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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

JAN BURNS

I had met Jan a few years ago, when I had photographed her daughter. I was struck by the loving family she had created and was so excited when she applied to be a part of the Unstoppable Project.

Jan walked in knowing that THIS was something she needed. She was concerned (like everyone is!) that maybe she was not going to be photogenic. But she leaped into this trusting me completely. What we created together was simply magical. Watching her husband and daughter at the Design Consultation was such a joy. They were so grateful that I revealed to Jan, the woman that they love with all their hearts. See Jan? They were right all along. You are a radiant and beautiful woman:)

Anita Watkins

Jan Burns’ Portrait taken at Anita Watkin’s Studio in London, Ontario. 

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

“Wow…so many things! What are you waiting for? If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
Search for that career you want and pursue it with a passion. Try to make yourself happy ‘first’. Living your life to consistently make other people happy is fine, but if you don’t leave any energy for yourself, you’ll burn out! You can be a kind person with a good heart and still tell people to get lost when needed. It’s called boundaries.
It’s important to allow yourself to dream and find joy in just being ’you’ – to do the things that you enjoy. And, don’t worry about what other people think. Laugh often and try to surround yourself with positive people.

If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.

I treat every day as an opportunity.

What gets you up in the morning?

“I’m retired so I treat every day as an opportunity. I’m generally an optimistic person and I like to lead an active life. I almost feel lost unless I have a plan for the day. It can be as simple as doing some drawing, gardening, going for a nice walk or bike ride, lunch with a friend, even some house project that I’ve put off for far too long. I like to keep moving.”

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

“I think we all struggle with confidence. If you never feel good enough, sandpapering down your unique edges to fit what’s expected will never make you happy.

That being said, I’m going to say I’m the most confident right now. I’ve learned many things over the years, but being comfortable in my own skin has been a challenging journey. Self doubt is always whispering in my ear; questioning my looks, my intelligence, even my physical and artistic abilities.

I’ve often avoided doing things because I hear that inner voice saying “Are you good/smart/funny enough”? I’ve become more content with myself over the years. I’ve gotten better at not listening to that annoying little voice, and embracing what makes me weird and building my life around it.”

I’ve gotten better at not listening to that annoying little voice, and embracing what makes me weird and building my life around it.

Seeing a woman who is confident in herself just exudes beauty to me.

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

“I hate to be cliché but it was really this photo shoot that gave me the lift I needed. I know that ‘60’ is just a number but I wasn’t particularly enjoying all the new aches and wrinkles that were going along with it. The photos made me see a different side of my personality. When I look at them, I see a confident, happy woman.

What is attractive now? – Now it’s not just about your appearance, it’s about that genuine warm smile and how you carry yourself. Seeing a woman who is confident in herself just exudes beauty to me.”

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

“Myth #1: it’s too late to make a career change over 40. I don’t think so! I did just that – I was always in the financial services field, but I made a daunting move to the corporate side of the business. It was challenging but also the most satisfying part of my career. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you’re too old to do anything.

Myth #2 – having children after 40 is a bad idea. Absolutely not! I became a mother at 41 and it was the best decision of my life. I adopted my darling girl from China and I have the maturity and life lessons to give my daughter all the love and nurturing she needs. Just ask her!”

Don’t ever let someone tell you that you’re too old to do anything.

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

“Life can throw you curveballs sometimes when you least expect it. I consider myself very fortunate but I have had some challenges over the last years that were hard to handle. Knowing how to take control or overcome a bad situation can bring you out on the other side a lot stronger. That’s what happened to me… I sought out the guidance I needed and learned many things about myself, and I liked what I saw. The door was always unlocked and all I had to do was open it. Now if I can just find that key holder…oh yeah, that’s me! LOL”

Do you want to learn more about working with Anita?

Portrait Photographer in London, Ontario

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