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40 Over 40 Project:

Celebrating women whose power, beauty, strength, grace, and spirit do not diminish with age.

 

I have photographed, profiled and celebrated 40 women over the age of 40.

WHY 40 OVER 40?

I have been witness to the strength and resilience of all kinds of women in my life but the stories that get to my heart the most often, are the ones of women that society used to label as “past their prime”.

What gives me hope for the future is that I have met woman after woman that have said HELL YES! Women that refuse to be labelled or diminished, are now stepping into their own power. Personally, I feel like I am only beginning to hit my stride. Now I feel called to give a platform to 40 of these women. I want them to be seen, celebrated and have a platform to use their voice to call out to us. I want women all over to hear their stories and be inspired. Will you join me on this journey?

I would like you to meet the UNSTOPPABLE

GAIL BARKER

I could feel Gail’s energy move through space and time in our Zoom consultation. She is a force to be reckoned with! She is passionate about people, the ones she works with in her coaching business and of course her family. Not surprising then, there is a complete air of confidence and empathy when you meet her in person. How many people can pull off wearing a crown in their branding photoshoot! 

Anita Watkins

Gail Barker’s Portrait taken at Anita Watkin’s Studio in London, Ontario. 

What is the one piece of advice you would give your 20 something self? 

Trust yourself and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that who you are is enough.

Who you are is enough.

"There are things that I can do and ways that I can show up that I know will have a meaningful impact"

What gets you up in the morning?

Most days, it’s knowing that I have the opportunity to make a difference in so many ways. With my clients, with my family, in my community — there are things that I can do and ways that I can show up that I know will have a meaningful impact, which is important to me. (And, in the interest of keeping it real, there are definitely some days where the thing that gets me up is simply the awareness that I’ve been given a new day, and I shouldn’t waste it.)

When in your life, so far, have you felt most confident and why?

Right here, right now, at this moment in time… and, it’s still evolving. As each day goes by, as I allow myself to be all of who I am (quirks and all) my confidence grows. That being said, I do have moments of self-doubt and personally, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. Such moments allow me to balance my confidence with a modicum of humility, and then show up as my whole, imperfect self.

As each day goes by, as I allow myself to be all of who I am (quirks and all) my confidence grows.

What I know is that I feel most attractive -- and have always felt most attractive -- when I allow myself to be me.

Have your perceptions of what being “attractive” means changed over time?

 I don’t think I can come up with a specific time or place. What I know is that I feel most attractive — and have always felt most attractive — when I allow myself to be me. When I dress to suit myself, when I give myself permission to be bold and act goofy, when I’m allowed to move and be animated (I’m anything but prim and proper). Feeling attractive — like my confidence — is something that has grown over time.

Are there any myths you would like to bust about being a woman over 40? If so, can you tell us about them?

I would love to bust the myth that aging in general — whether that be over 40 or 50 or 60 or whatever — is not to be feared; it’s to be embraced.

Yes, aging has its challenges. To balance that, however, the truth is that there are things that I know now, wisdom that I am privy to that simply wasn’t there when I was younger.

The very act of aging means that I get to live life with a splash of authority and corresponding grace that is only available to those who are older.

Aging is not to be feared; it's to be embraced.

Is there anything you would like to share with people about your life? 

My entire life, I have been known as an optimistic “bright-sider” of sorts. As I’ve gotten older, what I’ve learned is that there is a difference between being optimistic, and using positivity as a weapon (otherwise known as toxic positivity).

There are times in my life that have brought about challenge, sadness and even despair. In those moments, being a “bright-sider” wasn’t helpful. I’ve learned that there’s wisdom in allowing the challenge and sadness to be real, and to sit with it, to have it wash over me before moving on.

Also, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be unstoppable. What I know for sure is this: the thing that makes me unstoppable is the fact that I actually do, consciously, take time to stop. When I’m tired, when I’m overwhelmed, when I’m scared or when I just need a break, I stop. Stopping for even 5 minutes affords me the energy to keep going. It might seem counterintuitive, and, it’s true. My life is amazing in so many ways because I refuse to buy into the hustle culture.

As Brene Brown says, “It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture that sees exhaustion as a status symbol”. I choose rest and play as often as I can, and that is what makes me unstoppable.

Do you want to learn more about working with Anita?

Portrait Photographer in London, Ontario

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