Aging-growing up fast in reverse!

Remember when you were a baby and you ate and slept and grew at a phenomenal rate? Of course not. Babies don’t have a huge measure of self-awareness. That kind of consciousness doesn’t begin until around age 2 or 3, and then it’s on a very elementary level.

But by the time you’re in your twenties, you’ve developed a sense of what you look like that doesn’t change significantly for many years. Weight gain and hair color modifications aside, the years from 20 – 40 hold few surprises.

Then the fifties. For women, menopause wreaks mild to acute havoc usually sometime during that decade. But again, it’s mostly an inner change with slowly diminishing estrogen levels causing insomnia, sweats, flashes, and mood swings that make an otherwise sane person wildly neurotic. But it passes, and with the exception of a few wrinkles around the eye-corners, smile lines, maybe the beginnings of arthritis here and there, you’re still the same package.

Of course your genetic inheritance and the way you’ve treated your body to healthy or unhealthy habits, weighs in significantly. But I’m generalizing and drawing upon my own experience so feel free to adjust this information accordingly.

The sixties are different. It’s the growth process in reverse. But unlike the baby that has no knowledge of the sweeping changes in its own appearance, the mature adult not only sees and understands what is happening, but also has to deal emotionally with the loss of youth, vitality, and power.

I am appalled at the speed of change. Tomorrow I turn 64. Only one year ago my skin was still elastic, though a little crinkly at the knees. About six months ago while engaged in an inversion pose, I noticed disturbing sagginess in the skin around my upper arms. It disappeared when I righted myself and I made a mental note to do inversions only in private. A month later I couldn’t deny that the sagginess existed even when I stood upright.

Yesterday I took a long, honest look at myself. How can a heart that feels so young, occupy a body that looks so…mature?! Nothing prepared me for this transition. I’ve watched my parents age, but they’re my parents.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

In some corner of my mind I knew that I was seeing my future, but it was far, far away. I tucked that thought in a safe place and forgot about it. Now it’s staring me in the face every time I look in the mirror. I am mentally trying to assimilate these physical changes, but it’s daunting. They’re happening so fast.

I take comfort in things I’m glad about. I’m glad I’m living my dream. I’m glad I’m in a country where old age is honored. I’m extremely grateful for excellent health and a strong body. Those things make it easier. But I remember the title of a book I saw once. I laughed then, but I’m not laughing now. It was called, The Girls with the Grandmother Faces. That’s it in a nutshell. Inside I’m still a teenager. Somehow I skipped adulthood and went straight to old. How does this happen?

From here on, it’s the inner work that matters. Actually, it’s always the inner work that matters. But in the culture of the West, youth and beauty equal power. As I attempt to come to terms with aging, I am engaged in the struggle for power. What makes me significant now? Where is my worth?

It occurs to me that youth and beauty are a hindrance. Anyone so blessed doesn’t need to develop a stunning  inner core since the outer is so compelling. This time of life is an opportunity to allow the richness inside to radiate outward. It’s a call to share the wisdom of a lifetime of good and bad choices with those who care to listen. And it’s a chance to become beautiful in a way that time can’t touch. Right! Happy birthday to me!

64...bring it on!

64…bring it on!

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22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gigicullins
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 02:15:51

    This was great, Sherry…and I know EXACTLY what you are talking about since I just turned 67 on Christmas Eve! I used to ask my Mom how old she felt inside…and she surprised me by saying about 25 to 30 years old…and that’s how I feel…until I look in a mirror! I like feeling younger on the inside…that’s what really matters anyway. Your parents look great! Give them my best when you talk to them. I remember the enjoyable times we had with your folks and mine. Great memories!

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jan 05, 2014 @ 03:18:07

      I sit back a little bit and watch myself manage this strange phenomenon. It’s the speed of change that is so incredible to me, not the change itself. It literally feels like, now you’re young, now you’re old! Poof!

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  2. Lottie Nevin
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 04:09:38

    Sherry, you shall ALWAYS be supremely beautiful, both inside and out. Your healthy regime, your exercise, your fabulous and positive outlook and attitude on life serve you well. I need to take a leaf out of your book and fast! I’m really creaky these days, and I know it’s because I’ve knackered my body. Too many babies, waaaay too much heavy lifting when I had the farm and nursing and then two years living a very stagnant life in Indo have not helped my flexibility one little bit. Slowly, slowly I am easing up, little by little getting fitter. Even 10 years ago, physiotherapists told me that I had the spine of a 90 year old and since then various ‘experts’ have been horrified at my lack of spine movement. And now my hips are giving way!
    But, I feel so young!! Great post Sherry, you’ve got me thinking! XXX

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jan 05, 2014 @ 05:37:28

      The information about your spine is disturbing! Lottie, do something! Cat/cow at the very least. Three years ago my neck was severely compromised. I could barely move my head without excruciating pain. Enter my yogini daughter, Jessa. She taught me neck exercises and I neck exercises every single day! So here’s that page from my book: <a did them religiously. At first the pain was ten on a scale where ten is unbearable. But slowly, very slowly, it improved. Now I have a normal neck once again and I do a daily headstand just because it's so amazing to me that I can. And you'd better believe I still do those neck exercises! So here's a page from that book: cat/cow, Lottie. JUST DO IT!

