I’ve reached that “certain age.” One lesson I’ve learned from horses, losing parents, and developing physical restrictions myself, is the glorious freedom that comes with real limitations we’re wise enough to accept and laugh about.
Ladies, there are benefits to aging! Genuine bonuses for achieving a certain age yourself and benefits to riding mature older horses. If you have an annoying 90-ish Uncle Jasper or 27-year-old drama queen mare, you know that age and maturity aren’t always synonymous.
There’s a wonderful sweetness about folks and animals who just want to get along because they’re no longer ego-driven, desperate for power, or energetic enough to argue over trivia.
I don’t want to look like Farrah Fawcett (ages me, doesn’t it?) Wrinkles and silver highlights in my sometimes auburn and sometimes strawberry-blonde hair give me permission to be the best, healthiest, and most compassionate and kind person I can, not the one who turns heads or garners wolf whistles.
Instead of appreciative looks and whistles, I get called, “ma’am.” Some might think this is bad news, but the reason for the change is the absence of judgement. Men (I don’t recall any lady whistling at me) no longer examine my appearance, hair, figure, or attire and judge.
A whistle is the sound of approval after evaluation, a verbal thumbs up or bait-casting by those who’d be open to a positive response. At my age, these guys are the same age as our adult grandsons.
I admit, some of us older ladies get a little creative in our appearance. Purple hair, spandex, slippers, and a baseball cap–”Whuh?”
Even then, reactions (when they happen) are more curiosity than evaluation. Such stylistic aplomb in women of a certain age mystifies the youngsters.
After writing that I realized that such unique style isn’t an age thing anymore. What I described might fit a girl/lady/woman of any age. Purple and spandex must be a thing.
Giggles Over Age Labels
The last time my husband was in the hospital I noticed a chart of age breakdowns displayed on the top shelf of a nurse’s station. According to it, I am elderly and my husband is geriatric. I danced into his room and announced my discovery. We laughed!
In 2005, psychotherapist Lilian B. Rubin said of her 1979 book, Women of A Certain Age, that when she wrote the book, “‘women of a certain age’ were in their late 30’s and early 40’s. I think that has changed with the baby boomers and the lengthening of the life span. I’d say the ‘certain age’ has now moved to the age of 50 or 55.“
Either I’ve already passed that certain age or the parameters have crept upwards again in the last fifteen years. I vote for the latter.
Age is a Comparative
After scouring the internet, the official definition for “a certain age” appears to be anyone who is no longer young.
Whether we think of being young or old, age is a comparative. Some days I feel like a youngster. Those are the days when I’m two or three decades younger than the folks I’m with. On other days, I’m the oldest one in the room by far.
Losing Weight is no Longer an Emergency
Many women push themselves to emergency weight loss for special events or because they just tried on their comfy jeans for the first time in months and discovered that they fit more like a girdle than lounge wear. (Do they still sell girdles?)
Few women my age care about fitting into skimpy bikinis, slimming down three sizes to fit into a bridal gown, or getting back into her clothes after delivering a baby.
Bathing suits are optional for we ladies of a certain age. I haven’t owned one in years and don’t plan on getting another any time soon. I could fit into any suit I’ve ever owned, but believe me, it wouldn’t look the same now as it did then.
After decades in the sun training horses, I now avoid it like the plague. If I need to immerse myself in water, I’ll choose something besides a swim suit. The possibilities are endless–as long as it’s indoors.
Whether it’s eyesight or familiarity, my husband wouldn’t notice if I gained a few pounds. I would, but dropping them is no longer packaged with angst or pressure.
Cellulite Lost Its Power
My legs have wrinkles. My earlobes have wrinkles, as do my arms, face, neck, hands, and most everything else. Do any twenty-somethings realize that one day their earlobes will wrinkle?
Most folks believe I have natural waves in my hair, and maybe I used to. I’m beginning to think that those waves may be wrinkles. In my hair.
