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Women of Lansing: Leslie Charles

Leslie Charles had me cracking up as we met up to talk about her life. Leslie is a woman of all trades. She is an author working on her eighth book, a self-publisher because “That way it’s mine and I’m not going to have to jump through hoops,”  a public speaker, a motivator, and a voice for women of her generation: “[Her book is] extensively for boomer women, or women of a certain age as society likes to call them, because that’s a huge target market and we’re still living! WE’re still vital, I mean, I’m off to Zumba tonight, ya know. ” at age 76 this month, she is a Zumba-goer, self-lover, goal setting, creative go-getter. It is so important to let women of all ages know that they are valued and respected. Just because a generation is not being reached does not mean they don’t have anything to say, and Leslie makes sure she gets her voice heard! She is so passionate about that fact that teaches classes on how to speak your mind confidently.

This blog post is directed at ages young and young at heart. Leslies spunky disposition is welcoming to those of every time of their lives. She gets real about experiences such as having to go on welfare with three children, being a high school drop out (later to get distinguished awards from both LCC and MSU), and about the hardships and healing of being dumped.

“After the breakup, I thought my whole life was over, and I discovered a life I didn’t know I wanted. That’s the best part. That takes us back to the [women’s] center and we do ‘be strong’ women and it doesn’t always pay off. What we need to do is allow someone to help us as I did. Going on welfare, I got criticized by my ex and all kinds of other people… and sometimes we have to go backwards before we can go forward and it’s, a lot of it is just in here how we think and if we can, that’s our ball-buster, who’s willing to help us…”

She is a woman of wisdom who has been through major hardships and has come out the other side with a laugh. When she shares her story and gets responses such as she is an inspiration (which happens quite a bit for this lovely woman,) her response is, “Yeah I’m a good bad example!” She laughs at this, but her ways of inspiration show. She uses the events in her life as opportunities:

“My business took a downturn like many others around 9/11. And in addition, I’ve been around so long that the people who used to hire me are either retired or dead, so I’m rebuilding my business and I think this book is really going to make a difference.” Leslie does not get discouraged by anything. Yes, life can be tough, but the tough times are times to change ways, just like she changed her perspective on Saturday nights.

“I started having ‘Goddess Night.’ Saturday night was the same; nothing changed except me. So I buy a bottle of wine, I would buy food to cook and cook for myself.”

After her 35-year relationship ended-She likes to say dumped to change the connotation- it’s not bad, it’s just a word- she says “Saturday nights were really rough. I’d stay in my, what started out as a crummy little apartment but ended up being my healing place. So I was just restless every night and then one night I thought, ‘We didn’t do shit on Saturday night, what’s the DEAL?’ And so I started having ‘Goddess Night.’ Saturday night was the same; nothing changed except me. So I buy a bottle of wine, I would buy food to cook and cook for myself. I would play music, light all of my candles that I had, it was like a date with myself and it totally shifted the Saturday night thing and it shows the fact that we have the capacity to shift our perspective and again, take control about what’s in here (as she points to her head) and not allow outside pressures to undermine us. Taking your life back.”

One of the greatest things Leslie shared is her annual theme. Every year since 1995, Leslie, “started designating an annual theme every year. I made it up and I have documentation of how things happen when you have a framework in which to work… By November I have my new theme, I make my poster, and then on the winter solstice, I review all the good stuff that’s happened in my year, I journal, and then on New Year’s Eve because I don’t have a life, I stay home and I write my plan and if my poster isn’t finished that’s when I do that.” She’s had her years of finesse to fine-mess and radiance where people told her they saw her inner light.

We talked a lot about her new book that’s coming out named “The Power of Big Girl Panties,” because, “that’s a phrase older women use all the time and the subtitle is “from bawl baby to ball buster” it’s filled with puns and play on words like what’s  your bust size-ball busting that is, and Bun wrap, and oh my gosh, there’s a whole lot of humor in it.”

“Your book will tell you what it wants to be if you’re willing to listen”

She is still in the process of writing and has this to say about the process: “Your book will tell you what it wants to be if you’re willing to listen, and so the book has kind of talked to me and I’m moving, shifting things around, making the chapters shorter. I have women’s stories that I’m telling in the book.”

For the stories and content, Leslie describes herself as a purveyor of ideas, saying “I like to challenge people in gentle ways and if I can move back, get out of their way, and let them figure it out, and then tell me.” She then takes the stories, adds some dialogue and her own narrative, humor, and voice to it, then lets the story (and the person who originally told the story) take on a life of its own. I know that I can’t wait to read this book!

Whenever you need some inspiration, contact Leslie. She is full of wisdom and knowledge about how to make this life your own. At the end of our interview, she handed me a business card. In addition to her info, there is a list of 5 things I can write down about what I’m grateful for. What a beautiful spirit she is, to remind the people she runs into to be grateful every day.

 

You can visit her website at https://lesliecharles.com/ for lots more info!