The recycled topic usually comes up before 7 AM. After I’ve taken my first glance in the mirror. Before rationality emerges from my morning yoga practice. After last night’s animal cookies reveal their damage on the bathroom scale.
My eyes are puffy. There’s a new sunspot on the left side of my forehead. If I ate the same way and practiced this hard ten years ago I swear I’d be five pounds leaner…
And on the why-aren’t-my-kale-smoothies-working-their-youth-magic rambling goes. As the words spill out, the patient man on the other end of the conversation is digging through his vault of reassurances to put a swift end to this nonsense. He’s been here before.
Why do we do this? To ourselves and the men who love us? I could point my unmanicured finger in any number of directions: the cherub-cheeked prepubescent face touting the latest Perfectionist Wrinkle Lifting/Firming Serum; the 100 pt. font screaming Blast Belly Fat Now! on the cover of a ‘health’ magazine; the college photo albums in my mom’s basement – oh my God I had fabulous hair then. And thicker eyelashes.
But blaming and finger pointing is futile. A cop out, really. Because it’s up to me – and no one else – to accept and maybe even appreciate that I’m growing older, my looks are changing, and as my sweet man admonished: “cosmetic surgery and all that crap creates a whole new set of problems you don’t need.”
Fundamentally I know all this. Inner beauty, life experience, wisdom that comes with age, and all those nice-sounding catchphrases that are true, but sound so…I don’t know, cliche. But thankfully this morning, I got a new perspective on this recycled topic that just might kick the inner hag out of me once and for all. It’s one man’s perspective, and it goes something like this:
Women of your age look men in the eye and don’t fuss and fidget.”
Lessons in how to walk a runway without flailing my arms wildly or twirling my hair for a few modeling gigs in high school meant I rarely fidgeted (at least openly), but after hearing this statement, I recognize now that my twenty-something eyes probably spent more time dissecting what was happening down on dirty sidewalks and carpets than meeting anyone at eye level. Age and life experience have lifted my gaze big time. Eye to eye, skyward to God, savoring the preciousness of life.
You carry yourselves differently. There’s a confidence there. It’s really attractive and has nothing to do with perky boobs or line-free faces.”
Since moving to a town with a walking-score that’s off the charts, I’ve noticed that ladies in my decade of life and beyond move a little slower, with a knowing swagger, and without the need to hide behind a pair of ear buds or 5″ display in their palm. Hard lessons in my twenties and thirties have given me confidence, and it’s refreshing to know that you can’t get it through perky boobs or puffed up cheeks.
Of course she needs to take care of herself. And you my dear, do. I appreciate it.”
What’s ironic is that before my 40s, I worked so hard at it. Quantifying numbers of miles, minutes, calories, pounds, clothing sizes, carbs. Lost in all that was self-care. I only cared about what showed up on the outside as I was wincing on the inside. My workouts today are really work ‘ins’. I move slower in yoga, considering every pose and transition carefully to best suit whatever is showing up in my body at that moment. I eat when I’m hungry, and sometimes when I’m not. And that’s OK – I know now that peeling off buttery layers of a croissant or sipping a glass of Sauvignon Blanc can be an essential part of taking care of myself vs. sins that need to be mollified by some crazy collard greens cleanse as long as I keep it within reason. I may not be as fast, lean, or nimble as I used to be, but I’m healthy, happy, and smile a helluva a lot more.
So ladies, if some version of this conversation wakes up with you, let it go. You’re growing older, and BETTER.
*image courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net