Oprah was right.
I recognize this is a pretty ambiguous way to open a column, but it truly is that simple. Considering she is a woman who made her opinions on many things public, I will indeed elaborate. In this instance the topic I am speaking to is aging and life getting better as you get older.
Now midway through my 44th year on this planet, I’m coming to learn this more and more each and every day.
It surprised me most recently as I prepared to get ready for work. My hair freshly blown dry, face bare of any makeup, tank top and boxer shorts as my lounge wear of choice and as I looked back at myself from the mirror I couldn’t help but smile.
The smile came from a place, not of vanity, but more of contentment with who I saw. For the first time (in very possibly my whole adult life), I did not look back and think: I need an eyebrow appointment, my skin looks horrible or oh, that dreaded muffin top.
The moment wasn’t lost on me as my smile crept up in the mirror, I thought to myself “I’m solid.”
I must segue here and explain that by ‘solid,’ I mean good (as in great, content, non-wavering). It’s a word I picked up from former colleague and good friend Jagada Chambers. In this moment I understood the meaning of this word on all levels.
Then I thought of Oprah Winfrey and all the years I spent hearing her scream and shout about how fabulous and freeing it was to be in her 40s. Granted at the time of her jubilation I was in my late 20s and early 30s and thought my life was pretty close to perfect.
Looking back, indeed it was a pretty incredible life. Things seemed to be falling into place as I had hoped and I was happy. However, I cannot think of a moment during that time when I would have smiled back at myself as I did on this most recent morning.
Again using the word of my sweet friend Jagada, today at 44 I am ‘solid’ in many things.
I no longer sweat the views of others. I do concern myself on things I control. I would never intentionally hurt or harm another person or thing. I no longer pick myself apart and obsess about the lines which now surround my eyes and mouth.
These lines represent a life well lived and I would not trade them for anything.
Physically I’m still a work in progress. Now, however, I chase down a stronger body not for the purpose of what I will find on a hanger, but rather all the things I will be able to do as a leaner me. Running with my 80 pound eight-year-old on my back or carrying my five-year-old to bed, those are my reasons to find a stronger physical me.
I both recognize and realize I laugh differently, smile differently and yes, even cry a bit differently. Life is now in a much better perspective for me. Most importantly I recognize and acknowledge it’s truly just getting started.
I recently came upon a quote from Minister and Author Rick Warren, “God changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls and coal into diamonds using time and pressure. He’s working on you too.”
On the day I read this, it resonated with me deeply. Life (a full life, one worth pursuing) brings a lot of pressures, challenges and at times circumstances which leave us in a place of helplessness and hopelessness. All of this, however, is part of the plan. The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. The ‘gift’ comes in recognizing the process.
So what does all this mean, really? At the end of the day, how does this apply to you the reader? It’s simple really. This piece is a simple testament to remind each of you who stop here each week that life is truly an amazing, yet mysterious thing.
Whether you are reading this from a couch that you must sell tomorrow or a brand new iPad you treated yourself to for a recent accomplishment, it’s all only temporary.
This ultimately brings me to one of my all time favorite quotes from the 1989 movie classic ‘Parenthood.’ In the scene the grandmother is speaking with Gil (played by Steve Martin) on the ups and downs of life - likening it to a roller coaster.
“You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it,” the grandmother said.
There it is. The morning I realized I was ‘solid,’ I also came to realize I’m a roller coaster rider. I like the crazy. I like the adventure and isn’t it an amazing gift to realize I’m in a place where none of it is bigger than me. I am just getting started, well on my way in the journey to ‘butterfly’ status. That’s just good stuff.
Hope to see you all in the meadow.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.