By Lori Welch Brown
Aging has been on my mind recently—having just celebrated another birthday and finding myself firmly ensconced in my fifties with the bright glare of sixty approaching in my headlights.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I try to be positive and optimistic most days and tell myself that I’m aging gracefully while silently contemplating Botox injections to inflate the ventriloquist lines and/or gazing in horror at the gizzard neck that screams at my reflection. Although, I’m witnessing many of my friends seemingly conquering this aging thing somewhat effortlessly. Well—I have two camps of friends actually. Some who are going down kicking and screaming, plastic surgeon on speed dial and others who are opting on using their expendable income in other ways, i.e., international travel and moisturizers made from gold bouillon dust mixed with Kim Kardashian’s stem cells.
I do weigh the options in my mind quite frequently. I love an easy fix, but I don’t love anything involving scalpels, blood, and/or anesthesia. I prefer to default to the medically-necessary surgeries of which I’ve already encountered three—which I’m hoping is my cap although given my age, I’m guessing that’s probably not the case. In other words, I’m not a big fan of elective surgery, but I’m also not judging those who readily sign up for it. I get it.
We are all trying to keep the ‘Old Man’ or ‘Old Woman’ from inhabiting us, but it’s a futile fight. My current ritual du jour is to utilize the best moisturizers and sunscreens I can afford (none with gold and/or Kardashian DNA) while moving my muscles and joints as much as possible after I complete the NY Times mini-crossword and Wordle to keep my mind agile. Oh—and a truckload of caffeine and perhaps a little vino. That’s the regimen. You heard it here first.
God willing, if I make it to 60 and don’t look like death warmed over and/or can remember my own name, color me winning.
I do give gratitude for the fact that I am HERE as a few of my friends didn’t have the blessing of making it this far. My dear friend Betty didn’t get to see 43, and I’ve danced on this planet almost seven years more than my bestie Holly. I don’t take that for granted for one minute.
My oldest brother Phil passed just shy of his 64th birthday. He had Leukemia and fought until the end. Just after his diagnosis, he separated from his wife of twenty-something years, and I’ll never forget what he said to me. “Lori—I don’t know if I have six days, six months or six years on this planet, but whatever I have, I want them to be happy.”
Happiness and joy are the goals, along with feeling good in the skin you’re in—wrinkled and/or crepey as it may be/or not be. We all have choices we make every day that feed into both how we look and feel. Rest, movement, and fuel play a big role in both, might I add. As do the people we surround ourselves with—people who bring joy into our lives v. deplete us of our energy. Lucky for me, I’m surrounded by an amazing tribe of brilliant, smart, creative, fun, and funny peeps. And some super honest ones who aren’t afraid to tell me when my roots require attention.
Of course, having great role models for aging helps as well. Not to mention any names and/or ages, but my illustrious publisher here recently hit a birthday milestone and she is rocking into a new decade with flair. If anything, the number of candles on her cake have fanned her passion for life.
You can worry over the gray hairs, but chances are it’s the worrying that brought them to begin with. Embrace the gray or cover it up—but remember to be grateful you’ve reached an age to see them sprout. Middle age (I am still in middle age, right?) has its own share of problems, and I certainly don’t need to be pig piling onto those. And, most all health-related problems circle back to evil Mr. Stress. No one is doing themselves any favors by stressing and worrying over life.
So, if you’ve got a life to live, embrace it. Dance. Skip. Jump for joy. Shake your bootie, and if your bootie has a little more jiggle, embrace that too.
I pray that there is a God. Truly, I do. I want to believe that there’s more to life than buying the newest anti-aging serum touted by some Gen Z influencer. I also want to believe that God doesn’t want us spending our days consumed by our bat-wing arms or crepey legs which I’m totally not doing, right? Totally not doing that except for when I’m in a downward dog pose or waving at a friend. So not doing that. I am not SHALLOW. I am embracing my body for all its little quirks and lack of collagen/elasticity.
I try to remember that the saving grace is that I’m aging.
Those things keeping me up at night—what will they matter in six days? Six months? Six years? Heck, the way I look at it, today is the youngest I’m ever going to be again. One of my dear friends texted me a photo of us together roughly 15 years ago. We looked like babies. I’d give anything for those arms and that skin. At the time, I probably thought I looked fat. I wish I had known then how beautiful I was—so the challenge is to know it and own it now.
My grandmother, Belle Baker Welch, was one of the most beautiful women I have ever known. Her face was filled with the lines of a life well lived, and her hair a beautiful warm gray. She wore her days—filled with immense sorrow peppered with tender joys—like blessings sewn onto an intricate quilt, and I hope to do the same—but for the record, I’m keeping all my options open while aging as gracefully as my shelves of moisturizers and serums allow.
About the Author: Lori is a local writer, painter and pet lover who loves to share her experiences and expertise with our readers. She has been penning a column for the OTC for over 20 years. Please follow Lori online on Medium for more missives like this.