We all need people to look up to, to inspire us to do something amazing with our own lives and stop us getting stuck in a rut. But how do you go from dreaming of an idea to actually doing it? It’s easier said than done. These five incredible women found the motivation within themselves to change their lives for the better and we are in awe. From creating a worldwide charity challenge to training as a Zumba teacher age 54 and starting a jewellery business after serious illness, Lumity’s fabulous five are our modern day superheroes.
Read their heart-warming stories…
Jacqueline Way, creator of the 365 Give Challenge
Mother-of-three Jacqueline always knew she wanted to make a difference in the world but it wasn’t until she hit her 40s that she had the courage to make it happen. She came up with a brilliantly simple idea that all of us can adopt and embrace – she is quite literally changing the world one day at a time with her incredible charity ‘365 Give’. It began aspersonal parenting project with her son Nic.
“I hit 40,” Jacqueline tells us. “Oh that magic age that makes us sit and reflect what we have done to date. All of a sudden I was half way through my life, I had a two year old and I wanted to do more (as if raising a child and running my own business wasn’t enough).”
At the time her son Nic was a toddler and in a bid to teach him compassion, kindness and generosity she decided they would embark on a project together.
“I wanted to get to the end of my life and know I had done everything in my power to leave the world a better place for my beautiful son, his friends and future generations.”
Jacqueline had an idea. Every day for one year they would give something to someone and she would record their adventures on a blog called ‘365give”.
She told her son: “Nic, we’re going to do one thing to be kind, helpful, giving to a person, an animal or the planet every day for 365 days.” From donating blankets to an animal shelter, picking up rubbish and giving clothes to charity they thought up new ways to give every single day.
Despite not being a writer and having no knowledge of social media Jacqueline’s blog began to gain traction around the world and inspired others to start giving too.By the end of the year they had set off a massive chain reaction with people across the globe joining in.Jacqueline was approached by a local educator in Vancouver, where she was living, and together they created the educational program called the ‘365give Challenge’. Today anyone can take part, not just school children.
“It’s unique because it’s powered by the kids,” says Jacqueline. “They choose how they’re going to give, support causes and impact the world in ways that they choose.” She adds: “I could never have dreamed that my super fun family project with my son could cause a ripple to so many.”
Sarah Sparks, Career Coach
Sarah spent her thirties in a fast-paced, high powered job at Goldman Sachs, which sounded great on paper, but ultimately left her burned out, depressed and convinced that she could never have children. Now 58 and a mum of one, she works as an award-winning life coach, she has turned her life and career around in her 40s. Now that’s inspiring.
“I lived for my former career,” says Sarah, who was head of financial regulation at the company. “I loved the work hard, play hard aspect of it because I’m a people pleaser, and when you do a good job people want more of you. But it wasn’t a healthy lifestyle and I paid the price. I was mentally ill, I had depression and anxiety. My marriage broke down and I felt really alone.”
Sarah was exhausted and she was desperate for the one thing she couldn’t have – a baby. Her mental health was so badly affected by her stressful career and her six heart-breaking and failed rounds of IVF that she ended up in The Priory rehabilitation clinic – on more than one occasion.
But despite – and perhaps because of – everything she went through, Sarah forged a new career as a life coach and became a mother. Now, at 58 years old she is a single mum to an “amazing” 13-year-old boy, she’s an award winning public speaker, executive coach and on top of that she looks and feels better than ever.
She reveals: “I definitely feel younger than when I was working at Goldman Sachs in my mid-20s. I’ve got more energy, my skin is better, I sleep so much more, I exercise more and I’m just a changed woman.”
On making the change, she tells us: “The thing I always bear in mind is that it’s either have that courage or endure a lifetime of doing something you’re not meant to be doing in this world. If you chose to stick at it, it’ll likely cause you some level of tension and stress inside your body. It will maybe even eat away at your relationships and you won’t be successful in the long-term.”
Sarah explains how being an older mum has changed her outlook on life. “Having a child when you’re older means you have to stay physically active, especially being a single parent. I’m also hanging out with mums who are 10-20 years younger than me. But the biggest thing is realising how quickly time flies and to make the most of it. I only have my son half the time and it’s made me also see that when I have him I really need to be present and make the most of the time I have with him. Cherish every moment, even the hard ones.”
Jennifer Fisher, Celebrity Jewellery Designer
New York-based mother-of-two and jewellery designer to the stars Jennifer has a client list that reads like an Academy Awards night invite list. Rihanna, Uma Thurman, Gwen Stefani, Cara Delevingne, Justin Timberlake and Rita Ora are just a few.
With a flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York and a list of high-end stockists across the globe, including Barneys and Net-A-Porter, Jennifer has taken the industry by storm since she started the Jennifer Fisher Jewellery brand just over a decade ago. But it hasn’t always been easy.
“I worked as a fashion stylist for 10 years on major national ad campaigns,” Jennifer tells us. “When I was 30, I was diagnosed with a desmoid tumor while I was living and styling in NYC. I received multiple rounds of chemotherapy.
“When Kevin (my husband) and I wanted to have children, my oncologist didn’t think it was a good idea for me to carry a baby because my tumour grows from estrogen – so we went through the process of hiring a surrogate to carry for us in California. After multiple rounds of IVF where the surrogate was pregnant twice and miscarried twice, I came back to New York and decided to try IVF on my own, against my doctor’s orders.
