At my age, many of my peers go in for the full facelift, or at least the eye-job, with or without browlift. In my own case, I confess to all sorts of manual/pretend operations before the mirror: "This is what I'd look like if...", imagining the deft slicing away of these new ellipses of spongy periorbital epidermis. I see "jowls" developing, too, and (make believe) do away with them, chop chop.
The challenge is to think contextually. Yes, when one is before the mirror, up close, it stands to reason that one compares oneself with filmed or magazine(retouched) headshots of those whose annual surgical bill exceeds your income. But get the Big Picture.
Here's the image that frequently comes to my own mind: Oscar Night, the last time I watched it. I don't remember what year it was, since I don't go to the movies, but it was the year Gwyneth won Best Actress and wore pink. I had never seen her before, or another actress named Kim Basinger, who wore mint/aqua (I think Helen Hunt was milling around, too, in taupe?), and I remarked, "They're all so POINTY!" Well defined clavicles, skinny necks and arms, flat chests, angular jaws, chins, cheekbones, and elbows. I thought, "This isn't even attractive" (and I had some credibility at the time, being then svelte and blonde and pretty myself).
Two women caught my eye at that televised gala, women whose names I was only told later. Both looked soft, womanly, real. Yes, "real" says it, for there seemed to be human substance behind their faces and physiques, so different from the emaciated herd. The two women were: Judi Dench and Kathy Bates. These women clearly knew they were actresses rather than runway models (and dare I say "women rather than boys"?). Much more than mere heft was of note in their carriage: They had class, presence, style, élan. Their sheer confidence made the Pointy Brigade look like vacuous wannabe's, grasping at angularity as if to cover or polish some paucity of ... soul?
Realness. Verve. Character and Vitality. Whenever I find myself playing with my eyelids or jawline, I force myself to remember Dame Judi and Kathy, whom I would much rather resemble as I journey croneward than, say, Morgan Fairchild.
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Looking 30 is great -- when you're 30 or thereabout. Me, I naturally got away with looking young through my 40's. During the past year, however, the decades and processes have realigned, somehow, and here we are... Still: I wouldn't rather be pointy (even if such were beautiful. Beauty, anyway, can attract unpleasant attentions, and all manner of creeps, don't I know it).
When I was "young and beautiful", the way to discourage unwanted attentions was to dress dowdily and hide. In midlife, it's much easier. Nature can help us gain weight, droop, sag, be soft and all too human, even with great hair and clothes. Interestingness should matter. Wrinkles should be welcomed, nay, fanfared.
Even in the case of masculine beauty, there are men who have their eyelids clipped and bald pates plugged, and look scary, like many of the women. Morgan Fairchild does look scary. Seen Olivia Newton-John or Cher lately?
Joan Collins was on Martha Stewart's TV show a couple of weeks ago; she looked like a ghoul beside the much more vivacious, natural (60-something) Martha, whose face gives us that "context". Judi Dench and Kathy Bates are, and look like, real people. (Princess) Grace Kelly died in her 50's, a natural beauty.
The keyword here may well be "grace". Imagine two very elderly former starlets, side by side. One looks her age and is full of life. The other seems to have outwitted Decay by stretching her skin so tight she appears, ironically, full of Death, while she's forced to FAKE the youthful vigor that matches her appearance. The former is aging gracefully and graciously. The latter is a pathetic picture of ambition laced with emptiness: All you see is a catalogue of cosmetic procedures, from hair to teeth to skin to lipo. Whom would you rather be, or know? (Warning: Every one of these latter types began, in midlife or earlier, with some "small" procedure.)
Whom are you becoming, at 50? The parent of bride or groom? A grandparent? A mentor? A sage or leader? And - even if you ARE an actor or actress - are you coming into your prime? or fighting, nipping, suctioning, raging against the softening of the light?
Is it really a spa-trip you need? A facelift? or might you be better occupied with living into your age, finding your depth, celebrating and thanking your wrinkles that shout at your soul to Get Real?
