Are You Aging With Grace

By: Christine Hersom

(3 minute read)

Everyone ages! Do we all do it with grace? What is aging with grace? Is it aging by a set of standard rules? Is it feeling good while we age? I would like to think that I am aging with grace in a way that makes me happy. Aging shouldn’t be a process where we lose our identity, surrender to black and white rules, and fall helplessly into our graves.  

People will tell you that age is just a number. I agree…to a point. I do find that as I age, my body gets tired easier and faster. My eyes aren’t as clear as they used to be. So, in that respect, age is not just a number.

When my hair started going gray, I wanted to embrace it. I mean I worked hard to earn those gray hairs. (Raising kids brings gray on faster than sentinel events). The problem with my gray hair was that it was only gray around the edges of my short hairstyle. It looked like my mother put a bowl on my head and painted gray on the tips. Whenever I looked in the mirror, it was like looking at one of the Three Stooges.

I wasn’t doing it!

To embrace my gray and my age, I colored all of my hair gray. It lasted about two weeks and washed out. I tried again. And again. Same results. Come to find out, my hair was not embracing the “going gray” scenario as much as I wanted it to. Maybe my older self wanted the Three Stooges look, yet my younger, more hip self, did not! I finally colored it a more natural shade with lots of red highlights. Seemed like a fair compromise.

I had another brilliant idea to slid into “maturity” with grace. I determined since my body was maturing, I would dress more conservatively. I bought Bermuda shorts, floral shirts, and walking shoes.

As for the Bermuda shorts, I am only 5’3”, therefore, they looked like high water pants on me.  While floral shirts are beautiful on others, when I wear them, I feel frumpy. Combine that with the weird gray hair, minus the vacuum, I looked like Mrs. Doubtfire.

It was awful. Even my husband looked at me like he was seeing his grandmother. Not exactly romantic. To boot, I am from central New Hampshire, so the Florida Key prints weren’t actually in style anyway. Nope! Hard pass on the wardrobe switch. 

Back to the shoes. It seems like as we age, the expectations is we walk more. Not sure when that assumption started. Well, I decided I would switch into “more comfortable” shoes. Surely that was a wise decision. Again. Nope! The shoes were the final straw. Although they were very comfortable and good for my feet, whenever I looked at them, I cringed. I had now become Herman Munster. This can’t be aging with grace. Back to the slides for me.

So, the hair, the clothes, and the shoes were valiant efforts though none of them worked for me. 

Maybe age is just a number. Not so fast… I sold my motorcycle!

My husband and I have ridden motorcycles together since our children became adults. We have ridden all over the northeast: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Canada. We lugged our gear and camped along the way.  It was me, my husband, and our bikes. It was like heaven on earth.

This past summer I realized I had ridden my bike less and less. Why? It really wasn’t that comfortable anymore. My peripheral vision was a challenge, my reflexes slower, and my hips hurt after a day in the saddle. I made the hardest decision. I sold the bike.

You see, age is a number when it comes to safety. As we age, we do slow down which can lead to poor decisions and delayed responses. I didn’t want to be a statistic.

So, while I can now admit age is and isn’t only a number, I have also come to terms that I can age with grace and still be me. When my hair decides to be gray all over…I will embrace it.

I have decided that my dress code is going to be all me until the day I die. I will wear slides, tie-dye shirts, ripped jeans, leggings, skorts, and shorts. I don’t do it to be sexy or impress anyone. I do it because I like it. Aging gracefully shouldn’t equal total discomfort, and it shouldn’t feel forced.

As Kurt Vonnegut said, “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy Shit, what a ride!’”

I want to live…and age following Kurt Vonnegut’s advice.

Christine Marshall Hersom
All Things Wellness, LLC
christinehersom@yahoo.com

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