Aging Gracefully

As I’ve noted numerous times in prior posts, since the months leading to and subsequent to my 29th birthday this past May, I’ve struggled considerably with growing older. Perhaps it’s really not the age or number itself I fear, but rather all I feel should go along with it. In my life, there are often a lot of “shoulds,” “I wish,” or reflections upon situations I could have handled differently. Too often, I compare myself to others of a similar age, longing for the “characteristic” life I feel they have or portray, without acknowledging their own struggles or hardships. It’s similar to celebrity singer and actress, Selena Gomez, who appears in ads, concerts, and magazines flaunting her pristine hair, makeup and clothing, but privately struggling and ultimately undergoing a lifesaving kidney transplant. From looking at her, I, myself, never would have guessed she was in kidney failure, or even ill with lupus. That’s the thing, though, people so often look at someone and based off their appearance deem them healthy or not. Shiny hair, pristine makeup and clothing, a bubbly personality – none of that is an indicator of health, or at least certainly not always. What appears on the outside is not always indicative of what’s unraveling inside.

With that being said, I recently started to contemplate a news story I heard and was intrigued by. One of the magazines I closely followed and read in the past, Allure Magazine, proudly declared last month they would no longer use the term “Anti-Aging.” So often, I’ve read seemingly countless articles instructing women and even men, on all the latest products and techniques specifically formulated to “combat all signs of aging.” In these articles, without so many words, it suggests aging is something to be feared, or to be disguised and avoided at all costs. A wrinkle around your eye area? Lines around your mouth? Sagging skin? All of these aforementioned supposed, “signs of aging,” come with specifically-formulated products to help avoid, disguise and discourage and are often touted in magazines and store shelves.

Growing Older Quote

Feeling as though they’d finally had enough, Allure Magazine took the first steps towards what I see as progress and a notion I wish I embraced many years ago, but most specifically in the months leading to and after my most recent birthday. In their words in last month’s issue of Allure, they stated, (via – https://www.allure.com/story/allure-magazine-phasing-out-the-word-anti-aging)

Allure Magazine – August 2017:

“This issue is the long-awaited, utterly necessary celebration of growing into your own skin – wrinkles and all. No one is suggesting giving up retinol. But changing the way we think about aging starts with changing the way we TALK about aging. With that in mind, starting with this issue, we are making a resolution to stop using the term, “anti-aging.” Whether we know it or not, we’re subtly reinforcing the message that aging is a condition we need to battle.”

If there’s one inevitability in life, it’s that we’re getting older. Every minute. Every second. We produced a video recently that featured 64-year-old gray-haired Jo Johnson, who made the poignant observation that aging should be appreciated because “some of us don’t get an opportunity to age.” Repeat after me: Growing older is a wonderful thing because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full, happy life.

Language matters. When talking about a woman over, say, 40, people tend to add qualifiers: “She looks great…for her age” or “She’s beautiful…for an older woman.” Catch yourself next time and consider what would happen if you just said, “She looks great.” Yes, Americans put youth on a pedestal. But let’s agree that appreciating the dewy rosiness of youth doesn’t mean we become suddenly hideous as years go by.”

Courage to Grow Up

After reading this statement and their stance on aging, I couldn’t be happier or more proud. Throughout the years, I’ve been an on/off reader of Allure, but after reading their declaration, their concept resonates with me beyond words. It summons a quote I read not long ago, which read: “Do not fear growing older, it is a privilege denied to many.”

Growing Older Quote 2

Isn’t it true though, when thinking about it? Countless infants, children, teens, young adults, even adults in middle-age, have succumbed to accidents, illnesses, and beyond; ultimately denied the opportunity to age. Instead of fearing aging, it can be seen as a chance to “ripen,” to gain knowledge and understanding. Instead of fearing aging, it can be embraced, wise words can be shared with younger generations and even our own generations. We all have stories to tell, experiences waiting to be recounted, and growing older gives us this opportunity.

 

Advertisements

Wearable Words: The LWP Collection

Good afternoon, to you! We’re approaching the end of the week and in conjunction, the third and final blog post in The Little Word Project series I’ve been detailing this week! As promised, this blog post will fully detail the vast collections and products LWP offers. Though I’ve exclusively discussed their bracelets, which is the heart of their company, they also offer several other pieces, which are important to note and share. Also, as I stated in my last post, I’ll be sharing with you today the second LWP bracelet I own and how I came to receive it! Therefore, without further adieu, let’s take a deep “breath” (you’ll see what I mean in the next paragraph) and dive into that very bracelet!

