Turning 40, Finding Love and Unlocking Self-Acceptance
Is it possible to find lasting love after 40? It’s a question that Katherine Baldwin asked herself after her 41st birthday when she woke up single and without children. After years of struggling with binge eating, an adrenaline addiction, and extreme behaviors, Katherine Baldwin had to hit rock bottom before she could start her journey to self-acceptance and healing. Now she’s ready to share her story and the solution she found for lasting love. Katherine explores how an unexpected loss and the realization of being alone in her mid-30s sparked her journey of self-discovery.
As a transformational coach, midlife mentor, motivational speaker and the author of ‘How to Fall in Love’, Katherine Baldwin supports people to love themselves, create lives that they love, and find healthy love. Formerly an international journalist, Katherine burnt out and broke down in her late 30s and was forced to reevaluate her life. Turning 40 as a single, childless woman who was confused about how her life had turned out, Katherine launched a blog called ‘From Forty With Love’, exploring issues such as singleness, childlessness, emotional overeating, career confusion, and midlife crises. Eleven years on, she continues to blog with vulnerability about her struggles as well as some significant breakthroughs, which include finding love in her 40s and marrying at 48 after following the steps laid out in her book. As well as coaching one-to-one, Katherine hosts online courses, workshops and retreats. Her love and life advice has been featured widely in the British media.
Katherine Baldwin had spent her formative adult years pursuing freedom, excitement, adventure and adrenaline. When she turned 40, she felt she had come through a lot and was in a good place. However, when she hit 41, she felt trapped, single, and without a clue as to what she was doing with her life. She started a blog to document her journey and found her voice in writing about her experiences. When her dad died, it was a shock to her, as she had no partner or family to be with her. This spurred her to take a holistic holiday and take a break from her high-pressure job. Upon her return, she was offered voluntary redundancy and a lifeline to leave her job, which she used to start freelance journalism. Here, she wrote about things she cared.
In this episode, you will learn the following:
1. The Dark Side of Living a Life of Adventure and Excess: Exploring the struggles that lay beneath the glamorous exterior of globetrotting and partying.
2. Facing Existential Crisis in Mid-30s: How an unexpected loss and the realization of being alone sparked a journey of self-discovery.
3. Turning 40: How embracing one’s age and taking a leap of faith with a blog about self-acceptance led to a new life path.
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Stephanie: Hello Katherine. Welcome to the 40 Drinks Podcast.
Katherine: Hi Stephanie. Thanks for inviting me on your show.
Stephanie: Of course. It's so nice to meet you because you have a really interesting story and you did something really interesting when you turned 40, you started a blog about 40, which I'm in love with. But we'll get there in a minute, why don't you tell me just a little bit about yourself and your formative adult years.
Katherine: So my formative adult years, I was always chasing freedom, excitement, adventure, adrenaline. I was born in Liverpool, in the north of England. I was very good at school, studied very hard, Got into Oxford University to study French and Spanish. I had a year abroad in Spain when I was 20 to 21, which really did kick off my partying years.
Katherine: I decided that I was meant to have been born in Spain, that I'd been born in the wrong country. I had a crazy year in Spain. Then when I left university, I went traveling and I didn't come back for 10 years. I went to Australia, New Zealand, and then I went to the States and then I went to Mexico and I stayed in Mexico for five years and I became a foreign correspondent journalist, and then I moved to Brazil. It wasn't all fun because there's a dark side to it, which I'm sure we'll get to, but you know, on the outside, yeah, I was having a great time, enjoying myself being free and wild.
Stephanie: You know, for a minute there I kept up with you right until you graduated college and then you said you went traveling and you didn't come back for 10 years. I did a number of the same things. I also studied journalism, but I spent almost a year in Ireland doing an abroad program, and I have family there and had been there as a kid. So, I had a wild, wild year in Ireland as well. I'm with you right up until the point where you left and never came home. I didn't quite go that far. I did spend many more years living and working in Boston and probably living through a lot of the same themes and things that you did. Probably not quite as glamorous, but I think we both have a similar wild and adventurous twenties and thirties.
Katherine: Yeah. And, all that time I was having a great time. I was meeting amazing people and I was finding these families everywhere I went. Families of journalists, families of foreigners, you know. At the same time there was stuff going on beneath, well, there was stuff going on on the surface, which was the excessive drinking, excessive partying, excessive eating. So I, I used to binge eat and starve and over exercise, and binge eat and starve and over exercise. I didn't really realize I was doing it back then, I was kind of in denial about that, but that's how I was living. And then, the drinking and the partying and the general mayhem. I recognize now that deep down beneath the surface there was pain, there was me running away from stuff, not feeling my feelings, living off adrenaline and stress and, um, getting high, getting low, getting high, getting low.
Katherine: It's a real mix. If you think about me a 25 year old British woman in Mexico, it's such a beautiful country and so colorful. And we had so much fun. That's on the outside, and then on the inside, I was running, I was hiding, I was numbing, I was, uh, hurting myself.
