Life reflections on my 50th birthday.

written by Bari Tessler January 2, 2019
Life reflections on my 50th birthday.

Today, January 3rd, is my 50th birthday.

It feels like a big milestone. Not just a big birthday, but a big moment in my one beautiful life.

So on this day, I want to honor my 40’s by sharing some of the big highlights of this past decade.

I realize this is self-focused, but hey: I’m 50 today!!

So indulge me a bit, if you like … and hopefully there will be something in here for you, as well — whether it’s a nugget of wisdom or inspiration to do your own honoring and review.

First, an important reminder: I’m about to share my own journey, with you. As I remind my Art of Money students all the time: we all have different timing and pacing, in money, in love, in business, in life. We all hit different milestones (internal and external) at different points in life, and in different orders.

I want to honor my 40’s for myself — not to compare myself to others or invite comparisons. I believe in the power of this kind of personal reflection and honoring and inventorying, at certain big moments. I always hope that, when I share what is important and meaningful to me, that you can learn more about yourself and what is important and meaningful to you.

My 40’s in a big ole nutshell:

  • Age 39: Become a mother to a Noah, 5 months shy of my 40th birthday: August 9th, 2008.
  • Age 40: Mommy. Unraveled my business model and team. Became a one-woman show again.
  • Age 41-42: Stayed home to mother and created online programs so I could work from home.
  • Age 44: Opened my first year-long Art of Money program in 2013.
  • Age 46: Published my first book, The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness and went on a book tour.
  • Age 47: Started my perimenopause journey.
  • Age 49: Family trip to Barcelona, Spain.
  • Age 50: Today, I’m Mama to a 10 year old boy, teaching my year-long program for the 7th year, and celebrating 18 years of marriage. I’m officially in the QUEEN phase of life.

My Life Gardens

That’s the bird’s eye view of my 40’s … and when I swoop down a bit closer, I see a handful of important areas — or “life gardens,” as I like to say — that were priorities and big areas of focus and growth for me the past 10 years. {What are the big life gardens of your life?} Here they are …

MOTHERHOOD:

I woke up on my 40th birthday mother to my 5-month-old son, Noah.

I wasn’t always sure if motherhood would be part of my life journey, but I woke up one day in my 38th year knowing the only next step on my path was to have a child: a boy named Noah. Yes, this was a clear, strong vision. I know this doesn’t always work out for everyone, and I’m incredibly grateful that I get to be a mom in this life.

Most big life adventures have beautiful-easeful moments and painful-challenging moments at different points along the way … and I believe it’s important to share a bit of all sides.

We had an easy and intentional conception, but labor was life-threatening for both Noah and me: I had a placenta abruption (which can be a very serious issue). Yes, many births bring us face-to-face with life-and-death.

This threw my original birth plan out the window, along with my expectations. By the time I made it through to the other side of motherhood, I was just grateful and blissed out that we had made it through alive. This heavily influenced the first few years of being a mama and how important it was for me to shift my work and business model, so I could recover and do my work from home.

Baby Noah and Bari

My 40’s have been heavily influenced by being a mom to a young child. This was one of THE main focuses, joys, and challenges of my 40’s.

Bari and Noah's amazing stand up hair

I cherish being an older mom, too. I know I would have liked to have had more children, had I started earlier (and if it were possible for me). And I am truly grateful for my one.

Oh, I could write a whole book on being a mother! But for now…

I arrive at my 50th birthday with a beautiful 10 year old son. He is a loving, funny, smart, soccer-playing, gamer, music-loving boy, which is the gift of a lifetime for me. And it’s an honor to be his mother.

Bari and Noah

WORK-BUSINESS:

Becoming a mother at 40 changed everything for me regarding my work in the world. I was blissed out as a new mama, but also in deep recovery from a life-threatening labor, and not sleeping more than 3 or 4 hours at a time. I stepped into a big transition with work.

I had just spent 7 years growing my business and creating a whole team of bookkeeping trainers and financial coaches (alongside a wonderful business partner). But very quickly after Noah was born, I knew I had to let it all go.

We all have to find our own answers to this big life-and-work questions. I know some online entrepreneurs keep their teams and keep growing when they have young babies. But I needed to let it all go. I had new priorities and couldn’t keep up with the demands of my old business model, with team and partner. I realized quickly that that my best move was to go back to a one-woman-show.

Yes, this meant a big dip in income. It put me in another big transition phase, with all the ensuing challenges and growth curves. But it was the best path for me, at that time.

