February 17, 2021
Author: Heather Lowey
I went into Wednesday’s Linking Indy Women thinking we were going to hear incredible stories of Charlotte’s traveling adventures. However, we came out the other side with so much more! She shared her wisdom and life approach as a mentor and someone who has lived their life to it’s fullest. Even though she said she was “tickled and honored” to be asked to speak, the pleasure was ours in hearing her journey!
A retired teacher and counselor, Charlotte has become the Instagram persona behind The Traveling Black Widow @travelingblackwidow.
The travel bug struck Charlotte at an early age. Her grandfather delighted in taking her on trips starting at six years old. The first being a trip to New London, CT from her hometown of Rockford, IL, where they made a special trip into New York City to see the Statue of Liberty. Charlotte was immediately hooked on seeing places both in the United States and around the world.
She even described trips to Jim Crow law era Alabama in the 1950s with her grandfather. Describing Alabama in her youth as “such an odd place… it was fascinating!”
She and her late husband traveled to all 50 states as well as a number of other countries before he was taken too early by cancer. As Charlotte processed her grief, her love of traveling and seeing the world became a comfort and her passion.
With some coaxing from her daughter, The Traveling Black Widow became a reality on Instagram.
Charlotte had so much great advice for us in the motherhood space. She and her husband always stayed true to what they believed would create a good foundation for their daughter. One of those being the fact they didn’t have cable television.
Charlotte was concerned about the messaging her daughter would learn about women and black people through programming on tv. So, they made the decision to go without.
On raising kids, Charlotte said, “dare to be different. Don’t deal with peer pressure. It’s okay to say, this is our family, and this is how we’ll do it.”
Furthermore, as you go through life, DO YOU. So much is expected of especially women right now. She received great advice from a sister-in-law once:
“You can have it all, but maybe not all at the same time.”
Meaning it’s okay to consider spacing out your dreams. Prioritize and figure out what will best serve you RIGHT THEN and let the rest go for another time.
“There are 1440 minutes in a day. Some of those minutes belong to just you.”
Enjoy time and appreciate silence. Consider eliminating or reducing your BUSY.
Charlotte also recommends mentors in your life. She felt fortunate to have TWELVE sister-in-law’s (her husband was one of 13!) who she looked up to. All educated women who she felt comfortable going to for advice.
She spoke fondly of one particular sister-in-law who was a PhD and Charlotte utilized often for parenting advice. “So much wisdom. She was living the way she wanted to live, and I admired her.”
Charlotte acknowledged her morning routine may not work for everyone right now because she’s retired and a lot of us are not. However, she still suggested doing SOMETHING to fill your cup in the morning.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup!”
Her morning routine to get herself in a proper mindset includes the following:
- Inspirational music- for her this is gospel music
- Lighting a candle
- Coffee in her lovely cup- she uses a china cup, bringing her joy
- Reading her mantras- at this point, she has about 40 of them
- Spending time with God
Her mantras consist of positive messaging and a lot of “I Am” statements. However, she mentioned before retirement her mantras also included positive messages for particularly difficult students.
THE TRAVELING BLACK WIDOW INSPIRATION
The Christmas after losing her husband, Charlotte and her daughter wanted to do something different for their first holiday without him. To that end, they took a trip to a Muslim country on Christmas day. During their travel, they met ladies traveling solo for various reasons. This inspired Charlotte to consider solo trips for herself.
When an opportunity came to travel to Italy and no one else wanted to go with her, she took the first step for a solo trip. It wasn’t without some chaos as she ended up in Amsterdam instead of Rome as planned and also went without luggage for 11 days!! But this also served as a catalyst for her realizing she could do this on her own. Additionally, the traveling brought her joy.
She does enjoy traveling with tour groups because she can be more mindless in terms of the planning and just shows up with someone else creating the plan.
Charlotte reminded everyone, “if you’re here, there is a purpose to your life. Your life can be done with joy and gratitude.”
She cautioned us though not to get too caught up in the recent pressure for women to live their passion. What we sometimes don’t realize is passions can be hobbies and things you do on the weekends too. Passion doesn’t have to be solely fulfilled in the confines of a career.
Her motto through 2020 was one she has used at other particularly difficult seasons in her life:
“God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.”
Do you. Dare to be different. Do something every morning to fill your cup. And most of all, realize “you don’t have to be BUSY to be successful.”
Want to connect with Charlotte? Find her @travelingblackwidow on Instagram and a new website/blog coming soon!