Begin now! Do the work, even if you do not see results right away. The grant proposal I wrote for the arts center led to the coaching experience; the coaching led to my decision to transition out of my position, and take this leap of faith, to pursue and honor my talents; the leap connected my passion with my purpose; a purpose that is bigger than me. I wish I had connected with the network I am now building, years ago. It’s never too early or too late to follow your dreams!
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Belinda Fraley Huesman.
Belinda Fraley Huesman is The Menopause Outlaw; a motivational singer-songwriter embracing wisdom to erase ageism in the music industry through the power of story and song. She is founder and CEO of Menopause Outlaws LLC, and The M.O. Network. A digital community to empower women to connect their passion to their purpose, age fearlessly and defy boundaries.
She is the author of an inspirational children’s book, called, “Wings,” currently on Amazon. As well as her new book to be released in May called, “Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story.” She is partially responsible for “Loretta’s Law,” Maryland Uniform Power of Attorney Act in 2010. She was recognized as one of The Daily Record 2018 CEO’s of the Year, and “Women Who Make a Difference, “ from the Chamber of Commerce of Northern Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up on the outskirts of Baltimore City, in a small town called Brooklyn. Growing up, life seemed idyllic: with mom always home and in a neighborhood with all the small-town American conveniences. We did not want for anything.
Our lives changed around the age of ten. My father was successful and bought a bar and a big house on a hill. We all worked at the bar, which might not have been a good thing, because that is when things started to change. The stresses and power of owning a bar invaded their relationship and our lives. It turns out my father somehow became connected to some shady characters and our parents feared for our lives as well as their own. His success came at a cost to our entire family. My parents started fighting. This was the beginning of the end. I remember, my sister and I would blast the music and sing and dance to drown out the fighting. Our childhood hinged on whatever was happening with my parents in the moment. Fifty years ago, Carole King released the album Tapestry. It would be the album that changed the course of my life and my dreams. The song “It’s Too Late” was the theme song, played over and over, for the front row seat viewing of my parent’s divorce.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Instead of quoting another person, I will share with you my own mantra. These are words I live by and are the pillars of my platform. Passion illuminates the path experience has yet to walk. I believe my passion for writing songs has shed light, even during those moments when I had to put my dream on the shelf. Continuing to act on and acknowledge our passion lights the way, even though we may not be aware of the next steps in the present moment. I believe when it is the proper time, the path will appear.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
My three top qualities are:
1) Common sense
3) Confidence in our sense of purpose
Having common sense is a quality that is not so common. From an early age, watching my father (who only had a fifth-grade education) become a successful businessman was a life lesson. It helped me to see that it is important to rely on our sensibility and our intuition.
During the struggles in my own life, I remained optimistic for the chance of a better future. Relying on both my passion and my sensibilities, I literally wrote my way out of a bad marriage. I reminded myself, through my writings, that I am the hero of my own story. That I had control over my destiny. This helped me to manifest a positive outcome. I have always believed that positivity prevails. I believe two thoughts cannot occupy the same space. Therefore, one can choose to either dwell on the positive or the negative of any situation. I choose positivity.
I believe confidence is instilled from an early age, but we all struggle with maintaining self-confidence during our lifetime. However, placing ourselves in an arena that builds continued confidence is important. It helps us to acknowledge our gifts and purpose and provides us the courage to follow our passion.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
As I said earlier: Passion illuminates the path experience has yet to walk. I never stopped writing songs (and honing my craft) amidst every job change and life challenge that I faced. This passion drove me to constantly write. As my father had a business, and my mother was the bookkeeper, we all worked in the family business at one time or another. In my Senior year of high school, I worked part-time at UPS, in the payroll department. It was there I realized I had a natural aptitude for numbers. I then took a job at the Hyatt Regency, Baltimore in the accounts receivable department. Once I married and had my children, my husband’s career was deemed more important. We transferred to Dallas, where I worked from home raising two sons.
