Aging is an Attitude: Aging well

Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian women

Ask any older, wiser woman about growing older and she’ll probably tell you, “I’d never want to go back to my younger ( Read, ‘reckless, confused, anxious, insecure’) days, but I wouldn’t mind looking like I was still in my 30’s!” Why the 30’s? Because most of us who’ve lived awhile understand that a ‘blank canvas’ is less interesting than one that has a few splashes of bold colors on it. When a woman enters her 30’s, she’s likely to have more value-added life experiences, therefore a greater understanding of who she is, and of the general direction she wants to go next. Yes, it’s a Truth: Our Lives Will Reflect in Out Faces. It’s just a matter of time. Literally.

As a woman who wants to age well, let’s focus for now on face and body. As time goes by there are two options: pay attention to the above (how you live will show up in your face), or…don’t. To be brutally honest with you, I can (and do) look at my Sisters (friends and colleagues) and see what they were up-to in the glorious 1960’s. There was a lot of living going on, back in the day. We tanned in the sun, with baby oil. We partied with wild abandon. Many of us didn’t know much about healthy eating (I was a weird exception, I think — our family had a veggie garden and chickens), or about the effects of smoking and drug-use. While younger people, in general, are inclined to feel invincible and engage in short-term thinking, the attitudes of 50 years ago were even more carefree, to put it kindly. (I’m taking a Writer’s liberty here; I do believe that there were many young women, at that time, who had strong moral character, respected their parents, followed Scripture, and got 8–11 hours of sleep at night.)

Life is for living, but it will take its toll on your face and body; you just may not notice it until you become a woman of ‘a certain age’. Then, all of the creams, hair-colorings, body or facial treatments, mindful eating and yoga that you do, is not going to reverse the aging process.

What’s the answer, then, to staying “as young as you feel” (that really is what happens, as it turns out) ? Younger women, take heed: you may have one of two perspectives right now. You have no concept of the physical aging process, or interest in taking care of your body now ; or, you’re so paranoid (especially if you’re prone to media absorption) about getting and looking older that you’ve already become way too focused on the whole topic. First group? Time changes how your body works and looks, trust me. Second group? Chill. Enjoy being young; ‘aging’ will happen even faster if you worry too much about it.

Older, wiser women know that aging well means a graceful, easy transition: “I’m wiser, happier in my skin, more comfortable with my situation, and doing the best I can with my face and my body.” Wise women go for ‘balance’. Have you ever been standing in a line behind a fresh-dressed, toned-looking woman with great hair…but when she turns around you see a ‘grandma’ face? (I’m not dissing grannies, here, just exaggerating to make a point!) Be reason-able, with your ‘exterior’. If your hair wants to go gray and you want to follow it, then check out the toners and glosses that enhance your natural color. If you long for ‘skinny jeans’ and abhor the idea of ‘mom jeans’ (what idiot coined that term??), then find a pair that suits your body. If you’re tempted to try cosmetic enhancements, know that there are downsides, and that gravity will eventually win (a good reason to find and maintain the best weight for your body type). My counsel for all of my Sisters, wherever they are in life, is to honor yourself in ways that allow you to age beautifully. Put your Self first, more often than you may be doing right now. Practice loving your Self as much as you express love to other people. Be kind to your Self, when you look in the mirror. Take it easy with self-criticism and comparisons to other women. Drink lots of water, and stretch like a contented cat in a sunbeam, every day. Think about, then do, some kind of resistance training (I keep hand weights at home): your bones will thank you. If your body tells you that your need to, find a doctor that you trust and check-in with her as often as needed. Keep moving forward and relish in your wisdom, your beautiful face-full of character, your glorious body, and your gentle spirit.

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