I made this decision ten years ago, about the age when women are expected to take part in the sad, destructive ritual of bemoaning the loss of their youth. After that, we are easy prey for any daytime television show and magazine headline promoting the “war on aging.”
Talk about a fool’s errand. What do we think we are actually going to do… win?
So here is my simple four-step plan for turning the tables.
Step 1: Inflate the age. Women are plagued by this ridiculous reputation for claiming to be 29 forever. Clearly, that ship has sailed. However, if any man were so blind or gullible as to believe it, in the next breath he would be thinking, Man, time has not been her friend.
So instead, every time I am asked how old I am on my birthday, I smile wide and proclaim, “Fifty-six.”
Replying to what he can only fathom as unabashed honesty, he says, “Really? You look awesome!”
Step 2: Embrace the grey. All fifty shades of it. Loreál will not make one more dime off of me.
Instead, I seek to show it off. I have pointed out the little wisps of white on my temples and hairline to my friends, students, even my mother. She is in denial, by the way.
I have sported a short hairstyle for most of my life, which takes very little time and effort to maintain. However, I have made this promise to myself: when the grey takes over, I am finally letting it grow long. In fact, I envision this thick braid cascading down the center of my back. Or maybe wear it up in a bun, like Caroline Ingalls. Remember her? That woman could look good cleaning out a pig sty.
Step 3: Dress the part. Three words… Hats. Glasses. Shoes.
My hat collection is small right now but definitely shows promise: a floppy one for the beach, a straw one for the backyard, a military one for the football field, and a beautiful red one that only comes out once a year for English 2’s Poetry Slam. That blog is coming up soon, so I won’t spoil the fun.
When the page must be more than a foot away from your face, it is time for a set of reading glasses. But not just one. Try three, and allow the style to match the occasion. For example, my purple antique pair lives in the office, the brown horn-rimmed pair is on the bedside table, and the zebra-striped pair is reserved for the classroom. Many would testify that I have honed my Teacher Intimidation Look to razor-sharp perfection using those babies.
Step 4: Speak the Truth. I am firm believer in the sovereignty of God, meaning that no power exists outside of Him and nothing happens outside of His control. I am also a firm believer in the goodness of God, meaning that His multi-dimensional plan does not have to be contained or explained in order to be glorious and true.
To remind me of this, I need only compare the photos of the smoldering remains of my house three years ago to that with which I have now been blessed. Pain is no measure of His faithfulness.
Therefore, when He brings someone into my path that needs to hear any part of my testimony, I do it. Even if it is embarrassing, even if it is inconvenient. I know if I shine at all, it is only as a reflection.
While I hope for the pleasure of growing old this way, I know my days are not promised to me. To which I reply, “All the more reason to practice a little now.”
See you at the Wal-Mart. I should be easy to spot.