Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Turning 40 and Beauty Redefined

In the extra half hour a week that I find for blogging, I've been noticing I've been not wanting to do the next entry on my Things To Blog About List.  Because a)narcissistic b)personal.  So I'm just starting and seeing how in depth we go here.

First of all, I turned 40 on July 15.  Does anyone want to actually turn 40? Probably not, but I wasn't hugely hung up on the number...but actual aging is another matter and we will get to that in a minute.

My birthday was just okay.  I told Ryan that for the big 4-0 birthday, I wanted a trip with him and so we've planned a birthday trip early next year after Levi is old enough to leave for a few days.  I picked South Carolina because I've been a lot of places but I've never been to the South, so I'm really excited about that.  On my birthday, Ryan organized a hike and a brunch with girlfriends and that 3 hours was the best part of my day.  I'm blessed with good, wise, fun friends and I loved the relaxation of walking, talking and eating with them.

I made myself two big old desserts for my birthday because I love to bake and I couldn't decide between the Fudgy Toffee Chocolate Chip Bars and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte.  Could you?

So the day came and went, but really I've been dealing with aging for a few years now.  Things I like about aging:
1.  Wisdom.  Duh.
2.  Experience--I LOVE seeing how life and kids and relationships and problems mostly turn out okay if you just do your best.
3.  Understanding what makes me happy and what doesn't. Which obviously goes right along with 1 and 2.
4.  Understanding the Gospel and the nature of God and the power of obedience and the atonement better and better.  It's just gets more amazing and sweet and fulfilling the more you understand it, don't you think?
5.  My gratitude for the blessings in my life just seems to deepen with each passing year.

Things I don't like about aging:
1. Its effects on my body--its ability and (I know I shouldn't care but I do) its appearance.
2. How society views it!  I hate that there's the feeling that you are less vital or something the older you get.  Lame.

So, I'm sharing really briefly something that has helped me as I've dealt with negative feelings about wrinkles, weight gain, gray hair, etc. etc.

Through social media, I came across a website called Beauty Redefined.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that it has been HUGE for me.  I literally see things differently based on the things I've learned by reading their blog posts, following their instagram feed and reading some of their recommended literature.  This is the jist of what they do (taken from their site)

Beauty Redefined is all about rethinking our ideas of “beautiful” and“healthy” that we’ve likely learned from for-profit media that thrives off female insecurity. Girls and women who feel OK about their bodies — meaning they aren’t “disgusted” with them like more than half of women today* — take better care of themselves.
“While we cannot directly affect the images [in media], we can drain them of their power. We can turn away from them and look directly at one another. We can lift ourselves and other women out of the myth.” - Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

I've been able to see that the value I place in my looks has been ingrained by media and society and is totally erroneous and drains me of valuable energy.  I've been able to look at ads and commercials and comments and conversations and see when they are reinforcing the idea that women's greatest power is in their appearance.  While I've always known in my brain that those things aren't important, as age strips me of firm skin and a fast metabolism, I've really noticed that my negativity about my appearance and aging has everything to do with not really believing it in my heart.  Regularly visiting this site has helped me to see things as they really are, and has helped me to redirect that negativity in an effort to emphasize the value that lies in my talents, my mind, my relationships--all things that will deepen and grow over time.

Anyway.  That's what I have to say.  Here's to 40 more years of becoming wiser and kinder and more experienced...the stuff that really matters.


Jeanelle said...

Birthdays can be such a letdown so I'm glad you planned a fun trip for next year. And I need to make those bars again! I hate the idea of aging too but have learned that the lead up is much worse than getting to the actual birthday. I know I'm youthful and not an old lady at age 47 (ugh) and you are a gorgeous 40 year old. I've also been thinking about my own "vitality" related to my service at church. I've spent the last 12+ years working with the youth and with next year being my 5th in the stake YW presidency, I know that time will end soon...but then what? Who am I if I'm not serving in the youth program? I need to start figuring that out because the thought of my impending release just scares me.

Ilene said...

Love this. Love you. I have been struggling too with body image. It's so easy to get distracted and to tell yourself to not even bother trying because I'm so far from where I think should be. It's like sin and repentance, really. And my ingratitude for a healthy body really is a sin. I read this quote on cup of Jo today:
It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself.

heidi said...

1. I need the fudgy toffee chocolate bar recipe.
2. I don't live in south carolina anymore, so pick again.
3. I find that the wiser and older I get, I'm less and less impeded about the unhealthy parts of body image, but I'm having the hardest time breaking my negative body image language habits. I say things that I'm used to saying and I immediately regret saying it because I love myself more than that, but I'm so used to saying it that it still pops out . There's always something to work on.

Lauren in GA said...

I agree with Ilene. When I read this I thought, "I just love Jessica." And I truly do.

I obsess about aging...fine lines and wrinkles...gray hair, etc. I need to be more grateful for a body that works and that I am not in chronic pain.

When you come to South Carolina I would LOVE to drive to wherever you are and meet you and Jessica A. in PERSON. I don't know what your plans are or how long you will be there but I would LOVE to travel and find you. Maybe we can all go to the Columbia South Carolina temple together...

I don't think I wished you a Happy Birthday in July so...Happy Belated Birthday to one of the biggest inspirations in my life. Truly.

Amy F. said...

For the record, you are one of the most beautiful people I know!!! I think this is a normal thing for women to worry about, but when I think of how I view others, and the people I truly love, almost none of them look like models and what is inside truly transcends the outward appearance. I think we are way harder on ourselves. Happiness, confidence and humor are where it's really at. I'm not trying to detract from health/fitness, because that's important. You are a great example of that!!

katie said...

Thanks for sharing. I am having trouble aging, and dealing with a slower metabolism. It ticks me off so bad that I can't eat nachos at 10pm every night and stay thin! I am going to look into this Beauty Redefined. Oh, and happy 40th! :)