February 25, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Mixed Blessings

This week's beauty is Lisa Merlo-Booth.  Some of you might remember Lisa from my post Your Inner Circle, which is about choosing your friends more carefully. I also love her latest video Changing Me Changes WeLisa is a therapist and a relationship coach who also shares lots of great sound advice on both her blogs:

It is with great enthusiam that I bring you Lisa's thoughts on growing older:

                       The Mixed Blessing of Growing Older

When asked to write on aging, my first thought was, “Why are you asking me about aging? I’m only 44!” My second thought was, “Oh my gosh, I’m getting old.” My thoughts on aging are that there are two equally powerful sides – blessings and curses.

Because I’m known for my “Straight Talk,” I’ll talk about how I see both sides of this adventure, beginning with the curses, which hit me fastest and hardest, and ending with the blessings, since I know those will increase and help the aging process.

The other day, someone said, “When I hit 45, everything stopped working and my age slammed into my life.” I laughed and said, “I wouldn’t know. I’m not there yet—I have two months to go!” We all laughed, but I admit that I often feel age slamming into my life. At forty, life seemed to shift. I no longer met friends at engagement parties, weddings or baby showers. Now we meet after divorces, in hospitals or at our parents’ funerals. Our formerly-taut bodies show gravity’s handiwork, stretch marks and the mid-body tire menace. The hysterical phrase “muffin top” is no longer hysterical. What happened to being able to eat subs at midnight, countless cheeseburgers and awesome chocolate shakes? 

Age happened. 

Fortunately, age also kicked in a few perks. It has brought a certain peace. There’s nothing – nothing -- like being comfortable in my own skin. I don’t worry about fitting in, someone liking me (or not) or finding a man who’ll find me attractive. I no longer feel I have to prove anything to anyone but myself. Aaah—what a relief. Let me add that this serenity has been hard earned! Although my body is changing, I can work against this tide, if I so choose, by disciplining myself to eat right, exercise and obstruct that downward slide.

But I wouldn’t want to turn my emotional state around. I don’t miss my younger constant anxiety – am I good enough, smart enough, pretty enough? This composure is the greatest gift age has brought me. I’m enjoying the freedom to make my own choices, to like who I am, not who others might want me to be, and -- most of all -- feeling comfortable being me. I wouldn’t trade where I am now for where I was in my twenties for a moment. Of course, I could do without some of the curses of aging, but the blessings are filling me up just fine. 

For those of you hitting the middle years or beyond, I wish you inner peace, even while the outer piece may struggle a bit. Know that it was a long passage to get you where you are and now you have the opportunity to steer—all by yourself—in your chosen direction. Enjoy your journey.

February 22, 2011

How Old Are You Really?

Photo by Ariel da Silva Parreira   Mexico

Just after I turned 40 in 2001 I lost my dear father to a massive stroke. Now at age 50 I am helping to take care of my Mom this week who had a fall and is having her first turn at being a patient at age 89. She is being mighty patient I must say and doing remarkably well. I realize it could have been so much worse. Still, it isn't easy to heal broken bones at such a ripe old age, especially in the middle of a long hard winter such as this. She's making the best of it though and I know that this is partly due to the fact that she has taken good care of herself all these years and had been doing Tai Chi regularly before she was injured.

I thought today I'd infuse the house with the wonderful aromas of a pot roast and make some pumpkin raisin muffins (a.k.a. Better Than Sex Muffins) which we'll all love. Last night we finally watched The Secret Life of Bees. I read the book a few months ago and the movie was very good too. It was well acted, full of the gorgeous colors and textures of a southern summer in the early 1960s, and the bitter sweet message that sometimes we have to leave home in order to find it. Wish I'd seen it in the theatre on a big screen.

