Teach Me How to Age Well

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Leah Abraham -Aging Well3

To the women in my life,

Please don’t be afraid of aging.

I know you’re weary of stretch marks and wrinkled skin and saggy boobs. I know you strategically drape your sarees to cover your belly, and constantly keep checking to see if your shirt covers your flabby arms.

I see you restocking products that promise to defy age and reduce wrinkles. I hear you asking photographers to refrain from taking close-up shots of your face.

You tell me that I look so young.

I ask if I look like I’m 12.

You wink and suggest I look like a mature 15-year-old. “It’s a compliment,” you tell me. “You’ll be thankful one day that you age so slowly.”

I chuckle because this is a dance I’ve done with one too many women. I want to be polite. I want to see the humor and truth in the situation.

But inside I want to hold you and ask you if aging really is terrible. I want to know whether growing old is terrifying or not.

I don’t blame you for being afraid. It’s not your fault.

Blame the culture, blame society, blame advertising and terrible reality TV shows. But I pray you never blame yourself and think there’s something wrong with you.

I’m in my early 20s, and I’m tired of wondering if it goes down hill from here.

I’ve only recently met women who walk this earth wearing stories of grace on their sleeves. Women who wear their skin proudly. Women who embrace their whole womanhood—body, mind, and soul.

I can’t help but wonder why it took so long for our paths to cross. Or how different my life would be if I grew up hearing such powerful narratives.

These women have helped dispel the myth of aging in my life. They have shown me that joy can overflow from the heart and spill into our bodies. They have assured me my relationship with my body is complicated, but that’s okay. They have shown me by example that all I need to do is love with everything I have, and that will be enough.

I don’t want to be afraid of aging.

I want to look forward to stretch marks and wrinkled skin and saggy boobs. I want to watch my body transform through the years, and learn to love it for what it is—a vessel of everything sacred and human.   

To all the women in my life, please don’t be afraid of aging.

Tell me your stories instead. Tell me about the complicated relationship you have with your body.

Show me your scars. Let me feel your skin; I want to study how it exudes tenderness and grace.

Tell me about pain. And pleasure. And how you learned to tango with both.

Tell me about yoga. Or pilates. Or about your favorite piece of chocolate cake.

How do you use your body to tell truth? How do you use it to pray? Do you like to dance? Or climb trees? Do you prefer to decorate it with tattoos or mascara? Or both?

Tell me all these things. But please don’t tell me to be fearful of aging. Don’t tell me looking “young” is a gift I’ll wish I had in years to come.

I’m more interested in love stories.

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Leah Abraham
Leah is a storyteller + writer + journalist + creative + empathizing romantic + pessimistic realist + ISFP + Enneagram type 2 + much more. She lives in the Seattle area where she works as an education reporter and features writer. Bonus facts: She loves the great indoors, hates to floss, and is obsessed with Korean food and her dorky, immigrant family.
Leah Abraham
Leah Abraham

Latest posts by Leah Abraham (see all)

  • Shucks, I love your voice and how you think.

    • Me too! <3

    • Leah Abraham

      Thank you! 😊

  • Leah, I so love this. I’m probably a minority but I look forward to aging, truly. I look forward to growing in wisdom, in grace, and in the kind of beauty that is fierce and gentle at the same time – the kind of beauty that outlasts and outshines the beauty of youth. I look forward to wearing a crown of grey on my head and to twinkle wrinkles framing my eyes. This path of getting there though… and this pooch that tricks people into thinking I’m having a baby… This part of the story is hard.

    • Leah Abraham

      I love the way you use language to describe the world and people!!

      But I love your honesty and your heart more. Our relationships with our bodies are so multi-dimensional, right? There are hard parts and fun parts to my story too. Thank you for the glimpse into yours. ❤️

  • Shaley Hoogendoorn

    Sooo good Leah! Thank you for the beautiful reminder. I love that we are changing the narrative for future generations of girls. I started talking positively about my changing body after I had my two daughters. At first I was faking it. I didn’t love my changing body at all but it became easier to like as I spoke kindly about it. Now I think my aging body is pretty rad. It reads like a map of my 39 years! I never thought I would feel this way but I am pumped to turn 40 next year. Can you say giant party???? Let’s have coffee one day and we can share lots of stories! ❤️
    PS I decorate with tattoos, mascara and sometimes my grown up tutu.💃🏻

    • Leah Abraham

      HECK YES FOR ADULT TUTUS!!! I’m all for this.

      Ahh, thank you for sharing with me a glimpse of your story. You are a strong, brave woman, and I look up to you.

      And please note that I intend to take you up on that coffee date. I take my coffee dates for story/soul sharing very seriously 😊

      • Shaley Hoogendoorn

        I look forward to it💕

  • Saskia Wishart

    Woah, this is so good. I recently noticed new wrinkles on all my nearest and dearest friends, and I was facisnated by the idea that I am observing the transition from looking ‘young’ to showing the little details of aging. But it was also a little scary. And I have thought about how to slow it down best I can on myself, but posts like this remind me not to fear the wisps of grey, the lines and cellulite and softness. Xoxo

    • Leah Abraham

      TBH, I’m already sporting gray hairs and cellulite. 😉

  • You’re right, of course, Leah.
    We need fewer stories about aging and inefficient bladders and more stories about heroic labors — of all kinds.
    Let’s have less about the ravages of aging and more about the raves — such as when my honey of 27 years started calling me “the silver fox” sometime after my hair turned gray.