To my mind, a facelift says, "I won't face this reality". A truly aging face says, "I inhabit reality".
* * * * * * * * * * *
Teenagers go through body-image trauma of the Adolescent kind. Postpartum women traverse a body-image passage too, having experienced pregnancy and childbirth, now coming to grips with mammary and pelvic reality, skin repercussions and the rest. Adolescence, Matrescence, and, yes, Senescence: Pivotal phases on life's way, involving, among other phenomena, coping with massive and permanent transformations of our bodies, changes over which we naturally have little control and which are meant, I believe, to co-operate with mental and emotional expansion and wizening.
Do we embrace all that is Life? Do we endeavor to understand it? Or, rather, to conquer it? This exemplifies one of the profoundest quandaries of our era: Is technology an enhancer of Life? or its Nemesis?
There are magnificent wines that age beyond their corks' lifespans. Masters of such matters fly around the world, visiting great collections and re-corking these fragile gems in a way that does not interfere with their aging process.
Are you aging that gracefully? Is your inner life blossoming so gorgeously that your container can't keep pace? Can you cross the bridge into Elderhood with your juice intact - nay - still developing? or are you jostling the bottle, messing with it, affixing new, glittery (and pointy?) labels? Overhandle the bottle, you see, and you actually destroy the wine.
So: Is your elixir worth preserving? Does it merit its antique bottle with all its dust and cobwebs? If not, pointiness might fool some of the people, but only some of the time, and never yourself.
"Age is one's true face, long waiting in the wings for the charade of youth to tire". - my Journal, 30 June, 1993
Here I go again, making things complicated. Often my dadamo blogs challenge you, the Blood Type Diet follower, to "Choose Right 4 Your Life".
One of my nieces has gone off to college for the first time. She was quite lonely in high school, feeling that the other girls were shallow and silly, while she, an introvert, took 17 Advanced Placement courses and, yes, participated in sports and many extracurricular activities, including yoga and art. Her parents encouraged her to expect a terrific social life in college, and she's indeed thriving there, adjusting well to her academic pursuits and enjoying dorm life, too. We're all so happy for her, and relieved.
Last week, my niece told me she's menstruated three times since arriving at school 6 or 7 weeks previously. I asked her if she's getting enough iron. She said she thinks so, eating plenty of meat. I do not know her blood type: She says she thinks she's "B positive". She takes her meals at the student cafeteria, a key element in her social life and adjustment. But: What is served at this cafeteria?
"Mostly chicken. I eat lots and lots of chicken". She can't remember if fish has yet been served at all. She's willing to indulge in red meat, but says it's not often offered.
My niece is not combatting any grave health challenges (that we know of!). Even assuming she has Type B blood, there's no reason to prescribe a chicken-free diet at this time, in my opinion. Our family's immediate and pressing concern in her regard is that she make friends and integrate herself into a wholesome and comfortable life there. It's just not the time to vex this child with difficult dietary prescriptions, so I don't impose any. What I told her was that she should enjoy red meats and fish (which she loves) every chance she gets, and snack on dried fruits and walnuts.
Another teenaged niece is going through a pocket of turbulence known as Anorexia Nervosa. I am loathe to impose restrictions in this case, too; we're satisfied with her enjoying and being attracted to any foods at all, for now. The fact that she's been gaining weight to please her parents - despite her own distorted body-image - is a recent positive development, not to be tampered with.
Myself, I need to lose weight, for sure. My weight gain began, and continues, as a side effect of a prescription medication whose benefits far exceed the distress of the side effect. There's a weight loss diet I've followed three or four times in my life that has been a very successful method for me, consistently, though I tend to drop it soon after I reach my target weight. (Most attrition from positive dietary programs is attributable to their restrictiveness and inconvenience. So: Make your régime MORE, not less, convenient wherever you possibly can.)
