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Monday, September 15, 2014

the one outrageously great thing about aging….

 

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This past weekend I had my first ever blogger meet up in my new city.

Yes!

I happily stepped away from my time-sucking list of home projects, washed my paint brushes, yanked most of the white paint out my dark hair, and drove minutes away (to Newport Beach) to meet up with the wise and wonderful Tamera of the blog Tamera Beardsley. 

And what an unsuspecting gift I got.

Tamera has it turns out, is the real deal. She’s warm and vulnerable and insightful and refreshingly real. Although truthfully, I wasn’t really surprised. Any woman who posts a picture of her face without a stitch of makeup, who freely announces her age (55) at any opportunity and shares courageous posts about her son, is destined to be a friend of mine.

Of course we traded a cup of coffee for a glass of wine and ended up having one of those deep, meandering conversations that I find so replenishing. You know the kind. Where you start off talking about one thing and you end up talking about something totally different.

Lifting the lid on those parts of your life where you keep your deepest worries and tender life lessons, the stuff that makes us so damn interesting.

And do you want to know what I learned from the whole experience? Besides the fact that I have a new friend?

I walked away from the afternoon being reminded that the very best part of aging is that incredible feeling of being comfortable in your own skin.

And wondering, why-oh-why don’t we talk about this more?!

Why aren’t we celebrating these good parts of aging instead of focusing so much attention on the losses that are associated with our beauty and appearance?

Because I’m learning that there are some wonderful benefits that can come with age when we keep pushing ourselves to grow. A refreshing shift inside us, as we get older.

Are you feeling it too?

I first noticed it in a startling way a few years ago when my hubby and I flew into Utah for his company’s annual Christmas party. Each year, we pack our cocktail dress/business suit attire in anticipation of the typical dressy affair, except on this year when I walked into the room wearing my black Ralph Lauren dress and high heels, a young colleague of my husband’s immediately came up, looked me up and down and asked, “Where’s your ugly Christmas sweater?”

And when I looked around, sure enough, for the first time ever I saw a sea of casual jeans and bulky, god-awful sweaters and do you know what I did?

I burst out laughing.

Yep. I actually thought it was hilarious (it’s official I’m a geek) that we had literally missed the memo and even though we both changed much later ---I proceeded to the crowded bar, talked, and mingled and even helped a young, nervous couple clean up their spilled drinks before dinner.

And only later did I truly reflect on this growing change in me.  Honestly, I would’ve been utterly horrified in my 30s maybe into my 40s- in that same situation, but as I was walking around that night, this freedom from caring what others thought felt downright exhilarating.

Have you discovered this yet?

There’s something so liberating when we stop focusing on what others are doing.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not describing anything remotely angry or defensive though. No cold, ‘frankly my dear I don’t give a damn’ attitude here. It actually feels more like an awakening about other women that comes from a warm, reassuring place.

A realization that comes from decades of seeing first-hand--- that what we see on the outside is never the whole story and no matter how different our paths as women might be, we’re all bonded by our wounds in the end.

So…. how did I go from sharing about a delightful get-together with a fellow blogger and end up on the topic of being comfortable in my own skin? 

Well it sprang from the idea of meeting someone new and sorta glamorous. And wondering what she would think about me. You know, meeting the blogger behind the blog. It’s a little unnerving.

When I was younger Tamera would have been one of those women I could’ve easily been intimidated by…

(for all the reasons that don’t really matter)

she’s tall----- I’m 5’2

she’s fabulously beautiful----I’m not

she’s a chic fashion guru who looks like she just stepped off a magazine cover ---my favorite outfit is a white t-shirt and jeans. Or something black and white.

Are you getting a picture here?

So OK.

What do you wear when you’re on your way to meet someone like this? I know in my younger days I would have agonized over my outfit. I probably would’ve gone out and bought something new and expensive. And to be perfectly honest, I did think about this, mostly because I still don’t know where all my clothes are. Although I did find my leopard  heels and thought about wearing those.

But in the end, on a hot afternoon in Newport Beach… I opted to be me.

I wore some fun jewelry, some open-toe heels, and my favorite jeans with a white T-shirt.

And when I saw Tamera she looked exactly as I expected, impeccably put together. In fact, I wish I’d taken pictures of her outfit to show you because I love her bold, elegant style.

Tamera looked wonderful and I felt wonderful.

And I sure wish you could’ve joined us.

