"Aging's a bitch. But I hope she's my bitch for many, many birthdays to come." This from me as a facebook comment recently in response to one of my best girlfriend's somewhat in-your-face reflections on being 50. I've been well acquainted with the 50s for a while and have more of a love-hate relationship with aging than I'd like to admit. I'd love to say I embrace the gifts of aging every day and feel no angst regarding the way I wear it...but that would be more than a little white lie.
A recent vacation allowed me many walks on the beach. I was heartened by the girls and women on this beach. Babies to 70 somethings, bikinis to tank suits to yoga pants, alone or with partners or families, almost every woman I saw seemed at ease with herself and her body. In reality, there probably were varying levels of angst about weight and shape and the effects of gravity, but not enough to keep them off the beach or fully covered up. These are good observations for me to make. I can get so twisted up in what I think when I look in the mirror.
On one of these walks I decided to take a deep dive with this aging thing, to write about it for a month or 6 months or a year. Write until it's all figured out or have drawn some magic number of conclusions. Let go of the angst. Embrace my face. Be the Wonder Woman of peace with aging. Right? It definitely seems worth a try.
Aging. We do it whether we want to or not. Every day and all the time. Of course we want to, we just don't want it to show its wear and tear. There are weird contradictions involved in the process of aging and being at ease with it at the same time. We love the idea of being younger, but are there really any decades of life we want to live through again? Sure, there are things in the do-over column if we could take the lessons learned back in time with us...parenting joys to re-live and parenting mistakes to undo, repeat vacations that were really fun, spend more and better time with our own parents, relationship stuff (the good to do even better and bad to avoid all together), jobs that we would never apply for the second time around, not give up running so it wouldn't be so hard to start again, re-take our best naps on our favorite couch...but not re-live entire years or decades. The wisdom from living is one of the best gifts aging gives and yes, we only get it by living. The learned face in the mirror is only learned because it's seen and done what it's seen and done. The face of 20 or 30 years ago may have been a smoother canvas, but it was, in my case, a more intense, less secure, more financially stressed, and less wise face.
My face is my individual banner of aging and in the most self evolved state of being, I would be content with it every single day. The funny thing is, some days I am...I feel like I look happy, not old or bright, not saggy. Other days it's just ugh. Ear to ear, forehead to chin ugh. It also is easier to assess and appreciate the maturing faces that aren't mine. Many mature faces look fascinating to me because they are so layered, wise, and bright...furrowed and textured and wrinkled in a way that speaks of accomplishment and peace. If my face is going to furrow and wrinkle, I at least want it to look wise and content. I fear it might just look old and tired...
I think frequently about how well or poorly I wear my decades of life. Maybe not so frequently in terms of minutes in day, but enough to make me a little crazy sometimes. It hits me when I look in the mirror and am having an ugh reflection. It hits me when I remember that I'm more than half way through this life and there's so much left to learn and see and do. The list is unbelievably long. It hits me in a different and better way when I remind myself the years reflected in my face and body have been overall, so damn good to me. I have so very little to whine about. My hope is that in writing about aging, I will ultimately embrace the blessings of my life over the angst of body changing aging horrors. And not only when I sit down and think deliberately about it, but instinctively, every day and all the time.
#publishous, #wellness, #aginghappily, #peacewithaging
Hi, I'm Donna. Long time artisan/creative. Full time work in nonprofit world. Mother of two adult sons. Currently, also mother of two cats.
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