Feeling Agelessly Comfortable In My Skin

Heidi Mastrogiovanni - Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2017 Participant

This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page between today and 11pm PST March 11th.

I have a milestone birthday this year. You know, one with a zero at the end of the number. And that is making me think of my mother. On her 85th birthday, I called her to wish her a happy day. My mother had a very heavy German accent, and she started just about every sentence…be it a declaration or a question…with the monosyllable, “Oh.”

Heidi Mastrogiovanni - Feeling Agelessly Comfortable in My Skin. Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2017, HeidiMastrogiovanni.com
“Mom! Eighty-five!” I said. “That’s amazing!”

“Oh. But I don’t feel eighty-five.”

That statement has stayed with me ever since I first heard it. My mother felt like herself. The number didn’t matter. She was who she was, always. I loved that about her. And I love having inherited that joyous view of life from her.

And as I approach the beginning of a new decade (okay, okay, enough being coy…I’m going to be 60 in October…there I said it!), I feel better than I have ever felt, and I feel more like myself than I have ever felt. And this wonderful Beauty of a Woman Blogfest has inspired me to reflect on a few reasons why that is the case.

Three things immediately came to mind. I had rhinoplasty thirty-five years ago. I had a large Sicilian nose that came from my father’s side of the family. It was the same nose my dad had. That nose looked great on his face. It didn’t fit my face. I was very, very, very self-conscious about it.

A few years after graduating from college, I was going through a bit of a rough period, personally and professionally. And I got the idea in my head that having my nose fixed would make me feel better. My parents were very concerned about me at that point, so they agreed to get me the operation, hoping that it would help lift my spirits.

A wonderful plastic surgeon in New York City, where I lived at the time, was recommended to us. He was such a nice man. He looked at the stark black and white pre-op photograph of my profile, and took a pencil to shade out the big bump and the tip of my nose, which turned downward. The change in the look of the photograph was simple but profound.

“I’m just fixing a mistake that nature made,” the doctor said.

“You’re making me look like me,” I remember saying through a voice that was joyously teary.

I had twilight drugs during the operation. I remember waking up in the middle of it and hearing a grinding sound up and down my nose.

“Yikes,” I remember thinking. “Best to pass out again, pronto.”

After the swelling went down in a few weeks, the results were simple and profound. I felt like myself.

A few years after that, I happened to bump into someone from college on the 86th Street crosstown bus. I hadn’t seen him since graduating, so after catching up, I proudly said, “Notice anything different about me?” He didn’t. My nose job was very subtle from face-on. It was really more in profile that the changes could be seen. He admired my new profile, and then he said, “Gosh, your nose never bothered me.”

Which is a lovely comment. And of course I had to answer, “That’s lovely. And it’s kind of not the point…”

Because my nose really bothered me. I had it changed for myself, and for myself only. I have now had this nose much longer than I had the other one. I really like it. It feels like me.

Another thing I did many years ago that has stayed with me for decades happened a few years before I had my nose job. I had never exercised in college. I walked across campus, but I never went to the gym. It never occurred to me to work out.

When I was in New York, a glib comment by a then-boyfriend that I looked like I was putting on weight got me to go to a gym near my apartment to join. I was so pissed at him for making such a snippy reference to my figure, that I wanted to “show him.”

I’m not quite sure what I meant by “show him.” What I am sure of is that this was a major turning point for me. It happened almost forty years ago. I have worked out regularly since then. It is one of the most consistent things in my life. Because I absolutely love it. I love going to the gym. I love hiking. I love taking long walks. I love keeping moving. It makes me feel joyous and energized and relaxed and it helps me sleep better.

And, finally, the best thing for me about getting older is that I am living my values now more than I ever have before. A very dear friend of mine once said something that I absolutely loved… She commented that if anyone wanted to know who I am, all they would have to do is read my Facebook posts.

I’m rather passionate on Facebook…

I’m passionate about animal rescue and animal welfare. I’m passionate about volunteer work. I’m passionate about being a proud liberal feminist Democrat. I’m passionate about the glory of storytelling. I’m passionate about the Oxford comma. I’m passionate about love and kindness and generosity and my wonderful husband and friends and family. I’m passionate about our three rescued senior dogs, Chester and Maggie and Squeaks. I am passionate about gratitude.

Heidi Mastrogiovanni - Feeling Agelessly Comfortable in my skin - HeidiMastrogiovanni.comI am now in a place in my life where I have the emotional and financial and physical resources to do what I want, when I want. I am grateful for that beyond the ability of words to describe. When I look in the mirror now, I have the same experience I imagine my mother had when she looked in the mirror, up to her 88th and last birthday. I see myself, agelessly comfortable in my skin.

29 thoughts on “Feeling Agelessly Comfortable In My Skin”

  1. Laura ProbertLaura Probert

    I love this so much…feeling the same in several ways. Thank you!

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Laura, I am so delighted that you enjoyed my post! Thank you for your warm and enthusiastic thoughts.
      Sending warm regards,

  2. Jennifer RedmondJennifer Redmond

    I am definitely going to find you and friend you on Facebook–great post. And “right on” to all your beliefs and the Oxford comma!

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Jennifer, thank you so much! I am so honored that my post spoke to you, and so delighted that we agree about the Oxford comma!

      Looking forward to being friends on Facebook!

      Sending best regards,

  3. Liz GnazzoLiz Gnazzo

    People have said that youth is wasted on the young.
    Every year which passes for me finds me more and more in agreement with this statement.
    Your piece sure shows in such a wonderful way how you have embraced your own self as the years have passed. Thank you for sharing with us!

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Liz, I’m delighted that you enjoyed my piece, and I’m so glad that you and I share an appreciation of the wisdom and the comfort and joy that the years bring us! Sending lots of best wishes!

  4. Aurora Jean AlexanderAurora Jean Alexander

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience. I loved reading how comfortable you feel where you are now in your life. I still got some path to get where you are. And I admire you for this.
    Thanks for this!
    I do understand your need to fix your nose. Better than you might think. 😉
    To have it fixed help you to get where you are now. This is the place I wan to be when I’m grown up.

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      I’m so honored and happy that my words spoke to you, Aurora Jean. I’m wishing you great joy on your path. Please keep me posted on your progress and your adventures.

  5. AugustAugust

    Oh, this post is as gorgeous as you are, Heidi! You are an ageless and yes, passionate, spirit who brings so much to the world. May we all take your lead.

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      August, your enthusiasm and inspiration always mean the world to me. I can’t thank you enough for welcoming me to this absolutely beautiful festival that you created. Sending love and hugs and thanks always.

  6. Shan Jeniah BurtonShan Jeniah Burton

    Also in agreement about that Oxford comma, and I have a formerly feral cat named Squeak. Here’s to being who you are – with your proper nose, your true-to-you life, and your agelessness within.

    I’ll be 48 in July, and I tend to feel the same. I feel more like me, maybe, than I ever have.

    Cheers to us both!

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Thank you so much for your absolutely lovely comment! Cheers to us both, indeed! Sending big hugs from my Squeaks and me to you and your Squeak. I have a special fondness for formerly feral cats, and I work with an animal welfare group that, among other rescue activities, maintains managed feral cat colonies. Thank you so much for giving Squeak a loving home. I’ll be thinking of you in July and I’ll be wishing you a superb new year!

  7. rasjacobsonrasjacobson

    I totally get this! For many years I waxed and shaved and sugared my bikini line for someone other than myself.

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      I love your comment! You reminded me of how thrilled I was to, many years ago, get laser hair removal on my legs (dark Sicilian hair on light Bavarian skin, so a perfect candidate for the laser!), and to do it only and entirely for myself! I just love when women put themselves first! Sending warm regards and lots of best wishes.

