I've thought and I've thought, and you know what? I can't remember a time in my life when aging wasn't an issue. Forever, I have been too young to do this, or too old to do that.
"No, Joy, you can't go where we're going. You're too young and old enough to know better." And they would say, "Don't you think you're too young to go to a place like that, dressed like that?" Or, "Aren't you too old to go to a place like that, dressed like that?" For years I was told I didn't have enough experience and suddenly one day, I was over-qualified! Then there is my all-time favorite, "Act your age." Which after all these years, I still haven't figured out what that is supposed to mean!
So now that I have become a woman of a certain age, which as far as I know I have always been of a certain age, but apparently now it is something I should be concerned about. Everywhere I look, there is another article, TV, radio show, book or specialist making sure we are not living in some blissful, youth fantasy. Each one is reminding us of another potential problem lurking around the corner waiting at any moment to take us down, as they proceed lovingly to share the perfect diet, vitamins, exercise programs, skin care products and procedures that will guarantee a longer healthier "anti-aging" life.
As the saying goes, "I don't know if it is good and I don't know if it's bad"; what I do I know, is that over the last three months I have been to six different gatherings with women between 35 and 75, where at some point in the evening the discussion got around to the issues of aging. Even though I felt I had this under control, I noticed that these evenings left me feeling a bit disheartened, especially since I have always felt that if God is really good to me I will continue to get older!
It dawned on me, that if I didn't find some way to truly embrace the aging process and all the inevitable changes that come with it, I sure as heck was going to have a pretty miserable time over the next 50 years. And, if it wasn't miserable, it certainly would be a far cry from Extraordinary! So I went on a search for some answers to aging youthfully with style and grace. The answer came from my special friend Sheila, a huge advocate for loving and honoring the exact age you are fortunate enough to have reached and are now living.
She told me that she went out to dinner recently with a really cute guy and over drinks discovered that they had gone to the same high school, except he graduated 10 years earlier! There she was, an advocate for honoring her own age questioning how she might get around that bit of factoid, when a conversation she had recently with a wise friend popped into her head.
It was after their lunch date when it started to rain cats and dogs and she immediately began to complain about how it was going to ruin her shoes, her day, her plans, etc. Her friend calmly looked at her and said, "Sheila, choose the rain."
Sheila shouted, "Choose the rain, how can I choose the rain, I don't even have an umbrella!"
Her friend looked at her lovingly and said, "Is the rain going to stop because you want it to and just go away? Why not choose to accept it, see the beauty and all the gifts it offers, and let it add to your day, not diminish it."
O.M.G, there it was! If she could chose to be in the moment exactly as it was, as well as being grateful for all the wondrous things that come with that moment, her experience of life could be totally different and so much better! As Sheila remembered his words, she proudly told the cute guy what year she graduated, which he thought was cool.
Henry David Thoreau once said, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
So there it was and here it is now, the ultimate non-surgical way to age youthfully that has proven the test of time. A solution so true and so right-on, the directive is as beneficial now as when I wrote it over a decade ago: Choose the rain. Choose what is unchangeable, what is so, and then find your own way to include and embrace whatever it is in a way that will always support you being your best and higher self.
My guiding light and North Star on aging came from a favorite quote I read many years ago from an interview with the French actress, Simone Signoret. She told the reporter that when she died she'd be very young.
"Really," said the reporter, "at what age do you think you will die?"
"Oh I don't know," said Ms. Signoret, "Maybe 85 or 95... but when I die, I will be very, very young."
Everything comes down to perception. Once you can appreciate all the mileage that's been accumulated on this amazing machine called your body and then truly acknowledge the blessing of each additional year, every extra minute is perceived as a blessing. If you choose the rain as joyfully as you choose the sunshine, if you choose to embrace the aging process as joyfully as you choose to embrace the wisdom and knowledge you have gained along the way... a seasoned maturity can be a very sexy and admired accessory to be worn with style, panache, pride and exuberant joy.
** Excerpt from "How an Ordinary Woman Can Have an Extraordinary Life: The Formula for The Art of Living Well!" by Joy Weston (1st edition 2002)