Fading beauty? I think not!

Smiling always with a never fading serenity of countenance,
and flourishing in an immortal youth.

Isaac Barrow

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(decaying stump topped by shelf fungus / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2014)

I made mention the other day that I will soon be turning 55.
Whereas I don’t put a lot of stock in numbers but rather in just a good ol dose of “get up and go,” I suppose advancing age does give one pause for reflection.
However I promise not to heavily reflect today. . .not about myself anyway.

I have also made mention in previous posts, pontificating my aversion of our culture’s refusal in allowing any of us to age. I’ve also added my 2¢ in various posts concerning the millions of dollars needlessly spent on lotions, potions, chemical this and thats, surgical augmentations—all for the perpetual quest our society seems to have for the elusive fountain of youth.

It troubles me watching what people do, particularly woman, in the name of acquiring ageless beauty.
I suppose it doesn’t help when woman are inundated by advertising, television and Hollywood as to what is considered “good looking,” drop dead gorgeous and sheer beauty. You’re considered a washed up prune if you don’t color your hair, don’t botox your wrinkles, don’t lift your lids, your breasts or your butt and survive off of kale and green smoothies.

Let’s not talk about our culture’s current obsession with weight. I’m all for health—healthy eating habits, healthy exercise, healthy weight. I’m NOT all for the current chronic obsession for pencil thin, 0 fat BMIs, and what the Marketing world deems to be the “perfect” body.

Whatever happened with striking a balance? A happy medium?

And I best not get started on dress and appearance and the obsession grown, dare I say, older woman have with dressing more like their daughters or as woman in their early 20’s. Trying to put a 40, 50, 60, 70 year old body into something a 25 year old would be wearing is just not appealing, no matter what you may think. It’s great if you can still fit into and rock that look, but there comes a time when it’s really not “cool” doing so, as one comes off looking more silly, even, dare I say pathetic, verses classic, timeless, stylish and chic.

So what if one’s body is not meant to be a size 2?
So what if one’s hair turns gray?
So what if one has wrinkles?
So what if one doesn’t want to live at the gym?
So what if one enjoys something other than a constant combination of soy, tofu, qunioa, kale or spelt?

I’m not saying that I don’t “fix” myself up or care about my appearance. I do care. And I have to work at my weight and health. I fret over my hair as it’s thinning terribly due to a bum thyroid. I like to dress up wearing nice clothes—however, I don’t color my hair, my wrinkles are all present and accounted for, all sorts of things are giving way to gravity, and when I look in the mirror I wonder where my eyebrows have gone and if I ever had eyelids. But what I see is simply me, life and time and how those three things mix together making me, me.

I am however deeply troubled over the message all of this obsession over appearance, weight, youthfulness and anti-aging sends to our youth.

Boys are taught to build up and bulk up as we see countless young men and boys gobbling up protein powders, muscle milk, creatine powders and daring to gamble in the murky and dark world of performance enhancement drugs and steroids. For to be deemed the fastest and strongest, with a better “built” body, is the bottom line of athletic prowess and success, not to mention the envy of others.

Girls are taught at an early age that thin is in and that Victoria Secret’s models are the body’s to ascertain to, as they are “perfect”—-REALLY?
Woe to the young girl who is not slim, trim and svelte and does not possess the long legs of a gazelle.

The news is riddled daily with stories of some sort of cosmetic surgery gone awry, where clients / patients have actually died or been maimed by merely attempting to turn back the hands of time. Hollywood is full of aging actors and actresses who have had so much “work” done to their faces that they are no longer recognizable.

Oh it is all simply so sad.
So empty.
So shallow.
So fleeting.

I am not one to watch much television. I don’t keep up with the rag tag tabloids of who’s who. I don’t read People, I don’t watch talk shows, I don’t watch shows such as the Grammys or the Oscar award shows and I really don’t care about people walking up and down red carpets.
None of that is “real” to me.
It speaks of falsehoods.

