Thursday, March 1, 2012

"I'm Starting with the Old Lady in the Mirror"

I'm beginning a new relationship...with my own aging process.

Recently, I made the decision to "go gray" before this year's end. Not flatiron gray, not the yellowy tinge, but a bold silvery tone. So recently, at the salon, I pitched the idea to my stylist. The response I got was a puzzled stare. I ventured further, telling her that I'm really getting into this age thing -- me, part of the generation that once sung that Who anthem, "...I hope I die before I get old." Now, I'm really proud of my age, and want to be the "good-lookin' older woman." To hell with the angst and drama of my younger years; there's a confidence and experience that only comes from getting to be this age. I want to own it.

More bewilderment from my stylist. Okay, dear, forget it. Maybe it's my point of view.

Same with an older man in a well-fitted pair of jeans. Gray hair, blue jeans--now that can turn my head! Not the spandex-encased frame of Mick Jagger! Sorry, again, that's just my take on things. I saw a recent Rolling Stone cover with Steven Tyler...yikes! "Older rock" is sexy; "geezer" rock, definitely not. Tons of faux gold jewels, stringy hair, glazed stare...where's the dignity in that? Remember the Doc Martens-and-crepe-tutu-skirt pairings so popular about fifteen years ago? I encountered a mom and daughter duo in the store. Daughter was simply dressed in a tee and jeans; Mom was in the Rambo-meets-Swan-Lake get-up. Daughter looked like she wanted to be anywhere but within 100 yards of her mom.

Okay, so I'm admittedly pretty set in my ways, including the kind of "look" with which I'm comfortable. But, I do believe I'm getting more vain by the year. Now that my diet has knocked off 20+ pounds (with more to go), my energy has been on an upswing, and my lower extremity joints have gotten a break. Things can always be redefined, however. That's why I've ordered Charla Krupp's book, How to Not Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, Ten Pounds Lighter, and Ten Times Better. Just what is meant by "ten times better" is subjective, but hell, I won't argue with the concept.

And yet, there are times when I see someone shuffling laboriously across an intersection, straining to see the curb ahead, and I wonder, "Does anyone ever see me like that?"

The sight of a lady, bent far over her walker or shopping cart with a pronounced "Dowager's hump" in her back, makes me suddenly aware of my own posture. Please, I'm not ready to look like that...

People like these, and my 87-year-old mother, are my mirrors. And yes, the images I see sometimes scare the crap out of me. Vanity aside, they strip away the last "immortality delusions" I've been carrying around since my adolescence. Whether I like it or not, sooner or later, time will be up--for me. Perhaps that's why the recent passing of Davy Jones was such a shock. Former-teen fans like myself never let go of the image of him as the slender, wide-eyed boy we loved, the one who sang to us on our transistor radios. And now our boy is dead.

The upside to the fear is that it further motivates me to maximize that random element--the amount of time I have left. That's the reason I work, the reason I blog, the reason my "rocking chair" is "turbo-charged."

How many of you (and you don't have to rat yourselves out) see those neck-lift plastic surgery TV ads, and catch yourselves with your hands to your chins -- secretly "checking?" Yes, I've done it. The women in my family are really fortunate. Whether it's lifestyle, genetics, or both, we age very well until "the end" (our menfolk look like hell after 40). That's why I'm determined to hold onto everything I've got--physically, cognitively, and emotionally.

More thoughts as they come up...and they will! My mandate to each of you: make the most of the time you have left.

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