I have a confession to make.
I am committed to growing old gracefully, to obliterating and diminishing, any wrinkle that shows up on my face, to keeping my hair, long, free of grays, perfectly colored and coiffed, to stay youngish…relevant, ME! Now while I am committed, and all in, society on the other hand is not, and already has a label for me. Middle aged, senior, older. I mean for Chirstsake, I got my AARP packet in the mail right after my 51st Birthday. What did I do with that shit you ask? Toss it in the fireplace, well I thought about it, curse the paper it was written on? I did do that, but then I said what the hell, I’ll fucking take that Senior discount, use it at Wine Hut, and save my ass some coin, besides for the fact, that if 40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 20. Yes I am bad at math, but that was intentional! I am aging rather nicely, if I do say so myself. I would like to say it is because of my healthy lifestyle, or a healthy sex life, even my love of Yoga, but honestly, it is a little of those things, some more so than others, and mostly, thank you sweet baby Jesus, really good genes! Thanks Mom & Dad!!
So why is it then, that for women, sorry men, you guys slide into adulthood, have your little midlife crisis, ride a sweet, bad-ass Harley, have a fling, embrace your gray hair, and get distinguished, sophisticated even, and no one uses the word “old” or “senior”. Not your fault, society recognized early on that men can stay virile, vibrant, relevant, more approroiate, they had to, since they were seen as the breadwinners, the jolly gents about town, they needed to be seen that way, since for the good part of a few centuries, they (men) have been top dog in running the country, the boardroom, the bedroom, and mostly the world.
So then how does a woman maintain her sense of autonomy and self-worth when the implication is that you are old, less than, a washed up has-been? Here are some ways that we can stay viable, relevant, and live a life of authentic meaning and purpose regardless of the lines on our face, the color of our hair, and the age our birth certificate says.
I am not suggesting that you go out and behave like your younger, foolish self, on the edge of 21, downing shots, wearing belly shirts and running around showing “underboob” like a college student on Spring break. What I am talking about, is keeping up with the latest technology, staying on top of the latest advancements in computers, smart phone gadgets, and software. Taking classes if need be. I always had a thrust for knowledge and learning, and am proud to say I am the tech savvy brains, behind fixing the family computers, programming gadgets, and all things tech. All self-taught, thank you very much.
Make it your business to know what’s trending in fashion, entertainment, the latest advancements in medicine, or what stocks are worth investing in. You want to be able to engage in conversations at parties and be knowledgeable, trendy, relevant. I like to check out iFunny, a website devoted to memes and funny captions, I like to read the latest Memes, not only do I get a laugh, I actually keep up on what’s trending, and keep up with the latest, coolest lingo, which makes me seem cool and hip, at least in my mind, when I drop some on my teens! Equally, if not more important, in the workplace, being knowledgeable and hip on what’s cutting edge, especially in your field, will pay dividends when you are up for a promotion and you can smoke the competition, teaching the boss how to stream Spotify from his Bluetooth speaker that he can never seem to figure out.
And just as the meme above says, stop thinking old. Age is truly a number, stop believing you are too old to do this or that, too old to wear this or that, and that the best years have passed you by. We limit our potential and we limit our opportunities when we begin to see age as a number, and as a reason why we cannot pursue something or be what we want to be. Be ageless and limitless!
Make the most of your time here
I firmly believe that each day we have on this earth is a gift not to be squandered, and should not be taken for granted. So many people have such a difficult time understanding this. They are so mired in their sorrows, failures, nursing past wounds and holding grudges, that they forget to live out each day to the fullest. So yesterday you hit a curb and sliced the hubs tire, that is over and done. Today you kept from killing someone, who called you a stupid bitch, and you lived to die another day. Each day is another chance, to make us better, to do better, to want better, to simply, be better. Yesterday is in the past and cannot be changed no matter how badly we want to or will it so. There is no better way to feel young, vibrant, and full of life, then to learn to be a rebel with a cause. I am not saying you need to rage against the machine, although, at times you may need to, but coloring outside the lines is not necessarily a bad thing. I for one love to be edgy. I love to be ballsy, it is who I am. I love having streaks of platinum blonde and purple highlights in my hair. It makes me feel happy. I love to cook for my family and see them happy. I love to lay with my dog Jaxx and pet him until he falls asleep. I love to write and have my thoughts mean something to someone. It can be anything that makes you feel alive and takes you to your higher self. Do what makes your soul sing!
