Coach Paradise: What Did that Woman in the Mirror Do with Me?

Dear Coach Paradise,
I recently attended the wedding of my grandson. One of the other family members was kind enough to send me a video of the event. My advice to any woman over 50 … if you have never seen yourself “in the movies,” BEWARE. When I wasn’t looking, an old lady came and took over my body and got into my pretty new dress and was having a lovely time, but I don’t know what she did with me. Maybe locked me in a closet somewhere.
Do I really have ALL those wrinkles? I mean, many of my friends have gotten face lifts over the years, and now I can see what drove them to that decision. Seeing that that is not an option for me, my question is, how do I make friends with the person I see in the mirror? Because she isn’t going anywhere. Facing the fact that “youth is gone” is a big step in life. And I’m not talking about out playing with kids or going to see the “Harry Potter” movie. I’m talking about what you see in the mirror and how that changes how other people see you and treat you.
I’m still the same me on the inside, even though I look like my grandmother on the outside. The conclusions I have come to while trying to deal with this are: Thank God that the people that matter to me, my wrinkles don’t matter to them. Thank God that I am fit and healthy and have a good job. Thank God that I have wonderful friends to share my life with and who’ll lie for me and tell me how beautiful I am. Thank God that I am smart enough to realize that with each one of these wrinkles comes a story of love, life and adventure that all those sweat, smooth-faced young ones don’t have. So, instead of sitting here bemoaning my future, maybe I’ll just count my blessings and try to make friends with this new person in my body. She is not going anywhere, so thank God at least she is interesting!
The face in the mirror
Dear Face in the Mirror,
What I see reflected in your letter is a luminous spirit, a courageous woman and a seeker of truth and happiness. You speak for millions of women (and many men as well) who don’t like what they see in the mirror as their reflections show signs of aging. It doesn’t matter how many creams we slather on, how many miles we run, how many cosmetic procedures we undergo — the inevitable march of time is reflected in the wrinkles, the pull of gravity on __________ (fill in the blank), the graying hair, the lack of hair, the de-elasticization of everything and on and on and on. I’m with you in sighing a big “yuk.”
Coaches start with the assumption that people have all their own answers. Your gratitude list is proof of this. You seem to know that thanksgiving is the soil from which all good things grow and flow — no matter how old or young you are. Being thankful for what you have and focusing on what is lifegiving and joyful invites more of the same into your life. Give yourself credit for having attracted (and continuing to attract) love, friendship, health and many wonderful adventures and blessings. You are magnetic.
I love how you say that the physical aberration in your lovely dress is having a good time! I would invite you to consider that even if people initially relate to you as though you were your grandmother (and I take it that you are a grandmother), I would guess that once they see you in action, they suspend or change their conclusions about how grandmothers are showing up these days and connect with the eternal you. Given that the forefront of the Baby Boomer generation is turning 60 this year, we are going to be seeing more and more conclusion-busting behavior — maybe not the 1960s anymore, but the 60s nonetheless.
The RX you offer is right on — making friends with the face in the mirror. Which would mean not turning away, making nice, saying appreciative, loving things, taking good care etc.
But, CORRECTION PLEASE: It’s not really about making friends with a NEW person in your body. It’s staying friends with the SAME person whose body is changing. This has happened before. (Remember pimples and baby fat!) Its about loving your eternal self and letting go of some of the vanity that our society promotes like crazy — revamping some of our conclusions about beauty. The advertising business is onto this. Check out the Eileen Fischer ads and the models in the increasing number of pension plan and anti-wrinkle cream commercials. They are still more beautiful and youthful and thinner (of course) than most of us, but appealing to a changing market: new faces in the mirror.
If getting older is inevitable — if youth is wasted on the young and if the best is yet to come — I can’t help but end on a spiritual note and remind you (and myself) of the serenity prayer. I hope that we all can join in saying: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
To your eternal beauty,
Coach Paradise
Editor's note: Coach Paradise (AKA Anne Nayer), Professional Life Coach, is a member of the International Coaching Federation, an MSW clinical social worker-psychotherapist and a medical case manager with 30 years experience working with people of all shapes, sizes and challenges.
For further information about her services, call 774-4355 or email her.

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