Stephanie: It's interesting you say that. So first of all, we are contemporaries, you and I are pretty much the same age. So we were going through this at the same time, just in different parts of the world, and you were talking about binge eating and starving and overworking out. It's interesting to hear you put it that way because as a 20 something, I sort of thought, "Well, isn't that just the way you live?" Hold on with me for a minute, I'm not trying to minimize it, but I'm thinking of my mid twenties and thinking, you eat and drink and party and have fun and socialize, and then you realize you put on five or six pounds and your cool skirt or dress or whatever doesn't fit. So you stop eating and you go exercise and you lose those couple of pounds so that you can get into the fabulous dress again.
Stephanie: It's interesting to hear you frame it that way. I've said before and I'll say it again, I haven't always been particularly introspective and so it's very easy to sort of see it the way I describe it like, "Oh, I put on a couple pounds, so, we'll, you know, we'll take it easy. I'll eat some lettuce for the next couple of days and so I can wear this dress next weekend." But to hear you explain it from the other side of it, you're absolutely right. It's not normal, it's not healthy, it's not good. But just to think of being in your mid twenties and so carefree, it's just interesting to hear you, cover it with that filter. It takes me aback just a little bit, 'cause you're right.
Katherine: Yeah, and I think in my case, it wasn't a couple of pounds. I first started binge eating, well, I first started messing around with food when I was very, very young, you know, 10, 11, 12. And then I started overeating at 16 and put on weight. By the time I left university, I can't, how do I translate this? I'm not very good at this, but I was several stone heavier than I am now. So I was nearly 12 stone. I'm now nine stone. I was a lot bigger, unrecognizably bigger, and I didn't like myself at
Stephanie: Got it.
Katherine: And when I was traveling around Australia, you know, I, I didn't like my body at all. In Mexico, I went to a doctor and I got diet pills, which were kind of like, speed. Amphetamines.
Stephanie: Right back in the nineties, they were speed.
Katherine: Yeah, no label on the packet. And I took them, I fainted in the gym, yeah. So I think there's the thing that we all do,
Katherine: the excess that we all do in our youth. And then I believe I took it to extremes of addictive behavior that I really couldn't stop, that I was no longer in, in control of that was in control of me.
Stephanie: And your career was really thriving at this time as well. Tell me a little bit about your career.
Katherine: So, when I landed in Mexico I got a job on an English language newspaper. And quickly did really well. Then I got a job with Bloomberg as a foreign correspondent in Mexico. So that was going really well. It was very glamorous going to the president's palace and covering really important stories. Then I went to Brazil and again, covering elections and big stories. Then I moved to London in my early thirties, 31, 32, and I went to British Parliament, had a desk within Parliament and I was covering politics. It was the era of Tony Blair, George Bush, Iraq War. I was traveling on the Prime Minister's plane. I was going to Iraq and Afghanistan. I was going to the White House, Downing Street. So, yeah, it was expensive shoes, it was nice clothes, and I say that 'cause I, I really can't afford those things anymore, it was nice handbags. and it was, global travel and kind of everything I had always dreamt of. I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. So yeah, my career was going really well and it was supported partly by, my drive and intelligence and creativity, but also by my binge eating and overeating and so forth. So that's what kept me going.
Stephanie: Excuse me for just a minute, Katherine.
Katherine: Oh gosh. Poor you. I wasn't sure whether I could just carried on talking. I could see you coughing and I thought I'll just carry on talking.
Stephanie: And I'm glad you did. Thank you. We'll edit a bunch of that out, but for anybody who couldn't tell already, I have a monster cold. And even though I wasn't talking, I got a fabulous tickle in my throat and Katherine got, uh, the view of a lifetime of me, um, nearly, uh, losing an eyeball or something.
Katherine: Oh gosh.
Stephanie: Oh, oh my goodness. This is, um, my first cold in three years, so lots of fun. I'm gonna suck on my lozenges quietly as possible, so I don't do that again. But I'm sorry to interrupt your story because it's spectacular. Um, So this life of glamour that most of us would see, how long did it last?
Katherine: It lasted until well it lasted until my dad died and my dad died when I was about 34, 35, and, I was working in parliament and I was very busy and he was dying of cancer, and I was going up and down to Liverpool, which is a good three hours on the train.
Katherine: After he died, I think I had that real existential moment of, "I'm going through this on my own." My parents are divorced. My mom wasn't part of that process, really. My brother was living in the Middle East. I'm on my own. I don't have a partner by my side. I don't have any children. I don't have a legacy. You know, when people die and people talk about the circle of life, my brother had his kids. He just flew in for the funeral, he flew back to his family. And I got a real sense of " What has this been about?" I've been working so hard, climbing so high and striving and I'm entirely on my own and it was a real shock, and especially because as you'll know, , in journalism you just go back to work.
