Announcing PepsiCo's Second Annual Sofa Summit at BlogHer'11: Embracing Fortytude

BlogHer Original Post

This year at the second annual Sofa Summit at BlogHer'11, Partner Sponsor PepsiCo will be bringing back Gatorade President North America and Global CMO Sports Nutrition, Sarah Robb O'Hagan to lead a conversation with Sarah Brokaw, the author of Fortytude: Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life ... through the 40s, 50s and Beyond. Brokaw will discuss the five traits women can adopt to grow older with confidence and joy.

Having just turned 39, I was intrigued by this concept. And I had apparently been living under a rock -- I wasn't aware of all the press this book has been generating on shows like Rachel Ray, Today , and publications like USA Today. I did some digging to learn more about it.

Among some of the descriptions that I'd heard and read about Brokaw's book: it's a much updated version of Passages, Gail Sheehy's 1976 then-groundbreaking book about stages in adult life, which popularized the "Forlorn Forties." Unlike "Passages:, Brokaw's book makes the prospect of getting older seem appealing, not terrifying.

I requested that a copy of the book be sent to me -- you know -- for purely professional purposes, having just become a mother for the first time less than a year ago, working around the clock at a company that I helped to create, living with a supportive spouse who's also a full-time-child-caregiver, and, despite all the wonderful things in my life, waking up regularly to this existential dread that, oh my, I'm turning the big 4-0 next year. What -- pray, tell -- do I have to show for this milestone?

Fortytude book cover

The preface of "Fortytude", along with a testimonial from none other than "The Happiness Project" author/BlogHer'11 speaker/bloggoddess Gretchen Rubin, sold me:


It starts when we’re 35.

For many women within five years of their fortieth birthday, their biggest worry isn’t their relationship (or lack of one), their boss, their kids, their financial situation, or even their health.

It’s the calendar.


Yup. Sounds about right.

So I proceeded to read the book that night, and the night after that, and the night after that, as my treat for doing and being 1,000 things that day, starting with Mom and ending with tired.  I didn't expect a book to so fully encapsulate my previously unarticulated condition, nor did I expect someone with such a different background from my own to have in so many respects the same story. In fact we all do. We make decisions in our 20s, work through them in our 30s, and, come our fifth decade, regardless of the success we've had with our choices, feel somehow obligated to question them.

Brokaw tells her own story of how she--one of three daughters of the famed newscaster Tom Brokaw and entrepreneur Meredith Brokaw--came to terms with her own struggle at 38. She had a flourishing career as a Beverly Hills-based therapist, but no life partner or children. She demurred from going to her 20th high school reunion to avoid feeling inadequate and realized she was doing exactly the opposite of what she advised patients in her therapy practice: she wasn't owning her age or her choices.

The 40 women featured in Fortytude make different choices; some are stay-at-home moms; some take on new, more purposeful careers after age 50; some conquer illness and then choose to inspire others; and some adopt children. I found myself in all of them.

 Sarah Robb O’Hagan is a perfect interviewer -- Mom, executive, powerhouse -- who shared her own challenges with power and balance with us back in 2010.

This is a can't-miss program about embracing where you are at any age. We promise to let women in their 20s in the door.

The PepsiCo second annual Sofa Summit is open to all BlogHer'11 attendees and will take place on Friday August 5 in Marriott, Rancho Santa Fe 1&2 at 2:45-4pm. Seating is limited, click here to learn more and RSVP.  

If you won't be at BlogHer and you want to catch this event after the 5th, stay tuned to for behind-the-scenes coverage from the BlogHer conference and the PepsiCo WIN Sofa Summit. Join the network and follow @PepsiCoWIN for more inspirational people.

Jory Des Jardins writes on business and career topics at BlogHer, and on her personal blog From Here to Autonomy


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