My Second LWP Bracelet – “Breathe”

Given my intrigue and interest in The Little Words Project as a company after first receiving the Confidence bracelet in the prize package I won, I was overjoyed to receive a bracelet from the Beaded White collection with the word – Breathe.

LWP Believe          LWP Bag

The band, as you can see, is encased in Swarovski crystals with pink undertones. To me, the word Breathe was fitting, as I recall years ago while in college taking vocal lessons, my voice teacher informed me of my inconsistent breathing. While observing me sing, he often noted my lack of taking in deep breaths and came to understand that when under stress or when anxious, I tend to breathe inconsistently and can often walk around feeling even greater stress, as a result. Breathing deeply and often, without needing much explanation is crucial to all aspects of our lives, especially when under stress. People often remind each other in these times to remember to breathe. We can often become upset to the point, where our breathing is labored, clouding our ability to effectively communicate. Since receiving this bracelet, I often find myself glancing down at it during my times of stress as a constant, friendly and welcome reminder to do just that – breathe. At times, when stressed or anxious, I can forget to do something so seemingly simple – breathe. During those times when I can feel incapable of doing much else, there is always one thing I can do and that is to take in a deep breath and begin again. Now that I have this bracelet as a constant reminder, it’s a comfort to me. Many, many thanks to the wonderful team at The Little Words Project for their generosity in gifting me this bracelet.

The Little Words Project Collections: As previously noted, the LWP offerings are vast and include the following:

  • Beaded White or Gold

LWP beaded gold     LWP Beaded white

  • And Symbol

LWP and 2

  • Love Symbol

LWP love

  • Leather White or Gold

LWP Leather

  • Woven

LWP woven

  • The Sorority Collection

LWP sorority

  • Bridal Collection

LWP bridal

  • Little Extras (i.e. t-shirts, gift cards, gift wrapping, inspirational booklets, a mystery bracelet, & chokers)

LWP ChokerLWP tshirtLWP booklets

  • Bracelets That Give Back (25% of proceeds donated to designated charities/nonprofit organizations)

LWP Purple Elephant

  • Last Chance (in limited quantities)

LWP last chanc

Note: Choose the color of your bracelet beads, leather/woven/bead material, then choose your word(s).

Words to Chose From: Here are some of the many words you can choose from for your bracelet:

  • Dream
  • Believe
  • Breathe
  • Hope
  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Brave
  • Inspire
  • Fearless
  • Sparkle
  • Smile
  • Good Vibes
  • Blessed
  • Faith
  • My Person
  • Fierce
  • My Family
  • Be Happy
  • Laugh
  • Sister
  • Wanderlust
  • Free Spirit
  • Live
  • Namaste
  • Be Kind
  • Pray
  • Dance
  • Let Go
  • Love
  • Friend

My Favorites: Now that you’re familiar with the overall collections and offerings of LWP, I thought I’d conclude the three-part series by revealing some of my favorites from the product line-up:

We Rise By Lifting Others

Bracelets That Give Back: As I discussed at length in my second post, the Bracelets That Give Back collection deeply resonates with me for more reasons than one. An avid volunteer, firm believer in giving back to others and with a personal connection to one or more of the organizations benefiting from this initiative, this collection affords customers with not only a beautiful bracelet, but also serves as a donation to a worthy cause.

Spread Kindness Quote

Love Symbol Collection: This collection also stands out to me for a variety of reasons. True, genuine, romantic love is something I aspire to. I’ve noted several times on my blog, I have yet to experience it for myself, and for me, love whether romantic, platonic or through family, is a source of contentment and fulfillment. To know, feel, receive and experience love is the greatest gift.

Love Quote

The Words: Many, if not close to all of the words to choose from speaks volumes to me. As someone who has struggled with self-esteem, body-image and self-image issues my entire life, being able to see and wear words such as believe, brave, strength, breathe and courage on my arm, provides me with awareness and comfort. It also serves as a constant, visual reminder of my self-worth and bravery and that I am truly deserving of happiness and achieving my dreams.