Yesterday we all got to talking about my favorite guy Dr .Oz and his free online test called Real Age.  If you haven't taken it yet you might like to as it's very interesting because it makes a calculation of your real age ( I am 43).  It also points to how quickly & easily we can improve our health by making just a few adjustments. I keep thinking especially how much harder old age must be for those who are carrying around extra weight. Kind of like a bad combination of being pregnant and elderly at the same time if you know what I mean.

Anyway, if you take the Real Age test be sure to read their list of recommenations under your Real Age score which all pertain to the answers you provide.

In closing today I leave you with this lovely quote:

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years.  We grow old by deserting our ideals.  Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. 

~Samuel Ullman

February 17, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Optimism

This week's beauty is Deborah Woods Begy. Deborah has been married to her husband Dave for twenty-five years and they have two grown daughters. They reside in Dacula, Georgia where Deborah is a part time GED Examiner and enjoys being creative around the house.

Deborah has this to share about growing older:

Aging is a complex thing.  There are physical changes that take place that others can see, but it is how we think and feel that really matters.  We see images all around us everyday of real women who have been airbrushed and photo-shopped to fit a mold that in reality does not exist.  Lines and wrinkles are going to happen to everyone, that is a given.  Embrace this fact and get on with what really matters in life! 

The mind truly is incredible.  I have seen the effects that negativity can have on a person mentally but also physically.  We all have days when we struggle to smile when all we really want to do is scream.  Even though it may be one of the hardest things to do in life, changing the way you feel about yourself and getting older can improve your quality of life in every way. You are only as old as you feel so go ahead and break the “rules” if you want!  I will cut my hair only when I feel the time is right, and wear what I want because I am 49, immature and proud of it!!

Thanks Deb for your contribution and happy twenty-fifth anniversary to you both.

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Photo by Hannah Chapman   UK

Thanks to so many of you for your birthday wishes yesterday.  I am officially 50 and so far liking it. I hope I feel the same about 60, although I hear that 60 can be a bit hard? Well, as my mom would say- I'll cross that bridge when I (hopefully) get to it.

I celebrated my 50th a week early with a very fun Valentine rock & roll dance party. Because I was born on the 13th so close to Valentine's Day I have been completely taken with it my whole life. It was celebrated some years with a Valentine's party to mark the day, and by my older sister Sarah always making me a heart shaped birthday cake.

I found so many cool things to post for today I couldn't decide which to go with. I've heard that many people crave intimacy more as they grow older and also that the most intimate thing to do with someone (at least physically) is kissing, because of all the nerve endings in our lips. So with this in mind I found this entertaining video on kissing. 

Personally, I think the most intimate thing to do is to make out while slow dancing :-)  Ooh la la.

Also, for all you fellow romance lovers out there here's a great clip of Casablanca with Frank Sinatra's As Time Goes By

The simple elegance & romance of the 1940s is so darn delicious...

Plus who can resist Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman?


February 11, 2011

Aging Gracefully in Australia

This week's beauty is Meghan Halverson.  Meghan was a year below me in high school and what I remember most about her was her smile. She has lived all over the map but now resides in Australia where she says she wears many hats. Meghan is a wife, mother, nurse, midwife, health practitioner, artist, actress, photographer and wildlife warrior, to name just a few.

"When I received Louise’s request to participate in Lines of Beauty, I thought, “Wow, what words of wisdom do I have to share?” I re-focused this year on the 1st of February when I celebrated my 49th birthday. I wanted to have a re-start to a year that had not begun well.  Many changes were occurring in my life and I felt a bit lost and unclear in my path. My eldest child had just finished high school and my youngest was beginning her year in a new school after suffering the effects of bullying last year in a state school.  Life was in chaos; therefore I sought a new path. In doing so, everything began opening up for me like a flower and thus I feel honored to write for Louise as this new journey begins.

I am embarking on a 365-day project inspired by my son Josh as I photograph each day of my life.  I share this on facebook and it involves random moods and inspirations. Through this project I am more thoughtful and mindful to the moments of each day. 

