Affirmations for Women in the Second Half
PRACTICAL ADVICE & MORE
by Ruth Beckford
I will get a free facelift by smiling.
“Can this be me I see in the mirror? It can’t be!” At forty-five, I was in shock. I actually had a line at the corner of each eye. I ran to a better light. It had to be a shadow, right? Wrong. There it was, clear as day. A line. I wasn’t ready to call it a wrinkle. I decided to save that word until I was at least fifty. As time went by and fifty became history, I looked in the mirror again. My face was a mass of wrinkles and folds. When I shifted positions, some of the wrinkles and folds disappeared, thank goodness. I decided it was a gravity thing. If you don’t believe me, just hold a mirror and bend over. Brace yourself. Now look.
You can call them smile lines, wisdom lines, or signs of aging gracefully, but the truth is, they are wrinkles. Plain old wrinkles. How can any of those wrinkle creams with sophisticated names (you know—the ones with expensive-looking labels) work? If they did, would there be one wrinkled woman on earth? I once took a trip to a plastic surgeon to price out a more aggressive wrinkle strategy. The shock of a $10,000 bill to restore my face helped me decide that a trip to the Caribbean was a better use for my money—and I could make more than one trip.
There is a natural, healthy way to minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Just look in the mirror and consciously let every muscle relax, droop. Then slowly lift your brows. Open your eyes slightly wider than usual, feel the muscles lift, and now . . . smile.
A smile softens my wrinkles because it lifts my disposition. I will get a free facelift today by smiling and smiling often.
I am always just fine, thank you.
“How are you?” “Fine, and yourself?” How many years have you said “Fine” when things weren’t fine? It’s an automatic exchange, the way we greet each other. He may not have listened for a response because he has other things on his mind, or she may not really care how you feel. Perhaps we are afraid that the other person may become impatient if we list all the aches and concerns that we truly feel.
Doctors and dentists, however, need to hear truthful responses to the question, “How do you feel?” But maybe they seem impatient when you make a list. Insist that they listen; after all, you pay for their services. Some doctors see gray hair and dismiss all ailments as a normal part of the aging process. Not true. Divine life is always within you. Your magnificent body is always renewing itself.
So if you don’t feel good, find out why. It’s not always aging. As you get older, make sure that you also know all about your medications. What are their potential side effects? Between appointments, write down questions you want answered, and read them off to your physician at the next visit. Physicians˛ assistants, nurses, and others can also be helpful.
Don’t let visiting the dentist frighten you, either. There are so many new things nowadays to alleviate pain that it’s a breeze. There’s no need to lose perfectly good teeth to gum disease. Keep those gums firm. Use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and floss every day or use a Water Pic.
If it is necessary to have teeth extracted, be sure to have the dentist duplicate the look and color of your originals as nearly as possible. False teeth today are great impostors. Only your dentist knows for sure.
I will keep a healthy mind in a healthy body so that I can remain as natural as in my youth.
I will not let the fear of embarrassment keep me at home.
The biggest source of embarrassment for women is almost a no-no to discuss—incontinence, commonly called weak bladder (although it’s really the muscle that’s weak). This condition can affect women throughout the second half of life This weakness can cause leaking or urination to be uncontrollable.
Certainly it’s embarrassing to wet yourself while you’re awake. You ask yourself if you’re in a second childhood when you awaken to a wet bed. You’re reluctant to speak to your doctor about it. What would she or he think? You can increasingly become housebound because you don’t want to have an accident in public.
Not to address this condition, or any of the other changes we face, can make our world smaller and smaller. What keeps us from purchasing a pack of incontinence pads? Embarrassment at the checkout stand? Visualize it: you’re on the way home with the package clutched under your arm. You couldn’t wait to put it on. It fit perfectly. It didn’t even show when you tested it under your pants or tight skirt.
Absorbent pads are only one remedy. See your gynecologist for physical ways to strengthen muscles. There are exercises to remedy this weakness. But the same holds true for any embarrassing condition that could keep us homebound.
I will address whatever fear or embarrassment threatens to shrink my world.
earned the right to be outspoken, bold, vain, and selfish.
Isn’t it funny how some words change in meaning over time? Words such as “outspoken,˛ “bold,” ˛vain,” and “selfish” used to describe negative traits, usually in women. Such words are still emotionally charged, but they have different meanings today. For example, during the days when women were to be seen and not heard, “outspoken” implied speaking out of turn. Today, the word is a compliment, suggesting that the speaker is confident and brave. But isn’t it wonderful the power we have to redefine words to suit us!
