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Janie Emaus Headshot

The Hands of Time

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As we approach 50 and beyond, we begin to look at ourselves differently. Whereas our hands and faces used to require one cleanser, one moisturizer and we were good to go; well, now it's another story.

Lined up on my shelf are a variety of creams, gels, lotions, vitamins and fluids with promises to firm up, reduce puffiness, erase lines, tighten skin, wipe away wrinkles, restore elasticity, hydrate, energize, revitalize and even hypnotize my face into looking younger.

You name it: I've bought it. If product X doesn't take away that wrinkle under my eye, product Y is sure to do the job.

One too many times I've fallen for that facial trick at the mall. You know, where the cosmetician applies the miracle cream to only one side of your face. We all know that both sides of our face are not exactly the same. In my case, one eye is a little puffier under the bottom lashes. So, of course, the salesgirl applies her aging reversal potion to my 'better side' so that when I look at myself in the mirror, I can definitely see a difference.

And one too many times, I've whipped out my credit card to buy that 'have-to-have-it-at-the-moment' product. Thus, I have an alphabet of miracle potions to choose from each morning, with ingredients ranging from avocado juice to queen bee pollen.

Sometimes, the purchase isn't spontaneous, but perfectly thought out. I've waited an extra week to make car repairs, so that I could buy a very expensive face repair kit. After all, my face is worth the attention. My car may get me down the road, but it's the roadmap of my face which stares at me from the mirror.

But whether bought on the spur of the moment or after months of saving, every product makes the same claim: to stop the aging process. Sometimes they even promise much, much more. Why, with my younger skin, I'll feel better. I'll cook better. My kids won't fight so much. I'll get a raise. I'll read faster. I won't get indigestion. I'll have more energy. And all of these changes will take place in within twenty days after application!

Well, I'm not positive about all these creams. Last time I checked, the Fountain of Youth, still exists only in science fiction. But I do believe in the power of positive thinking. And that age is just a state of mind.

Sure, I will always worry about how I look. But when I'm 80, god willing, I hope that younger women look at me the way I now look at my 80-something mother. I'd like them to notice the laugh lines around my eyes and know that my life was filled with humor. And that for every wrinkle on my hand, well, there lies a story that only I could tell.

But of course, I'll keep on applying all these anti-aging creams to minimize the effects of sun, age, Bloody Mary brunches, coffee, lack of sleep, too much sleep, worrying, laughing. In other words, to keep the ravages of life at bay.

And I'll keep those monthly manicures hoping to recapture the youthful look of my daughter's hand. Going for my granddaughter's look is impossible, so I don't even think about traveling back that far.

But we cannot freeze time. Aging is meant to be a gracefully slow process. After all, everything frozen eventually melts, and that is not how I want my face to look.

Growing old wrinkle-free is as unrealistic as being young and wise. The two just don't go together.