In this interview Certified Relationship Coach & Sex Expert Ann Bell discusses what she learned travelling the world as a single, over 50 woman. She offers some important advice and practical tips about relationships and sex for post-menopausal women.
Host Sherrilynne Starkie welcomes Certified Relationship Coach & Sex Expert Ann Bell to episode 14 of the 50 Women Over 50 podcast.
Ann’s 50th birthday gave her a sense of urgency about ‘getting stuff done’. So, she sold up and went travelling for two years to live out her own ‘Eat Pray Love’ around the world travel experience. Then she retrained and refocused her career and has launched a whole new business to help women find the love, sex and rewarding relationships they need and deserve.
“As women over 50 come through menopause and they have so many questions about sex, love and relationships,” explains Ann. “For many, their sex lives might not be what they want, but there’s a lot they can do to change that.”
In this interview, Ann discusses what she learned travelling the world as a single, over 50 woman. She offers some important advice and practical tips about relationships and sex for post-menopausal women.
As a certified relationship coach and sex expert Ann Bell helps women uncover their sense of self, become connected and discover their full potential in self-development. In her many years working as a registered massage therapist Ann observed the mental, emotional, and relationship health of many of the clients needed addressing and this inspired her to start her coaching business: A Confidential Conversation.
Sherrilynne Starkie started this show as a creative project with the goal of interviewing 50 women past their 50th birthday to learn how they see the world, what lessons they’ve learned and what advice they have for us all. She’s been blogging and podcasting for 18+ years as part of a successful marketing and communications career and looks forward to learning from the women she will interview. Subscribe to 50 Women Over 50 wherever you get your podcasts and please share it with your friends.
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50 Women Over 50 Podcast Episode 14
Hello, and welcome to episode 14 of 50 women over 50 a podcast for women whose personal confidence is born of experience. I'm your host, Sherrilynne Starkie. My vision for this podcast is to interview 50 women from all walks of life who are over 50 years of age, about what they've learned by their fifth decade, so that we can all learn from them too.
I'm welcoming to the show today Ann Bell who is a certified relationship coach and sex expert. She works exclusively with women to help them find happiness and satisfaction in intimate relationships. And her fifth decade was one of profound change in her life.
Her 50th birthday gave her a sense of urgency about getting stuff done. So, she sold up and she went traveling for two years to live out her own “Eat, pray, love” experience. And since then, she's retrained to become a certified coach and has launched a whole new business. She hopes it’s going to support her for many years to come.
In this interview she discusses what she learned traveling the world as a single woman over 50, she offers some important advice and practical tips about relationships and sex for menopausal women.
[00:01:20] Ann: You really got me thinking about my fifties. I'm actually 61, right? And you got me thinking about my fifties, what was 50 like, and I was astounded how much change happened in my fifties.
[00:01:36] Sherrilynne: Okay for me. Well, let's get down to it then., let's, let's start out with your 50th birthday.
How did you celebrate? Well, I'm
[00:01:43] Ann: a Leo, so everything is big. I threw myself my own 50th birthday party. My sister has her own home, a little pool in the backyard, and I said to her, I want to throw myself a party. She says, let's do it here. I got a DJ, a tent. I had it catered. Woohoo. That's how 50 started for me was yeah, with that.
And then I was a member of a book club for a long time, and we read the book, eat, pray, love. And I knew once I read the book, eat, pray, love, I was going to be doing eat, pray, love. I didn't know how, I didn't know where or when. I just said, Ooh, I'm going to be doing this, and would you not know?
Age 53. I finally had the money. I had it together where I did I up and sold everything, and I traveled for two years. Nice. Yes, and it was such a growth moment for me where I had to, oh my God, I had to figure so many things out, and I only had it planned the first. Right the first, the first week was the only week I had planned, and the rest, I did it through hearing, meeting people, I was just, I would look at the map and go, oh, here, I'm going here next. I started in Spain, right?
[00:03:02] Sherrilynne: Okay. What part of
[00:03:03] Ann: Spain were you in? I, well, I flew into Madrid. Yes. And then we went lower Spain. But it was this beautiful resort and I met people from all over the world. People would come from all over the world, and they told me, Like you want to do this, you want to do that? This is, how do you know about Sheen's Law?
Do you know about? I'm like, I don't know about anything evidently. And they just informed me the first week and I went from there. From there I went to Barcelona, and I was the type of traveler, I'd rather stay longer. In one spot, 10 days to two weeks, then one night here, one night there.
