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Confidence Through the Lens

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Lela L's 40 over 40 Portrait Experience

February 12, 20244 min read

“When you start out in your 20s, you’re full of confidence that you can do anything, but life has a way of saying ‘yeah, but…, you’re going to have to deal with this!"

Lela speaks passionately about her incredible journey of life so far. Every twist and turn in her life story paints a picture of perseverance, strength, and unshakable self-confidence along the way. For Lela, life is not just a journey; it's a collection of experiences, each one echoing with the pride she takes in the significant moments that shape her.

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Lela's journey through the years has been a story of constant change. In her younger days, she radiated confidence—an "I'm young, sexy, can-do attitude." Life, however, threw some challenges her way, shaking that confidence. The entrance of kids brought a change, a moment where feeling sexy became a more nuanced experience. Then, a powerful realization hit. Gazing in the mirror, she saw the strength within herself. "Wow, I did that. I look good. Today, I feel great!" Lela shares. This discovery turned into a bold statement: "Okay life, look out, I'm coming, and I can handle it!" 

“I don’t feel there is just one way to define beauty”, she thoughtfully answers our question about defining beauty. “How I see or define beauty is not the same as the person standing next to me. I see beauty in all areas of life and people. In the way they carry themselves, the way their eyes see others, the sound of their voice, their sense of style.” The key to feeling beautiful, according to Lela, lies in liking and learning to love oneself. This journey, often untaught to women, involves the profound act of self-affirmation. “When we do learn how to say, “I Like You, Lela or I Love You, Lela” and mean it, we start to let our beauty inside come out and when it comes out you begin to feel naturally beautiful.”

Lela's biggest accomplishment is a clear reflection of her strength as a single mom—seeing both her sons not just finish school but do really well, one serving in the US Marine Corps and the other finishing college and starting a great career. Her dedication to being true to herself shines as a personal trait like a compass helping her navigate through life. 

In her twenties, Lela welcomed youth and optimism, stepping into the world of motherhood. The thirties brought focus and determination, marked by the commitment to marriage. As she reached her forties, Lela faced heartbreak and divorce, shifting her focus to her career and the essential search for self-value. “Weirdly enough – I feel like my divorce was a big turning point in my life”, she tells us about the liberating moment that happened in her 30s. Breaking free from society's expectations, she found the power to raise her sons, handle her career, and move to a new state on her own terms. The forties and fifties brought significant transformations—Lela uncovered her true self, embraced creativity, found a kindred spirit she well in love with, and confidently recognized her self-worth, creating a story of strength and self-discovery through life's changing seasons.

The serendipitous encounter with her late husband Ronnie after turning 40 became a pivotal chapter in Lela's story. “I was not looking to find a partner and yet there he was big as life and accepting of that came with me. He came into my life and was truly my soulmate”, she reflects fondly. Ronnie taught her to believe in herself and never accept anything less than what she truly deserves. Their love story, a symbol of lasting love, now motivates Lela to spread positivity and support to those around her. 

Lela describes her life's journey with the word "evolving." From the energetic days of youth to facing the difficulties of loss, each stage has shaped her into a strong person who continues to learn and grow. “I dealt with what life threw at me then, learned from it, navigated the next stage of life”, she says. Significant moments, such as relocating to a new state with a young son, finding love and partnership, and overcoming the profound loss of both her mother and husband revealed the strong inner core within her.

Leaving readers with a profound note, Lela shares a quote from the Dalai Lama that highlights the importance of living in the present: "There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live."


Celebrate yourself by gifting yourself your own 40 over 40 Portrait Experience & Exhibition. https://www.maggiemesser.com/40-over-40-portrait-exhibition

Listen to Lela's Inspiration about feeling beautiful


40 OVER 40 MAGAZINE

Featuring the women at the Feb 3, 2024 Exhibition

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