Late bloomers…what kind of flower is this?!

a new painting

a new painting for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

There was a segment on the program, Sunday Morning, yesterday that brought me to tears. It was entitled “Late Bloomers” and as Jack and I watched it, we both were filled with deep emotion. For me it felt like hope and an affirmation that life is truly meant to keep expanding, as we ourselves are.

For many years, I’d believed that the depth of our talents and creative abilities would surface and grow as we aged. It seemed like evidence of this was rare, but I still felt it, and it seemed to be connected to the way we perceived youth and beauty. I even wrote a paper about this, over 20 years ago, when I was a student at Harvard Divinity School. But at the same time, I was experiencing a huge inner struggle as I felt I’d lost my youthful appearance. I was 35 at the time.

When I was younger, I was obsessed with looking good and gaining the attention of the opposite sex….and I got quite a lot of it, but that began to change in my late 30’s and with that decline in attention, I experienced disorientation and a questioning of my value. “If I couldn’t attract a man, what good was I?”, was a question that, even though I don’t like admitting it, consumed a lot of my time.

Much of my creativity went into keeping my body in shape and trying to maintain a youthful appearance, and I felt there was a war of sorts going on inside as deeper and more meaningful parts of me were emerging and begging for some “air time”. I was fighting becoming “old”. I didn’t want to be unattractive (and as un-politically correct as that sounds, it was my belief that old was not pretty, at all) and did not believe that my inner self, talents, and abilities, were as attractive as my outer shell, which was now, to my horror, slipping away; sagging, bagging wrinkling, bulging, and greying.

But some part of me also hoped that there was something inside beyond my looks, something which was rich and wonderful and that glimmer of belief was like a golden thread that led me through a very necessary change from focusing on my outer self to allowing my inner self to emerge…and I like it…a lot.

Focusing on the body can become an unhealthy obsession, whether it is on our beauty, or even on our “health”. Eat right, exercise, sleep, do yoga, take the right vitamins, drink plenty of water…all of these things that we are told are “good” for us, can also make us to forget that we are so much more than bodies. How many times do we ask someone, “How are you?” and the answer is about health, the state of their physical bodies, or the “health” of one of their family members. Few people think to say, “I am a wonder!” or “I am opening up in a way that is delightful!”, in response to that question.

But it is a good question. How about answering, “I am growing, I am expanding, I am becoming aware of new thoughts and revelations that have only just been revealed to me.” We are more than our bodies, but where we focus is where we will be led. I want to honor my body but not worship it or make a Herculean effort to preserve it and prevent it from changing. I hope to hold it lovingly, let it go its way, and keep my focus on what I want to experience more of in this life: love, happiness, creativity, and the sense of wonder that comes with change and growth which is what this life is all about.

“When your ideas about yourself change, so does your experience.” Seth, from The Nature of Personal Reality

P.S. My ideas of beauty and youth have also changed as I have come, more and more to accept myself. I look at Judi Dench and Maggie Smith and think , “I love the way that those women live and look!” and this is, to me, a sign of my own growth.

13 thoughts on “Late bloomers…what kind of flower is this?!

  1. Mary, how is it that you seem to find something to comment on that is so much a part of who we are as women. I never gave my ‘looks’ much thought growing up though in looking back, I can see that I was attractive, dark hair, dark eyes, long eyelashes. Well, the old lady who is looking back at me now from the mirror, I don’t know. Grey curly hair, bags over my eyes and the most startling discovery several years ago that the bags over my eyes had worn down my lovely long eyelashes. I have a spare tire around my mid-section whereas I could once find a defined waistline. Ho Hum….and do I mind? Yes, truthfully, youth in appearance is desirable; youth in truth, no, would I go through all that period of my life again…I don’t think so…I was so unformed that I felt like an amoeba not knowing where I was going to fit into my own self….I’d rather be me now but without the bags over my eyes. I do miss my eyelashes.
    Sandy P

  2. Thank you, Mary. After turning 60 in October – I can relate to what you have written…I felt that I was aging and losing something rather than looking at what I am still becoming. I hope things are beginning to change – a culture obsessed with youth and perfection. I am feeling the need to embrace the changes and enjoy this time in my life and find the beauty in the present – gaining a sense of peace in it all.