Yes. I couldn't do that. I was too old. I'm like, no, no. I need some, some little flavor. Now mind you, I'm doing all this traveling on my own.
Right, right. I'm open to meeting people and seeing because you really have to get brave. When you do this type of traveling, you have to be smart, you have to be savvy, you have to learn, you have to be safe. It's different to travel on her own. than a man. Yes, yes.
Like, if I was lost, I would always want to ask another female or a couple. Usually, a strange man would be the last on my list to ask because I just was like I'm not going to do that unless I have to.. And I found people were very, very accommodating.
[00:04:30] Sherrilynne: Yeah, I, I like traveling like that too.
I've never done it alone though, but I do know that we have. We encountered people that were traveling on their own and always tried to like invite 'em to dinner or something like that with us because just so that they have some community and some friendship while you're traveling, and you get to meet people all from all over the world that way.
[00:04:49] Ann: I was staying with people that one couldn't speak English, I couldn't speak their language. We had to communicate somehow. Right. When I was in Brazil, one of the room I rented from the mother could not, the daughter spoke, but she didn't live there.
The mother, she was about my age. We couldn't speak, but her and I did a lot of things together.,.
[00:05:10] Sherrilynne: I bet you learned a few words along the way.
[00:05:13] Ann: She took me to her summer home. I'm like, oh my God, we can't speak. But we communicated on such a level.
It was very interesting. But yeah, sometimes it was frightening. I had to leave so much time to buy a ticket or get where I was going because I, I just was always going to get lost
It's frightening to tell you the truth a little bit., I have a, an appreciation for people like in my country that can speak English and it's, you can't, you just can't get around. You can't get your point across.
That's right. That's right. And it's, it's difficult. It's frustrating. It's fearful. It's like, oh my God, this, it's, you're alone.
[00:06:00] Sherrilynne: Yes. It's very isolating. I agree. It
[00:06:02] Ann is very isolating. I have but what made you decide to do
[00:06:05] Sherrilynne: that the whole trip? Like what was it that you just upped and vanished like that?
Like what was
[00:06:11] Ann: I don't know. I had, I had a, achieved everything. I had my own home. I drove a new car. My business, I was, I'm a massage therapist by trade 25 years. My business was successful., I knew there was something else out there for me. I knew there was just something unexplored in me.
And I made people very nervous. Like, my sisters were, what's your plan? What do you I said, I don't have a plan. I, I had to actually stop telling some of my family what I was doing until I was ready because I made them very nervous.
I couldn't lay that out for them. They just didn't understand my process. Cause I didn't know it, I'm like, I can't tell you why. I don't know. . ..
[00:06:59] Sherrilynne: And what did you, when you were like coming up to your 50th birthday? How did it feel for you? Like what was your thoughts about turning the big five Oh?
[00:07:09] Ann: Here's the thing. I really thought about that, that I was reaching halfway. You're either, you're a halfway point at life, I felt. Yeah, you're a, and you have less years than you have more years. on this earth. That's right. Yes. And it real, I was, and it really impact 50 I had that thought go through my head, okay Anne, it's time to really do some stuff.
But at 60 it really, really impacted me. Like it get moving, but 50 it was like, okay, you better start doing some of the things you really want to do. That's when the traveling came in. Have that experience and also then the pandemic hit. Yeah. And I had to shutter my business for four months and I said to myself, Hmm.
This is not something you better pay attention because I've been a, I've been coaching people on the table my entire career. the, I get the clientele that wants to talk to me. They want to chat, chat, chat, chat. We talk about everything, everything, everything. Everything from soup to nuts. And so, I've been coaching on the table.
I got certified. I said, let me get certified in 2012. But when the pandemic hit, then I said to myself, well, you're getting near, your body's telling you can't keep massaging. God forbid this pandemic, we don't know how long it was going to last at the time. If another one was going to occur.
I can't afford to keep shutting my business down. It was financially devastating. I said to myself, I want to now step into coaching and speaking. I want to reach more people. I became certified in love, sex, and relationship coaching. and that's my mission now is to this coming the next year to make the transformation where I really want to retire from massage by the end of next year and fully step into talking about love, sex, and relationships.
