04/15/2013 01:07 pm ET Updated Jun 15, 2013

Growing Young

Yes, the times they are a-changing. As far back as I could remember, I have been working on staying young. There were a few exceptions when I wanted to be older. One summer I was in Cape Cod with my parents and a friend. I was only 15. We met some boys who were older and I had to lie about my age. I also remember crossing the border from New Jersey into New York to go to a bar at 16. The drinking age was 18 at the time in New York. Most of the time, no one there got proofed (or like they say today, carded).

At the old age of 13, I started using moisturizer in hopes of preventing wrinkles. I would instinctively wear sunglasses all of the time in the summer. Protection was my only weapon.

My working out obsession also started young. This was before Jane Fonda was anything more than an actress and an activist. There weren't any videos to watch or any gyms available to us. My routine was strictly calisthenics, learned in gym class along with a little hula-hoop thrown in for fun.

I would read everything I could on the movie stars' secrets to looking young. I was more familiar with the names of cosmetic products than the names of the presidents. This didn't help when it came to taking tests.

As I grew older, the gadget-buying began. I had things called the Dermal Tone, Derma New, Derma Wand, Face Flex, Face Master, Rejuvinique, just to name a few. Each one came with some benefit but ultimately, none were the fountain of youth.

Fast-forward to the present. This is what I believe to be true. Aging is not a horrible affliction that is waiting to turn us into ugly, hideous people. It's a process of nature, something we will all have the honor of going through. It's a blessing. It's also a state of mind. We all have to age but we all don't have to grow old. Just as cats are believed to have nine lives, so can humans -- and a lot more, if they so choose. We can reinvent and redefine who we want to be as many times as needed. We can change our looks, passions, causes and careers as we wish. We can expand our quality of living by making positive changes in our diets, exercise and emotional spirit. We are not limited. We can avoid surgeries with alternate methods.

Women are not scowled upon if they have long hair past 50. They can even keep up with the trends in fashions just like the women half their age. We are graced with the options of cosmetic surgeries and procedures to keep us feeling good about ourselves.

We no longer have to feel a stigma regarding aging. We should not fear it but embrace it. We cannot change it but we can celebrate it. We are forever growing young.

For more by Meryl Hartstein, click here.

For more on aging gracefully, click here.

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