Aging and Beauty

Anti-aging, age management, healthy aging, graceful aging…these are just some of the terms used to describe what is happening to all of us: AGING.  While we age, most of us want to age well.  Yet what exactly does that mean, and how do we go about doing it?
From the moment we are born, we begin to age. At first it’s exciting to pass each milestone birthday but eventually for many of us, aging is perceived negatively, and indeed can create problems as we hit a certain age. For some that may be around 40, or 50, or 60. Though for others, especially in our beauty and youth obsessed culture, the worries and fears begin as early as the 20s or 30s.
As people age, especially women, they are frequently devalued. The wisdom and maturity that comes with living a long and full life is not recognized as important or worthy. When it’s all about appearance and the only value we are seen to have is skin deep, it affects one’s entire identity. No wonder aging is frequently so difficult to accept!
While it’s true there are many changes that occur as we age, if we want to age well, with a sense of beauty and  joy, the question becomes how do we acceptthese changes that reach deep into the core of who we are, and what do we do about it?
First, it’s essential to recognize that aging isn’t something that needs fixing. It isn’t a disease to be cured. The only thing that needs fixing is our attitude about aging.
Developing an increased awareness about what affects the aging process and debunking many myths associated with aging can free us up to live with greater vitality and self-acceptance than we previously experienced.
Aging with grace and glory, is a term coined by a dear friend and mentor Celedra Gildea. I love that phrase because it gives us permission to embrace all that aging is about. To age with grace and glory means celebrating the process of aging.Aging, not a linear process, is about going deep into the layers of who you really are and giving yourself permission and encouragement and strength to evolve into your fullest potential. A few lines or spots or sags have nothing to do with what is most amazing and beautiful about you.
As we shift our attitudes about aging, we also can shift our attitudes about beauty. When we begin to experience aging as a miraculous process, we can naturally accept that aging itself is Beauty!  You begin to shift your focus from looking younger to feeling better. And when you feel better about yourself, you will likely want to adopt a lifestyle that supports you continuing to take better care of yourself.
Looking better/feeling better vs looking younger is a big shift and once you accept that you can’t turn back the clock, you can take positive steps. We are fortunate to have so many options to take advantage of today. Those lines, spots or sags don’t have to get the best of you.
You can go get a little Botox or laser treatment to smooth out some of the wrinkles and tiredness. You can eat healthier, stay active, and find something you are passionate about to keep the creative, living juices flowing. You can even choose cosmetic surgery if that’s right for you. But whatever you choose to do or not do, if you’ve done your inner work, you have a much better chance of being happy with the results.
When you nurture and heal all levels of your being, from your body to your heart and soul, you build a solid foundation to support the rest of your life and a renewed energy to reach your full potential. And there is nothing more beautiful than that!
Get the Most out of Your Summer – For Life!
I just love summer! It’s my favorite time of the year and I always look forward to a season when the days are long, and the Earth warm and in full bloom. Everyone seems to be lighter, happier and more carefree.
Though I might want to sometimes, I can’t slow down the unfolding of time and this summer like every other will pass into autumn and then winter. That’s all the more reason to set your intention toward enjoying the beauty and abundance that exists right now.
Here are several things you can do to harvest the most out of your precious summer season and beyond, as these practices are useful in getting the most out of your life any time of the year.
1) Begin with gratitude. Instead of spending energy longing for your next vacation, start by appreciating what you have right now. Begin the day with a prayer of gratitude and make a point to notice more to be grateful for each day.
2) Live with intention. When you get up in the morning, consider what you want to get out of your day and what you are willing to put into it. As the Buddha said, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought”.
3) Be daring. Take the plunge and do something this summer that you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting off. Maybe it’s taking a paddle board lesson, learning Zumba, going out for a night of dancing, reading that novel on the bedside table, going to a baseball game…whatever it might be, set a date and do it!
4) Be spontaneous. Relax a little and let yourself flow with the rhythm of life. If someone invites you to dinner, a movie, a walk on the beach…GO! Last minute and unexpected invitations can open a door to magic and delight. The to do list will wait, I promise!
5) Get up early and watch the sunrise. Sunrise is a powerful time of day. The world is still waking up and the day’s potential is unlimited. Harness some of that fresh new-day energy yourself by sitting in peace watching the world wake up.
6) Go for a picnic. Find a special spot in nature, pack a delicious picnic for one (or more) and watch the sunset. Eating fresh, colorful foods (especially from a nearby farmer’s market) and savoring each bite in a tranquil, natural setting is a wonderful tonic to unwind from your day.
7) Be in nature as much as possible. Nature is grounding, balancing and calming. Leave your screens and devices behind (or at least power them down) and go for walks in the park, dip your toes in the ocean, join a hiking club or simply find a shady spot in the back yard and bask in the beauty of this gorgeous planet.
Try one (or all!) of these ideas and let me know how it goes. Maybe you’ll come up with a few ideas of your own – I’d love to hear about it! For now, have a safe and joyful summer. I look forward to connecting with all of you in early fall.

