Faith Agugu is the founder of Silver Sirens, an organisation for women 50+ who are undergoing major life changes and making the challenging life choices to create the life they want to live. 

Visit the Silver Sirens website here.

The principles of Silver Sirens:

  • We are women 50+. 

  • We are undergoing major life changes and making challenging life choices to create the life we want to live. 

  • Some of us are choosing more autonomy to fulfil our potential beyond the traditional roles of wives, mothers and grandmothers. 

  • Others have independent children, giving them more time to focus on exploring their own dreams and desires. 

  • Many of us are choosing to remain single and live alone. 

  • What we have in common is the desire to explore our agency and the opportunity to fulfil our full potential. 

  • Our priority used to be taking care of others, now we seek to focus on our  own development and potential.

Connect with Faith on LinkedIn:

Episode Transcript

00:00:00 Faith Agugu 

What I learned is that we all have the same aspirations for ourselves. A lot of women are worried about becoming irrelevant, they’re no longer gonna hold an important position in their children’s lives and that’s not a bad thing.They can redirect that energy to something else, and that’s what I love seeing. The women inspire me.They go through menopause and some of the challenges of that. They come out the other end. You just see it’s literally the phoenix rising and visually butterflies suddenly finding their purpose and really deciding how am I going to make a difference in the world? What can I contribute? And that makes me so excited. 

 

00:00:33 Cheryl Gray 

That’s Faith Agugu, founder of Silver Sirens, and this is WNA trailblazers. 

 

00:00:35 Louise Poole 

WNA Trail Blazers. Amplifying the stories of women in business. Hosted by Women’s Network Australia CEO Cheryl Gray and me, Louise Poole, Managing Partner from podcast and content production business Welcome Change Media. Proud media partner of Women’s Network Australia. 

 

Yeah, as women were bombarded with images and opinions from a very early age of what’s acceptable as far as our looks and our behaviour are concerned, and it seems that after we turn 50, we suddenly become invisible for a number of reasons. Faith Agugu is a therapist and founder of Silver Sirens, an organization that supports women in claiming their power later in life, recognising that they have so much to offer in this next phase of their lives. And today, Cheryl Gray, CEO of Women Network Australia, is exploring this topic. 

 

Let’s talk ageing, Cheryl. Is it still rude to ask a woman her age? 

 

00:01:36 Cheryl Gray 

You know, I don’t think it is anymore. 

 

I think if anyone has an issue with their age, it’s not actually because of their age, it’s because of what’s going on somewhere else in their head. I think ageing and our attitude to ageing is really changing. 

 

And that’s why someone like Faith is an incredible person to talk to. ’cause she’s leading that change, you know, she’s really actively leading that change and milestone birthdays, like turning 40, turning 50, they are still a big deal for us, but our attitude to ourselves and our lives and our businesses even does change around those milestones. I am 50-plus. I’m 53 this year and I changed my business. I took a new direction at 52. 50 is the time to kind of make big decisions and they don’t all have to be risk averse, make-my-life-easier decisions. You can Chuck it all out there and have another go.  

 

00:02:35 Louise Poole 

Have you seen much from the stats in the network so far?Are we finding that there’s actually a trend towards as women age they’re going, I’m gonna do this? 

 

 

 

00:02:39 Cheryl Gray 

Absolutely, and I think part of it is that they might have always had a burning passion to do something. You know I’ve always wanted to da da da, both the combination age and experience and knowledge, plus a bit of a COVID push, has been a good reason for a lot of women to go well, it’s now or never. If I wanna do it, why shouldn’t I do it, and that’s an amazing thing. We’ve seen some fantastic new businesses and women changing direction, trying something that they probably never thought they might do. And yeah, it’s certainly sparked something. 

 

00:03:11 Louise Poole 

It certainly sparked something for Faith Agugu, founder of Silver Sirens. 

 

00:03:15 Cheryl Gray 

Absolutely, she’s just such a ball of energy and enthusiasm. But what I love about her story and silver sirens was that she started that organisation because she was dealing with some women who were really unhappy withthemselves and where they were in their 50s that they felt they were worthless, that both their physical value and their emotional value had declined and she comes from an African background where age is celebrated and her elders are respected. And I think that cultural lens that she could overlay to both her profession as a psychotherapist, she was able to say, look, you know we need to do something different and she grew her clients by talking around that and what I also love about what Faith does with Silver Sirens is she set some really clear principles about what the organisation stands for and what it won’t tolerate. Because with any group or organization, you can have individuals that wanna, for whatever reason, take a different path, and I think Faith has the confidence in what she’s set up to actually, then say no. 

