Dear Self: Do Not Fear Aging

Dear Self: Do not fear aging. When you look in the mirror and see that your mother's furrowed brow and slacked jaw have masked your own, it'll force you to forgive her and you know that she, and you, require at least that much.

It was when I was in my mid-thirties that I began to wonder where I was going to get the money to tighten the folds around my mouth with a little plastic surgery. I lived and still live in Southern California, where youth rules and procedures abound. Although loath to admit it at the time, I was vain. Good looks had been my lucky draw in life. I had to keep them up. What else did I have?

Dear Me: Do not fear being invisible. Not being seen will give you an opportunity to laugh at the silly game of inclusion/exclusion and the fact that in that regard, none of us have left high school.

By 46, men stopped noticing me. Women, too. I began to understand why older people wore bright colors and stripes with polka dots: How else were they going to be seen? Then someone did pay attention, a man 17 years my junior. Oh, I thought, so this is the way to go -- the European route. I'm an aged wine now that tastes like the sweet nectar of wisdom. The sex was great, but our time was short. After it was over I started wondering how I could get my eyes done and my neck was showing signs, bad signs. How much would it cost to take care of both?

Dear Me: When someone calls you "dear," silently repeat names of aged artists, like Judi Dench, Ruth Gordon or Diane Keaton; names have power. And write. Writing is manna.

In my early fifties, I started cooperating with the obvious direction of my life and gave up on the desire to give myself a make-younger. Thank goodness, because by that time there was not one thing I would alter. Well, maybe one, but nothing that would make me look younger than I was. Without funds for a nip or a tuck, I had to seek my worth and value elsewhere. Accepting the lines in my face and my changing body shape offered me true humility and courage. Soon, the prospect of going through the stages of life naturally excited me. It was about time I lived as who I was and not who I thought I wanted to be. I'd known so many others that had not had the opportunity.

It is a privilege to get old!

Now, in the third act of my life's story, there is no doubt that it's scary. So much could go South. So much has in the past. Yet, I have a innate quality that I didn't have then: self-confidence. I've always been a curious sort, wanting to know what happens next, how things end, and with the right foods, exercise and god willing, I might have another decade, maybe two, before I find out.

Dear Me: Do not, under any circumstances, wear clothes older people are supposed to wear. Keep your sense of style, after all, you are still fabulous you.