Thoughts of aging never really entered my consciousness much. My mom was ageless and always a friend to me. She had an ancient wisdom through her unassuming presence and her lack of judgment for others. She could always see the good in everyone. Her kindness and selflessness cemented my own deep belief that everyone has a special gift to be shared with the world! Her gift to me was adopting me and always reminding me that I was special.

For me, aging is a state of mind connected to what I feel deep inside.  Happiness brings “smile” lines and I smile a lot. Just this simple act lifts me up when I am feeling down and hopefully gives hope to others as well. Animals make me smile and I surround myself with them. When I moved to Australia I began volunteering at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to help care for the koalas. These amazing marsupials fascinate and inspire me. When I look deeply into their eyes and gain their trust I am speechless. I notice that when someone photographs me, that my mouth is nearly always turned up at the corners and I like that.

Health has always been another gift I am grateful for. I love good food, good wine and good company. I eat healthfully and organic as much as possible.  I eat mostly fresh vegetables and herbs and I love having a garden and getting my hands into the earth. If  I eat meat or fish, I like to know it is raised ethically.  I believe in purity of mind and spirit as a lifelong practice and I try to nurture this daily. I practice yoga and meditation and when I get off track, I really feel it.  I also stay active and swim, hike and take long walks on the beach with my dogs. The work I do at the Wildlife Hospital is both mental and physical and that helps to keep me fit too. 

I listen to a great deal of music and I sing.  Music is everywhere and the sound of ocean waves, wind through the trees or rain in the garden inspires me.  I see beauty in all that surrounds me and I try not to let the anger and corruption of the world get to me too much. I do the best I can with each day that I have.

I spend a great deal of time with my kids and we have good relationships. They make me laugh and they make me cry and the best job I have ever had is the journey of their life through mine.

I don’t wear a lot of make-up except when I am acting in the theatre. My daily regime is one of simplicity. I moisturize, always wear sunscreen as the elements are harsh here and I drink a lot of water. My birth grandmother lived to be 96 and I can hope and pray that I am blessed with this legacy!

So, what are my “secrets”?

Living life to the fullest, challenging myself and believing that anything is possible!"

Wonderful Meghan. Thanks for being this week's beauty, my dear. 

February 08, 2011

Ten Things I'd Tell My Younger Self

Patricia V. Davis
You may have been sent this great list from someone in an email recently. My friend Liz forwarded it to me this week and it got me wondering who wrote it so I did a little research. I was happy to discover it was written by Patricia V. Davis. Patricia is editor-in-chief of  Harlots' Sauce radio e-magazine and podcast and has just finished writing her second book titled The Diva Doctrine: 16 Universal Principles Every Woman Needs to Know which hits book shelves in May. Patricia has generously offered to give one Lines of Beauty reader a copy of the book. To enter the contest please see details below.

From an Older Woman to a Younger One" (AKA "Ten Things I'd Tell My Younger Self") by Patricia V. Davis.

I’ve learned some valuable things about life, love, and being female over the past half-century. Here is the advice I try to pass on to younger women in my life (family and friends) in the hope that it will save them some precious time:

1. You are at least ten times prettier than you think you are.
That holds true no matter how pretty you already think you are! Don’t believe me? Ask your mother/auntie/grannie if she thought she was pretty when she was twenty. She’ll say no. Then find a photo of her at that age. See what I mean?

2. The only thing you should be faking is confidence.
If you don’t have it yet, pretend you do. In every new situation, pretend you’re not nervous, pretend you’re not afraid. After a few times doing this, the pretend part disappears.

3. Want to try something new like painting, skiing, running your own business? Go to the library and borrow ten different books on the subject.
Skim through them all, find the ones that have the most vital information and study them. Then see number 2.

4. No matter how old you get, remember what it was like to be a nine-year old girl.
Remember the feeling of freedom. If you’ve already forgotten, do a cartwheel. You can so still do one. Savior that feeling. Wake up with it every day. You’ll stay young until the day you die.