    • Leah Abraham

      Ha! That’s the first time I’ve heard someone use “the silver fox” as a term of endearment! I love it.

  • Helene Burns

    So good…. thank you Leah xx

    • Leah Abraham

      Thank you!

  • Robin Baldwin

    I love this article, Leah! I’m 50 and starting to see specks of gray in my red hair. I’m ok with it. I recently noticed slight wrinkles near my eyes and I’m ok with that, too. And, dare I say it, I have found greater pleasure from my body in intimate moments with my husband than ever before. I am definitely ok with that!

    • Leah Abraham

      Love love love this, Robin! Life sometimes promises delightful surprises down the road, doesn’t it? 🙂

  • I remember sitting by my grandmother (Gomama is what we called her) in church. She was probably in her 70s then. I loved her hands. They were spotted and slack-skinned and the veins popped up. Those veins fascinated me and I would trace my fingers around those veins and spots for that hour of church. They were God’s hands to me. She died back in 1997 at the age of 95. I miss her dearly. But when I look down at my own 52 year old hands, I see the spots and my skin isn’t as firm as it used to be. And I wonder if a child will think my hands are as lovely as I thought Gomama’s were one day.

    • Leah Abraham

      “They were God’s hands to me.”

      Wow. Yes.

      I remember my grandma’s hands vividly too. The softness, the callouses, how it trembles, and how it holds. I’ll get to see her in August, and I’m encouraged by you to study it more closely, to hold it more often. Thanks Maggie.

    • This made me cry. <3

  • I love this. I needed this. I had no example of how to grow old with grace and dignity. I was warned off of getting old-as if the alternative were something to aspire? I’d rather stay on this side of things, even if that involves the getting old part, thank you very much. I thought I was doing pretty well accepting and even embracing the aging process; mostly because I have a daughter and grand daughters that I long to be that example for. At 52 I got a crash course in aging after needing to have a complete hysterectomy which launched me into surgical menopause-with symptoms and side effects coming at me rapid fire. The hardest to deal with is the transformation of my visible body-the softening into a different form almost before my eyes. In a few short months I have had to adapt to so many changes that were meant to happen gradually and (being totally honest here) I don’t think I have handled them with the dignity and grace I had hoped. I catch myself saying things to my daughter and then immediately regretting them because I know they aren’t giving her a vision of what it means to grow older well. I am working hard on accepting this new self I am inhabiting-complete with the physical and emotional changes that have happened. Your words were a reminder to be ever more mindful of my own words and actions and to tell more of the good stories and let go of the unimportant detritus. Kudos and thank you again!

    • Leah Abraham

      Hi Susan. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of your story. Our relationship with our bodies are so complicated, aren’t they? I’m still trying to understand how bodily changes affects our souls/minds. Wrestling to be at peace with it is part of the journey, I suppose. There’s so much mystery and intrigue in that process.

  • Christine Hiester

    I am loving this 44 year old body, this 44 year old awareness, this 44 year old wisdom. I anticipate the wisdom and beauty at 54, then 64, and 74. I wouldn’t go back to my 20’s, though I loved them, for all the money in the world. You are wise beyond your years to even know to ask for these truths and stories, but you are completely right that we need to celebrate them. Aging is wonderful. We lose so much of what burdens us, and gain an awakening that cannot be experienced in any other way. If we can become reconciled to the changes and eventual failings of our physical selves, we can find the exponential growth of our emotional and spiritual selves. Beautiful and heartfelt words you have shared here. <3

    • Leah Abraham

      I love this ❤️❤️

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    oh, you were right….writing a letter made all the difference. We need your youth and spirit, Leah. Keep writing these stories.

    • Leah Abraham

      And we need your grace and wisdom <3 Indeed, we need each other. Thanks for your constant encouragement.

  • Sandy Hay

    Leah, I don’t know of any young woman who thinks like this. What a role model you are! One thing that’s kept me “young” is to surround myself with many generations of women and many different cultures, intimately. To let them talk so I can understand better how they think and why. I don’t want to be an old thinker. Now age wise…Helen Mirran and I are the same age. What a role model for me 🙂

    • Leah Abraham

      What great advice! I want to be more intentional in surrounding myself with many generations of women.

      P.S. You are my role model!

  • Love love love this dear friend. Wow. You are such a thoughtful and wise person, and your reflections are so spot on. I’ve thought about this subject and, if I’m honest, have struggled with this reality as I head into the second half of my life-okay, I said it! Glad you want to share experiences of a variety of generations and to know that yes, it’s awesome here too. In the end it’s about perspective and attitude. I used to go hiking with my 80-year-old Omi in the woods in Germany and loved it so much- she had such a great perspective and I learned so much from her. I miss her terribly but I’m grateful I had the time I did with her. Excellent article, Leah! This one should go viral 🙂

    • Leah Abraham

      Aww, Cornelia, you’ve been my greatest cheerleader since day 1. So thankful for your words of encouragement. Thank you for this <3

  • Lisa Sands Scandrette

    Leah, I’ve been meaning to tell you, this has been rolling around in my head for days. I think I’ve read your post three times now. It’s inspired me to write a letter to my body–a letter of gratitude, apology and reconciliation. Thanks for your voice!

    • Leah Abraham

      Oh Lisa. That’s wonderful! And also necessary and beautiful and revolutionary. May you live more greenly, if I may (speaking from “The Wisdom of the Body” of course ;))