Baby Boomer Woman: Jill Allison Bryan

by Anne Holmes on February 23, 2010

Singer/songwriter, creative coach for women around midlife, and NABBW member Jill Allison Bryan, shares her boomer life with our readers as her journey continues. You can find Jill at any of the websites below:

Here’s what Jill has to share…

  • Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

It took turning 40 and having a bit of an identity crisis when my daughter began elementary school, but I finally found my dream job in mid-life! After benefiting from some wonderful coaching myself, I decided to go through a rigorous training and certification process (Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching) and am now a creative life coach. Through my business, Creative Oasis Coaching, I have the privilege of helping women in and around mid-life create the time and space in their busy lives for personal creative fulfillment. I try to practice what I preach, so as a singer/songwriter, I’m currently recording a solo CD of my original music. In addition, I co-own a TV & film editorial company with my husband, who is also a singer/songwriter. (We actually met in a band back in the early 90’s.)

  • Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

My husband of fifteen years, Doug, and I consider our ten year old daughter, Riley Anna, to be our finest creative collaboration to date – and, of course, a work in progress! I am so blessed to still have both of my parents living near me and in excellent health. They play such an important role in my daughter’s life and I am grateful for that. They live out in the country, so she experiences a whole different world when she visits “Camp Nana/Grandaddy,” as we call their place.

  • What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

The music. I can remember playing with my Barbie dolls and listening to albums by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Peter, Paul & Mary, and, of course, The Beatles. Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and Janis Joplin all inspired me and have informed at least some aspect of my songwriting style over the years. Also, the TV shows. I must have watched an awful lot of TV as a child because I can pretty much sing any theme song to any show and tell you the plots of most episodes of Bewitched, Leave It To Beaver, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, The Partridge Family, Get Smart, Lost in Space, etc… Is that sad to admit?

  • What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I think that a tiny part of me still sometimes believes I can do it all. I am woman – hear me roar! Thank goodness my sane self usually wins out, and I remember that everything ebbs and flows, and life is a balance. At least, I try to achieve some balance between all the aspects of my life: my family, my friends, my mind/body/spirit wellness, my creative passions, and my work.

  • What inspires you?

So much! I really try to find inspiration in day-to-day life all the time. Music, film, nature, good books/articles/website/blogs, travel. I am also very fortunate to have a truly inspiring group of friends and family which includes artists, musicians, film-makers, healers, trainers, yogis, philanthropists, writers  – all of whom happen to be great human beings – intelligent, interesting, funny, passionate and who honestly care about the world we live in and are trying to make a positive impact in some way.

  • What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

As I touched on earlier, it’s really about balance for me. Of course my family brings me so much love and joy. Yet, because I allow myself to also experience fulfillment through my music, coaching and writing, I’m a more complete and happy person, and in turn, a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc…It all comes full circle. I have to say, I really love mid-life. I enjoy the true sense of self that I have now versus in my 20’s and 30’s. I think I’m much better able to enjoy whatever I’m doing at the moment and be fully present rather than worrying about whether or not I’m missing out on something else. At least, that’s what I strive for.

  • Do you have any interesting hobbies?

I love writing and recording my songs (my solo CD should be finished by the end of the year) and performing. I try to play at least one show a month on average. I’m blogging now and really enjoy that as well. My blog – Mid-Life Oasis™ offers ideas from my creative coaching philosophy to help people find the time and space for creative fulfillment in their own mid-life. Also, I’m training for my first ever half-marathon which I’ll run in January of 2010 at Disneyworld. Although I’ve always enjoyed working out and taking care of myself, I’ve never really been a runner, so this is something very new to me and truthfully, I’m a little surprised by how much I love it. I also enjoy entertaining and cooking for my family and friends.

  • Do you have a favorite book or movie?

It would be hard for me to choose a single favorite. The movie “What the Bleep Do We Know” just came to mind. I’d never seen anything like it when it came on the scene, and the concepts are so thought provoking and inspirational. In fact, one of the songs on my CD, “Infinite Possibilitie,” was inspired by that movie. Recently, my daughter and I read “A Wrinkle in Time” together.  It was her first time to read it and probably my tenth. It remains one of my favorite books of all time. I think Madeline L’Engle does a masterful job of wrapping the complexities of spirituality in a completely engaging story for all ages, and, the message that love is the most powerful force in the universe is right on the money for me.

  • Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

I enjoy traveling with my family. The beach, any beach, any time, anywhere, is my penultimate vacation. When I was in my mid-twenties, I worked on a private sailing yacht in the Caribbean and visited more islands than I will probably have the chance to in the rest of my life. I also love Breckenridge, Colorado. We’ve been there almost every summer of my daughter’s life, so we have a rich, family history there and lots of great traditions and memories. We went to Italy for our honeymoon (15 years ago) and I really want to do some more traveling in and around Europe in the very near future. I have a fantasy about renting an old crumbling down villa in the south of France or Italy and living there for a month or two with friends and relatives flying in and out to stay with us. (Watching “Under the Tuscan Sun” sealed the deal!)

  • Do you practice preventive medicine?