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Here’s what I’m learning.

Being comfortable in your own skin means

when you make comparisons –of course we all do--- you don’t walk away feeling diminished, or less than… because you realize that we’re all on own unique journey.

Being comfortable in your own skin means

you can truly celebrate another woman’s beauty, or her chic outfit or her thin body, and be absolutely happy and admiring …because what she looks like has absolutely no connection to you and your own beauty.

Being comfortable in your own skin means

when you walk into an event, your eyes don’t immediately search the room for confirmation that you ‘wore the right thing.’ …because you chose the clothes that you feel good in.

Being comfortable in your own skin 

is an expression of self-love. When there’s enough to go around, it’s easier to say, “I love you and… I love me too.”

And so far, it’s been the very best part of aging.

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Can you relate?

xo

Leslie

 

I’m spreading the love with these friends:

http://www.stonegableblog.com/the-scoop-136/

http://www.astrollthrulife.net/2014/09/234th-inspire-me-tuesday.html

http://myuncommonsliceofsuburbia.com/inspire-monday-10/

 

 

33 comments:

The Students Wife said...

Loved reading this! I totally agree :)


www.studentswife.com

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This is a lovely post, Leslie! It's such a good thing when we become comfortable in our own skin. At 60, of course I still like to look good, but it is very freeing that it isn't of great importance to me anymore. I rather like that it isn't all about looks...and is more about who I AM.
So wonderful you could make a new friend through blogging. I have a meetup tomorrow with a blogger who I met in person several years ago...she has become one of my closest friends!

AntiqueChase said...

I just love this! It's getting easier for sure!

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

The second I saw the title of this post in my reader, I knew it was you Leslie! I just love the way you always seem to know exactly what is rattling around in my brain. I've never been too concerning about counting birthdays. I've always thought of them as a fabulous reason to celebrate. Actually, I really love birthdays! But I'll be 58 before the end of the year and for some reason, the thought of being 60 in the not so distant future just feels different. For the first time in my life, I'm starting to consider what aging really means. Being comfortable in my own skin ... I don't know if I'm totally there yet, but I'm getting a whole lot closer!

Dayle Allen Shockley @ A Collection of Days said...

Timely, my friend.

I have moments of embracing the aging thing, and moments of hitting the panic button. But the good news is that I'm comfortable in my skin and I know who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

oh Leslie, I adore this post! I love being the age I am... I just turned 60. It is really only a number! I feel relevant and timeless, I truly do! Being 60 is so awesome!!! I may creek and crack and ache a little more, but I am so much more myself than even 15 years ago! It did my soul good to read this post! Kudos to you sweet friend!

Lou said...

I enjoyed reading this and have gone over to Tamera's blog too - which looks lovely. It's so true that there are some women who just have it - whatever it is - and you go some way to define it here. I paid no attention to anything to do with ageing until this year when I turned 40! Now suddenly I feel like I have had blinkers on all this time. I am really interested to read how women FEEL about getting older, not about how they look but how they feel as the pendulum shifts. So thank you for capturing! Lou x

simone antoniazzi said...

You are so wise Leslie, I love it when I see you have written a new post, I always take something out of each post you write....thank you!

I bet you are a great companion & it sounds like Tamera is too. It is definitely nerve-wracking meeting other bloggers but so much fun too.

PS I thought you would be tall, isn't that funny!! X

Catherine Robinson said...

Love this post, Leslie...yes, I'm there...and isn't it a relief to feel this way...I'm really enjoying my 50s there's a lot to be said for being more relaxed and comfortable in your own skin...I wish I could have joined you ;) As you say...let's talk up the positives and stop fretting about the ageing process that happens to each and everyone of us...nobody escapes it...so let's enjoy the now ;) xx

Ellen, the Bluestocking Belle said...

I love this post. I will be 47 in a couple of months and for the past few years I've been very comfortable in my own skin. It took me a while to get here. I totally know what you mean about not caring about what others think but not in a snooty way. It's more of a self-acceptance thing than an "others" thing -- more internally focused than outwardly focused. Thanks for the post!

Donna Sinclair said...