 

If we’re gonna come together, everyone has to be respectful. Everyone has to be caring, and that’s a really nice environment that she’s created. So she’s awesome. 

 

00:04:28 Louise Poole 

Let’s hear Faith, this full story now about how we can take back our personal power with her personal and professional journey which started in Nigeria. 

 

00:04:36 Cheryl Gray 

Hello, Faith, Agugu, how are you? 

 

00:04:39 Faith Agugu 

I’m good, Cheryl. 

 

00:04:41 Cheryl Gray 

So nice to talk to you again. 

 

00:04:42 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, and it’s a pleasure, always. 

 

00:04:43 Cheryl Gray 

We’re talking about networking conversations. But before that, I wanted to talk about you and Silver Sirens, I would really just like to go backwards in time a bit and just hear a little bit about where you grew up and how you found yourself where you are today? 

 

00:05:03 Faith Agugu 

OK, so the age of nine, I grew up in Nigeria and moved to the UK at the age of nine and left the UK at 25.So I’ve been in Australia for nearly 32 years, so this is the place that I’ve been the longest, interesting enough. 

00:05:19 Cheryl Gray 

What prompted the move to the UK? 

 

00:05:21 Faith Agugu 

My family moved, so my father was offered a scholarship at that time and it was just at a time when Nigeria was just newly independent and my father was a politician and he was offered a scholarship to study the British political system. I’m laughing, but he was given that opportunity to travel there so he went off with the family to have this adventure. 

 

00:05:44 Cheryl Gray 

When you were in the UK and you were schooling, what were you thinking the world was going to be for you?Did you have ideas of what you were going to do and where?You’re going to end up? 

  

00:05:55 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, I mean I,I was a very, very confident young person. There’s no doubt about that, and I think coming from Nigeria, and I, well, came to UK or things like the kids just seemed very childlike and I think when you’re living somewhere like Nigeria you just grow up very quickly, so I remember saying like oh my God, they’re like babies, these young people. 

 

And so I started my very first business venture at the age of nine, and that was at school. The tuckshop had certain lollies and I knew that they didn’t have the lollies that most of the kids like, so I asked the headmistress if I could set up next to them, so I had my little stand next to the tuck shop  

and I sold everything they didn’t and I would sell out most days, you know. 

 

00:06:31 Cheryl Gray 

That’s so cool, a Lolly, empire! 

 

00:06:34 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, yeah, it’s great. 

 

00:06:36 Cheryl Gray 

You got then involved at some point in the fashion industry. 

 

00:06:40 Faith Agugu 

Yes, well the age of 16 I got my first fashion gig. I was working with, it was like a collaboration of young fashion designers and they needed models and they found me one day and I started working in the fashion industry there just modelling for them and did that as well as other jobs. You know my passion from ages 17 to 21 it was all about travel, so I would work for a few months then I would go off and travel for about six months and I’d come back work, and that’s kind of our lives. So that job was great. And I did that when I was in London. 

 

00:07:09 Cheryl Gray 

And then the move to Australia happened. 

 

00:07:11 Faith Agugu 

Yes. So like a lot of people, for me, the move was around love. I fell in love with an Australian man walking through London, bare feet ,and I found that so attractive.Anyone walking around London barefoot, this wild Australian man he attracted me.Yeah, well we fell in love and he said to me, we’re living in London, he said to me can we just please, we’re so cold in winter like can we just please go to Australia just for six months just for the summer I promise we’ll come back. Yeah, last words, now 32 years ago. 

 

00:07:40 Cheryl Gray 

Wow is he still barefoot? 

 

00:07:43 Faith Agugu 

He is, but he’s no longer mine. 

 

00:07:46 Cheryl Gray 

He finally found some shoes.Yeah, when was it that you decided to study again and become a psychotherapist? 

 

00:07:56 Faith Agugu 

Again in the fashion industry for a very long time, when I arrived in Australia at age of 25, right up until my early 50s, my then business was called Royal Fashion Agency and I was PR and sales manager for fashion designers and I would represent them in sales and get their clothes on TV, PR for them and like a lot of business. If I was thinking that it’s something that I could do to stay the demise of my business my business was falling apart and I kept thinking, all I’ve got to do is just work harder and get working hard and I’ll just be, I’ll be overwhelmed, depressed, worried about how I’m going to pay my staff, you know, I had a team of 10 at the time, all of, that and it just got too much. 