5. In the same vein, cut or potted flowers are never a waste of money.
Because every time we glance at them, they remind us how much beauty there can be in the world.

6. Speaking of money, starting right this moment, whether you’re twenty or sixty, you can change your finances around.
Don’t leave someone else completely in charge, whether it’s your husband, partner, parents, or banker. Become financially savvy. Financial independence gives you the freedom to walk away from many bad situations. How do you know you’re in bad situation? See number seven.

7. If your stomach hurts and you haven’t got a virus, you’re in a bad situation.
Before you know what it is, your stomach always does. Give yourself some time to ponder what it might be that’s making your stomach hurt. Chances are you already do know, you just don’t want to believe it, for some reason. You can ignore advice from your friends, even your own brain, but you can’t ignore your stomach, because the stomach never lies. Oh, and by the way—drowning your stomach in alcohol won’t make it stop telling you the truth, either.

8. When meeting someone new and he or she seems to be behaving like an ass**le, show compassion first.
If after you display your sincere compassion, they are still acting like an assh*le, walk away. If they follow you, call the police.

9. Wear sunscreen on your face, neck, and hands every day, winter and summer.
I don’t care how dark your skin naturally is. Wear it. You’ll remember me when you look in the mirror at age fifty. Always keep in mind that Your body is directly connected to your spirit. Look after your body. Exercise, floss, and brush your teeth. Put nothing in your body that can permanently harm your spirit, including the wrong man.

10. And if you are in bed with a man and he’s the right man:
... meaning your stomach doesn’t hurt, he’s smiling at you, he knows your name, he’s not drunk, and neither are you—for godsakes—enjoy yourself. He is not at all thinking about how fat your thighs look.

If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing only, what would it be?  Post a comment by 2/28, and I'll put all comments in a hat and draw one. The winner will get a free copy of the The Diva Doctrine: 16 Universal Principles Every Woman Needs to Know.

Thank you Patricia (and Liz!)

February 04, 2011

A Little Mid-Winter Humor

Award-winning cabaret singer Pam Peterson sings a funny parody to Barbra Streisand's Memory. It gets even funnier as it goes on and it's no surprise that it has gone viral. Just in the last few days it has gotten almost 100,000 new hits on Youtube. 

My favorite lines:

If I eat fish and do the crosswords everyday- will the brain cells grow again???

Maybe... when I was younger... I took too many ludes.

Many thanks to both Jayne & Chrissy for sending this in.

February 01, 2011

Grasp, Grip, Hold

Photo by Sarah Peller    

Oh my god....more snow here in Boston today like so much of the US...where the heck are we going to put it all? It is kind of cool though- or at least I think so right now...I am getting tired of shoveling however.

I think I've mentioned before that I have a bit of an intrigue with hands. Hands of all ages are so beautiful. It's one of the things I notice first about people.

Photo by Franci Strumpher    Newcastle, South Africa

Watching people's hands is a very intimate thing whether it's a newborn sucking it's fist, a six-year using scissors, or someone knitting, or chopping vegetables. Or a child, or a very old person, repeatedly rubbing something between their thumb and forefinger like the edge of a quilt for comfort.

Photo by John Byer     Suffolk, UK

 Remember the macrame craze?

Photo by Adrian Van Leen    Nollamara Australia

 Hands tell stories, and are forever interesting to me.

Photo by Gratsiela Atanasova    Bulgaria

           Plus, I like how observing people's hands slows me down.

Photo by Sunshizzle,  USA

      This one is so great. 
      When we get right down to it LOVE really is all there is.

By the way does anyone remember the 1960s or 1970s soap or hand cream commercial where they asked viewers which hands were the mother's hands, and which hands were the daughter's? Please leave me a comment if you remember what product they were advertising so that I can find it. It made a big imprint on me about aging and I'd love to watch it again.

Remember Madge and the Palmolive dishing wash soap commercial?

Stay dry everyone :-)