Cellulite? I laugh at the thought. Decades ago I cared about this culturally unacceptable cottage cheese effect and read advertisements for easy ways to rid myself of it. (And never found one.) Then I worked my toosh off in the horse business and didn’t have time to think about cellulite.
If I have cellulite anywhere today, it’s covered in wrinkles and therefore invisible. Excuse me for a moment while I relish having the last laugh on cellulite.
Allergies and Other Conditions Improve with Age
A 2015 BBC online article by Zaria Gorvett reports, Mitchell Grayson from the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin says the older you get, the less severe the symptoms [of allergies] are likely to be. “Allergic disease peaks in childhood and then seems to decrease throughout late adolescence and into their 20s. In the 30s there is another resurgence until people get into their 50s and 60s when the symptoms tend to get less common.”
While age isn’t the cure-all for everything, some conditions improve with advancing age.
I suffered from Meniere’s disease for over thirty years. When I got older, it went into remission. That isn’t everyone’s experience, but I’m beyond grateful. I’ll trade the loss of drop-down vertigo attacks for wrinkles any day.
My allergies to horses, grass, and hay have also resolved. Curious.
Why the improvement with advancing age? I’m sure researchers have more credible theories, but I think my body simply lost the patience to deal with such conditions.
A lot of things bugged me when I was younger. Now I just don’t care. It takes too much energy to get exercised about inconsequential stuff. If I can breathe and blood isn’t spurting, I’m just not gonna get excited.
Mellowing is a healthy change in those enjoying a certain age. Remember Mellow Yellow? It’s an inane 1966 song by Donovan from my teen years. Mellow Yellow popped into my head and I went for it. Who’s with me?!?
Aging is an Opportunity For Laughter
Another thing I’ve learned is to appreciate the joke that aging can be. Rather than bemoan change, why not laugh about it? My latest giggle is over the vagaries of lipstick.
I used to apply lipstick confidently without a mirror. But lip lines change and the muscle memory guiding the colored stick over my lips is no longer reliable.
Aging lips thin because they’ve lost collagen and pigment. My lower lip is a full as it ever was, but the color isn’t the same and my upper lip has gone rogue.
Lipstick and Patience
Between vertical lip lines (wrinkles) and some difference in a scar on the inside of my mouth (how does that happen?), the contour of my right upper lip line has changed. It’s not just thinner, it’s more like a squiggle. One side is easy to deal with, the other teaches me patience.
Without a 10x magnifying mirror, lip color application is iffy and potentially comical. I’ve seen ladies of a certain age with wandering lipstick, wondering to myself why no one told them.
This week alone, I’ve told three dear friends about my lipstick challenge. I hope they let me know if I show up with lipstick where it doesn’t belong. Coloring within the lines is difficult when you can’t see the lines and the lines keep changing.
Smiling is my default expression. Lipstick is not a triviality when you call everyone’s attention directly to your mouth. At home, I keep my mirror and Q-tips at the ready and seldom reapply in public.
One day I may grow up enough to pitch everything except clear gloss.
Enlarging our discussion to include eyebrow issues is tempting, but I’ll leave that expansive giggle-worthy topic for another day.
Maybe some of you stayed in bed past the rooster’s song in your younger years, but we either had to get to the office or tend livestock. For the past 30 years I had to feed animals.
That changed less than three months ago. I admit, some days we stay in bed until 8:30. On the other hand, I also tend to stay up later than I did.
Always mindful of being good stewards, once it warms up we plan to get busy sooner. But one beautiful thing about being elderly and geriatric is that we don’t have to.
Finally, wake up time involves choice. And our new bed is SO comfortable.
Time Saving Options
Age brings different options, but the pressure of choosing one thing over another becomes less powerful. Should I have a quick bite or a more leisurely breakfast? Make-up or au naturale?
