Aging – The Quest to Make Gratitude My Mirror

Looking around at the women I knew and saw – it seemed that aging took a stronger hold after 40. Bodies, faces, hair… I began to think that 40 was the magical age when I’d become “old.”


27 days after turning 40, I became so unbelievably sick. Life as I knew it… stopped. Dysautonomia is like a direct flight to living in an 80-year-old body.
I’m working my way back to health (a term measured in feeling, not beauty). For me, health means moderate activity – nothing strenuous enough to give me a toned body. It means medications that increase my blood volume and my weight. It means that I fight for moments of strength and joy… and I find them.


So 40 is not the magical age when I became old. It has been an age where I’ve begun to accept imperfections externally and internally. An age where I’m letting go of what the world thinks is important, in part, because I’ve “walked” through what it’s like to be bedridden; to not be able to do the wonderful, small things that give me joy – and I KNOW these small things are so much more valuable than how a dress falls and the texture of my hair. Gratitude is the best mirror.


Has being “cute” given me power over the years? Yes. I believe it has gotten me jobs. It’s the first thing my husband saw when he met me. It has made people want to be my friend or accept me into a group. My power now is strength and experience. Am I afraid to lose my external beauty? You bet! But I’m proactively making peace with it. I call to mind my friends and family who died young and never had the blessing of growing old or seeing their children grow up.

I’m seeking lessons from those who have aged before me: how they carry themselves, what they continue to contribute, and how they see the world. I want to soak up their knowledge.

I search for blogs and Instagram accounts that feature women aging to balance society’s constant messaging that youth must be attained at all costs. For me, this is an especially important step. Due to my illnesses, I’ll never be able to use fillers and Botox like so many of my peers. Sometimes, my mind wanders and I imagine a gathering with friends where I look so much older than everyone else at the table. I want to find joy at that table, not discomfort, not shame.

Do I still want to be lovely? Certainly. I’ll seek out a pretty dress and fix my hair. I’ll find a new foundation that works with aging skin, but I dont want to fight aging. I want to embrace it, to share all of its gifts. I want my spirit to have the light of youth and the experience of age, the calm of having navigated numerous seas, and the knowing that love is all that really matters… and that includes self love.

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