I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK by loving parents. I grew up in an upper-middle class family. My mother was able to stay home with my older brother and I, and my father was a commercial general contractor. As I know now, my family was very dysfunctional. My father was a functioning alcoholic and diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and my mother was in much need of Al-Anon, enabling him in every way.
At a young age, I knew things weren’t quite right. It all really started coming clear around the age of 9. My father had been asked by an old friend of his, to employ a friend in need, which he did. I can’t tell you if my dad knew the full story at the time of his employment, but I do know, sometime after the fact he did. Not long after, my dad was facing federal charges for harboring a fugitive. This man was on the Ten Most Wanted list for killing a police officer. Long story short, my dad confessed to the crime and he was sentenced to 5 years in a federal prison. Being 9, I didn’t really comprehend what was going on. Maybe no one told me, I don’t remember anyone discussing it with me.
While waiting for the court system to determine which prison they would be sending him to, my dad spent a lot of time at home, which was very unusual. My 9 year old mind, still didn’t understand what was going on. As far as my life went, things were the same. I continued to go to school and play with friends. One afternoon that all changed. My brother and I were walking home from school, just like any other day, but when we got home we were locked out. That was very usual. My mom was always there. My brother and I started looking for a way to get into the house, looking through the side garage door window and that is when we saw him. My dad laying lifeless under the car, glass of whiskey next to him. This was his first of many attempts at suicide throughout my life.
I tell you this story because I feel our lives are shaped by these events…my fathers struggle with mental illness has certainly shaped mine. I could go and tell you about my story of being nice, but not so focused teen, which is true. In the end, my entire life story is about acknowledging where I am ,pushing forward, not becoming the victim of circumstances and looking for the best in all people, places, and situations.
Life is full of learning opportunities and mine certainly has had it’s share. In my 52 years I’ve had two marriages, two divorces, two beautiful daughters, a wonderful career as a custom home builder, caring for my mother after a life changing stroke up until her death in March,and a long term relationship with my partner John.
We moved to Malibu five years ago. Looking for a change, we wanted a city that had an international airport and somewhere we could spend a lot of time outdoors. Malibu fit the bill!
Currently I am working on a start up project called Middle Life Thrive. It is a magazine style website that’s about building a community of middle lifers and focuses on all things middle life. I’m hoping to get the site launched very soon. Until then, we are in the process of building up our social media presents. The best place to connect is through our Facebook page. I hope we have the opportunity to connect.
2. What is your #1 advice would you give to someone going through middle life as they age in their 40s?
Age is just a number. We must keep striving and thriving. Even though you feel 25, your not. Take a mental note of your age. How long do you have left to get all of the things done you want to accomplish? Now, get back to the 25 year old mindset and get busy!
3. What do you do for your well-being?
I’m a lover of learning new things, meeting new people and bring people together. Living here in Malibu has enabled me to get outside more, hike, enjoy the fresh air. I eat healthy, don’t drink much, do yoga, study A Course In Miracles, spend time with family, friends and my pets. I love creating, whether it be a new business or interior design. My mind is always working on trying to bring something good into the world.
Jill Cherry was born and raised in Oklahoma City. She is the Creative Manager of Middle Life Thrive. Middle life is filled with so many changes I sometimes feel like it’s puberty for adults! It is an online community committed building a community of connection, information, understanding and growth. People can learn from one another, share thoughts, feelings and encourage each other through this phase of life. She is an eloquent speaker and has created a platform in multiple metropolitan cities in which include Oklahoma, Tulsa, Houston, and Malibu.
Jill Cherry resides in Malibu with her partner John, 2 daughters, and 3 wonderful dogs and cat.