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

My Foe verses my Enemy

Who overcomes by force, hath overcome but half his foe.
John Milton

The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.
Napoleon Bonaparte

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(“the enemy has grown bold in my neglect”—Julie Cook / 2014)

I come to you, lying in a pool of my own sweat, from somewhere on the floor of a cavernous basement.
The cement beneath me is hard, dusty but cool.
Flat on my back I stare bleary eyed at the wooden joists overhead.
“How do those cobwebs get up there and where do they keep coming from. . .”
These odd thoughts swirl through my mushy mind as I will myself to not give in to the overwhelming exhaustion.
I close my eyes.
I prefer not to see what I must clean.

Lungs and limbs alike now burn and ache.
I think I hear the sounds of angels, far off someplace in the great distance, singing.
“Is it help come to save me. . .?”
Oh, yeah, that’s my iPhone.
“Oh Bono, he’s still singing. . .”
“Bless his heart”
“He just won’t give up on me” a pleasant thought as a slight smile comes to my parched lips
The timer beeps.
“Must find water. . .” I hear myself mumble.

Not much has changed since I last met this nemesis, this foe of mine. Was it back in say late June or early July? We had been constant companions, it and I, for better or for worse–since Valentine’s day.
Day in and day out for months–as it promised to help me become the svelte mother of the groom.
We worked together every single day.
It never wavered.
I wanted to throw up.

Yet, my butt actually began to feel as if it could fit comfortably into my shorts.
My thighs no longer waved in the breeze.
My arms actually had a bit of definition.
My heart said “thank you”

The windows are still dirty.
The cobwebs are still hanging down from the ceiling.
Yet the robins are gone from the back yard only to be replaced with the summer resident catbirds.
The sun still shines through the lefthand window making me duly hot before I break my first bead of sweat.
As the elliptical just sits there, silently goading and taunting me. . .

The calendar has turned a page.
The seasons are changing.
My new leaf is ready to be turned over.
The excuse of Summer is no longer viable.
It’s time to get back to a healthier routine. . .

Which in a round about way, brings me around to the whole concept of “my foe verses my enemy.”
In my mind, I believe a foe to be a formidable opponent.
I find that we usually have respect for our foe(s).
We feel competitive toward this said foe.
We may actually develop an affinity for this said foe.
Be it the scales, the elliptical, the mountain, the wave, the mess, the deer, the cat’s litter box (digressing), the whatever it is that is staring us in the face and goading or taunting us to master it, to beat it, to out smart it, to clean it, to better it, to eventually better ourselves. . .

An enemy, on the other hand, is more sinister.
More callous.
There is no feeling of camaraderie.
No kinsmenship.
The enemy does not want me to better myself.
It does not wish me well.
It does not care.

Pondering this fine line of difference between foe and enemy, as I look off the back deck drinking my protein smoothie–yuck— I spy the small group of deer, who have been goading and taunting me all season long with my garden, boldly going where I have valiantly fought keeping them from. . .
Oooooo, they have now grown most bold and defiant as I have grown haplessly weary.
Daylight or dusk they now wander into the midst of my territory undeterred.

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We went round and round, those deer and I.
And yet, I never truly wished them harm.
I simply wanted to keep them at bay, long enough for me to gather, literally, the fruits of my labors.
I did not mind sharing those “fruits.”
I did grow frustrated.
Even discouraged.
I felt challenged.
And yet I knew that they did not wish me ill.
They simply saw an opportunity and took full advantage of it.
And now that I have grown weary, as the garden has grown over, they have thrown caution to the wind and are enjoying, with gusto I might add, the lingering fruits of my previous labors.

Others in this world of ours are not so docile.
Foe and enemy gather round–just as the clouds gather over head.
They are opportunistic to our weariness, our ignorance, our self obsessions.
They are poised to take advantage of the “crack in the door.”

There are foes who will always seem to be the proverbial thrones in our sides.
They will preen and strut, taunting and goading us, yet truly they do not wish to witness our destruction because in the back of their minds they are smart enough to realize that our destruction would be their own.

There are also enemies who are secretly plotting and planning.
They remain often in the shadows, waiting and watching.
They are patient, cunning and ever watchful.
They, unlike our foes, do seek our destruction because in their minds they see our defeat, our destruction, as their glory.. .
. . .Despite the fact that that glory would in turn be their own demise. . .

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. . .
Psalm 13:3-5