When I was 20, I was thinner than I am now.  My body was leaner and tighter.  My eyes were perhaps a bit brighter, my hair a little blonder.

But I am more beautiful at 40 than I was at 20.  How can this be so?

  • At 20, I had no idea what I wanted to do or be in my life.  At 40, I have finally not only found my path, I am walking on it.
  • At 20, I was self-conscious and plagued by self-doubt.  At 40, I am comfortable in my own skin and happy with who and what I am.
  • At 20, I stuffed my body into multiple layers of baggy clothes because I thought I was too heavy.  At 40, I do not hide my body in oversized clothes, but wear things that accentuate its strengths – curves and all!
  • At 20, I couldn’t run a mile.  At 40, I can run 10.
  • At 20, I thought my body was weak.  At 40, I know it’s power, for I have borne two children (one without benefit of drugs!), fattened them from my breasts, and have gone on to run a half marathon, take up yoga, ski better than I ever have, hike, gallop a horse, and so on.  And I can STILL do the splits! 🙂
  • At 20, I concerned myself with what others thought of me.  At 40, I concern myself with what I think of me.
  • At 20, I saw things in black and white.  At 40, I see things in a thousand shades of gray.

I do not mean to criticize my 20 year-old self.  She did the best she could with what she had at the time.  She had her strengths and her moments of greatness.  But I now know that beauty is rooted in confidence, and confidence is something I have in far greater abundance at 40 than I did at 20.  True beauty does come from within and radiates out.  Beauty that goes in the opposite direction is at best, fleeting and at worst, false.

Me at age 20

I participated in this blogfest to celebrate the many beautiful women I am blessed to call family and friends.  It seems appropriate that in February, the month of love, we turn that love toward ourselves and rejoice in the beauty we are.

One of those beautiful friends is August McLaughlin, the creator of the blogfest.  She recently shared one of the most incredible, touching and brave stories I’ve ever read, and it was that story which inspired me to take part in this blogfest.  It’s called, Does Dirt Have Calories? Read it.

Also, be sure to go to August’s blog tomorrow to read many more inspiring stories of the Beauty of a Woman.


Me on my 40th birthday

Categories: Writing · Tags: , , , , , , ,



  1. Wow, Julie. I had chills reading this, from start to finish.

    A professor once told me that wisdom crystalizes. Your story is proof that beauty does, too. Thanks for being an inspiring force in the world. 🙂

    • August, thank you for putting together this blogfest. It is so important and so vital for women to celebrate their own beauty. Your personal story inspired me, but your bravery and your openness inspires me even more. I am truly blessed to know you.

  2. What a beautiful post, Julie. You must be a writer 🙂 You are so right about confidence. I’m still working hard on that – so hopefully I’ll be more beautiful at 60 than I was at 40 🙂

  3. Just wait until you are 50!!
    Great post and photos. It is amazing how much we learn every day…

  4. Incredible post. I feel as though I need to get out and run, after reading that. I’m afraid my 20-year-old self was in better shape. But the confidence and ability to not only know what you want, but follow that path? It makes up for everything else. 🙂

    • Alison, it helps that I was so completely un-athletic in my youth – LOL!

      And following the right path makes everything else line up…

  5. What a wonderful celebratory Blogfest. This is a terrific post and can so echo your thoughts one being more beautiful at 47 than 20!

    This was inspiring and lovely. Thank you. And you look stunning!

  6. I love August and her Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. I’m so glad you’re participating and took a time like Valentine’s to reach in and show love of self. As a 20-something herself, I long for that time when I won’t wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life, what others think of me, and if my arms are puny and weak. LOL. Nice to know it will come and I have to be patient as I grow into that confidence. I have days where I see that woman I’ll become in the mirror, and it’s up to me now not to screw it all up. LOL

    • Jess, just by reading these stories you are WAY ahead of the game. Nobody talked about the benefits of aging when I was in my twenties. You can fully enjoy your twenties, have patience with yourself, take whatever risks you need or want to take and know that it only gets BETTER with time. How I wish I had known that at your age.

      Thank you for not only stopping by but leaving a comment!

  7. Thank you! So many of us needed that today. At 20, I could barely run a mile. At 45, I can run three. That’s because at 20, I didn’t know anything about perseverance. At 20, I was scared to death at the thought of giving birth. At 40, I gave birth to a healthy son without drugs. That’s because at 20, I didn’t know a thing about tolerance. Thanks for celebrating the season of change.

  8. I love that picture of you in Paris! I have one almost exactly like it. 🙂 What was it with those big coats? I also feel more vital and focused at 44 (almost, my birthday is Feb 14!) than I did in my 20’s. Well done.

  9. That we can love ourselves as we get older is one of the biggest confirmations of beauty from within. Thanks so much for the great post, Julie. I loved reading about the differences you saw between your 20 year old and 40 year old self. 🙂

  10. What a wonderful post, and yes, you are even more beautiful now that you have discovered who you truly are and share that with all of us. I also agree that August’s Story is inspiring.

  11. Amen, Julie. Thank you for saying this, beautiful and true, loud and clear.

  12. Author Kristen Lamb

    What a lovely blog and so TRUE! I was a late bloomer and feel so much more comfortable in my own skin. You are very lovely to me and I am so honored to count you ladies as my friends. I am so blessed to know you and love you all very much.

    • Kristen, I can only say the same thing to you 1000 times over. You give so much of yourself, so freely. You are the very definition of beauty. 🙂

  13. Lovely post, Julie! Great pictures.

  14. Wonderful post, Julie. Thank you for sharing this, because it’s so true.

  15. You go, GIRL! 😀

    Wine improves with age.
    Age improves with wine.

    Life improves with laughter (and self confidence).