 

Then one day I just realised that this was not sustainable anymore and I had what I see now as my existential crisis slash midlife crisis that happened around my late 40s. So then when the business fell apart, closed the business and I spent about a year licking my wounds, just doing laps swimming in the ocean, and then I realised that I had to reinvent myself. I realised that as a woman in her early 50s, all of my years of experience for businesses, wasn’t going to just get me the next job. I thought that there’d be doors opening and that wasn’t the case, so I just had to really kind of consider what I’ve made.  

 

So I decided that I’ve always helped people. I’ve always enjoyed helping people. I think I’m a bit of an old soul so, but I had three criteria of the job I was going to do next, ’cause I’ve worked in retail for a long time. It was important to me that my next career would be sitting down, that I’d be paid really high hourly pay and that I will get better at it as I aged. Those are my 3 criteria and psychotherapy fitted all of those so it’s like wait I’ll take you. 

 

00:09:35 Cheryl Gray 

Fantastic and it obviously the study and what you were learning, connected and clicked with you as well. 

 

00:09:42 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, clicked too, going like I said, as a person getting older I know.that I will get better, my knowledge will get better because I’ve got more life experience so, it clicked with me because it felt like that was the right place to be going, whereas the fashion industry was very much focused on you as a PR person, I was expected to go to all the parties. I didn’t want to go to the parties anymore. 

 

Honestly, I want to go to bed at 9 o’clock, but people didn’t want to see that person. They wanted to see me, so my clients would be disappointed ’cause it’s like you don’t come to any of the events anymore.So yeah.So therapy was the next phase of my life was where I was moving to. 

 

00:10:17 Cheryl Gray 

And it was through your clients that you really started to pick up this bit of a pattern that women who are hitting their 50s are troubled in many ways.What were some of the patterns you were seeing? 

 

00:10:32 Faith Agugu 

It was such an eye opener being in private practice and being with these women, and I remember when I got my very first woman that came with that I was actually doing a conference in Byron Bay and someone introduced me to this woman and she was in depression and someone said, look, we think Faith can help you. So I started seeing her, and her malaise was around age, being afraid of being invisible, afraid that she’s lost her value, afraid that people would no longer look at her, that  

she’d overlooked for positions at work, opportunities will be dried up. She was newly single, concerned that no one’s gonna look at her now, so those are the things that she presented with and things around isn’t going grey, you know, and say to me, who could I be, yeah, you know?. So over time we started to work on it and I would share with her my attitude to ageing and she was quite fascinated by that. 

 

So she started to refer some of her friends. So one stage I had ten of these women, were all kind of connected in some ways, someone from their book clubs, some of them were women at work, but all of them they were secretly afraid of ageing and they hadn’t kind of select any, but no one spoke out loud ’cause they felt ashamed all experiencing the same. So they all started to come and see me and I just got a thought. This is wrong.This is just wrong thatthese women have internalised negative narratives that surround women and age and I say women because it’s not the same message around men, and that’s when I started doing my research. I realised the message for men was very different. There were dashing they’re gonna get better. This new life ahead of them and so women, it was about decay and kind of women were rotting. You know, those basic was men were blooming, so I wanted to challenge that ‘cause I knew a lot of friends my age and we all felt quite similar regardless of their culture. There were women that I was attracted to with women, they were really looking at this next phase as a new beginning. 

 

So I started to kind of talk to those women and tell them about my idea. I’ve got this idea about this movement and this is what I think, so that’s how it really started. And I started off by doing an annual event, the first one was 2018 and we had mind, body, spirit, soul was the three sections, so everything that affects a woman’s body. 

   

We had the first section works on that. Everything that affects women in midlife mind, and then also the last one was around legacy and aspiration and elders. How do we want to be as elders? So that’s kind of how it all started. 

 

00:12:52 Cheryl Gray 

It would have been such a breath of fresh air for a lot of women to actually be able to talk about that stuff in a way that celebrated it rather than hide away, and think I’m over, I’m worthless, it’s the end. 

