40 Over 40 Portrait Project – Interview with Terri.

I want to introduce you to Terri, one of our beautiful 40 Over 40 Portrait Project participants. Here, during her interview we got to chat honestly  and openly about her most memorable life lessons, her advice to younger women in the modern society, her personal transformation, and so much more!  

Terri, welcome back! As part of your 40 over 40 session, you receive a gift from us, a matted print of one of your favorite images from your
photoshoot. Tell us more about this image! You also ordered it as a larger metal print portrait for a gift. Can you tell us more? Who was it for?

It was a Christmas gift for my fiancé. So that he could remember me smiling.  He really loves it. He says every time he looks at it, he likes it more. I love it, too. You know, it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten more than one picture that I’ve liked at a time. They look very natural. Nothing is forced about any of them.

I don’t know how men think, but I know that women, when they look in the mirror, Instead of seeing that beautiful person that everybody else sees, they see ‘Well, this is wrong with me, and that’s wrong with me, and, oh, I’ve got too many wrinkles here, and I’m sagging here, and I’ve got too much fat here’,  instead of seeing that we’re beautiful. All our loved ones see is that beautiful person they enjoy being around. But to us, that’s not who we think that is. In these pictures I see me, only not the same way I usually see myself. I see myself differently. You’ve done a wonderful job of that.  And I think at my age,  being able to do this and actually see this, – it’s wonderful. I mean, I don’t know if I would have seen myself this way 20 years ago. That’s a problem, too.

what do you think has changed in you with age? 

I find that I’m less tolerant. I don’t want to put up with it anymore.  I want honesty and truth from people, and I won’t accept excuses and the lies and all that other stuff anymore. I no longer tolerate people who lie to you, the people who talk one way in your face and another way behind your back. Those are the people that I dislike the most.  But, you know, at my age I am finally realizing that I can be anyone or do anything that I want. And it doesn’t matter what anybody else tells me! It’s a wonderful gift to myself. Yes. And that, you know, is one of the reasons why I did this photoshoot. Because I wanted everybody to realize  (and myself, too), that you can do anything you want at any age, you can be anything you want at any age and nobody can tell you differently! It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, it doesn’t matter your age, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, anything that you want you can get if you work at it. We’ve been putting enough up with all the societal restrictions, requirements, expectations, and now it’s our time to shine and be who we want to be!..

What was the biggest surprise that life has thrown your way?

I was brought up the way that, when you get married, you get married forever. And I never thought that after 26 years, I would be getting a divorce, moving to another state, and starting a whole new life. I never saw that one coming.  But that’s okay. I’m in a better place and I’m doing better things now than I was 26 years ago. And I didn’t think that at my age I’d be doing that, but I had to, and I’m so much happier for it. My new life is so much better! I love that.As long as you, you know, not stuck on a bed somewhere because of a health issue, you can be out doing anything you want at any age. And you don’t owe anything to anyone. No, the only person I owe anything to is the person who pays me money for my paycheck 😊

If you had one piece of advice to give young women navigating the world today, what would that be?

My first piece of advice is: don’t get married young.  Know who you are. Know where you want to go and who you want to be before you ever think about it. I’m not saying don’t have long-term relationships. I’m not saying that. But, you know, you grow up, and you continue to grow, and you become a different person maybe in your 30s. And there’s no hurry for anything. If you want kids, great. But there’s nothing that says you have to have children in your 20s. Well, there’s nothing that says you must have kids at all.

I mean, you can make the decision not to have kids, but if you want kids, great. Just make sure you know who you are before you get married, and your spouse knows who they are.  So, you don’t grow apart and you both want the same thing and you’re both growing in the same direction, right?

I didn’t have that. I grew in a different direction. I have somebody who grew in a way I didn’t expect, which included a lot of mental and physical issues for this person. That was the direction they decided they were going to go, and that wasn’t the direction I was choosing for myself.  So, make sure you really know that person before you marry them, know who they are. Learn what their habits are like, and whether you agree with them.

And the other thing is know, that nobody can tell you what to be.  For example, you go to school, and go in a certain direction and maybe you get your bachelor’s degree, your master’s degree, whatever. And then you decide you don’t want to do that. That’s fine. Remember that this wasn’t a waste of money because you’ve grown, and you’ve learned, and now you have a degree. Always explore what you think you want to do, even if you decide in the end that it’s not for you. Try it, then you know.

Decide for yourself who you want to be. Don’t let your family or your peers tell you who to be. Don’t let anybody tell you who you should be and how you should think. Think for yourself.  Figure things out for yourself. Explore the answers for yourself. You’re going to be so much happier if you do that. And it’s still okay to make mistakes along the way, as long as you own your mistakes and you learn from them.

I know I have made so many mistakes.  But I’ve learned from them, and a lot of the things I shouldn’t have done.  I now consider them growth experiences. Do I wish I wouldn’t have made the mistakes? Of course I do.  But I learned something, and that’s the way you have to look at it. You learn something from it, even if you wish you hadn’t done it.


My health isn’t perfect, but I am in such better shape than I was before! I go to the gym all the time. I eat healthy. I do all the things that I should have been doing all along, and I feel so much better.  And I enjoy doing all these things, not because someone tells you to do them, but because you choose. I want to be healthy. I want to live a healthy life where I do whatever I want to do for a long period of time. 

What story do you hope these photos tell about your life’s journey?

Hey, I look good for my age!!! My life’s journey has not been an easy one. I had my son when I was young. I went back to school when he was one year old. It took me 17 years to get to my master’s degree. I graduated from college when my son graduated from high school.  Was my journey easy? No. But was it worth it? Yes, it was. And I think that I wear those years well! I’m very fortunate in my genetics.  But it doesn’t mean that I’m perfect in any way, shape, or form. I just learned a little bit, and I’ve got life experience…I love my pictures. I would love to do it again.  I’ll wait another 10 years and we’ll do it again or five years and we’ll do it again! I wish I would have done this kind of portrait photoshoot two years ago. Don’t wait! Do it!!!

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