As a follower of the Blood Type Diet, I might find it easier to give temporary priority to the weight loss diet I've used successfully in the past, until reaching an acceptable target weight, and then - gradually - switching over, or adapting the BTD to what has already proven effective for my weight-control. I have, in the past, "blended" the two programs, but they combine to form an impossibly narrow path, far too constantly challenging for peace of mind and, thus, success. It seems I, too, may have to (temporarily!) unlock the door for occasional chicken and tomatoes, at least. On the road, chicken is often the only easily available protein offered. Tomato is often an ingredient in vegetable juices and sauces. If refusing chicken means I'll have no protein at all, during a given meal, I'll go for that chicken and move on.
See, I'm realizing that many BTD followers, in opting against lectins/"avoids", reject crucial and available foodgroups wholesale, during a given meal or even a whole day or more. The fastest route to B weight gain, and certainly adult female weight gain in general, is regular protein-free meals and snacks. When B's eat that way, while eating full fat dairy, starches, and low- or no- protein fats/oils, we simply must gain weight: That's Basic Science.
What's your current priority? If mine is weight loss, then I'll probably find myself eating/ordering the healthiest high-protein centered meals I can. Going protein-free at mealtime is NOT an option for me and is not compensated by some future high-protein snack or meal; one must do the best one can at each seating.
Blood Type A folks have a tendency to "stress out"; if their mealtimes become saturated with anxiety about each component's nutritive value, this, too, can be counterproductive. Neither can healthy Type O's and AB's afford to forego important food groups altogether at any time, or to beat themselves up about that cup of coffee or glass of orange juice.
My prescription is, generally:
1. Prioritize. Name your most important current life goal and aim straight for it. Achieve success. Then and only then: Tweak. Think: Dorm life for the freshman, meal attractiveness for the anorectic, etc. Your priority may indeed involve high compliance to the BTD.
2. Eat balanced meals that are as nutritious and as "beneficial" as possible without undue stress. Example: If your lunch plan calls for a fruit, choose the most "beneficial" fruit offered. If the ONLY fruit you can obtain all day is an "avoid", eat it and don't worry; it isn't poisonous. Move on.
3. Plan ahead, according to your own unique comfort level. If you can, refrigerate grabbable little Ziploc bags with Blood-Type-compliant snacks or meal adjuncts, or even larger containers of full meals. If this sort of planning or activity is too stressful for you or keeps you from other life priorities, defer this to another day or week or indefinitely. No sweat. Keep going.
4. Use dietary supplements to fill in nutritive gaps during a circumscribed health-focussed period, including "Deflect" by North American Pharmacal, or other source(s) of lectin scavengers.
"Dieting" is stressful enough. No one wins brownie points for adding difficult measures to any restrictive program. Keep your sanity, friends. Don't turn the Blood Type Diet into a major stressor. Don't allow a diet to negatively impact your higher priorities, if you have them, whether these be adolescent social adjustment, teenaged weight gain, midlife weight reduction, or anything else.
I eat to live, not vice versa; what about you? Choose Right 4 Your Life!
Fact #1: The biggest Great White Sharks ever consistently tracked (25-30 ft. long: Think Moving Van)(Dorsal fin height: 3-4 feet above water surface: When you're treading water, your eyes are only a couple of INCHES above waterline!) have been regularly spotted off of Northern California.
Fact #2: There are more human fatalities caused by Great White Shark attack in Northern California waters than anywhere else in the world (Yes, that does include South Africa and Australia).
Fact #3: In these waters, Great White Sharks often cruise in groups or gangs, rather than alone.
Fact #4: The Great White Shark occupies the San Francisco "Red Triangle" (from Monterey Bay on the South, to Tomales Bay on the North, to the Farallon Islands on the West) from September until December every year, feasting on the blubber of straying/ailing migrating whales and sea lions.
Fact #5: Many people go surfing within the Red Triangle during precisely -- and by preference -- this season (warmest water and air temperatures). But here's the really Bizarro angle: Many of those surfers are unaware of Facts #1-4!
