It's odd, really. I feel the same as I did 30 years ago. Okay, that's a lie. I ache more frequently, tire more easily, and love more deeply. However, when I think of myself, I think that I'm still a young woman who wears a size 5 and has her whole life ahead of her. It's only when I look in a mirror that I realize I now qualify as an "older woman." But you know what's interesting? I don't mind that label. Not in the least. I've discovered that being older has many, many advantages and I intend to enjoy all of them.
Yes, I go to bed earlier these days, but I also take advantage of every moment between rising and retiring. That whole "stop to smell the roses" thing? It's true. When I see the sun rise, I marvel at the lines of colors and I'm happy. When I receive a text from one of my sons, my heart is full. When I sip a well-aged, smoky and sweet scotch, I truly enjoy the satiny texture of the liquid as it blankets my mouth with flavor. And while I am well aware that most of my life has already been lived, I'm far less harried than when I was a young mother of two little boys working three part time jobs and caring for elderly relatives. I remember asking my grandmother how was it that she always seemed to be so calm no matter how stressful the situation. She gave me that little smile - the one she used when she was about to impart a pearl of wisdom - and said, "Ain't nothing to do about the way the world is. Some days is good, others bad. The bad just reminds of us to be grateful for the good and to make us stronger. Bad is the fire and we are the steel. Without the fire, we wouldn't be nearly as strong." Yep. The woman was brilliant. Now that I'm older, I completely understand what she was trying to tell me all those years ago. Because of those years when I worried about having enough money to pay the mortgage, enough patience not to scream at my son when he painted the walls in his room with toothpaste, and enough fortitude to arrange for my father's funeral, I would never have been forged into the person I am today. Honestly, I like the person I am today.
And that, I think, is the biggest advantage of growing older. I may not be proud of absolutely everything I've done in my life, but I do, actually, like myself. I am comfortable in my own skin and that has given me a confidence and vitality I lacked in my younger years. I like the tiny lines around my eyes and mouth because they are proof of laughter. And if I snort a little when I laugh, I don't feel embarrassed a bit. You know what else is interesting? I'm happier now than I ever have been before. I feel more attractive, more sensual, and more alive. So yes, I may go to bed a few hours earlier, but I'm not missing out on a thing.