Thursday, March 4, 2010
Aging Happens (along with a few other things.)
"With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come."
Susan Gray is the first person you will see or talk to when you contact Girls on the Run! She is the sparkly voice on the other end of the phone or the happy face you will see when you walk in our front door.
Susan is currently coaching Girls on the Run to a group of vibrant 3rd-5th grade girls at a local school. She was walking with the girls, from the school out to the play ground, when the following conversation occurred.
Girl: Do you work at Girls on the Run?
Girl: Well, I thought so. You are the first Girls on the Run coach I’ve had who always wears clothes with Girls on the Run on them. What do you do there?
Susan: I do lots of things at Girls on the Run. I answer the phones. I welcome people. I work with all the people who are interested in bringing Girls on the Run to their hometowns.
Girl: Wow. That’s a lot.
Susan: I also help Molly Barker with her calendar and all of her travel. Do you know who Molly Barker is?
Girl: YES! She is the woman who started Girls on the Run.
Susan: That’s right. She is the founder.
Girl: (long pause, a few steps and then nonchalantly): Is she still alive?
Susan shared this story with me a couple of days ago and I literally laughed out loud for several minutes.
Couple her question with the fact that I turn 50 this year and…well…I wonder if the Universe isn’t trying to humorously welcome me to this process we call “aging.”
This brings me ‘round to one of my all time favorite quotes and it comes from Gloria Steinem.
A reporter was interviewing Ms. Steinem, many years ago. “Ms. Steinem, you sure don’t look 43 years old.”
“Well honey,” she replied. “This is what MY 43 looks like.”
Whether we are in our teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and/or up (!) aging happens.
AND wonderfully so! There is no more a beautiful process than growing older. I consider the landscape of my body and the stories it tells.
The scar on my right hip: Riding my first century ride (100 miles) a dog crossed the road at mile 87. My friends, Bob, Dave and Rob stopped to help me. I finished the ride that day thanks to their support. I fondly remember them now, though I haven’t spoken to them in over 20 years.
The lines at my brow: I have a photo of myself in second grade. Those lines were there, an indication of my intensity even then and my passion now.
My skin and the tell tale signs of sun, wind and hours outside: I remember sitting by Susan Anderson’s swimming pool one summer between 9th and 10th grade, lathering up with baby oil, drinking a Tab and listening to “Some Kind of Wonderful “ by Grand Funk Railroad.
Celebrating where we are in the process of aging is a challenge. When I’m unfocused, I unknowingly allow the stories our culture has made up regarding that process, to seep into my psyche, my self-esteem and feelings of worth. I will admit it though…It’s just so hard sometimes to celebrate the process when the noise of the outer world is so darn loud. Use this, try this, do this and then you can be this.
I recognize that the process of growing older is just that…a process and each of us has and will have a very personal and intimate relationship with it now and in our futures.
Today I will intentionally celebrate the changing and aging landscape of my body. I will seek out images, people and messages around me where aging is honored. I will be aware of the language I use and do my very best to stop short of a negative or humorous comment about aging and replace it with wonder, admiration and love for myself as I enjoy being who I am, right now and in this minute!
What are the cultural stories/beliefs you grew up with about the aging process and how have those affected you? What do you believe now? Are those stories serving you in a positive way?
Let me know at email@example.com.