Sunday, April 25, 2010

Close your eyes

and fast forward fifty years. That's me, you see, above, walking down the road to my house in southern Italy.

Having a child with uncontrolled seizures (oh, not this again, you sigh!) has been likened to having constant low-grade anxiety that peaks every now and then into full-blown crisis. That's the way I've been living for fifteen years, and it's taken its toll. I've exercised intermittently and know that I need to do it more. I've never smoked cigarettes or taken any drugs, and I rarely drink. I do love to eat, though, and married a chef. I used to be an effortlessly thin kind of person, the sort that people envy. But that was a long time ago -- a lllllllllllloooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggg time

So despite the weighty things I must and do think about all the time, I also spend a fair amount of time thinking about other weighty things, literally weight and too much of it and how to lose it and why have I gained it and so on and so forth ad nauseum. 

But this post is NOT about my weight, a most insufferable topic.

This post is about how age creeps up on you and startles you. You gain thirty-five pounds with your first child and then lose all but ten or so, and then the second child emerges and you're up twenty with the third and then you're nearing forty years old, and you've never exercised consistently in your life and you're screwed. Add into that the stress hormone cortisol that appears to be secreted in you all day long and you're trying, you're trying, to control your stress and meditate and exercise more and eat better and here you are, stuck in ad nauseum.

Age creeps up on you and startles you. You look in the rear view mirror of the car and notice a wrinkle above your nose that wasn't there yesterday, you swear. You glance in a mirror at a store and are dumbfounded at the sudden appearance of jowls that have overtaken the bottom part of your face. Where did these come from? you think, because they appeared to have just carved a spot for themselves like squatters in a tenement. And that leads me to the reason I am writing this post to begin with. This morning, as I peered at myself in the bathroom mirror, placing my contact lenses in, I practically gasped at the appearance of a very long, black hair laying on the middle of my nose, just below the bridge. I went to brush it off and realized simultaneously that it was sprouting from my face, at least 1/2 an inch long.

I had had a drink at a bar the night before with my friend D. He had said nothing about this hair (and he would have if he'd seen it; he would have been merciless) which meant that it had appeared overnight.and apparently grown while I slept, solo and voracious, an antennae.

I plucked it and thought of my Italian grandmother and the frightening hairs she grew out of her moles. I am morphing into my grandmother, I thought, which would explain the increasing solidity of my body and my unwavering physical strength. Knock on wood, but despite the years of fairly heavy stress, I don't have headaches (seemingly the common province of the chronically stressed) and I almost never get sick. I have a lot of upper body strength (my grandmother carried many, many bags of groceries through Manhattan, up and down flights of stairs, or so I've heard) and am just pretty damn strong, all around. I'm grateful for that.

So that's my Sunday sermon post. It's all I've got. I weigh too much but am surprisingly healthy. I sprouted a hair on my nose, far enough from but indicating the possibility of a uni-brow, lying latent, and I'm morphing into my grandmother.

Did I show you the house I'm walking to?


  1. Rule #1 of aging: Never look at your face in a mirror in the car. I don't know why but it is always horrifying.
    Rule #2 of again: Just be damn grateful for the things that work.
    Rule #3 of aging: keep a dream alive.
    Rule #4 of aging: wear lipstick and keep a pair of tweezers with you at all times.

    Your future looks good to me. I like that house and that woman is STRONG!

  2. That woman has a strong--yes beautiful too, face. She has experienced life and lived to show it. And, look, she still loves life enough to gather fresh flowers. My only suggestion is that you put a few windows in your house.


  3. But, what is that she's carrying on her head? No way I could do that.

    I have the opposite desire- to not turn into my grandmother, who took to her bed early on and enjoyed ill health thereafter. And stress has done some things to my body that seemingly are permanent, though I try my best to manage it rather than succumb.

    Your strong spirit matches your strong body!

  4. I sprout those hairs on my upper lip and chin and yes, they seem to grow at an astonishing rate.

    As for the age, as I tell my mother, it is preferable to the alternative.

  5. I am a friend of a friend with a different category of special needs child and am a photographer and a wife, although my husband doesn't cook and I too look forward to the house by the sea. Is it an old archetype, women looking out to the sea to bring what? life, change?
    I get the catalogue, ABILITATIONS, for families with children with special needs. It is a humbling volume, one reminding me daily what blessings I have been given. YOur site is a touchstone now. Thank you and bring us all to the sea of change.

  6. I hear you. I'm constantly surprised when I notice the signs of my body aging when so much of the time I still feel like a 12 year old.

    That woman has a straight strong back and bright eyes and a wise smile. And a cool house.

    You are an inspiration. Seriously

  7. Stress does lay havoc on our bodies inside and out. The adrenal glands get so overworked that you function but never replenish your true need: rest.

    Christine Northrup's book "Women's bodies, women's wisdom" is a bible for me. I highly recommend it. It puts into place what we do to ourselves and what has been placed upon us, then you understand what it does to you as a woman.

    Hairs: My middle daughter tells me when she sees the one sprout near my chin that likes to pop out. I was shocked when she first spotted it, assuming it really was just an eyelash...but no! It was a yank it out hair that I try to keep and eye on and I swear it pops out overnight. I do believe that is why eye sight fades with age...we all see each other in a smooth, soft way...only with the glasses on do we see the glimmer of aging that begins.

