My aunt Anne is in Rwanda teaching medical professionals protocols for cancer and AIDS patients.   Here is this sweet unassuming mother of two grown sons who has spent her life taking care of everyone else – her sons, her husband, and the patients she’s ministered to as a nurse.  So she turns sixty and think to herself:  “What is it thatI really want to do?”  And then a year later she’s in Africa.  AFRICA!

I recently read a fascinating book by Dr. Louann Brizendine called “The Female Brain”  It walks the reader through the various stages of women’s hormonal development from in utero through post-menopause.  And let me tell you the best section by far was when she started getting into menopause.  Because ladies something amazing happens around the time we hit menopause.  Our bodies actually stop producing all of the hormones that make us feel like crack addicts getting  a hit off a pipe when acting as caretakers.   So you know how you start thinking your mom must be going crazy when as an adult she now seems only marginally interested in what is going on in your life?  Whereas when you were fourteen you couldn’t go to the bathroom without her wanting to know where you’d been?  Or now she decides that she is going to take up water aerobics or jazzercise even though she hasn’t exercised a day in her life – I mean at least that is since you’ve known her.  It’s the hormones!  All those hormones that caused her to make us think we were the centers of her universe are drying up.  And now our mothers are beginning to remember that they had hopes and dreams and interests beyond keeping a clean house and raising children who wouldn’t end up in prison.

And you know what else is awesome about getting older?  We are way smarter now than we ever were ten years ago.  And we will be even more brilliant ten years from now.   As my friend Fredda puts it:  “I have a very special and close relationship with my mind.”  I think many of us have this same love of gaining knowledge and experience and how amazing is it to know that we can only go up from here!  I’m not knocking the twenty year old set but I wouldn’t do my twenties over if you paid me!  I had a blast and lived large but those were some tough learning years and I’m glad I can put the wisdom I gathered in that decade to good use.

Which leads me to my favorite part of getting old:  knowing who you are and loving it.  I don’t think this magic really happens for most until our sixties.  I think we acquire bits and pieces of it the older we get.  But my friends in their sixties just totally own who they are.  And being around a woman who owns who she is is exhilarating.   They are done with pretense and pretension.  They aren’t out to one up you, or compare themselves to you, or catalogue all that they have so they can rub your nose in it.  If they are hanging out with you it is purely because they enjoy it.  Because by the time you are sixty you’ve figured out that life is too short to wear tight shoes or hang out with fools.

Now I know the physical stuff sucks.  I get it.  I really do.  But I look at my friend Julie who is in her fifties and can literally run circles around me who hasn’t hit forty yet.  When we go running together she will run up and back to me and say encouraging things to me like “I enjoy running at this slower pace and chatting with you (I haven’t had the heart to tell her that I am running as fast as I possibly can to keep up with her “relaxed” pace).  We can be strong and athletic as long as we want to.  And stop rolling your eyes and click on this link to read about the woman in this week’s photo who just defended her title at Ironman in Kona in the 75-79 age bracket:

And in case you haven’t noticed women are staying hotter well beyond the age of 29.  Of course there are some that have benefitted from surgical enhancements like the always gorgeous Demi Moore.  But honestly if I looked like Demi Moore I wouldn’t really care how it happened I’d just wake up every day thanking God and winking at my reflection in the mirror.  But there are stars like Angela Basset and Susan Sarandon who are pretty much the epitome of sexy and I’m fairly certain haven’t had much done in the way of a nip or tuck.  And then there are just the real every day women who blow my mind at how good they look.  I’ve asked more women if they are drinking the blood of young virgins than I care to admit.   Who’s afraid of little wrinkle or two anyway?

So stop griping about getting old.  Choose to live a life that is excited to find out what is around the next corner.  Relish in your growing confidence and sense of self.  Look forward to a day when you have the time, desire, and means to do what you’ve never dared to do.  Because getting old kicks a**!