Also, I think it is important to note my sister’s name is Hope; which is coincidentally, one of the words as an option for a LWP bracelet. Since birth, Hope has been not only a sister, but my best friend. She and I always say, “Sisters by chance, best friends by choice.”

Hope and I at her wedding:

0309

Well, there you have it! To whomever may be reading, thanks so much for following along with me on this journey as I detailed The Little Words Project! My sincere gratitude goes out to The Little Words Project for their generosity and kindness.

Kind Quote

 

 

Courageous in Words

Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of being on the receiving end of some mistreatment when it comes to being heard and recognized. Respect is not something I take lightly, nor do I think it should be withheld from those who are deserving. Though, for me, it is often a challenge to not take the mistreatment and turn it inward, judging and chastising myself for whatever I “did or didn’t do” in my mind. Soon enough, I’ve created a situation that may or may not be the truth or the reality of what occurred. During this times, as I did on this recent, particular occasion, I remind myself that the ways other people treat us is not a reflection upon us, but often a reflection upon them. When we speak up during these times, we advocate not only for ourselves, but for others; others who may be too afraid to speak, too afraid to acknowledge their hurt, or pain. During these trying times, I remind myself of this – speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.

With that being said, in light of all the controversies and challenging topics being discussed and argued about in the public forum, I thought it might be the opportune time to share some of the recent quotes I’ve stumbled upon via social media. As I previously mentioned in some of my earlier posts, these quotes are often from SimpleReminders.com, and now, the inspirational jewelry company I’ve come to love and admire – Alex and Ani. Of course, not all the quotes are from these two sources, but many are:

Stand up quote 2

“Whatever your beliefs, wherever you stand, you don’t have to be alone.”

“If you don’t make peace with your past, it will keep showing up in your present.”

“While your past may influence your future, it does not dictate it. Every day is a new beginning.”

“You will never be free until you free yourself from the prison of your own false thoughts.”

“I never lose, either I win or I learn.”

“The sooner you stop looking for something, the sooner it will find you.”

“Be with someone who makes you laugh even when you don’t want to smile.”

“If you don’t say what you’re thinking, no one will ever hear you.”

“Sleep doesn’t help if it’s your soul that’s tired.”

“Appreciate hard times. Someday they’ll just be another chapter in your success story.”

“Your story can help save someone’s life. Your silence contributes to someone’s struggle. Speak so we can all be free. Love so we can all be liberated. The moment is now. We need you.”

“It’s better to walk alone then with a crowd going in the wrong direction.”

Stand up quote

 

Paw Prints on My Heart

I’ve never known romantic love. I’ve never felt that deep connection or pull propelling me towards a man.. yet. I’m not a mom and have never experienced what it might be like to mother a child.. yet. One feeling I do know, quite fondly for that matter, is the love between a dog and it’s owner. Since days before turning 14-years-old, I’ve been able to proudly identify myself as a dog owner, or “dog Mom,” more appropriately. I’ve known what it is like to care for another being so profoundly. To be sitting at school or work, wondering what he’s doing, thinking or feeling and if it’s he’s okay. I’ve known what it is like to worry for countless hours as he was rushed into emergency exploratory surgery after a grave, life-threatening surgical error on part of a veterinarian. I’ve known what it is like for my entire family to gather together during this moments as we anxious and nervously awaited word from the veterinarians regarding his status.

Oliver in his shirt.png                       Oliver smiling 2

Throughout my entire adolescence and adult life, Oliver, my 15-year-old Bichon Frise has taught me more than most people probably could. He’s taught and shown me the meaning of resilience and strength, even when he’s in pain. He’s stayed by me because he knew I needed him and still do. He’s been my one constant in my life – my only consistent co-worker, sitting beside me through the pain, the happiness, the turmoil, the challenging moments, only separated for brief periods of time throughout the course of his life.

