37 Reasons Aging F*cking Rocks

Guess how old I am. Just guess. Hint: Is fabulous an age? 

Guess how old I am. Just guess. Hint: Is fabulous an age? 

It's my birthday week. Before I tell you how much I love getting older, I want you to know what I thought this would look like.

I imagined aging as a drawn out process of increasing complaint and dissatisfaction. I thought I'd lament my lost youth, pining for the freedom of new love and perky breasts. At 17, I looked at my mother who was the age I am now, and vowed never to give in to daily comfort over style. I would, for the rest of my life, wear a bra to bed if it meant my boobs didn't touch my belly button by age 40.

In other words, I was an idiot.

We obsess over youth, exalting the buttery, supple skin of children to god status, mistaking the sheen of babies for lives full of adventure and free from worry. We tell each other that access to feeling beautiful cuts off at age 30. We say it's all downhill from here. Nothing but aches and pains and death and disappointment waiting for us.

Turns out that's bullshit if you decide that's bullshit. Do you run as fast or as long as you did at age 20? No. Your body changes, just as it did in puberty. It changes. It does not suddenly crumple under the weight of its own disgusting aging process as the world would have you believe.

I started to suspect this a few years ago. Mike's aunt, who had just turned 50, visited us and we took her out for dinner in the Quarter. She grabbed my hand at one point during our meal and told me that turning 50 was the best thing that ever happened to her. Like a cloud of magic smoke, poof, all of her body worry, the need to please, the constant managing her presentation of self: GONE. In other words, Mike's aunt turned 50 and gave zero fucks.

Around the same time, I hung out with Junot Diaz in a hotel lobby and we made out for 2 straight hours. (Disclaimer: Jamie did not actually make out with Junot Diaz.) He told me that men and women reversed as we aged. Men panicked as aging undid their lifelong masculine identities of strength and virility. For women, the total opposite happened. We shed anyone's idea about who or what we were supposed to be in favor of what we actually wanted. Novel fucking idea.

So, with Mike's aunt and Junot Diaz, I am here to tell you that aging fucking rocks. When people tell you different, it's because they're holding onto their own baggage about getting older. That baggage doesn't have to be yours. 

37 Aging F*cking Rocks

  1. I use my voice. I used to stay quiet to keep peace. I wouldn't speak up when something made me uncomfortable or when someone had overstepped a boundary. I pretty much obliterated my own boundaries for the benefits of others. Now, I say what needs to be said in the moment or an appropriate time later. Not out of anger, but out of respect for myself.
     

  2. I have stopped working for love. Love was conditional in my family, tied to fragile and fickle moods. For many years, I worked hard so people would love me, and this meant changing or quieting my actual needs and wants. This still flares up, but I know at my core that I am worthy of love. Period.
     
  3. I can see my body. For most of my life so far, I stood before a mirror with my vision clouded by fantasies and longings for the many bodies my body was not. I couldn't see what stood in front of me, the grace and miracle of it. Now I look in the mirror and see my body. There it is. Nothing more, nothing less. Do I wish it didn't collect a tube of fat around the belly? Yeah, sometimes. But I see it. It's just a layer of fat. It's not my worth and not my self.  
     
  4. I accept my body. This is a work in progress, a mantra I repeat 20 times a day. When I catch myself thinking I'm fat, I counter. I am beautiful right now. I am perfect right now. This is slowly working its magic for acceptance. The key is right now. Not 20 pounds less or a size smaller, but right now. 
     
  5. I have friends. I mean, I've always had friends, but these are something different. Something extraordinary. I am suddenly surrounded by vibrant, powerful, dangerous warrior women who roar at my side when I need them and nurture me to health when I'm sick. We roam in a pack of unconditional love. They require nothing but me to show up as myself. I have wanted this kind of connection my entire life, and here it is. 
     
  6. I have learned the difference between love and like. For furniture, for silky blouses on sale, for people with whom I feel no connection but like just fine. Love stays. Love takes up space in my life and house. Like is nice, but it's often not enough, and for years I settled with liking most things because I couldn't figure out or accept or say out loud what I truly loved. 
     
  7. I let go of people. This was hard, but ultimately better for all of us. We are drawn together for a reason, a season, a lifetime, and we don't have to linger in relationships that have changed. Not everyone stays with us for our entire path, and I've learned we all need to accept when another needs to walk a different way. 
     
  8. I hold on tight to people. It's become much easier for me to say I love you. I'm willing to reach out and hold onto the tribe I have. With discernment, my circle has shrunk to a burning, white-hot core of people for whom I am forever grateful. 
     
  9. I don't run shit. Oh my lawd, I thought I was in charge of everything. Constant vigilance, maneuvering, managing, and manipulating. I had to run your life, your mama's life, and your neighbor's life, too, because if I didn't what would happen? Disaster, that's what. I've now gratefully handed over control to whatever and whoever wants it. Because I don't run shit. 
     
