Valerie White

When I turned 50, I decided to take a solo trip. It was not my first solo trip; with the first happening a few months before. But it was at that point I decided I was going to take time out of my life and visit places I always wanted to visit. And I was able to do that comfortably alone.

I decided to go to Spain, and visit Barcelona. And a few towns and regions surrounding Barcelona. It was an incredible trip. While it wasn’t my first solo trip it started my journey of taking solo trips to different places around the world from which I wanted to have for my memories. While I do travel with some people on occasion, I also often travel solo and it is a excellent way to meet new people to see new places but also to have self introspection that helps once growth.

My relationship with time has changed dramatically over the last few years. Once I turn 50 I felt life was short, but I’ve felt life was long, and that changes depending on the day and my circumstance. The best way to describe my relationship with time is being reflective on what is important and how I’ve been able to maintain myself in a way to have enjoyment and a vision for myself as I grow more seasoned.

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My values have changed tremendously over time. What I have come to understand about myself, what I’ve come to value is to be true to oneself, one’s physical health, mental health, and sense of peace. Without those things, one cannot be useful for anyone else. That is a concept I had to embrace over time, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s become easier.

Significant points of change – there’s been many over my 50+ years. They have been significant career shifts, not a lot, but significant. And then watching the changes in my daughters, how that has changed our relationship, and watching them grow and flourish as women. That has been a complete joy, and continues to be one of the things I hold most dear.

I am a lawyer by education but I’ve had the opportunity to work in New York City government, when Wall Street, an amazing nonprofit, state government, and now leading the regional efforts of a major nonprofit. But with all of these shifts in jobs and responsibilities, my legal training and financial quantitative analytic training has served me well —specifically from a technical skills set vantage point, but also in discipline and complete thought and dedication to any work that I do.

I would tell my 20 something years self to be more deliberate in my selection of company, relationships, and time spent. I don’t regret anything in my life, however I do think more deliberate thought processes may have made things a little bit easier on my life’s road. What I would tell myself as a young mother to be a little more patient. I think that women who have children at older ages have an innate patience that younger women don’t inherently have. I enjoyed being a mother, I still do, but I do think I could’ve given my children the gift of just a little more patience.

My bucket list included traveling to Africa. I’ve been able to do that three times in my life. I’ve been to Egypt, to Ghana in West Africa, and to Kenya in East Africa. And I am planning to go back again to Northern Africa before the end of the year. It is an overwhelmingly emotional and humbling experience, particularly in Ghana West Africa, understanding the world that my ancestors were taken from; their sacrifices and strength in their involuntarily voyage to this country. Yet my ancestors; through the descendants of the enslaved continue to fight for equity in our country that they built.

Most people describe me as somewhat of a loner but dedicated, committed, and loyal to my true friends and family. As an extraverted Introvert, I am social at times but also value my time alone. I am also a ‘Type A’ personality, that is competitive in relation to achieving—even competitive with myself. So I don’t know when I feel the most confident, because I always feel there’s something more that I could do to achieve my personal goals. And that is my favorite traits about myself. Always willing to look for opportunities to do more to make things better for myself, for those that I serve, for my children, or simply just completing a task. As far as people in advertising and their view of individuals over 50, I think times are shifting. We are seeing more and more examples of inclusive normalcy in media outlets highlighting people over 50. And I think that that’s great.

Right now my main ambition for myself, is to continue on my quest to visit all of the continents. I’ve been to six, the seventh Antarctica awaits. And I’m excited about the prospect as well as to continuing to see the globe.

I feel that overtime I’ve gotten more confident about feeling attractive. I am ready to accept attractiveness in a different way at this latest stage in my life. So while I do have many imperfections I embrace my imperfections and feel as if I am perfectly imperfect. And that’s been a journey. It is particularly so for women, with physical appearance having such a premium in our society. However accepting the current physical state is more of a mental acceptance of confidence. And I am at that state now. That’s why I’m so pleased with my pictures. Thanks Clare