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Barking back at the lies: here's why there is so much hope ahead for all of us

Every so often I get a few comments and also read a few stories which both bring me to great sadness as well as great hope. I'm going to share both today, for even though we are a world at war now, life continues to go on. We still wake up and look into a mirror, and what is reflected to us has a great deal to do with how well we move through the day.

Fellow Medium writer Dawn Bevier wrote a piece this morning which touches on what it feels like to be just at the cusp of fifty:

Why the Forties Are the Hardest Time for Women
I’m forty-nine and struggling, but something tells me I’m not alone.

I would argue, being a woman twenty years her senior, that these days, all new decades carry the weight of what we believe we are losing. To Dawn's point, she quotes Keith Richards, who really IS old, and so is Mick Jagger who is ridiculously youthful but with the war-torn face of a hard-living man of 78,

“Getting old is a fascinating thing. The older you get, the older you want to get.”

What we may not understand about this quote is that it is life itself that we find precious. Not youth per se. Dawn is at the point where society suddenly and arbitrarily decides she's no longer juicy. The ultra-insulting MILF (Mothers I'd Like to F*ck) makes the determination solely on the basis of sex, as though there were nothing else to speak to our continued value.

Dawn's very honest about her process. She gets Botox, which works for some and not for others. I had a friend who'd been getting it for years. She was my age. She looked ridiculous, like a badly-botched Kewpie doll. It's hard to say whether it was that she didn't know when to stop.

That is very much a private and personal choice, and for many it works just fine. Not for my friend.

Getting to the point where your wrinkles don't matter is a state of grace. Getting to the point where having people ooh and aah about how you and I look thirty instead of fifty is no longer important is a huge passage to freedom.

This is not in any way a criticism of Dawn. My guess, most of us, especially those of us who have ever been deemed handsome or pretty, have a terrible time relinquishing those gifts to age. But we must, or else be driven to self-disgust in the process, and never be able to live for want of turning back a clock that only works in one direction.  I went through this, too; otherwise I wouldn't address it here.

At each aging juncture, most particularly in a society seething with age-hate which is only another version of self-hate, the only competent, capable response is radical love. That begins in the morning mirror.

The very first thing you think when you see yourself determines the rest of the day. What you carry to the breakfast table, to work, to the stores, to your chores. The way you interact with everyone else is a direct consequence of the very first thing your brain said to your face when you wake up. It serves to listen to that voice.

If you despise, judge, find every single thing wrong with your face and body, you are going to have a shitty day. Guaranteed. You and I have complete and utter control over our attitudes and thoughts about ourselves, but not without work.

Most certainly not without shaving off all the foul barnacles of age-related judgment that we accumulate from our society which has SO many expensive products to sell us to fix what cannot be fixed.

Been there, done that. Again I will not write about what I have not experienced, and with any kind of grace, moved past. Or at least am in the process of moving through, more likely.

Dawn is undergoing a universally-shared process: as we approach a major midlife milestone, we assess our physical selves, our love lives, our fundamental identities. This is a sacred, holy process; the essential aspect of transition: acknowledging our losses, loving what life gave us so far, and getting ready to move on. There are terror, pain, beauty, agony for some, a feeling of WTF and what's next? as we muddle our way into life's middle and later ground.

For those who have not yet found this marvelous evergreen book, please read the transcendent Transitions by Dr. William Bridges. I am a trained instructor in that material, and I guarantee that his perspectives shed beautiful light on this both terrifying and terrifyingly normal process of evolution.

That said, Dawn's piece inspired me to quote a few Dear Readers who are much older than she is, and who offer up thoughts and attitudes that make it very clear that an awful lot of good is yet to come should we be willing to do the work. To that then.

In response to this article,

The Three Fastest Ways to Slow Down Aging in Your Youth and Beyond
Even in one of the world’s most beautiful places, people do terrible things to their health.

here are some of their comments:

....I can relate. I practice much less sports than you but I started rock climbing at 49, pretty late for that activity. You know what? Now, at 53, I feel younger, stronger and in better overall shape than when I was 30.-Vico Biscotti

I have always dismissed the Farmer’s Carry as I lift weights on a regular basis, but I started doing Farmer’s Carry two months ago. First off it kicked my butt, but gave me an almost total body workout I did not expect. The Farmer’s Carry has been added to my weekly workouts. For the record I am 65.- David Kudelka

Isn't it amazing, and completely horrifying, the number of things we consider perfectly normal that are so bad for us. My parents always had a well stocked liquor cabinet so I grew up drinking. Not to excess but where exactly do you put that line? Marrying an alcoholic taught me the reasons to not drink. He has been sober for nearly 10 years now and I'm very proud of him. My current drinking averages two drinks per year and I'm happy with that level of alcohol.

I smoked for 15 years, starting when I was over 40 and knew full well how horrible is was. My mother died of lung cancer. I think I was in serious need of being cool, which of course, didn't work. I quit for my grandson who was born 3 months premature. No way was I going to not hold him because I had smoked a cigarette that morning.

So, lots of mistakes made but many of them changed or corrected. I keep trying to better myself and I think it's working although it would have been so much better if I'd figured some of this stuff out in my 20's or 30's or 40's rather than waiting so long. At least, I'm finishing this life strong!- Penny Nelson,73

Author bolded, above.

I just got a video yesterday morning from a friend of mine from Sweden. She and I met in Africa in 2013, she and I are both serious riders. Here she is in Egypt, in her early seventies:

Ewa Kron having a moment on her stallion (used with permission)

Is there life ahead? You're damned right there is. But ONLY if you and I can let go of what no longer belongs in the buckets we are carrying. You wanna carry buckets, do what David did, above, and start Farmer Carries.

We are vastly better off investing money in the bank of our physical and emotional health than worrying about our faces and our wrinkles, which WILL come, unless you and I wish to spend every pretty penny we have in trying to prevent the unpreventable.

For my aging dollar, at 69, I stopped worrying about my face. I use moisturizers, sure, I keep my skin oiled. I am far more invested in keeping  my body and brain oiled, my attitude resilient. What pennies I do have, will not be invested in a face which speaks to the adventures life has given me.

They will be invested in having more adventures. This is where I spend  my money. This keeps me youthful, loving life, and endlessly grateful.

When I invest in THIS, which makes me joyful, when I see my aging face, I say thank you. And mean it.

For as we age, we can let go of the desire to look young, and instead BE young.

Increasingly I am finding that this is truly only the purview of the very young and the old, who have learned how to reclaim youth, which is all about our attitudes.

What will you say to your aging face today? I told mine, I love you.

And meant it.