Aging gracefully is a challenge

Everyone has that moment when they realize they’re getting old. The person looking back at them from the mirror isn’t an apparition it’s really them and they’re as old as the rumour mill is saying. No longer can they look at past classmates during awkward meet ups in grocery aisles and think “I’m so glad I don’t look as old as blah blah” because they really are that old. Last weekend in honor of my birthday I had that exact moment. Age days are hard enough, but last weekend was a massive attack on all of my senses. I was left thinking there was no hope for all of the challenges age has presented on my corporeal self. No one is a fan of aging, yet up until that point I’d always been pretty blasé about it. I never really thought it bothered me until I had some new pictures taken for my website.

After much planning and scheduling the day of my planned picture adventure was cold, wet and blustery. Gray is actually a good back drop for pictures, not too bright or intense, wet and blustery however were not what I was hoping for. I tried so hard. Got up early, made the trek to another town for make-up and lashes, blow dried and sprayed my hair into something acceptable, carefully chose the black business suit to show I’m serious and the matching Marilyn Monroe T-shirt and matching Andy Warhol collector converse high tops because that’s truly me. The fur coat, big and cartoonish as it is, is seriously my winter coat not a campy choice a weather one; it was cold that day. Afterwards my fear was that I tried just too hard for me, I wear a bare face every day and I’m not known for having coiffed hair. My very first criticism was that I looked like a pimp on the cover of a self- published novel….. And then I had to stop myself because the narrative on my fashion choices could have filled many pages. I am always my harshest critic; my Father demanded perfection from me and it’s been a life-long habit to expect it from myself. Truth be told I am that over the top Samantha Bee looking person. I am not only outside the box, but standing on top of it keeping it closed for good measure. I’m also getting old. My health challenges are showing. I’ve earned the bags under my eyes that look more like travelling trunks and the wrinkles that have become more than fine lines. After listening to me complain to a sympathetic friend my husband thoughtfully bought me an anti-aging trio (thoughtful because it’s pricey so I’d never get it on my own and because he was actually listening to me whine about the black bags and saggy skin that make me sad) of creams and spreads and I’ve yet to try them; I’m afraid they’ll be no match for the list of ridiculous that put them there, but I need to try them because they’re a start.

Today I looked at the pics again. Pimp jacket aside, I’m looking at the last few months of prednisone and it’s loving lasting effects, I see the sleep that eludes me and the inflammation that plagues me. My skin is a visible map of the battles I’ve fought. Win or lose my face and a map of Westeros are starting to have similar rock formations and noticeable landmarks.  My skin is starting to get that papery aura that suggests all of the collagen has left the building it is only a husk of its former self. The beauty trio will likely have more of a mental effect than physical; beauty rituals and efforts increase confidence as much as skin tone, maybe even more so.

I’m sad, but I’m not panicking. I’ll not be running for face fillers or enhancements. The fakest thing about my beauty regime will remain my over the top acrylic nails and press on lashes (for special occasions only these days, not daily wear). Thankfully I’ve always gone to great lengths to have full eyebrows so I do not need to jump in the micro-blading train. I’ve refused every doctors offer for gastric surgery or plastic surgery to force weight loss and I always will. I’ve been fat this long there is no way I’d be willing to add to the lines and planes to my face with extra skin. The one bonus to obesity from a beauty perspective is having plump, lush skin that is less prone to wrinkles and fights the signs of aging. There’s no way I’m adding 10 or more years with rapid weight loss.

There’s better ways to age gracefully than to fill your body with fake. Maintaining my dedication to healthy balanced eating, staying active, keeping my brain engaged and fighting the side effects of my stable of health challenges will have a greater and longer lasting effect than Botox or Restylane . The effects of the prednisone will eventually be reversed. A few less migraines, a lot less inflammation and the face I remember might have a chance of returning. Sure it will still show the effects of some of my life’s adventures. There’s sun marks, a beauty mark a few scars and the inevitable enlarged pores (a gift from the daily facial steam my apnea machine provides 8 long hours a night) that I wish would disappear. I’ll try some Bio Oil or concoct some natural remedy in my kitchen and really just learn to accept the rest.

I don’t have to like it, but aging is a huge part of life and there’s little choice in it. The only choice you really have is whether to do it gracefully or with out loud visible sadness. I won’t be doing it with sadness. My face muscles will always move and my smile will never stretch the skin around my eyes tighter for a younger effect. I will spend time considering what will make it easier, investigating options that will make it more acceptable and living my every day to the absolute fullest until I literally just can’t anymore. For instance I’ve been buying caftans for years for my eventual retirement because I always thought Mrs. Roper on Three’s Company had the right fashion idea for ladies fashion past the age of 60. I look forward to my collection of colorful silky robes and Converse all Stars, and the freedom retirement will bring. Instead of pondering my age I intend to ponder that freedom. To enjoy that freedom I just need to continue working on me. Aging should actually be the best part of your life not the worst. You should be able to live comfortable in your finances, complete in your wisdom and be past making life changing mistakes. Instead of dreading it I’ll try to embrace it. Instead of fighting it I’ll welcome it with the best version of me I can be.