The Fierceness of Facing Age

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Ugh. It was really hard to put this picture up on the blog. No make-up, no filters. Photo filters are increasingly becoming my very best friend, to be honest….

 

By: Jana Greene

About that ageing gracefully thing….

Let me just preface this with a nod to those more spiritually evolved than myself, who will remind me that old age is an honor, and that silver hair a crown of glory, and that women are like fine wine and only get better with age (I never understood that one, but I drank only wine that came in a box before I got sober 15 years ago.)

You are right, yes. I get it! But some days, plain old regular vanity kicks in and sucks all the platitudes right out of getting older.Sometimes it’s just helpful to hear, “You, too?”

Remember those first wrinkles you discovered around your eyes in your early thirties? The ones that snapped you out of the delusion that wrinkles weren’t going to happen to you? The ones that spurred you on to buy that expensive sunblock at the Clinique counter? Doesn’t that seem wildly over-reactive and optimistic now?

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I feel like Father Time has been walking on my face wearing soccer cleats and things on my body (including my face) are forever getting softer, lower, and unable to ‘snap back.’ Can we just be honest about it?

I was musing about this on Facebook one day, and I invited my women friends to weigh in on their processes of ageing AND accepting that the process is a thing.

Crepey neck skin, bags under my eyes – who said “getting old is for sissies”? Is there a meat clever around? I’ll give em sissies!

Ah, the crepey skin. Just when I’d finally learned how to properly apply eye shadow, it disappears into the crepey folds of eye lid.  (Take care to take your eye makeup off without rubbing, young ones! You will thank me later on.)

Another sister really just kind of summed it up thus: (If ever there were an occasion to use multiple emoticons, it is here. Mid-life is ONE LONG EMOTICON, I’m finding.)

Hello death to the metabolism… Moment of silence please …… Ok, no need to expound there … Attack of weird skin issues. All things saggy , crepey, spotted, super dry, moles, veins veins, veins..did I mention veins ? Hormones that go up and down, like the rides at the county fair …. One minute I want to devour my husband, and another I want to zap him with a stun gun!  😍😘🔥😱😁😂 😊… Let’s just Changing sleep patterns can not be a good thing 😱😁💤😴💤😵😵😵and so begins The Strangeness … Memory ? Oh yeah what was I saying ? Why did I come In this room again? … I don’t feel like doing a darn thing ..life takes too much energy…

And…

Inside there is this 20 year old thinking she can still do what she used to. Then someone decided we need mirrors over every stinking bathroom sink and BAM! I see that the outside is not a 20 year old any longer.
How did that happen?
Wrinkles? Seriously? They are coming folks and it doesn’t matter how much cream or moisturizer you apply, they are coming.
I think the hardest part is the wisdom streaks that seem to be popping up everywhere. Anywhere there is hair.  Sheesh.  Gray…… thank God for this wonderful invention of color. We really can be anything we want to be. Not a blond? Not a brunette? Not a red head? No problem, there’s a color to suit your every whim.
For me, well, I’ll try to continue to do this aging thing gracefully but I’m just not ready to show all of my wisdom to the world just yet. Maybe in another 20 or 30 years. Maybe by then, I won’t be bothered by those pesky, lying bathroom mirrors anymore.
In the meantime, I know whose child I am and He loves me even with all of wrinkles that pop up daily it seems and the ever growing wisdom streaks..

Dang, that’s good.

I have the best girlfriends in the world, ya’ll.

Arthritis in the back. I love being active and that reminds me every time that I am not at young as I used to be. Not that it is stopping me now. I just fear it will some day!

Fear is a big thing with us, but we need to let that go. We ARE all still 20 year-olds, we are just driving classic cars now. Costly, sputtering, high-maintence, they-don’t-make-’em-like-that-anymore classics. We’ve survived this long, Baby.

Suck it, Fear. (I say that now….wait 5 minutes for mood to change, and we’ll re-assess.)

Several friends mentioned the dreaded and slow-morphing phenomenon that is ‘turkey neck,’ which deserves it’s very own blog post. Seriously, it needs a blog post all it’s own.

But then this:

I like me more emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. So things drag a bit…and the skin is drier, and there are things I never had before–moles, skin tags, hairy face….I am good with me. I love this stage of life.

OMG, I love this stage in my life, too. I really do!  I can be authentic without feeling like I need to apologize for being who I am.  The younger me wanted to people please 24/7, and was always worried about making herself small.  Part of authenticity is being honest about grieving the loss of the season, while still being cognizant of the honor that comes with age.

