Let’s Lose The Drama…

Norma Shearer

…about aging.

I’ll admit it, every now and then I look in the mirror and am shocked that I no longer see a young woman. I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but in my head I’m still 30-ish and still figuring it all out. I think for a lot of us the hardest part about aging is the identity crisis of our outsides no longer matching who we feel we are on the inside.

But I was also thinking about one close friend of ours who has a debilitating disease, and just underwent a major organ transplant. I think about another, who is undergoing yet another round of nasty chemo for a recurring brain tumor. And I realize, again….aging is a privilege.

Of course, we want to look and feel our best, to take care of our bodies (and minds!) in whatever way adds to the quality of our life. But the hand wringing about another birthday, another wrinkle, physical evidence of the years…that’s got to go. We don’t have to luuurrrve each and every change, but let’s embrace the idea of a life well-lived, and the new opportunities that every year, (heck, every DAY) brings.

(This post was prompted by a conversation overheard in an elevator.)

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55 Comments

  1. January 16, 2014 / 7:33 am

    So true, Sue. For now, at least, I feel really fortunate to be living an active, healthy life in my 60s, although there are certainly changes I’m adjusting to. . . . some days with a more positive attitude than others! 😉

  2. January 16, 2014 / 7:44 am

    I’m filled with gratitude that I’m 61. So many friends my age, and way younger, battling life threatening diseases. When I was in grammar school, one of my classmates died of cancer, and you know, it made such an impact on me that we all don’t get the opportunity to live a whole life, that I’ve never been upset at a milestone birthday or any of it. Thank you for this post that well worth remembering…. for all of us.

    • January 16, 2014 / 8:11 am

      I second what Kathy said and experienced a similar loss in my early 30’s when my college roommate passed away. We both foolishly smoked like chimneys back in our college days, She was diagnosed with lung cancer in her late 20’s while I have had a healthy life and am now 46. I like birthdays and try to never bemoan them or my age because I am so grateful that I still get to be around to celebrate them both!
      Great post, Deja! Let’s commit to not whining about our age anymore and instead celebrate our gifts of vitality!

    • Leslie in Oregon
      January 16, 2014 / 2:22 pm

      With you, Kathy.

  3. Danielle
    January 16, 2014 / 7:51 am

    I lost my best friend of 25 years six months before she turned 50. She wanted so much to live. I have never again had the slightest complaint about getting old.

  4. January 16, 2014 / 7:52 am

    I couldn’t agree more. Although, I embrace drama – the drama of life and the dawn breaking.

  5. Susan
    January 16, 2014 / 7:56 am

    I totally agree with you Susan. But then, I’ve never been bothered by aging. In fact, I find it fascinating–and at the same time I realize that even though I am not 30ish, that I am STILL figuring things out! I’ve lost a number of my friends to early deaths, so I know that I should look forward with gratitude for the time.

  6. January 16, 2014 / 7:58 am

    Still–it’s difficult, especially when you realize that you and your loved ones see a younger you than what others see.

    What makes it more difficult: the prevalence of plastic surgery. And I live in a small town! It must be even more difficult in LA.

  7. Marla
    January 16, 2014 / 8:12 am

    What you’ve said is so true! I’ve had this subject on my mind a lot recently, since I turn 59 next week. I too am having a hard time reconciling what I see in the mirror with what I feel inside, and I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be arriving at 59 healthy, vital and fairly financially stable. It’s also been helpful to me to keep in mind that most, if not all the images we see in the media are altered, and focus on what real people look like. We’ll never be younger than we are today!

  8. January 16, 2014 / 8:18 am

    Oh I’m still 17 inside, I really need to grew up and I’m 50 this year! I too, have lost loved ones, my best friend died when I was 40 and my other friend took his own life two years ago, I am finding it a struggle to wok out what to do with my life now but grateful to have it.

    • January 16, 2014 / 8:27 am

      How lucky we all are to have the time to reinvent ourselves if we want. I turned my life upside down (in a good way) when I was about 50 Tabs.

  9. January 16, 2014 / 8:26 am

    I am in agreement with you completely. At almost 62, I am happy to be healthy and to have the time and resources to live a full life. All is not perfect but I also have the life experience to weather temporary setbacks.

