A few days ago it was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death and that’s why I would like to share with you a very fond memory I have from her. My grandmother was a very elegant lady, who used to look after herself all the time! It was very important for her, until the very last minute, to look pretty, presentable, looked after. She used to follow some “rituals” on a daily basis such as applying hand lotion everytime she would sit in front of the tv, or she would always put on her favourite perfume before leaving the house. The perfume was extremely significant for her, as she would never change it, and she would always have to go downtown to get it, which was quite far from her home; she would always cuddle up with the same shawl everytime she would get cold and I have no recollection of her wearing her pjs or night gown!!!! My grandmother died when she was 89 years old, and unfortunately she had lost her husband, my granddad many many years ago… Looking after herself and feeling pretty was something personal, it was her lifestyle, it was her way of being, being happy…
The same day with her anniversary, I “happened” to read an article which talked about women’s insecurity and it made me think of her even greater… The title was “Getting older and feeling great about it” and it portrayed Dominique’s Browning opinion, (a writer) on her secret happiness towards accepting her age (Source – Harper’s Bazaar, August 2012, Greek Edition – once again the translation is mine so bear with me for not being able to provide you with the actual verbatim).
“I recently asked my 88year old dad, although he was repeatining once again about his age disadvantages, if there is anything positive relating to getting older; and he responded “of course, the fact that you are still alive“.
His comment got me by surprise as I was initially thinking that he just wanted to complain a bit. That he felt old. But then I realised that he was smart. And young. I always keep his words close to my heart. I know he is right.
Being alive means that you stop feeling guilty all the time. Of course I would be delighted if I managed to lose the extra 8 kilos I managed to put on over the last… 30 years. But you know what? Now that I have reached the age of 50, I don’t let those kilos make me feel worse about myself. These kilos can come and go. I’m glad everytime they manage to go away but I feel pleasantly guilty each time they come back.
I focus on all the things that my body can perform, all the wonderful ways that is connected to my lifestyle, the strength I feel in my arms, the coordination of my movements. I love feeling the air on my cheeks each time I run a mile after the other.
I look around and I observe all those people who have stopped being active and I feel very sad about it. If there ever comes a time, when I’m not that fit, I know that I need more time to keep up as opposed of when I was 30 years old. But I don’t like wasting my time thinking ” I’m fat, my noise is weird, my eye brows are thin, my ankles are thin, I look like crap…” like I used to do when I was younger. Now I think to myself “I’m alive and I’m still strong“.
Don’t get me wrong. Women my age are still interested in looking good. We are still interested in our clothes and our hair. This is the reason why many of us are obsessed with plastic syrgery, bottox, anything that comes in the form of an injection. I have decided not to expose voluntarily my body to chemicals, as I have witnessed “make overs” going wrong.
When I look myself in the mirror, I realise that I’m getting older. There is no surprise to that. I watch closely my face and realise that there are lines around my eyes, around my lips. I sincerely wished it didn’t happen, but I look deeply into my eyes and what I see is more kindness. It is surprising. I have a personal great fear of “looking on the outside like a sheep, and in the inside like a wolf”. I have reached this stage where I think of short skirts and I realise it is not for me. Never again. But with age, we have managed to save time. We know what fits on us and we love to spend our free time not tryting to find another pair of black boots. Or maybe not? At least we don’t fool ourselves that this pair will finally make us any happier.
One of the greatest changes in my life is the fact that I have greater appreciation for life in general. The joy that is associated with a very special moment – and being mature enough to stop and appreciate it. Some moments of beauty, such as a child’s smile or the moon’s reflection on the sea; these are the moments that don’t just wait to be appreciated. Do you know how many of these moments I used to take for granted when I was younger? I always thought that there would be another.
I realised that I was getting older when I told my son to come and watch the sunset and he replied back to me “in just a second” and then I thought “in a second this will be gone. This beauty is all mine”. In contract to survival, being alive requires discipline. You have to be awake, attuned with the possibilities.
Therefore I have a new saying for the years ahead – but wait! I need to clarify this strange thing with the life cycles: when we are kids, we like to tell everyone our exact age, I’m six years and two months, because we need to look older and we need to make sure that everyone knows about it. Then we go on for deceades when we feel that we are on the right age. And then, we spend a few decades where we feel that we need to cut down some years. In the end, we become tremendoulsy proud and we tell everyone each year that we have managed to go by.
But let me go back to my new saying for the next few years. In the past, when I was going through a very difficult professional time, someone gave me a very valuable piece of advice. He told me “go towards love.
I had no idea what he was talking about but I never forgot it. As time passed by, I started making sense of this words intuitively. You appreciate the importance in leaving things behind you, to just drop all those things that make you feel weary or make you feel bad, because there is no room left in your small boat. And you don’t want to make things worse or more dramatic than they already are, go somewhere else. “Go towards love“.
Do you think my grandmother had this in mind and I didn’t know about it? Do you think that this is what she was trying to teach me?…
Eva Lychrou is a psychotherapist based in London and in Athens, helping people deal with family issues, relationship difficulties and self development in general.
For further information
t: 08002 494930
m:+44 (0) 7591916146/ +(30) 6977 387722