Debbie, 42


The 40-over-40 Women's Portrait Campaign

I mey Debbie many years ago back in 2008 when I photographed a maternity session in Cape Town. I've been priviledged to capture her family over the years and have loved watching her girls grow.

This time she came from London to be a part of the 40-over40 campaign and I was so excited to capture her in this way as she is such a gorgeous, strong and fabulous woman. Her daughters, Lerato and Nia joined in for some shots but this shoot was mainly about her.

If your friends/family had to describe you in 3-4 words, what would they say?

Gracious Stubborn Brave

What would you say is your best emotional quality?

I am driven by a sense of purpose and fairness, that often involves having difficult conversations with people. I am able to do this with a strong sense of empathy for the human being across the way from me and delivering messages in a calm and clear way.

What is your occupation and how to you like to spend your free time?

I am a Partnerships Director in a global inclusion consultancy and a Non-Eceutive Director of a legal services provider.

I like to spend my free time with my family, hanging out and relaxing together. We enjoy eating out, watching movies, shopping and travelling together. I also really enjoy time out in nature - one of my favourite pastimes is walking our dog Biscuit in the woods. I am not myself if I am not exercising, so this is a regular fixture in my daily routine, especially on my Peloton bike!

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of:
- the life that my husband and I have built in a foreign country we now call home without any family and support structures, and to do so raising our children together

- the young tweens my daughters are growing up to be - they push me to be a better person everyday
- the way that I have learnt from my many mistakes to be a better person in the world and to show up for people where I can
- my professional achievements, after an extensive career break - proof that you can get back on track and that mature professionals don't need to be wasted talent
- the risks I've taken in my life, sometimes not really knowing where life is going to lead me, but trusting that the universe has my back

What is your favourite poem, quote or saying?

"When somebody shows you who they are, believe them the first time" Maya Angelou

What advice would you give your 20-year old self looking back?

Say yes to everything that is going to grow you, even when it seems like it's going to be a struggle! Throw yourself into life with the mindset that there is more good in the world than bad, and that when the bad happens, it's to grow you - be open to it all.

When you entered your 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's or beyond, what did you find were the most significant or poignant changes?

Health - it's the most important thing, looking after myself and putting my health first has never been more important and listening to my body is everything to me.
Family - you don't get to choose them, but they are the grounding force in my life - they come first always.
Relationships - nurture the ones that give you energy, eliminate the ones that don't.
Work - you spend 80% of your time working - make sure you're happy and doing work that matters - always back yourself, otherwise, no-one else will.

What are your thoughts on aging?

Aging is a beautiful gift - I am learning so much being older, getting wiser and feeling more confident about who I am and how I look and show up in the world.

Do you still have a dream or big goal that you would love to accomplish? What are the skills or things that you'd still love to learn?

I would like to be a more present wife and mother!
I have career aspirations that I would like to achieve and grow into a more senior role.

I would like to learn a new language.
I would like to get back to learning the piano. I would like to get fitter and stronger.

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