Tag Archives: aging

Grateful In Spite Of…

Standard

Fill in the blank…

I try to keep this blog positive…but I also try to keep it authentic.  And in the spirit of full disclosure, I am very much wishing for one big “do-over” right now.  My life at age 55 is not where I thought it would be, and certainly not where I would like.

I never imagined that my career would have taken such an abrupt turn.  But companies get bought and sold, and jobs get eliminated.  It happens all the time.  It is called Progress.

In the past couple of months, two friends died sudden, unexpected deaths.  Earthly goodbyes are never easy, but when a death comes so far out of the blue, wrapping our heads around such loss is far more difficult.  There’s no time to prepare, no understanding why, and way more questions than answers.  God is good, and His plans are perfect.  I believe this with my whole being. But trusting God does not mean an absence of pain.  Right now, it hurts.

I am grateful that He is with me in my pain.  Even Jesus cried.  He never promised me that there would not be hard times; He promised me that I would not be alone in them.

104E8D92-2341-46DF-A5CC-0EF40AEA456Ddeath

 

Patina

Standard

Worn-in versus worn-out…

A friend and music colleague celebrated birthday number 51 earlier this year, which is the same birthday I am about to observe.  On social media, he posted that someone had told him that, at age 51, he was “officially on the downward slope of life”.  Odds are, this is true, if one does the math and considers the law of averages.  Still, while I know neither the context of the statement nor the person who made it, its tone sort of…crawled all over me!

Thoughts are like birds.  Some of them fly overhead quickly and are gone.  Some land on a person’s shoulder and stay a while.  This thought about the downward slope landed on my head, brought in twigs and mud, and nested.  

Our society is overly focused on beauty and youth, and usually the two are tied together.  We don’t hear much about the beauty that comes with time, wisdom and, yes, age.  I think we are cheating ourselves and the generation behind us when we tell ourselves and them that we lose beauty as we gain years.

All of this got me thinking about the many things in our lives that get better with age.  My favorite jeans, sweaters and t-shirts are the ones that have been worn-in over years, sometimes decades.  They are more comfortable, softer.  When I lost all my weight and I was replacing my wardrobe, I made many eBay purchases, and I purposely looked for jeans that had been “pre-loved”.

image

I tend to gravitate toward things that show their marks.  Again, after my weight loss, I bought some new cowboy boots, but I bought a pair with a “distressed” look to the leather.  I wanted them to look a little beaten-up from the start, and I am enjoying the process of leaving more marks on them.  I think cowboy boots look better the more worn-in they are…but maybe that’s just me.

image

I have always been a finger-tapper.  It’s just a nervous habit, I guess, but I find myself tapping my rings on my work surfaces.  As a result, my rings get little dings in them.  When I was a new bride, the first time I “ding’ed” my wedding band broke my heart, and I felt like I’d ruined it.  I realize now, though, that all those marks just tell its story.  Gold frequently worn develops a mellow glow that new gold cannot replicate.  I love and value every single scratch on my wedding ring, and on Mama’s chunky gold band, which bears both the marks of her decades of wear, and now the ones I have made on it.

image

image

Part of the Merriam-Webster definition of the word “patina” is as follows:

“The surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use”.

I love that.

Last week I had the blessing of enjoying some time with a couple of different longtime girlfriends who are also around my age.  As I sat with each of them, I appreciated the  various paths down which we have traveled.  Each journey is unique, leaving its marks behind, and we have all experienced both much joy and great heartache.  And I appreciated the radiant softness in their faces, a kind of beauty that can only be built by years and experiences.  Younger faces, younger hearts, lack the depth that only time can provide.

In a couple of days, I will no longer be simply 50.  I will be IN MY 50’s.  I look in the mirror sometimes and it scares me to death!  My lines and spots bug me, and it seems like I see new ones every day.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve never been “beautiful” in any conventional way, so losing my beauty is not my concern.  Sure, I want to look as good as I can for as long as I can.  But feeling healthy and strong, showing compassion, being open and tender with the people I love, singing with joy and gratitude to the God Who gave me my voice…those things are way more important.  And the ability to do those things has come with time and experience.  They are part of my unique patina.

