Friday, November 18, 2011

Another Aging Post

It is twilight and a while ago the power went out for about an hour and so I set aside all of my plans which of course required electricity and went and laid down on the bed and read for awhile and just as I was falling asleep, the lights came on and I was jolted awake and got up and continued on with the life of electric lights, washing machine, food processor, hot water heater.

I can't tell you how old I feel today. Ancient and yes, crone-like. Bent to a task like any old peasant woman, although when I went to town to run errands and have lunch with Hank, I painted my eyelids and even lined my eyes and put on mascara and lipstick.
Still. Old.

The skin. What can you do about the skin? There is no elixir or pearl-like nutriment which will return it to its elasticity. And if there were, what would we do? Buy it by the barrel, dip our entire bodies in it every night and every morning? Ha!

It's funny how some days I am at peace with this aging process and able to make fun of it and remember that it was never my beauty I was known for, even if I was much prettier than I knew. Youth- there is no substitute. Wisdom is a fine enough trade-off and so is, some days, the vanity which must be let go if one is to remain sane, shaken off with a rueful laugh, an arm-full of bracelets making do where once there was smooth skin.

And then other days the mirror can not, will not lie. You catch yourself not posing, as you do when you face it. You see the way others must see you and there- there- who is that old woman? How does my face look when I screw it up to listen to my choices of bread at the sandwich place? When I am slowly backing up my car, when I am relaxed in sleep, when I am scowling over this computer, trying so hard to recover the words that I know are in this mind but which seem to have been lost in slack pockets of brain which surely by now is as un-elastic as the skin is, no matter how much they talk about the amazing plasticity of that organ.
Sure. Up to a point.

And perhaps today it is just the aching knee. I got up from the table at lunch and it took me a time and I grimaced and Hank, dear son, asked, "Are you okay?"
"Fine, once I get started," I said, and I am. Frisky as a little horse, but oh, the getting started.

Well. What can one do? Become one of those women who from the back look like teenagers with long, glossy hair and tiny hips who walk on pointy-toed shoes, and who, when you see their faces, you realize are grandmothers, starved to death and wending off old-age with every weapon in the arsenal including make up, plastic surgery, dieting, exercise and hot-bod togs but in fact, are fooling no one except perhaps themselves?
It's an option.
Not for me.

So why complain? Why not just be grateful for the fact that there is still enough strength here to walk my miles, to pick up my grandson when he holds his arms up, to heft the chicken food, to be alive at all?

I am not, really. I am just saying that I am not a perfect person and even I, here in my tiny dream world of chickens and grandson and loving husband and dirt and overalls see pictures of goddesses like Lauren Hutton and Helen Mirren and even though I KNOW I am not either one of those beautiful women and cannot, should not compare myself to them, it's so hard in this culture not to. I have been thinking a lot about this. How when I put on my old dead round man's Levi's I hitch 'em up and button and zip them like my husband does his and how, at the end of the day, they are so stretched out I can take them off without undoing them and how comfortable and comforting this is and who gives a shit how they look? And how women are wearing these spandex suck-'em-in jeans and oh yes, our bras which corral our bosoms and place them where they "should" be and it all just makes me wonder how far women have come since the age of corsets and passing out and girdles and garter belts and sanitary napkins which felt like wearing a two-by-four between our legs and, and, and...

When do we get to be who we are?

When we accept that ourselves. I think that is the answer.

Do we? Do we have a chance at accepting ourselves?
Do you? Do you accept yourself?

Just asking.

It's Friday night and I am asking.