When I turned 50 I sort of panicked. At 40 I felt absolutely nothing in regards to my age but 50....whew! But as the years pressed on I can confidently say that at 55 I am okay with it all. Somewhere along the line I settled in to this feeling of general appreciation. What once might have been seen as intimidating for me has become completely the opposite. I have a great sense of confidence that seems to carry my forward. Oh, I do have those moments where I stop and feel the immaturity of my younger years, questioning my wardrobe choices, my "right" to be in the room (if you know what I mean) and all those emotions that stop you in your tracks.
Generally though I feel much better about who I am now at 55. I am even a bit more adventurous in my wardrobe than my younger years.
Great post Leslie.

michele said...

I LOVE THIS POST, leslie! and i'm so happy that your blind blogger date was a success. i have had some doozies of bad blind dates with folks who are curious about the business end of blogging but could care less about the person. leaves one feeling deflated and cynical. you are spot on about being able to howl with laughter and a sense of humor because we have reached this level of maturity. we have evolved! you and i would feel right at home with each other in our jeans and white tees and diminutive stature. thanks for sharing your heart. it's a beautiful one.

Art and Sand said...

Oh, good! Now I know that when we meet up, in the next couple of weeks I hope, I can just be me. Which is actually how I am most of the time.

My epiphany came about 4 years ago when our best friends suddenly got a divorce just before their 40th wedding anniversary. It seems he had been having an affair for nearly 40 years with the same woman. The"perfect" marriage was a sham that had everyone fooled.

At at that moment, I realized nothing is as it seems to the outsiders. All of a sudden people who "had it all" were admitting that they didn't really have it all.

I like who I am and am content, but it took age and experience to become so.

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

I've met a couple of my fellow bloggers, in Venice and London - and I'd love to meet you too if you come to this end of Europe. It always ends up being a warm, lengthy day to remember. I'm so glad it was for you.

I've also been thinking about ageing and feeling good in one's skin, especially as I've spent time this summer in France where women seem to age so beautifully. I dunno. Up tp a point I accept and even like how I am, but sometimes the old securities sink in. I can work through them and some things are truly going well at the moment, but sometimes old habits die hard, don't they?

Must catch up with you it's been a long, spinning summer! Xcat

Tamera Beardsley said...

Oh my dear … I am humbled by your kind words! Weren't we both so brave to show up to our blind blogging date! Although … I did feel I knew you already! I am still in awe of the deep connection I feel with you …

Your writing in this post is so very beautiful … I feel my words can't do it justice! I have come here today … so many times … each time feeling I didn't haver the right words to tell you how much I think of you! I have admired you and your blog for years … and meeting you in person … was even So much better! Your heart and soul … are such a comfort and ever so wise!

I feel so blessed that you moved down here to SoCal! Here's to a beautiful and blossoming new friendship my dearest Leslie!

xoxo
Tamera

Gypsy Heart said...

So happy you two were able to meet! I love this post ~ only 1 thing wrong...no photos! :) I totally agree with you. My mother lived her entire life worrying about what "they" would think, say or do. My brother and I were supposed to portray these images of perfection. He really did...I didn't. I never understood why she couldn't love me just being me. Never happened!

Sorry I got off on that tangent...but I have so enjoyed being able to just be me. Looks fade but kindness, a big heart, empathy, honesty and a great sense of humor mean more to me.

Thanks so much for sharing!
xo
Pat

Karen said...

Leslie,
I agree 100%...why did it take me so long to be comfortable with my own self? I can remember that advice back when I was in my early twenties...older, wiser people would reassure you in a stressful situation, "just be yourself". I don't think I knew who I was back then, or if I did, I was convinced I needed to be better. Great post.
I would love to meet you someday...I'm about the same distance from you as Tamera. :-)
Karen

Marilyn said...

Age is merely a number.... a unit of measure. As I grow older I've come to realize that true happiness resides in the simplest things. That laughter, optimism and a curious, open mind are the keys to growing old gracefully.

Marilyn (in Dallas)

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Yes, I can definitely relate! I'll turn 54 in early October, and I don't have any desire to throw on the brakes. I've earned every one of my wrinkles and grey hairs, and I'm more comfortable now in my own skin than ever before, although I'm still working on things. Getting "old" is no excuse for giving up... LOVE this post!

Carla from The River said...

Thank you ~ a beautiful post, and with age I am learning to just be me. :-)

Jennifer Connolly said...

A beautiful post. I wrote along the same lines a couple of days ago. Aging is so freeing. I'm wholeheartedly enjoying it.
And Tamera, is the best! You're lucky to live so close by.
xoJennifer

alittlecape said...