Katherine: I went back to work. I knew I wasn't right, but I couldn't really ask for the time off. I did have a little bit of time off, but, even the doctor said, "Go back to work. Go back to work. It'll do you good." And I did go back to work, but it wasn't that long after that that I, I just couldn't, I couldn't work at that pace anymore. I think it was the year after. So I'd basically held on for a year and then I went on a holistic holiday to Greece and I was advised by a meditation teacher that I was probably severely depressed and that I needed to take care of my mental health. Well before then, I had started to come to terms with the fact that I had some form of eating disorder. That my eating wasn't normal. So I had begun my personal development process. I had begun my healing process. I had begun a bit of therapy, so I already had a little bit of grounding, but my dad dying and this, like, I am entirely on my own in this world and what has this all been about in my mid thirties? Do I even wanna do this job anymore? It was a shock.
Stephanie: If we look back at the sort of 10 years before that, had there been relationships, romantic relationships throughout that time? I know you moved around a lot, but were there boyfriends?
Katherine: Yeah. Yeah. There were quite a lot of boyfriends. Yeah, even though I didn't really like my body and didn't really like myself and was quite mad and extreme, yeah, I had a lot of boyfriends. I had a relationship for four years with a lovely Spanish man. When I moved to Brazil, I dated a few gorgeous Brazilians, I dated a Mexican, dated American. Um, when I moved to to London, I dated a few Brits. So, um, I think that there's a theme of those relationships though, which is I wasn't emotionally available at all and I would generally pick people who might have been lovely people, but who weren't emotionally available to me or weren't ultimately gonna be right for me or good for me. So there were a lot of alcohol fueled, party fueled relationships and one longer one where there was a lot of love, but ultimately we weren't right for each other, and we weren't available to each other.
Stephanie: Yeah. My husband Patrick likes to say that before I met him, I kissed a lot of frogs and then he will go "a lot of frogs," so, yeah, I'm with you there as well. Lot of relationships with not right men, some of whom were merely emotionally unavailable, some of whom were plain old, not nice. Some of whom our, major, point of overlap and interests was the drinking, the partying, the lifestyle. Very similar here. Tell me about what happened after your holistic holiday to Greece. You're about 35 now, and you're starting to come to terms with an eating disorder, and where do you go from there?
Katherine: When I came back from Greece, I went to my doctor and I got a sick note from work, which is a big deal when you work in parliament for Reuters. We were a three person team. You know, I was covering the Prime Minister and I'm off sick and it was a big blow to my ego and my reputation in inverted commas, but there was no other way, and after that it was a basically a long journey back from the depths of feeling really low. A lot of tears, a lot of trying to find the right therapist, discovering the roots of my eating disorder and my adrenaline addiction and my extreme behaviors. Trying to figure out what do I wanna do with my work life now, this career that I've given everything to, I don't actually think I wanna do it anymore.
Katherine: And, there was a miracle moment actually, I remember saying to people, "I haven't got a clue how I'm gonna leave this job." I worked for Reuters. I had a great salary, I had a big mortgage. I had a lifestyle to support. I had no idea how I was gonna leave that job. And then, there was a merger, there was a buyout, and I got offered voluntary redundancy. Well, the whole firm was offered voluntary redundancy. And to everyone's surprise and to mine, I was absolutely convinced that I would take it and I took it. So, that helped me to leave. Not everyone has that luxury, and I do work with lots of people who feel quite trapped and stuck in their jobs. I think I would've left somehow anyway, but that gave me, um, a cushion to leave without too much fear. And then I had to look around for something else to do and, and that took a bit of time.
Stephanie: So I spent a little bit of time in the media world and one of my best friends is also in the media, and so the concept of buyouts is pretty standard I think in the media business, but maybe not so much in others. Do you wanna just tell us a little bit about what a buyout is and what happens?
Katherine: Yeah, in the case of Reuters, it was bought by Thompson, which is a Canadian firm, and as they were merging the two companies, they had too many employees. So they offered a substantial sum of money to some of us to voluntarily leave. And I think I probably walked away with about six months worth of salary to leave my job. Um, and it was a lifeline. It was, it was exactly what I needed
Stephanie: Yeah. It gives you a nice opportunity to take a breath and not have those daily pressures of needing to pay for your entire lifestyle, your entire nut. It's a beautiful opportunity to reassess.
Katherine: Yeah, yeah,
Stephanie: So you're coming up to 40 and how did you feel when you turned 40? What had changed since your mid thirties?
Katherine: So having left Reuters, I tried to find other ways to make a living and I moved into freelance journalism. What I discovered as I was being a journalist in a very different way, like coming up with ideas and pitching them to newspapers. I started to write about things that I cared about. and I started to get interested in other things. When I was working for Rueters, I was writing about politics, which I actually do find really interesting, but I didn't want to write about it anymore as news. It was too stressful. So, I was coming up to 40 and I was at, a festival and there was a whole part of it about body image and eating disorders and all these women who were starving themselves to look a certain way. And I was there and I just got really angry about what we do to ourselves and what I had done to myself.