  10. January 16, 2014 / 8:40 am

    Such a good reminder – thank you. And thanks, too, for the examples of so many bloggers willing to put their lives – wrinkles, warts and wisdom – on such an intimately public display.

  11. January 16, 2014 / 9:44 am

    Amen! I’m grateful to be 52 and love the freedom that goes with it. My mother insists that I need Botox but, for the first time in my life, I like my face just as it is.

  12. Ming
    January 16, 2014 / 9:50 am

    I turned 70 this year and don’t mind a bit! Actually I never told people I was 69 as that sounds ugly to me 🙂 I am happy to be healthy, have a job I love, have a wonderful family (all within a 2 hour drive). My mom turned 96 this Christmas – and gave into having a driver to get her to all of her various activities. I hope to be going strong at that age.

  13. January 16, 2014 / 10:17 am

    We all need to keep perspective on aging…the alternatives are so much more disturbing. Grace and gratitude go a long way when one looks in the mirror :-))

  14. January 16, 2014 / 10:27 am

    Love this post my dear! I remind myself daily to look for the good in aging … how perfect did the Bungalow Hostess put it … ” Grace and Gratitude when looking in the mirror”!

  15. Jill
    January 16, 2014 / 10:56 am

    Fantastic, thoughtful post. I have learned the hard way that life as you know it can change in an instant so let’s celebrate what we have today, no matter our age. XO, Jill

  16. January 16, 2014 / 11:13 am

    Yes, yes, yes…I agree! I feel the best I have in so long…having so much fun…smiling more…and I rarely,rarely think about my actual age! Good words!

  17. SewingLibrarian
    January 16, 2014 / 11:26 am

    Yes, I was thinking just yesterday about three women I knew in my 20’s, all dead – one died this month. For me the only hard thing is being addressed, by strangers, as my children’s grandmother. But I’ve learned to let that roll off my back. It WAS mychoice to adopt children at a late age, so I expected that that would happen.

  18. Shirlee
    January 16, 2014 / 11:43 am

    Oh I agree. Don’t complain about your age-some people never get the chance to.

  19. Rosemary Young
    January 16, 2014 / 12:34 pm

    Agree! I do try to remind myself of this when I catch a glimpse of my increasingly wrinkly neck.. or hear my creaky knees!But we are so lucky, and I remember every day my friends who do not have the same privilege.

  20. January 16, 2014 / 12:56 pm

    I think I am living sunset blvd sometimes! Yes, i no longer get depressed over another birthday–I feel GRATEFUL! Xoxo

  21. January 16, 2014 / 1:31 pm

    Well said! It doesn’t help that the media portray ageing as a moral failure though. So let’s rebel and say that it’s OK TO AGE! It’s natural. It’s gonna happen. So tired of seeing these celebrities who are 70-something looking like I do at 46!

  22. Gauss
    January 16, 2014 / 1:41 pm

    Agree, a million times! It breaks my heart to hear co-workers get sad at the prospect of turning 30 or 40 or 50. At the same time, I read about college classmates that pass away… Aging beats the alternative!

  23. Linda
    January 16, 2014 / 2:15 pm

    “Aging is a privilege” Couldn’t have said it better myself! As women we can be our own worse critics about the aging process. Today I was trying to remember exactly how OLD I was….57 or 58? Hahaha, maybe that’s the part where I need to take more care of my mind.

  24. January 16, 2014 / 2:38 pm

    Such a good post. Let’s stop worrying about a number and just get on with not giving up. And it’s all relative anyway. My mum at age 87; says she can’t understand why she shouldn’t still be shoveling the snow in the driveway. And when the snow and ice make it impossible for her to get out, she gets on her treadmill for 15 minutes a day…with her Jim Reeves CD turned up loud!

    • January 17, 2014 / 11:03 am

      I love the sound of your Mum! She sounds just like my Mum who sadly died just before her 85th birthday, but proudly boasted about being the oldest badminton player in Sunderland! They’re such an inspiration aren’t they?

