As I sat around a table of good friends, all of whom I worked with before retirement, I started thinking as I looked and listened to them over our luncheon. Each one of them had their own unique beauty. The lightbulb went on bright for me at that very moment. Gracefully aging has always been on my mind in some way, shape or form, just not to the extent that happened to me on this particular day.
You see, I have never thought that I would age gracefully. Why? First of all, I take after my grandmother and she never, ever would tell her real age. Aging gracefully, at least to me, does not mean that I must go around and shout it from the mountain tops of how old I am. No way! Just being me is enough. So my first goal was to stop thinking about a number. Embracing my age and owning who I am and who I have become and where I am headed is much more important. If someone has the audacity to ask me what my age is point blank, I can't be held accountable of the number that may pop out of my mouth. (The only exception is at the doctor's office.) I think about the gracefulness of my grandmother often. She was all about herself, her confidence, and her own southern charm.
I suppose that you could call this idea 'Pro-Age.' Cindy Joseph, an author, model and business woman uses this phrase quite frequently. One of her best quotes is, "I am always and forever in the prime of my life." What a positive attitude! Everyone is unique. Everybody has something beautiful. Beauty is having the confidence, knowing who you are and where you are going, along with accepting yourself.
With that being said, when did it become okay to fear getting older. It is my belief that it is a tactic to make us scared of our own fierceness. Society seems to program us into thinking that we are not beautiful anymore as we age. Of all the self-fulfilling prophecies in our culture today is the assumption that aging means declining and poor health and this is the deadliest. Instead, we must take ownership. It is a waste of time and energy worrying about our skin or weight. We must develop what we do in plans, being long and short term goals.
When I am happy, feeling jazzy and energized - I know that it shows on my face. Others tell me. Now I have my confidence built within myself to recognize this. Science has proven there is a link between feeling good inside and having beautiful skin on the outside. It radiates from the inside out. I believe that with all of my insight, confidence and strength that comes with my age that it makes it easier to start living on my terms. This is why all of a sudden it dawned on me that surrounding myself with beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors at the luncheon that I attended showed me what true inner beauty and confidence are. I suppose that I am just a slow learner of piecing it all together to form the complete puzzle.
I have learned that setting aside small blocks of time in my day to have no agenda is a great way to slow down and nourish my soul. Mindfulness and gratitudes! It works! It means embracing all of the experiences that I have encountered - both the good and the bad - this is how I have learned to move forward.
Audrey Hepburn has a beautiful quote, "And the beauty of a woman, with passing years, only grows."
To add on to that train of thought is something that I read about when Patti LaBelle was speaking about as the years go by she celebrates each birthday fiercely because it is the worrying - not the years themselves that will make you feel less of a woman. Every year of your life is something to be proud of.
Feeling wise and worldly does not mean that I know everything. I believe it is what keeps me ready to explore more. If I could go back and give the younger me advice, it would be to tell myself to take a chill pill. Everything doesn't happen yesterday. Enjoy and live each moment and take it for what it is. My younger self was not as confident as she should have been.
Youth are not the only ones who can create adventures. I read about those in their later years of life who are more daring than many younger people. Instead of trying to fit into an image, be more of an adventurist. Finding my own truth and reinventing myself is how I choose to live. I just read about a man who was born and grew up in Memphis. He became an icon in the public relations world with a firm he started up and moved to New York City where the action was. He worked on many high profile cases. Even though he has been away from Memphis for 75 years, he has never lost his Southern drawl. He made the decision for himself that he needed to get back to his Southern roots and this would allow him to scale back his work schedule to only three days a week. What an adventure! Up and leave his apartment on Broadway, his Manhattan office and return to his roots. Oh, did I forget to mention that he is 98 years young?
Just as Jackie Joyner-Kersee believes, " Age is no barrier. It's a limitation you put on your mind." Mr. Burson (the 98 year old adventurer) obviously knows this very well. Aging gracefully is for both genders. With that being noted, I would like to end this blog with a David Bowie quote, "I think aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been."