It was Coco Chanel who once said “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” I’m very sure that she was right.
I was recently looking at some old pictures of myself and was truly amazed. It was a composite of images of myself at 17, 25, 32, 45 and one taken just recently at the age of 53. I looked in the mirror and realized that I quite enjoy what the passage of time has done to my face. I now have plenty of wrinkles and I don’t go out anymore without a bit of lipstick, perfume , styled and beautifully colored hair.
I also refuse to lie about my age which gives me an extraordinary amount of pleasure. Besides, painting my lips every morning at my dressing table gives me a chuckle as I remember my mother and how she was never without her lipstick. She knew what she was doing. She had a twinkle in her eyes that came from having lived life well. She never stopped learning and she never stopped leading the way. She was an example for me early on that you could be your self and look pretty fabulous at any age. Up until the day she died my father was absolutely bewitched by her. More importantly she had all kinds of fun continually becoming that woman!
I consider myself very fortunate to still be surrounded by some pretty fabulous older women; all of them still physically beautiful , dynamic and brilliant. One will be turning 82 next month and one has just turned 87. Neither of them look a day over 70. They possess the adventurous spirits of the 30 something’s without all of the drama.
They love high fashion and glorious cosmetics, thankfully using them without trying to hang on to any sort of dewy youthful glow. When I‘m hanging out with them I’m aware of a constant flood of images and stories that come only from having lived an exciting life and I’m acutely aware that only with new experiences do we continue to live that fully. One is writing a book and the other has a calendar of volunteer work that would exhaust most of us. I’ve only mentioned a couple of them but I am lucky to know many more. I am grateful for these friends as they give me a way to escape the constant flurry of advertising that tells all of us over 40’s that it’s time to roll over and die. These women don’t play dress-up; they are (as my niece says) “ All That!” I want to be all of them when I grow up. In the absence of my own mother they are teaching me to step up confidently and lead the way.
I don’t know about you but I’m fairly stubborn and I don’t intend to age gracefully. I intend to age fiercely and fearlessly, sliding into my grave feet first and with a smile on my face born with the joy of having been alive! When I think about all of the older women who have inspired me, I realize that they all have this trait in common. They crave new experiences. They are not afraid to have reinvented themselves, some of them many times in their life. They are not afraid to speak their minds and they have never stopped learning. They have ceased to worry about being beautiful because they know exactly what they look like and love to make the most of it. They know how to love and allow themselves to be loved, even when it hurts.
Their elegant faces are lined with their smiles, tears and gorgeous shades of Chanel lipstick. They practice yoga, go for long walks with their dogs, go to college and spend their free time painting or in meditation. They entertain with ease. They hang out with lovely men , not because they have to but because they want to. Most importantly they have stopped wasting their time being afraid to die.
I think that this one aspect is the reason that my friends always seem lit from within every time I’m with them. Having faced the fear of old age from a very early age, they stopped worrying about what the future would bring and concentrated on creating a completely vital and totally interesting present while laying the groundwork for a fabulous future. They are all wise enough to have learned that physical beauty is just one small part of the package and that who they are inside is what shows up on their faces. If you’re going to get wrinkles anyhow, it pays to let them be created from living, not resisting the long path towards the inevitable.
To be sure, living can be challenging at times, but would you really want it any other way? I’m of the opinion that we should absolutely demand of our lives what we really hunger for and then ruthlessly chase it down. As one of my dear friends says, “ I love growing older because I’m finally learning how I really like to live!” proving to me once again that youth and sex are indeed totally wasted on the young! So seize the day, your favorite lipstick and dance into your 50's like you've never danced before.
Stop worrying about what has been. Live and love well and never leave home without planning for a bit of mischief to brighten your day. My mother liked to say "Always remember to stay interesting dear because if YOU bore yourself to tears can you imagine how anyone around you will feel?" Brava Bellissima!