'We turn not older with years, but newer every day.'
~ Emily Dickinson
'Aging gracefully.' What exactly does this expression mean? It is so overused. It’s as if there is no way to age properly, if it is not done 'gracefully.' If there is a beautiful, well-mannered, and self-actualized older person that we see, we say, "Oh look how gracefully she is aging!" What are we supposed to do as we age, fight, scream and kick at the inevitable process? If we dye our hair, get Botox injections, face lifts and tummy tucks, is that aging gracefully?
Why do we even have to think about how we age at all? If life is a journey, isn’t getting older just a part of it? We all begin aging from the time we are born. Do we really need instruction on aging gracefully or is it merely about self-acceptance?
As teenagers we longed to get older, embraced it, so we could gain respect and independence. What’s the big deal about aging when we turn 30 or 40 or 50 and beyond? Shouldn’t aging continue to be about gaining more respect and more independence?
Somehow we begin to change the way we think about aging when we reach that magical time when the first gray hair appears, the first fine line or saggy skin. Or perhaps it was the morning when the puffy eyes didn’t go away by the evening, and were still there the next day. What is showing on my face – not an age spot!
We are taught to fight this progression at every turn. The fine lines can’t become wrinkles, so we immediately buy that first jar of wrinkle cream to combat our aging skin. We start talking about Botox and collagen with all our friends. Or is laser rejuvenation the way to go?
We think of taking up weight lifting for the first time in our lives because we must fill the wrinkles and saggy skin. The hair color is most certainly from a bottle. Age spots are tackled with every skin remedy we know. This is how to age gracefully: fight it at every corner when we see the subtle signs appear.
We begin thinking about age spots, sun freckles and white spots showing loss of pigmentation?? Horrors! That would show that now I am really old! Aging gracefully can’t be about accepting this type of fate!
Oh, I think I am getting the picture. Aging gracefully is only about staying forever young in our appearance. Age, then, by definition is an appearance, not a way of being.
In the words of Dr Phil: "How is that working for you?"
One of the biggest reasons we do not age 'gracefully' is that we are clinging to an ideal of what it means to be beautiful. Age and beauty, in our culture do not go hand-in-hand. But I think "the times, they are a changin!'" See my article on going gray and how even celebrities are making their gray hair quite glamorous indeed. (Check out Emmylou Harris!)
It is so much harder to accept my wrinkles and aging skin than it is to accept my gray hair. When I look in the mirror and I am truly able to embrace the fine lines that have now deepened into wrinkles on my upper lip, then I know that I will have no longer accepted the cultural brainwash to remain forever young.
Aging skin is the hardest to accept, isn’t it? Age spots, wrinkles, puffy eyes, saggy skin, loss of pigmentation, spider veins, and so on, are very ugly in our culture’s eyes. I believe that while we know in our hearts that gray hair does not necessarily make us old, aging skin is a sure stamp on us.
Aging skin is associated with more than a just lack of beauty. Aging skin is a reflection of our vitality, or more accurately expressed, our lack of vitality. When we see dark circles under the eyes, puffy eyes and saggy skin, we just look tired and with a lack of vitality. This conveys a real lack of the vim and vigor of youth! This is why our aging skin is hard to accept.
Wrinkles around the eyes CAN be sparkling, full of youth and vitality. It is how we present ourselves, isn’t it? Wrinkles around the lips CAN be smiling, laughing and full of the mirth of discovery and enjoyment in life.
On the contrary, puffy eyes, dark circles and bags around the eyes are almost always a sign of over-extension, stress and fatigue. These portray a lack of health, lack of vitality and lack of caring for our body-mind soul.
Do a face check in the mirror. Are your sagging, dark and puffy from age or is it from stress, fatigue and negative thinking? If the body is a window to the soul, surely the eyes play an enormous part!
Aging gracefully, if we are even going to use this term, is about keeping your body-mind-soul at maximal levels of health. Your body is a reflection of who you are and your body is a window to your soul, or what is inside you. Your Body Window speaks through your facial expressions. It lets the world know your inner state, your true self.
Wrinkles in the corners of eyes sparkling with joy, positive energy and happiness will always be aging gracefully! Wrinkles around lips that are laughing, smiling and reflecting positive energy will always be aging gracefully! People of any age are attracted to others of any age that are flowing with positive energy and self-love.
Aging gracefully is about understanding your body by understanding your expressions, your posture and your movements. Understanding your body’s expression of pain and dis-ease is paramount to your health! Keep reading my website and learn how to do this.
Wilson Peak as seen from the summit of Gladstone Peak, Colorado
I am moving forward to embrace my wrinkles, my gray hair and my
slowing metabolism as part of my life’s process. I am giving up the
fight to appear forever young. I am releasing my fear of aging!
Instead, my energy will focus on the vim and vigor that results from healing my judgments upon myself. Aging is neither good nor bad, it just is! I will care for my body-mind-soul in holistic ways, and continue the healthy lifestyle habits that will bring me body-mind-soul health.
The amazing thing is, when you take care of yourself from this perspective, you actually glow with the vim and vigor of youth. It is inevitable that your vitality will show, because if you accept yourself as you are, you have so much more energy to move towards working on your positive outcomes.
When you give up your judgments regarding aging, you can see the positive perks that come with age and maturity. I have listed just a few. I hope that you can see the humor in some:
As I age, many things now come pouring out of my heart. As you can see from my website, I have the experience, the freedom, the self-confidence and perhaps the wisdom for all this to happen. I plan on continuing to give back to the world that which I know. I feel that it is my duty to do so. It is my generation giving to the next, and so on.
Aging gracefully is about how to live life gracefully as it unfolds. It is not about clinging to our perceptions of perfection and ideals of beauty.
Please consider uniting with me, throw off your fear of aging to accept without judgment, the great perks of your growing maturity. May you find the vim and vigor that you can achieve through aging gracefully by loving and accepting yourself. May your Body Window shine with the glow of positive energy that transforms you in all you do and is seen by all you meet. Be infectious as you show the world that aging gracefully is beautiful!
‘A woman is not old as long as she is seeking something’. ~ Jean Rostand