(For more cool Red Triangle GWShark facts, check out Susan Casey's 2005 book, The Devil's Teeth)
Last year I had three different surfer clients who didn't know the Facts. Now that they're new parents, they have to start hunting for, and caring about, facts, no? One mom (blood type B!) pooh-poohed my Great White warning. "That's the risk we all take; we love our sport". My prayer is that, since last year, she's grown up into her motherhood. It being November, my thoughts turn to the beaches...
Another client decided to investigate some facts, entering his Zip Code into a "Megan's Law" site, discovering that his next-door neighbor was a convicted child molester.
A few years ago, my friend Carol told me the story of another postpartum scenario, that of her own younger brother's family: SIT DOWN for this one:
He and his wife had had a baby girl, and this mom's OB advised the woman to have a tubal ligation afterward, as her medical condition (to which I'm not privy) "ABSOLUTELY precluded" another successful birth. On religious grounds, this couple had refused the surgery. Fair enough, and, yes, I DO remember my own blog (24 April 2006: "A Problem Like Maria's...") on the subject of Faith and AntePartum/Partum health...
The following year, Carol's sister-in-law conceived again. She "just knew" it would be fine; her husband was anxious, but she "seemed ok", and neither considered any 'Plan B'. Daughter #2 was born, Mom in critical condition and then died postpartum, in hospital, age 35. Dad brought the newborn home. Too depressed to attend the funeral, he checked into a psychiatric hospital for observation, leaving the tots with Grandma. After two weeks away, he was discharged with Rx meds, to go home to his two little ones.
One night shortly thereafter, Carol left work for her brother's house, to make dinner and help with the children. Approaching the house, she heard crying babies. Opening the door, she found bits of her brother's bloody brains...
At age 48, Carol (unmarried) quit her career and took legal custody of the two babies, after burying her brother beside his bride (No more than a month had transpired between Baby #2's birth and my friend's resignation).
That's a couple that ignored the FACTS; they apparently didn't even consider the downside of their negligence and hadn't so much as discussed the possibility that her obstetrician's concern might have been founded. They'd made ZERO mental provision for a Worst Case Scenario, and this man's remorse and guilt drove him to suicide, leaving his children altogether parentless.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Flip side: Sharkwatching charters motor out of the SF Bay to the Farallon waters every morning during Shark Season. Indeed, people fly in from all over the world to witness the frequent "breach-predations" (on/above surface feedings) from topside. A $500 surcharge puts the tourist in an underwater cage attached to the boat, to watch from BELOW)(No injuries sustained since inception 8 years ago).
(Even so, Moms/Dads especially: Count the Cost.)
Extreme Sports? Calculated Risks? It's time for New Instincts, when There's Another Life In The Equation.
A public service ad re: Quitting Smoking opens with this statement: "You can't quit cigarette addiction without a solid plan".
During the Christmas season of 1980, I decided that I would quit smoking when my then-current carton would be empty, i.e., that I'd never buy another.
On January 6, 1981, I was in a meeting and pulled out that Last Cigarette from its pack. As I lit it, I said to the other party, "This is my last cigarette". He replied, "No problem: There's a machine in the lobby".
"You don't get it", I corrected him, "This is the last cigarette I'll ever smoke. I'm quitting".
He: You can't know that.
I: If not I, then who?
It was. I did.
Fast Forward to Spring 1992. I told a friend I was "cutting out all caffeine for awhile". She replied, "You can't do that alone. You need a program..." I had as much idea of what she meant as I had this evening when hearing that public service ad re: Smoking. "You can't..."?
Guess what. People quit habits every day somewhere in the world; right now someone's simply making up his or her mind to quit something.
What are the naysayers selling? A "12-step" program and culture? The idea of helplessness? Lots of patches, pills, candies and chewing gums in drugstores? Remember the "dysfunctional" fad? The one pasting the epithet "In Denial" upon anyone who said "Yes I can"? It seems that foul spirit is still about.