 

00:13:05 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, yes, and that’s the feedback I got that first year. And a friend of mine who’s an ex model as well, African woman, she spoke about ageing from a number of different cultures. She talked about African but also Japanese and other cultures and a lot of the women said to me that was the best part of the day because it was just good for them to see that this thing that we’ve internalised is not universal, not every woman on the planet is going through the same thing, and there’s an alternative way to look at this. 

 

00:13:30 Cheryl Gray 

Tell me a little bit about those cultural differences, because I think in African culture age is not something to shy away from. 

 

 

00:13:38 Faith Agugu 

No, it’s not. My mother is my role model and I adore her and you know you know 50s, I saw my mother blossom.She went and studied. My mother had married this man that was the leader in our community; my father is equivalent to the person who created NSW. He created our state in Nigeria. That was a big thing but she was always humble, you know, it was never about her and I saw her, their marriage fell apart. She just started to blossom. 

 

He went into study, she started travelling extensively. She met a new lover. It was all about her and I just thought, wow, this is amazing that she was vibrant, she just came to life so I saw that and then looking around me, my sisters are quite a bit older than me as well and I saw how they were ageing and I know I knew that culturally, too, our culture, was the older you are, the better, the more… there’s all about reverence. There’s a lot of reverence. 

 

It’s not about stepping into your role as the wisdom holder or the next generation and supporting your community. That was a very very respected role, and everybody wants to be in that space like I for myself, I can’t wait to be an elder. For me that’s something that I look forward to because it puts me in that position. I’ve been able to really support my community, the people around me and I do that through my Silver Sirens work, but I’m just so aware of the privilege that is, and my older sister died at the age of 41, another friend of mine died last year, just before I could give birth, but I have absolutely no doubt that ageing is a privilege. You know, we’re not to waste one second worrying about things that I can’t change, like wrinkles or, you know… it doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. 

 

00:15:16 Cheryl Gray 

Why do we focus on things like that grey hair and wrinkles? Why do we get so obsessed about stuff like that? Because it’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. 

 

00:15:24 Faith Agugu 

Nothing we could do about it. Yeah, absolutely. 

 

00:15:27 Cheryl Gray 

What did you personally get out of connecting with these women and seeing that they could approach ageing in a different way? Did it change you as well? 

 

00:15:38 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, I think things always change. You know, like I was thinking about Silver Sirens like it was a project, a vision that chose me, I didn’t choose it. I struggled with it like a lot of people, another impostor syndrome. I’d say look, I’m not the right person for it.I’m not a woman who looks my age, so other women are not going to relate to me. They’re gonna be like “What do you know about ageing?”All of that sort of stuff, so I haven’t even stepped into the role and really owned it, and it took me a number of years to really, only I’ll say the last two years, I’ve really stepped into it, but before that I just didn’t want to be in that space, so it’s changed me so much because I’ve had to really stand step up. 

 

Just seeing the women transform. I love our community because there literally is women that live in housing Commission and women are living in a mansion, and every woman in between that, and I love that. And what I learned is that we all have the same aspirations for ourselves. 

 

A lot of women are worried about becoming irrelevant. They’re no longer going to hold an important position in their children’s lives, and that’s probably not a bad thing, but they can redirect that energy to something else. And that’s what I love seeing. The women inspire me. 

 

When they go through menopause and some of the challenges of them, they come out the other end you just see, it’s literally the Phoenix rising and little butterflies suddenly finding their purpose and really deciding what, how am I going to make a difference in the world? What can I contribute? And that makes me so excited.  

 

00:17:13 Cheryl Gray 

It’s certainly a time of quite massive physical changes, obviously, but this switch in mindset, how does it also play out professionally? Because yes, I think as women hit that 50 mark, it’s that sort of zone between I’m not old enough to retire and I’ve gotta keep working, but can I keep doing what I’ve been doing for, say, the past 20-30 years. Is it a time when we should be embracing risk? Should we be taking risks at that time? Starting businesses, changing directions?Studying? Is it the time to do that? 