  1. Happy Friday, Ms. Moon. I've been reading, but not much time for replying. Working is making me feel so very old, mostly because I am so very tired. I didn't factor in having to learn and stay sharp and deal with the general public, many barely conversant in the language after a night of drenching sweats from 2-4am. So there's that.
    But the face in the mirror, I try not to look at it, because I'm operating on a memory lag where I remember how I looked in my 40's and the 50's are a whole new level of reality. I've got the creaky parts too, and I think one or the other might be manageable, but both plus the tired, and I feel more sorry for myself than I am comfortable being. Maybe it's a mourning process. I sure don't know. I feel like I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up here, completely by accident. I knew this was coming, but I just didn't really KNOW.
    I'm reading an advanced copy of Aging as a Spiritual Practice : A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser. It's full of just the right type of wisdom you'd expect from a Buddhist priest who's faced down cancer, but still, I am not yet enlightened. I'm pretty sure it's going to take more than 40 pages to find it. I'd sure like a woman to write a book about learning not to care what you see in the mirror, and learning to accept that some women, like Helen Mirren, are going to look great forever. Not really fair, but there it is.
    No, I don't accept myself this way. I can blame the media and the culture that rewards physical beauty, but only for part of it. I miss the old me, just the way I miss my kids when they were little, but without the loving them more as they got older part. I'm not sure if I know how to love me more, or even a little, honestly.
    This is where my son would say Sounds like you have mental problems. Maybe so.
    Thank you completely for being out there, thinking and sharing these things, because I lack in the mentor or role model department.
    And for the record, when I look at your pictures, I don't see what you see. I see a woman as lovely as Helen Mirren, with a beautiful face that hilights her smile and her eyes. But I know that it's what you see that counts.
    Maybe we can find magic mirrors at the Goodwill?

  2. I think that's a life long process, of which the final stages of acceptance are seeing, really seeing, the history and struggles and failures and triumphs behind the wrinkles and age spots and sagging jowls, tummies, breasts etc. and knowing that all of that tired flesh extended great effort in trying to Love and learn and help. And it's more about the beauty of that effort that underlies all those wrinkles.
    I actually think I'm quite unpleasant looking - until I look deep into my eyes and catch a glimpse of my journey - and then I lift my chin a little higher and I think....not bad. (that lifting of the chin also helps disguise the saggy jowls :)
    And when I look at pictures of you...especially that one of you at the theater...I see the history of you and it makes you even prettier than the pretty you already were.

    History is a priceless cosmetic, especially if you love someone.

  3. I like myself because I used my body hard back when I had it. I have good memories about it and a hot water bottle and I clearly remember weighing 79 pounds and being forced to wear a panty girdle to school to keep my effing stockings up. And those elastic belts for the canoe-sized sanitary napkins or pins.


    Good bog. I pretty much always go without my draws if I can and I still enjoy rampant sluttiness. I have accepted myself but not Jesus.

    Love you Mary and your poor knee.

  4. I only wish I had the words to tell you how very much I detest spandex and bras. Oh how I hate them. And oh how I love old round man's jeans and overalls. That is what I love about you Mary, seriously, the overalls and the you that let's us know you. What the heck does aging skin have to do with anything. REALLY? To me, you are a beautiful woman and more so than any famous actor could ever be and that is because you are yourself and you share yourself.

    Society doesn't want older women around--period. I am very lucky about where I live at present. Poverty is so abundant that I don't know anyone who has had plastic surgery or wears stupid shoes. In California, those women (the face lift and everything else lift) were everywhere and made me doubt myself and my looks. Here, I feel like I look young because I have my own teeth and my own hair. It is all relative.

    I don't like this sort of talk. You are you and you are beautiful in my eyes. And, in your husband's and your family's eyes. And even if you didn't have all those eyes looking up to you, you would still be beautiful! Do you know what I mean here Ms. Moon?

  5. I'm on the road to acceptance, and what's astonishing to me is that I am. Because if I looked like I do now two or so years ago, I would have been completely horrified. That means that I am either accepting or profoundly depressed. I'm going with accepting.

  6. I am almost 42, and still do not feel comfortable in my own skin. If you find out the answer regarding acceptance I would love to know it, but it is probably up to the individual. Definitely would be a lot more enjoyable if we all accepted each other. Hang in there, Ms. Moon, and have a great weekend.

  7. i don't feel any age in particular. the way i see it, each day i remain here on this earth my mere presence pisses at least one person, so however i look when i piss that person off is not as important as the fact that i am still here, and still pissing people off.


  8. I am often afraid of the early-morning face that I see in the mirror, but what I like about that face is that it has a history. I don't like the puffiness, the tiredness, but I like my smile lines and crinkled-up eyes.

    And I am much kinder to everyone else, myself included, since I got so, gulp, old.