  10. I am glorious. Seriously. I have wasted so much energy on what I would nip, change, tuck, erase, smooth out, muscle up, and lop off that I missed a solid and beautiful truth: I am glorious. And fun. And sometimes funny and smart. Why the fuck was I so worried about everything? 
     
  11. I've learn what I want. I was one of those young people running around talking shit about all of you drones in your office jobs with your mortgages and children you hate. That was bullshit. I actually craved the stability of a fulfilling and creative steady job. I wanted to own a home and nest like a mother fucker and make it look nice when people visited. I got older and finally got honest. 
     
  12. I admit what I want. It still embarrasses me to admit I want nice house things. I'm still shy about talking about infertility because I spent 2 decades telling everyone their horrid children were snot-covered death traps I wanted no part of. But, even in my shyness, I say the things out loud. I want nice house shit. I wanted children but can't have them. I want a flat stomach even though I'll never have one.
     
  13. I prioritize myself. Dude, I wanted you to like me. Really. I still do. But, not enough to give up my early bed time to see your show. I'm sorry. Not enough to miss my Saturday morning meeting because it grounds me for the rest of the week. There are a few basic things I have to do to keep myself from falling off the rails, and I have to prioritize myself so that doesn't happen.
     
  14. I've stopped punishing. This was my MO. Punish myself with extreme diets, accusations, crippling depression. Punish others with silence, judgment, cruelty. Punishment has no room in my life anymore.  
     
  15. Like Mike's aunt, I give zero fucks. No explanation needed. It's just fun to say.
     
  16. I'm walking in my power. I used to look outside for my strength. I attached myself to the side of gregarious and powerful people and siphoned their strength for my own. I was scared, ashamed, and did not believe I had any right to take up space where I went. Fuck that noise. I walk into a room with our president and crack the same joke I tell the janitor. I ask questions when we're supposed to be agreeing. I toss my shoulders back and stand tall and accept fear while knowing fear does not run me. 
     
  17. I listen to my inner guide. This is a big one. I know what's right. My first sponsor told me I needed to sit in meetings 3 times a week. I knew I needed down time and quiet space to recharge after working in a busy collaborative office. I sat my ass down each morning on my fancy meditation pillow (i.e. a former couch cushion) and asked if I was resisting the meetings because I didn't want to change or because I really required that time to recharge. I asked and asked, and eventually the answer showed up. This works with everything. Everything

  18. I may seek advice, but to confirm what I know is true. If I'm making a significant life change, I'm texting my two best friends, my husband, my sponsor, and maybe the spirit of my dead cat. I want to know what those closest to me who have my best interest at heart have to say about my big decisions. But I'm listening for the thing that confirms what I already know is true but may not be ready to admit. This is different than stubbornly plowing my way through life with my will. Instead, it requires I make space for quiet and tune toward my heart. 
     
  19. I don't need to be liked by everyone. Okay, I do. This is still really hard for me. I know it to be true--my particular humor, personality, and interests aren't going to mesh with everyone. Intellectually, I get it. But in daily life, I want to cartwheel across the lawn if it will make you like me enough to in return make me feel secure. So, this is more of a mantra. Someone might not like me. I can let that be. 
     
  20. You are fine if people are pissed at you. I am at heart my mother's fixer, the oldest child who served as her supportive spouse when it was just the two of us hanging by a thread. My mom used to get up before dawn and trudge us both to the gas station where she worked. She made a pallet in the floor of my blankets and pillows, so I could sleep until the bus came to pick me up. I was four or five and knew the very millisecond she couldn't take our hard life anymore, then I would swoop in and put my hands on her cheeks and tell her that I loved her. I am her fixer, and I carry this into the world with me.  So I have had to learn that people can be mad at me, and I can let that exist without having to fix it. It's hard, but I can do it.
     
  21. My flaws are actually me. Not wretched poisons that must be excised from the soul. Not definitive proof of my vile character. They are just some of the accumulated ways I've learned to cope with tragedy. I may be cold at times, but it's because emotion could be dangerous. I may be selfish or I may recede, but it's often an unconscious self-protection. These are my work for the rest of my life, to ensure the least destruction as possible, but they are still just me. 
     
  22. I am wholly worthy of giving and receiving love. I learned this lesson through the grace of receiving love. I was in my late-20s in a destructive binging phase of self-hatred. I shook out of the fog long enough to see myself surrounded by the unwavering love of people.  It was as if a door had opened in my mind. They loved me. This meant I was worthy of love. This meant I could love in return. This tiny moment is still one of the greatest gifts I have received. 
     