Paw Prints

He fills the house with energy and light, even when he’s fast asleep in his bed, I can still feel his presence, clearly coloring my life and being my constant companion. When I reflect on his life and all the moments we’ve shared together, I only smile, as I remember him as a puppy, laying on the grass with me as a young teen, as we helped put together a swinging outdoor chair in our former house. He’s been through more than many dogs probably have their lifetime and yet, he epitomizes strength and courage. He looks to me with his eyes filled with emotion, almost telling me he is holding on, still filled with much life inside of him. How I hope he knows each and everyday, I’ll always fight for him, always stand up for him, because he’s always done so for me, looking to me for guidance and direction. Him and I have never given up on each other, holding on through love and courage.

Animal Eyes

I’ve come to know through Oliver that often times, the best cure and treatment for most anything is love and companionship – two remedies that are never too costly for anyone, because they are priceless. The greatest gift I’ve ever been given is Oliver, it is because of him, I know I’m capable of loving another.

Dogs Feel

 

Believing in Better Tomorrows

Wherever you might be today, I hope your day is going well and if it’s not, I hope you see the hope and promise of tomorrow, as I try to do on particularly challenging days. As you might know if you’ve read my blog previously, I’m constantly searching for inspiration, even in the most unlikely places. Though, most often, I tend to find inspiring quotes and food for thought on mediums such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and in magazines/books. Relatively often, I noticed fellow “friends” on Facebook and Twitter posting or sharing the quotes and thoughts of SimpleReminders.com. Perhaps you’re already familiar with them and are aware of their consistent posts throughout each day, but if you’re not, they are one site I’ve taken quite a liking to. About two days ago, I took the time to scroll through their Twitter feed, easily becoming enthralled with all they shared.

With that being said, I felt compelled to share it with others, such as fellow readers who might not have seen their posts, and it is my hope that someone might feel as inspired as me after reading some of them (NOTE: Not all are from SimpleReminders.com, but many are):

“The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.”

“Life is a mural that you create. Every action you take is another brush stroke. Make yours beautiful.”

“True friends are those rare people who come to find you in dark places and lead you back into the light.”

“Be the girl/guy who decided to go for it.”

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

“Flowers grow back, even after they are stepped on. So will I. Resilience.”

“Not everything faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

“Use your eyes to see the needs, and use your talents to meet them.”

“Love is not what you say. Love is what you do.”

Garden Quote

 

Body by the Letter: A “TODAY” Anchor’s Words of Wisdom

For a number of years, I’ve been a dedicated fan of the NBC daily morning news program, The TODAY Show. In fact, as a middle-schooler, I can recall spending many mornings with my mom and sister seated at the kitchen table with Matt Lauer and Katie Couric‘s faces greeting us with their pleasant and often, witty banter. As the years passed, I wouldn’t watch the show as often as previously and for a brief period of time, switched to their competitor program on ABC. However, years later as an adult, I again switched, this time exclusively, to watching The TODAY Show. Throughout the past few years, I’ve come to truly love the anchors and the overall program. The messages and stories discussed on air are often inspiring, engaging and reach parts of me I often failed to recognize or acknowledge.

Savannah and Matt

Many of the anchors are filled with inspiring thoughts and pertinent knowledge, though as I laid in bed last night, unable to quickly fall asleep, I perused through my Facebook newsfeed and capturing my eye was one of the best messages I quite frankly have read in awhile. With that being said, I couldn’t let a day pass without sharing it with whomever may be reading at this moment. Perhaps you’ve already seen or heard about it, but if not, please take a moment, if you can, to read it, because the underlying message and premise of it is one that deeply resonates with me and could quite possibly resonate with you, as well.

The following (copied from the official TODAY Show website) is a letter drafted by current TODAY Show anchor, Savannah Guthrie, who is the mother of two children – almost 3-year-old Vale and an infant son, Charlie. The letter is to Vale, with Savannah sharing her words of wisdom in line with Love Your Body week, a series of segments regarding body love on The TODAY Show:

Savannah and Vale           Savannah and Family

My dearest Vale,

I’m writing this letter to you because we are doing a series called, “Love Your Body” week. I will confess just to you: That is something I have never been very good at doing. But I’m hoping I can teach you to be different. I hope that as you grow up, I can teach you to love and embrace the miraculous physical vessel that is carrying your magnificent heart and soul.

You don’t know this yet, but our society is pretty obsessed with body image. Before too long (it’s inevitable) you’ll be bombarded with images of perfection almost nobody can attain. If you’re like me, and so many women, you’ll be tempted to judge yourself, to compare yourself, to berate yourself, to doubt yourself. I hope somehow I can equip you to withstand this assault on your confidence.