Stay in gratitude
One of the things I learned early on thanks to Oprah Winfrey promoting this practice on her show, and having Marianne Williamson on, was to stay in gratitude and be thankful for what you have, to not feel defeated for what you don’t, and to stay hopeful with a grateful heart. It was back in 1997, shortly after the birth of my daughter, that I watched that powerful episode where Oprah revealed that she had a gratitude journal, and she would write what she was grateful for each day, and it is that I begun my journal the very same day. Staying in gratitude comes with the notion of age, and wisdom, but it also is a sure-fire way to feel fulfilled about where you are in life and what you have achieved. It may sound counter intuitive to dwell on these mature ideals, however, by doing so, for me, it is an opportunity to acknowledge how far I have come, and what the love of others has done for me both emotionally and spiritually. Further, when you appreciate and become grateful for where you are and what you have at this moment, you are less likely to live with regrets and what should have been, or dwell on the notion that you are living a life unfulfilled and time is running out. You will see that each day is a chance to change the trajectory of where, what, and how, you want your life to be. It is never too late to change the path you are on!
I have an app on my phone for practicing gratitude called Gratitude Rock Journal, and each day you log in you get three rocks that represent the three things you are grateful for. It can be as simple as one of my journal entries for April 11th, a random spring day, I wrote I am thankful for the sun shining in my window and the birds singing outside. Or as mindful and deep as this entry from August 13th, I am grateful for chance to see beauty in the eyes of my children as they make their way into adulthood, and the recognition that they are a beacon of hope for the world they are part of. Having a grateful heart will make you to see others, yourself, and the world at large, in a less threatening. less menacing, more loving, kind-hearted, light.
Let it go
I am here to tell you that nothing will age you faster and lead you down the path to illness, more than holding on to resentment and anger. Sure stress will get you there, but I think that holding on to anger and resentment leaves you depleted and defeated in a way not much else can. When I made the decision to enter into psychotherapy I knew I had to do the work, I knew it would be difficult to examine and dissect some deeply painful truths in order to heal. It was some of the darkest, hardest, most painful work I have ever done, but it had the most profound effect on my emotional health and well-being, that I wouldn’t have had any other way.
I urge you to examine what it is that is making you feel angry, stuck, resentful and find a way to let go. You are doing this to heal you! If someone hurt you, committed an unspeakable act, and caused you pain, working through that is for you, it is to make you lighter, it is to make your life better, it doesn’t mean the unspeakable act, or the pain they caused is justifiable, it means that you are letting the attachment to it go so you can be free. The only one you can ever change is you. Waiting for someone to acknowledge your pain and what they did to cause it is an effort in futility that rarely, if ever, proves fruitful or ever rarely happens.
Life is short and so fleeting, how is holding on to anger and resentment going to make your time here any better? I promise, the minute you find a way to let go, you will feel so light and so free inside you will want to shout it from the roof top and dance like no one is watching, it is that invigorating! Seek out any modality of healing that will lead you to that place of forgiveness in your heart. For me it was meditation and psychotherapy. For others it can be a support group, journaling, writing a letter to the person that hurt you, telling them how they hurt you and cursing them out if need be, but you don’t send it, you just write until the thoughts fade and the feelings subside, and burn it. I did this several years ago on New Year’s Eve as a symbolic letting go for the new year for a family member who caused me great pain, and I promise you, when January 1st rolled around, I was so free of them emotionally, that nothing they could do or say thereafter had any affect on me. They lost their power over me and I freed myself of the self imprisoned walls of pain I allowed to consume me.
Listen, no one knows better than I, that this is tough stuff, that resentment and anger are hard to get past, I am Italian after all and we hold grudges forever, but I broke that cycle. Do I still feel twinges of anger and resentment for past hurts? HELL fucking, yeah, I am human, but I don’t let it affect me to the point that it consumes me, and that is the key! Let go and let “God” whatever your interpretation is of God, it is symbolic of anyone’s higher power.
For everything a season
That saying, For everything there is a season, use to cause me such ambivalence and an almost foreboding, and I could not for the life of me figure out why. Then one day I was doing my morning Japa Meditation, and I reflected on it, and like a lightening bolt, it hit me, why I had such ambivalence, because aside from it being poetic, yet simplistic, it was profoundly accurate.
It was then that I began to see that for every moment of joy, peace, love, heartache, regret, torment, accomplishment, and celebration, there is a time, a place, for it all, none of which we have any control over, and just as the sun will rise and set, the seasons come and go, we will be here for as long as our story unfolds, our truths are revealed, and our destiny allows. For, with any luck, there by but for the grace of God, just like fine wine, antiques, and classic cars, we will, grow older, not old, youthfull, wiser and better, like the sands of time, through the seasons of our lives. Amen!
** I am back after a short hiatus to do some healing and soul searching. Thank you all for continuing to support my endeavors. I truly appreciate it!! Can’t wait to share some of my favorite fall recipes! xoxo