    I see my mom's eye wrinkles, and the jowl deal is quite unnerving. Weigh...another issue...I don't eat bad, I eat healthy! Yet I keep having to reduce the portions to smaller and smaller and bread (I love bread) must be doled out too.

    Just know you are not alone...we all will walk this path if we aren't already on it...just keep walking....

  8. It drives my husband crazy that he can't seem to grow hair on the top of his head anymore, but it sprouts from his nose, ears and - yes! - the top of his nose.

    I am learning why women (and men) of a certain age keep sharp tweezers and a magnifying glass handy.

  9. You made me LOL, thank you! OMG on that black hair that showed up overnight!

    About the cortisol, I've worked with a naturopath to get mine under control with really great results. Just FYI.


  10. The picture makes me think of my husbands grandma (Greek widow), still living in the tiny village she has lived in all her life, alone, refusing to leave, insisting on keeping the chickens, dogs and cats (at least no donkey any more). Feisty... The in-laws have a house by the sea, but so far I've found no peace there. Now if I could spend a week by myself there... Maybe that's the key?

    Age creeps up on you - crap, yes it does. Keeping the tweezers handy (I will be the bearded lady in the coming years)

  11. I stayed in a hotel this past winter where they had one of those magnifying mirrors. A truly horrifying experience. I never saw so many sprouting hairs -- I should have been enjoying the wonders of Disney World with my family...and there I was, fretting about rogue hairs!

    And then, just last week, at a horrendous son's friend, an 8-year-old girl, referred to me as "Old Woman." I kid you not. Despite the fact that she will not be invited over to play again (that was only one of the many disrespectful comments), I couldn't help but be appalled and humiliated. My son has an old woman for a mother!

    Your post made me laugh today...

  12. I LOVE this post! I have had the same "hair-raising" experience, and have asked the men in my house to PLEASE TELL ME if they see something like this! oooooh.
    The new wrinkles: check.
    Salt & pepper hair (which I refuse to color): check.
    Gravity-drawn pouches of skin/flab: check.
    Stress-fractured teeth: check.

    Life is not for sissies, is it? I love the photo of the beautiful, life-weathered lady, but I predict you will not look like her. The spark of love and humor in you is too strong. And you have moisturizer.
    I'm with you, sister!

  13. I always find the rogue white hair in the car rear view mirror.

    I think about weight and the effect of cortisol a lot. Damned stress hormone.

    That house looks like a lovely refuge. Sign me up.

  14. ahhhhhh
    sophie's pearl of wisdom has found a home....

    with you!!!!

  15. Oh I really relate to this post. I'm trying to dissect and untangle the effects of stress and hypothyroidism over the years. The weight, oh the WEIGHT.

    My hairs sprout from my chin (sometimes overnight) and my skin has gone from smooth and even-toned to rough, pitted, wrinkled, patchy and pimply. Bleck.

    We are most critical of ourselves of course. The pictures I've seen of you show a beautiful woman with lots of light and love in her eyes and smile. Age won't take that away!

  16. Ms. Moon - I will take your advice!

    Bonnie - I will be sure to knock out some stones for windows. I'm thinking, though, that the back of that house, that you can't see, is a wall of windows that look onto the sea!

    Sesgaia: I think it's a Styrofoam container which is sort of weird. One expects a basket, no?

    Deb: Yes, it's good to be alive.

    Cometchick: Welcome and I know Abilitations well! It's sobering, at the very least!

    Michelle: A strong back is a good thing. And thank you for the compliment!

    Ellen: I remember reading some edition of that book but not in ages -- thank you for reminding me of it!

    Beth: I can't wrap my brain, yet, around carrying tweezers with me!

    Carrie: I'm working with my Chinese doctor, so we'll see...

    Graceful: I'm surprised you didn't slap her. That's what an old witch might have done!

    Karen: Your glow is just amazing -- I'm not sure you're having the same aging issues as the rest of us.

  17. I can SO relate to this post!

    I met a woman at an auction the other night. She was around 85 years old and looked just fantastic. But not in a fantastic plastic surgery way. I asked her what her secret was. She said, "Red lipstick!"

  18. Silly you!
    I think you're doing pretty well all around.
    Thanks for the chuckle.
    You really are beautiful, inside and out!

  19. At one time I may have cringed at the thought of looking like this.
    Now , I gracefully descend into the strong weathered wise beauty of these women. Who have sickness and health, for better or worse, written all over ( and sprouting and sagging) their very fabulous bodies.

    She looks like my husbands bis nonna btw.

    tweezers are my new BFF, except I have to have my reading glasses to actually see. And aim.

  20. I'm not sure this is a post about weight, aging, or paths in life, but it's one of the funniest posts I've read in a while. You're a gifted writer, and your words are powerful.

  21. That happened to me when I was pregnant. Sudden, witchy like long dark hair sprouted from my cheek. Eek/.

  22. Is there room for me in that little house too? I am noticing the signs of aging with increasing frequency as well. More wrinkles. Softening of the face. Some extra weight that seems to have come out of nowhere and sits right in the middle. The beginning of the wrinkly neck. Even more striking is seeing my sister's face. She is just one year older than me, and she is definitely looking older. I can't be far behind. I have to tell you, though, that I watched an interview with Natalie Merchant on the NewsHour last night. The reporter followed her about her home and studio. She is showing her age too! Maybe I'm weird, but somehow that makes me feel okay.



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