In 2011, Mary will celebrate her 40th birthday. Her goal for the next decade is to keep dreaming big. "I strive to be educated, to grow older gracefully, be happy and comfortable with myself," she says. "And to have helped more women with my walk—not with what I'm saying but what they're seeing."

Regardless where her 40s take her, Mary says she's ready for anything that comes her way—a realization reflected in her new number one album, Stronger with Each Tear. "For so long I felt like a weakling because I cried," she says. "But I feel like I'm cool with that vulnerability now. I'm stronger with each tear. I'm stronger after every mistake I make because I'm not going to make those mistakes anymore."

Malaak Compton-Rock's favorite gifts that give back


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