Aging in the twenty-first century is an interesting prospect. With so many available surgical procedures, Botox and fillers and non-invasive procedures like lasers, facials and other skin stimulating treatments, it is a wonder anyone over 50 has even a small wrinkle.
There are two sides in the aging debate; one, pull it, pluck it, tuck it, suck it, pin it, thin it, fill it, dye it and cut it. Then there are those who for financial reasons, commonsensical reasons or just plain self-contentment reasons subscribe to the notion that fighting gravity is futile and aging with grace is the road to ultimate fulfillment. I am of that mindset.
There was a time I thought that I might venture down the non-invasive path when the signs of aging had finally overtaken my face but now that I am there, on the cusp of what was once considered old, I am completely at peace with the process. I refuse to bend to society and its narcissistic need to make everyone look perfect. I refuse to look in the mirror and dislike or condemn myself. I refuse to let what society thinks turn me into a paranoid old lady wondering how people perceive me or worse, an insignificant wallflower ignored by society. I refuse to be like everyone else who thinks that by fixing their chin or eyes that no one will have a clue how old they are. I refuse to be relegated to sitting and knitting as the world around me spins.
I celebrate the last year of my fifties with glee because I survived more than I ever thought I would or could. I celebrate every gray hair as it reminds me of my old friend, the silver lining, which has shown up in my life right after every major storm and there have been so many. I celebrate every wrinkle and every smooth spot knowing that soon they will merge and all the lines of my life and every path I took will envelop my face. I celebrate the sags the bags the bum drop, the ski slopes, the liver spots and waning vision as I know it is my time to multiply and exercise what cannot be seen. I had my youthful day in the sun but sunsets are so much grander and they are the gateway to the stars.
So you think you are a person of integrity, there is a very easy way to check yourself.
1. Do you cheat on your taxes?
2. Do you tell white lies then dismiss it with excuses like, “Everybody does it” or “I didn’t want to hurt you.”
3. Do you do what you say and mean what you do? Is your word your honor?
4. Do you follow haters and vitriolic people in social media?
5. Do you celebrate or support killing, hating, wrong doing or mean spirited posts or people?
6. Do you hide things from anyone close to you like your cell phone or iPad?
7. Do you make excuses for bad behavior in you or others?
8. Do you enjoy television shows or movies which celebrate bad behavior, dysfunction or violence?
9. Do you do the right thing when no one is looking?
10. Are you loyal? Do you have your friends back?
Integrity is paramount to character and with society rapidly descending into a constant stream of bad behavior, there has never been a better time to check your integrity and rise to the top of the barrel like cream. You may not realize it but you are creating negative karma for yourself if your integrity is wavering. What goes out will return and with far more intensity. Take yourself to task and walk the walk or be subject to the onslaught of others doing to you what you are doing to yourself.
You have spent your entire life learning how to be strong and how to have a thicker skin to protect your fragile heart. You have learned how to “let it go” how to defend yourself against verbal attacks, how to act like a roughen and some of you have sadly learned how to act like Honey Boo Boo’s inbred cousin. Now reverse it. That’s right, soften your sinews, think before you speak, speak from a heart of love or don’t speak at all. We are currently in a cycle where words are magnified more so than ever before and they WILL have a boomerang effect on YOU. It is time to develop diplomacy, time to THINK before you speak and I don’t just mean about what you are going to say; I mean THINK whether it needs to be said at all. Will it help, will it hurt, will it change anything? Don’t bark at the air for many are now able to feel that air with every breath. Use some emotional intelligence and understand that words are the currency of the soul and you can either be spiritually bankrupt with utterances of nothingness or you can be wealthy with verbiage that affects change. Soften, stop spewing your useless opinion about people and things that you are not even remotely qualified or capable of doing anything about. Conversely, soften your dialogue and become the voice of wisdom and reason to those issues you can affect change, to those debates where your voice can actually create tangible results. If you don’t know the difference, then it’s really simple, don’t speak at all.
I am madly and passionately IN LOVE! I can’t believe it after years of resisting anything remotely that looked like a huge commitment but here I am in a committed meaningful relationship!