Katherine: I remember sitting on the toilet looking at my thighs, thinking my thighs are too big. And then thinking, what am I doing? Why am I doing this to myself and why do we do this to ourselves? So I was coming up to 40. I was, I was about a month before 40 and I decided to start a blog about self-acceptance and that I would write my blog every day during the period of Lent for 40 days. And I did, and it was called Just As I Am, an Experiment in Self-Acceptance. That was my first ever blog, and it was my first ever experience of writing freely from my heart about whatever I wanted, with no editing, with no news paper to send it to or anything. I just blogged. And I absolutely loved it. And, and then I was coming up to 40 and I decided to launch my blog on the back of that blog called From 40 With Love.
Katherine: And coming up to 40, gosh, there were so many fascinating things. I wanted to write about turning 40, turning 40 single, turning 40 without children. Like, how on earth did this happen and what am I gonna do about it? And I started doing these blogs about the Baby Gap, like realizing that you haven't got a baby and how are you gonna get one if you want one? And they were very, relevant to the times. All times, it's still relevant now, but they were relevant. And I, and some of them were published in newspapers. Yeah, I found my voice writing about the things that I really cared about. And people, women, wrote back to me on my blog and said, "Oh my goodness, you're telling my story." You're saying that you're single. You are childless. You've just quit your amazing career. You haven't got a clue what you're gonna do with your life. You are telling my story. And it was just amazing that connection with people.
Stephanie: Yeah. And a lot of that is my story as well. I turned 40, single, shortly out of yet another bad relationship with somebody who wasn't very nice to me. No kids. Both of my brothers were married with kids. They're both younger than I am. And my friends through the years had, at almost every age that I was, my friends had gotten married and started to have kids and sort of peeled away from that lifestyle that we had been living previously or that I was living. And so, over time, your friends get younger and younger. Because most of your contemporaries are at a different stage of life, not all of them, but the larger number of them have, transitioned onto a different way of life. So yeah, my 40th birthday was very much the same, which is why going back to my 40 Drinks Project, the thought of throwing some big party and inviting people from everywhere in my life just felt awful to me because it felt like the wedding reception that I'd never had, and if you've got 40 or 50 or 70 or however many people in a room, you're only gonna have a short amount of time to talk to each of them. It just felt so icky and gross to me, which is why I decided to do my 40 Drinks Project and instead have individual drinks with people where I could truly visit spend that time with them.
Stephanie: So, I am with you, there's a lot of that. I don't think that my body image issues ever arose to the same level as yours. You know, hell, I'm a red-blooded American girl, who's got hips and curves and we're not supposed to as far as the magazines tell us. I don't know about you, but for me, you look back at pictures in your twenties and you're like, "Oh God, I thought I was fat. I'm gorgeous. Like , I'm, I'm a supermodel." Of course, a little bit of exaggeration there, but not a lot.
Stephanie: There's a lot of similarity with you and I between how we approached 40, but also like you, I think, there was another piece of it of just being free and fabulous and I could do what I wanted and I could go places. And I had built a group of friends that, at that time, you said you found families everywhere, I called them my framily. Right. my friend family, and we did everything together. We would travel, we would vacation together, we would go away weekends, we would see each other all the time. Again, from the outside it looks fabulous and it looks like a lot of fun and it was a lot of fun, 75, 80% of the time. But then there's that piece that ultimately bubbles up that's not quite enough or it's not quite right, or it doesn't quite fit, or are you just forcing it? Or, you know, there's all those kinds of thoughts that kind of bubble around the edge.
Katherine: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. And it's interesting what you say about your 40th because I was having all those thoughts when I started writing my blog From 40 With Love about the not having kids and all that, but it came very much from I was in a good place as well. And I did throw a big party for my 40th and got a new dress and had friends from all walks of life there and had all my girlfriends in my flat beforehand. And it felt really good. I think I felt, "Okay, here we go. This is a new decade."
Katherine: What brought me right down was 41. I remember it so vividly, waking up at 41 on my own, in my flat. Nothing really had changed. I didn't have a partner. I might've had the odd, not very healthy relationship or brief relationship, but I didn't have a partner still no kids. 41 really hit me. I felt awful. I felt really, really awful. And actually that sort of started me off on this, um, journey of
Katherine: trying to figure out what to do, especially about the kids thing. What do I do about this? As a journalist I had, I had two hats on. One was, I'm the journalist, what does a woman at 41 who might want kids, what does she go and do? So I went off to research articles and books about, well, a book, about egg freezing and women who did I V F on their own. And I did all this research for my writing, but also for me. Do I want to have a baby on my own? What is the process? Decided that I didn't because I had been brought up by a single mom and I didn't want that. Just felt that I would be lonely in that. But it sort of started this kind of mission of all right, let's figure this out. Let's figure out what, what happens now.