I would have liked to be a full-time mother at least for a little longer, but we were a dual-income family and I needed to come back to my work, at least in some capacity, when Noah was 4 months old. But I could only do so much as a sleep-deprived new mom. How to do this was a koan — a big life riddle!

Thankfully, my amazing husband Forest had a vision of helping me teach my work online. He wasn’t in great shape himself, at the time: he’d just been diagnosed with Lyme disease and was on an intense antibiotic regime. (Sidenote: a couple years later, Forest ditched the antibiotics, got a road bike, and rides 5-6 days a week, which is a much better protocol for him).

Forest had taken Teaching Sells the year before (the first online course offered my Brian Clark, founder of CopyBlogger), and saw the potential in teaching online. And luckily, I had already started teaching a tele-course two years before Noah was born. A new path began to take shape …

I spent the early part of my 40’s as a mommypreneur with limited hours, limited child-care and limited capacity for my work. Forest built me an online teaching platform, and I began teaching exclusively online in my home study program. I share a lot of details in this sweet article: I knew this day would come as a Mommypreneur.

When I hit age 44, I was ready for another big shift with my work. I was sleeping again (cue the angels singing) — this happened when my son turned 3. I was ready for a different teaching model and a business model: one that was sustainable, like when I had a business partner and a team under my umbrella.

After lots of visioning and with lots of support from my husband, I was ready to open my year-long program, The Art of Money. This became my favorite, most sustainable teaching and business model to date — and it’s about to start its 7th year.

It took a long time to build this solid foundation, so I could run a year-long program: all of the different shifts and business models throughout my 40’s, the big shift into motherhood at 40, and of course all of my different business models in my 30’s. Every one of these was another building block in this foundation. {Here’s the full story of my business models.}

Next, with my year-long program in place, I was finally able to fulfill a lifelong dream: writing a book!

The lovely, easeful moment came early on: my dream publisher reached out to me in what felt like a fairytale story.

Bari with paperback Art of Money

And, there were huge challenges along the way, especially when I sent off the first manuscript and it got destroyed by the editor. Here’s why my book almost didn’t happen — and how I roared.

I ended up creating the book I had always dreamed of. The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness was published on June 14th, 2016 and I went on an epic book tour. Our community shared the most wonderful book selfies that made me cry. These are just a few…

Here’s something fun: I had not one but two magazine covers in my 40’s! The first happened at age 41: Experience Life Magazine. And the second magazine cover happened this year, at 49 years old with Mindful Magazine.

Bari on Experience Life Cover

I gave a big talk on Money Koans (money riddles and how to solve them) that was shared with over 10,000 humans on FB. You can watch the live video right here.

I have spent my 40’s coming into my value and power and clarity in a truer way than ever before. I think this story (which was the most opened and enjoyed article of 2018) conveys this so well: I hired and fired a CFO in 3 weeks flat.

So I arrive arrive at my 50th birthday with my favorite teaching model and business model to date: my year-long Art of Money program. And a book by the same name that I know has so much more life to give. It feels so important to me to have sustainable income and work at this phase of my life.

Next up is LEGACY. That’s what the next decade of my work and mission will be all about. (More to come on this … )

HEALTH:

I spent my early 40’s recovering from my labor. I was in postpartum-land for a long, long time.

When I finally emerged at 44, it was a glorious thing. I did some radical food elimination diets to get there, which felt right at the time.

I had some years of powerful energy again, which allowed me to create the year-long program, the book, and go on a big book tour.

I had a health scare a few years ago when my doctors found thyroid nodules. My husband held my hand as the doctor dipped a biopsy needle in and out of the nodules in my neck — and thankfully, they were benign.

When I returned from my big book tour, I could feel that all of my energy reserves had finally been depleted. Then my hormones started going wild, and my emotions along with them (extending way beyond my normal range of emotions, which was already very wide!). I knew my perimenopause journey officially began at the age of 47.

For me this means I have fully stepped in the Queen phase.

As I approached it, I could feel it: I was experiencing a whole new phase of life … one that didn’t quite fit into the three-phase model I had heard of for years: Maiden, Mother, Crone.

I first heard of a Queen phase from Christiane Pelmas (between Mother and Crone), and it deeply resonated with me. Other teachers have also spoken about this (and some refer to it as the Maga phase).

I’m working on re-defining health for myself at this time. My energy is different and I have less of it. My immune system is lower (I’m working on this). I require a HUGE amount of alone time right now.