As the Facebook thread bemoaning our collective youth kept moving along, the posts got more positive. Like we all needed to just SAY IT – admit our struggles in gory detail – and find camaraderie with one another.And then we could entertain the awesomeness of mid-life.

We are all women who love God and know that silver hair is a crown of glory. But sometimes we bitch about getting older anyway, and grace fills in the cracks in our vanity like the wrinkle creams promised to do for our faces. Grace-fully.

Slowly, the sentiment became – yes, our bodies, faces and minds carry the wear and tear – but our spirits have never been so vibrant! Getting older ain’t for sissies, but that’s okay. We ain’t sissies.

We’re FIERCE, friends!

I wouldn’t take all the young, taught skin and youthful energy in the world for the relationship I have with The Father now – it took a lifetime to learn how to ACCEPT His love. My earlier years were so focused on earning it, I forgot to accept it.

I laugh more, share more, love more, taste more, savor more, give more. In the end, I suppose vanity aims to squash down the ‘more-ness.’ Don’t let it take your MORE!

If there’s a damn wrinkle cream on the planet that works, I haven’t found it. And there are a thousand things about ageing I sincerely do not appreciate. I would like my metabolism back, pretty please. Also, I’m very sorry I didn’t appreciate estrogen when I had tons of it…in retrospect, it was rad. I wish I still only equated ‘crepey’ with French foods, and thought only of giblets when I consider the ‘turkey neck.’

About that ageing gracefully thing again….to re-quote a fabulous friend of mine:

….In the meantime, I know whose child I am and He loves me even with all of wrinkles that pop up daily it seems and the ever growing wisdom streaks..

You, too?

Amen, Sister.

Amen.

 

(**Side note: If you are a woman in mid-life and have not read Nora Ephron’s book “I feel Bad about my Neck, and other thoughts on being a Woman,” please do. You will relate and likely be brought to tears from laughter. Which may bring more smile lines, but honey, it’s WORTH it. Laughter is ALWAYS worth it!**)

 

 

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The Dream-Maker’s Daughters – Women stepping out in mid-life

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“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.” – (The Great) Erma Bombeck

By: Jana Greene

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to do a lot of things. But while she was waiting until she had time to do them, she did other things. She became a woman who did lots of important life work:

She became a mother and raised children.

She fell in love and got married.

She wrote a lot of poetry read a lot of books.

She even wrote a few.

She held several full-time jobs at one time or another.

She served in church.

Pretty standard fare.

Then, one by one, many of the manifestations of importance in her life grew up and moved on, fell away, or got too messy to maintain.

As things left, she sought new things to do. But she couldn’t remember what her inner little girl had dreamt of doing in the first place, when she finally had the time to consider it.

The messed up part of her says “Bah! All of it was frivolous and time-wasting. Better you don’t remember those dreams. And especially don’t ACT on the ones you do remember. Time is precious, don’t waste it.”

But her truest identity as Daughter of the King won’t be shushed for exactly that reason….time is precious.

Now, in midlife, she is finding that she has been considering God from a place of paralysis….so afraid to do the wrong thing, she does nothing at all.

“What if I fail?” She asks. “I’m too old to start over.”

Take action, God says. I will bless it if it’s the right thing, and if you are wavering and need to be corrected, I will restore gently. Either you win or you learn, but operate from a place of Love and move. Step out.

Time is only finite, but here’s the thing….it bends to the Creator.

In the tenderest places in her soul – the ones where the King keeps as storehouse for that crazy Grace of His – He keeps reminding her of the truth.

That she is kin to The Dream-Maker Himself, and is more than free to ask Him for new dreams. He delights in His children!

That she is still on a mission, with the benefit of experience to move forward expecting great things.

That this season is a time for exploring and listening, not being plagued with identity crisis. Satan is the author of confusion and the enemy of clarity.

That she is not ‘past her prime’ and done with her purpose until she stops asking “What’s next, Papa?” He placed the dreams in her heart for a purpose in every life stage.

That even though the world has gone mad, God keeps her full of Grace on every occasion. He does not finance her life in a deficit.

That it’s not too late. It’s never too late!

Do the things, Daughter! Do them with joy.

I have come that you have life to the FULL.

Once upon a time there was a woman approaching 50 years of age, and God gave her a little extra time to figure out who she really is.

In this new season, she is grateful for that.

 

Time is finite. Lord Jesus, help me to make my portion count. Let me use up everything you give me, every bit of talent.

AMEN.

 

 

 

 

 

The Salad of my Discontent: 13 nutrition (and Fitness) tips for the 40 + Crowd

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It sure has been a difficult time lately, with losses and goodbyes for my family, challenges and changes, and  much “waiting upon God,” even when it feels like he taking kind-of a long time to lead us where we need to go! And usually, I cover pretty heavy topics on thebeggarsbakery.net – alcoholism and addiction, parenting teens, marriage, health woes, etc.

