On Aging Gracefully

Posted on July 15, 2010


“Happy women flow gracefully into the next decade and the next because they find things to love about themselves throughout their life cycles.” -From What Happy Women Know

Every decade of life comes with its own lessons and its own triumphs. Our society, however, seems to have forgotten this and instead, spends its time, energy and money on glorifying youth. Age-reducing skin creams, plastic surgeries and even the latest fashions are promising that you, too, can look ten years younger than you are.

When did it become so bad to get older?

My husband and I just spent a couple of weeks in Alaska on an incredible vacation. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with native Alaskans, who still live in villages and have retained the values of their respective cultures.

They spoke of the importance of the elders in the village-how they were the most revered members because of their wisdom, how much the youth appreciate the deep perspective that comes only from having lived many years. At one point, I turned to my husband and said, “I want a tribe.”

I believe this is a deep longing in all of us. We all want to not only be part of a community, but also need the reassurance, wisdom and guidance of those who are older than we are to help us traverse life. If we all run around trying to look and act like we’re 25, we’ll most certainly lose an essential aspect of our humanity.

Happy woman know how to age gracefully. By this, I don’t mean that they’ve invested a small fortune in wrinkle-erasing procedures. Aging gracefully has very little to do with how you look, and has a whole lot to do with how you perceive your age and the lessons the years have taught you. Getting older is something to be celebrated and happy women know this.

They know that aging gracefully means honoring their wisdom and they know that wisdom is something that is earned only through experience.  Happy women also realize that age limits us only as much as we will allow it.

In Seward, Alaska, every 4th of July brings thousands of people into town to run the Mt. Marathon race. This is an intense race, as runners must ascend and descend a mountain. (The picture below was taken during the race. If you look closely, you can see the runners on the descent). Having been a former long-distance runner, and still inspired by what happens at a finish line, I persuaded my husband to stand around and watch this amazing feat.

Several Olympians were the first batch to come in, and then, not too far behind them, was an older woman, beaming, who came in strong all the way through the chute.

“She’s a local,” a man standing nearby told me. “And she’s 76.”

I decided, in that moment, that I was never going to allow age to dictate what I could and could not do. I wanted to be that beautiful, strong, wise woman who, in her 70’s, could run up and down a mountain and still finish smiling.

If we honor the wisdom we have gained from living and continue to live our dreams even as we grow older, we will be happy women aging gracefully. And that’s certainly something that retinoids cannot replace.

Posted in: Love 101