I’m sitting in my car parked under a shady tree while I type this post. I have a full bladder and these days, I’m learning not to go messing around with trying to hold it for too long. If I have to sneeze, things aren’t looking too good. Woe is me, the newly 42-year-old. Aging is an interesting topic to me as I’m realizing I’ve written about it before. I’m curious about the aging process and how both beautiful and challenging it seems to be. Of course, the obvious is that I’ve observed the changes to my skin, endurance, metabolism, and foot pain, but I’m also starting to notice a slight shift in my attitude towards aging. I’ve heard it before that many women find their fifties to be one of the more freeing and confident phases of life; caring a bit less about what others think and knowing your own style and self. The inevitable pains of aging can be daunting, but expected and mostly managed (i.e. as I sit outside my doctor’s office after having blood drawn while sipping my pre/probiotic drink, hence the full bladder). It’s the internal changes that I want to highlight that may serve as a reminder of the lighter and more encouraging sides of aging.
My birthday was this past weekend. Hormones and weight gain are cramping my style right now, so I got creative with my outfit for the day as we headed to my son’s basketball tournament. I wore a pair of fancy flowy gauchos with a t-shirt that had a cat with a sweatband on it. I threw on some of my favorite bangle bracelets and I honestly felt as cute as a button! Not that this was a wild outfit at all, but I’m often a self-conscious nut, so I still had some creeping worries of what others were thinking, but I pushed on through and lived my best basketball mom life. Several times that day I thought how much I liked that empowered feeling to dress just how I liked. I expect my confidence to sway with the wind and not always allow me to be as bold as I’d like, but I do hope it grows over the years.
With my current therapy, I’m focusing on ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and I’m finding it lining up nicely with this attitude of aging. What is it that I value? I love my family more than it’s possible to describe and my top priority and value is loving on them. I want my home to feel cozy and safe. Combining that with aging means that I want it to represent the things I love and that bring joy and not always doing what’s on trend. I want my children, especially my daughter, to see me dressing confidently and without grumbles over my weight gain or disappointment in my body. Sure, I may feel that way internally, but voicing it out loud over and over is not productive at all and feeds the discouragement. Just a couple days ago, I wore my bathing suit in the pool with my kids and noted the tiniest shift in my attitude and confidence. It felt strangely freeing to just be what I am. I’ll note that I came across a cutie patootie young influencer on Instagram who beautifully and confidently posts her size 14 style. It’s not the norm, so it is absolutely refreshing to see! I’ve also noticed Target’s advertising being beautifully inclusive of all shapes, ages, sizes and color.
Why do most of us spend so much time looking outward to how we “should” be? I reckon it’s a natural human response, but it sure feels tiring. With my time left, will I fret over how I look and what others think or will I look instead towards what makes me feel confident? Will I emphasize my weaknesses, continue to feed the hyper-focused view of my inadequacies or on the things I dislike about myself, or will I try to nudge that to a healthier view and attitude? Lord knows I can try and be more myself, gracefully and full of faults, but also practice that inner gentle grace. Nudge, nudge.