My soon to be 93-year-old mother was telling me last week in our weekly chat that she had seen the interview with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, talking about Grace & Frankie. My mom and I had both done the Jane Fonda workout in the 80’s and both still have the book/tape/VHS tape. (I know – why?) Anyway, outside of the fact that Jane has had a hip and both knees replaced (again, really, why the exercise then?), you have to admit that she looks pretty darn good for 85. My mother said “Oh, to be 85 again!”, which made me laugh. And also cringe. I mean, who would want to be 85?! I was about to start lecturing my mother, to remind her that she is pretty darn good for her age. My mom’s mind is still far clearer than mine. I have no idea what I will do when she is gone and I have a question about someone from my youth. She is my go-to for directions, who lived where, who married whom, and when is the best time to pick blueberries. I was about to start telling her to focus on what she CAN do, when I actually heard myself. Like so many times in the past, I was doing exactly what she was doing now – comparing and despairing. 

I have become acutely aware that my issue du jour is just this: accepting, and embracing my age and stage. I would be fine and actually quite content with myself if there were no mirrors or scales or dressing rooms or dating apps. It is then that my physical reality shocks me into a state of disbelief. How could I, who feels (and possibly acts) decades younger than my chronological age, be that old woman in the mirror? The judgement is swift and harsh and no matter how much self-forgiveness I do and beautiful mantras I chant, it comes back time after time. 

Gratefully, the Universe conspired to push me in a direction that had not been on my radar and here I am, working again. Outside of the obvious perks of a steady paycheck and benefits, what has been an added bonus is the energy received from being a part of a group, from interacting with others on a regular basis, and from having a purpose. And best of all, it keeps me in the present moment. 

So much of the angst I’ve been feeling over being a “woman of a certain age” is because I am either looking back or looking ahead. When I look back, I mourn the loss of the body of my youth, my stamina, my carefree existence, and my overall attractiveness. I can find a million things that were “better then”. I am able, at times, to remind myself of the futility of trying to live in the past, but what can then quickly follow is a shift to looking at what is to come. Where is the joy in losing even MORE youth? What is there to look forward to?

My mother’s statement, “Oh, to be 85 again,” resonates in my consciousness. It is all very relative, isn’t it? What is blissful to one is a burden to another. To compare your insides to another’s outsides is futile and unreasonable. And to try to live outside the present moment is a setup for frustration and disappointment.

Having something that nourishes your soul in the present moment, I am discovering, is the key to graceful aging. Allowing yourself to be who you are, where you are in this age and stage, while surrounding yourself with others who accept you for the you that you are today, helps center you and keep you in the present moment. Who you were is the gift that brought you to who you are today. Who you will be is a by-product of who you are being today. And enjoying your life in this moment is what living is all about. 

L’chaim! 

2 Comments

  1. Sayydah Garrett

    My dear Janet,

    Please remember that YOU were and still are the inspiration for so many of us to let our white/gray hair shine! I stopped coloring my hair in March, 2020. It’s so freeing and I’m saving money too! Being and looking like a woman of a certain age (63 in years, 33 in my mind) is amaaaazing! As you and I know, being a grandmother is one of the greatest experiences of our life! Celebrate every blessing, no matter what you look like.

    Love you! xoxo

    Sayydah

    Reply
    • Janet Neal

      Silver sisters unite!
      Xoxo

      Reply

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