One thing that I love about my work is making new friends! There is nothing worse than struggling with something and thinking you’re the only one out there feeling that way. What a gift when someone else greets you and shares their struggles, and even triumphs, leaving you feeling less alone and with more tools in your emotional well-being toolbox.
This fabulous piece about being 45 came my way last week from someone in my own town whom I’ve never even met, but absolutely have to (we’re meeting for lunch soon when schedules allow). Please let me to introduce Kathi Cameron- enjoy her hilarious take on the 40’s and also glean some wisdom…enjoy!
I was checking out your site and saw this opportunity to vent my feelings (of love and hate) about aging. As it is on my mind almost every day, I couldn’t pass this opportunity by. I am a Health Promoter at 19 Wing Comox (airforce military base) with a graduate level education. I was single most of my life and chose not to have children (hence I hold onto my 20-something attitude). I have been in the fitness industry and an educator in exercise and healthy eating for as long as I can remember (so I have that going for me). I, too, have a blog (http://www.healthinreallife.blogspot.com) and have posted many laments about finding another wrinkle or embracing my muffin top. On the cusp of 45, I feel “too old to be young and too young to be old” (Kathy Bates, Fried Green Tomatoes). I’m always fearing the “young people” see me as their mother and my fashion sense is moving toward comfortable elastic waistband pants. Or slowly turning into that old lady with the crazy long hair who is trying too hard to look young.
Understanding the research behind exercise and aging (I can no longer expect my workouts to help me maintain that youthful figure) I focused on learning how to eat well and healthy and rid my diet of processed and junk food (um…ya…I’m trying at least). I now exercise for energy and extended health into my old age….but I cannot believe I’m almost 45. I now look back at my 40th birthday and laugh at how I could have been thinking I was old (isn’t that what anyone older than the one freaked out does?). It’s not my age that causes the stress; I’m actually proud to say I’m 45. I kind of think of it as a badge of honour or as having the right to be solid in my profession vs. always in learning or mentoree mode (does that make sense?).
I own my skill set, I hold a lot of experience and education and I’m very proud of that. It’s watching my body change, wrinkle, jiggle, and spot that blows major goats. I’m vain. I was the girl who would turn heads walking down the street. As a result, I identified with my looks and as they fade, I struggle a bit (although I also identify with my education and skills…probably not a good thing either, but there you have it).
How did I celebrate it? I had just ended my engagement to a man who was bad for me (having moved from Victoria to the Comox Valley for him) and due to the low rental rate, was living in a mobile home with my cat. On my 40th my “friends” set me up with a guy I couldn’t believe they thought I was well matched for. I went home, took the extra large cake with me, grabbed a fork, and ate it from the inside out. After waking up from my carbohydrate coma and wiping the icing off my face, I started to focus on embracing this age (my 40s) and seeing the positive. I’m still working on this.
I don’t know if I should love or hate our culture’s beliefs and attitudes on aging. On one hand you have the 50-something celebrity that makes 50 look good. On the other you have the plastic surgeons and hours of work she puts into looking that way (things we don’t see nor have much access to). The results of this may be more negative as I move into my 50’s looking more like a before picture than an after picture. I do believe our culture is starting to shift attitudes towards the older adult (Hollywood is producing more movies with older characters).
Perhaps by the time I turn 50, older people (women) may be more valued or celebrated. I do believe that by reinventing yourself and keeping yourself challenged you can remain young, vibrate, and interested in life …for life. I’m going back to school to get my MEd in Counselling Psych and by 50 am planning a career shift. I’m so excited about this, I’m finding myself looking forward (vs. dreading) 50. THAT may be the secret to healthy, happy, and passionate aging.
I never though I would ever consider plastic surgery, but now just the odd nip and tuck doesn’t seem out of reach. My only fear is dying under anaesthesia only to have the papers report “health promoter dies in plastic surgery”….doesn’t go with the message I’m trying to role model. So I use exercise as my tool and sleep 7 – 8 hours. I’m limiting my alcohol intake and staying out of the sun. I socialize with friends and eat as many vegetables as I can. I do believe living well is the best defence against aging…but I would still love to look as I did at 25 (I never appreciated it then…but isn’t that what we all say). No matter what anyone says…wrinkles suck.
Sorry, I went on a bit (and failed to answer your questions as you asked them). Thanks for letting me vent. All the best with this book. I’m also very interested in working with women transitioning into life stages when I graduate. It’s a fascinating area (especially working with academics / professional women).
Kathi Cameron, MA
Health Promotion Director
19 Wing Comox