So, in a departure in what I usually write about, today’s piece is a Humor Column. Years ago, before so many heavy things, I had a humor column in a tiny, local paper – and it was ridiculously fun. This article addresses one of my passions and pains: food, and trying to understand and achieve health, after so many years of taking abysmal care of myself.

I hope it makes you smile, at the very least. Please feel free to share the link with any middle-agers who are struggling with the same issues, and GOD BLESS you and yours. I so appreciate your readership!

By: Jana Greene

George Carlin once said that “death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.”  But if your spit doesn’t do the trick, swallowing small amounts of food will surely cause your demise.

Studies show, well…..quite a whole lot of things, actually, many of which are pretty scary. Luckily, if one government-granted conclusion to expensive research alarms you, the next one that comes along will either:

a)      Disprove the first study (studies show this to be the case 99.7 percent of the time, depending on funding.)

OR

b)      Cause the release of panic, the likes of which have not been felt since the release of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.

Why keep studying consistently inconsistent results? Personally, I think it’s because the more it is studied with federal funds, the more the government can regulate our lives – but that’s a column for another time.

Today’s topic is about an unfortunate rite-of-passage for many of us in our forties: The Talk about  Nutritional Health, when  our doctors, lab results in hand, confront us on our past misdeeds and  suggests that there are damage-control  measures available to counteract those earlier misdeeds.

In my quest to “eat healthy,” I often read studies. Over time, I have surmised from them to:

1. Eat sweet potatoes, but not in pie-form, and certainly not with butter, sugar and cinnamon.

No, wait. DON’T eat sweet potatoes!  A sweet potato is just a starch masquerading as a Vegetable of the Highest Order – a colorful vegetable.

And if you must have one, eat it raw. Studies show that once you cook a vegetable, you completely ruin the nutritionally value. You might as well eat it in pie-form….Which, I usually do.

2. Fruit is the healthiest food group there is – packed with nutrients.

Until you swallow it.  Most fruits are converted by your body to  SUGAR, and your endocrine system doesn’t know the difference between a bunch of grapes and one of those pixie sticks that is two feet long.

Unless the fruit is colorful…. In which case, it becomes a two-foot-pixie stick with a few antioxidants.  

3. Drink cranberry juice, and your urinary tract will thank you.

Oops….studies indicate that you should stay away from cranberry juice. Because the sugars it contains (see ‘fruit’ above) can CAUSE a UTI.

4. Nuts and seeds are awesome*, and not just because they are central to the “What Would Jesus Eat?” diet and Jesus Himself is awesome, but because they are full of the protein your body needs to function as a fat-burning machine!

Except that all of the good-tasting nuts are actually pretty fatty. Go figure.

5. A glass of red wine**  each evening keeps the doctor away.

Unless you’re an alcoholic like myself.  In which case, the doctor won’t need to visit because the coroner will beat him to it.

6. Eating meat – especially the red kind (color is not a benefit here) – is terrible for your health.  You should consume ONLY the things that your  meat would have eaten, if you hadn’t savagely killed it for food.

You know, root vegetables and such. Sweet potatoes.

Scratch that. Eat ONLY meat, like our cave-man ancestors, and only the way they ate it – cooked over an open, stucco fire pit with a side of something they might have purchased at Whole Foods after a long day of dragging women by the hair.

And , did  Paleos eat Quizno’s, or use a Fry-Daddy!  I think NOT. Keep it strictly hunter-gatherer, peeps. Which brings me to (queue scary music….)

7. The malevolent  CARBOHYDRATE***, which virtually all studies agree is the most evil form a calorie can channel.  Do you think the ancient peoples had pasta-makers?  No sir, they did not. So  forget spaghetti, a member of the most malicious menu malady a meal can muster.

Rice, potatoes, pasta – all in cahoots to hijack your metabolism and take the slow ride to an early grave. Don’t even think about that tortellini! It’s a cheese-filled pocket of death!

And, I’m sorry….. there are no studies to refute this, unless you consider those who suggest (queue the scary music again….) MODERATION. Moderation – with starchy deliciousness. Hurmph. (Studies clearly show that people with addictive personalities are less likely to practice moderation.)

8. Salad is the anti-carb…..so very  good for you!  The more colorful and expensive the lettuce, the better.

Unless  you like it with flavor. Take, for instance,  blue cheese dressing.  You could, instead of eating it on salad, just get a super-large syringe (I like my blue cheese chunky-style) and inject it directly in your arteries to get just the same benefits as digesting it.  Luckily, many creamy salad dressings contain dairy, and studies show that….

