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.