  9. I think I am accepting. I would prefer to not be aging as I don't think I used my youth well. Maybe that's why we all resist aging after all. We squandered our youth. We didn't believe our elders when they said that time flew and we'd be just like them before we knew it so use the time well. It's not that I have many regrets except for those things I didn't do after all - the things I put off thinking there was all the time in the world. My mother has turned 90 today. She says that she feels old now. But not all the time - sometimes she is still just 25 inside.

  10. Happy Friday, Mrs. Moon. I hope your burger dinner was fabulous. If this vegetarian had "home grown" organic beef, she'd eat it.
    The aging stuff is pretty fucking fierce here in movie-land. I'm the old woman with the gray hair. You can pick me out of the crowd. If I stood outside, you could probably find me on Google Earth. Silver was the new blond for about 5 minutes, now it's over. Of course.
    I'm working on a grad school application tonight. It's still in rough draft, but the process has made me realize I've learned a lot in my 59 years. Yup. I'm a wise crone with silver hair living in the land of bimbos and the infinitely young. But I know stuff. Yes, I do.

  11. Good morning Miss Moon :)

    Well, it's morning for me here in the Middle East anyway. I've read your gentle blog for so long now and I don't know why I feel the need to comment TODAY of all days - I just do.

    I need you to know that over the past few years I've read your blog and it has brought me amazing comfort in bad times. It helped me through a period of time in which I was desperately seeking employment so that I might save my house (I did!), it comforted me when I made the decision to end a 7 year relationship (right thing to do and new love is in the air!) and today I just needed you to know that you are an inspiration.

    It helps me cope when I read about your past and see that you've managed to become the sun of a wonderful universe. And it brings me so much hope (fuck it - I DID start that sentence with a preposition!!) that one day I'll manage to build that for myself. I know all too well those demons with which you struggle and some days they're just a real motherfucker.

    But today - I need you to know that I love your world. I love your chickens, your beautiful flowers and I love your love for your family and I love your love for Mr. Moon and the tenderness you show one another every day.

    Maybe I needed to wait until things were better in my life before I said HELLO THERE! and THANK YOU!

    So Miss Moon. Good morning from the Middle East. You are my sunshine today and you are FABULOUS!!!!!

  12. This is the second time in my bloggy life that reading the comments to an amazing post has made me both laugh and cry! Thanks to everyone here.
    Your readers are as amazing as you are, Ms. Mary Moon.

  13. Most of the time I'm okay with being this old, but there are those shocking moments when I glance in the mirror and say, OMG, what happened??? Like you, I never thought I was pretty when I was young, until I looked at those photos from the distance of time.

    As Mel said, I agree it's a mourning process, getting used to the way we now look. When I was 30 I noticed the line between my eyes, at 40 a few more wrinkles, then 50 with sagging breasts and the ultimate understanding of gravity! Last month I turned 60 and I believe acceptance is happening most of the time. It's pretty freaky though. The ageing process is definitely an interesting journey and not always pleasant.

    Thanks for starting this conversation. I love you and your fans/commenters!

  14. Wonderful to read a first-time comment from another of your readers!

    I remember those sanitary napkins -- great bulky wodges held up by a tight belt and there weren't even absorbent! My grandmother said I was lucky to have pads, because she had only a handful of used linen sheets torn into strips and scrubbed clean each month.

  15. This. This is why I read your blog. You, your words and the beautiful way you put them together. Like the wonderful comment from Julie above, this is the post that prompted me to click through from Reader to comment (not my first time but the first time in a year). It's 5am and I'm nursing my four month old daughter and my head is now buzzing with your words and thoughts on aging and learning to accept the effect that motherhood has had on my (already creaky 40 year old) body... Thank you!

  16. Hang in there girls...(no pun

    When You get to be 84 you might actually accept the ravages of old age.
    If you are smart you will.You will find so many more important that twinge
    in the knee.

    I think I wrote a rant on this subject once, but your rant is so much better. You got class

  17. I don't even want to think about it right now. I'm having my own little crisis! But you're right. About it all.

  18. Mel- That was a beautiful piece of writing right there. So many thoughts that ring true here. It's NOT just one thing or another, one loss or another, as we age. It is the entire spectrum of lack-of-sleep, new aches and pains, the way we look and think- all of it. Add it all up and it is profound. No wonder we struggle. Thank-you for reminding me how strong women are- both in our youth and as we age.