I try to take very good care of myself because there’s so much I want to do in life, and I want to be around a long time and in good enough health to enjoy myself. A good friend and I work out together three times a week with a personal trainer, and I’m running a lot as I train for the half-marathon. I also meditate and write in my journal almost every morning first thing when I wake up. I take vitamins and minerals, some herbs depending on the season, and pro-biotics, and, of course get my yearly physical and mammogram. I also eat a lot of organic, fresh fruits and vegetables, and just joined a local produce co-op which has been great. It’s funny, because I recently took note that I’m rarely if ever sick these days. It may be because I take better care of myself now than I used to.

  • What do you stress about?

I try not to let myself get too stressed out, but sometimes you just can’t help it. There are times that I worry about being a good enough mother. There are days when I feel like I haven’t accomplished nearly enough. (If I stop and do an honest evaluation of my day, I’ve usually done an amazing amount – but we can hold ourselves to such high standards) And then, of course, there’s the big stuff like environmental issues, human rights, the devastation in places like Africa, the economy, wars, reading about the atrocities one human can commit on another – that can all lead to stress. Prayerful meditation and deep breathing can help alleviate much of it, and doing something pro-active by getting involved and giving back is helpful as well.

  • Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

You know, overall I’m pretty darn happy with the way I look. Sure, I have more sun-spots and wrinkles than I used to, and I may never lose those last ten pounds, (though, Lord knows I’ll keep trying) but I feel healthy, and I think that when you feel good, you look good. Personally, I can’t imagine ever taking any drastic measures to try to look younger like Botox or plastic surgery. (But then I’m a bit of a weenie and afraid of needles – so there you have it.) I believe you can be lovely at any age. I think that truly beautiful women are the ones who don’t try to look twenty or thirty years younger than they really are, and have interesting lives and a great smile!

  • Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

Embarking on a new career path as a creative life coach in mid-life has been a reinvention of sorts. I hope that I’ll continue to change and grow as a woman and human for the rest of my life. I learn something new and have new experiences every day – so, of course, that’s going to change me on some level. Mid-life has brought with it a real sense of being comfortable in my own skin and that’s such a nice feeling.

  • Are you doing anything to GO Green?

Absolutely! We recycle everything we possibly can, even toilet paper rolls, and we compost all of our produce scraps. I’m also much more cognizant of buying in-season produce from local vendors rather than something that had to be flown in from half-way around the world these days. We don’t eat a lot of red meat, and when we do, I buy local grass-fed beef, if possible. I make sure to always have my own bags when shopping, and I also try to run most of my errands one day a week. Oh, and I stopped buying bottled water years ago – we each have a couple of aluminum SIGG bottles for that. These are all pretty small, easy-to-do steps, but every little bit helps.

  • Do you engage in any faith based practices?

Yes. Although we’ve been going to the same United Methodist Church we were married in for 15 years now, I’m open to many philosophies and religious beliefs. I enjoy learning about them and incorporating them into my own spiritual life. I don’t believe that there is only one “right” way to know God (or whatever you choose to call a higher power) or that you have to be religious to live a moral and loving life.

  • Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

Definitely. For me, it was working one-on-one with a creativity coach. That process essentially gave me back my identity and helped me create a more fulfilling life for myself. Once my daughter began elementary school, I felt a bit stuck. I felt like something was missing and I realized that I was identifying myself only in terms of my roles to help others – as a mom, wife, church member, etc…  Coaching helped me reclaim my singer/songwriter self, and then opened the door to a whole new mid-life career as a creative life coach myself.

  • Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

Well, releasing a CD of my original music will be a dream come true. I think I’ll always continue to make music. It’s just a part of who I am, and I believe it’s a gift I’ve been given that I’m meant to share. I also want to continue to grow my Creative Oasis Coaching practice and touch as many lives as I can in that way. I love helping women create exciting and satisfying mid-life scenarios for themselves. There’s a book or two in me somewhere as well. And travel…much more travel all around the world! To accomplish these goals I attempt to use the Kaizen-Muse coaching philosophy that I practice with my clients. Kaizen is a Japanese term that means small steps to continuous improvement. For example, several years ago for me that meant sitting down at the piano to play for two minutes a day, every day at first and that’s grown into consistently performing, writing and ultimately recording my CD project.

  • How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?

Even in my day-to-day life, going to the grocery store, the gas station or my daughter’s school, I try to be a light and add a positive moment to some else’s day. That could be as simple as a smile or a compliment, but I always try to maintain a positive attitude and that’s fairly easy when I remember to come from a place of gratitude. I’m active in my church, and somewhat politically active as well. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so I try to remember that even doing something small like calling my congressperson or writing one letter can help.  Currently, I am involved with an amazing organization – Women-for-Women International – that offers the opportunity to sponsor women in war-torn areas around the globe. With your sponsorship, these women receive training and education, access to medical care and are able to create a better life for themselves and their families. I am really passionate about this organization. In fact, I am so excited, because I’ll be incorporating a fund-raising event for Women-for-Women with the release of my CD.

My talented female artist friends have agreed to each create a piece of artwork inspired by one of the songs in my CD and those pieces will be auctioned off the night of the CD release celebration to raise money and awareness for Women-for-Women.

  • If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

We all have the power to create our own Mid-Life Oasis ™ – and that’s so much nicer than a crisis!

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