You wanna quit? Then you will. You DON'T wanna quit? Then you won't.
Here's how I did it -- Refer to it as "a plan" if you must.
1. I'd recently changed my diet. It was only after this that I craved better health and habits and decided to quit smoking. Then:
2. I spilled a hot ash on my couch, and when rushing to retrieve it, some red wine spilled on it, too, staining the upholstery. "This is disgusting", I said, "That's it. I'm buying no more cigarettes".
3. I borrowed a dress from someone. When removing it from its hanger bag to put it on, it REEKED of smoke. "I can't wear this!" Then I wondered, "Is this what MY clothes smell like? Yecch. Am I ever glad I'm quitting."
January 6, 1981. My last cigarette. And I never looked back.
It CAN be done, and I say this as a formerly heavy smoker. You DON'T need to join a support group or follow 12 steps or chew gum or wear a patch. When these "don't work" for you, THEN what? The Program says that if these devices don't work, nothing will ("You can't"). Then, you'll give up the idea? and you'll have something to forever blame? (Those #%*@ patches!")
There's ONE crucial thing you need to do to be FREE of smoking - or anything else: MEAN IT. Be 100% resolved that you are no longer a smoker. This used to be called "Will Power". I exercised it in 1981, before drugstore shelves were smothered in Nico-Whatever products. Before OTHER corporations were sucking in the revenues previously invested in cigarettes!
A friend once sighed that her son really really wanted to be married. I intrigued her by countering, "No he doesn't".
"What do you mean?" she protested.
"He's 45 years old", I replied. "He works morning, noon and night and has no social interests or hobbies. A man who really really wants to be married doesn't act that way."
She: WOW! I never looked at it that way! You're right!
Do you want to quit smoking? If you do, if you really really do, you need neither my Blog nor a support group, nor a drug. Do what I did almost 26 years ago. Make up your mind once and for all. When you're ready, you surely will quit. If you're not ready, you surely won't. And I hope you'll transfer this confidence to every aspect of your life, because if you don't, then "I can't" becomes your motto.
* * * * * * * * * *
Recall the excuses of many for failing to repent and follow Jesus, in His earthly day. The reasons given for not immediately following Him reflected this lack of wholehearted resolve.
"Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father". (Mt. 8:21)
"Lord, I will follow Thee, but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house". (Luke 9:31)
Others chose to put off responding to the gospel to some later time:
"We will hear thee again of this matter". (Acts 17:32)
"Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee". (Acts 24:25)
Here's what Jesus DIDN'T say: "You poor dears. Join a support group about it". (There's nothing of that spirit in Christianity.)
Here's what Jesus DID say: "No one, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God". (Luke 9:62).
And: "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth". (Rev. 3:16) (Wasn't HE a tough customer!)
You might be choosing to hem and haw over the decision to quit smoking. In honesty, you might even end up firmly resolving to continue to smoke! In the end, be sure of this: You'll do What You Really Really Want to do.
"He doth truly bewail the sins he hath committed, who resists the sins he hath bewailed". - GS Bowes
My friend Molly - AB - is probably 10 years older than I, and the other day she was explaining that the 20 lbs. she'd lost on Weight Watchers had "come back". She's headed to Florida soon for a family reunion where, she says, she expects to gain yet a bit more weight. She said something that struck me, echoing a thought I'd entertained before: "This is me. This is how I look. I'm no glutton, but I'm certainly not trying to look younger or like an athlete or actress".
People (women, in particular) often gain weight over the course of our adult lives, according to a genetic pattern. Life insurance company guidelines in fact allow for a certain amount of such weight gain, indicating a fairly broad range of accepted weights. Throughout history, people in their 50's and 60's were not (unlike us) working out in gyms or INCREASING their physical output, let alone appearing less and less aged.