    Liv- History IS a priceless cosmetic. What a very true and beautiful statement. And I have seen pictures of you. You are gorgeous even without the eyes of history to see you through. I hope you can see that too.

    Madame Radish King- "I HAVE ACCEPTED MYSELF BUT NOT JESUS." Lord, woman, you make me laugh when you are not making me cry. You get on with your slutty self. I adore you.

    Rubye Jack- And you have touched on another nerve. The way women are pretty much shoved to the side and asked to keep quiet if we MUST be around after a certain age. Why IS this? No, we cannot conceive and birth any more and perhaps we do not excite sexually any more (to the young, fertile, anyway) but is that all we have been living for? Is that our true worth? Of course not and yet...damn but society seems to lean in that direction.
    I, too, have my own teeth and hair and thank-you, I will consider myself young because I do.

    Elizabeth- Thank god these things do happen at a relatively slow rate although after a certain age, the pace of destruction does pick up.
    As I asked a friend of mine once- how can you tell if you are in acceptance or denial?
    We might as well choose the less devastating and more noble alternative. I love you...BEAUTIFUL!

    Mr. Shife- "Definitely would be a lot more enjoyable if we all accepted each other."
    Another pearl of wisdom. A good one, too. Thank you for another perspective. Thinking good baby thoughts for you and Mrs. S.

    Mrs. A- Ah, you feisty female! You have waken me and shaken me with that comment. Thank-you!

    Pamela- Some people, as they age, grow more resentful and less compassionate. You have reminded me that those are the people whose aging DOES THEM NO FAVORS AT ALL! Thank you. Bless you.

  19. Interesting... I'm sort of in and out like you I guess. Mostly I'm ok with it, sometimes not so much.

    I saw what my face was going to look like as an old woman when I was tripping once. (Probably why they tell you never to look in the mirror!) It was sort of shocking seeing myself old so soon out of context, but I looked like an old Navajo woman, and I liked that.

    Lately I've chosen to keep my focus inward and then outward, as in not so much on myself. If that makes sense.

    Great post and great question.

  20. Jeannie- I have a bit of that same regret. Not much, but a little. And your mother is right- we have all the ages we have ever been inside of us. Always.

    Denise- God. How inspiring! I loved the "google earth could find me" sentence. Yes. You do know some things and it is wonderful that you KNOW you know them and are yourself in that land of la-la and are going to learn more. Yay for you!

    Julie Rayner- I need to print those words out and put them up where I can see them every day. You have NO idea how much I cherish them. To think that from here to where you are, my words fly and find a home in a heart. I am just amazed. Thank you for commenting. Whatever it was that moved you to do so today, bless that too. You have inspired ME now in some way and for that, too, I thank you. Speak up any time you feel like it here. We are a community. Now we know that you are part of it. And congratulations on your bravery, your changes. Congratulations!

    Mel- It is all of us together who make this place what it is. Isn't it something how we find each other?

    lulumarie- Pretty freaky indeed! That's it exactly! Well, speaking as someone who knows you in real life, you were beautiful and you are beautiful. Period. The end.

    Stephanie- Sigh. I spend a lot of the time not accepting either. Love you, woman.

    Mary LA- At least back in "those days" women weren't expected to have the arms of teenaged boys and six-pack bellies. One step forward, two steps back.

    hmmon- Ah, darling- thanks for clicking over! And thanks for being a nursing mama. And thanks for your words. Enjoy as much of your forties as you can because in my estimation, they are a woman's best decade.

    Lo- The girls. Ah- the girls. Why do we bind and press them? I love you so much. You are a loving example of what age can mean. AND beautiful. Now about that knee...

    Jo- Be well, darling. Thank-you.

  21. Oh, I accept myself just fine as long as I don't have to see myself in the mirror. Last night doing face time with the teen g'girls on my iPad and they on their iPod touch, the little picture of me in the corner, the one they were seeing, I'm thinking 'who is that wrinkled lipless old woman' ugh. and the skin, oh god, the skin. But I know that they love me, they don't see an icky old woman even if I do. they see the granny they love and have grown up with. they are not judging me by the way I look. and then there's the upside...I don't even have to try to look attractive cause buddy, that's all in the past. still, I see plenty of beauty in aged faces. You'd think I would be able to see it in mine.