Stephanie: It's interesting for me, I'm from, not one, but two enormous families. My dad is one of 10 and my mom is one of six. So I have more first cousins than almost everyone I know except for my Italian girlfriend, Toni Ann. So I grew up always just assuming that I would get married and have kids. And that's what you did. You got married and you had a couple of kids and off you went. The last person I was dating before I turned 40, the one who wasn't very nice to me, was divorced with a couple of teenagers and was very clear that he had no interest in starting again. We were together for a couple of years on and off, so, I had to go through that process of sort of realizing that, well, if I was gonna be with him, there weren't going to be children. and so going through that thought process and that grieving process, and then after we broke up, it was like, I don't really think I wanted them anyway.
Stephanie: Then when I met my husband, the year I turned 40, he's six years younger than me. He just said, "Can you leave the door open for me for a little while?" And I said, "Sure, I can do that." And then I think the door just sort of naturally closed on its own, me being 51 now. But yeah, it's interesting the conditioning that goes into that and how to, how to extract yourself from those decisions.
Katherine: What I discovered, at the time, well, the phases changed. So in my late thirties, it was like, I absolutely have to have children, it's what everyone does, I'm gonna do it. Um, I'm gonna find someone. And, and obviously that put a lot of pressure on whatever relationship I found, like "I need to have babies really quickly."
Stephanie: Right? Giddyup!
Katherine: And then I think as, as, yeah, got to 40, 41, I was, I was doing all this research. I was like, "well, if I wanted children, what would I do?" And that led me to think about do I actually really want them? And through a lot of the therapy and personal development work I was doing, what, where I came to through my early forties, probably into my mid forties, was that I am and always have been ambivalent about whether I wanted children or not. That I wasn't sure, I didn't know, I had a lot of fear, a lot of, um, I suppose influences from my own childhood, from how I was parented, how I felt that I had to do some parenting as a child, so maybe I didn't wanna parent anymore. And I had a lot of ambivalence and I am 51 too. And I'd say I'm still ambivalent.
Katherine: You know, it's clear that that's not happening. But I struggle to know which camp I I sit in. Do I sit in the devastated, childless, like always gr not always grieving 'cause we get through our grief. But do I sit in that camp or do I sit in the child free, this is the choice I made camp. And I just don't, I I sit somewhere in between because I never tried, I didn't do rounds of I V F. When I met my now husband, he was pretty sure that he didn't want children. I didn't walk away from him. I did actually walk away from him three times, partly for that reason and other reasons. But then I kept coming back and I wanted a relationship so much more than I wanted children. And that was the deciding factor for me. When I met him and got together properly with him, I was 43, there are all the other reasons to question whether you want children by the time you're 43, and we married at 48. So no kids. Got a dog now.
Stephanie: Well, if you'd like, I will keep you company in the ambivalent, area because I kind of feel the same way. I don't feel devastated that I don't have kids. I don't feel like I made this righteous choice to live singly. It just didn't happen. The cards didn't come out that way, and that's okay, is sort of where I'm at. I hadn't put that word to it previously, but I agree. I'm pretty ambivalent. I don't fall solidly on either side.
Katherine: I mean, as you say that, for honesty, I should say that sometimes I feel devastated. Sometimes I look around at, people with children and I see the joy and the bond. So sometimes I feel sad, but what I think where I've got to is acceptance of the fact that that wasn't my gonna be my journey because of my childhood, because of how I was parented, because of the messages that I took from that and ran with. So sometimes I do feel sad, especially, at certain times of the year, Christmas, Mother's Day, all those times. But I suppose I've got to the place of understanding myself, understanding what happened. I was never sure. I was never determined. I never wanted to throw everything at it. I wanted to throw everything at, finding a relationship, did a healthy one, and I did, and that worked and that was my priority.
Stephanie: Yeah. I always felt like if it had been that important to me, I would've done it by now. When I was in my late thirties or early forties, I met women and I knew women who were just so focused, one of their missions in life was to be a mom and to have a baby. And that was great. I never felt that way, but I thought, well, if I did I probably could have found myself a starter marriage by now and had the baby that I was so driven to have. I just never did that. I like you said, never threw everything at it. Never, never made that the priority.
Katherine: mm Yeah, I say the same because I think we are both quite determined women by the sound of it, who have had ideas for things and made them happen. There were other things I've made happen. A relationship I made happen. I moved to the beach. I made that happen. I published a book. I made that happen. And I totally understand that you don't just click your fingers and make a baby happen, but you do commit to it and you give everything to it. And I never did that.
Katherine: I never did that. And I know people who have. I know people who've tried and succeeded on their own or with a partner. I know people who've tried and haven't. Yeah, that wasn't part of my journey.
Stephanie: I like to say that my baby is 15 this year, and that is my marketing business that I started on my own with, without really much of a plan, in the loft of my condo with a telephone and a laptop. And my baby will be 16 in February. And then this year I had a new baby, I birthed a podcast I feel like almost like one of my brothers who got married, had a baby, got divorced, and 10 years later had another baby . I've got a 15 year old and an almost one year old.
Stephanie: But those are the things I gave my energy and my focus and my love and my attention to and that's what I did.
Stephanie: Tell me about meeting your husband and how did you know it was a healthy relationship?
Katherine: So I met my husband when I was 40 and he was 45. And there was an attraction. The same weekend I met him at the end of the weekend, just casually talking, he said that he didn't want kids and I was 40 and I thought, well, okay, this isn't gonna happen 'cause I think I do or I might. And, and so I wasn't interested in pursuing it. But then I met him a couple of months later, at a festival and the attraction was a lot stronger. So we got it together and then, I left. I was in London. He was down here at the beach a couple of hours away, and I went away and then I thought, oh, that's not gonna happen. Not only 'cause he doesn't want kids, but also because of this, this, and this and this, my list of criteria that he didn't meet.
Katherine: He wasn't this enough and this enough and this enough. And I had all these sort of judgments of him. So I left again and then looked around for someone else, dated a few other people, could never meet anyone who fitted the criteria and wanted kids and was a good person and was a healthy relationship. Then I was understanding all about my ambivalence and so I thought, well, I want a relationship. So at 43 we kind of made a decision on the phone. Okay. Commit and I'll put down all that other stuff on all those websites and apps, and I'll be in this.
Katherine: And how did I know it was a healthy relationship? I think it was about how I felt in it. Like we talked earlier, I had many relationships where I was drunk or if not drunk, on edge, feeling insecure, feeling unsafe, feeling a little bit too, uh, where the excitement tips into fear. Feeling like he was gonna leave me at any minute, feeling jealous. Like it was about how I felt. And when I met my now husband and we were together, I felt safe. I felt relaxed, I felt content, I felt, oh I could just stay here forever.
Katherine: Once I got over what was going on in my head, which is he isn't this enough or this enough, or this enough or this enough, once I just like tuned in to, oh, this feels nice. Oh, this feels relaxing. He's kind, he's very kind. My friends said it when they met him, he has a really good, peaceful, stable energy. And for me, which my energy was like up, down, up, down, extreme, extreme, extreme, adrenaline, it's what I needed. He is who I needed and need. And he accepted me with all my judgments of him, he read my blog. Didn't put him off even though it was all about do I want a baby and eating disorder and crazy relationships. He accepted me as I was. I had to accept him as he was and not try and change him into something else. Some sort of vision of who I thought I should be with.
Stephanie: Right. He sounds a lot like my Patrick. Or at least in the way he made you feel and the things you were thinking, because Patrick was very much the same. I had a boyfriend previous who we would go away for a weekend, have a lovely weekend away, have a great time together. we'd come back and he'd drop me off and we'd unpack the car. He'd say, "Okay, I'm going home now." And now we'd just been together for two or three nights. But I always felt like a, oh God. So I'd say to him, "well, when am I gonna see you?" And he'd be like, "Stephanie, gimme a break. Like, we just spent three nights together. Like, I'm going home for the night." And, and there was always that fear really, of what was gonna happen or, or when I was gonna see him again.
Stephanie: And then with Patrick, I think I was surprised almost later on, after we had been together for a while, I was surprised to realize, oh, I never felt that way. He never made me feel that fear, or I never felt that fear when I was with him. I always knew where he stood. He always treated me like he really liked me and he was gonna be back. As a matter of fact, he did silly things like at the time I lived in the downtown area of our city and he'd show up on my door step, on a Friday at six o'clock with with a pizza. And he'd be like, "Hey, I was, I'm going out with my guy friends tonight and I have to meet them in, 45 minutes, but I thought I'd bring a pizza over and we could have a slice of pizza before I go."
Stephanie: And it was like surprises like that, that were over the line the other way of really demonstrating that he did like me and he did value time with me and things like that. So it was interesting. In later years, I've come to say he is truly the most emotionally intelligent person I've ever met in my life. So he's a great balance and, and much like you, I can be very up and down and back and forth and all over the place. And he is, the steady, the solid, the rock.
Katherine: Hmm. Yeah.
Stephanie: very similar.
Katherine: Yeah. That thing about the pizza just makes me think about the thing I felt about my now husband is he was always there and I used to travel down from London a couple of hours on the train to where we now live at the beach. And my train would pull in to the local station and he would always be sat on the bench. He would've got there 10 minutes early and he's just sitting there calmly waiting and he was always there and it was important. Yeah. That felt good.
Stephanie: Yeah. You could really count on him.
Stephanie: Yeah. I feel the same way about Patrick. I'm curious though, those first couple of years while you were trying to figure yourself out with regards to him, where was he in regards to you? Like did he know that you were the one at the time, or was he also sort of still trying to figure things out?
Katherine: So he often says that he said to his friends, "She'll be back." And he didn't completely hang around. He dated someone else for a while, but I think there was a quiet confidence in him, that I would be back. And he was very respectful of my boundaries. So, I'm someone who, in order to try and get him out of my head, I needed to go no contact on, phone or tech, no messages. And he was respectful of that, which is admirable. And then, I think he said he kind of sensed that I would be back and it happened that when I was ready to come back he was single. He wouldn't have been waiting around so much, but I think there was a sort of quiet confidence that yeah, she'll be back. She'll come round.
Stephanie: And you did
Katherine: And I did. Yeah.
Stephanie: So today you are a decade on from 40, 41. And tell me how life is now.
Katherine: Yeah. So very different. The main difference, if I think about what I was saying to you about when my dad died and how alone I was, my mom died nearly two years ago now, and that was massive. It was really big. And I had my husband by my side the whole time. So much, he actually wasn't working during that time and he was literally by my side all the time, and that was a massive difference. I no longer live in a little flat in London, I live in a house with a garden, on the south coast of England. A few minutes, well a few minutes in the car, not quite walking distance from the beach, but very close to the beach. We have a dog, which has been an interesting experience. I think it's probably pushed a lot of buttons that having a child would've pushed around freedom and responsibility, and having to take care of a little creature. Um, so it hasn't been the easiest ride, but she is absolutely adorable. Um, so I now have a family of three, one being a furry friend.
Katherine: And my work has completely changed. As I said, I was entirely committed to having a relationship, and I did everything to understand why I wasn't having a relationship. I studied a lot about counseling and psychotherapy. I trained in counseling and psychotherapy. I did a lot of therapy. I did a lot of healing and recovery from compulsive behaviors, and I understood where I was going wrong in my relationships. And I understood so much that I wrote a book called How to Fall in Love. And I built a coaching business supporting others to understand where they might be going wrong in their dating and relationships and to support them to find love. So I have a very different work life to previously it's quite free. It involves me writing, I'm writing another book around emotional overeating. I'm writing a novel with a lead character who isn't dissimilar to me. So I do my writing and then I do my coaching and midlife mentoring.
Katherine: So I support people who are as I was, either single, lonely, confused, bemused, having done a career for perhaps 20 years, and then thought, oh my gosh, I don't wanna do this anymore. Why am I doing this? And there must be something else. And how can I live my authentic life? So that's the work that I do. And I run retreats and I still use my languages. So I run retreats abroad and workshops and all that. And yeah, so that's, that's my life, I guess.
Katherine: And I continue on my journey. I am a work in progress, some of the work that I have done to get to this place. Unpacking my childhood, unpacking self sabotage, unpacking unhealthy patterns. Working on some of the reasons why I ended up, you know, being addicted or in my eating disorder and all that. I continue. I do my therapy, I continue to work on myself and all of that informs my work. And I swim in the sea most of the year and, uh, walk on the beach and yeah, try and prioritize my health and wellbeing as well. That took a major hit during those adrenaline years. Um, yeah.
Stephanie: Yeah. I always wonder if the health issues that I have been dealing with for the last couple of years, were not in some way brought on by the ways that I lived in my twenties and my thirties, but I know that's not the right mindset and a very dangerous path to go down. But
Stephanie: Boy, do I wish I had your book when I was looking, because, when I first met Patrick, I at least knew that the things that I had been doing weren't working. The people I had been choosing weren't working. And so I consciously said to myself, 'cause I liked him and I thought he was special. So I said, whatever I've done in the past, I'm gonna do the exact opposite of here. If I want to call him, I'm not gonna call him. If I wanna text him, I'm not gonna text him. I'm just going to do the opposite and see what happens. So I didn't call, I didn't text, unless he did, and I remember six or eight months later, he doesn't quite remember this, but I remember six or eight months later when we were pretty serious at that point, he said to me, "Whew, you came on pretty strong there at the beginning, huh?" And I thought, oh my God, could you imagine what would've happened if I had unleashed myself upon you as, as I normally would've? So, um, but it, it really demonstrates that I gave him the space to come to me to have his part of the relationship. It wasn't just me being aggressive and advancing. He was not prey. He was a co-author of the story. I didn't dig into it quite as deeply as you have, and I look forward to reading your book, but I certainly knew something was amiss and that at least worked for me.
Katherine: Hmm. Yeah. And I love that word you said co co-author 'cause that's what I've been looking at co-creation. That's what we want to do in a relationship. We want to co-create something really special, you know, and the unhealthy way would be sort of codependent and what we want to be is interdependent and co-create this wonderful thing.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. So you said something a couple minutes ago when you were talking about your work. you said you are a midlife mentor. Tell me what that means.
Katherine: So, you know, as you have discovered through your work on, with this project, on your previous project, you know that that turning point somewhere between generally between sort of mid thirties to mid forties, it happens to so many people that, I don't wanna be doing this anymore. And that could be, I don't wanna be doing my relationships like this anymore. I don't want to be doing my career like this anymore. I don't want to be doing my life like this anymore. I don't want to be living here. I want to be doing something different. I meet so many women, especially women, but men too. I have some male clients who, inside the accountant or the lawyer or the journalist there is a poet or a teacher, or a paddle board instructor or a wellbeing or a yoga teacher. There is something else that is gonna make their eyes sparkle and their cheeks glow. And because what they are, what they have been doing, which is what happened to me, is leaving them feeling dead inside. And it is about reawakening that spirit that has died.
Katherine: Um, and maybe we discovered that the career we went into, we sort of went into for the wrong reasons because it pleased our parents or because we thought it was what we ought to do, or safe or secure or because we didn't have the courage to do what our heart wanted us to do. So that's what midlife mentoring is about. It's like, what does your heart want and need? How do I support you to find the courage to go for that? And what steps do you need to take to get there? Do you want to move to the beach or move to the city? Do you want to travel the world? Do you want to change your career. Do you want to write a book? You know, how do we recreate or create the second half of our lives in a way that's really true and authentic to us. Yeah. And it makes my skin tingle when I hear people who you who are ready for this.
Stephanie: Yeah. In the conversations that I've had and the interviews I've done, the word should comes up almost every single time. Should or supposed to. I did things I was supposed to do or I did things I should do. Have you run across the book Passages by Gail Sheehy?
Katherine: I haven't, no.
Stephanie: I highly recommend it to you, think. I think it's gonna be great for you, for what you're doing. So, it was written in the mid seventies and Gail was also a journalist. And she realized that from age zero to 18, there's all these books on developmental stages but once you turn 18, you're on your own. And she did a ton of research and found that there actually are developmental stages from, 18 or 20 through to end of life. I was turned onto her book many, many years ago. And obviously the piece that's very interesting to me is, I think it's called the Deadline Decade, and it's age 35 to 45, and it really talks about the transitions that people go through.
Stephanie: She talks about this concept of first adulthood and second adulthood. First adulthood is from 18 or 20 or whenever you leave home through to sometime between 35 and 45. . And in that first adulthood we're trying to please the authority figures in our lives, whether that be our parents or our teachers, mentors, bosses, whoever. So we make decisions that they would approve of. And they, most of the time, want the best for us. So, it's not bad guidance, but it probably isn't guidance that is true to our own inner selves, right? So we make a lot of these decisions because that's what you should do, right? I've been dating for her for four years, we should get engaged and then we should get married, you know, all of that stuff.
Stephanie: And then this decade between 35 and 45 is when you kind of wake up and you start trusting your own experience more than those outside voices. And you start listening to your own inner voice and you set yourself up for your second adulthood, which is the one that you create truly for yourself, the one that's fulfilling, that's satisfying, that belongs to you. found that after my 40 Drinks Project and, and when my project, ultimately ended up changing my life, I was surprised by it. I thought, oh, wow, I did this thing and my life is completely different. And if you had told me that I was setting out to change my life, I would've been overwhelmed or it would've been too much and I might not have. But for me, it came wrapped in this wrapper of ridiculous and outrageous and silly, so I was able to follow it through. But, when I was surprised, that's when I started being curious about, I can't be the only one. And so I came across this book and it turns out that many to most of us go through some sort of transition between 35 and 45, and that's why I'm so interested in this period of time and how other people have come through it and whether they've come through it more gracefully, more thoughtfully, more introspectively or kind of like me, bumbling and drinking and partying my way to oh, holy cow, there's a life revelation there.
Katherine: Yeah. And I wonder the way I sort of did it, if you think about, I was basically 34 5 total crash. So is there a way to do it without the crash? That means you lose your health, you lose your job. You know, I think about back to that career and Reuters is a fantastic company to work for and I wonder if I hadn't crashed, would there have been a way to stay and them to sort of guide me down the coaching route and things like that. I do speaking for corporates as well, because I think they need to know how to help their employees to stop crashing. To avoid crashing because the cost to our health, to the companies we work for, to our families, to our friends. Yeah. because you mentioned the word gracefully and my journey wasn't graceful. Crash and then finally crawl out of the dark cave. But I think my blog kind of changed everything in the way that your project did, you know, and I don't write it as frequently, but, it's so precious to me. I still write it 11 years on and I've got 11 years worth of blogs, 11 years of my life, charted. It's amazing.
Stephanie: it is amazing. It must be such an interesting thing to go back and read some of the old stuff for
Katherine: It is. Yeah, it is. Yeah.
Stephanie: That's wonderful. So, once again, tell me what your blog name is, where people can find it.
Katherine: So my blog is called From Forty With Love. F o r t y, so spelt out rather than the numbers like yours. And then my blog very much, led very naturally into my book, which is called How to Fall in Love,
Katherine: which is my personal journey as well as everything that I learned on the way of trying to figure out this love thing.
Stephanie: Wonderful. I'm gonna include links to both of those when this goes live so people will be able to find both your blog and your book. Katherine, thank you so much for joining me today and mostly thank you for being so understanding of my awful cold and the couple of breaks we had to take so I could have a coughing fit.
Katherine: Oh, thank you so much and, uh, you've done great. You've done really well, despite the cold.