 

00:17:31 Faith Agugu 

Look, I think it is the time to do that, but I think it goes beyond whether we should. I think that everything in our body forces us to, from a developmental, psychological, developmental perspective, it’s that developmental phase where we do reflect and we talk about midlife crisis. It’s really just a time to reflect. We’ve made decisions in our 20s and 30s, they will find them, but are no longer going to be really relevant or useful for us so when we move into the next phase of our lives, so it’s a time before I call it emotional and mental stocktaking. So what are my values now? What are my current values? Are the people in my life really the people that I want to continue? You see, a lot of marriages end here.It doesn’t have to be, it could be about two people sitting down to kind of work out where they’re at.A lot of people don’t understand that they kind of split. There’s a natural developmental stage for us to reflect and consider, so I think for a lot of women is over, they should, but they’re compelled to, they’re compelled to do something different and I always say I’ve got a few of the women that I’m working with, the moment I say that you’ve got to reduce the physical intensity of the work you do and use more here and here, the intuition we’ve harnessed our wisdom through lived experience, so we know now we can short circuit situations because we know that A and B leads to there.We know all that now, so one of my women, for example, she’s amassed quite a lot of money, but she’s still kind of feeling like she has to work really hard, so I’m encouraging her to let go of some of the physical exertion, ‘cause that’s the stuff that’s going to really burn you out.  

 

This state now, bring some of your wisdom in and start being in positions of mentoring and guiding, and certainly businesses. So if a woman is inspired to start her own business, really, right? Champion them and encourage them. This is when to do it, is that stuff around waiting for people on the table.You know there’s no seat at the table. Build your own tables and honestly this is when we should be building our own table so that we create businesses on our own terms. Not trying to remove broken systems, you know. 

 

00:19:20 Cheryl Gray 

The working system I, I feel that maybe because I’m at that age and stage myself that there is a bit of a movement. There is a bit of a feeling that we are going to be front as a generation moving into our 50s and 60s, and it’s not like we’re in denial pretending, but it is that we are prepared to perhaps take a different approach and with some guidance, sometimes it’s not needed to feel safe to make those decisions because there just does feel like there is more support around. 

 

00:19:49 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, we’re talking about things in a way that our mother’s generation didn’t have access to. We’ve got access to psychotherapy, to coaching, a large majority of women come into therapy at the first time in midlife, ’cause it’s the first time they’ve had a moment to pause. So that’s a process that’s new and then to seek guidance from a culture, from other people.But I think it’s something those women were really good that we don’t have to try and work it out by ourselves, so you don’t have to try and work it out.There’s so many people around us who are doing it around us, and I think what I love about women is an open-heartedness to collaborate, to support each other, and I just, that makes me so excited about being a woman and a woman at this time where there’s so much skilled resources that we can share with each other. 

 

That’s certainly, I see that in Silver Sirens community is very, very generous and open hearted. And I love that. 

 

00:20:33 Cheryl Gray 

How much of an influence is societal external, social media, media in general? We see some amazing looking older women and whilst that’s terrific, I think for some of us it can also make us feel like that’s not going to be me. How do we deal with that and still take the positives out of moving forward? 

 

00:20:54 Faith Agugu 

Well, I think that’s one of the downsides of social media ’cause I’m not one of those people that Social Media is worse, I think the comparison is a big thing that women have and we have the Silver Sirens guiding principles. We have 15 guiding principles,  and one of the guidance principle is that stuff about we discourage comparing behaviours, but that’s another, that’s where women can police each other.Maybe not consciously, but we can’t do that, and so I’m very much into every woman, age is on our own terms in our own way. And it’s great that there’s women that are ageing in a spectacular way, they’ve kept their figures, they look amazing. They’re fit. It’s great those women usually look beautiful. If not everyone has that, so I think it’s again for us to understand that that’s not us, but we do have so much else to contribute, and I think as we age, too, we realise that our value is not so much attached to our age and I think our youth or slimness and I think, and I see that in my practise most women come to a place where they just surrender that, usually when we start there, saying things like oh my God, my stomach. I just can’t get it.. it’s not as flat as it used to be. 

After we’ve worked together a few months so just let go of all that stuff, just ’cause that’s not important.It’s important enough. 

 

00:22:06 Cheryl Gray 

That sense of being comfortable in your own skin because you really don’t need to worry about it anymore because your focus is somewhere else. 

 

00:22:14 Faith Agugu 

Sorry, I’m not trying to fight to make, specially in the workplace where it’s usefulness, you’ve got so much to contribute.That’s got nothing to do with your physical. That’s when someone say to me yeah, but no one looks at me and I just go. There is a relief talking about it. 

 

00:22:30 Cheryl Gray 

I really love that Silver Sirens as a group is not just about women coming together, but those guiding principles that really spell out, I guess in some ways, a commitment to each other. 

