Turning 40! Heart to heart interviews with real women – PART 1

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Author: Ann Grandchamp, Mental Health Editor

Whatever age you are, I’m sure you will enjoy this series of heart to heart interviews. Today I’m just sharing the first 2. They are beautiful, honest and authentic and I love all the nuggets of gold we can take away, wherever we’re at on the “age-scale”. I turned 40 last year and I celebrated in September. I was incredibly lucky because it was right bang between the 2 covid-19 waves. We were outside, it was sunny and warm, and there was laughter all around.

I honestly had no expectations about turning 40. I love life and I love celebrating my life. I found however that I went through several deep significant changes almost from the day to the next, the most significant one being that I accept and honor myself much more than before. My inner voice, the one that spoke softly from my soul, my gut and my intuition, has become a lot bolder. Here I am, happy, surrounded by friends and family, last September:

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My Swiss Story: Turning 40!

So with no further ado, let’s read about two amazing, strong and beautiful women.

A heart to heart with Cécile

When did you turn 40?

I turned 40 on March 4, 2018 – nearly three years ago.

Did you celebrate? If so what did you do?

I went to Southern France with my husband and my parents. We spent a couple of days by the sea in sunny Cassis, then had lunch in Aix-en-Provence, where I was born, on the way back. We also visited the clinic where I was born.

I was unfortunately unable to celebrate this symbolic milestone with my dearest friends, insofar as they are scattered across the globe and many of them had already participated in my wedding celebration in Key West just two months earlier. I would have loved to throw a huge party and entertain that motley crew for a few days!

What’s your least favorite thing about being 40?

Western society does not allow women to age. Our “unsightly wrinkles” are men’s “lines of distinction”. I have heard “Oh, you’re over 40 now!” many times in the past couple of years and it was never said with glee. It feels as though I have suddenly depreciated in value (or caught a dishonorable disease), which is neither fair, of course, nor in line with how delighted I feel about being in my forties. We used to hear “40 is the new 20”, didn’t we? What happened?

I spent my 20s and half of my 30s in the U.S., where there is traditionally a premium on masculinity rather than femininity, and where “young is beautiful” – including fake youth or surgically enhanced beauty. It was difficult to find my place as a strong, free-thinking woman at first but I carved out a niche and excelled at what I did. I gave up everything when I moved to Switzerland, however, and have not stopped feeling judged negatively for it on both sides of the Big Pond. Trying to rebuild myself professionally and redefine myself personally has been exhausting because of the condemnatory gaze of others and the pressure Women feel regarding aging, body image, our identity/self, and so on. A lot of people still fail to understand that a woman can reinvent herself confidently and thrive magnificently after 40. It is disheartening, at best.

What’s your favorite thing about being 40?

Turning 40 made me understand how crucial it is to design one’s life with purpose. I believe I have found my Purpose and it took some serious introspection to figure out what truly drives me, what energizes me, who and how I wish to help, and what I cannot or will not sacrifice anymore (including my health and well-being).  

Every day, I wake up smiling, with the goal of lighting a spark of inspiration in others and to help people build themselves up with intention. Helping others has always been my calling. Now, thanks to my increased self-awareness, heightened wisdom, and rich professional and transcultural experience, I can connect with others more deeply and fruitfully than ever before.

What has turning 40 changed for you?

A switch did flip when I turned 40. I can finally be myself, unapologetically and jubilantly.

I was never truly afraid of doing things my way, without having to worry about fitting in or not upsetting the status quo. That became even easier with the “excuse” of being 40. In the spring of 2018, I decided to take toxic and manipulative individuals out of my life (including family members) and clarified my core personal values in the process. I discovered the surprisingly selfless art of prioritizing myself, something I had never done before, in order to better serve others. It thus became vital to embrace not only my strengths but also my vulnerabilities, to celebrate my femininity and my authenticity, and to let my light and trademark joie de vivre shine bright.

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My Swiss Story: Turning 40!

I am a passionate, assertive, and resilient woman who thrives where she can inspire and empower others. I sincerely hope my actions will continue to have a lasting positive impact on people. Today, as I strive to reinvent myself professionally in the dreaded “after 40” period that glossy magazines love to warn us about, and as I finally dare do what I have always wanted to do with my life, I simply refuse to stand in my own way and will not let people treat me with anything but integrity and respect.

I am standing tall and regaining my freedom one day at a time. It is emboldening, to say the least!

Quite frankly, I still occasionally feel shunned in a patriarchal, often backwards society because I am a 40+, child-free, independent spirit with a bubbling intellect and a splendid creative career ahead of me. What is different today is that I am not letting this discourage me any longer (though it still infuriates me!). I have been and always will be a trailblazer.

What would you say to a woman who’s afraid of turning 40?

To me, 40 is about aging gracefully and gratefully. I shall move onward and upward with more wisdom and poise, a deeper appreciation for how far I have come and how much I have grown personally and professionally, as well as plenty of resolve to accomplish even more and to continue to effect durable change in the world. 

There is a motivational quote circulating on social media platforms that speaks to me:

“I love my age. Old enough to know better. Young enough not to care. Experienced enough to do it right.”

It has been attributed to many people, from Angela Bassett to Billy Zane, but its essence remains the same. What a great mindset to adopt as you turn 40!

I would add that your age only shows that the world has been enjoying your presence for 40 years. It really does not matter much beyond that. Embrace getting older and bolder! Don’t let your age dictate what you can or cannot do.

Find your gift. Live your purpose. Fuel your passion.

A heart to heart with Barbara

When did you turn 40?

I turned 40 in June of 2019.

Did you celebrate? If so what did you do?

Most certainly, but I always celebrate my birthday!  Life is a gift!

I celebrated the week of my birthday by spending a magical week with my husband in France!  He arranged for my parents to watch our 4 boys while we spent a beautiful week visting the Chartres Labyrinth (something that was on my bucket list) and exploring Paris in all its many facets.  It was a magical week!

What’s your least favorite thing about being 40?

I find that my body needs more rest and takes a little longer to heal.

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My Swiss Story: Turning 40!

What’s your favorite thing about being 40?

I feel very confident in who I am as a woman.  I love where I am in life and in my path as an artist! 

What has turning 40 changed for you?

It has given me more of a “seize the day” attitude towards life.  I do the things I love and feel more at ease saying “no” to things that don’t speak to me.

Since turning 40 I have hung my first solo art show and taken a “mommy vacation”!

What would you say to a woman who’s afraid of turning 40?

If you haven’t figured out what you like yet or who you are. it is time!

Celebrate you in all your splendor!  Listen to yourself and your needs, Sing, dance, love extravagantly; you only have one life!!   

I hope you’ve enjoyed these first 2 interviews. I certainly did! We have so much to learn from each other and we can find inspiration and ideas in each other as well. Part 2 and 3 will be out next week with more wonderful interviews. See you then and in the meantime…

Take care! Stay safe!

Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for our February posts, cuz “self-love” is in the air. Stay tuned to read about body positivity, turning 40 or 50, encouraging children to eat healthier, and many other useful resources.

Are you interested in the topic of Body Positivity? Please read this post to get associated with us on our new creative collaboration.

To read posts from January, click here

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