Funny how age brings you a bloody big bag of gifts you neither expected nor asked for. Gifts you don’t even get the pleasure of getting excited about receiving because, until you have lived with them for a while you don’t realise the value of them. Or how much you would love having them. Perhaps you thought as I did that you wouldn’t be the recipient of these gifts. Instead you would be unique amongst women and rather than jauntily skipping along the natural path to decrepitude, you will experience the gifts of eternal youth. Firm skin which bounces back, thick luscious hair, a smooth chin free from stubble, and a super quick brain that picks up the latest tech effortlessly, like the youth of today your iPhone becomes an extension of your fingers. Not something you need to pass over to your teenager, so they can download your banking app, thereby enabling you to lend them cash when they have blown their wages on drinks and new shoes!
Perhaps like me you have drunk from the fountain of eternal youth. Therefore, aging will somehow bypass you. You have attended the gym, on a semi regular basis. Well at least three out of twelve months of the year on the run up to your summer holiday, and in the month prior to having to put the bikini on in public four times a week! So that’s regular isn’t it?
You have kept your brain sharp by reading incisive and interesting literature. You buy New Scientist and Private Eye and keep them handily in the bathroom, in case you fancy a quick read during your ebullitions. You are aware of books which have made the booker short list and have every intention of reading them on your summer holiday, in your bikini!
You limit your caffeine to two cups a day, three on really stressful days, like when you have accidentally drunk too much fizzy wine, because as all intelligent women know, caffeine dries out your skin. And dry skin is aging skin. So, you drink several litres of water instead, filtered, with lemons in, as lemon is good for detoxing. Sometimes of course you add Gin to the filtered water, also known as tonic water. Water is water after all ain’t it?
So, you go to the gym, watch your water intake, only eat gluten free bread and pasta and meditate daily. Your mind is as sharp as a knife, a butter knife but a knife all the same.
So obviously unlike the generation who came before us. Who unknowingly ate gluten, which messed their colon up beyond repair! Drank instant coffee, actual instant coffee, which overstimulated their systems so much that clearly their cells never had any down time to regenerate their youthfulness, and god forbid smoked, so lined mouths, crinkly skin and lung cancer. But, they didn’t know any better, so they couldn’t help it. We on the other hand are highly intelligent, informed and disciplined. Organic coffee, zero gluten, and our tobacco free bodies are indeed temples. Temples not to youth, I am not so shallow I need to look perpetually twenty-five, no temples to health and wellbeing, the side effect of this being our skin shines with youthful firmness.
So, imagine the shock when last summer I noticed the begins of slippage. Despite my regime, of gym, fresh wholesome food and daily mindfulness meditation, my face had begun to slacken and there were signs of actual crinkling on my previously smooth skinned upper arms. Shock horror at the ripe old age of 47 I am slowly turning into a prune.
I did of course take immediate action and purchase organic firming creams which cost a fortune and did absolutely nothing. I increased my water intake and discovered the universal truth that if you take on more fluid you will pee more. Daily meditation practise of smoothing the facial muscles and relaxing the jaw did nothing to eliminate the downward motion of my skin suit.
After a few months of spending money on useless products, I instead decided to take a different approach. Which is saving me a fortune.
I am “taking a view on it.” What are the options? Don’t get older is one. That means either freezing time or dying. So, looking in the mirror one day I saw instead the face of a woman who has lived some shiz, as the kids say. Drunk the wine, danced to some great toones, ate far too much gluten and lived through a fair amount of trauma, survived sense of humour intact. I rather liked her, she is a good friend, a talented therapist, has a unique sense of style, is eternally curious about life and people and that face slipping as it is, and those arms crinkling away should be bloody celebrated.
Once I grasped that and stopped whining about my aging skin, I started to notice the gifts that getting older where bringing. And in truth I am happy to have some crinkling in exchange for them.
I had as a side effect of “aging”, developed a rather wonderful outlook on life. A mantra I have applied for years suddenly took hold and made sense. “Other people’s opinions are theirs and I don’t give one god damn what they think of me.” No, I didn’t get this mantra from an enlightened being. I think it came from my own aging mind, but suddenly I just really meant it. One hundred percent. Something about getting crinkly has made my mindset clearer and sharper.
Other people’s judgement suddenly seemed so trite. After all it’s just their opinion and if I don’t respect them or their viewpoint then what they think is totally irrelevant. Talk about feeling liberated! Woo hoo. Living life on my terms, finally, at forty-seven.
Time also became important to me. God, I value time, time with my family, with my husband, with my friends. My time and how I spend it. Gold bloody dust. I will not be wasting any more time on anyone or anything that isn’t deserving of it.
Quality over quantity, I desire little, the less I have the less I need to worry about, stuff won’t make you happy. 100% agree with that old adage. I found that I would rather have one beautiful object, experience, item of clothing than a load of tat. Add to that tat hangs better on the under 20s and quality clothing and a good haircut at my time of life is the way forward.
50% Happier. The idea that if I could control what was outside of me and the outer environment I would be 50% happier. I somewhat ridiculously believed that if I could get back into my pre-baby jeans, my life would at least 50% happier. The other 50% would come from financial freedom, a happy marriage and adorable and well-behaved children. Oh, and peace on earth obviously. The end of poverty, racism and a female Prime Minister. Enough said about that one eh?
The magical cloak of invisibility. Suddenly I have become invisible. It is easy to be overlooked now when I go out, my daughters get chatted up, glanced at, or asked for my phone number. and I am suddenly “so cute” and not in a “baby your cute get over here” kind of way. Its nice to be seen without the sexual tension, it takes the pressure of somewhat. That said I can still pull it out of the bag if I need to or want to. It just takes a bit longer than the old mascara and red lip stick trick.
Overall, I would say aging isn’t such a bad thing, it’s a natural process and I intend to embrace it. My skin may be slipping, and my boobs may have changed the direction of travel, but I am cool with that. I have learnt this year that time is the most important gift we have. Red lipstick can still look amazing whatever age you are. And caring for yourself, seeing your value and not giving one flying **** about other people’s agendas frees me up for a whole lot of time to spend on the stuff that matters to me. Family, my girlfriends, my husband, my job, and Bowie.
Aging, its bloody marvellous mate.