My body is fuller. I had to get some new clothes that felt good during this time. Lots of one-piece jumpsuits! And lots of velvet (which I must say I’ve been wearing for many years before it became a thing again), But because I have so much velvet sometimes I wear velvet on velvet (oh my) but I think that’s perfect for this phase. Oh, and one piece lingerie, under a few layers of clothes, which is just for me 😉

I’m stronger, as well. Weight training at the gym and a personal trainer have been essential for me this year. Recently, I helped my husband carry 7-foot bookshelves up a few flights of stairs — and I was proud he could rely on me and not have to ask a strong neighbor guy!

And, I got my first pair of glasses that my husband just adores!

Bari in glasses

I’ve also put together a Health Team to help usher me through this time. We are working on hormones, adrenals and immune system to support me through this phase. I absolutely refuse to diet and have since I started perimenopause. In my early 20’s I worked hard to listen to my body and learn how to eat intuitively, and it feels really important to be living that again.

So, instead of removing things from my diet, I’m doing my best to add things in: more vegetables, green juices, even more sauerkraut, soups, and supplements. Weight training, walking and hiking in nature (which I share on Insta often). I’ve even begun some yoga training in my home.

And, I’m working all the deeper energies of slowing down and being in this Queen phase while still being a mother to a young child. There is a lot of strength and clarity and power in this phase, even though there are many bodily changes as well. I’m learning how to be fully embodied during this time, which is challenging me like never before.

If I were to have a word for my 50th year it would EMBODIED.

MARRIAGE:

Forest and I are stepping into our 18th year of marriage!

There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, lots of middle of the road places … as well as lots of adventures, love, and support.

I could write a whole book on long-term marriage.

And, to be honest, sometimes, I get the desire to blow things up, whether that’s my marriage, or family or my work or any big important part of my life. It’s part of my nature (a shadow side, if you will) and this has increased since perimenopause began.

But I continually come back to a larger view and asking the deeper questions, like: what kind of life do I want? What is truly important to me? How do I thrive the most? And then I settle back into the present and am truly grateful for this marriage and this partnership.

One of my favorite things all year was walking hand-in-hand with my husband in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. We were jet lagged, dreamy, and exploring brand new travel territory … together.

I am so grateful to arrive at our 18th year with my husband, my love, partner, fellow traveler, co-creator, co-parent, in a solid and loving and beautiful family-home-life that is so important to me.

TRAVEL:

My little family and I love travel adventures! I’m grateful for the travel we got to do and I’d love to travel even more (especially outside the country) in this next decade.

When our son was 18 months old, we went to Antigua, Guatemala. It was a work trip for Papa Bear, but I was so grateful to tag along with Noah, who spent most of the week on my back in a carrier. I walked him around the town as he was learning his first words: mama, papa, moon, penis, ola. It took him a full week to figure out how to roll his tongue, but he did, and to this day, he has the best Spanish pronunciation out of all of us.

For about 5 years in a row, we traveled to Taos, New Mexico every so often and rented an EarthShip — and we really considered buying and living in it for a while.

Bari inside Earthship

Then we kept visiting Santa Fe so I could dance and we could visit Ten Thousand Waves, a wonderful Japanese bathhouse and spa.

Bari and Noah Japanese Bath

We went on a crazy RV roadshow trip from Seattle down to Santa Cruz, interviewing Art of Money colleagues and students along the way. We all agreed we’d never travel that way again, but it was a wild adventure!

AOM Road Tour

A few years later, my book tour took me to San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, California, Portland, OR, Seattle, Washington, Bainbridge Island, Vancouver, Canada, Pasadena, California, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Boston.

Bari's Art of Money Book Tour

My family joined me for some of that but I soon realized that it was harder than I imagined to be on a book tour with my family! I learned that I prefered short work trips without them and then separate family adventures together.

Bari and Noah Book Tour

We visited Jamaica a few years back, which turned out to be a magical family snorkeling adventure. At some point in the water I started laughing (because it was such a mind-blowing experience) and then they started laughing and no one could stop laughing for a long, long time.

Our family visits my husband’s family cottage on Lake Michigan every summer and enjoys the lake the most beautiful sunsets every night.

And, the very end of my 40’s culminated with an incredible trip to Barcelona, Spain! (I shared this all over my Instagram and FB accounts).

You see last summer, our son was going to a summer soccer camp in Denver with Barcelona-based coaches, and he had a dream of getting picked by then to go to an academy in Barcelona. Forest and I kept telling him to just enjoy the camp, because, while we believe in him, we knew only a few kids would be chosen for the academy.