[00:09:17] Sherrilynne: Because, and where, where do you get a certification for this
[00:09:19] Ann: kind of coaching? I went online it's called Lovology University. It was 330 hours. I took, it took me about, yeah, it took me six months to really dive deep and get certified and get all that, get the information and you're always still learning.
You don't, it's never one time thing, for me, I'm a lifelong learner, I just love to know how the mind works, how our bodies work. And I'm finding women of our age are starting to, they're coming through menopause And they, they have so many questions.
Their love lives might not be what they want. Their sex lives and they just have so many questions.
There's so many people want to know, and I think sometimes they need permission. I don't know if that's what it is. I have these conversations and it gets people like, I'm going to go try that. I'm like, yeah, go try it. Come back and tell me how it was for you.
[00:10:23] Sherrilynne: What's the number one question that you get from women in their fifties?
[00:10:29] Ann: How do they go dating again, if they're in a new, if, if they're a, a widow or divorced. And how do they go about having sex again if it's been a while or if their husbands were their only partners, or how do you get comfortable with all of it again?
Mm. What about libido? Yeah. Interesting.
Yes. Okay. It can be, menopause is a really, really interesting time for women because you're at the stage where you've been married, possibly you've had children, you've been a caretaker. Your parents might be starting to get aged, and now you're starting to caretake for your parents a little bit.
. . . . You feel you're very stretched. You feel like there's no time for you. You're tired. But again, there's something more, you want from life. It's like it's me time now. It's my time. I've done all. I've raised my children. I want time for myself. They're tending sometimes to shut that part of themselves off.
It's almost like a rebirth Menopause.,
[00:11:43] Sherrilynne: right. Oh, I love that. Yeah. You're starting something, not stopping something. Yes,
[00:11:48] Ann: yes. You're starting again. I even know for myself, like my li it was like, Hmm, what's, and I'm a highly sexual person. I'm like, what's going on here? And it was, it was re me, rebirthing myself.
Like, where do I want to go? Where do I see myself? What do I, what's the next stage for me? I had to work a little bit at my sex drive again. Like I let it, I just followed all, let it, let it do what was going to do, and then all of a sudden, I started to feel sexual again, I started to have the feeling like, Ooh, something's happening Now.
I'm a big, big proponent, of masturbation and because orgasm is very good for women. It's, it's, it's just healthy for your system.
And I'm like, you don't need a partner, because they're like, oh, my husband isn't a, I'm like, you don't need a partner. You have yourself. There's many toys, there's many different ways you can, pleasure yourself, but still get. Still keep the feeling within., don't just wait for your partner.
[00:13:05] Sherrilynne: Are you hearing from your clients that they're, they're seeing their husband’s interest wan, as they've gone into their fifties?
[00:13:13] Ann: I don't do a, a tremendous amount of couples, but Yeah. It's going to, I think men go through their own menopause too. You know we don't label it that, we don't call it that, but I think they go through the same process, rediscovering, where are they? Add, what? What's the next stage for them in their lives?
They just do it outwardly. Outwardly more so., whether it's the sports car or the new partner, leave your wife for a younger one. They're looking for something too. . . And I think if we all talked more about it, that these are stages and phases throughout life.
I think it might be easier. For
[00:13:58] Sherrilynne: everybody. That's your advice to these couples is just to actually have a conversation about these issues. Yes.
[00:14:05] Ann: Start, yes. And it's hard start having the conversations because we don't talk about this and sometimes our men aren't good communicators. They're the, the strong ones.
They're we're, we've taught our men that they're not allowed to have emotions, which is terrible for our men. You know that they're to be the strong ones, the leaders, and that's great because that's their natural ability. But everybody has a point where they need a little consoling. They need to talk.
That's why I feel men's groups are so important., women have each other, women have friends, they have groups. They, they go out and they talk about all these things where I feel the men are really isolated with themselves if they don't get the opportunity to gather in men's groups. Younger men are starting to have men's groups, they're starting to do relationships a little bit differently.
They're starting to embrace more of these characteristics, traits by still and still being the, the masculine self. . .. It's us, it's our generation that is be stoic, suck it off buttercup and keep it going. Yeah.
[00:15:28] Sherrilynne: You've started your new business just since the pandemic started. How's it going? Well, I'm finding my way., I'm,
[00:15:35] Ann: I'm finding my niche where I've, I've started in one place and, and watching myself. Go down the path like, oh, that feels good.