In 1997, after my divorce, I moved back to Baltimore, and worked obtaining construction permits for my twin sister’s company. I then remarried in 2002. After my father passed in 2006, my family wanted to carry on his legacy. We opened a construction management firm. It was then I was asked to sit on the board of the local arts center (a position my twin sister graciously turned down). I jumped at the chance! That position led me to my next job; I became the executive director and CEO of the arts center. Transferable skills, common sense and my love of numbers were vital for managing the non-profit center.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
I have to say, it took me years to reinvent myself. I first had to own my talents and fully be grounded in my purpose. It was always my dream to follow my passion of singing and songwriting. However, there were expectations in my family; you got a job and married; settled down and had kids. I did just that, but it did not turn out the way I planned.
It was not until my mother passed away (at the age of 54) that I took action to pursue my dream. I was thirty. Before she died, she said to me: “Don’t be like me, go after your dreams. Even if you fail, it won’t be because you didn’t try.” After she passed, we found a book of her poems. My mother literally kept her dreams on a shelf. I knew I had to honor her and myself. I started traveling back and forth to Nashville, attending any and every event to learn about the music industry. In 2010, my husband and I made the decision to get a place in Nashville. A co-writer and I were writing songs for our demographic (over 40). We called ourselves The Menopause Outlaws™, with a plan to become a brand. We felt that no one was cutting songs that spoke to
our audience: we knew there was a void to fill by sharing our wisdom and life experiences. It took ten years, during which I took over the entity and formed the LLC of Menopause Outlaws™.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
As I have shared, my career path was built organically around the ups and downs of my family life. I worked in my position at the arts center for seven years (which operated out of the high school I attended). Roaming those halls each day as a professional with a demanding job, brought me back to The Girl I Left Behind (which became the title of one of my songs). During that time, the center received a Bloomberg grant which included money for professional coaching. It was in these coaching sessions that I realized that I was not fulfilling my God-given talents, nor was I connecting my passion with my purpose. I discovered I had, what I refer to as: the gift of encouragement along with my voice and words, as a singer/songwriter. I knew it was time to leave my position.
In my final months, during the transition period, I hosted a fundraiser with a one woman show. I told the story of my life story through my songs. The event was entitled: The Hero of My Own Story. At the event, I appealed to potential donors, by sharing stories of my childhood that took place within those same walls. I told them: You never know what heroes are in the making walking these halls.
During this performance, my purpose was illuminated by my passion. I shared how Carole King’s song “It’s Too Late” had inspired me, as a young girl. I shared how I escaped into the art of music during a stressful time in my life. I explained how the arts centered provided that same escape for at-risk students when the opportunity to attend our programming. After the show, I had so many people come up to me and tell me how my story resonated with them. It was brave and I realized I could empower others by sharing my story; by being my own hero. I knew then it was time to become The Menopause Outlaw. I knew she was inside of me, more empowered than ever.
Honestly, the pandemic helped to clarify my goals and the underlying message further. As I began my entrepreneurial next chapter, I realized, as a singer-songwriter I can address ageism through the power of story and song. I believe this second act is bigger than me. Embracing wisdom and erasing ageism is a huge undertaking. It takes a network, a community. Why not use the universal language of music to accomplish our goal?
What did you do to discover that you had a new skill set inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
The most important skill set I have maximized is setting goals. As Benjamin Franklin said: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. I wrote the plan for Menopause Outlaws™ years ago, but now I am taking action to accomplish our vision. I am bringing it to life. Setting goals, along with the three qualities (common sense, optimism, and confidence), has served me well. Prioritizing the one most important thing each day that will move us closer is key to achieving our goals.
Looking back 1997 was a tumultuous year. After experiencing a divorce, the loss of my home, relocation, menopause (due to a full hysterectomy), bankruptcy, and a custody battle, I realized I can do anything I set my mind to. I left with 300 dollars and a tank of gas when I left Texas. What did I have to lose? Now in 2021, I have a plan, and it is coming to fruition!
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
This movement is still very new. However, I am grateful for John Leal (Brace Artist Management) and Katharine Poole Journalist and Author, for their belief in this movement. They joined my team last year, working pro-bono, to galvanize this message and actively support Menopause Outlaws™. I believe this changed the direction of their paths and inspired them to combine their passions with purpose.
Our podcast, Real & Raw with the Menopause Outlaws, is gaining momentum. We have had the opportunity to interview iconic women, including Beverly Keel and Tracy Gershon of Change the Conversation. We have inspired others, like our network member, Lisa Neville Ambler (https://nevilleassoc.com) to branch out and take entrepreneurial steps of their own. Most of all we are bringing together a community of women to share our stories, wisdom, and expertise. Our voices are being heard and respected and valued.
