Okay, Now It’s MY Turn To Tell You A Few Things About Aging #BOAW2018
(This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.)
I saw a headline on some website, and I did a massive double-take. In hindsight, I wonder if maybe the writer meant for the words to be sarcastic. Maybe. I’ll never know for sure, because I immediately closed the link in audible disgust, and now I can’t find the article again.
The headline that inspired such instant and unforgiving outrage in me read:
Horrible Things No One Tells You About What Happens To Your Body As It Ages
Are you kidding? Are you fucking kidding me with that crap?
Okay, maybe the writer really was being sarcastic. Maybe the article went on to say that a premise that dreadful stuff happens to your body as it ages and it is absolutely essential to share that depressing information far and wide is really quite unpleasant and probably the basis for many a self-fulfilling prophecy among hapless readers.
But maybe not. And that’s why I feel compelled to go on record with a rejoinder. What I’m about to share is entirely from my point of view. I duly recognize that my truths are not now and will not in the future be true for everyone as they age. But maybe they’ll spark recognition and maybe they’ll inspire some optimism. Because, if we’re lucky enough, we’re all going to get to a certain age at some point. And I honestly think that should be embraced.
I turned 60 last year. I know far too many people who didn’t make it to that age, so I will be utterly damned if I’m not going to enjoy as many of the moments of my years as much as I possibly can.
Herewith my top three favorite things about aging. I’m not going to limit it to what happens to our bodies, because I really do believe that all the details in our lives are profoundly related.
You really do have license to not give a classic fuck what anyone else thinks.
And, seriously, you’ve earned it. Now, I don’t say this by way of giving anyone my blessing to be a self-serving, selfish shithead and to not give a fuck if other people think it’s not right to be a self-serving, selfish shithead. I’m directing this at people who behave with grace and kindness. I’m giving them license to not spend time with people who don’t appreciate their grace and kindness. I’m giving them license to avoid self-serving, selfish shitheads.
I just think that at a certain age (I’m not 100% sure what that age is, but I do know for sure that I’ve been there for several good years by now…) you’ve lived long enough to not have to worry if anyone else approves of you as long as you approve of yourself, as long as you can honestly say that you are living according to your values. I think the assurance that the people whose opinions matter will respect you is a valid one.
If you’re kind and caring, anyone who doesn’t appreciate you, who belittles or undermines you, shouldn’t be in your world. In fact, they should just go fuck themselves, don’t you think?
It really is possible to love your body more and more as it ages.
I have a few friends who have medical conditions that keep them in near-constant pain. My heart aches for them. This is a cruel and unfair twist of fate. It can happen at any age. I suppose the argument can be made that it’s more possible to have medical issues as you age. Maybe. But why focus on that unless you have to?
I want to enjoy being in my body for as long as I can. I want to feel comfortable in my skin until the day I die. This is a conscious and constant goal, and I do whatever I can to make it my ongoing reality. And it turns out that there’s a lot that I can do. I believe in taking positive action at any age, and I also believe that it’s never too late to start making your health and your mental and physical wellbeing a priority.
I don’t want to start every new year that a birthday brings assuming that I’m going to feel less energetic, less inspired, less comfortable, less cozy. I want to feel as fabulous as I possibly can. And I honestly can say that I’ve never felt better than I do now. That’s something I wish for everyone as they age.
Time is precious, and that’s a really liberating thing to know.
This is a bit of a corollary to the first item on my list. Living long enough to have seen that we are not guaranteed any specific number of days has made me guard my time with miserliness that Scrooge would admire.
I don’t want to spend time doing things I don’t want to do. Maybe there are people who got that message earlier in life than I did. It took me several decades to get to the point where I wasn’t going to do something just because other people wanted me to. I do slip on occasion, and I end up doing something I don’t want to do because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. When that happens, I swear, I get a visceral reaction of discomfort that makes it almost impossible for me to sit still until I’m back to doing what I want to do. It’s my psyche’s way of reminding me what’s important in my life.
I often do things for other people. When I want to. When doing so makes me happy. That’s my well-earned, time-tested litmus test for mapping out my schedule for every precious day of every precious year.