About make-up; the older I get and the more my face reflects the roadmap of my life, the less make-up improves anything. In fact, most make-up is detrimental. I don’t care what advertisers say, I’ve never found a tinted product for “mature skin” that doesn’t highlight every wrinkle and puff.
Which identifies another benefit; budget stretching. Make-up is expensive. Now I use the little amount I spent trying new make-up products on groceries. We’ve discovered the difference between fresh and frozen grilled chicken breasts. They cost more, but we’re worth it.
And I’m not buying make-up.
The Three-Minute Face
I love being able to pull three tiny items out of my bathroom drawer and finish my face in a flick of a cat’s tail. Except for mascara –it’s as challenging as lipstick. I need a 10x mirror to know if the sticky stuff is where it belongs.
Wardrobe options are simpler. Comfort is queen and I’m close to perfecting the everything goes with gray palette. No matter what I pull out, it works. I banish anything that fails the comfort test.
Is this laziness or slackery? Nope. Clean, neat, and coordinated makes me happy. Remember one of the first benefits I mentioned? Freedom from the judgment of others.
Dress For Yourself
When I was younger, I never knew for certain where the line was between dressing for myself and for others. Now it’s clear. Me. Me. Me. My wardrobe includes what my body finds comfortable and what pleases me.
The test: if I catch sight of myself in a mirror and don’t see an obvious violation of good manners and stewardship, it’s a winning outfit.
I’m elderly, so I can get away with it. 🙂
I’ll even get enough winter outerwear to stay warm. In public. Even if it’s not stylish. My neighbor, of a certain age, walks her dog twice a day, every day, no matter what. She’s my hero.
I look better in a brimmed hat than a stocking cap, but the brim won’t keep my ears warm. I used to wear ear muffs so I wouldn’t mess up my coiffure. Thankfully, I’ve finally outgrown that stage. (Well, almost.)
Diva and I both need the exercise.
Age Promotes Acceptance
The most peaceful and satisfied people I’ve met had physical limitations they learned to accept. The demand to DO what they have no power to do is history.
One of the greatest freedoms is fewer options. Remember the lyric, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”? You can’t do everything. As you get deeper into your certain age, you accept that and don’t stress as much.
Priorities change as we age. God transforms the heart in those willing to accept His grace and provision. That’s the key; willingness to see what’s in the mirror, inventory the gifts you have, and use them to the limit of each day’s possibilities.
And nap when required. I haven’t hit the nap thing yet, but I live with someone who has. And I’m not just talking about Diva the dachshund.
If you’re of a certain age, make time to relish and celebrate the victories to come and gifts still unopened. You’re not done yet.
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31
Enjoy this edgy and humorous post – The Dilemma of Being a Woman Of a Certain Age.
For more on the joy of limitations, check out this post about the peace my father discovered when he lost his physical freedoms. Drinking From My Saucer – Perfectly Simple Prayer of Gratitude
Very well stated. I hit the half of a century mark a couple of years ago and it opened up a new door in my life. I am embracing life as it is – not trying to keep up with the trends. I quit trying to fight my gray hair which made it’s first appearance over 30 years ago. I am embracing what God has given me. For many things my mind is will but the body is not. Adjustments are needed but I feel great about the choices I am making.
I enjoy your articles and look forward to reading them. I am also about to start the last book in your Gospel Horse book series. Really enjoy reading them. Thank You !!
Welcome to the Certain Age Club, Naomi, with its wonderfully diverse and fabulous membership. You nailed it, “I am embracing life as it is.” What a tremendous statement of clarity and freedom, especially when tied to the knowledge that everything is a gift from God. Thank you for reading the Gospel Horse Series. If you haven’t, please consider leaving a short review on Amazon to help other book browsers make good choices for themselves. I hosted a 3-day Seasons retreat at a horse venue last fall for ladies in our club. It was so much fun, learning, playing, and sharing stories and challenges of life changes. It was one of the best 3-day experiences I’ve had because of the women who participated. I so appreciate your note! May you continue to be greatly blessed. Lynn
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