It began at Dillard’s when I was shopping for something to wear for a special occasion, I had no idea how special this day was about to become. I had just wrapped up a wonderful afternoon of laughing with four women in the dressing rooms while trying on designer clothes. We were openly laughing about our flaws and bumps and curves and each of us found the perfect outfit and lavished each other with praise. We even took a selfie marveling at how it takes a village to dress a “mature” woman nowadays. I wrapped up my purchase, spread hugs all around and dashed off to find the perfect jewelry to wear with this masterpiece.
Then it happened…I was on the main floor meandering through the perfume and make up stations, smiling and waving at all the women who work at Dillard’s whom I have encountered for years. And there across the room, there HE was. At first I was so afraid but suddenly one of the women I had been trying on clothes with approached me and as if she knew my fear, she put her arm around me and said, “Go for it! You deserve this kind of happiness!” Sheepishly I approached him and as I reached out, he practically leapt into my arms, it was as if time had stopped and we were the only 2 in the room.
His touch was silky smooth and so tender, his strength wrapped me tightly and hugged me so warmly that I could not believe I had resisted for so long. What was I thinking; he made me a better woman! He fit my frame like a glove and I glowed and looked like the young woman I use to be. My prayers have been truly answered. I clutched onto him like my very life depended on it. We walked hand and hand out of the store and I knew that I had found the relationship which would last me for the rest of my life. I am so grateful to share with all of you my joy! I have fallen madly and passionately in love with SPANX! Ariaa Jaeger – Ariaa.com (copyright 2013)
In the late 1950’s success in America was typically portrayed as a one income family, a middle income job, a modest home in the suburbs and a new Oldsmobile or Chevrolet parked in a one car driveway. Emotional, physical and spiritual well-being was all rolled up in a nice little Sunday go to church package in a time where preachers and doctors were considered gods.
As the human race has evolved over the past 60 years money has become the god of choice as a barometer for measuring success and happiness. Yet the divorce rate is at an all-time high, families rarely sit down to dinner together, doctors are seeing record numbers of heart attacks, strokes and stress related ailments and America is working longer hours for less pay.
Material wealth has become the great American remedy though many see it as a way to anesthetize and appease an otherwise malcontented society. Yearly we witness the annual ritual of “Black Friday” now revised to “Black Thursday” where shoppers wait in long lines and mow each other down in order to save twenty dollars on something they probably won’t use more than a few times.
Somewhere in the financial rise and fall of America’s ever changing economic horizon, character, integrity and core values was lost.
Oh there are still many in every demographic who value more than money and many who measure their life by greater than what they have in their wallet. The onslaught of scaling down began with the mortgage crisis a few years ago when people started looking for different ways to own a home and preferred a smaller, more ecologically friendly home as opposed to the one they lost without ever missing a payment. Downsizing has become the new norm with shows like Tiny House Nation and Architectural Digest featuring shipping containers tricked out to create beautiful, affordable housing.
With a nation willing to get rid of the excess of the massive quantities of stuff they have accumulated over their lifetimes, comes too, a new way to define success. Unlike previous times, success has become simplified; the less stressful a life, the more successful. The less overhead, the more successful, the more quality time with family and friends, the greater the measure of success. Having a roof over your head, a warm bed to sleep in, having food on the table every day and going to bed contented every single night with a clear conscious, THAT is success. Having quality friends love and support your dreams and celebrate your accomplishments, THAT is success. Having a strong, healthy body, free from fears or stress related sickness THAT is success. Being able to take your integrity and authenticity into the world each day, unafraid of being yourself, having the freedom to express yourself, THAT is success. Leaving a legacy and helping others knowing most will never know it was you who paid the tab or prayed for a better outcome for them, THAT is success. Being able to let things go easily, forgive easily and live without judging yourself or others THAT is success. Leading a life rich in diversity, philanthropy, and volunteerism and doing it with unrequited joy, THAT IS SUCCESS.
These are the things that neither money nor a college degree will ever be able to give you. These are the core valuables which should be in your safe and should be non-negotiable. Spend less time working for the almighty dollar and more time seeding and fertilizing that which has real worth, that which is invaluable, these add up to the truest measure of success.