I receive words of empowerment from our network/community members, daily. One upcoming Real & Raw podcast guest, Virginia Brick of SESAC, wrote: “I feel completely humbled to have been asked to be a part of the vision you ladies have for the M.O. tribe… Thank you for making me feel ENOUGH. Thank you for lighting that fire in my soul to go after my dreams and aspirations even more…Your light and love is felt (even through a zoom camera), and the words from the emails are so encouraging. Honest space with women who build each other and empower others through their own highs and lows through each chapter of life they have written already.”
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would have to credit my husband for his support in this endeavor, both emotionally and financially. He supported the decision to move to Nashville when this idea was formulated. He is my partner in life and in business with Menopause Outlaws™, LLC. Menopause Outlaws™ (along with our partner company The M.O. Network) strive to outlaw ageism in the music industry, through the power of song and the enlightenment of stories and conversation. My husband has continually encouraged me to take a leap of faith and follow my dreams every step of the way.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
There are so many stories…I am blown away by the caliber of women my co-host (Katharine Poole) and I are interviewing for our podcast Real & Raw. Our first two guests were Beverly Keel and Tracy Gershon, co-founders of Change the Conversation, Nashville. Their example and story have given me more confidence on this path; I am encouraged to change a paradigm. We are being contacted by incredible women who want to be included in our interviews. This tells me that we are on the right path, and many women want to be part of it.
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
I sometimes have imposter syndrome. I read about it, and I understand this is true for many women. I try not to dwell on limiting beliefs for long. I roll up my sleeves, push those thoughts aside, and get back to work.
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
In September of 2019, prior to transitioning out of my role at the arts center, I went to Nashville on a gut feeling. I attended the first Change the Conversation event at the Entrepreneur Center, entitled: Surrounding Yourself with the Right Team. I knew I had to start making things happen. On a follow-up trip and met with my PRO at SESAC and was introduced to some songwriters who told me about an event with the Arts and Business Council. I attended and it was there that I sat next to John Leal with Brace Artist Management. I told him my plan and he supported my endeavor wholeheartedly. He eventually introduced me to Katharine Poole. They are both now members of The M.O. Network’s executive team.
Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?
The one woman show fundraiser at the arts center took me right out of my comfort zone. Showcasing original songs and telling my life story was terrifying. I dreaded it. That is, until I was up on stage, after about ten minutes I finally relaxed and realized that I was the Hero of my Own Story. I was truly living my purpose. It was an epiphany.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1) Begin now! Do the work, even if you do not see results right away. The grant proposal I wrote for the arts center led to the coaching experience; the coaching led to my decision to transition out of my position, and take this leap of faith, to pursue and honor my talents; the leap connected my passion with my purpose; a purpose that is bigger than me. I wish I had connected with the network I am now building, years ago. It’s never too early or too late to follow your dreams!
2) Surround yourself with winners, people that are constantly moving out of their comfort zone. My Dad had amazing gems of wisdom, one of my favorite quotes he would often say was: “You will never soar with the eagles if you are hanging around a bunch of turkeys.” (Longfellow Deeds)
3) Find people who have skill sets you do not possess. You will waste valuable time deviating from your purpose and stay stuck in a perpetual Groundhog Day.
4) Words are power. What you say to yourself and others can make or break you. I write for myself first and believe my lyrics to be true for me and inspirational for others. I am the Hero of My Own Story.
5) You need passion! I always say: Passion will illuminate the path experience has yet to walk. Your passion for something is a clue, follow it and it will lead you to your purpose.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I have already started it.
The Menopause Outlaws™! A Musical Movement: Addressing Ageism Through the Power of Story and Song to Help “Write” the Wrong!
The bigger goal is: To Embrace Wisdom and Erase Ageism, for those who will come behind us. I see us changing the definition of the word Menopause. I hope one day Webster’s Dictionary will rewrite the definition to include the word WISDOM as a part of its meaning.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
Oprah Winfrey. She is a transformative powerhouse imbuing authenticity, vulnerability, and honesty. She is true to who she is. She changes lives.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Our network site is: https://www.themonetwork.org
For my musician’s inspiration visit: Https://www.Iambelinda.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!