Growing Older With Grace by Michelle Jones

I have a beautiful amazing friend named Grace who woke up this morning and felt every one of her 40-something years.  Today she is more than a little aware of her grey hair, the baby fat, and the aches and pains that weren’t there not so long ago.

She has decided that she doesn’t want to “go down without a fight.”  She is sorry that she took her beauty, youth, and health for granted.  Today she could use some encouragement.  I’m posting my response to her and to you too if you are finding it a challenge to grow old gracefully.

My darling sister,

Who decided that growing old “gracefully”–or doing anything gracefully for that matter–meant taking what comes without reaction or response? I am 49 as of a week and a half ago. I decided that Graceful is the thing that needs reshaping if I’m going to leave my 40s and enter the second half of my life with it.

Like you, I thought I’d just accept my grey hair as it came. However, it did not get the memo that I would not be ready for it until I was closer to 60. Until then, it is supposed to come slowly and discreetly. It doesn’t, so it must be punished with invisibility, because the rest of me is not finished with the black hair. The hair does not decide my age. I do.

As for the excess fat that shows up in the worst places, not a problem. We always say, “If I knew then what I know now…”  If I knew then that my body would turn on me like this, I would have been more disciplined about exercising, right? Okay, you know now what you didn’t know then. Why not do now what you didn’t do then?  Tell your body who is the boss of whom. I promise it will not always be easy, but Grace, we are tougher, wiser, and more determined than we were when we were younger, aren’t we? If we knew then what we know now, it just wouldn’t have been fair to be that fabulous! Balance…

What we don’t have now is nothing compared to what we didn’t have then. Youth is supposed to be taken for granted.  If it isn’t, then we’re just old people walking around in young bodies.  Where’s the fun and extravagance in that?

Society calls us “women of a certain age” because of our years. But I realize that I am also a woman of a certain age because there are some things I know now that I only suspected or hoped for when I was young. I am certain of the substance of my value, not just in this world, but to God, and to others. I am certain that I am strong and capable of loving the way I want to be loved.  I am certain that the truth is what IS, not what people tell me it is, or what I may feel in a given moment, or what I regret.  I am certain that these years on me are a good thing.  I wouldn’t trade what I’m certain of now for all the elastic skin and perky boobs in the world!

Recently I started working out because I decided I wasn’t going to “turn” 50 next year.  I’m going to ROCK it.  50 is going to wake up on March 22, 2011 and say, “Damn! I am FOINE!! I didn’t know I could look like this.  Thanks Michelle!”  And happily, my body is responding because I AM THE BOSS OF IT, no matter what I feel like when I wake up in the morning.

So the other day, I was walking into my dressing area like I always do before a shower. I got a look at myself in the mirror naked.  There is a beauty that happens in a healthy, fit woman as she ages that is more impressive than anything plastic surgery can accomplish.  When we take care of them, our bodies become the stewards of our beauty and not the other way around.

Get rid of everything that gets in the way of the beauty that your body wants to show you and you will be fine.  I’m saying this as a woman at the end of her 40s looking forward to rocking 50 next year on a cruise ship in a smokin’ hot swimsuit. I’m talking as a woman who has to fight off 30-something men these days.  I’m talking as a woman of a certain age whose body is certain about who’s in charge of it finally.

You don’t have to fight age. Just tell it what it’s supposed to look like, and watch it behave.  It’s different for every woman. What is it for you? I can’t wait to see.

I love you,

Michelle

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