This doesn't feel good. I want to go in this direction. I'm letting it unfold for a change. Okay. Okay. I'm letting it show itself to me and I'm really. Fascinated by the direction, because sometimes I can be impulsive. Sometimes I just make a choice and I don't allow myself the freedom to go in a new direction.
I guess you would call it maturity growth that I'm seeing in myself where, okay, I, I like this. Not, not so much this. Right. What I really want to do is I'm writing a book about erotic play. Okay. And I want to do a video on erotic massage for couples.
Oh, I see. Because I feel people are private, of course. But I feel if they had a, an A roadmap on how to do that as safely, I think it would be easier for them, truthfully. I really feel it would help couples to reconnect, right, and go to that deeper level of intimacy eroticism, and just let them, let them flow.
Because I had many couples in the class and I felt it to be such a beneficial class for couples. It was really, really cool to watch them bond, to watch them. Ask for what they need, especially the women, because they didn't want to hurt the men's feelings. This is what happens in sex too.
They just let the men do whatever and they don't always know. Men need direction. They don't know everything. They flounder.
[00:17:26] Sherrilynne: We give them a lot of direction in every other aspect
[00:17:28] Ann: of life. I know, right?
We forgot how to have fun during sex.
We forgot. It's pleasurable. Everybody's looking for the outcome. The big orgasm, take the orgasm off the table. It's going to happen eventually, but in the meantime, have fun play. Whatever comes up in the moment, roll with it and let it happen.
[00:17:52] Sherrilynne: Well, I can tell you're having a lot of fun with your new career in your fifties and sixties, what advice would you give your 30 year old self if you could?
[00:18:00] Ann: In my thirties, I had a lot of grief. I spent my whole thirties grieving, I'm a widow. I was widowed at 29. My younger sister lost a son. Then she lost her husband five years later, and then four years later, it was my father's death. I think back, and that's another decade I had a lot of growth. I had a lot of grieving, but that's the decade I became a massage therapist. It seems like through tragedy., I'm always moving forward and feeling stuck at the same time. Having these two things happening at the same time., I would tell my 30 year old self, it's not going to last forever.
And I wish I had tackled some of my issues sooner. Or had more awareness about them., but we can only do what we can do at the time where we're at. I come from a family of alcoholism. There was a lot of codependency, a lot of domestic violence and there was a lot of that in the background.
Yeah, I had to work through a lot of it to get where I am. Yeah. And trust me, you, it just doesn't happen overnight. It's many years. Of all of this and trying to reconcile. where you are and what your patterns are. But I would tell my 30 year old self it gets better. Yeah. It gets better.
It's, it gets fun. I've had a good life. so far, my life has been really as, as tragic as it's been at times. It's really been really good, and I've allowed myself to go places I probably wouldn't have if I had taken the traditional route of marriage and stayed in that direction. I probably would've gone in a different direction.
[00:19:58] Sherrilynne: Yes. There's no doubt. Yeah. There's no doubt it would be a totally different
[00:20:04] Ann: life. Yes, because I knew once I started to heal from my husband's death, I knew that I had been given a great gift. I had been given the gift of me that this was time for me to really pay attention and to take a look at my internal self and really see where I could go.
[00:20:27] Sherrilynne: Where do you see yourself in 10 years then? Where are you going
[00:20:29] Ann: there? I actually, I don't see retirement anytime soon for me, but I see myself speaking, traveling. I'm ready to travel. I'm a nomad. There's really no restrictions for me. In 10 years, I still see me working probably a lot less. And, and traveling, I have family, I have family in England I haven't seen in three years, and I used to go every year.
[00:20:57] Sherrilynne: What are you most hopeful about
[00:20:59] Ann: I think Unity. I think we need some kindness. I think we have more in common than we believe. I think we need a little unity as people, and I just hope that we can maintain and be progressive as a people. I believe there people want different things and I, I think the younger generation has to, fight for it a little harder.
Right. They have to get involved and, and, and help and, get what they need. I think my generation, the boomers here in the States, we, we transformed it and I think it needs to be upleveled a little bit again. I'm hoping that we could have a little more unity, kindness and progressiveness.
[00:21:55] Sherrilynne: That's a great sentiment. I hope so too.
yeah. Let's change track here a little bit. What, what are you reading? What are you watching on Netflix? What are you binging right now?
[00:22:04] Ann: What you binging? I love the British Bake Off. I'm watching the juniors now.. They are so cute. . . It really is fun. It is. I like shows that are, I don't want to say mindless, but just pure enjoyment, kind of like that, that don't take me on that emotional ride sometimes. I agree. When I, when I get home, I've been busy, I'm running two businesses, I just want to veg out. And actually, it's good for your brain, your creativity, when you can just watch shows like that.
Yes. It's proven that, it's good for your creativity in the long run.
[00:22:51] Sherrilynne: Yeah. This was what I did to cope through the worst part of the pandemic cooking shows, same thing.
Oh. When the whole world went digital, I never worked harder in my whole life and I've. I'm a pretty hard worker and yeah, just, I'd leave the office at night, and I'd put on a cooking show. Sometimes the Great Bake off, but lots of other cooking shows. You could just flat line watch it., who doesn't like looking at food?
[00:23:17] Ann: It's just pure enjoyment to watch other people in their element. Yes. Like in my element, it gives me that, this joy to be able to have this conversation and I like it when I can see it in other people. . .. It's a good point. Yeah.
[00:23:34] Sherrilynne: Now, what are you doing to give back in your community right now?
[00:23:39] Ann: I give to causes right now. Right. I'm a big believer in, planned Parenthood, the veterans there's a center for fathers that I give to food pantries.
Okay. It's real hyper-local stuff, right. I do local and I do global. I sponsor a child in Africa. I have done that for, I don't know, probably 15, 20 years now. Because I wanted to do my community. The world somehow, we can only do so much. . . And that's how my thought process was.
Where I can go with
[00:24:11] Sherrilynne: it. Yeah. Dyna Vink, who is in episode two of this podcast, does that as well. And she liked she described, but I like having an actual real impact on one individual's life. in a way that actually matters to them and their family and, and their, the broader community.
That they live in as well. That's always a good one,
[00:24:31] Ann: I think. Yeah, because the, my child, I'm on my second one because I guess they can only go to 18 and then they give you another one. and they give you the updates like water. I helped drill a well. Yeah. And I'm saying to myself, oh my God.
[00:24:49] Sherrilynne: Is there an over 50 life hack that you'd be willing to share with our audience?
[00:24:53] Ann: I don't know if it's an over 50 hack, but I believe you should dress for yourself, you don't dress for anybody. And that goes for lingerie. It, it goes for everything. I dress for myself. When I was traveling Spain, the women in Spain, they are so sexy.
They were the dress to the nines, and I just found that. It was marvelous to me that they took such pride in their appearance and I just was like, they've got it going on. Yeah, they
[00:25:28] Sherrilynne: do. They do. And, and their children too. Yes. Their children look like they're going to church every
[00:25:33] Ann: day, right?
Yes. Well, and it's interesting because we grew up that way. We had play clothes and then we had our formal, going out clothes. Yeah. And I think at this stage in my life, I just like dressing up. I started wearing dresses. Even my, my nightgowns., I dress for myself. I, I want something sleek and sexy and, I, it's for me, it's for me.
Good for you. It's just for me. I don't do it for anybody. Yeah. I just, it just makes me feel good. I just, whatever makes you feel good. Whatever is your thing, go for it.
[00:26:13] Sherrilynne: Awesome advice. And I think it's a great place to stop.
[00:26:17] Ann: All right, great. That was so much fun.
[00:26:20] Sherrilynne: there anything I didn't ask you about that you wished we
[00:26:22] Ann: talked about?
No, I think we covered it. Okay.
[00:26:26] Sherrilynne: I think it was a great conversation.
[00:26:28] Ann: I do thank you. It was such a pleasure.
And that's it for episode 14, this has been 50 women over 50. A podcast for women whose personal confidence is born of experience. Thank you to certified relationship coach and sex expert Ann Bell for joining me today.
I love her go-forward attitude and her practical view of all aspects of life over 50. I especially appreciate her characterization of menopause as a rebirth for women. It's so true that a lot of possibilities can open up for us at the stage of life. And I really liked that characterization rebirth.
So, see the show notes to find out where you can connect with her online. I've included links to her website and her socials. Along with ones to some of the other things that we discussed on the show. And if you have a second, please drop me a rating or review on apple or wherever you get your podcasts from.
Let's connect and create a whole community of wise women over 50 by sharing a link to the show with your friends and connections. See you next time on 50 women over 50. I'm your host, Sherrilynne Starkie.