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Fab at 40: New lease on life

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Fab at 40: New lease on life

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Two days before Maria Boyce-Taylor’s birthday she had a very candid conversation with her mother on reaching this milestone and the changes that the Big 4-0 often brings. In typical fashion, Maria heeded her mother’s words of wisdom.
“She was very candid about it, she told me this is how your body is going to change,” Maria recalled.  “She said 40 is still very young, but it’s important to see a level of growth in yourself. She talked to me about the importance of my relationship with God, and to treat people with care and respect.
“She told me we are ‘care contractors’ of people and that at the end of the day we have to build people up and not tear them down.  Having that conversation really helped me through.”
But that talk wasn’t the only preparation that she had.
“In preparing for 40 I started reevaluating my life. I had a journal for weeks looking back over my life, and also charting a path forward,” she said. “During that writing period I started to pay attention to my goals. I wanted a Master’s degree and I got it. I wanted a career and a family and I got that too. But in looking back at my life I also knew that I had to change the dynamics of a lot of relationships and my goals.”
Perhaps that talk with her mother and the self-introspection inspired the sense of joy that Maria had back in July on her big day. But those words of wisdom have continued to define, shape and guide her along this chapter of her life.
“I see things so much differently now,” she admits. “I think I have a stronger relationship with God and that has given me a different outlook. Life is about growth and the challenges or success we face are here to bring about growth. That philosophy came about in my late thirties.”
One challenge Maria faced that defined her life was coping with her father’s illness and subsequent death.
“I went through the death of my dad and that really shook me. He was a father in every sense of the word. I learnt so much from the experience,” she said, adding “[that] relationships are important and when people are alive you must honour those relationships.”
 But one of the biggest relationship changes Maria has undergone is the one with herself. She has gone from a woman riddled with anxiety and panic attacks, to someone who has realised the value of letting go and releasing her faith.
“Now I say to myself that whatever it is I’m going to get it done. I also realise that I don’t always have to be the one in charge and that, with the grace of God, I’m going to be okay. The anxious 30s are gone. I’m still driven but with a level of maturity that I didn’t have in my 30s.”
    With the anxiety under control, and a new lease on life, Maria, who plans to keep celebrating until she reaches 41, is looking forward to whatever the 40s bring her way.
   “I was excited about turning 40 because to me it is a milestone. I’m in good health and I have accomplished a lot of the things I wanted to,” she says. “I was happy to turn 40. I don’t even feel like 40, I feel like I’m in my 20s in terms of my spirit because I still feel very youthful. I’m enthusiastic about life and I just want to see what the future holds.”