Friday, January 20, 2012

The Thing About Being Beautiful

In less than 8 weeks, I will be 38 years old.  I tell everyone I'm turning 40 because that announcement seem to elicit a gush of compliments, No way, you're gonna be 40? Omg, you don't look it at all! But when I become truthful and admit that on the first day of March I will be 38, the response is a bit different. Are you doing anything special?

I remember meeting a 32 year old when I was 17.  I thought she looked 50 and now when I see her pictures at that time, I realize that indeed, she looked 32.  I was young and anyone with crow's feet was old and old could never accompany beauty; they were antonyms of each other.  I look at teenagers with disdain now.  I think to myself, I know what some of you brats are thinking but one day you too will wake up and wonder why your chin is sagging as you gather loose strands of hair from the sink in pure panic!

If you've been following my blog you know by now that Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is supposedly the ultimate Virtuous Woman.  That is comforting considering that even at 60 she had kings and princes after her.  I often wonder if she just aged beautifully and really, really slowly or if she took some measures to staying beautiful.  The woman in Proverbs 31 sure sounds like she was aware of beauty---she arrayed herself in linen and lavender colors.  I mean, she was amazing in every area imaginable but she also knew the importance of being beautiful.

But really, who has time for facials, manis and pedis, and the salon?

Being a Virtuous Woman has this added pressure of self-care, of maintaining one's outward display of beauty.   Left up to me, I would simply pride myself with the beauty of "wisdom" that age provides.  I would walk around unbathed, go to the supermarket in oversized sweats, and never wash my hair.  Honestly, I can forgo the Halle Berry look but between the high blood pressure and the arthritis and the really crappy mornings, beauty has had to redefine itself. And really, I don't want to use getting older as an excuse to neglect myself all together.   Why should I constantly resent all these young celebrities on television that remind me that 40 is really not the new 20?

And so, tired of waking up every morning groaning as my joints crack and squeak and complain, mocking the absence of teenage youth, I have bought Billy Blanks Tae Bo on ebay.  How To Get Celebrity Fit.

It is a one hour exercise video that I started last night, committed to looking young and sensational, even if it kills me.  This is the modern day version of the Virtuous Woman's"linen and lavender." Trimmed abs and a youthful silhouette.  I was pumped.  I did the punches, the kicks, the jumping jacks.  I could see Billy Blanks.  I could hear Billy Blanks.  I was one with Billy Blanks.

I lasted 11.53 minutes.  I was gasping, sweating, and looking for my asthma pump.

That's it? My husband asked.  I sneered at Mr. P90X with his buffed arms and pecs and told him that I was pacing myself.  11 minutes the first night, 15 minutes the next, then 20, so on and so forth.

The reason why I couldn't do it tonight is because every joint in my body is aching, even that of my right pinky.  But there's always tomorrow night.  I will be sure to wear lighter clothing and to keep my asthma pump nearby.

The thing about being beautiful for me is that it does not want to come along easily on this uphill climb to age and so, I resent it.  I never knew that growing old gracefully meant panting like a dog in front of a video and hoping you didn't pull too many muscles, or that beauty and misery were very good friends.  I have a feeling that Sarah did not need Tae Bo but she also did not have to stress over super sized fast foods, air pollution, and Brooklyn drivers.

But alas I am aiming for the Virtuous Woman so I must be beautiful and achieve the "linen and lavender." And for me that means showering daily, cutting back on sodium, brownie deprivation, and a long lasting relationship with Billy Blanks.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What Resolution?

When I was a little girl, on New Year's Eve, I would take out a piece of paper and a pencil and write my resolutions.  I don't know what needed critical changing at 8 years old and really, no one required it of me, but I was an odd child and already very hard on myself.  Over the years when life piled on it's disappointments and cynicism replaced hopeful wonders, my resolutions found their way less and less on a paper and more and more in my head.

Quite frankly, I became disenchanted with years of failed and unfulfilled resolutions.  Nevertheless, I would come up with them anyway.  A new year, a new beginning.  I had faith in myself.

I don't know what happened this year.  I think Thanksgiving came too fast and Christmas came even faster.  When the New Year rang in, there were no fireworks or ecstatic reverie or your usual 3...2...1...Happy New Year!  The pastor was still talking about not being hung up on the past and midnight came without its due anticipated celebration.  By the time I got through 5 people to finally wish my husband Happy New Year, 2012 seemed to have come and gone.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not like I've ever celebrated the New Year outside of a church pew.  Every year was met in solemn or vibrant worship but in times past, there was always some level of excitement.  My cousins and I would glance over our shoulders to look at the giant clock at the back of the church and you could feel anticipation vibrating through the seats and whatever the preacher was doing, the rest of the congregation in silence chanted, 3...2...1...and hands would be squeezed and smiles would be exchanged and when the pastor released us from worship, people seemed to jump out of their seats to greet everyone with childish glee.

I don't know what happened this time.  Perhaps it was just me.  People said Happy New Year! and I smiled, yeah, yeah, same to you.  Happy New Year.

Maybe it's because 40 is around the corner.  Maybe because I'm carrying an extra 7 pounds into the new year.  Maybe it was because I was just exhausted.  Whatever it may be, I was unimpressed with 2012.  I went to the church bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror.  My God, I'm the New Year Grinch!

Today, while getting ready for a big family party, a day after the New Year, I drove to Costco and sat in the parking lot for a long time.  I watched people rushing to the warehouse--droves of them.  You would think the whole Staten Island was stocking up for a snowstorm.  I reflected on life, on 2011, on what it all means and everything seemed hazy and blurry.  And then I thought, I have got to join that drove or there will be no paper plates for this party!

"Be grateful," I heard myself say suddenly in a whisper.  "Be grateful for what you have."

I thought of the single mother who lost her 22 year old son two days after Christmas.  She has entered 2012 without her only son.  My husband had found me sobbing in front of the computer while I watched his video on Facebook and I kept repeating, "My God, why?  That poor mother.  That poor, poor mother!"

And so, that is my one and only resolution. This year, I want to be more grateful. I don't know if the rush of the season had stolen my holiday cheer but whatever the reason for my daze maybe, it is ultimately trivial and unimportant.

I want to be more grateful for everything that I have.  If I keep just that resolution penciled into my heart and mind, then 2012 is guaranteed to be a good year.