Spa trips are good for reflection. The quiet time encourages me to turn inward, the alone time clarifies things for me in my own head and in my own spirit.
The spa treatments just naturally encourage reflection, too, of this shell I inhabit. You have to be honest with yourself about yourself in order to choose the right treatments and get the most from them.
And so I looked at myself at 55. And I find much to my surprise that my age has finally caught up with me.
It's not vanity to state that, until now, my physicality has not betrayed my age. I remember that when I met my best friend 9 years ago, he actually thought I was lying and adding years to my age. I know that 2 years ago, my friend John mentioned to me (unsolicited) that he thought I looked less lined and "less matronly" than other women of my vintage he knows.
I'm not sure anyone just meeting me today would be surprised that I'm 55.
My hair still doesn't have much gray but it has become noticeably thinner. A few years ago, when I tried to grow it out, I got frustrated by how hard it was to manage, actually breaking a brush at the handle. That would not happen now. And I'm seeing more hair around the shower drain. I know this is completely natural -- it's estimated that more than half of us will experience it, and it's part of why long hair is not that popular with women over 40. (Length weighs thinning hair down.) I know that I could see my grandma's scalp on windy days. I'm going to the dermatologist later this month. I'll ask him about meds. Maybe it's time for Rogaine. Or maybe he'll recommend I return to my GP for a blood test. If this postmenopausal gal now has an elevated androgen level, it may be time for a drug like Finasteride.
Likewise, my eyebrows are getting sparse. Again, this is not unnatural. That's why God made eyebrow pencils. Time for me to start using one.
My gums are receding. Again, a normal part of aging. That's why the phrase "long in the tooth" was born. More than 57% of women will lose at least one tooth after menopause.
My lips are thinning. I just read recently that one of God's cruel jokes on us women that as our hips get plumper, our lips get thinner and damn, if that's not true! I wouldn't care about this so much except for the prominent mole on my lip line. I always thought of it as a beauty mark, but now I think it accentuates my thinning lips. Another thing to discuss with the dermatologist.
Oh yeah, and I'm still fat. My metabolism has slowed. I have little or no energy, which means I don't move as much as I should. I've got to own this and do something about it -- not only for my appearance but for my health.
I hope this didn't sound too depressing, because I'm not depressed. I'm 55.
I'm not very gray yet and I'm pretty unlined. I know I'm lazy as all get out, but I project an image of energy. My voice still sounds young. So it's not all bad.
It's just that if I find myself in the job market again at this age, I have to be honest with myself about how I look and what I can do about it.
And what I just have to accept. After all, Betty White doesn't look like Jennifer Lawrence. Looking older as we age is natural.