9. Dairy prevents belly fat.

No, wait – it causes belly fat. I’m not sure which (I’m pretty sure I’ve read studies that purport both)

10. If you have blood-sugar issues, diet sodas are much better to drink than regular sodas.

Although, in test groups,  diet sodas had  the same effect on teeth as the meth. Yes, you can get “meth mouth”  courtesy of carbonated beverages! Diet sodas also contain a chemical that  basically turns to  formaldehyde in your body, a chemical used in the embalming process. The. Embalming. Process.

11. Ahhh, caffeine. – beloved purveyor of eternal life and heart health, and seemingly-harmless-delivery system for a mood-altering, STIMULANT  DRUG!  Hello?

So, so much study on caffeine. The common drug is the darling of federally-funded scientific research. Pages and pages, and reverse-studies and warnings and….I need another cup of coffee **** to even THINK about it.

12. All hail the ancient Mayans, who are famous for appreciating the health benefits of Chocolate *****(and human sacrifice, but hey…they brought us chocolate!)

Chocolate,  as a modern food,  is actually a contributor to obesity…

UNLESS, it is transformed into  DARK chocolate, which many studies show not only is excellent for your body, but practically gives the same cardiac benefits of  having the heart of a 21-year old triathlon-participating vegetarian transplanted into your tired, old, flabby  body!

But wait, chocolate contains caffeine, which studies show…….

Is really good for you!

Or….

Or a mind-altering, stimulant drug….you  shameless  junkie.

13. .Well, at least everyone can agree that drinking MORE WATER is essential to good health. Yesiree.  It cleans your system, lubricates your joints, and is the life-force. The God-given, liquid  verve-maker.

But, not so fast…..

Studies show that when you turn on the tap, you unleash a cascade of chemical compounds and a mélange of micro-organisms. Our waste  is contaminated with tons of chemicals to ensure our drinking safety!  Not to mention naturally-occurring micro-organisms (your “oli’s” and  “ella’s”….. e-coli, flagenella, barbarella, etc.) Bottoms up!

With all this information to consider (Thank you, Federal Government!) don’t forget about the other, equally disturbing facet of middle-aged damage control:  Physical Fitness.

It’s not too late, fellow Old Farts!

Never mind that it will take MUCH more effort to obtain a MUCH-lesser result, and that your reward will not be the same as it was “back in the day.” It may not make you “hot,” but you’ll live longer, as an old, not-hot person.  The reward is life, itself!

There is plenty of data and debate on which form of fitness is best for those in the Mid-Day of life:

Walking

no, running

No….WALKING is the best exercise.

Walking is nice and low-impact….unless you want muscle tone. (Was Jane Fonda concerned about “low impact” when she implored us all to “get physical?” Of course not.  And in her golden years, she can probably still bounce a quarter off of her gluteus!)

And the horrors of aerobics (and unforgiving leotards) pales in comparison with a modern fitness  phenomenon (I would call it a “craze,” but that would only accentuate my age)  that shall-remain-unnamed in this article…

Primarily a program for young people (so says me), participants will often try to recruit we 40-plussers. You’ve been warned.

Let’s just say it is a major work-out movement that actually advertises PAIN as a selling point,  even infers that you will ENJOY  that pain. It also incorporates the lifting of weights that appear to weigh approximately as much as Stonehenge (all stones combined.)

As my daughter would say, I don’t EVEN!

Many studies have shown that swimming is the best exercise, but don’t take my word for it. Peek into any YWCA in the world at 7:30 a.m. and count the swim cap-crowned elderly ladies in the pool doing water aerobics.  Nice and easy on the joints (and a good female bonding experience….where are all the men?)

Yes, swimming is best. Unless you do it outdoors.  Are you trying to kill yourself with UV rays?

Yoga is great for fitness…

Unless you think you might ever leave the yoga mat. If you plan to strike a “standing” or “walking” pose (for approximately ever) be wary. If your Yoga class or fitness video touts itself for “Beginners,” keep in mind that they are referring to beginner contortionists…not you, and surely not me.

So, in conclusion….I think George Carlin was pretty astute in his observation.

Eat and let eat, I like to say. Walk and let walk. And study and let study, if you must.

I also like to say, “Pass the blue cheese dressing.”

And be quick about it…I’m swallowing small amounts of saliva, as we speak.

 

* Especially in pies.

** You can drink wine by the single GLASS?

***There is a best-selling book titled, “Bread is the Devil.” Really.

**** Starbucks Primo Mocha Latte (extra shot of espresso, please)

*****Also really good in pies.