  25. Judy
    January 16, 2014 / 2:57 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you all more! Every day is a privilege, and honestly, life just keeps getting better and richer because my focus and gratitude is wrapped up in family, friends, good work, learning more, worrying less . . . and just being. I do love though that we feel so much the same . . . feeling so much younger than our years. It’s nice to have company. 🙂

  26. Hanh-Trang
    January 16, 2014 / 4:18 pm

    Sérieusement, let’s not talk anymore about beauty creams, and lipsticks, youthful outfits, hair colors etc… anymore. Aging is a natural process. Let’s have the white hairs poke out, and stretch themselves toward the sunlight! Let’s save the money on expensive creams and give it to the cancer funds an other needy groups ( just use the basic creams that could help moisturize the skin just as well). Let’s stop spending so much time talking about clothes, and shoes, etc… and discuss which are age appropriate. Let’s throw down the barriers on age, ignore everything, live naturally, stop the talk, the blogs….waste time when nature can just take its course.
    Aging is not a privilege, and there is not much that is really graceful about it, physically. The graceful part, experience, wisdom, etc… the stuff that Judy mentioned, is not the usual material discussed in this blog, and many of this genre anyway. If you want to really talk about the grace of aging, you would not want to spend so much time dressing it up.

    • une femme
      January 16, 2014 / 5:05 pm

      Hanh-Trang, I don’t agree or accept that it’s either/or. I believe we can play with style and appearance as a joyful form of expression AND embrace living with grace and wisdom. One does not preclude the other. This blog happens to focus on style, travel and lifestyle, but it’s not the entirety of my life or the lives of most readers here I’m sure. If style blogs aren’t your cup of tea, it’s a big wide internet, with lots of blogs/websites on all sorts of topics to choose from.

      • Judy
        January 16, 2014 / 5:31 pm

        une femme, have to agree with you. One of my favorite things about growing or aging or whatever we want to call it is the sense of freedom to express myself in ways that I LOVE — like clothes! It’s so much fun, and I’m enjoying knowing there are so many women who enjoy it, too. It’s fun to share ideas, so keep it up, girlfriend!

        And Hanh Trang, I think I understand your points as well. Just let’s agree to enjoy and appreciate each other’s “take” on life and growing older. Another gift of age. No judgement.

        • Susan
          January 17, 2014 / 5:57 am

          I am no fashion maven, but I want to make a comment. When I was a young woman, I had no TIME to even think about fashion. I was busy raising children and it seemed that took up every spare moment of my life! I can’t even remember shopping for clothing or what I wore during those years. It’s only in my 50s and 60s that I have been able to slow down enough to pay attention. Choosing clothing that flatters and honing a style is fun! And, I think it is healthy as long as one is not obsessed or too grasping in that process.

          • January 17, 2014 / 11:09 am

            Susan, when my children were growing up it wasn’t just not having the time to think about fashion, it was also not having much money to spend on myself. I used to haunt the local charity shop at weekends when, for example, I had a wedding coming up! Many a “new” outfit of mine was second-hand, which is why I now enjoy having the time and money to buy lovely new clothes.

      • January 17, 2014 / 8:28 am

        Great response.

        bisous
        Suzanne

      • January 17, 2014 / 8:30 am

        Great response.

        bisous
        Suzanne

  27. Kris
    January 16, 2014 / 8:47 pm

    I agree with Judy about judgment – in fact that’s one of the only things I like about getting older. I am far less inclined to pass judgment and far more appreciative when others are benevolent.

  28. Robert Jones
    January 17, 2014 / 12:30 am

    I just (15 hours ago as of this writing) underwent a surgical procedure.
    I feel blessed that that I get to live another day. That I have friends I call my family. That I can walk my path and am able to follow my calling.
    A scar means that whatever tried to harm me, failed, and I am stronger than it!

  29. January 17, 2014 / 2:29 am

    Ageing with style, energy and a love of the beautiful in life is a wonderful way to bring those very things into the lives of those with whom we interact each day — as is so gracefully done by Susan in each of her posts.