“Bold” was a good word that used to apply to men’s sense of adventure, their courage. Heaven help the woman who was called bold, however. Back then it was a big stamp of disapproval and hinted at a woman’s embrace of the masculine rather than the feminine.
I’ve redefined the word “vain” for myself. “Vain” means “loving oneself.” Loving oneself used to be considered selfish, but now we all know that before we can love others, we must first love ourselves.
Possibly the word that has received the most resistance to change from negative to positive is “selfish.” This word was used to keep us in line. No one wanted to be considered selfish. So over the years, we often put other people’s happiness before our own. If there was one slice of your favorite pie left, you gave it to your husband. Your head might have been splitting, but you climbed out of bed anyway to bake that batch of cookies for the school bake sale instead of driving to the nearest bakery. I’m happy to say that it’s a new day.
have earned the right to give only when it pleases me and to be selfish when it
is in my best interest.
From this day forward I’ll be honest about my feelings.
You tried not to rock the boat, so you said yes when you really wanted to say no. You didn’t want to be thought of as a negative person. Lord forbid! You’re a team player and very nice to be around. You never stop to question the other person’s motives or his or her insensitivity to your needs.
I remember when I first retired, I received a flood of proposals to serve on a variety of boards. The pitch was, “Since you’re retired, you have more time.” I smiled politely but firmly stated, “No, thank you.” After all, I retired to have more free time to explore new things. I’d had my fill of board and committee work. Folks are always kind of shocked to hear one “decline the opportunity to serve” without an apology. But I have found that an apology really invites the other person to evaluate whether my reasons for not serving are good enough. Instead I have been consistent with my noes, and it still feels good. Now my public service is as a volunteer consultant.
How about putting yourself first for a change? Is your desire to be liked so strong that you think you’ll lose friends if you challenge them by saying no? The truth is that because you are so agreeable all the time, your friends might perceive you as weak, an easy mark. Learn to say no. Practice on your dog first, then graduate to human beings. Practice makes perfect.
say no when I do not feel like fulfilling another’s request because I have
earned the right to be honest about my feelings.
I’ll let the Divine be my director.
So you’ve gone to church, synagogue, mosque, or temple for many years. Perhaps now you are a pillar in your religious community, or maybe you have not been inside a sanctuary for years.
I was raised an Episcopalian. As I matured and began to soul search, I’d said the same prayers for too many years. I could say the response words automatically, and my mind would wander to things I had to do when church let out. I began to feel I didn’t need such a formal structure to mediate between God and myself. So around age fifty, I stopped attending church. If you continue to find spiritual nurture in your place of worship, then I can only encourage you in your practice.
Since then, I have followed a daily plan. I pray just before I go to sleep by reading the next day’s message in my Unity Daily Word. Every page is a surprise that seems to be written just for me.
Some people speak of God as the CEO—chief executive officer—in their lives. I prefer to speak about the Divine, who encourages my choices and creativity or draws forth from me more honest expressions—the Divine who, as behind a stage, is my director in the improvisation called life.
Whatever image or understanding sustains you, develop it and crystallize it in your thinking. How does it fit with your daily life? With your earlier experiences? What is there about this image or understanding that gives you comfort or consolation? Use aids for meditation or devotions or prayer. Keeping a journal can be helpful in this regard. Find what works for you and use it.
I will seek a spiritual practice that fits my needs and offers deeper meaning in my life.
Letting go of old baggage lifts me up.
When I first traveled, I packed so many changes of clothes—maybe it will be warm or cool, formal or informal—that I could hardly carry the suitcases. Some people lug so much hurt and anger with them wherever they go, I am amazed they can lift it all.
How heavy are your emotional suitcases? Unzip one of them, and examine the bricks and rocks and logs that make up the load. Perhaps someone provoked you to anger when you were a child. Perhaps in high school and into adulthood some disappointment festered into a large chip. Or maybe you haul a load of kindling wood that can be used as fuel for others to ignite.
Think of the wasted energy that has been used to carry this baggage.
Or picture the constant frowns and contorted faces that are required to sustain the effort. Next time watch the face of someone struggling with a load or large package; over the years such frowns can become permanent. Age can bring on its own wrinkles, but why exacerbate the process? This load can also give you worries, and they can lead to ulcers, sickness, and other ugly pains. Let it go. Holding on won’t hurt the other person. It hurts only you.
leave behind negative hurts and anger to make my load lighter.
From Still Groovin’: Affirmations for Women in the Second Half of Life, by Ruth Beckford. Copyright © 1999 by Ruth Beckford. Excerpted by arrangement with The Pilgrim Press. $19.95. Available in local bookstores or call 800-537-3394 or click here.