  8. Kassandra LambKassandra Lamb

    Such an interesting perspective on plastic surgery. It is so easy to assume it is about vanity and external standards of beauty and trying to be more beautiful for others. But sometimes such things can really be about claiming who we really are.

    And I can relate. In my thirties I was spending a lot of time outdoors and my brown hair became quite dull. I asked my hairdresser if there was any way to bring back its youthful sheen. She said yes, there was this thing called a transparency that added shine and conditioning to the hair. “And by the way, it comes in clear or colors too.”

    “I’ve always wanted to see what it was like to be a redhead.” And I’ve never looked back. My auburn hair looks far more natural with my coloring than my dark brunette ever did.

    Now when the subject of dying one’s hair comes up, I laugh and say, “I dyed my hair red to match my personality.”

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Kassandra, I LOVE the story of your gorgeous red hair! And I LOVE your comment about matching you personality! It reminds me of what I said to someone who (years ago, and I don’t remember the context, but it was in response to something or other that I had said about plastic surgery or a similar subject) conveyed to me words to the effect of, “Is that your nose?” My response was: “Yeah, it’s mine. My parents paid for it!”

  9. Audrey KalmanAudrey Kalman

    This is so inspiring! I’ve had a similar experience of becoming more myself after I passed my 50th birthday. I’m not sure if it’s an experience exclusive to women, or self-reflective people, or both, but something about realizing in an undeniable way that I won’t be here forever has galvanized me to live out my passions in a way I never have before. Bravo and thanks!

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      That’s such an excellent point about wondering if the experience is exclusive to some, Audrey. I’m so delighted my post spoke to you! Sending warm regards and every best wish.

  10. Diana BeebeDiana Beebe

    To feel ageless is a gift! What a wonderful thing. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      It is a gift, indeed, Diana! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Sending lots of best wishes!

  11. KimberlyKimberly

    Beautiful post! I think I am a kindred spirit… you can tell everything you need to know about me on my fb feed as well, and very similar passions (rescue animals, democratic feminist, kindness, gratitude, family and grammar:)) Thanks for sharing your heart!

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Kimberly, I’m delighted that my post spoke to you, and I love that we are kindred spirits! When you have a moment, please send me a Friend Request. I would love to connect on Facebook! Sending warm regards and many best wishes.

  12. Kitt CrescendoKitt Crescendo

    I’m glad you found a way to feel more comfortable in your own skin fairly early in your life! It’s so important to like the “you” you see in the mirror…however you define yourself.

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Thank you so much, Kitt! And I love the way you describe liking the “you” in the mirror. Sending best regards.

  13. EuniceEunice

    Oh my gosh. This post. I so relate to your first point best. I think it’s so easy for people to try validating our “flaws” that haunt us. “Your nose never bothered me…” not the point. It makes me proud to hear that you chose to do that, for you and not anyone else. My ex had plastic surgery for a feature that bothered him as well, and while I didn’t see why it bothered him, I knew that it wasn’t my place to judge. And when we think about it, we all have means of doing the same thing. While not on the same scale of surgery, I spend a lot of money to tame my frizzy mop – because it makes ME feel better. And I’m okay with that. Thank you for this!

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Eunice, I’m honored that my post spoke to you! I really appreciate your encouraging words. And I love that you work with your hair to add to your sense of comfort. It’s so important for all of us to honor our needs and wants. Sending many best regards.

  14. KM HuberKM Huber

    “Agelessly comfortable in my skin”–who does not have that goal? Yet, on you it wears so effortlessly. Beautiful post. BTW, the 60s are fine decade. 🙂

    • Heidi MastrogiovanniHeidi Mastrogiovanni

      Thank you so much for your gracious and generous words, KM. I just now read your BOAW blog post, and I loved it. Very moving and meaningful. Sending warm regards and best wishes always.

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