By Amy Power
March 8, 2018
I admire Sarah Skillin Woodard more than words can say. She is one of the kindest people I have met. She is a beacon, she is a role model, she is a mentor, and she is a friend.
Sarah has taken control of her life and career at every turn. She is currently the Executive Director of Emerge Maine, a non profit that equips and trains women to run for public office. One could argue it is literally her job to inspire women. At 51, Sarah approaches life from a far more centered place than I feel I do. She has an inner confidence and self assurance that cannot be taught. Sarah learned to appreciate her body when she re-entered the dating world in her 30’s; a combination of recognizing others found her desirable and being old enough to accept that realization at face value. For all of us in our 30’s still waiting for that moment, there’s hope.
Sarah’s firm sense of self and her needs has taught her that self-care is essential to feeling her best. Regular massages and haircuts help her feel confident and cared for. After years of buying things simply because they were on sale, Sarah is now extraordinarily judicious when selecting clothing. Her mantra is quality over quantity. She knows what works for her body, and she invests in a few key pieces that are constructed to last. I have rarely met such an independent and capable woman.
Despite her confidence and success, like most women she still struggles with body image.
Sarah had her second child, Sadie, only weeks before turning 49 and noted that when you have a baby later in life, your body doesn’t snap back as quickly as it may have otherwise. Like so many moms, she’s glad of clothing that helps cover “the mommy area.” She feels we have some pretty clear expectations of what motherhood looks like in our society, and it’s not her. She dyed her hair for fear people would see her on the playground and assume she was a grandmother, not a mother to these two young kids. Philosophically, she has accepted “that would be their problem. I actually like the gray, I earned every last one.” But there are times the perception that she’s “too old” still wears on her.
When I asked her what she is most proud of, she told me, “Having these kids in my 40’s! They are kind of miraculous. I think for anybody having a kid at almost 49 is a huge accomplishment. The fact that I can have children in my 40’s… and I decided that now is also the time I’m going to kick ass in my career, all at the same time, is amazing. Doing all of that at once, I’m pretty damn proud of that.”
At this point in her life, Sarah does not necessarily derive her sense of self worth from looks. Rather, she has gotten to a place where she feels very capable, and is proud of that feeling. She allows herself to take risks and knows things won’t fall apart if she fails. Her personal philosophy is, “if you work hard and have a good attitude, good things will come to you, and in my own life that has come true.” When I asked her how she hopes her own children will measure their self worth, she didn’t hesitate. “I hope they will be good, compassionate, contributing members of society. That their contributions to the world make them feel good and worthy.”
That is a wish we can all share, Sarah!