  16. Beautiful post Julie. I am old enough to be your mother — and of many of the other bloggers. I am 60 and proud of it. It is the wisdom gained that makes the difference for me.

  17. It’s the continuing to grow that makes for such a rewarding, not to mention beautious journey! I’m not the woman I was at 20, either–and believe me, that’s a good thing! 😉

    And thanks for the link to August’s blog post. Definitely a must read.

  18. You go Julie–awesome! I can actually see the difference in you in those 2 pics, the posture, the look on your face. Wow.

    • Thanks Coleen. It was kind of cool to me to see the obvious transformation as well (not that I didn’t love my twenties – that photo was taken in Paris after all! :-))

  19. Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

    I think about this so much…especially being a mama to two young kiddos. Although my body has changed dratically over the last twelve years, I feel so much more in sync in terms of who I am and who I have always wanted to be. I can’ t wait to see what the next few years will bring. What an amazing post Julie. Thanks for sharing!

    • We women, and I am no exception, focus way more on our bodies that we should. For me, I try to make it enough to be as healthy as I can be, and to concentrate on how I FEEL in my body. It takes a lot of practice and discipline to avoid the constant judgement. I’m still working on it, believe me. Writing this post actually helped a lot!

  20. Great post…looking good, girl!

  21. Julie, this is just lovely.

    I popped over to August’s ‘Does Dirt Have Calories’. What a beautiful, heart-wrenching story she’s shared!

    I love your journey to confidence and self-love. It’s true (43 here) wisdom comes with age, true beauty from within.

    Love! And many happy occasions to *want* to do the splits!

  22. That bridge looks very familiar, Julie. When were you there? I think I missed you by about 20 years—I’m certain I was standing close to that spot before you were born…. Nice post, by the way. The very best thing we gain as we age is perspective.

  23. Wow! I am not quite 40 but it sounds like it will be great when I get there! I found a lot of truth in this post. It is amazing to watch yourself grow into who you were really meant to be! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Julie, what a fabulous post! I loved reading every word and by the way- it wasn’t just you. We all wore baggy clothes 20 years ago.

  25. I love being old enough not to care about what other people think, and to know what is important in life…and to be able to pursue it!

    Wonderful and refreshing post, Julie! Thanks for sharing your life with us…

  26. So well written, Julie! Thanks for sharing. You DO look absolutely gorgeous! And I appreciate all the references you included, especially “Do Calories Have Dirt?” WOW!

  27. What a great attitude and outlook! I, too, am 40.

  28. What a beautiful piece, Julie! At (almost) 40, I second that we can be stronger, faster, smarter and more beautiful as we mature. (Oh, and we’re old enough to drink that glass of wine you’re holding.)

  29. Julie, lovely post! Thank you for taking the time to share your adventure with us! And thanks for all you do for the writing community!

  30. I loved reading the difference in you between 20 and 40. My bet is that the 60 year old Julie will look back at this 40 yo woman and celebrate her while appreciating your additional wisdom and beauty.


  31. Love this post. And yes, I think women who know who they are, what they want, and basically have their feet under them, are always more beautiful. 🙂 e

  32. I am one year and a couple of weeks away from being 60. I loved being 20, 40 and I am really loving the age I am now. I don’t want to go back. I have so much left to do!

  33. Oh my gosh, Julie … this is wonderful! I got all choked up. You made me think of myself at 20 and myself now at 41 and recognize that I did not love myself at 20, but I do love myself now. So powerful!

  34. Another fabulous post on this day of celebrating women and the beauty they all possess!

    You are absolutely right about women in their 20’s – I was one of them. Things are so much clearer now and I’m not afraid to embrace life and be goofy if I feel like it. I used to be afraid of making a fool of myself, but now, I relish the feeling of swinging in the swings at the school yard, coloring, watching silly movies and laughing til I feel sick!

    You ladies are rocking the beauty world today! Keep if up beautiful Julie!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  35. Just beautiful Julie! Thank you so much for sharing!

  36. What a beautiful list! And I couldn’t agree more.

  37. I love this post. Mostly because there are so many parallels to my own life. I’m so happy to be a running, writing, more-confident, gave-birth-to-four-kids-without-drugs, non-baggy-clothes-wearin’ 40-year-old I am today. My 20-year-old self did get a lot more sleep than I do, though. I envy her that.

    • Wow – four kids without drugs? I thought I was a warrior after just one.

      Yeah, I miss that sleep too. Good thing we got it when we were younger!

  38. Oh Julie, this post makes me so happy. I’m inching up on my twenty-fifth birthday, and I have to say that I am more excited to think about the wisdom that I will gain in the next twenty-five years. I love reading about all that you have learned, and all that you have accomplished with your life.

  39. What a moving post, Julie. Reading about your journey was inspiring and these are my favorite words: “I do not mean to criticize my 20 year-old self. She did the best she could with what she had at the time. She had her strengths and her moments of greatness.”

  40. great post julie! there’s always pressure when you’re a woman, and the best we can do is handle it with poise and grace, then continue kicking butt 😉

  41. I turn 40 this year and I totally agree with you! It’s amazing how comfortable I feel with myself now vs. then. And I love the picture of you on your birthday, you look awesome:)
    Beautiful post!

  42. Julie, I loved your post.

    As I look back at myself, in pictures and words, over the decades of my life, I honor those selves and thank them for the actions that brought me where I am today.

    I am so happy is the space I occupy now and I could never have arrived here without the lessons learned through those earlier experiences.

  43. You were beautiful then and now. (But I also wouldn’t want to go back to being 20.)

  44. awesome, Julie! I have realized as I have gotten older that whatever I may lose in youthful appearance will be paid back tenfold in wisdom and confidence. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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