Our family's short, red haired mini dachshund is not only dear to me, she's an ever present reminder that years have started to roll by faster than I'd imagined. The gray settling in at her chin gives testament to her years. Her reluctance to run lap after lap around the park where my parents live is officially a sign more of her age than a lackluster attitude or a desire to recline near the sun-dashed windows. Almost fourteen years ago she was placed in my arms with a pink bow tied around her neck, her fresh puppy scent filling my senses, begging me to nuzzle and keep her close. How strange to realize that nearly fifty-six seasons have passed since that time.
I recently had a few pictures taken, and while I've always thought pictures of me are pretty hit or miss, I wasn't prepared to see the fine lines around my eyes. They'd gradually appeared, I suppose, or maybe all at once. While I stand in front of my mirror every morning to apply my makeup (a five minute job, since I don't like the fuss), I wasn't noticing my gradual signs of aging. I'd see an instant need for foundation, how much I liked a certain shade of lipstick, or that I was running low on toner. Not that my youthful traits were starting to give way to traces of almost midlife that hadn't been there before.
Yet, there it was, something truthful about the professional picture that came back I couldn't deny. While I haven't stopped feeling mostly young through raising young kids, exercise, and healthy eating for the most part, there are marked changes I'm beginning to realize. For starters: I graduated from high school half a lifetime ago ('99), there are people in my profession at least ten years younger than I, and it takes more work to maintain the jeans I've worn for years. Birthdays roll around, and while "36" doesn't exactly signal "old age," I so vividly remember how my mom was when she here.
It wasn't so very long ago.
My desire is to make the most out of these swift calendar changes instead of begrudging the time that isn't coming back. I've long held that the most beautiful women are those at least a generation ahead of me. The reason being: their wisdom gleaned, their life lessons passed on, their ability to smile in spite of the uphill terrain they've had to weather. I have certain women in my life who don't act like age is a number. They include my fitness instructors, my teachers, an aunt who instills belief in me.
I write these words, about the acknowledgement that it's time for me to invest in an eye cream, knowing I'm still fairly "young," and that someday I'll probably laugh at my mini observations that the mirror would tell me otherwise. Sometimes to ground me, my mom will say: "what's your alternative (to growing older)?," and she's right. Instead of belaboring the fact that the spring of my life is over, I need to shift my thinking: be more "here" in the present, treasure right where I'm planted, knowing that these days are blessed. And that just like our dachshund Grendel's gray, my signs of age don't make me less than I was before. Sure, a good skin care line helps, but it doesn't take away the fact I'm in my mid thirties. Which is alright. If anything, my new lines show that I'm living this one, God-given life to the fullest.