Treat Yourself with Loving Appreciation

We are given one body to carry us from birth to death during our lifetime and it is up to us to determine how we will care for that one precious vessel. With the demands of work, raising children, family life, and a whole host of other commitments, it is so easy to lose sight of the importance of taking care of our bodies and ourselves.

There was a period of time in my life when I didn’t pay any attention to my body at all. In fact, I was unsuspectingly abusing it. I worked long hours, exercised vigorously (thinking that I was actually taking care of myself), and I ate what seemed like a healthy diet. But I really wasn’t listening to my body nor was taking time to appreciate it.  And when it started to complain loudly to me, I responded with irritation or anger: “why are you (my body) causing me pain”, or “why are you putting on weight”, or “why aren’t you strong and sexy anymore”? I felt that my body was betraying me. After all, I thought I was doing all the right things to care for it.It took me a number of years to turn that belief around and it’s still an on-going learning process. I realize now that our bodies are sacred beautiful vehicles and homes to our souls. It is because we have a body, that we are able to experience pleasure and pain, to see, hear, smell, touch, feel and sense or intuit our internal and external worlds. It is because we have a body that we can make love, laugh, cry, sing and speak. But do we really appreciate our bodies?  Do we ignore our body’s wisdom when it says it is time to eat, time for sleep, time to slow down, time to move?  So often, our mind overrides our body’s messages and denies the needs that it is trying to communicate.

Some people are challenged with serious physical or emotional/mental conditions that can make it even more difficult to love and appreciate their bodies. I’m sure you have noticed how some individuals accept their challenges, and even consistently feel gratitude, while others find themselves feeling frustrated and victimized by the circumstances in their lives. There comes a point where we must choose how we are going to respond to the challenges this life presents.

Having worked through major challenges around loving and accepting my body as well as other conditions, I understand that rising to meet the obstacles in life with love and appreciation is not an easy road to take. What I learned for myself is that the journey of coming to terms with my body and all the stories I had going about it is the real gift. Once I really got that, I developed appreciation for and a loving relationship with my body that I didn’t know was possible.
Now I see my body as a gift and that it is an honor and a privilege to care for it as exquisitely and attentively as possible. Am I perfect?  Of course not! And when I don’t get the rest I need, or enough exercise or the right kind of nutrition my body lets me know. Sometimes it complains loudly, sometimes it gives me a gentle nudge.
And you know what is beautiful?  When I bring things back into balance and care for my body the way it deserves to be cared for, it responds accordingly. You see the body is always paying attention to what we say and think and do. The body is a living, breathing creation that never lies. I may not always know why I am not always feeling on top of my game but those are moments when I need to stop and listen closely or seek out professional help if I can’t figure it out myself.
Following are a number of suggestions that you can do to practice loving-kindness and develop a deep appreciation for your body. Start with one or two that speak to you and gradually integrate more into your practice. You might even come up with some of your own that work better for you. I’d love to hear from you and find out what worked for you and what sort of results you had.
1) Be nurtured by nature. 
Time spent in nature can be profoundly healing and revitalizing. Actually placing your bare feet on the earth for 15 minutes everyday can balance emotional and spiritual energies and increase a sense of connection to the web of life.
Try taking a break outside everyday, no matter the weather. Observe the ebb and flow of the seasons and remind yourself that just as you are, you are a perfect manifestation of mother nature.
2) Greet the day with intention.
Each morning take a moment to say something nice to and about your body. If you notice that your first thoughts upon waking tend toward the negative, you might try doing this as soon as you wake up, before you even open your eyes or get out of bed.
3) Bathe yourself with loving-kindness.
Once a week – or whenever you feel the need – take a ritual bath. Fill the tub and consider adding rose oil, which is associated with balancing the heart and often used to soothe anxiety and depression. Light candles and play soft music if you desire.
As you bathe each part of your body, reflect on how strong and wondrous it is. If it is injured or damaged send love to it. Think of everything each part of your body does to keep you alive, to give birth, to carry you from place to place. Honor your body as a divine vessel and appreciate all that it is capable of.