My mother always warned me that the very worst time in your life to lose weight was when you were in your ‘mature’ years, as your skin – particularly on your face – never bounces back the way it does when you’re young.
And she was right.
A few years ago, I lost a (ahem) substantial amount of weight! The health benefits were amazing, but… I discovered that my mother’s caution was bang on. Proud of my weight loss (it took a lot of hard work!) and the fact I was now healthier than I was ten years ago, I jokingly posted on Facebook that, while it was great that, in profile, my boobs now stick out (marginally) more than my belly, it was a shame about my sagging jowls.
It was as simple as that. A joke!
But some of the responses startled me, because it occurred to me that my friends thought I was either a) trying to fish for compliments , or b) terribly insecure, because they all responded by assuring me that I looked great/beautiful/whatever.
I’m pretty realistic about my looks. Even when I was young I would never have won a beauty competition, but I’m okay. I look fine. Sometimes I can even look pretty great. Sure I could do without some of the sagging and lines, but I’m sixty-five now. Every single line has been hard won and I’m particularly proud of the fact that the smile lines around my eyes far outnumber my frown lines.
But should my external be what really matters? To the world?
Sitting back and thinking about some of those comments, I realised that I am blessed every single morning I look at my face in the mirror, because I see my mum and dad reflected back at me in my own features. They were good – good – people, offering me a childhood filled with love and security and values. What a wonderful daily reminder of those gifts they gave me.
Since then – and particularly since my divorce – I have been blessed with so many other gifts.
The love of friends and family.
Reasonable financial security.
I live in a safe, beautiful city in what was recently declared the second most wonderful country in the world.
Passions in my life including hanging out with friends and family, travel, storytelling of all kinds (watching movies, reading books and writing), learning, cycling, walking, cooking, my home, photography, working on this blog, listening to and playing music.
So, in the realm of things, how much should our looks – or our perceptions of our physical selves – matter? Sadly in this day and age of social media, selfies and photoshopped images on magazines and billboards, it’s hard not to compare our outward appearance with those of others.
I read something the other day – can’t remember the exact quote – but it was something along the lines of, “A beautiful woman loses her currency with every day that passes.”
But I look at my list above, and with every day that passes, I realise I am getting richer. My life-just-keeps-getting- better.
I know we all pay lip service to the idea that ‘looks aren’t everything’, but sometimes we need to step back and really acknowledge, deep down in our souls, that all the other stuff that has nothing to do with they way we look – the real stuff in life – is what truly matters, and be very, very grateful for it. And if we have our health, we are doubly blessed.