This has been a rough year for my aging attitude. I will be turning 70 this year and I have been trying to embrace it in a way that isn’t simply acquiescing to a number. Because I know all the “right” ways to think.
I should be grateful to have made it this far, because not everyone has gotten that privilege. And I am beyond grateful. But simply telling someone to be grateful doesn’t take into account the multi-faceted nature of aging. We can be grateful and still be unsettled. This isn’t an either/or scenario.
I should look at all the good in my life. And oh, how often I do this! I have five amazing children, a husband I have been with for 35 years, great friends, a beautiful home, a part-time job I really enjoy. I take none of that for granted. But life weaves its own web, and there are hard, sad, and challenging times that get incorporated into that picture, even on the good days.
The list could go on. I have looked at it from many angles. We have made great strides in our culture regarding aging. We have begun to change the language associated with it. Some brands have stopped using the words “anti-aging” because really, if we are against aging, what are we in favor of? Aging is the only way to move forward in life. So we are pro-aging, just more about aging well.
I decided one day to search for fun ways to celebrate turning 70. It was the most depressing search I think I’ve ever done.There were articles on how to “celebrate the elderly” and fun ideas for a great party. These included renting a “banquet hall,” having a nice brunch, printing off old pictures so “they can see themselves in their prime.”
So, in the words of the great philosopher Frank Sinatra, I guess I will have to do it my way. I follow older women on Instagram who are forging the way on a frontier that has little in the way of vision. They have started weight training at 75, they are denouncing certain ways we should look and dress, they are demonstrating courage and adventure and joy.
I follow younger women who review and promote clean beauty lines. Their advice on products is helpful, but when they post pictures of their face after using a particular product, I often think: You are 30 something. My face looked great with no product at all when I was 30 something. I still will buy a product knowing it will most likely only make me feel better. But hey, feeling better helps.
Anyway, the only way I have found to embrace this proceess is to go with the adage #greaterlater. I’m trying to stay away from ideas that involve preset notions of numbers. These things help me:
*Reading, listening, learning, keeping my mind open
*Getting together with friends for connection and laughter
*Picking up weights to keep those muscles working
*Enjoying quiet mornings, and sometimes loud evenings
*Showing up to work knowing a smile and kind word helps everyone
*Encouraging my kids because life can be hard, even when it’s good
*And except for acknowledging qualities that time has hopefully made better–like wisdom and love and compassion–never ever “acting my age”
So, I am choosing to believe that #greaterlater is possible. I may spend money on a product that will do nothing to take a line off my face, but I will go down fighting. It’s a balance between acceptance and denial. When asked the secret to serenity, Jesuit priest Anthony De Mello said: “The secret is wholehearted cooperation with the inevitable.”
I’m going to wholeheartedly cooperate with that. At least sometimes.