Age - the constant reminder that time waits for no one.
When we are young we can’t wait to get older. When we get older we wish to reclaim our youth. How many of us truly embrace each passing year as a chance to grow as humans, accepting what was, and moving forward into what is?
Turning 40 was like shedding my skin and stepping into a new body. And if I can kindly share my experience with you, I hope that you take away a new perspective on age, but more so, create for yourself a new path, paved with passions, and a mindful understanding of your inner worth.
The Obsession With Getting Older
I hung on to the age of 39 as though it would save me from an impending doom lurking around the corner. Turning 40 meant I was officially middle-aged. I spent a great deal of time avoiding the subject, but I also constantly reminding myself of it’s coming. So much so, that my kids were beginning to tell me, “Mom you aren’t OLD!” But the reality is that I feel older than I used to be; strained by back aches when jumping on the trampoline with the kids, not having the stamina to keep up with exercise (and not caring), and bedtime is 10 pm when I used to be able to thrive on 5 hours of sleep most nights. Age had caught up to me at 39 and I could feel it. Maybe I was just more self-aware of my body, but my mind was also talking a mile a minute at me. It just wouldn’t shut up.
As a society, we have this obsession with getting older; one step closer to death.
Morbid as it is, we can’t help but feel the clock ticking away. Women have an even stronger obsession because most of our lives we have been subconsciously taught to view youth as beauty. To be pretty you need to be a certain size, wear certain clothes, and have the acceptance of men around you. We wear makeup to enhance our faces, we style our hair to match Hollywood trends. Views of Femininity have shifted vastly over the decades.
Then comes age. And we become fascinated with preserving our youth. Liposuction, breast lifts, tummy tucks, and plastic surgery is easily accessible to most people now.
You don’t like looking older, meh, just pay to change it. The inevitable wrinkles, grey hair, and sagging body parts used to be just a fact of life – but now women are desperately trying to stay youthful.
Being Authentic - Who Are You?
In an effort this past year to look more “professional”, I started growing my hair back out, wearing a bra again and bought a new wardrobe of fancy business clothes. Granted I do love my new wardrobe because my taste in clothing has matured, I hated my hair and loathed wearing a bra. For those who don’t know me, I gave up bra wearing a few years ago after doing research and writing a blog about how terrible they were for women’s breasts. But nipples are offensive I’m told (my defiant self is preparing an entirely separate blog for this statement), and I was told by a colleague that if I was to be taken seriously in my field, I needed to dress the part. While I highly respected her role in my professional career, her statement shamed me into going backward in my progressive thinking. Long hair had become a sign of femininity somewhere along the line, but something about it wasn’t right for me. I had cut my bangs, which drove me crazy daily.
A few years ago when taking up motorcycling, I found myself shaving half my head and playing the rebel for some time. Truth be told, I quite liked how that made me feel. I am spontaneous, creative, brilliant, and when I decide to do something, I’m all in – 100%. This is not ego talking. You cannot live life with one foot in and one foot out. Either jump in or sit on the dock. I’m jumping – always. That’s how I live my life and it serves me well.
I don’t make mistakes. I make choices. Some choices benefit me more than others, but I try to always view those choices as experiences that I can learn from. That’s personal growth.
In March of this year, I went to see my friend Cynthia Bendle of One-12 Photography. (Side plug: She’s a talented photographer who dominates her profession) I booked headshots for my company website. She did a fantastic job and I liked the pictures. I posted them on the website, put them on social media and even plastered my face on a local billboard at the Tim Hortons in town. I looked professional. Bangs and all.
Then one day my brother said something that initially I took as a rude comment. He said, “Those pictures are horrible. They don’t look anything like you.” I can’t even recall how I responded now, but I do remember feeling offended. But the next time I went through the Tim Hortons drive-thru and looked up at the professional me staring down, I remembered what my brother said, and I had an epiphany at that moment. What he said wasn’t meant to knock me down and to insult me; it was his truth. And these days I’m big on listening to the truth in people’s words. Thanks to a Toltec Wisdom book I had read called, “The Four Agreements”, I was able to truly listen to what his words meant. It also steered me away from taking his words personally.
What I now heard from his statement was, “Angela, that picture isn’t a reflection of who I know you to be.” And that truth suddenly reverberated through me. He was right. That professional woman up on the billboard is not an authentic reflection of who I am. That was just a dressed up version of an image society would accept. My older brother who knew me all my life had a pretty good idea that I was dressing a part that he didn’t believe. All the little voices buzzing around me over the year as I grew my business had created a fake persona. Even my colleague who had commented on me not wearing a bra was telling me her truth. I just wasn’t listening at the time. Her statement wasn’t even about me. Her statement was a reflection of all the years of subconscious training that taught her what a professional must look like to be accepted.
As a ‘girl boss’ gaining a reputation for being a leader in her field, she truly believed not wearing a bra would make people not take me seriously. She respected me enough to tell me her truth.
Regardless if it was my truth, she was truly trying to teach me something she deemed important to existing in a professional world.
How can I now take offense to that? I can’t. But it just wasn’t my truth.
Making The Leap Into 40 – Guess What I did?
Backtracking ever so slightly to the day of my headshot photo shoot with Cynthia…
When we were preparing to leave, the conversation detoured to a Boudoir photo session she did with a few people and she began showing me some shots on her website. This stirred something deep inside me. I had always believed that being comfortable in your skin was the foundation for personal growth on a fundamental level. If you can’t be naked in front of the mirror and smile at the body that had nurtured you, there isn’t much hope for evolution. But we all know this isn’t the reality for a great many women. I’ve struggled with this through my childbearing years and especially the years I’ve spent as a surrogate for someone else.
But looking at the women in those pictures just struck a chord – especially the ones of a 50-year-old woman who made 50 look like the embodiment of a goddess.
And here I was on the cusp of turning 40 unable to welcome it openly.
So I jumped.
As I always do.
When I’m being my authentic self.
And I booked a boudoir session with Cynthia right then for May 24 – the day before my 40th birthday, and the day my partner and I were set to leave for a relaxing four-day get-away at a cottage in Collingwood. I didn’t have a clue what to expect, but it felt like something I was meant to do at the dawn of turning ‘old’. Get naked and show off all your perfect imperfections.
How many of you have toyed
with the idea of capturing stills of yourself naked?
Well for all those women who have thought to do it or not, I will tell you this: It was the most liberating, empowering experience of my life. And it changed my entirely misguided view of age.
And that is an entirely separate blog – so tune in next week for the story of my 40th boudoir shoot. I decided to be brave enough to show some of my pictures for the masses of women who need to see that being beautiful comes with the power to love yourself.