 

00:22:42 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, and I love that they use the word commitment, you know, because I started the guiding principles. It was after the 2nd event and I was sitting down with a group of women and other women who started to criticize, gossip about one of the women and the reason why they were criticised was ’cause she was really beautiful and that took me back to my fashion years where it was fair game to pull down a woman for any reason. It didn’t matter if she was perfect, I’ll find a way, but I just thought this is not OK with me and I don’t want this.I know none of us are perfect, but I want to havea guiding principle that we have a community,  at least, we aspired to, and when we’re with each other, we know that this is the sort of environment we’re trying to. Great. So I repeat the guiding principle. The beginning of every event that we do, even all our online events. 

 

I always read it in my steering committee meeting with my women. I always read it because I want to reenforced that we’re not perfect, but let’s just know that this is where we’re heading as a community. 

 

00:23:34 Cheryl Gray 

Yeah, that’s fantastic because apart from being our own worst enemies, women can be pretty vicious and nasty towards each other, can’t they, and for lots of motivations, there’s lots of reasons why, but it’s nice that you’ve seen the importance of setting some principles around there, and I guess that’s really then respected by those who come and become involved in Silver Sirens. 

 

00:23:41 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, I’m about creating, you know it’s a level of safety because you’re saying when you come in here we’re not going to judge you on that. 

 

00:24:03 Cheryl Gray 

You are planning another event this year ’cause we’ve all been locked away in our cupboards for the last two years.So tell me a little bit about the event that you’re planning for later in 2022. 

 

00:24:13 Faith Agugu 

The event on the 1st of October.It’s our signature event. This is what we started with, it’s the event that we do once a year and it’s called Redefining Ageing and it’s a full day event in Sydney. 

 

Well, because of COVID since 2020, 2020 we did it all online and last year we did a hybrid.Whether you’re  from the country and around the world, you can still attend because it is hybrid. It is in Sydney, excited that you’re one of the speakers, and our topics this year..  

 

This year the first topic is empty nest, loss or new beginning? And that’s what I see women or other women have to go through that grief of that change in their roles, with usually when they come out the other end. There’s a lot of joy, so the first topic is emptiness and then for the first time we’re inviting the boys to come and play. We’re inviting men into the Silver Sirens space, and that topic is about Is Ageing Easier For Men? 

 

Because popular culture, the media, everyone tells us ageing is easier for men. But the research proves the opposite. But we’ve asked three wonderful men to come along and share their experience of ageing and my beautiful partner is an artist, he’s going to be emceeing that section. Can’t wait fantastic.  

 

And then the third topic is Sexuality Beyond 50.  Again, I want to tackle really meaty topics in Silver Sirens. I like they won’t be afraid of any topic and the message we get is that when women get to 50, they’re all dried up and shrivelled up and not just, probably not interested in sex, but the truth is the it’s the first time that they have full control over their bodies.The first time they’re actually super comfortable, not worried about periods and a lot of women towards the end of their menstrual cycle have had horrendous experiences with period. 

 

I did. Mine was horrible. So usually this is the time where, the first time where you have control of your body, but he’s not going down and, you can really for the first time really enjoy the whole process around your sexuality, so we’re exploring that, and by the time this comes out I can say it we’ve secured Cathy Lette, it’s fantastic, she’s based in London, so she’s gonna be zooming in, but I’m meeting her in July. 

I’m gonna be in London in two weeks time and will be great to have a cup of tea, but she’ll be talking and she’s very vocal around women and their sexuality and how things get better for women in this area in their 50s, butit’s going to be a fun day, will be amazing. 

 

And our final section our elders, our treasures, I always like to finish the day we’re picking up quote quite a few elders. My elders are women over 70. Every year is a different topic. They focus on this year. we’re looking at mastering grief because within 70 and above they usually had a number of encounters, lost their spouse, or probably lost quite a few children earlier on or things like that, but it’s something that changes the woman where you encounter grief. 

 

So again, I want these subjects to be normalised. We can talk about what is it like to lose somebody and how do you deal with it.How do you bounce back and how do you heal and come back and also, how do we prepare for what’s going to be happening for us so, that’s the final topic. So super, super excited, nice broad range of topics for the day. 

 

00:27:07 Cheryl Gray 

Gonna be a great day and I’m certainly looking forward to being part of it. I wanted to wrap up by saying how have you built your own personal experiences both in terms of ageing but your business experiences that you talk about earlier? How have you built them into Silver Sirens and how you work with your clients now I’m assuming that experience, your lived experience, through all of that provides you with probably a high degree of empathy, but also you can share that with them. 

