One would think that reaching the golden age of 59 I might have matured with grace and acceptance; I just might have relaxed with the aging process and learned to embrace my saggy bits and called a truce once and for all with the mirror (or at least the one that lurks in the corner of my bedroom) but I fear I haven't just yet. It's not easy making friends with the mirror...it stands on duty like a watchful solder who is always on guard to witness my coming and going and rarely offers the reflection of a Goddess, especially when parading around in my 'Betty Boop' pyjamas before bed with a face full of moisturiser. I once took advice from a magazine article and placed a sticker in the top left hand corner saying "Smile, you are beautiful and powerful. You are a warrior, a survivor, believe in this strong woman". But, to be honest, it doesn't always cut it. The warrior often looks weary and the survivor positively haggard and the only strong bit comes from the smell from the muscle rub I put on my dodgy shoulder.
And so, time for a re-think...time to take back control. But not on aging or my naïve craving for `air brush' perfection, but on my thinking. I will now try and control what I feed into my belief system. I will control what I CAN control...and that is my sanity. Before I give the mirror a chance to knock any confidence I will learn to laugh at the absurdity of it all...the ludicrous idea that a piece of glass should hold any power over me. So the next time you look into a mirror my friend, for goodness sake take control of your sanity and laugh your head off!
Second C word - Cosmetics
Where would we be without that tinted moisturiser or the perfect skin tone foundation? The super lash mascara, anti-wrinkle creams and waterproof eye liner? What difference do they really make? If I am honest, I am actually afraid of them, or at least afraid of what I expect of them. Am I wanting them to hold back the years and give me eternal youth? Or even worse, am I growing dependent on them?...Hell, I hope not! But saying that, my morning and night rituals always include some form of beauty product being applied. In fact, there is a billion pound industry depending on these routines and a feast of marketing teams hungry to feed our insecurities. Looking back, I've had plenty of failures. An avalanche of purple eyeshadow in the 1980's was one of them. Fake tan last summer is another! (I didn't just look tango'd I was positively radioactive!)
Today, I'd like to think I am more sensible opting for a more natural look...whatever that is. Occasionally, I dare myself to actually go bare and spend a day without wearing any make-up of any kind. But such days should come with a health warning. For, I inevitably run the risk of being told "Oh, Tracey you look tired" or "Are you feeling ok, you look pale". It often gets me wondering if this reaction is a result of me just having fair skin and without my sun kissed radiant magic potion in a jar I actually do look constantly tired or could it be the fact that people find it hard to adjust when seeing me different from my normal appearance? And I totally get this! I have a friend who opted to wear contact lenses instead of their glasses on their wedding day. To me, I was seeing a stranger walk down the isle. They looked so different that I was completely thrown by their appearance and I still secretly wish that I could have seen my old friend getting married and not this new version. I have never seen them wear contact lenses ever since.
I find this an interesting concept. Does wearing glasses become part of your identity? Does make-up actually define `YOU' the person...or is it that the brain sometimes finds it difficult to accept change straight away?
Third C word - Cancer
This isn't just a word. It's that chill down your spine that gives your body a heart stopping numbing fear that controls your whole world for a while. Well, that's how it felt for me when I discovered a lump in my breast the other week. All the day-to-day problems that had predominantly filled my thoughts suddenly became petty or they just simply vanished. I was left with only one problem....one thought....one massive challenge. After the GP appointment came the waiting game. The long sleepless wait until I went to hospital to get checked. I began to think of all the women out there who had experienced the same (or who were in fact going through the same) and I became so grateful that I lived in a country where I felt `looked after'.
I entered the waiting room in my gown and fleetingly caught the eye of a lady brimming with tears. I now wish I'd had the courage to have sat with her, but in all honesty I was hardly controlling my own tears so I doubt I would have been much comfort to her. Names were called frequently and I soon realised that the waiting room was only a very short pit stop for all of us. Note to self, ALWAYS hyphenate my name to Tracey-Dene Horsey (Horsey being my married name). With a bold determination the nurse called my name Trace seeee Horse seeeee, TRACE SEEEEE HORSE SEEEEE. For a moment I thought the Osmonds would appear!! At least the little titter I heard meant that I had innocently relaxed the atmosphere in the waiting room for a nano second. The swiftness of the clockwork procedures soon had me hearing what I had been praying to hear. I was OK. Walking into the carpark I felt exhausted. There was no overwhelming leap of joy, no overload of happiness, my body still trembled whilst my brain played `catch up' from what I had just been told. It felt like I had just missed a bullet.
Has this experience changed my life. Oh definitely. And who's to say that it won't repeat itself along the way. But, for now, I have a greater appreciation for living...a greater appreciation for those I love and who love me back....and a greater yearning to make every moment count in a positive way.
A message to women - We are actually stronger than we think we are and able to bond and support each other in so many lovely ways. My Podcasts will soon be available for you to download and get involved in! I will be talking to ordinary women with extraordinary stories to tell. If you want to know more please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
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