I don’t hear or see much about the important matters of life—those things that God would wish for us to be in the business about—those things such as caring for the sick and the poor, ministering to shut-ins and the infirmed, feeding the hungry—none of that in the world of glitz and glamour. . Imagine if all that energy and money spent on fighting aging and chasing youthfulness was turned towards feeding the hungry, clothing the needy and housing the homeless. . .

So imagine my surprise when I caught a brief clip today of an interview which addressed this obsession of ours with ageless beauty by an actress who has refused to give in to the propaganda and hype. I was going in to check my email when the title of the interview caught my eye. Not one to watch folks like Oprah or Katie Couric as their idea of news is more or less gossip or trending fads, I actually stopped long enough to watch the clip and I admit, I was impressed.

Katie Couric was interviewing Frances McDormand concerning the actresses refusal to “augment” her aging process and what that means in the world of acting and Hollywood. She is certainly in the minority but is quite content with her looks, as is her husband of 33 years, as she notes the various lines and wrinkles on her face tell her life’s stories, she even laughed explaining how several “wrinkles” belong to her 20 something son–why would she want to do away with those story telling lines, as those are the lines from the life events which define who she is and what has made her life just that, her life.

The title of the interview is ‘I’m happy with the way I look and how I age’
and here is a link to the Yahoo news interview:

http://news.yahoo.com/katie-couric-interviews-frances-mcdormand-210921583.html

I applaud this woman, who at 57, is happy with her face, her body, her choice, her life—despite her profession’s culture of brainwashing everyone into thinking what should be the perfect body, face, life. . .

Here’s to aging and here’s to real beauty which is so much deeper than surface appearance!

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Chickens, Appearances and bums…yes, bums…

People that seem so glorious are all show; underneath they are like everyone else.
Euripides

Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.
Saint Augustine

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***ok so yesterday’s pilgrimage did not go so well– perhaps it was more like a disaster. You, we, I don’t want to talk about that today— let’s swing toward something a bit more, uplifting, shall we. . .we’ll talk about the disastrous pilgrimage later, once we recoup and attempt to regroup. On to better things, or maybe, in this case, not exactly better. . .*****

Do you suppose the other chickens get a bit jealous of those chickens in the coop with the prettier feathers, the fancier combs, the fluffier feet or the more garish head feathers? Do the more showy chickens somehow perceive that they are prettier than their coop mates? Do the other chickens who are not as festive, not a pretty, gravitate to the more fancy chickens, wanting to rub wings as it were, with these more glamorous birds?

I think we can be safe in assuming that a chicken is a chicken is a chicken—regardless of the extra fluff and puff. They all scratch, cluck, eat, poop, sleep, and the layers lay and the others, well, they wait to star in Sunday’s Supper.

With all of this chicken business racing through my mind, I am attempting to take stock of what I see staring back at me in the mirror.
Hummmm. . .
Maybe the chickens are looking a little more puffy and preened than what it is that I’m seeing in this mirror.
Geesss. . .
I don’t think February is a good time of year to study one’s physique in a large mirror– this while a pasty white overtly dry body stares back.

So there is this wedding thingie I’ve been alluding to, on and off for a while now. As in I’m the mother of the groom. . . in just a mere 4 months.
Hummm.
My husband walks into the bathroom while I’m precariously perched on the side of the tub turned around backwards with a mirror in one hand while trying to see over my shoulder as to what in the heck is the view from behind, as in my behind.

“What in the world are you doing?? Have you lost your mind? You’re going to break your neck!”
“Look at that” I exclaim!
“Look at what?” mr. gallant asks.
“Look at that, something’s wrong, it’s, it’s not symmetrical”
“What do you mean it’s not symmetrical?
This as he heads to the closest to gather whatever it is he came to gather when he walked in on my moment of taking stock.
“My, uh my, uh,uh, my butt, look at the right side, it’s like part of it has lost it’s “umph” and gave way”
“Maybe I need to go to see a doctor. . . maybe it’s some sort of mass or lump blocking the view of my butt”
“Are you crazy” mr. gallant smirks from the closet, eventually coming out to where I remain perched on the side of the tub, mirror in hand, head cocked around almost backwards, like an owl, peering over the shoulder.
“You don’t need to see a doctor, you’re perfectly fine. You’ve just gotten older and things just— fall.”
“WHAT!!!!!”
“Did you just say I’m old and that my butt fell?!
“No”
“Yes, you just said that I’m old and that my butt fell because I’m old”
“No, that is not what I said” as I note the slight curl upwards around the corners of his mouth.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe you just called me old and fat”
“I did not call you old and I never said fat”
“Look, all I’m saying is that age has a way of shifting things around”
This as mr. gallant makes a very poor attempt at logic.
A woman standing on the side of bathtub, taking stock of a pasty white dry aging body, is in no mood for logic!

