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THE defining moments that shape who we are can reveal so much about us and inspire others, say sisters Rebecca Tuska and Kerry Hyndes, who have started a series of networking events for women over 40.
Rebecca, 46, says the idea for their Turning Point events, which combine storytelling, music, wisdom circles and a good old-fashioned girls’ night out, came when she and Kerry were regularly hearing cries of “I’m not sure what to do next” when speaking to women of their age.
“It may have been because they were no longer career-driven or because their children had left the nest or maybe they were having to change how they lived because they were living with a new health condition,” she says.
“And then a story of complete bravery or creativity would pop up, and it was a trickling of these stories that led us to our lightbulb moment – what if we could create a network that would speed up this process for other women who were feeling unsure about their next step?”
Turning Point is networking with a difference, say Rebecca and Kerry, who call themselves Thrive Sistas, with a focus on fun, casual chats and no concerns about being a certain age with “secret dreams”.
“These days you’re expected to have all your ducks in a row by age 30. That’s just rubbish and it’s too much pressure – for everyone!” says Kerry.
“Our lives are so much richer than the wealth and success we accumulate. At 40 and even 50 we have as many years ahead as we have behind us. That’s a lot of living.
“We’ve got all this experience and we’ve also still got plenty of dreams, but there seems to be a lot of outdated stereotyping. If you hear something often enough you start to believe it. So we want to nourish the secret dreams, share the stories and role model something different.”
Rebecca, who’s mum to seven-year-old Szaffi and has worked in IT for 20 years, says her first turning point came when she returned to Australia with her husband at the age of 39 to give birth to her daughter after living in the UK for 10 years.
“It felt like I’d just walked out of Doctor Who’s Tardis – I felt lost and isolated,” she says.
“I wanted my daughter to live in a house full of passion for life and in order to do that I had to find it myself again.
“My second turning point was when I regained my health after four years of feeling exhausted. When I got the spring in my step back I was determined to put it to good use. I knew I had to look for ‘that thing’, and now it’s starting to take shape in the form of forming Thrive Sistas with Kerry and creating our Turning Point events.”
Kerry, 50, says she remembers feeling stifled and dissatisfied in her life and work for some time, with health issues creating an impact, too.
“The turning point came when I had to look at some of my beliefs and my behaviours and realise they weren’t serving me,” she says.
“It was a humbling realisation but such a relief to let go of needing to be a certain way. That shift led me to do my yoga teacher training, leave the public service, set myself up in an off-grid cabin and get down to the serious business of living life exactly the way I had always dreamed. The funny thing is, creating what I wanted has started me speeding down a road to another turning point!”
Rebecca and Kerry say they wanted to create something where people could be authentic and vulnerable.
“We focus on opening up a space for wonder and possibility,” says Rebecca.
“That’s what stories and music do – they help us shake off the shackles and connect at a deeper level. And it’s not just about some people telling stories and most people listening. It’s creating the environment where people can learn through the experiences and insights of others and develop their own storytelling – either through conversations in the room or by eventually stepping up to present at a future event.
“It’s not about coming for answers or looking outside yourself. It’s about realising what is within and that we all have something unique to share.”
Turning Point will be held at Muse, Kingston, on August 30, 5pm-7pm. It will feature authors Penny Nesbitt and Leife Shallcross speaking on the theme “Culture, Fairytales and Magic”, with live music from Alison Penney and DJ Gosper. Tickets $25 at muse.com.au/events.