In this week’s installment of Fierce, Fearless, Fabulous & Forty, meet Pamela! Her story really inspires me…. business owner, Comrades runner and Mom, this woman has worked hard to have it all!
Name and age
Pamela Jane Paton
Blog address and social media handles
Personal: Twitter @pamiejane
Business: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SAMedalHangers
How do you feel now that you’re in your forties?
I feel that I am in control of my life again – especially in this past year.
I am turned 45 in April, but in my late 30’s and early 40’s I could not understand what everyone was saying about the maturity and confidence that being older gives you. I just did not feel it. I felt that I had lost my sense of self and as I got older it seemed to slip further and further away. My confidence was at an all-time low and I missed the person I thought I had been at 20. This year I have realized I don’t want that person back. I want a better version of her. I want her strength and determination, her ability to dream and pursue her goals but I for the first time I am really happy with the older me. I want to celebrate this birthday and year ahead.
What has been your greatest achievement since turning forty?
I have had quite a few great achievements in my 40’s and am extremely proud of what I have been able to accomplish so it is difficult to pin it down to one. There are two that really stand out for me though.
I have always wanted to work for myself and this finally became a reality when I started SA Medal Hangers in 2013. After bouncing around in many different industries in my 20’s and 30’s I finally feel that although not quite there yet, I am at least heading down the right path for the first time.
I looked at various other business ideas in my 30’s but none of them felt right and I did not have the passion to sustain them. I have very diverse interests and with this business I get to be creative as I design all the medal hangers. I also currently do all the marketing, so get to play around on Social Media, through which I have made some amazing friends, most of whom I get to meet up with at the various sporting expos around the country. I also get to be involved in the sports industry and attend sporting events, which I love. My biggest joy from this business though is that I get to hear everyone’s stories and celebrate their achievements with them. For many, it is about so much more than the medal at the end of the race.
This brings me to my next huge achievement, completing the Comrades Marathon in 2016. I was sporty at school, but in my 20’s and early 30’s I did nothing. I only started running again at 35 and moved quickly onto triathlons. After having my daughter in 2010 I found I did not have enough time to train for all three disciplines so went back to running. Initially I had no desire to complete a standalone marathon, although had done marathons as part of Ironman, but when my sister suggested we do Two Oceans Ultra Marathon I jumped at the chance. I like a challenge. After Two Oceans I set my goal on Comrades. I tried the first time in 2015 but because of an emotional year, in which I got divorced, I did not finish.
In 2016 I was determined to get to the finish line in time. To me that has been my greatest achievement to date. The feeling of finishing that race was just indescribable. I was on an absolute high and still am. As a single mom with a young child and running my own business it was a juggle getting the training in. I think this on top of everything else made this achievement even more special to me.
Now, as a mature woman, do you have any regrets? Anything you wish you could go back and do differently?
I don’t have any regrets as such. But I do wish that I had kept running in my 20’s and 30’s. It now is such an integral part of my life. It is where I meet my friends, it is my social life and in a way, my livelihood. When I was pregnant with my daughter a friend’s husband said to me “I hope you are going to stop all this running nonsense now” The look of horror he received made him back off. Running has been the one non-negotiable through everything. This year I want to start giving back and encourage more women to start running.
If you could talk to your 20 or 30 something self, what would be one piece of advice you’d give yourself.
I would tell myself that 26 is not old. There is no need to “settle down” and everything will work out the way it is supposed to. At the time I was travelling around the world and thought I should come home and be a bit more responsible. Get a proper job and get a degree. That was dumb….. I should have kept travelling.
What has been one/some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed within yourself since turning forty?
Physically I have always had 20/20 vision, but oh…… reading glasses are going to be required in the very near future. I have been going grey since I was 19 so that is not new. I am a pro at dyeing my hair. Other than that though, I am fitter and healthier than I was in my 20’s and 30’s.
Emotionally, I am actually beginning to feel like a “grown up”. I have always seen being a “grown up” as a negative and something to be avoided at all costs. Lately, I have started embracing it. I don’t mean it as in acting old, but seeing it as a sign of strength. Last year I made sure that all my documents, Will, life insurance etc. were all in order. I looked critically at my finances and changed a few things. Some of these were necessary as a single parent but some of these were just way over due and something everyone should do. . All of this gave me a sense of power and control I was not expecting.
What do you still hope to achieve in your forties?
I have a number of things I want to achieve.
I want to go from being “self-employed” to “running a business”; one that won’t collapse if I am not there. I want to start travelling again, even if just for a week at a time.
This year I have decided to cut down my distances with running, but I do want to do a few more Ultra’s in the next few years. I love trail running and would like to do the Addo 76km. Possibly even a 100km race at some stage. It would be awesome to say I have run 100km…..
As mentioned before I also want to start encouraging more women to start running. One of the questions I often get asked is “but how do you start” or “But I can’t even run 100m, I’ll never be able to run” (so watch this space)
It would also be great to have abs…. for the first time in my life. Seriously though abs are not a requirement, but I do want to get stronger. I think as we get older it is important to build muscle and maintain strength. It is the one thing I have not been all that great at doing. I concentrate more on cardio.
What advice would you give to women who are fearful about approaching forty?
There are so many cliques about it being the new 20’s or whatever. I don’t agree. It’s not the new 20’s. The 40’s are so much more. At 40 I find I have close friends in their 20’s or 30’s and others in their late 50’s. Some of my friends have kids in their 20’s while others have babies. At 40 our lives can be so much richer and diverse if we allow it.
What is one of societies stereotypes about women in their forties that you wish you could change?
It seems that in the 40’s women are either portrayed as “soccer moms” if married or “cougars” if not. Both equally as annoying.
Any parting thoughts or comments?
I have been extremely fortunate to have a great role model in my mother. She is now 71 but goes hiking most weekends. She still runs 10km races and is incredibly active (I can’t keep up). For her 60th Birthday, she climbed Kilimanjaro. Thankfully for her 70th, she didn’t do anything quite so hectic – just trekked through a forest in Rwanda to see some gorillas.
She has two great pieces of advice. The first she gave me when we I first started going out drinking and that was “Always stand and drink, that way at least you know you can” Very useful
The second was one her mom always said to her and that was “Nobody ever died wishing they had dusted more.” Both women lived their lives to the fullest and my mom continues to do so. Don’t be scared to get out there and do stuff. You don’t have to be the best, you don’t have to win the race, and you don’t have to have to make it look good on Facebook. Pull up your granny panties, or G-string and just do it. I hope as I progress through my 40’s and further that I am able to take the example set by these two amazing woman and pass it on to my daughter showing her that age really does not have to be restrictive
Thanks for sharing with us Pamela! I have to say, I found your story particularly inspirational! Reading your thoughts and achievements made me wanted to get up off my arse and go for a run! I’m super keen to see hat your secret project is!
Are you fierce, fearless, fabulous and in your forties? Would you like to be featured in this series? Then drop me an email!