Age, Schmage

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The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible.  ~Judith Regan

I was twenty-six years old when I first stood up in front of a choir full of adults and raised my arms as a conductor. On any other day I didn’t think much about age, but some of these adults had been singing in church choir since I was a nursing baby. For the next four years, these wonderful people met my scatter-brained enthusiasm and energy with joyful, boundless love and a willingness to follow wherever I led. But in those four years as a full-time liturgy director, I always knew I was the young’un. The one who didn’t remember Mass in Latin.

Live as long as you may, the first twenty years
are the longest half of your life. 
~Robert Southey, The Doctor

I’ve always felt like I have a healthy attitude about aging—something I credit to my parents, who embrace each new stage of life as it comes to greet them. I think Botox is foolish; wrinkles are a credit to experience and wisdom, if you approach them that way.

Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty – they merely move it from their faces into their hearts. 
~Martin Buxbaum

I think that youth is painful and awkward, maturity beautiful. I think that when we glamorize youth, when we place rose-colored lenses over our teenage or unencumbered young adult years, when we ignore all the angst, uncertainty and unsettled-ness that was part of the youthful package, we do ourselves a disservice. We teach ourselves to be dissatisfied with the present, when the present is the only time we have in which to live.

I have a terrific attitude about aging, until I realize that I can no longer sit cross-legged on the floor without my hips feeling as if they’re going to crumble beneath me. I’ve had to stop tucking my leg under me here at the computer and actually put my feet on the floor (the outrage)!

Thirty-five is when you finally get your head together
and your body starts falling apart. 
~Caryn Leschen

And then I happened to glance in the mirror and count 15—yes, I said fifteen—gray hairs. Christian and I poke fun at commercials for Rogaine and hair color (“because I’m—head toss—worth it!” Creepy, man. Creepy. Even if it is Evangeline Lilly). Go gray gracefully, that’s my attitude. But at thirty-six? Dude! I am too young for this! I thought I had two gray hairs, not over a dozen!

(Here’s the part where I’m forced to confess that my curly hair, unruly and uncooperative as it is, has always been a point of vanity. So no laughing, folks—this is a bit of a crisis! 😉  )

I will resist the urge to dye my hair for as long as possible…in part because (let’s face it) I’m too cheap to pay for it. But it looks like it’s time for me to do some soul-searching, because the days are coming when the answer to this question will become increasingly important:

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? 
~Satchel Paige

11 thoughts on “Age, Schmage

  1. Laura Luth

    I discovered my first gray hair in COLLEGE at age 21. A close friend has been covering her gray since age 16. I have grown to enjoy my monthly color treatment. I experiment with different shades, and it has become a way for me to celebrate my age…or indivduality…or maybe just to pamper myself. Since I go to a beautician, she forces me to trim my hair every 4 weeks–something I have never done in my life. I like my hair (color assisted notwithstanding) better at 34 than ever before.

    I ran a marathon a few days after my 33rd birthday. While I still feel some residual effects that I will attribute to running for 4 hours straight, I never felt more accomplished. And while I’m proud of my age and wouldn’t turn back the clock for anything, my goal is to strive for my “health age” to be younger than my “chronological age.”

  2. tk

    what’s to say about age? one is either older or dead.
    i’m 59 and as all my older friends (some in the 90s) tell me, aging isn’t for the faint of heart. perhaps signs of aging remind us that life won’t last forever so get on with living.

    • 🙂

      I’ve never written these things before b/c it always seems stupid for a 36-year-old to talk about aging. But I think that’s why it startles me so much; I am seeing signs that I didn’t expect for another decade, at least.

      • tk

        perhaps the key is the first quote offered at the beginning of the article, pay as little attention to aging as possible. it does sneak up on a person and it is startling. however, ask older people (of which i am now one); they will tell you that they feel the same inside as they age. the body begins to be totally different than the attitude and spirit. isn’t that what matters? just live life and be content. hopefully my comment didn’t read as flip because that wasn’t my intention or feeling. just a reaction from someone who is already way beyond where you now are. we age but what we gain along the way makes up for not being young anymore. no one could pay me enough money or anything else to get me to begin again at an earlier age. and if someone forced me back it wouldn’t be younger than 35. my daughter is that age now and i see her at a point in her life/family that i enjoyed myself when i was that age. and it’s very satisfying to see in her and remember in myself.

  3. tk

    ps. i have had a few gray hairs when i was 21. at 59 there are a few more. but mostly it’s still brown. i’ve never colored my hair (same as you….too cheap, and for me, a waste of time) and i don’t regret being “natural” at all. also i have a friend who was totally gray by her late 20s and she never colored it. it’s beautiful. authentic comes in many forms. and i much prefer authentic.

  4. ps. i have had a few gray hairs when i was 21. at 59 there are a few more. but mostly it’s still brown. i’ve never colored my hair (same as you….too cheap, and for me, a waste of time) and i don’t regret being “natural” at all. also i have a friend who was totally gray by her late 20s and she never colored it. it’s beautiful. authentic comes in many forms. and i much prefer authentic.

  5. You’ve given me alot to chew over, since I’ll be turning 31 in a couple weeks, and therefore fairly close behind you. LOL

    I’ve been dying my own hair for the last decade, not to cover grays (I’ve never looked for them), but just to play around with my appearance. Equal parts vanity, low self-esteem, and curiosity.

    DIY kits can be as cheap as $2.50 at Walmart, and I choose colors fairly close to my natural color so fading and roots aren’t glaringly obvious. Typically, I only do touch-ups once a year.

    A couple times, I went on a color-strike and vowed to remain natural… but my revolve lasted about two years, and then temptation reared its beautifully coifed head and whispered, “You’ll appear more intelligent as a brunette.”

    You’d think after the fiasco which turned my hair an alarming shade of Barney the Dinosaur purple, I would’ve learned my lesson, huh? 😉

    • Hee hee! If I do start dyeing, I’m sure it’ll be the $2.50 home-done variety. But it’s going to be a while in coming. I’ve done highlights before (here comes another confession: I’ve always wanted curly red hair!) but we’ve never felt like they were visible enough to justify the price tag.

      Ah well, we’ll see. It’s not like there’s a right or a wrong here; nothing whatsoever wrong with dyeing hair to cover gray…just something I wasn’t prepared to deal with quite yet. (Then again, maybe it’s like parenthood: you’re never “ready.”)

      • Oh my word, tell me about it! Here is one thing people never told me about childbirth: You will never have slender hips again.

        Granted, I understood there would be post-baby weight to lose, and I did just fine shedding it (even after 3 kids, lol)…
        But although my waist is slender and my stomach is relatively flat again… I cannot squeeeeeze my favorite jeans over these too-wide hips. 😛

        I had to resign myself to buying a few more pairs *gasp* in the next size up, and I’ve gotten quite good at rocking the drawstring, stretchy look. Bwahahaha

        Vanity has no place in a mother’s wardrobe.

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