FACE IT: Spontaneity Is The Ultimate Anti-Ager

03/18/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The best parties I have attended...and hosted...have been those that happened on short notice. When we first moved from California to New York City, we were advised to throw out our spontaneous ways. Parties in Manhattan were planned months in advance, organizing them was on par with negotiating peace in the Mideast, and the idea of seeing even close friends more than once a month was fantasy. (We were also warned never to show our faces on weekends since it announced we did not have a country home. But that's another story)

Eventually, we reverted to our old seat-of-the-pants style and I am convinced it has kept me younger than my years. Not in all areas, of course: I realize that vacations need to be planned in advance, not to mention our kids' schooling and summer schedules. But a rigid and inflexible approach to daily life makes people seem well, OLD. And as a Boomer Babe, the last thing I need is something else to make me feel old. I consulted the psychotherapists with whom I recently co-authored a book on helping otherwise evolved and fulfilled women deal with the distressing realities of aging.

"Being restricted in your emotional life translates to muscle tension and physical discomfort and is reflected in your face and how you carry yourself," says Dr. Jill Muir-Sukenick. The way we stay flexible (or not) is likely the way we deal with losing our youthful appearance. Says Dr. Vivian Diller: "A woman who takes care of herself and has a relaxed confidence about her changing face and body is seen as beautiful regardless of her age." Think Meryl Streep in It's Complicated, as she thoughtlessly leaps into bed with her ex. She hasn't looked this sexy and loose since she jumped into bed with Alan Alda's married Senator in the Seduction of Joe Tynan.

To go a step further, I contend that lack of spontaneity not only leads to premature aging but to failure. This is a stretch but stay with me here: If Jay Leno's move to prime time had happened shortly after it was announced, he could have ridden the initial momentum and simply moved his successful format to an earlier time. But with all that time for over-hyping and over-thinking, the familiar couch was replaced by an off -putting chair and what was a seemingly irrepressible Jay was suddenly a stilted gray haired guy.

Likewise, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign was fatally hobbled when it didn't know how to veer from Plan A ("We close it out on Super Tuesday") to Plan B. ("Who is this guy"?) She looked pinched and peevish for the following months, and yet has appeared her most relaxed and yes, YOUTHFUL, since she was caught off guard with Obama's invitation to join his cabinet.

I can't pretend to let go as much as I'd like, but I strive for spontaneity whenever possible. I have always had an aversion to big events and ceremonies, where the sterile ambience of the room, and the creases on the faces of the planners, are palpable. (We had a surprise wedding, by the way, planned just weeks before our going away party) These are the results of zealous worrying and attention to detail that so often accompany getting older. Remember the days when you didn't mind waiting for a table? Clearly, this is an understandable sign of trying to cling to some semblance of control as our lives and bodies lose it.

Nevertheless, fighting against these tendencies seems a brave attempt to remain youthful in spirit, and hopefully in appearance as well."When the need for control overrides all else, it can interfere with other important yearnings," says Dr. Diller. Our children live in the moment and while we may often berate their lack of long term planning ("But how can you get to three parties within an hour...?") they may teach us something. The less we plan, the less we worry, the less it shows. As Dr. Diller says, "Aging gracefully is the ultimate 'go with the flow.'"

FACE IT: What Women Really Feel As Their Looks Change by Vivian Diller, Ph.D, with Jill Muir-Sukenick, Ph.D. and edited by Michele Willens is a psychological guide to help women deal with the emotions brought on by their changing appearances. As models turned psychotherapists, Diller and Sukenick have had the opportunity to examine the world of beauty from two very different vantage points. This unique perspective helped them develop a six-step program that begins with recognizing "uh-oh" moments that reveal the reality of changing looks, and goes on to identify the masks used to cover deeper issues and define the role beauty plays in a woman's life, and ends with bidding adieu to old definitions of beauty, so women can enjoy their appearance--at any age!

For more information on the book, authors, and events, please visit or visit our fan page on Facebook.