As it turns out, our 10-year-old boy’s dreams come true! He got picked to train in Barcelona, and we all decided it would be the best possible kind of family adventure.

It was wonderful to get both of my boys to Europe for the first time in their lives. I hadn’t been in 20 years, and it opened a doorway for us that I want to keep going through in years to come.

We dream of more travel in our future. This is a big desire of mine for my family this next decade.

COMMUNITY:

My business team is a big part of my life and community. Right as I turned 40, I let go of my team of assistants and coaches and business partner to become a one-woman show again. This worked for the first few years of my son’s life.

Then I got a Virtual Assistant, Hannah Williams, that helped me grow again and helped me create my online programs. She was there as I opened my first year-long program.

Soon after she left, I tried to replace her with a Virtual Assistant and an Online Business Manager, but both of those women turned out to be not-so-good-fits for me and my business.

One week before launching the second year of my year-long program, one quit and one was let go. I was left hanging in a bad situation.

My husband truly stepped forward and came to my rescue. He sat down and showed me a Google Doc with everything he wanted to do in my business. Over the next 3 years, he took over many roles. I tried to get a few additional assistants to help, but I kept having trouble finding someone who was a good match for me and truly committed to the work.

Then almost 3 years ago, as my book was about to be published and my husband was stepping down to work for himself again in his own sandbox, we got our current team in place: Virtual Assistant Ali Willoughby and Online Business Manager, Amber Kinney. It’s been the most solid and committed team (besides my husband, of course)!!

It’s not easy finding a great team, so I’m so grateful to be arriving at my 50th, having learned a lot of lessons, and also finally finding incredible women to help me run The Art of Money.

Also, in my early 40’s, right after I had my son, I realized that I needed a co-writer. Writing has always been difficult for me (writing my 150 page master’s thesis nearly killed me!). But I have tons of ideas and teachings to share, and my business model requires lots of really good written content: articles, emails, teaching materials, and on and on. Plus, I knew for years that I had a book brewing inside of me.

So on the one hand, I knew I had so much written content that needed to be shared, if I wanted to share my work with the world in a bigger way. But I also knew I wasn’t a writer! I’m an idea gal, a speaker and teacher. And I firmly believe it’s important to own our gifts and admit what we suck at.

Finally, with the help of some quick laser coaching from Danielle LaPorte at a WDS conference, I had a bit of a breakthrough and gave myself permission to work with a co-writer. I’ve worked with the wonderful Angela Raines for the past 8 years on articles, copy, and most importantly, my book.

I also count myself so lucky to share the teaching stage with amazing TA’s (Transformation Assistants!), Jess Salzman, Andrea Gage Smith, Sonya Brewer, Debbie Sassen, (for The Art of Money 2019) and Karin Robbins, Carrie VanWinkle and Makeda Pennycooke (in previous years), along with many Guest Teachers.

It feels so good and important to share a diverse, eclectic array of voices and perspectives and teachings on money, and I’m so grateful to my colleagues for sharing their expertise with my community.

I also so grateful for many dear girlfriends and colleagues (usually they’re both!) to share insights and inspiration and laughs. I love my local girlfriends here in Boulder and also have girlfriends all over the world who I text with, share meals with when we’re in the same city, and simply enjoy supporting and sharing lives with, in big ways and small.

And, I love meeting up with girlfriends at live events, some of my favorite were Emerging Women in NYC and Gaia Lead in Santa Barbara.

My FAMILY:

This crew is the foundation for everything for me. The 3 of us. And, it’s so challenging to get a photo of all of us at the same time!

This is us a few years back when we were all younger. It’s our family band photo.

Family Band Photo

And, more recently the 3 of us adventuring in Barcelona, Spain…

Family in Barcelona

OK, What on earth was I thinking, trying to sum up an entire decade?!

This is a daunting task, and I know what I’ve shared here is in no way exhaustive.

But retracing some of my steps in my 40’s has been a beautiful, meaningful challenge to me. I so honor what this decade has been, for me. And claiming it all — the easeful, beautiful moments and the challenges — helps me land here, at 50.

Perhaps you’d like to do some reflecting and honoring, too? Whether it’s of the past decade or past year — or any other meaningful amount of time. This exercise can be a little heavy, but it’s also been life-affirming and life-giving, for me.

That’s enough for now … I’m off to QUEEN some more.

I look forward to supporting you more as I step fully in my 50’s and my next decade and all that means for me and this work and us.

The words coming to me for my 50’s are: embodiment, legacy, and love.

I’m excited to see what we will create together!

With my love and dearest wishes,

You might also like: