(OPINION) At 64 years old, I took a very deep breath, divorced my husband of 37 years, fell in love with a woman and began reconstructing my life authentically with a new purpose.
Ending a marriage that had been on life support for far too long time freed me from the constraints of fear and societal norms, which I had allowed to hold me hostage in the search for honesty and self.
To paraphrase former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, I did the thing I must not do, which in turn became my ticket to freedom — not only freedom from a stale marriage but freedom to sound my own horn, to explore my passion and sexuality, and to finally become the person I was hesitant and afraid to become. To become powerful.
I had been playing small for far too long, living in the shadow of others’ expectations and my own limited self-worth while preaching to my business clients about finding their own power, accepting it, and moving forward into living their truth.
I even wrote a book called “Be Powerful: Find Your Strength at Any Age,” which became an Amazon bestseller thanks to clients and others who wanted to know my secrets to looking and feeling good in my 60s. But in writing that book, I began to feel an expansion ― a feeling I had yet to verbalize even to myself.
As I wrote my story of vulnerability and strength, which was genuine, I began to realize deep down that I was writing the story I wanted to hear — but not in its entirety.
My friend and employee Lee was at my side throughout most of this process, helping me excavate facts and feelings that I had yet to recognize and passions that were being unleashed. It felt like fire and freedom, terror and health.
I was falling in love with life and reawakening my spirit while also — unbeknownst to me — falling in love with Lee. The feelings were coming on strong, but the words were not.
Let’s back up to the beginning. I have a daughter who is my only child and my best friend. The bond we share has always been unusually close. She has always been my first thought and strongest love.
My goal was to nurture her with love and magic, honesty and courage. We loved adventure and freedom. We went through times that were typical as well as extremely challenging, but always together in harmony.
However, there was one exception ― one secret that I could never share with her, out of a need to do the right thing for our family: Her father and I were navigating a troubled marriage.
There was no way I would reveal that to her. It was a burden that I couldn’t allow her to bear. I felt that my job was to protect her and to keep my adult life and the evolutions of my marriage to myself.
When my daughter and incredible son-in-law decided to move to Charlotte, North Carolina, to begin their lives together, I was thrilled and decided to share my second baby with her: my new fitness venture, Hilliard Studio Method. We agreed to grow it together, finding new joys and adventures as business partners. (READ MORE)