Ok, so what if your are just not ready to embrace this aging thing? If you are one of the enlightened ones who embrace aging with a smile and sport your grey hair as your crown of glory, this post is probably not for you. But please read it anyway….maybe you can better understand the rest of us.
The rest of us. The ones with the friends who say ” it is what it is, wrinkles mean that I have lived”. Or we read the articles that say ‘going grey has given me so much freedom’ or ‘getting older is privilege denied to many’.
Ok.. yes, we all know this in our head, we are not that shallow or that dumb. Of course we know our laugh lines mean we smiled. Our wrinkles mean we had people to worry about. We have all had loved ones who left this world before they even reached their prime. We know that older people go grey. We know this, we just don’t think it applies to us, so don’t judge us.
What if we just are not ready to enter this “crone” phase? ( in mystical times a crone was an older woman who was full of wisdom or can also be described as a cantankerous old shrew) What if every time we look in the mirror we have “what the fuck’ moments? Who is this old lady? What if we don’t feel the ‘crone’ wisdom either…we barely feel competent enough to have your own shit together, let alone share our wisdom.
What is happening to me?….. ( no, this is not a story about puberty)
I remember the first time I looked in a mirror and noticed my face had changed. I was heading out the door and took a quick glance in the decorative mirror that hung on the wall behind the door. The light was shining in through the window, and I saw it. The crepe paper on my neck. No… wait, what? I got closer in to the mirror. Close enough that I could see my neck better….(before I needed progressive glasses and didn’t need to remove them to see close up) WTF? Why had I not noticed this before…. did this just show up? How long have I been walking around like this? I went and rubbed some lotion on my skin. Nope… still crepe paper. Ugh! So I wrapped a scarf around my neck and headed out, feeling self conscious the rest of the day.
This was only the start of the numerous times I looked in the mirror with shock and sometimes horror. I started to look at the faces of my friends, people I saw at the mall, or other random faces comparing their aging process to my own. Other than celebrities in magazines, we all looked pretty much the same. Some grey hair maybe, some crepe paper necks, some crows feet. Some were not wrinkling nearly as fast as me…. but then again, they had complained about their oily skin since their teen years. I have always had skin that needed to be dipped in vats of oil. Then of course there was all the years that I had spent moving my chair into the sun instead of wisely into the shade… ok. I get it.
Then there were all the ‘symptoms’ of perimenopause that were happening. Although I didn’t know what it was at that time. Bloating, weight gain, spare tire no matter how much I exercised. Everything seems to be heading south…. maybe if I stand on my head more?
Ugh.. why can’t I see my phone or this restaurant menu? Why do these stupid restaurants need to have the lights so dim.. or the music so loud for that matter? And the concert doesn’t start until 9pm? Who goes out at 9pm? Wait a minute.. why am I worried about getting to bed by 9pm… I sound like my *gasp* mother.
Then there was the time I was in my friends washroom and she obviously had better lighting that my washroom had. I noticed a lot of grey hair. I confronted my husband rather angrily, why had he not told me? His response…. ” I thought you knew”. Ummm NO I did not know.. or I would have fixed it. So it is back to dying my hair and using root touch up on a regular and monthly basis.
As time goes on, I have come to the conclusion that neither Cher nor I can Turn Back Time. But this has not been an over night process and I still wake up and have ” what the fuck has happened now” moments. I could stop looking in the mirror…but what does that help? Instead I do look in the mirror and am learning to get comfortable with my new face. Plus it allows me a chance to inspect for that stray hair that has decided to grow from my chin.
Thankfully most of these changes do not happen over night, it only seems like it. Like every other aspect of aging..what we have been doing since conception really… the changes are slow and gradual and the more in tune we are with our face, with our bodies and with ourselves the slower the process seems to be.
My own rules for aging.
I do not think that there is anything that says we have age in any certain way, although I do think that there may be some things that we should take into consideration. I know I have.
- Find your own personal style, and it probably should not be the exact same style of your 21 year old daughter. You can share clothes and shoes but don’t wear her whole look. Even if you have the body for crop tops and low rise jeans, and the outfit looks cute, is ‘cute’ the look you are really going for at 45? Pick one or 2 of the trend items and integrate them into your outfit. In my opinion….nothing is more aging than someone turning 50 trying to look like they are 25. You are not fooling anyone.
- Makeup… more is not better at this point. Heavy cover-up will not hide wrinkles, neither will gooped on eye makeup. … it will cake in them and draw them out even more. You may need to switch up your skin care to something for more mature skin. But its ok… it will make your skin look dewey and youthful. If you are having trouble with the same make up routine that you have used since your 20’s, maybe treat yourself to a makeover and some makeup lessons to bring you up to date.
- No matter what you choose to do with your hair colour, whether you leave it go grey naturally or cover those bad boys up, make sure you keep it healthy. Midlife hair changes, not only in colour but texture. It needs to be trimmed, and maintained. A current and modern style will help you look younger and more vibrant than hanging onto your bleach blond, over processed style that you have worn since 1987.
- Maybe consider giving up some of your vices. You can still be a fun loving party girl. But the effects of smoking and drinking will be taking its toll on you very soon, if it hasn’t already. Swap out that second glass of wine for some lemon water. Your liver and your skin will thank you.
- Sleep…. get enough sleep. It doesn’t mean you are old. Your body will hold up much better with proper sleep though, and no amount of cover-up will cover dark circles and bags under your eyes.
- If you need progressive glasses… get them. Holding that menu really far out from you or really close up isn’t making you look any younger.
- Keep a tweezers handy, and inspect your face every time you brush your teeth… those chin hairs grow an inch overnight. No one needs to know you tweeze daily and an unwanted hair will have no chance to take on a life of its own.
- Clean up your diet. Those pounds do sneak up faster and are harder to get rid of. Hit the gym or develop a workout plan. Weight bearing exercise is just as important as cardio, maybe more. Osteoporosis is a real thing. Fit and healthy bodies are more resilient to age related injuries and health issues.
- Add in your omega healthy fats, and do brain stimulating activities such as reading, learning, puzzles or crosswords. Doing this will keep your mind sharp and help slow down brain aging.
- Read and learn absolutely everything you can about this phase of life. Knowledge is power. Do not focus on the doom and gloom negative stories. Find inspirational women, read about the ones who are starting new businesses at 60, running marathons at 70, and teaching yoga classes at 80. Change the way you think about older women. Be one of these inspiring women.
Above all else, as you learn to adjust to some of these changes, have fun, do fun things, learn new things. Laugh. You are aging… not dying. So while some things may really annoy you, scare you or piss you off, the reality is that this is where you are at today. You can not get yesterday back.
Remember… 10 years from now, you may miss the youth you have today.
But then again, 10 years from now, with any luck, you will be looking back and thinking…. ‘ wow, I am so happy to be where I am today”.