Graceful Aging

Yesterday I woke up as usual, had a coffee with my special French Vanilla Fake cream, and then a banana. I visited my beautiful private bathroom and never did get to drink my second cup of coffee. Finally, on the last trip out of the master bath, I looked at my bed, crawled in, and didn’t get out until my husband came home.

I’d never spent an entire day in my new bed, so it felt good to just cocoon and let the world go about it’s business. I’d finished a novel and turned it in to my publisher Saturday, the day before; I could take Sunday to really rest. I ate sparingly and meditated for an hour (a personal best). I took naps, read the newspaper and finished reading a book I’d found on Twitter called “Middle Age Beauty” by Machel Shull.

I was intrigued by Shull’s story. She’d been a face model in L.A. and at 40 found herself unemployed and over the hill. She didn’t want a facelift, so she turned inward. One of the maxims in Machel’s book is that great beauties die twice, once when they lose their looks, another when their heart stops beating.

I was cute for a minute in 1976, and in reading her book, I would never have guessed Machel has the kind of looks that make a woman die twice. There’s nothing conceited about Machel. Her tone is approachable and her voice is different, in a good way. Like she’s a friend confiding over soy lattes.

Instead of taking the usual Hollywood road of surgery and fillers, Machel set out to find ways to age gracefully. Her book includes several interviews with professionals: doctor, therapist, nutritionist, spiritual guide. These were inspiring bonuses and gave Machel’s words increased validity. Machel asks good questions. Questions I would ask.

I didn’t learn any new tactics from Machel’s book, but taken as a whole, on a day when I was stuck in bed, perhaps because of bad nutritional choices, (That fake sugary cream? The two glasses of wine the night before? Maybe the brie? A stomach bug?) what she wrote had a big impact. I knew about drinking vinegar to cut appetite, about melatonin for sleep, about giving up wine to lose inches in the waist. About walking and lifting and yoga. Knowing and doing can feel galaxies apart.

Machel, for all her celebrated beauty, is truthful and down to earth. I felt like she had taken me aside and whispered in my ear how much weight she gained when she married and moved from L.A. into a community that prized fine food and wine. It’s close to what I needed to lose a few years ago.

With the help of my superfit friend Lisa, I lost 15 of the pounds (less than half of my goal) and have kept them off for two years, but my weight is still a health risk. Who knew it was a beauty risk too? Well, look at the picture of Lisa and me. We’re the same age. There’s your answer.

Being overweight does plump out the wrinkles, but Machel has some other ways to do that, all natural. (Which Lisa must also know as she doesn’t have a wrinkle on her pretty face!) When I lose the rest of my weight, if wrinkles appear (I do have smile lines at the sides of my eyes, but I like them) I just might try Machel’s #1 timeless beauty secret, which I will not share here, so as to keep back some spoilers.

In a few weeks, I’ll be 59. I’m already thinking “60” because my brain works that way. At 60, if I’m still here on the planet, I want to be healthier and happier. And thanks to Machel, and the continuing support from my dear friend Lisa, I have a clear road map to follow.