I want you to love your body, not because of how thin or tall or pretty you may grow up to be, but because it is truly a miracle. God made you; you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as the famous old scripture says.

It is only natural to care about our physical appearance, and I’m not idealistic enough to think I could prevent that. But when you think about your body, let’s think not about how it looks, but about all the things it can do. Let’s think about your strength and your endurance. Let’s be unendingly grateful for your good health and never take it for granted. Be kind to your body, respect it and treat it well — this is the only one you’ll be getting.

And just so you know — you are, in fact, quite beautiful. I love your crazy golden curls, your gigantic blue eyes, your sweet cheeks and that super-wattage smile that lights up the world. But what is most lovely about you radiates from your inside out: your joy, your brightness, your warmth and your irrepressible spirit. That is why I’m so very proud of you.

Love,

Mom

Savannah and Family 2

As I read this letter, countless sentiments and emotions were summoned inside of me. How desperately I wished I could have read this letter years ago, as a vulnerable teen trapped in a word of self-pity, judgment and failure to feel as though I was “enough.” So often, it is true that we focus on what our bodies look like instead of what they can do, or what they are capable of doing. Sometimes, when I find myself in the midst of judging my appearance, I try to think of all the ways my body is able to support and carry me. My arms allow me to lift Oliver, my elderly dog up the stairs from outside; they allow me to lift my niece out of her high-chair, or onto my lap. My legs carry me from place to place and allow me to help open doors for others who cannot. In so many ways, my body has helped me and though I often take it for granted, or tend to focus on the way it appears on the outside, how important a message to be reminded, by Savannah, in this letter to her daughter. Everyday, I wish for others who may be younger than me, the same age, or even older or unborn, for peace with their bodies; for the ability to see their body for all its strengths and capabilities rather than fixating on the outward appearance and the supposed “flaws or imperfections.”

Reading Savannah’s letter, I wished nothing more than to keep it beside me, for easy reference, during those difficult moments in time when I feel “less than enough,” or harshly critical of myself. “Everything can be beautiful when you stop looking for flaws.”

Love Yourself quote

Quotable Lessons

What a whirlwind it’s been these past couple weeks! With my 29th birthday arriving earlier this month (on the 3rd), it caused me to reflect quite a bit on my life and in particular, the past decade. To say it’s been tumultuous would be an understatement. Much of it was difficult, painful and at times, excruciating to endure. Other parts of it were dramatic, but positive, in some respects. With that being said, I ushered in the last year of my 20’s feeling loved and cared for. In the evening, my family and I gathered together and shared a couple hours exchanging laughs and enjoying each others’ companies. So often, I find myself in moments drifting away, worrying and fretting about the next day, hour, moment, and beyond. Though, this time, I centered my focus on that present moment, knowing that if I didn’t, I would regret it hours later. Consciously I knew, hours later, I would lay in my bed, reflecting upon the day wishing I had simply enjoyed the moment, relishing in the time with my family. Looking back, that evening was a defining moment in my 20’s, as I felt more loved and appreciated than I could have envisioned.

Flowers Blooming 2              Flowers Blooming

Pictured: Flowers spotted while on a walk the day of my birthday.

To that end, I found myself looking for even more quotes than usual, as I embarked on my 29th year. So often, I stumble upon the most intriguing and expressive thoughts through Twitter, of all places. With that being said, I thought I’d share a few of these quotes or statements, because perhaps they might impact someone who may be reading this:

“Life is the most difficult exam. Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.”

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

“Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others.”

“You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone – profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are.”

“Spend your life with who makes you happy, not who you have to impress.”

“If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.”

“Love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.”

“In this life, we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

“Work hard in silence; let success make the noise.”

“Every scar has a story, don’t be afraid to tell it.”

“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.”

“Those extra 5-10 pounds, that place where your body naturally wants to be – that’s your life. That’s your late night pizza with your loved ones, that Sunday morning bottomless brunch, your favorite cupcake in the whole entire world because you wanted to treat yourself. Those 5-10 pounds are your favorite memories, your unforgettable trips, your celebrations of life. Those extra 5-10 pounds are your spontaneity, your freedom, your life.”