How to See Your Invisible Gift

I never thought I’d grow up young.

But, in the 21st century, that’s not unusual. I’m just one of many—women who are 50, 60 or more on the outside, but girls of 20 on the inside. This is the era of young older women—vintage girls—a contradiction, but a truth, an ordinary miracle. Outside may be a bit crinkled, but inside it’s still dewdrops and roses. That leads us vintage girls to big surprises: the faces we see in our mirrors. We ask: Who’s that in my mirror? How could that face possibly belong to me? Looks like my mom.

What we see in a mirror, the outside us, doesn’t match our inside selves and because we don’t feel old, we imagine age has happened to others, but not to us.

“My girlfriends look old, but I’m just in disguise.”

Me, I’m accidently old…hit and run by the passing years—and I’m thinking of making this bumpersticker for my car: MY OTHER AGE IS TWENTY.

Age takes many of us by surprise. Now that’s really funny. Where did we think those birthdays were going? Backwards?

Anyhow, with menopause in the rear view mirror of life, I finally realized I was on the outskirts of age. There could be a huge run of longevity ahead of me and all I knew about it could be put in a nutshell. I just knew that a stretched-out future in retirement was a new thing under the sun, nothing like my grandma’s life—which was tatting, tapioca and tending to her canary until she died younger than I am now. With today’s medical rescues from conditions that used to kill people, some of us could live to be 100. And if that isn’t a demographic miracle, dumb luck pouring down on our heads, what is?

Think about it: Around 1900, people in the US died at the average age of 48. But we’ve been given a reprieve from extinction. Don’t have to die. Not yet. A forty-year gift of life. This is unprecedented in the long history of human existence. In fact, it’s an immense gift, but many are blind to it. Women look at their older bodies and they don’t see the gift because their packaging is wrinkled.

The gift is invisible. They see the package, not the gift.

So here’s my advice. Take it twice a day.

Say this aloud to yourself:

Age is a gift, an invisible gift. Thank you. I’m still alive.

With that perspective you will find an instant cure for wrinkles: You will no longer care about them…it’s just the package, not the gift.

Please add your tips or comments. Mel Walsh is a gerontologist, author and columnist. Her book, HOT GRANNY, is available at Amazon.  Twitter: @MelWalshWriter.


This entry was posted in Growing older, Looks and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to How to See Your Invisible Gift

  1. Rhoda says:

    Nice, Mel. Rhoda , class of 1958.

  2. Mary Lenihan says:

    Beautiful, Mel! You put such a positive and upbeat spin on our lives!
    Mary Van

  3. j.olofson says:

    This is the new normal – thanks Mel. Jan

  4. Susan Eyre says:

    I find that I am thinking my 20-something grandchildren are actually mine, I am still young enough. I have 5 or 6 friends with a parent over 100 and I am hoping to live long enough to see my youngest granddaughter’s wedding, she is gorgeous now and will be a beautiful bride. she is only 4 1/2, I am 76 and I am beginning to realize that I probably won’t. So on the other hand, I am aware that I am aging. and I am sorry, but I will always be aware of the wrinkles and especially thinning hair. but then I made a living retouching out most of those wrinkles, whitening teeth, brightening eye whites, filling in thinning hair, smoothing jawlines and necks, slimming hips, and so on. (I always think of the story about Mary Tyler Moore – a woman saw heron the street and cried ” oh, but you are so WRINKLED!!”). one star has fuzz on her face that I had to blend out. etc etc etc. but as always it’s a great column Mel and thank you for passing it along. DEFINITELY good food for thought.

    susan e

  5. J.Hsia says:

    What a wonderful piece! Your blogs are always good, but this one is outstanding…. I’m not sure about 20 tho’ – in spirit perhaps, but not in wisdom. John

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