  30. January 17, 2014 / 2:47 am

    Funny thing: the girls at my office used to say, 20 or so years ago, that after 30’s, “everything would fall”. Well, for me, “everything” fell into the right places, for it was after 30’s that I started to see me in the mirror, and like what I saw there. After my 50’s, I had the most beautiful trips abroad – trips where I saw beautiful things, took great pictures, ate wonderful food, met wonderful people … Age brought me maturity, and though my knees are a mess, the rest is OK, and, after being retired for two years, I’m backto work again, getting along with younger people, learning and teaching … And now that you’ve said that, IT’S GREAT!! Thanks for the post.
    (from Brazil)

  31. Duchesse
    January 17, 2014 / 7:15 am

    Freakin’ A, Pseu! Ageism comes from •us• as much as the young waiter who calls us “dear” or the relative who says “You’ve held up well.” Let’s excise the kvetching you describe, starting with us.

    Some days I feel 30, and some days 90! And nothing “wrong” with either!

  32. Murphy
    January 17, 2014 / 7:43 am

    Great reminder! Whenever I start obsessing about wrinkles or gray hair, I remember one of my best friends who died at 46 and think about how happy she would have been to grow old. Also, I remind myself that I am actually much happier now than I was in my 30s. Works every time.
    Please do keep posting about style, though – I think it is part of remaining engaged in the world to care how you look.

  33. January 17, 2014 / 8:31 am

    I couldn’t agree more-and thanks for the reminder!

  34. Debby
    January 17, 2014 / 8:35 am

    My best friend died 5 years ago. She left a husband, children, and grandchildren-and me! We would have had such a blast in retirement. So…not everyone gets to be 60! I am proud to be aging authentically and proud to be 60. As for fashion, why not? We all do things for others, so if we want to play around with clothes and makeup a little, we’re going for it!

  35. January 17, 2014 / 8:36 am

    After having a very tough year related to health for both myself and my husband I realized that I had been taking my body for granted for a long time. You never realize just how important your health is until you don’t have it. A hard lesson to learn.

    Aging is difficult but what makes it unbearable is the inability to look after oneself with dignity or to be able to continue doing the things we love.

    That doesn’t mean I will stop loving fashion or stop wearing make-up since those things make me feel good about myself.

    Great topic and I loved your answer to Hanh-Trang.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  36. Kay
    January 17, 2014 / 10:04 am

    Beautifully posted……….yours & all the responses.
    Thank you all for having me stop & consider for a moment…………..life!
    Bonne journee a tout le monde!

  37. January 17, 2014 / 12:16 pm

    Absolutely! My mum spent her adult life trying to lose weight then commented on the irony of being unable to keep weight on when she had cancer. There are more important things in life than agonsiing over our looks!

  38. January 17, 2014 / 3:50 pm

    I so agree. My mom died when she was just 34. I’m sure if it were up to her she would be happy to be celebrating her 66th birthday in February. Sometimes it is hard for me to accept getting older, but you’re right it is a privilege.
    Debbie
    http://www.fashionfairydust.blogspot.com

  39. January 18, 2014 / 2:39 pm

    Thanks for this, Sue. With 51 on the very near horizon and a whole new career change ahead of me, sometimes I worry about my age. But it’s so important to remind ourselves that waking up every day is a blessing, and that so many aspects of aging are really lovely, just different than a few decades ago. I see so many lovely women of a certain age. I wish the media recognized and celebrated this stage of life more – because damn, we earned it.

  40. Laurie
    January 18, 2014 / 3:06 pm

    Amen. Just this morning I looked in the mirror and saw an older woman. After a moment of shock and wistfulness, I gave thanks for my relatively good health and my family.

  41. January 19, 2014 / 7:45 pm

    Sorry, I hate this “group think”. Of course, as long as I’m in reasonably good mental and physical health, I’d rather be alive than dead, and mourn people who have died too young. That said, I think ageing sucks, and being alive (while a biggie) is the only thing to recommend it.

    • Duchesse
      January 20, 2014 / 1:09 pm

      I am disturbed by your charge of group-think. Each person is commenting to the post •as an individual•, not as part of a group. There are similar thoughts or affinities expressed by various commenters, but that is not “groupthink” as defined by the person who coined the term, Irving Janis.

  42. January 25, 2014 / 12:22 am

    I don’t mind the wrinkles so much and if I go to the Doctor to complain about my very stiff knees (a touch of arthritis) and I say it is too many birthdays he always tells me that the alternative is worse.

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