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Ageing Gracefully

I've been reading about calorie creep, as I try to stave off the 52 pounds I've lost over the past year. (More in posts to come). What about age creep? We've heard about age creeping up. Is there anything we can do about it? Are we victims of the process? Can we be willing, joyful participants?

I hadn't really thought of myself in conjunction with ageing much until I applied and was accepted into the anthology Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife. The anthology edited by Carleen Brice, features the works of 43 contributors, including highly regarded authors and poets such as: Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Susan L. Taylor, Rita Dove, Terry McMillan, Gloria Naylor, Maya Angelou and Pear Cleage. It was published in 2003--12 twelve years ago! Yes, age has steadily been creeping up on me.

I've always loved T.S. Eliot as you can see by my post: Celebrating Poetic Genius: T.S. Eliot, posted around this time last year. What did he mean by this verse:

I grow old...I grow old
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled?

Could it be growing old is a time to do what you like? Trousers rolled or unrolled, you decide; not society's conventions?

Triple Goddess

In my prose "The Pathway Home" included in "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number," I ruminate, as a young mother but one who gave birth later in life, on the triple goddess: maiden, mother and crone. I call myself too old to be called maiden and too young to be called crone. 

Though my body and face may say different, this is my way of being. My angel oracle cards say it repeatedly. The cards ask me to stay in touch with my inner child, to never forget the magic of innocence and to day dream at will. Doing these three things will bring about healing.

I have been jolted from these readings by ageism heard in  the media, especially on television and the reaction to super model Cindy Crawford's photo in Marie Claire magazine, which has not been manipulated by Photoshop.

I'm blogging about this not to paint a rosy picture. There are several good quotes floating about on Facebook that describe the process well, such as, 'growing old is not for the weak' and 'growing old beats the alternative'.

The Africa Channel on cable has designated February as Elder Month. It is a month venerating the wisdom of elders from different walks of life through 50 vignettes. A lovely thought. I hope this idea catches on. 

Meanwhile, between taking calcium, black cohosh and magnesium blended with herbs and an evening primrose oil mix, among other herbal remedies, while battling the annoying symptoms ushered in by ageing, I'll be here tapping on the keyboard, trying to make sense of it all, while hopefully ageing gracefully. I'm looking forward to hearing your experiences on this and other topics as they arise. 

(ATC by Stephanie Bird)


  1. Hi Stephanie,

    I’ve dropped by, added myself as a Follower, and want to tell you I really enjoyed this post.

    As an esthetician for the past 31 years I find ageing the bane of my work existence. Now, personally, I love ageing - it’s what lets me know I’m alive.

    What frustrates me is the media pressure on woman to somehow freeze time at age twenty-five. This pressure then snowballs and some women find themselves not enjoying life’s journey.

    As I’m creeping up to 60 (turning 57 this Friday) I find myself paying attention to a Coco Chanel quote, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” That sums it up beautifully.

    As to Cindy Crawford’s photo, I’m of two minds.

    First, shame on her for not speaking out on it, or ever sharing “real” photos of herself while making her millions on women's guilt.

    My other thought is the video (and photo taken from it) seems less than real as her husband tweeted a photo of her poolside on a chaise lounge the other day.

    I don’t know how you can go from one to the other without one of them being tweaked. I think the video’s lighting was quite different from the end result and I found that interesting.

    Having a daughter in the rendering business I’ve seen what can be done, even to videos, under the pretext of “not edited”.

    That said, it’s good to know she’s not a plastic doll. I’ve never been one to have a fashion icon as a role model.

    The secret of ageing is smiling. A happy countenance shows through the skin and lights it up. It’s been my anti-ageing pill all my life. I’m told I look a good 15 years younger than my age so it must be working! LOL. That and a really good skin care routine.

    Cheers, Jenny
    2015 A to Z Challenge Ambassador

  2. Welcome Jenny! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom on this topic that you face every day at work and also in your life. I appreciate that you've become a member of this blog and welcome your opinions, input, and comments anytime you happen to pop in. Good luck with A to Z. I'm sure it will continue to be a success.

  3. "I grow old...I grow old
    I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled"

    Think about it, visualize itt: When you age, you lose height and you roll up the bottoms of your trousers so they don't drag along the ground.

  4. I grow old...I grow old
    I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled?

    This is because a person loses height as he ages, so the pants that once fit him are now too long and the cuffs now have to be rolled up.

    Thank you for your blog post!!!

    1. You're welcome Jane! I use to think and hope that as you age you automatically lose weight but since ageing myself (and having to force the weight off) have developed some darker theories about all that. I think it's a beautiful verse that leaves itself open to interpretation and thus resonates. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    2. (I'm having some trouble with replies.. They seem to disappear and I think they've not been sent, then it posts twice....)

      I do think we generally lose weight as we age.. and maybe that's the body's way of protecting our skeletal structure, which weakens as we age (we very well know that as women...). The mastery of poetry, and of a great poet, as we see in these lines, is taking a (common) phenomenon and describing it in poetic terms. That's why it's so important to discuss poetry.

      Every senior knows the important of the belt as a clothing accessory: Maybe at some point a belt (or two or three) is no longer an accessory!

      As for vanity this is a given. Every senior center has a beauty salon; my mother's even has a spa. People of all ages want to look beautiful, in their own eyes and in the eyes of others.

    3. Yes! I know what you mean about senior centers and the beauty salons. The ladies look lovely when they are finished too don't they? Silver foxes. The men too for that matter. What I meant in my previously reply is that as a health writer and from lived experience as an African American, sadly, I've learned that a lot of obese and overweight people die of obesity-related illnesses well before they have the chance to become elderly. That's why I don't know if everyone naturally gets thinner as they age. I do see that a great deal of people that are able to live to an advanced age do become thinner as they get there. I visited your blog and left a comment. It looks as though you have some challenges and blessings. I wish you well and hope you will be back here from time to time.

  5. Lovely post Stephanie and comment from Jenny! I love the anti-ageing pill! Am smiling as I write this.
    Ageing is such a fascinating subject - it's time women were more courageous in becoming who they really are and putting stereotypes where they belong. Thank you for this post.
    I've bookmarked the Elder Month on Africa Channel, it looks very interesting.

  6. Thanks so much Susan! Yes, Chef Lentswe Bhengu is the one who let me know about Elder Month on his show Africa on a Plate. This show takes place largely in South Africa. We find that it breaks down our ideas about what Africa is all about. He does a very nice job on that show, with elders and many other topics.

  7. I meant to say how beautiful your painting is.

    1. Thanks Susan! I need to finish the ones I'm working on. Your compliment will serve as inspiration. They are a series of semi-abstract flower paintings in oils on canvas.

  8. Well done, Stephanie! A thoughtful approach to something I'm sure we all think about. For the most part, I thoroughly embrace aging and the confidence and courage that come along with it. I guess the only downside (besides the usual aches and wrinkles lament) is feeling that I've become what the young are afraid of becoming- Old. Such a contrast to the esteem and respect I lavished on the elders of my youth... Your paintings are lovely, Stephanie. :-)

  9. Diedre, yes, I know what you mean. People can be very dismissive of elders these days. You don't have to go far to hear it. It is very sad. Thanks for the compliment! That ATC artwork above is a tiny piece that can fit in the palm of your hand.

  10. I'm trying to hold off the aging process by watching what I eat and exercising. It's not easy fighting mother nature!

    1. That works good for a while. LOL! Thanks Sherry & keep at it.


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