I had the honour of being co-emcee of the most special event this past weekend (with the lovely Journey Henkart). It was the vision of the very talented Karen Pickering to capture the stories of women over forty, and to then host a gala event at which these women would be celebrated. And celebrated they were! The portraits of thirty-five women and their stories were showcased that evening. Women showed up to the event in their finest, there to uplift and celebrate each other. It was a privilege to be featured among them. (The photo of me above is the one that was featured).
The age range among the women honoured was significant, from 41 to 76! And the stories... they were as varied and beautiful and unique as each woman present. These were not stories of perfection and ease. They were stories of heart-break and pain, of love, of joy and of sorrow. They were real, they were raw, and they were proof of life lived, of strength, of how we fall down and and how we get back up.
I shared at the gala what it means to me to be fabulous and over forty. I thought I'd share my reflections with you:
Like everyone here, by the time we are in the middle of life, we have experienced much – beauty, joy, pain and loss – the beautiful and the brutal. I am no exception.
I've learned a few things in my decades:
Life can be hard but we can do hard things -I have had to draw a line in the sand, step over to the other side, and start my life over from scratch a few times, and this has been hard. I believe that the painful events in our lives arrive on our doorstep to strengthen us. Our job is to learn and grow from each, without allowing them to harden our hearts or make us bitter. Brene Brown talks about having a Strong Spine and a Soft, Open Heart. My spine is very strong, strengthened with each experience I've lived – the amazing, the bad, and the ugly – but I have done my best not to let them harden my heart. My heart stays wide open and soft, as I turn to face each new experience, I do my best to keep the past out of it… we never know what's around the corner for us, it may be the best thing ever – I want to embrace that and invite it in, I don’t want to miss a thing!
I've learned that having courage means tapping more into my body and less into the hamster wheel that lives atop my shoulders – to listen more to what my body and my heart need from the inside and less what it's told to need from the outside. Our intuition is our superpower – but we're not taught how to hear it! This is so worth learning. These are the clues to our most fulfilling life.
I've learned to embrace my body, my age, the lines on my face with gratitude and love and to stop taking up precious energy, time and bandwidth trying to change them or make them different! My body has brought my babies into the world and hikes mountains every day. The lines on my face are proof of much joy and laughter, and of tears I have shed. My age is a privilege and I love it! As a teacher, I get super excited for my grade 12s each year, on the threshold of the new chapter of their lives they are about to embark upon – but I feel like we get to do this as well! Instead of coming into the middle of our lives thinking that we've done what we've come here to do – this time is a threshold for us to embark upon too! A brand-new chapter to write, and I'm on it!
I've learned that I am wiser and more courageous, more intentional in my choices, choosing more often JOMO - Joy of Missing Out - over FOMO - Fear of Missing Out. I choose activities and people that align with the woman I wish to be and show up as in my life, that fuel me and fill my energy cup, as opposed to deplete them. Saying "Hell NO" when I mean it, and "F-Yes" too!
I've learned that my life is my responsibility and mine alone. No one is coming to save me. That I am the thing I've been searching for all along! And the only thing that holds me back from creating my most beautiful life is me.
Jane Fonda said it this way: we can do life as if being carried down a river in a canoe, being tossed up against the banks and tipped over and caught in all the bramble on the way down or we can pick up an oar. It took me a long time to learn that there was another way to live this life, one where I get to be the creator of my own every single day. That every morning is a do-over and a new chance to make decisions… will they be pulled by love or pushed by fear?
As a woman that is fabulous and 55, I was honoured to be in the presence of these incredible women, to be celebrated and to celebrate what it means to be Women, Fabulous and over Forty.
Our takeaways from this wonderful evening?
We came together for each other, women uplifting women, there to lean on and support and celebrate each other - there is enough fear and competition and jealousy and pain in the world. We are not about that. We know better. We are wiser. We are here to lead the way for future generations, as they are watching us and how we are showing up for ourselves and for each other. This is what it means to be a Woman, Fabulous and over 40.
And YOU? What makes you Fabulous? I would love to know....