More years of my life are indeed behind me than ahead of me.  That’s fine.  The fabric of my life is still being sewn, stitched into my body, my face…my heart.  Like that ancient flannel blanket my Mamaw made, I pray my life will be remembered by those close to me, and that its patina leaves a soft warmth that envelops everyone I have loved.

image

Well Seasoned

Standard

Some things improve over time…

I remember once

as a young bride

trying to fry up some potatoes

like Mama used to do.

I was using a brand-new

shiny skillet.

Mercy, that skillet was beautiful,

but my potatoes

stuck to the pan and

smoked up the whole kitchen.

My shiny new skillet

was not

well seasoned.

Now, nearly 30 years later,

I have some of Mama’s old skillets.

I think they were Granny’s first.

Any good cook knows

what a priceless treasure

a hand-me-down skillet is.

My favorite one

bears the scars of age and heat,

scraped mercilessly

as forks scrambled eggs

and that old metal spatula

flipped slices of bacon.

It’s the best skilllet in the whole kitchen.

It hasn’t been shiny in decades,

but it lends a

depth of flavor

to whatever is cooked in it.

Raw ingredients go in and get

transformed into

well seasoned food

for belly and soul.

No matter how hot the skillet gets,

nothng will stick to it anymore.

image

image

What 50 Looks Like

Standard

 

And why it does and doesn’t matter…

Feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem once responded to a reporter who kindly remarked that she did not look 40, “This is what 40 looks like.”  Now, whatever your thoughts and opinions about Ms. Steinem may be, her response to that reporter has always resonated with me. As a woman who has always felt judged by my appearance (not by age as much as by shape and size) I love it when appearance-based stereotypes get shattered.  But this post isn’t really about physical appearances as much as what my life looks like today, as I turn The Big 5-0.

In the spirit of full disclosure I will admit to being a little freaked-out by the prospect of turning 50.  It’s a milestone different from any other birthday that happens to have a zero at the end of it.  A woman turning 50 often finds herself subject to the slings and arrows of menopause and all the changes associated with the end of the childbearing years.  And I am so there.  I am relieved that my new GYN actually listened to my concerns during our initial visit and started me on treatment that I hope will help me feel better soon.

I went today and renewed my drivers’ license, and I was pleasantly surprised by how similar my photo today looked when compared to the one from my last license 10 years ago.  Aside from a marked decrease in weight, I don’t look too different, or too much older.  That was a big relief!

The biggest surprise about this birthday is how much more content and comfortable I am in my life and in my own skin than I’ve probably ever been before.  I remember other birthdays with zeroes on them, and the various kinds of angst I was experiencing with each of them.  My life is in a better place now.  God has blessed me with a husband who still loves me after all these years, makes me laugh, warms my heart, has been a wonderful dog dad, and makes me feel safe.Image

Image

 

I have several longtime friendships like that as well. Those relationships are priceless.  My friend Mary K. and I spent the weekend between our birthdays together.  Her birthday is May 15 and was also a milestone.  We first met at a Methodist youth assembly when we were 13 or 14 years old.  Living in different states, we were pen-pals for decades but didn’t actually see each other again until 2009 when, after about a decade of being out of touch, we reconnected via Facebook.

Image

Over the years we have shared everything from braces and boyfriend stories to college, marriage, the births of her children to the deaths of our parents.  This friendship and a few other cherished ones like it sustain me, nourish my soul and, again, make me feel safe.  Above is the picture from our initial reunion in 2009, and below is from our most recent get-together this past weekend.  It just dawned on me that she is wearing the same top in both pictures, and I am wearing yellow in both.  (My sweater from 2009 would swallow me now since weight loss surgery!)

Image

The losses of so many loved ones have all affected me in different ways, but that old adage, “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” is one I believe in.  Yes, the deaths hurt terribly…but I am so incredibly grateful that I have known and loved these precious family members and friends.  My life without them would be unimaginable.  And they’re not gone forever.  They’re just in a place where I can’t see them right now, except when they visit in dreams.  The relationships with living family members are all works in progress, just as they’ve always been.  I’m grateful for the ones still here who make me feel safe, valued and loved.

So I guess my life turning 50 is looking pretty good after all.  God has been so faithful and brought me through more sadness, disasters and changes than I ever could have imagined experiencing by the time I turned 50.  He has also brought me more wonderful surprises, happiness and joy than I could ever hope to deserve.  So, what does 50 look like?  

Sometimes it looks hazy and crazy.

Image

Sometimes it looks goofy and spoofy.Image

 

 Mostly, though,  it just looks…Blessed.

Image