When my bff and I were in our early 20s we talked frequently about what it would be like to be old; and none of our opinions were positive. We firmly decided that as soon as we were elderly we would give up completely, and dress insanely over-the-top at all times- sequins from head to toe, long lavender hair, the works; the gaudier the better. After a bit of discussion we agreed upon an age. Ready for it………? 40. We decided in our youth that at 40 we would be disturbingly old, and rather than just lay down in a pasture and die, we would jump on the crazy train so that we could still be interesting.
Silence to let that sink in.
Ladies and dad, I’m hear to tell you that I’m 40 now, and on a good day I’m looking as good as I did a decade ago. I am definitely more intelligent, slower to anger, better at making decisions, and an overall better person than I used to be. I’m living a better life than when I had my beautiful abs of 23, and there is no way I’d want to go back there again.
Why have we set ourselves up for failure with our feelings about aging? Guess what? We are all getting older every second of the day. I mean literally. It is one of the few universal similarities- we are all getting older every day. I’m learning to reframe my thinking about this. We don’t have to be desperate to be young. We can thrive in life as it is.
How do we do this?
- Practice positive self-talk. Instead of looking into the mirror each morning and berating all of our flaws (look how tired I look, why do I have so many moles, my hair is so flat, so is my chest); we can intentionally look into the mirror and say something kind. I have clear skin this morning. My legs are firmer today from that time I spent on the treadmill yesterday. My Burgundy mascara clearly brings out the blue of my eyes. I’m no fool to think that after 30 years of noticing what is wrong with me that I can suddenly only see the good. #duh #notgonnahappen BUT, I can be more intentional about complimenting myself. This is a practice like any other. It will only become a habit by doing it over and over and over again. P.S. I drafted this last night. This morning I had to reset after my initial look into the mirror resulted in a sigh. Practice you guys. Practice.
- Do what sits right with who you are at your core. There are lots of ways that we can battle aging in our lives. There are lots of ways that we can use modern medicine to combat our woes in our body and skin. What is good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander, and such. What I am getting at is this. If there is something that you want to do to yourself, you should evaluate if it sits well with who you are at your core. And guess what? Our cores can and will shift. And what I decide is good for me does not have to be approved by anyone else. Of course, if I am flirting with danger, I should be willing to listen to those who know and love me. Chances are my core will align to that danger as well, and I will opt out. I’m just saying that as having spent the last decade and a half as a middle school teacher, I have a MAJOR frown line in between my eyes, and someday I will likely botox that baby. I will not, however, implant cement into my butt cheeks so that I can look more like J-Lo.
- Leave other people alone. Don’t be the one to only notice the flaws of other women. Just leave people alone. I was listening to the Selfie podcast episode 50 as I sat in traffic today, and I heard a doctor describe a lovely practice that goes like this: close your eyes and picture someone you truly love. Once you see them there clearly in your mind, realize that you did not see a wrinkle, a gray hair, or a “flaw”. Do this with other women whom you don’t know. See the good. Go out of your way to notice and compliment someone. Be nice. That same friend I mentioned in the intro is notorious for complimenting women in the ladies bathroom.
- Treat your body well. Ok, seriously. This should be so easy, but obviously it is not. But it can be. Treat your body well by doing just two things: move it and put healthy things into it. That’s it. We should love our bodies enough to keep it moving. And we should fill it with healthy nutritious foods to allow it to function at its best. I know this is easier said than done, but I heard another thing today on that same Podcast today that really resonated with me: stop saying that working out is something that I have to do, and start saying that working out is something that I GET to do. Whoah!!!! What if I did that? I also discovered something else recently: our workouts don’t have to be overcomplicated to be good. I have been practicing strength training since I was 18, and after college, I rarely ever did any cardio practice. What I recently discovered is this: if I spend 20 minutes running on the treadmill, I will feel firmer and better than I do after spending 70 minutes lifting weights. This was an amazing discovery for me; 20 minutes feel so much more attainable to me than 70!
- Quit comparing. I wrote a whole post on this a few weeks ago, and it completely applies here. I don’t look like Rosie Huntington Whitely and I never will, so I should just let that go and be the best Amber that I can be. Comparing myself to her or any other 30 year old is fruitless. Thinking that I can achieve celebrity beauty on a teacher’s salary and schedule is rediculous. Let it go, and be the best me. How? See tip #4. That is truly the key.
- Allow yourself to be photographed. I am just working on this now. It is hard. I am not as cute as my kids, but I think I need to see myself represented on my site and pages and family albums.
- Try new things when it comes to fashion and beauty. Experiment. When you find what feels good, do more of it.
- Invest in good skin care. Being happy with who you are does not mean abandoning all efforts to maintain your glow.
- Listen to, read and view things that make you feel good, and inspire you to think well.
- Keep on keeping on sisters. There is beauty in all of us. And as for the stupidity of my youth- I apologize.