Friday, October 12, 2012

Beautifully Old

Good food isn't the only kind of thing shared by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks fame.  She also regularly posts favorites lists that contain varied offerings.  One link on her last list was to a video of a lovely and admirable 95-year-old with the face of a wise old woman and the agility of someone much younger. You can find it here.

I want to age like that woman: bravely accepting the passing years with grace while maintaining myself in the best fashion I can manage. There is no way to avoid being old; there are a few ways to have at least a chance of avoiding decrepitude. Eating right, exercise--the usual daunting saviors.  It probably helps to be born a Russian ballerina, but a steady yoga practice and some vegetables can't hurt.

This isn't the only Wise Old Woman I've admired.  I have a couple of other examples of feisty aging tucked into a folder I've labeled Great Old Gals.  One is lean and gray haired, apparently resting from shoveling in an urban garden.  The other is plump in the middle with spunkily short hair and a sassy look, perched on the bed of her well decorated room. Both say to me that you may have to get old but you don't have to quit doing, or lose your good taste and spunk.

I often threaten to let my hair reveal it's naturally premature silver and to then cut it off into a sassy pixie like my second Great Old Gal's or punky spikes like those I saw on a lady in the grocery store once.  I thought she looked cool.  Grandma + cool is a word pair I want to make mine someday.

For now, I'm blessed with a son who thinks I look too young to be gray-haired.  I'll honor his wish for a while and play along with the cultural fantasy that says dyed hair makes you look younger (research would disagree--read Anne Kreamer's Going Gray if you doubt), even while I know my day of reckoning is coming.

I don't mean that in a gloomy way.  I simply will not be the shriveled little old lady--and that's what I'll probably be, sweater-clad at that--with overly dyed hair that contrasts not at all flatteringly with her aged face.  I believe that there comes a time to get real and face what can't be evaded.  I want to be ready for that time when it comes.  I'm gathering my role models now--women who look their age, but look very good for it.  I want that to be enough for me, since it's a more attainable goal than forever 21.

In case you're thinking it, I'll say it: I know I'm thinking about this early.  It has always been my tendency, for good or ill, to work ahead.  But then, I may have been forced to. My gray--gads, probably white under there somewhere--hair isn't even a sign of age really, for it came early.  The first silver sproingers appeared at my crown when I was 21, a trait inherited from my mother, who never covered the evidence of her DNA oopsie.  All these years I've only been righting my own little genetic mistake.  Who wants to be the early graying mother of a preschooler?  I didn't.

Even so, the decision to start coloring my hair was a difficult one.  I am a strong believer in being as genuine as humanly possible.  It felt like fakery, which it is, to hit the bottle.  I waffled on principle until a friend said that she considered hair coloring to be an indication, not of falsehood, but of taking care of yourself.  That helped a little with my decision.  Graying when your child is three years old--and you didn't have him late in life--helped a lot with it.

Regardless of when I quit covering, which is a symptom, I want to be at peace with the bigger reality, which is that we all age and die.  There are plenty of reasons to be upset in this life.  I don't want to waste my energies being in denial of something I can't change when there are other things that I can.  I've almost stopped giving myself temporary face lifts in the mirror.  I'm getting there.

I don't know what my destiny will be, but imagining a lithe, peaceful seniority sure beats assuming useless decay. And if visualization works, I'm seeing me as a Great Old Gal.

No comments: