If I live to be 90 and my life span is represented by the yearly calendar, then I have reached the first of September. This is my personal 'autumn harvest festival’ and I have been reflecting on the fruits of my life that have made me the person I am now.
Cameron Diaz said that 'ageing is seen as a failure by our society' and there is truth in that. We have been living in a youth culture but we can change that and begin to celebrate wisdom, maturity and our changing bodies and faces.
I intend to join the growing ranks of women who feel proud of their life stories, achievements and challenges. Women who accept the process of ageing (with all its challenges as well as benefits) and recognise that it is an honour. After all there is only one other alternative to ageing. I consider it a duty to my daughter and son and their friends to show them that growing older is not to be feared.
I view holistic skin care as age-accepting, creating radiant, healthy skin at all ages, self-confidence in ourselves as a whole person. A smiling face with lines encompasses beauty and a life well-lived. In my work, I encourage my clients to view ageing as an experience to be curious about and even to enjoy it. I resent the attitude that wrinkles are 'bad' because they're not; they reflect our vibrancy, our experiences, struggles endured and victories we have celebrated. I want us to see beauty in our lines, viewing them with affection and a maturing spirit, not shoo them away.
Of course I have the same self-critic as everyone else and sometimes I see 'old' when I look in the mirror. When this happens I keep looking, gently encouraging myself to find other words to describe myself, waiting until I see 'beauty'.
Not botox or surgery, pretence or denial or wishing it wasn’t so can stop the inexorable march of the years. My playful spirit is amused that I have a senior rail card and cheap cinema tickets although that is not to deny that I have had to go through a process to become truly accepting. It’s a rite of passage and it is important to embrace the truth of time’s passing. Friends tell me I don’t look sixty (well, I do use only Dr Hauschka!) but I am, so therefore I must.
On the day, I celebrated in simplicity; a walk and lunch with my lovely husband, cake with my sweet grandson, a wonderful evening with family and friends; a shared meal, beautiful gifts, the recognition that I am loved. My daughter had arranged for friends to share their memories which she put in a book for me. It touches my heart to read the messages of love, laughter, tears and crazy escapades that we have shared over timeless decades. It is the most beautiful gift I have ever received. The day was simply perfect.
I’ve always been mindful of the 'life and death rhythm' of nature for much of my adult life and most days that awareness keeps my feet on the ground and reminds me that life is a privilege.
And of course, I’m not old. Not remotely. But I’m stepping across the threshold with Bette Davies’ words that old age ‘ain’t for cissies’ whispering in my ears. I will try not to take anything for granted - our lives can turn on a sixpence – but, for now, I have health and happiness and love. And I treasure that.
I cherish the ageless qualities of lightness, depth, heart and soul. I will continue to dance like no one is watching, to sing loudly and badly, to let myself off when I cock up, and to do the same to others, to try to live well with kindness and care. And to forgive myself, and accept myself, for being simply, fallibly, richly human.
We all get older. Let's do it beautifully.