Some sobriety is called for when we look at ourselves, and others, in midlife. We are a generation saturated and besotted with TV and movie images; we have artificial "ideals" and role models. Molly's physique is not her livelihood, so, unlike her peers in the public eye, she can be 100% honest-Molly-in-the-flesh and not lose her job, say. While the morbidly obese can be in grave medical danger, those of us grown-ups who are simply somewhat overweight, or just heavier than we were 20 years ago,may be extraordinarily well-occupied otherwise.
My readership is well aware of this pet peeve of mine, here on a health/diet-oriented website; I am convinced that good physical health is but one possible ingredient in a Life-Well-Lived. I've known people suffering from poor -even tragic- health who've been kind, generous, brilliant, courageous, and plenty of other things that, to my mind, make them memorable and important individuals, without whom the world would have been much poorer. And I know plenty of self-absorbed, uninspiring people who keep themselves utterly buff, not to mention "lifted", as if living to be featured on some vapid TV-makeover show. I usually don't remember their names... I'm actually of the opinion that later eras will look back on these obsessions, including that of celebrity/fame for mere TV sitcom actors, to find us seriously askew.
Me? I'm currently on the heavy side, but that's FAR from my most immediate or pressing concern. Yes, I could stand to lose 20 lbs, as can Molly. Nevertheless I'm spending myself in numerous other and important ways. (Often I work with a new mom who's a "fashionplate" and is yearning to "get her figure back" early in the postpartum, so she can look like she DIDN'T just have a baby?)
Genes? My grandmothers were both vital, active, attractive women with "great figures" in youth, more "full-figured" in midlife and later. I'm really glad they weren't weight-obsessed, as were the moms of some of my childhood friends, with calorie charts taped (pre-magnets) to the refrigerator. Indeed, some of my loveliest memories of both women include their excellent, and generous, cooking. They also had That Feeling of worth and peace, sourced in considerations other than slenderness, or even wellness! Both women lived into their mid-eighties.
I once had lunch with a lady who appeared to be only slightly my senior, when I was, oh, 40 or so. She confessed to being 62 and having had alot of --excellent-- plastic surgery. But she admitted she was unable to stop; she was single and had met men who'd guess (as did I) she was much younger, and so, in order to keep up the charade in light of her relationships'...progress... she'd run to the OR for tummy, thigh, and breast work. She looked vital --even fantastic--(clothed), but she sounded haggard, demoralized. Surgery is still surgery, and harder to recuperate from later in life; and living a lie was leading her to despair.
I think good health is important, insofar as it enables one to continue in good works. But, even there, it's not essential. Many of the world's greatest contributors didn't live very long. In fact, as longevity increases from century to century, we're not necessarily becoming better, finer human beings with a LESS socially troubled society.
For many, midlife is when we face mortality: Our friends have heart attacks and bypasses, cancer, diabetes and other increasingly-prevalent-with-age conditions, from varicose veins to cataracts. If we haven't learned What Matters by age 50 or so, if we're obsessed with Perfect Health just to achieve a greater number of years' longevity, then we're but hoarders of a commodity mislabeled "Life", frustrated "Ponce de Leon"s, mirage-chasers.
Do you want That Feeling? (Perfect health doesn't provide it! Nor does beauty.) Molly's looking forward to it when she sees her beloved family in Florida, over a number of meals, surely. She's being realistic: She could gain some weight there, weight she'll try, to some extent, to lose later. But Molly cuts herself slack, because (did I mention?) she's kicked cancer and alcohol; she "shouldn't" even be alive! And she's quite a dame, the kind no diet can deliver.
Remember to have priorities that transcend Health, which is just one means to a greater end, one tool in your God-given belt. If, in spite of all of your efforts and knowledge, you should lose your health, live in such a way that all is not lost, that you are not deemed a failure, especially of the moral kind; in such a way that, fit or not, your departure will be mourned by those you've served and known. If in your life you invest too heavily in cheating Death and Decay, your INEVITABLE defeat will appear all the more ironic or even pathetic. Having done your best at the grocery store, go and live your life.