Graceful aging isn’t as important as grace and kindness

One of the things that really bugs me is when a celebrity is showcased as looking like they’ve never aged. Recently a certain model who is now in her 60s has been in several magazines and television shows sharing her secrets on how she stays looking eternally youthful.
It seems that this is the new paradigm. Images of movie or television stars who seem perennially young and consistently state they have had no work done. They simply have embraced a “healthy lifestyle.” I find it hard to believe that their faces are without wrinkles simply from eating a lot of kale or exercising. If that is the case then I should have skin as taut as a starched sheet. Let’s get real, botox and fillers are more than likely their fountain of youth. If they want us to believe them, then they should take closeups of their inner thighs and upper arms and put them on You Tube. It’s hard to smooth them out without surgery.
I come from an Italian family where the women lived long lives and looked pretty good for their years. My great grandmother lived to be 95, my grandmother was 93 when she passed and my mother was 99. They had great skin, were on the move most of the day and seemed to have all their marbles with the exception of my mother whose cognitive abilities started to fail her in her early 90s. They ate a Mediterranean diet, took walks and used olive oil on their skin. My grandmother washed her hair once a week with brown soap, then applied olive oil to her dry hair for a couple of hours. Olive oil was the elixir for the inside and outside of the body.
How they looked was important to them but it was not their focus. Bonding with family and friends, sharing meals, and living with passion was very important. Oh there was plenty of craziness. Drama was part of daily life, but so was laughter. Community was important. When someone was in need, whether it be a neighbor or a family member everyone lent a helping hand.
The media did not spend hours focused on reporting the latest way to look hot, hip, and young. I actually never heard my mother or grandmother moaning over how thin their lips were getting, or their droopy jawline.I know times change and science is giving us opportunities to enhance our looks if we so choose. However, it’s important to keep perspective. We need to also choose to work on our internal selves. Smile, share good news, savor every moment, be kind and compassionate to yourself and others, and enjoy your life as much as possible. I believe these are the attributes that keep us feeling young and vital! No amount of Botox can take their place.

Same Reaction, Same Outcome

When I was about 6, my mother took me to Radio City Music Hall, which, as you probably know, is an enormous show palace in New York City.

The movie playing that day was Disney’s ‘‘Dumbo.’’ When the movie ended and all the kids started streaming out of the theater, I was miserable that this glorious experience had come to an end.

So I ran to the front of the theater, in front of probably a couple of thousand people, and started yelling at the screen, “Dumbo, Dumbo, take me with you! Take me with you!” And all the people started to laugh, which is just what I hoped would happen.

I felt the need to perform and make people laugh at a very young age. I was and am a “ham.” What truly makes us feel our most authentic self and gives meaning to our lives is not always apparent.

My childhood was often difficult, but I was able to navigate it because of my humor, zaniness and ability to see pain and suffering in others. When I saw people smile at my antics, it would help reduce the anxiety I often felt from living in a volatile environment.

When I look back on my life, it’s clear that much of what I share with others about how to handle stress comes from how I was able to find “the bless in the mess” with humor.

It is not possible to get everyone to engage in this process. We are all wired differently and many situations in life are just not funny!

However, in the everyday of life we can elicit more giggles and guffaws at what are essentially minor irritations. Making yourself crazy over traffic, long lines in a store, spilled milk or a host of other minor aggravations can, over a period of time, make you more susceptible to becoming ill.

Unfortunately, much of how we react is embedded in our brains. The way we respond is similar to Bill Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day.” We wake up and our lives become mirror images of the previous day.

We can opt to continue reacting in the same old ways, but we must realize that we will continue to get the same old outcome. The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi said, “Wake, wake up, you have been asleep a thousand years!’’

I have been fortunate to be able to use my humor to reduce everyday stress. You may opt to use another modality. You may be able to use patience, compassion or the ability to say, “What will it all mean at the end of my life”?

Just keep in mind that changing our reactions takes practice, but the result could be a more peaceful countenance.