I finally, at 55, stopped dying my hair. Really, all the testing still done on animals woke me up. I thought we were done with that, but the beauty industry is still testing on animals. I feel great with my grays and there are a helluva lot of them! Wearing it spunky and funky with cruelty free makeup, gel, the whole deal. Thank LUSH for great products that allow me to say to hell with it all, but I can now feel and look the way I want. No pressure. And yes I still wear jeans, fav tees and all the coloured sneakers I can buy. Patty/NS

Calypso In The Country said...

Yay a new post from you is just what I need in this crazy busy week before my big school event! I love what you wrote (as always). I am so exhausted that when I read that you met a blogger in your "new city" I actually thought for a second that you said "New York City". I was disappointed that you came all the way out to the east coast and didn't contact me for a visit! Anyway, I agree with you about feeling good in your own skin. It does get easier as we get older. I am 47 and I hope I am getting better at it. I guess I am a work in progress. Thanks for the great reminder. And so nice that you made a new friend through your blog! Enjoy the rest of your week!
Shelley

karen@somewhatquirky said...

Beautifully said Leslie! (as usual) I'm very fortunate that I have been pretty dang comfortable in my own skin for about 26 years now. I think that the biggest step for me was when I committed to looking internally when I was out of sorts and not at someone else. Also I think I figured out REALLY early in life that if I live comparing myself to others I would be living a life of misery. I will admit that I did struggle just a bit around 52 - 53 when I felt like aging was piling on just a little and it made me a little squeamish. That's when you just have to practice your gratitude!

Pam Kessler said...

I love meeting up with other bloggers. So glad you got to meet her in person!

And yes, I do feel more and more comfortable in my own skin all the time. I used to NEVER go out of the house without mascara (I really hated the look of my eyes without a little "help"), but now I figure I'm not going out to pick someone up or anything lol, so why not just go as I am if I want to.

Heather Lindstrom said...

You nailed it Leslie! I totally agree with the 50's being more about comfort in our own skin. What a fun afternoon for you, and the fabulous Tamera Beardsley, who I've had the fortune to meet three times. Knowing your depth, honesty and supportive natures I'm sure the conversation was enriching in every way. Thank you for sharing your insight and I'm loving that last outfit photo. Your ensemble for the get together sounded perfect, perfectly you and perfect.
I look forward to our 'blogger date in the near future'. :)
xx, Heather

Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia said...

Such a beautiful post! I love your perspective, I had a hard time turning 40 but as each year passes it somehow is getting easier. Thanks for linking up and I wish you a wonderful weekend friend. XO
Kristin

Lori said...

It feels like I have not been here for forever ~ honestly I need a full day to not just catch up on my reading but to actually drop by and leave comments as well. I love everything about this post Leslie ~ from meeting a new friend to all the "yes" things as I was nodding along while reading. As I get older I tend not to care as much about what others think ~ most days I have a "take me as I am" attitude and although I do have a filter ~ I will speak my mind and stand up for things I believe in. I was always a mix of leader/follower ~ I knew when to take charge and then knew when to fall back into the pack and just let things be. I tend to fall back more now but will voice concerns ~ does that even make sense? You know I love it when you make me think. xoxo

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

I loved this post and have been thinking about it for days!

Life is to, to short to worry about aging. There are a million other issues and problems in life, illness, family, marriage etc that we need to focus our energy on!

Thank you for always reminding us what is important.

I hope things are coming together in your new house.

Mary Ann Pickett said...

GREAT post. I AM comfortable in my own skin...I just wish there was less of it around my neck :-))

Monica said...

Hi Leslie, I love your wise words. You always have a way of making me really think about the importance stuff. Thanks for this. xx

Cindy Hattersley said...

About two or three years ago I "let" my hair go gray. My mother was dying her hair at 30. I had been thinking about going gray (my husband was totally on board) I was having to have my roots touched up way too often. My daughter came home one weekend and told me my hair looked like a frizzled mess. That did it! I have never gotten so many compliments on my hair in my life even when I was young. Talk about liberating!! And...the big one is approaching fast for me. The key to having gray hair is to try not to dress like a grandma. You don't have to worry about looking like a hooker there are no gray haired hookers!! Great post!

Jeannie said...

I LOVE this post and your insightful thoughts. Wish I had read this advice years ago! And I may even have my two teenage sons read your comments about being comfortable in your own skin! I just found your blog yesterday, through another blog and I love it.

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