  22. Sister Moon, I love this post. I am 41 and getting very gray hair which I color. Ever so often I say that I'm sone coloring but then fear that it won't come out like Anderson Cooper's chic premature gray does. So I color it again.

    I'm pretty sure that this will last only a little longer. I'd say that, for the most part, I'm alright with me. Fortunately, the old adage "black don't crack" is rather true--but that doesn't protect you from premature graying AT ALL.

    It helps that Harry loves me and seems to think I hung the moon despite all my crazy. I think love keeps you young. And for the record, that photo from Cozumel a while back with you planting a juicy one on Mr. Moon looked exactly how I want to look when I'm a grandmother someday.

    P.S. I detest the old face/young everything else look. Uggghhh!

  23. Ms. Fleur- Well, honestly, your bone structure provides you with an eternal beauty and you saw the truth of that while tripping. I was always completely fascinated with my face in the mirror while tripping. I found it beautiful- odd, huh?

    Ellen Abbott- Maybe we ALL need to do ingest a little hallucinogen (again- for some of us) and see our own beauty the way we can see others. Maybe?

    gradydoctor- Don't read what I wrote above. Please! Just kidding...
    It's true about the skin of darker women and men. And I have long noticed that black women of all ages take more care to protect their skin from the sun. I used to watch the little old ladies here in Lloyd walk down the road with their umbrellas above their heads on sunny days.
    Now I understand and wish I had paid more attention!
    But hair- ah. I am just WAITING for mine to become all gray. I think it will suit me. I think I will feel more right with myself within and without. But that's just me.

  24. What I don't like is when I catch a glimpse, a side view or in an unawares photo and I see my mom. Now my mom has amazing skin and that I like but it is the frown I may wear, or the task face that unnerves me. Sometimes I try to practice keeping my face mellow, with a pleasant thought, try to smile more. Then I "feel" better.

    Aging was not a thought until age 50 and then I saw the changes in my skin. All those years of riding horses without sunscreen or a hat, the age spots, the skin on my hands texture. I feel betrayed because my heart does not portray my outer self. I don't really know how to accept the aging process. No longer having a period was a relief! Now I think of how to keep flexible so I may keep active. I try to keep my mind active...Then again I pat that Mama belly, after 4 kids and I really wish it was firm. How many exercises do I need do to firm it? Is it even possible? And boobs? When did they get lower and softer?

    Yes, I catch myself longing for my body from ages ago. Just so I could really appreciate it which I didn't at the time.

    Do I accept myself? I don't know...I don't know. I don't want my life to flee by as I feel it is. 30 years from now I will be in my 80's...who will I see? I sure don't know now...I can't see that woman and I don't know if I want to. I won't have a choice so I guess I will flow into her...and learn a thing or two as the years fly by.

  25. Ellen- I can relate to all of this, every bit. And especially the last part. " I don't know."
    Well, Sweetie I just hope we're all still here at eighty and that no matter what our outsides look like, our insides and brains will be working pretty darn okay.

  26. Well, I am often mistaken for someone who is at least ten years younger. But my hair is getting gray along the sides. And my back often aches. But I still push myself to do what I did when I was 25. I feel about 25 most days. Maybe it isn't so much about the outside as it is the inside feeling young. My mother said that she still felt like she was in her 20's at 94. I like that attitude. When I can't get it up any more, then I may feel old!

  27. Hahhhaaa.... having left hospital 10 years ago weighing in a good 90 pounds on 5 foot 7.3 or something (1m74 cm) I now weigh double. So everytime I travel and have one of those darn bathrooms with a body length mirror on the door I am spooked. On the other side, I am 55 now and have accepted that my thin days are over. I do feel better when I am wearing loose things that hide my abundance... That is for the body acceptance. The mind acceptance??? Let's not go there. Bullied and what more people never really accept their mind and where it takes us... right?????

  28. Syd- And that- yes- getting it up- is what a man can base his age on. I LOVE that.

    Photocat- Right.


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