Following a gray and depressing month, this past weekend the sky opened to blue and I turned 41. I am so glad to be here, to be on this Earth, to be healthy and loved by my family and friends. I am so grateful for Oliver and Lucy, for Paul and health and education and travel. I am so grateful I can hear and see, that I can walk and am free to be and become. I am so very grateful for every single person that has come into my life and helped me grow into the person I am today, on this deck in this life I have created for myself.
In my 20′s, I used to write about this place where I stand. I wrote in specific detail about the man I am married to today. I wrote in specific detail about the kind of home I wanted to live in, the kind of work I wanted to do. I wrote about the colors I wanted to paint my house and the things I wanted to do with my children. I wrote about the places I wanted to visit and the things I wanted to do.
And you know what? All of the important things, all of the things I wanted and envisioned and wrote about during the past two decades have come to fruition in my life now. And I am so damn grateful.
I needed every single one of those 41 years to do the things I have done, to get to where I am today.
So when I am confronted by the reality that we live in a culture where aging for women is synonymous with shame, it makes me sad, this age-orexia. It’s blasphemous. But it’s also hard to escape when our culture, at least as reflected in our media, is obsessed with “looking younger.”
I’ve stood in front of my mirror, spreading the sides of my forehead apart to see if I would look “younger” without the crease that divides my forehead into western and eastern hemispheres. I don’t like the fact that I am growing wrinkles, gray hair, and more veins on my legs. Who does? And yet, this is life. So to be “anti-aging” is, to a degree, to be “anti-life cycle.”
Here’s the deal: “anti-aging” is a misnomer. It’s as crazy as launching an “anti-adolescence” campaign to fight against zits, hormones, and insecurity. It’s futile and impossible and sick. It is a waste of life and a waste of energy. Though it affects me, I cannot spend the life I have engaging in battle with it.
As it did when we 41 year-old women were girls, I think it boils down to the work of radical self-acceptance and love. I really do. And I think this is a lifelong lesson we owe to ourselves to learn sooner or later.
So I’ve come up with an antidote to the “anti-aging” conversation. Maybe I’ll call it Five Steps to Ener-aging (get it? Energy/aging). Anyway. Here it is:
1) Instead of obsessing about your diet, obsess about getting 9-11 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Red bell peppers, blueberries, kale chips, ants on a log. Grab an apple. Roast some cauliflower. Move the focus from what you shouldn’t eat to what you should.
1 1/2) Drink tons of water. Hydrate, clean out those insides, let it move through. Water water water.
2) Stretch. Do half-moon for no reason. Or dancers pose. Yum. Stand on your head. Get that blood on up in there! Arthritis loves stagnation. Move your body, stretch your limbs, spread out your arms, open your chest, and let your heart light shine.
3) Smile big and often. No plastic surgery on Earth can illuminate your beauty more than a smile. Period.
4) Keep learning, evolving, and creating. Keep taking classes, trying new things. Push against your own boundaries of who you think you are and what you think you know. Get interested. Take taiko drumming or photography. Bring and keep art in your life. Bust through your fear and be brave. Bloom again and again and again.
5) Ride a bike. If you do not have one, buy one. Let the wind blow through your hair and the scenery roll by. If you ride your bike every day, you will be happier, healthier, and full of life and breath. If you don’t believe me, try it.
I hope all of us can transcend our hangups and insecurities, not only so we can be free and open, but because we’re raising these beautiful little girls who will someday grow into women, and I want my little girl to love and accept herself as she does now at six. I want her to continually expand far beyond her forties, to live a healthy and robust life, unhindered by self-doubt and ridicule.
Our girls need us to be embodied, to show them how to live and be and love.
We need us to be embodied, to live and be and love.