For years now I’ve been ignoring the signs that were staring me in the face literally and figuratively – I am getting older. I still believe age is a state of mind in many ways but lately it’s also becoming a state of my knees, hips, hair and not so perky girls. There have also been signs of my maturity with my oldest child turning 30 and marrying, my youngest graduating from high school and the word “empty nest” coming up in conversations. The pillars of my youth are passing away and my classmates are daily announcing the birth of their grandchildren on Face book. Even with all these obvious signs, I still don’t feel like a middle aged woman. In the world we live in today, the anti-aging industry is a billion dollar business. When I see one of my favorite actresses of some years ago that is nearly unrecognizable with a permanently startled look, I realize the fear of aging is a plague of our time. I have to admit, I too have bought into some of this hype in an effort to fool everyone, including myself that I am immune to the effects of time. But what I have recently learned is embracing one’s age and giving in to it are two different things.
A few days ago I decided to try out a new exercise class. This particular class was new to me and I was looking forward to a good workout. About half way through the workout, I was breathing hard and muscles straining, the young woman next to me smiled and said “You are keeping up really well”. The words “for your age” floated in the air like a leaf on a fall day. Of course I finished the workout with all the vigor of a 30 year old, grabbed by water bottle and hobbled down the stairs. The next few days, with everything hurting except my eyelashes I had a little reevaluation of my life as it is today.
Hebrews 12 – let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
I’ve learned that aging is like anything else in life – a matter of what window you choose to look at it through. So while nursing my painful legs and arms, I made a decision – to throw my arms around my 50’s and embrace it as my gift from God and run the race He has for me. I realized that I have come to a great place in my life and am finally pretty comfortable with where I am. For instance…
- My heart still races every time I hear my husband’s side of the garage door open. He is still my best friend and the one who knows me and loves me from the inside out.
- I have survived the active years of parenting – my sons all love God and are in good relationships with young women that compliment them.
- I have a job that allows me on a regular basis to help women understand that they are not the sum of their past decisions, their future starts with their next choice and that I care what happens to her.
- My experiences include holding new life as it takes its first breathe and holding my mother’s hand as she ran into Jesus’ outstretched arms. I’ve turned a new page of getting to know my father and helping him start a new life at 90.
- I unapologetically get massages and manicures as part of my wellness plan (yes, after 50 you need a plan). I no longer feel the need to only wear a shade of red or pink on my nails but whatever color I like that day.
- After years of experiencing His faithfulness, I have learned to trust Jesus more. I start a prayer in the morning and don’t ever say “amen” just “bye for now”. Worrying seems like a waste of valuable time.
- I love color and like to wear a pop of it every day. I have a motto of “there is never a good reason to not wear earrings.” PS – it’s not about the earrings. I don’t worry too much about “age appropriate” (who decides that?) and just count on those that love me to tell me when I should probably not try that look again. Looking my age does not mean to stop trying to look my best.
- Younger women ask me for wisdom about child rearing, cooking and how to shop on eBay. This is both humbling and frightening. I still love learning from other women.
- My close friends are strong women that care about me just the way I am.
- I’m passionate about helping women understand the amazing physical, mental and spiritual journey of childbirth.
- As for exercise – I believe whole heartily in the importance of some kind of movement everyday but I have no goals to run a marathon or swim the English Channel. Instead, I will honor my body for the things it has allowed me to do and take care of it in hopes it will carry me for many more years. I know I will lose weight exactly how I gained it – one decision at a time.
- I have learned the checkout person at Wal-mart deserves my respect as much as my husband’s boss.
So I am running MY race – sometimes minute by minute. Praying for guidance and always smiling at God for the tenderness he shows on my journey. Someday when my race is over, I long for those words – “well done, daughter.” Until then, I’m off to buy my Loving Care – light golden brown.
Carol is married to Jim and the mom of Scott, Tyler, and Alex. She is the Center Director of New Beginnings Women’s Center in Warrensburg where she also teaches labor and childbirth classes. She is a pro ebay shopper and also enjoys reading and decorating.