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  3. Diane Struble
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 06:01:47

    Happy Birthday. Your aunt really hated growing older. I , on the other hand, really do not care as long as I am functional. However, the parts that do break down are really a nuisance and definitely limiting in various ways. My hearing is the biggest problem even with hearing aids (which are astronomically expensive) although my knees finally got to the point that dancing was out of the question. But I can usually walk miles and can get through airports with ease (unless I get lost). Enjoy every day and just accommodate as needed.

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  4. Gabriel
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 07:43:14

    Beautiful!

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  5. heysherrifaye
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 10:04:07

    Happy 64th Birthday my fabulous friend! I agree with you about the inside beauty being of utmost importance. Looks schmooks… right!? Still, you look wonderful, and healthy. But what I have really noticed over these last few years, Sherry, is that you look HAPPY. And I mean happy, from the inside out. You can put a price on that, and that kind of happy isn’t going to sag on ones arms 🙂

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  6. danabo@tcq.net
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 12:27:13

    Happy Birthday!! Thank you so much for these words & thoughts. As I turn 67 this year, I haven’t been able to put into words these same feelings about aging, and the younger generation doesn’t understand (nor did I at that age) what we feel on the inside looking at ourselves on the outside. This so reminds me of a clip art I’ve saved where an old lady is looking at herself in a lake and sees her reflection as a young lady. It says it all without words.

    Have a great birthday celebrating YOU and keep your blogs coming. Terri Finn, our friend, so enjoyed and grew while she was there with you in Bali.

    Hugs, Nancy Hall

    On Sun, Jan 5, 2014 at 12:02 AM, writing for self-discovery wrote:

    > writingforselfdiscovery posted: “Remember when you were a baby and you > ate and slept and grew at a phenomenal rate? Of course not. Babies don’t > have a huge measure of self-awareness. That kind of consciousness > doesn’t begin until around age 2 or 3, and then it’s on a very elementary > leve”

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jan 05, 2014 @ 16:37:16

      It took me awhile to turn my thoughts into words, too, but I’m glad they resonated with you. I think it’s wonderful that we keep our youthfulness on the inside no matter what’s going on with the packaging! Thank you for your comments.

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  7. Nanci Froemming
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 13:15:47

    Happy birthday Sherry! I don’t know if this matters, coming from a virtual stranger, but when my husband saw pictures of you in your blogs that mentioned Nina, he thought you were Nina’s age. I am only a year behind you, age-wise, and you have such a youthful glow about you and you really do exude happiness! Keep doing what you are doing – it works!

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jan 05, 2014 @ 16:34:35

      Haha! He gets serious points for that one! The camera is kind. When I compare photos of myself when I first came to Bali with how I look now, it’s night and day. The food here, the weather, and the happiness factor, all conspire to create the best possible results. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. shanemac
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 17:00:55

    Sherry, you may feel like you’re aging but you sure don’t look like you are. Perhaps its your grace more than anything else that makes you seem young to me. And my hat’s off to the body work you do. I’m sure your daily yoga routine makes all the difference in your body and in your serene mind. Happy birthday, girl.

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  9. lyonsharon1@msn.com
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 12:27:59

    Again, well said. Coming from 70, it’s a path I’ve walked as well and continue to do so. Then again, as long as I am walking, I am HAPPY! I hope you had a great birthday…..I sent an earlier email wish so hope you received. Blessings my friend.

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  10. Nancy Strauss
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 20:28:57

    You’re positively glowing in the photo Sherry, which overrides any wrinkles or sagging. And, I might say, you are a stunning 64 year old! Age bestows upon us the prerogative of focusing on internal life, something you’ve already mastered. It’s heartwarming to see you so happy and know that finally you’re doing what you really want to do. Happy birthday dear friend, and I hope your health & happiness follow you through many more.

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  11. healingpilgrim
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 11:44:23

    Loved this post – and seeing a pix of your parents. How true about the blinders we wear (to inner beauty) while we are still young.. I can related to the creeping sagginess… my nephew calls it puttyputty. Sorry I missed your birthday! Hope it was happy, sunny and that you had a nice.. ceremony 😉

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