As a postscript, I do want to add that ageism can kiss my 60-year-old ass, especially ageism that is directed toward women. Several years ago, the New York Post ran a gossip column with a snarky comment about a movie star who was dating a younger man. She was in her early fifties. He was in his late forties.
I immediately fired off an irate e-mail to the columnist, calling him out on his specifically sexist ageism. He wrote back to say that they were not sexist at the Post, because they had also written about the age gap between Bruce Willis and his most recent girlfriend.
“So, nyeh, nyeh, nyeh, nyeh, nyeh, nyeh, and why don’t you calm down, sweetie,” was what I read as the subtext in the columnist’s words. Of course I could not let that stand without a response.
I wrote back to say that, given that the age gap between the movie star and her boyfriend was three years, and the age gap between Bruce Willis and his girlfriend was twenty-three years, I thought the columnist’s equating of the two as being equally newsworthy was at best patronizing and at worst massively fucked up.
I didn’t hear back from him. He is to this day welcome to jump up and kiss my ass.
28 thoughts on “Okay, Now It’s MY Turn To Tell You A Few Things About Aging #BOAW2018”
I agree about ageism. Last night at the Oscars, the host kept making jokes about Christopher Plummer’s age, since he was the oldest person to be nominated. So, good for him, and why not celebrate that?! Why make jokes about his age? And then some actress joked and had them turn down the lights so she looked “39,” which reminded me of Jack Benny, egad, haven’t we moved past that stuff?
Exactly! Excellent points about the Oscar show, Jennifer. It really is time that we moved entirely past all that.
As the quote says, “Age is not a lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and growth.”
Lovely post. I am 30 and I loathe these pseudo-scandals because of the age difference or the clickbait articles. They are just spilling their insecurities in such a destructive way. They need to see a beautiful brighter life which exists without the barriers of age or so-called standards of beauty.
Beautifully said! I love your take on this!
Hi Heidi! Welcome to your sixties. It’s a wonderful place to be (I’m 65).
I love your three favorite things. They encompass a lot of smaller issues.
I learned #3 in my early forties and was really good at it until recent years. When I became a published author, I had to struggle anew with this one. There are so many things one needs to do (promotion, techie stuff, etc.) that I’m not good at and don’t particularly like.
So I’ve had to develop the skill of determining if each of those things is really worth the effort to me. I’ve just recently gotten pretty good at that skill. I could be making more money on my books if I were willing to do more of those things, but I’m not, so I won’t, and that’s okay.
Thank you for validating that decision. <3
I’m so glad we can support each other in this wonderful forum, as we confidently and proudly decide what we will and won’t do, what we do and don’t want. Brava, Kassandra! Rock ON!
I’m with you about ageism. I am in my 66th year, enjoying life more moment by moment than I did in middle-age. No regrets but better yet no expectations so life offers me so much more. Sometimes, the surprise requires quite a shift but again, my life lens is wide-open to who I am both physically and emotionally. It is just easier to love. Great post. I really enjoyed it.
I love that we’re in the same decade, and that we support each other in being open and excited about enjoying life more and more with each year. Brava!
I love your snark. Love it! The world needs more snarky women saying “Yes, you fucking can!” There is way too much out there telling women they can’t, saying it’s all downhill, and that is just ridiculous. Plus, when I talk with women older than me, it’s like a secret network of them all saying exactly as you did – it only gets better. Embrace it!
Jess, I am THRILLED that my snark speaks to you! Oh, yes, we CAN! xoxo
Sadly, I’m pretty sure if you DID find that aticle again, it wouldn’t be humor, but rather the usual vitriolic bullshit we’ve all come to expect and hate.
Listen, we all know aging, marriage, and parenting are not for wimps, but that’s what makes them so rewarding, right? In the words of Miley Cyrus (yes, I went there) it’s The Climb!
Maybe the body can break down, but often, the resiliency with which we can bounce back is ignored in favor of the painful beginning.
We, the world, really need to get over focusing on the negative and give the positive the light and energy it deserves. Our lives would be so much better for it.