“You may speak for yourself, thank you very much” I smugly retort.
This as I’m debating whether to say something about a delicate subject. . .about seeing more head than hair. . .when suddenly mr. gallant spouts out his now marvelous thought of a solution.
“I’ve got just what you need—
Duct tape!”
“What?!”
“We’ll just tape things back into place. . . you’ll be good as new!”

May I just say that he is very very lucky that he is still walking around with all appendages in tact.
Duct tape. . .I mean really.

Hear my cries. . .is my time on that blasted elliptical all in vain?!
“Where are the results?” I seem to constantly scream as I step from the scales.
Maybe it’s the elliptical’s fault my butt fell off in the first place. And anyway, who’s bum looks as if its fallen off in the first place?
How do I tell the doctor I think something is wrong with my behind? How do I tell her it looks like part of it just gave way, sort of like some sort of mini avalanche. . .hummm. . . .

30 minutes every morning on the elliptical.
Check.
Incline on.
Check.
Level 15, one of the more difficult levels.
Check.
Cardio workout.
Check
up, down, up down . . .all to a very swift pace.
This while my “workout music” echoes throughout the basement.

Next, it’s time for the protein smoothie– every morning.
Who says spinach and ground flax seed doesn’t mix with cranberries, strawberries, frozen cherries and peaches?
Add a scoop of protein powder, a little coconut milk, voila.
When did I start drinking coconut milk?!
Just like a milkshake. . . a brown throw-up looking milkshake. . .mmmmm. . . good, I think.
No bread, no sweets, no butter. . .
Ah ha!!
That’s it!!
This is all Julia’s fault!
Julia?
Yes, Julia.
And no, not me Julia, Julia Child, Julia!!
Julia and that blasted affinity of butter and cream of hers!!!
Julia could carry a love of fat on that 6 foot frame of hers and get away with it—- at 5’3″ (it was 5’4.5″ but then the osteoporosis kicked in. . .let’s not talk about that) I sadly cannot!
UGH. . .

We took our son and his fiancé out to dinner the other evening.
“So”, Abby begins, “Did you find the workout song you were wanting?”
“Oh yes! I first start out with a little U2, switching then to Bruno Mars. . .”
“MOTHER, you listen to Bruno Mars!?
I suddenly feel the eyes rolling.
“Yes Brenton.” I continue. ..
“Perfect music, with a great beat, for working out.”
“Oh, and I also like that Macklemore group, that’s great music with a beat to huff and puff to.”
“WHAT! Mother when did you start listening to Macklemore?”
I feel the eyes rolling again.
“When I started working out” I triumphantly reply over my shoulder to the back seat that holds my incredulous son whose eyes are now popping out of his head.

And so it goes.
No support from the males in my house.
One wants to duct tape me and the other one wants to sensor me.
GREAT!
My aunt is always exclaiming “it’s hell getting old”
So yes, whereas it may be hell getting older, all I know it that I’m going to give it hell right back! Plus demand the return of my, uh, derrière!!

I may be pasty white, a little out of shape and no longer symmetrical, but come June, I will be a lean mean fighting machine marching down an aisle!!

What do you see?

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Whereas some people may see just an old lamp finial, I see something amazingly beautiful, delicate and quite intimate.

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Isn’t it interesting how the same object appears vastly different when it is placed against a background absorbing the light?
One object, seen in two different ways–maybe we should be mindful of such when we view the people around us. Perhaps it all just depends on the setting or the background…..

(photograph: Julie Cook/ antique lamp finial/2013)