  3. Yes, I agree. Know you already get this but sent it on anyway
    Luv ya

    Anne

    “Everything that is, is holy”
    Thomas Merton

    “Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control.
    It is determined for the insect as well as for the star.
    Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust
    – we all dance to a mysterious tune,
    intoned in the distance by an invisible piper”.
    Albert Einstein (1879 – 1919)

    >>

    >

    • Anne, I’ve never read that quote, thank you. It couldn’t be more to the truth of life.
      SandyP

  4. The Thomas Merton quote simply is profound and true. Thanks for sharing that, Anne.

    This post is so meaningful for many of us I am sure. I do believe that a number of us women , who are approaching a more thoughtful time of life, are deeper , more understanding and compassionate people as we grow in stature towards the real substance of what life is about.
    Your experience was a little different than mine in that only in recent years have I become more aware of taking care of my body ( which I had taken for granted) as I feel it’s fragility coming on. I now look around and ask myself whose beauty do I admire? I see beauty in those women who have seemed to embrace themselves and simply try to enhance the positive. I myself want to start letting my grey hair predominate , to enhance the silver color of it. But do you think I can persuade a hair stylist to let this happen?? Instead I get a horrified look on their face as I am saying” I don’t mind the grey showing through”, I just want my hair to be shiny and natural looking”. It’s as if I said something radically wrong!

    Yet I really DO feel that Beauty is in the natural , healthy, honest, and accepting fact that age is part of the cycle of life and we are in it! And the fact that you, Mary, can honestly reach within and find the words to share your true feelings and talents and to encourage us all to look at ours is very…. Beautiful!

  5. Love this, Mary and wonder how many of us were guilty of the same feelings. I retired at age 73 and said, “i am no longer in the public eye, so if I want to go gray, I am going gray…” For some reason I felt gray was unattractive. Well, it turned out to be a kind of white/blonde mix and I feel as though I am coming around to your way of thinking. I am learning something new each day, and sometimes it is a big change; other times not so big. I want to continue learning until the day I leave this earth. Loved your blog. Keep them coming!!!

  6. Dear Mary, Thank you for another great insight. My husband and I saw that same show last Sunday. I looked at it as (since I have always been a late bloomer)gee I still get another chance to reinvent myself again! Okay there is so much more I want to learn and accomplish. So now what will it be? I plan to keep reinventing myself until Jesus calls me home.

  7. Mary, some months ago I believe it was you that mentioned having watched the documentary, Advanced Style – I recently watched it on Netflix and it would make a wonderful companion to this post for anyone interested. A gifted young (male) photographer walks the streets of New York taking (with permission) photographs of fabulously attractive women having fun with fashion, make-up, just being their wonderful selves – ages 62 to 95! Now by saying “fabulously attractive” I don’t mean Cheryl Tiegs in their sixties or seventies, just average women glowing with the joy of being alive. The women are interviewed and you get a sneak peek into the lives of mature women who are simply comfortable in their bodies, enjoying their lives and celebrating the now. Just being able to be here today, March 17th, 2015, reading Mary’s post and all the comments, isn’t that a blessing and reason to celebrate? Hurray for White Feather Farm!!

  8. As usual your perspective has made me aware of how much I have been in denial about how I truly feel about getting older. I thought I had it all together until I had to have dentures. Much to my surprise my entire facial expression changed, lines appeared that turned into crevices, and worse when I smile, the wrinkles go up to my eyes and turn into giant crows’ feet. I am struggling to regain my balance and equilibrium because I know my outward appearance is not that big a deal to anyone but me. Thank you for setting me straight yet again!

  9. Thank you Mary again and again for your good words. I am approaching 72 and finally feel very comfortable in my skin. I was always so aware of being and staying thin and having no extra of anything on my body. I wanted to look perfect, and it was hard work. Now I can relax with my body and really like who I am. I don’t have to turn heads, just stay in touch with the one I have on my own shoulders. I always love your posts. Thank you so much.

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