Thanks for your share! You rocked!
You ROCK, Kitt, and I love your thoughts on aging! xoxo
I see all of these attributes in you perpetually, Heidi! Thank you for providing a much-needed role model, whether you intend to or not. I really think many of the “downsides” of aging are self-fulfilling. When we believe we can age with vibrancy, we very likely will.
Thanks so much for bringing your magic to the the fest!
August, I can never thank you enough for being the source and the soul of this beautiful fest! You bring so much joy and inspiration to us all, and I just adore you.
I am who I am, with my “a bit too much” my laugh lines, my big breast and my big heart. I’m born with that body and I’ll take it with me once I have to leave. To me it’s more important to be the best person I can be rather than the most beautiful ( or un-wrinkly)
Beautifully said! BRAVA!
Your list is amazing! I think those three things apply to everyone and the perfection of self care! My kids have already learned the first one on your list, because my eldest had to learn it the hard way, sadly. If someone doesn’t value you or purposefully undermines you, then you can’t ever feel guilty about cutting that person out of your life. Life is precious–spend it doing things that bring you joy! Thank you for this post!
Thank you so much, Diana. Sending hugs and huge best wishes to you and your kids.
What a great post, Heidi! And let’s hear it for all of us who have passed the 60 year mark and are still going strong. I think I’m turning 64 this year…I really stopped counting after 21, since nobody who knew me in my teens ever thought I’d survive that long. Serious health issues don’t mean I’m winding down any either, I just have to find easier ways for my body to get along now. Trust me, I will be fighting for every second of breath and action I can eek out of life. I will not go quietly or gentle – nor find anything good about it when my ride does come to an end. Celebrate our rides!
Maeve, I am so happy you and I are together in the virtual world on this journey. Let’s make our 60s our best decade ever. Surrounding you with every best wish for health and joy.
This is fantastic!!! Thank you so much for sharing. We are constantly bombarded my negative messages about aging in the media (especially as women). But It’s because of women like you that I’m actually excited about growing older! There was a time when I was afraid of getting older which is absolutely ridiculous and downright ludicrous when you think of all the people, like you said, who were not fortunate enough to make it to 60. Thank you, Heidi. Your post has me smiling from ear to ear 🙂
Erica, it means the world to me that my post has helped to make you feel excitement about growing older! And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your work and expertise and enthusiasm for this year’s BOAW BlogFest! You ROCK! xoxo
I’m right with you on this. I especially loved how you took that ridiculous headline and used it as inspiration for this post. We’re assaulted daily with so many similar messages (“Lose the Belly Fat!” “The 1 Thing You Absolutely Must Not Eat” “The Food That Is Killing You”), all designed to steal our time and our feelings of self-worth.
I’m no spring chicken myself and it makes for a deeper appreciation of what I have: life, a relatively well-functioning body, friends, work that I love. Thanks for the reminder of how precious all these things are.
Thank you so much, Audrey, for those inspiring and enthusiastic words! I love your assessment of those messages: “…all designed to steal our time and our feelings of self-worth.”
Such an amazing post. All three pointers are on spot. I do not understand why age becomes a factor for putting a box of expectations. And in a relationship, who is anyone else to judge that the age gap is too much? Maybe, that’s what makes it special and long-lasting.Let people be happy!
I am half your age and it is such an inspiring post. Thank you.
I am honored that my post spoke to you! And I love when women of all ages share their thoughts and experiences. We truly are stronger together!
I love this! I’ll be 49 later this year. My 53 year old husband died of pancreatic cancer this January. He will never be 60.
I’m already feeling these changes. I’ve moved beyond people who want to make me small so they can feel big. I try to take good care of me, and I’m careful with my time, because I’m keenly aware it’s finite.
I loved reading this, and getting to know you!
Ohh, my dear, I am so deeply sorry for your loss. My first husband died of stomach cancer in 1999; he was 47. Please know that my love and thoughts and care surround you as you grieve. If I can be of any help, if you need a listening ear from someone who has been there, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Send me an email anytime (email@example.com), and I’ll send you my cell number. Sending many, many caring hugs.