“Unsuccessful yet again, they recommended that Kevin and I adopt or get an egg donor. I needed a break from it all and took the summer off. That’s when I became pregnant with our son Shane, naturally. Against the wishes of my oncologist I carried the baby. A perfectly healthy pregnancy and baby boy later, I learned that my tumor had actually shrunk from the pregnancy.”
Jennifer reveals that after Shane’s birth, she received jewellery gifts in the form of dainty single letters. “Shane’s birth was a major deal for us and I wanted something to wear that represented him in a way that felt like me. When I couldn’t find anything I liked I decided to go up to 47th Street in New York and have something made.”
Her first piece of jewellery was a dog tag to represent Shane, which she wore every day on set – then the requests came flooding in for the same necklace. “I then happened to make a necklace for Uma Thurman that she ended up wearing on the cover of Glamour Magazine. Jennifer Fisher Jewellery was born.”
Six years later and with a large following, Jennifer expanded her jewellery line focusing on affordable statement pieces. What an incredible journey.
So how did she motivate herself? “An innate feeling that I would be okay, I always tried to stay positive even in the hardest moments,” she said and “trust your gut”. Her top tip for coping? “I am still figuring it out but a good martini and at least seven hours of sleep is helpful. Don’t forget your Lumity Life before bed.”
Jules Mummery, mum and yoga fan
When Jules Mummery’s yoga journey began 27 years ago, she never believed it would transform her life the way it did. The 57-year-old mother-of-two insists that her youthful appearance and positive outlook on life is all down to her daily dose of yoga. But she didn’t become a yogi to fight the signs of ageing – she did it for her children and her story is so inspiring.
“Well, I have two children who are now 30 and 26 and my son is autistic,” Jules tells Lumity. “He’s got dyspraxia – a developmental coordination disorder – and autism and when he was a baby I basically started yoga to destress. I thought I really need to look after myself, for him and I’ve never looked back.”
She says of practicing yoga: “To me it’s not exercise, it’s not a fad, it’s my life and part of who I am. It’s like a massage for all my internal organs and it starts from the inside out.”
Jules reveals the changes in her body were almost instantaneous. “It didn’t take long for me to feel completely different. Within six weeks my head was clearer, I felt I had more energy, I was calmer. I thought this really does work, there’s something in this. I felt so good about myself that it also made me want to look at my diet. I began drinking more water, cut out tea and coffee and made healthier food choices overall.
“I looked into my children’s diets to improve them too, especially because my son Jack was slightly hyperactive and I was inspired to start reflexology to help my son too. All of this stemmed from yoga so you can see it really changed my life and theirs.”
Now, says Jules, yoga is part of her daily routine. “I couldn’t go a day without doing some sort of yoga. I do it every morning and every evening. Generally I get up half an hour earlier than I need to fit 20-30 minutes into my day and do another 20 minutes in the evening.”
Jules believes you’re never too old or too inflexible to start yoga. “You are never too old. Truly. There is a woman I saw on Facebook who is 105 and she started yoga at 90. You don’t have to be flexible either because so much of it is about the breathing too. You shouldn’t be afraid to start just because you can’t touch your toes. At the beginning I couldn’t do any of the moves. I could barely do child’s pose – one of the simplest moves – because my head felt fuzzy and uncomfortable, but I didn’t give up.”
All of this, and Jules has her own business at age 55. “I’m a personal cook,” she reveals. “My company is called ‘Dine with Jules’ and I cook for dinner parties and small events. I bake puddings and cakes for Highgrove Royal Gardens where Prince Charles lives too. So I’m very busy….but I always make time or yoga.”
Martine Howard, Zumba teacher
Martine is one seriously inspirational woman. Not only did she train as a Zumba teacher at age 54, she was one of the first people in Britain to teach the lively, Latin-inspired dance class. Now at almost 63-years-old she leads classes every day of the week and prides herself on inspiring other women to lead a more active lifestyle.
“I’m not afraid to say that I think I look pretty good for me age,” Martine tells Lumity. “Exercise keeps you young. When people meet me and find out my age they say ‘how old?’ and that makes me feel good. That’s what keeping fit has done for me.”
Martine openly admits she was far from a dance newbie when she embarked on her Zumba training. In fact she is a former dancer and singer who was in the ‘70s pop band ‘Guys N Dolls’. “When I had to get my fitness certification, I had to do it alongside all these people who were about 20-years-old,” she says. “I did that at 54 years old.”
Had she been put off by her younger competitors it never would have happened and so she says she packs her classes in Denham, Buckinghamshire with encouragement and modifications so that anyone can join in.
“The women in my classes range from about 50 to 80 and if you saw how some of them started out, not being able to put one foot in front of the other, and how they are now you’d be impressed. They do all the moves, they modify them to suit their bodies and it’s a joy to see it.”
Martine admits she fears people are too sedentary nowadays and wishes they could see what exercise can do for your body and your mind as you age.
“I continued to teach all the way through my menopause,” Martine explains. “I did not even notice it happening. There was the odd hormone swing but I think exercise helped that. All those ailments you get as you get older, they can disappear with exercise or at the very least decrease.”
So can Martine ever see herself hanging up her dancing shoes? “I will be teaching until I physically can’t. For as long as I can teach there is no reason not to. It keeps me fit and mobile and it gives me great joy to see others reaping the same rewards.”