“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Mark Twain
The first, and only, self-drawing I drew, revealed my sixty year old self…all wrinkles revealed. The drawing instructor frowned at my page and suggested merely, “You are not that old.”
Later, it dawned on me that I could not frown and smile simultaneously, so there was no way that I had accrued that many wrinkles…yet.
But it’s been many years that I’ve seen stray white hairs adorn my crown–my inner secret agent was on the prowl for any wayward signs of aging at each private mirror I encountered. I colour them now so people don’t overestimate my age; ten years older I look without the help of my salon friend, Misty.
I am now no longer a dirty blonde. I vacillate between fake blonde and golden brunette…that mousey, natural colour washed me out anyway. My new colour doesn’t feel authentic to me, but neither does white at forty six, so I’ll surrender to salon-coloured.
As I self-photograph, I’m also discovering there is more than one chin responding to gravity. If I open my hand and pull hard up to the Eve’s apple, I have a taut chin. My body language might be misconstrued as I walk through the grocery store, pushing up with one hand, holding my chin high. This inexpensive version of plastic surgery just won’t work most days. What would it tell the world? I’m choking?
Apparently I’ll have to settle in and get comfortable this next half of life.
“You’re only as old as you feel,” they say.
I could live in my self-delusions if I didn’t have children. They continuously remind me of the ‘olden days’:
“Mom, look at how my bangs wave up high. They almost look back-combed, like the olden days”.
“Mom, did you hear that song? Sounds like the Bangles, from the olden days!”
“Mom, where were you when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden?” (okay, no one has asked that, but the concept that I ALWAYS have been was evident since they came into mental awareness).
Nope, I haven’t always been here.
I have learned a few things along my way, though. That might be why they think I’ve always been here.
The more I know, the more I know I don’t know. The only thing to which I can be certain, the only thing I can know FOR SURE, is that I don’t know as much as I think, and that I’ll always have an awful lot to learn.
In honour of this last half century, I upload a glamour photo to my About page–I am capable looking like this, though it only happens once a decade.
I am a homeschool mama, so you will almost NEVER see me look like this in real time. Rather, my hair is pulled into a pony or clip, dark rectangular glasses hiding my grey orbs, and au casual style.
No matter other’s attempts at hiding age through plastic surgery, it’s the eyes that reveal the many stories they have seen. There are stories behind my grey eyes (on a no-plastic surgery face)…stories of sadness and regret, stories of gratefulness and satisfaction, stories of compassion and fierce anger, stories of boredom and delight. There’s a lifetime of stories (or 45 years of a lifetime?)
If I could write a book (hee hee hee, maybe I am…) I would weave a few lessons I’ve learned through my life stories:
1. “The greater part of our happiness depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances“…said Martha Washington.
2. Do what you want to do. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. And do what you do with gumption.
3. Don’t care deeply what other people think. Others can be a healthy mirror to what we think and we can learn from others, but all too often, their opinion means too much and dictates our opinions and the important things in our life. It doesn’t need to.
4. Circumstances don’t dictate happiness. For the smaller challenging things: take a deep breath and remember, life won’t always be like this. You don’t have to figure everything out right now. It’ll get figured.
Now I am not talking about when your aunt dies, or you get divorced, or you bet and lose the house. You should feel sad, mad, bad…feel whatever you’re feeling. Own it. And then figure out how to settle those feelings so you can keep going on, in whatever time feels appropriate to do it.
5. You get to decide if you’re happy. And yet I am talking about when your aunt dies, or you get divorced, or you bet and lose the house, or when the kids leave their shoes in the kitchen or break your favourite ***. Though it be a challenging life, you get to capture your charmed life.
6. Include people in your life that bring value to your life or people that you can bring value to.
7. Give more than you expect. Life is about receiving, there’s no denying it, though some of us try to tell ourselves we don’t like to receive. We like to consume yummy food, we enjoy entertainment, we like to see new things, go on field trips, read new books, meet new people, but giving makes us feel alive and valuable.
8. Don’t let anger, frustration or disappointment keep us in its grip. If you could hire a court reporter to record all your thoughts, you’d quickly discover which feelings, or thoughts, consumed you. (Might not look pretty, right?) Your thoughts give meaning to the events in your life.
9. Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get until you try one…SO try them all… Besides the obvious insight: that eating chocolate makes you happy, life is too short not to seize each moment. Live life to the full–in freedom and grace.
I’d like to thank Mark Twain (the fellow to whom I share a birthday). He was correct: ‘wrinkles indicate where smiles have been.’
Life is grand, ain’t it? Raise a glass of Chilean Malbec to the life stories you’re given: Carpe diem, seize your day!