Your Second Season’s October Magnificent Midlife Spotlight woman!
Written by Ann Bloomingdale
Sometimes I think midlife has gotten a bum rap. The very word conjures up images of multiple biological, psychological and social changes occurring simultaneously that result in what has been referred to as the “midlife crisis.” Rarely do we read about the benefits of the midlife passage: The new career, the dreams of youth fulfilled or the rededication to improving our emotional and physical well-being.
Many women find midlife to be a journey into self-acceptance and finding one’s genuine identity and purpose. The good news is that midlife is about choices. You can choose to succumb to the desolate feelings that midlife changes can bring, or you can choose to take a different perspective and the road less travelled. Dar Geiger chose to rise to the challenge and her story is full of hope and inspiration.
Anyone who has ever met Dar can’t help but be fascinated with her magnetic personality. At age 77, her energy and vitality rivals that of women decades younger. She exudes such joy, exuberance, confidence and sincerity it leaves you wondering in admiration how she attained such a lust for life. According to Dar, achieving this state of inner well-being is about becoming accountable for the choices we’ve made and holding strong convictions of the heart.
Dar freely admits she did not always make the best choices. In fact, it wasn’t until middle age that she decided to put the bad habits and personal demons resulting from such choices behind her for good. Prior to that, she shared that “There were some very tumultuous years in my life.” These personal crises led her to quit drinking and smoking and most importantly, beginning a quest to strengthen her spiritual life and develop a personal relationship with God. She became involved in her church and in 1989, at the age of 47, took on the role of Bible Fellowship leader. “I knew that’s where I wanted to be and that’s where God wanted me to be.” Studying scripture and working a spiritual program with her husband Chuck, Dar found the contentment she had been searching for.
Around this time, Dar said, “My life really started to come together and I began to change with God’s help.”
Although spiritually strong, in 2002 Dar began to suffer from fatigue, colds and feelings of sluggishness. Dar, who proudly proclaims to be “God’s joy giver,” started to have concerns that her poor health was preventing her from serving both God and those around her to the best of her ability. A friend from church introduced her to Juice Plus+, a company that produces a nutritional product made from fruit and vegetable concentrates. After researching the product, she decided to start taking it and share it with loved ones. She felt a noticeable difference, lost twenty pounds, slept better, experienced regularity and had more energy. The most significant change for her was that Dar no longer craved sugar! It’s no wonder her husband and loved ones started taking the product as well.
Attaining physical well-being and the emotional stability her spirituality gave her led to a feeling of much needed satisfaction. Unfortunately, this feeling was shattered when Dar experienced one of the most tragic experiences midlife can bring. In 2006, her childhood sweetheart, longtime love and husband of 45 years, died unexpectedly from a heart attack. “That was an absolute devastation for me,” Dar recalled. “Chuck and I were in ministry together, we were serving God. That was my dream; my answered prayer. We had such a good marriage. We were a team.”
Plunged into grief and full of despair, Dar’s daughter Heather and grandson Shane, moved into Dar’s home to provide support and comfort. “My daughter has been such a beautiful support for me,” Dar commented. Recovery from such a heartbreaking ordeal was slow but her faith in God and her commitment to take care of herself physically helped lift the fog of grief. The following three years was a time of healing and finally feeling restored, Dar made another major life decision and purchased a new home. Her spirits were lifted even further in a happy twist of fate, when her daughter purchased the home Dar had left behind; the home her daughter had grown up in. Seeing her daughter, now married, and their family of three children enjoy the home, complete with a swimming pool for the summer, brought Dar great joy.
What also brought happiness to Dar, after years of grief, was the realization that she had more purpose in life than she had imagined. By then Dar had experienced the benefits of Juice Plus+ and realized she had a business and an awesome nutritional product to share. “Helping families thrive through good nutrition gave me such a passion for continuing to share Juice Plus+,” Dar commented. She felt that throughout her life, God had worked in mysterious ways to bring blessings out of trials. Amazingly, with her positive perspective on life, Dar even counted her next major crisis a blessing as well.
In 2010 Dar was diagnosed with breast cancer. Many women, upon getting such dire news would have simply fallen into despair. But subsequent events solidified her belief that God had a plan and another purpose for her life. A chance meeting at a local deli led to a friend’s invitation to a gathering for breast cancer survivors sponsored by Omaha’s Project Pink’d. Project Pink’d is a non-profit, local organization dedicated to providing tools and resources to further enrich the lives of breast cancer survivors and allow them to thrive.
In fact, Dar, who beat cancer and is now a dedicated volunteer with the project, said “We refer to ourselves as Thrivers. This year’s fund raiser event brought in over $400,000 to give back to our community.”
Becoming involved in Project Pink’d has given Dar a stronger sense of purpose and she believes it’s just one of the many things God has blessed her with. “I have met the most courageous, amazing, positive women!” In 2014, Darlene was chosen to be a Project Pink’d Calendar Girl. In the past, the project chose women each year to pose for their calendar to convey to those still fighting breast cancer how survivors have thrived. Benefits for the calendar go to help further the project’s cause. “It’s such an amazing organization of love, giving and support,” said Dar. “Everything that’s raised goes back into the community.”
Her work with Juice Plus+ and Project Pink’d has given Dar a renewed sense of purpose. It’s evident that she has a strong belief in both the products she sells with Juice Plus+ and her contribution to helping those, like herself, who have survived cancer. Dar even used Juice Plus+ products to help her through her breast cancer treatments. Upon the advice of a doctor who works with Juice Plus+, Dar megadosed on nutrition and Juice Plus+. It helped tremendously. Despite the multiple chemotherapy and radiation treatments she endured, she never got sick. Her friends were amazed.
Choosing to see the trials she has endured in a positive light has allowed Dar to achieve her dreams of being of service to others. The idea of thinking positively may be simple, but not always easy to implement. She noted, “Daily, one day at a time, I feed my mind with God’s word, positive affirmations and gratitudes.”
Dar truly epitomizes the three pillars that Your Second Season is built on. She is steadfast in her purpose. She is on a mission from God to help families thrive and spread God’s joy to others. Dar has valuable advice to women going through midlife, feeling lost and without direction. She believes the first step to her finding purpose and identity was attaining physical well-being thru proper nutrition. “I truly believe God wants his children to thrive because it gives Him glory,” she said. A healthy body was essential to Dar in reinforcing her sense of spirituality and developing her relationship with God. A typical day for Dar starts with meditation, spending time connecting with God and listening to his guidance and knowing how valuable she is to God and others. The clarity of mind that Dar got from Juice Plus+ bolstered her ability to meditate and reap it’s benefits.
The attention Dar gave to sustain her emotional and physical well-being in intertwined with her finding identity and purpose. She is clear in her direction from God as to what her mission in life is. She is a shining example of how to live a life filled with joy, despite the trials we face. Being of service to God and others is her main priority. Her dedication to bringing hope to breast cancer survivors of having an active life full of vitality, happiness and peace is matched only by her heartfelt conviction that to thrive you must be nourished both in body and soul.
So, what is the secret to Dar’s victory over the obstacles of midlife? “Faith in God, investing in others and lots of laughter!” she proclaimed. Gifts she believes the world could use a lot more of.
What I learned from Dar’s story is that in times of trial, we have two choices to make. We can accept our lot in life and give in to fear and uncertainty or we can choose to think differently. Changing our perspective on the hurdles we face in midlife is the difference between growing and improving yourself both physically and emotionally or remaining stagnant and unfulfilled. Choosing to be proactive, find support and welcome change is opening the door to a brand new you! There is an old saying that happiness is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it. Our prerogative to choose how we want to react is the silver lining of midlife.