  23. That shitty song was right: my body is a fucking wonderland. Seriously, it's a miracle. Do you know how much abuse I've heaped on this thing? Stuck it like a pin cushion, savaged my liver, fried my brain with acid and X and essentially anything with availability. And yet, this meat suit glides in yoga, digests Five Guys burgers, glistens with new skin oil, and wakes up every fucking day without my having to beg. Each tiny cell the shape of a tiny cosmos, as above so below. It's a miracle. 
     
  24. I stopped flinging myself at possibilities and started to guide myself toward what I am. I wanted to be anything other than what I was. I tossed myself at every opportunity that came my way and ran shrieking for the hills the moment that opportunity looked like something I might really want. I'm talking soul-want. I said yes to jobs I hated because I might need to fall back on the skills. I took on roles for which I was ill suited. I even openly disparaged what I happen to be pretty damn good at. This gift of aging means I have so much more clarity with which to evaluate my options. 
     
  25. I stopped apologizing. Please do this with me. Unless I just rammed that bar on the front of my cart into your bare heel at the grocery store, I will no longer be saying I'm sorry every 5 minutes. 
     
  26. I am learning, little by little, inch by inch, to open my heart to its fullest capacity. I was closed down, a fist walking around in the world, because I'd been taught that weakness asked to be victimized. Weakness got it what it deserved. But true strength is cracking open that vault to expose your fragile heart, getting hurt, and loving wildly and openly anyway.
     
  27. I am learning what it is to be generous without expecting anything in return. My mother's favorite refrain in my childhood was about my selfishness. This judgment burrowed inside me, took root, and permeated most of my interaction. I was not so much self as self-preserving. I've learned that giving of myself fills my soul and that I can handle the vulnerability that generosity engenders in me. 
     
  28. I marvel at the people who love you. I don't know where I collected the messages about what I did and did not deserve, but I am continuously floored by the dazzling brilliance, loyalty, and spirit of the people who love me. It's a constant knock to my heart - in a good way - because I can't believe my tremendous good fortune. 
     
  29. I express legitimate anger and don't feel shitty about it. This is now my favorite. Not everything is my fault or my doing. I get to say, "Hey, no, back that shit up." I get to be pissed off. I have permission to feel all the shitty rage I want to feel before moving on. 
     
  30. I love my body. I wish it was thinner and didn't commit to keeping an extra 10 pounds around my belly. But I still love it. Like, thanks, body, for waking up every morning and taking care of the poop situation without my having to intervene.
     
  31. My boobs sag and they're gorgeous. It was hard for me to let my boobs go. I was not one of those girls heralded for her beauty. When I hit high school, some weird transformation happened, and I was suddenly what other people thought of as pretty. I invested in my body remaining exactly as it was, and this included taught boobs with nipples that faced due north. This, of course, cannot last. Nipples are not meant to point north. I can now see my breasts in the mirror and congratulate them for being so damn sexy, regardless of where they now point. 
     
  32. I have zero expectation that my thighs may gap and even less that I would ever want such a thing. Them thighs are living how they want to live, and I'm happy for them. 
     
  33. I have cemented my style, clothing that reflects something essential about me to the world. I see pictures of myself now, and I think, Damn, girl - get it. It's not because I weigh less or have better hair or magically transformed myself into some ideal I always wanted to be. It's because I've finally stopped chasing who I thought I should be and started embracing who I am. That includes wearing clothes that are comfortable and that complement my body. I may love a high-waisted pantsuit on you, but that does not mean my body shape needs to rock it, too. 
     
  34. Gratitude is almost too much sometimes. I love Danielle Laporte's question, "What do you want that you already have?" I ask myself that regularly. Love? I'm surrounded. Acceptance? It's unconditional and ever-present. Money? I have enough to eat and can even by fancy lipstick if I want. I may slip into want often, but I try to right myself quickly by remembering how much I already have. 
     
  35. I witness women as power. When I was little, I wanted to be a boy. Their independence was a given. They were rewarded for fearless exploration and curiosity. They were respected. Late into my teens and 20s, I shunned all things feminine because I associated my femaleness with weakness. I was not one of those girls who could be pushed around or controlled. I've thankfully grown into someone who values our warrior spirit and who recognizes womanhood manifests in a fuck-ton of powerful ways. 
     
  36. I am surrounded by mentors. I have been lucky. I have always gotten to watch powerful women around me make a house out of duct tape, string, and a shitty paycheck that never stretches far enough. That circle has expanded to include ferocious professional women and fearless entrepreneurs. Time has given me the gift of relationships, and I am now guided by women who awe and inspire me. Some are quiet and some crash through walls to protect what they believe is right. All are gifts I wasn't ready for when I was younger.
     
  37. And finally! I trust the Universe. This week, a major reorganization pitched my new department and new job into uncertainty.  I fretted. I can't pretend I didn't. But this lasted for a few hours before I took a long hot shower, texted my friends, and repeated over and over I had to hand it over. I wasn't in charge of what might happen, and worrying didn't resolve anything. Five, ten, even two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to find any calm within me.