Growing Older is an Adventure

November 8, 2013

Life does not prepare you for the adventure of getting older. Our society worships the vitality, beauty and firmness of youth. We’ve all heard plenty about that, the unrealistic pressure it creates and how we, as a culture, need to respect the maturation process more. I agree and as a result of seeing changes in myself, now believe that change starts at home; or in your own bathroom, as the case has been with me.

It is startling when you see the first grey hair. It even more horrible when you share this discovery your partner, next to you in the bathroom looking in his own mirror, as he calmly states with a chuckle, “If there’s one there’s more.” Devastating. This was no laughing matter. That was ten years ago and I’m sorry to say those grey hairs continue to appear…in various places; disturbing and shocking me every time.

Five years ago, I became a single woman again. Not entirely due to his insensitive comment…let’s just say that didn’t help his case very much. I digress. What I want to share is that the changes have not stopped. In fact they have gained momentum at times leaving me to wonder how I can out run them. “Maybe if I exercise enough, eat well enough, hydrate enough this will stop!” is the thought that runs through my mind.

And there is some truth to that. We can prevent aging even while we are getting older. This means, if we are willing to do the work, we might not have to accept the messages in the commercials for pharmaceuticals preparing us for the inevitable side effects of a ticking clock. Working with Dr. Laura Ellis of medAge has been very helpful in plotting my strategy. (see my previous blogs for more info)

The grey hair was just the first sign of my ticking clock. More changes were coming. Next came the sobering reality that gravity will have its way and things will shift. The best part of my divorce was the weight that I lost due to overwhelming stress and anxiety. That emotional ride stripped me of four clothing sizes. When people ask me how I am the size I am, I tell them it’s called the divorce diet and I don’t recommend it.

The other side of that coin is a smaller body with the same amount of skin that has always been there + gravity = creping. Can you hear me sighing? Yes, too much skin everywhere and I am not interested in going under the knife. I have no judgment about plastic surgery. I’m just not fond of doctors coming at me with sharp objects; especially while I am unconscious. This is not to say I will not surrender someday…its just not the adventure I choose right now.

So I look in the mirror, turning my body this way and that, bending and looking at the truth of what is my body now. At first I was shocked. I’d only seen skin like that on my grandmother. However, I am happy to report that with time, I am making friends with this new ‘condition’. I am loving me as I am and intentionally enjoying the areas without creping since I now know their days are numbered.

So this is just my commentary on a couple of changes to my body and I’ve listed nine in my notes. Don’t worry; I’m not going into all of them. Some are not for public consumption. It’s just to say, at 46, I feel like I am facing many changes and if you are too, hopefully this is helping you to feel better.

Having had my weight fluctuate for most of my life, I’ve often kept an eye to my collarbones. How discernable they were was one indicator for me of how my weight was doing. (I hate scales!!) One day I realized my collarbones were showing all the time even more so without losing weight. At first I thought that was good, until I realized it wasn’t thinness…it was gravity. Everything was shifting to my hips and thighs. Good Goddess! Is there nothing we can count on anymore??
Full-length mirror needed…check. More lunges and squats…check. Remember, this is a fight and I’m not going down easily! And at the same time I appreciate how pretty my neckline looks in pictures from the waist up. Best to enjoy this new attractive feature before something else happens.

For my last getting older adventure share, I have to mention stuff getting caught in your teeth. Seriously?!? No one ever mentioned this as something you can expect as you get older. They don’t even talk about it on tv and there is no exercise I know of that can help. Who knew that your teeth shift as you get older necessitating the practice of checking your teeth every time you eat? Which, by the way, is particularly stressful if you are single and dating as I am. Hear me sigh and add an eye roll. Sure, I’ve flossed in my life…just never as much as I am now. And I certainly never carried it in my purse!

At the same time, I am grateful to have all my teeth and they are more white than not. And there is something I can do about that to offset the red wine staining over time…thank Heaven. It’s the little things that matter more as you mature and become wiser with time.

All in all, I hope you get my point. Humor, love, and self-appreciation are better than Xanax for me any day of the week. I am choosing to get older as gracefully as I can and find it easier to do so if I am honest about the shock I feel at times. Better to get my feelings out in the open rather than have them fester in my mind, descend into my heart and corrode my entire body.

It’s not that I want to look 20. Given a choice, I would choose to keep the wisdom and experience I’ve gained over firmer breasts any day of the week. It’s just that I know this face and body. We’ve been together for 46 years without losing any parts or major injury. I know her. And when I look in the mirror and see changes, I am shocked and sometimes a little frightened of what is coming next.

Then I remember that I’ve loved me more days than not in various sizes and conditions all my life. I can count on me now to love me as the journey continues. This is where respect for elders comes from. It starts at home, looking in your own mirror, loving and appreciating you! Not knowing what’s coming next is just part of the adventure.

Saddle up for the ride because it’s coming whether you like it or not!

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