Being authentic about age

I just got off the phone with a dear friend who mentioned her desire to be courageously authentic. When I took the photos below yesterday, because I was having what I consider a self-proclaimed good hair day, I thought, man, I hate those wrinkles.  I look so old.  Truth be told, I am aging.  As if that is a news flash:  Every human ages.

So....here are the photos.

I come with changing hair texture, gray highlights, and plenty of signs that I've lived a good life and have spent much of it outside sans sunscreen (in the 70s, 80s and 90s).

Jen Lara ages - new flash!  Ha!

Jen Lara ages, part II - new flash!  Ha!

Those crows feet, I've decided, represent all of the groups of friends and family in my life - from my friends growing up, to my camp friends, to my friends from Michigan State, to my friends from living in Aspen, to my friends who I taught with in Northern Arizona on the Navajo Nation, to my friends from my year in Quito, Ecuador, to my friends, colleagues, students, and family now in Maryland.  Those crow feet represent all the groups of people who have impacted my life in some positive way.

Those two long creases between my eyebrows - the ones I used to loathe - now, represent two places in the world I love - Colorado and the Southwest.  I could sit amongst big mountains and sandstone canyons all day long and be fulfilled.  I swear, I could.

Those long wrinkles by my smile represent all the gratitude I have for the joy and love I have felt during my life.  I am now hoping those smile lines get deeper as I want deep joy and love in my life to continue.

Lastly, those lines on my forehead represent learning.  Learning to me is being open and being curious.  I plan to lean into openness and curiosity as the rest of my life's journey unfolds.

As for me, I don't plan to color my hair, photoshop my wrinkles, or obtain a facelift (though I did once read a scientific article that correlated the effects of a facelift with expanding longevity!).  I am going to be me.  Gray hair, wrinkles and all.

I will, of course, continue to wear Patagonia.  This coat is 20 years old and literally looks brand new. The wild side of me wants clip-in hair extensions!  Yes, you heard me.  I really want to do some fun braids and for a woman who wears make-up maybe five times a year (which consists of mascara and lip gloss), these clip-in extensions just look courageously fun.  I wonder if they make extensions with some gray highlights :)

Just keeping it real, friends -

Jen


17 comments:

  1. What a wonderful way to rewrite the chapter of aging. Perspective is everything & those that live long enough to gain some gray & wrinkles learn that growing old is a privilege afforded to the lucky few. We learn that gray is the price of wisdom & wrinkles reflect a life well lived (not sofa surfed). On a personal note I can say you are one of the most authentic people I know. I can't imagine age or anything else eroding that. Much love.

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    1. Aunt Debra - I loved how you framed aging, as well. "...a privilege afforded to the lucky few." In light of what's going on in the US and the world, living a long, robust life is a privilege, one I don't plan on taking lightly. xo - Jen

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  2. What a great lesson on changing your perspective to change your reality. Love it!

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    1. Amen to that, Jtubb! Perspective + openness = Awesomeness; it's amazing what happens when we spin a new story for ourselves.

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  3. Amen. While I want aging to be slow and steady, I embrace the nearly 50...yikes year old me. I love this post. Being thankful for all that life has given you is so important. As always, you inspire me. I, personally, love the strands of grey in your hair. I wish my hair would gray! Instead, blondes become mousy brown. :-)

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    1. Shannon C - I blame you for one of those crow feet - maybe more! Thanks for adding so much joy to my life. xo

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