 

00:27:37 Faith Agugu 

Look from a psychotherapy perspective, .obviously I’m so lucky that I’ve got that skill and it’s not just someone who can listen.People think it’s just that there’s in the training. There’s so much that you learn that allows you to be fully empathic at the same time, with boundaries to contain. That doesn’t mean that I can’t feel my client, doesn’t mean if something really bad happens, I don’t cry, I have a cy right? This woman who’s just about to die, so she’s literally two weeks away from death and she called me yesterday and we had a bit of a talk, I could feel it and I could, I could get teary. But I’m still OK to move on to the next person. 

 

So that level of being able to stay on path, but it’s also still be self-contained. That is so amazing and I bring that into my work with Silver Sirens. 

 

I think from the very first session and very first event, one of the feedback I got was I stood up, then I was so scared, I was scared thinking what am I doing? So I shared that with everyone and they just said we just saw your vulnerability. It gave us permission and I think that’s carried through in the community. Whereas we’re very open, it’s just that sort of thing. 

 

And also, I’ve just learnt boundaries. One of the reasons why my business failed in 2014 was because I was such a people pleaser.People owed me so much money and I was so scared to ask for it. I’d literally pick up the phone to ask them about it, but I’ll get off the phone without saying because they would have changed the subject and I’ll be, too, I wanted him to like me. But I’m over that I am so over that, so I’m very clear about have the conversations about money, be clear, nothing to apologise for. Many do that with ease, but I see so many women struggle with it. 

 

00:29:11 Cheryl Gray 

That that’s a really good point, and I think it is certainly probably an area where a lot of the women that I work with and spend time with struggle, and having conversations about money and value are really hard. Really hard. And then if you’re at that stage where you’re also questioning your own value in terms of your ageing and the process, right? 

Love it, then it really just compounds that it’s both the business value, the professional value and the personal value. All sort of comes to a head. 

 

00:29:41 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, I do. 

 

00:29:43 Cheryl Gray 

Well, look, I’m incredibly grateful for having connected with you and really admire the work you’re doing with the Silver Sirens. 

 

It is a really important thing for women to be able to share those vulnerabilities, have that trusted, respected in accountable space where they can be together and support each other, and I cannot wait for October to be part of Silver Sirens. 

 

00:30:06 Faith Agugu 

Amazing, thank you Cheryl. Thank you. 

 

00:30:10 Cheryl Gray 

Thank you for sharing. 

 

00:30:12 Faith Agugu 

Yeah, thank you. 

00:30:14 Louise Poole 

What an amazing woman. Such great energy Faith has. I love her. She was such a good find for the Trail Blazers podcast, Cheryl. 

 

00:30:20 Cheryl Gray 

She’s a true trailblazer, but she’s not only a trailblazer for herself. She’s a trailblazer for others which is really inspiring. You can find out more about Faith and the Silver Sirens organisation by going to their website, which is silversirens.org and you’ll also hear and see a bit more about that great event that they’ve got planned for October. 

 

00:30:41 Louise Poole 

I did hear you say that you will be going to speak at that. 

 

00:30:44 Cheryl Gray 

I am, and it’s one of those things where you put yourself out there sometimes.I’m going to be talking about empty nesters and I’m the bird on the edge of the nest. The nest is not yet empty, but it’s nearly there which is both exciting and a little bit scary at the same time, so I’m really keen to explore that with the Silver Sirens team. 

 

00:31:04 Louise Poole 

We’ll find all those details on the Silver Sirens website, and if you want to connect with us at Women’s Network Australia, what are the details? 

 

00:31:10 Cheryl Gray 

You will find us on the World Wide Web, womensnetwork.com.au and we’re also on Facebook, we’re on LinkedIn, we’re on Instagram.Just look for Women’s Network Australia. 

 

00:31:21 Louise Poole 

All the places that you can connect. Let’s connect absolutely.  

 

Next time on WNA Trail Blazers. We get down to the business of how to present ideas and influence people with author and communication skills coach Michel Bowden. 

 

Women’s Network Australia Trail Blazers. Amplifying the stories of women in business. Follow us from this podcasting app and be the first to hear new episodes. 

 

Excited to Share your story with our network? Follow the Contact Us link in the show notes to let us know. Women’s Network Australia Trail Blazers is a Welcome Change Media production. 

 

 

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