I got a nosebleed yesterday morning. I didn’t know what it was, at first; I’m forty-nine years old, and this was my first one. Ever.
Fortunately, I was with Mark, who gets them with some frequency; he was able to tell me what to do (pinch your nostril shut gently; sit up straight or maybe even tilt your head back a little; don’t freak out; kleenex and patience are your friends).
My body’s been doing fascinating things lately. I have an honest-to-god age spot on my left hand (look! there it is! next to all those blue veins!).
I’m not having hot flashes so much any more, but there is a span of time in the middle of most every night when I need to push away all the covers. I stopped coloring my hair a year or so ago; I actually like the grey that’s coming in.
My vision is getting worse. I’m still using drugstore “cheater” glasses, rather than going to an eye doctor (blah blah blah time money blah blah). At the beginning, I just used them for reading later in the day, when my eyes were tired; then for reading all day; now for the computer too. And card games. And cooking (particularly when using recipes, or sharp knives). Well, okay, I’m almost always using the glasses.
If I happen to have the glasses on and encounter a mirror, I see all sorts of things on my face I had no idea were there, or had forgotten about. Lines and spots and blemishes; hairs growing out of moles; irregular eyebrows. The sorts of things that would once really bother me. When I was a teenager, I noticed some tiny blood vessels on the bridge of my nose. For decades I covered them with makeup, convinced that they were hideous. Now? Without glasses on, they and all other “imperfections” vanish. If I can’t see them, no one else can either, right?
And did anyone ever really care? I rather doubt it.
During the period of the year from about my birthday (Halloween) through January 1, I traditionally eat greater quantities of food, particularly items with higher densities of fat and/or sugar and/or refined white starchy deliciousness. Perhaps I even drink more alcohol than usual. At the same time, what with all the travel and bad weather and everything, I let my exercise routines slacken. Or vanish entirely. I am given to understand that I am not entirely alone in these regards. Then the new year rolls around, all the holiday festivities fade away, and I rededicate myself to health and fitness.
In the past, this has involved stepping on the scale, and making all sorts of numbers-related decisions and plans and goal-settings. Resolutions, you might even say.
This year…I didn’t actually step on the scale. I know my middle has thickened, because pants that used to fit comfortably no longer do. That big black cotton dress that used to be too large on me is my new best friend. Heck, dresses in general are much more welcoming. And elastic-waist skirts.
Particularly when not wearing my glasses, I think I still look just fine. But I want to feel better, to have more energy, to be strong again. I want my exercise regimen back, and for my digestion to work better, and I want to sleep better at night. So I’ve started making more soups, and adding vegetables to everything, and cutting way back on desserts (it helps that Trader Joe’s ran out of peppermint Joe Joes unusually early this year), and getting more lean protein in my diet. And I’ve rededicated myself to my Ashtanga yoga home practice. WOW, that is taking some doing; I had lost it pretty thoroughly. But now, only two or so weeks into the new year, I’m doing a recognizable version of all the poses in the Primary Series.
Except the jump-through parts of the vinyasas. Those are going to be a long time coming back, if they do at all. But you know what? I’m getting a fantastic workout as it is. It doesn’t have to be the exact practice I did in my early thirties to be a solid, satisfying, fulfilling practice.
That’s kind of how I’m seeing a lot of things these days. I am not the same person I was in my teens or twenties or thirties. Even the forties are about to move into my past. Things that used to be so important to me, like covering a nearly-invisible blemish on my face, or a yoga pose looking a certain very particular way, or wearing size six jeans, are now feeling just…eh, whatever. I am so much more excited about being strong enough to dig and prune in the garden for hours. I am much more interested in being alert and focused enough to juggle the writing of several novels and a shorter piece or two and editing a nonfiction anthology and keeping track of all this freelance work and and and…
Working at home certainly helps. What a clotheshorse I used to be! I still own far more pairs of shoes than anyone needs. But most days, to sit alone in my office out here in the back yard, I find yoga pants, sweats, or that wonderful roomy black cotton dress to be just right. I’ll often wear the same thing day after day. Why not?
It actually makes it more fun to dress up to go out, since I’m not doing it to go to work every day. I’m dressing up more for conventions and parties and the like than I ever did. It feels like costuming: a creative act, rather than a required uniform.
I think that’s the real difference, behind all of this jumble of disparate thoughts: I’m feeling so much more creative these days, and so much less interested in conforming to some shallow set of appearance-regulations, that some imaginary panel of arbiters is watching for and judging me on. I mean, I know that people judge. But…probably far fewer than Younger Me ever imagined, and as for the ones who do? They’re not the boss of me. I really don’t care what they think. I’ve got better things to do.
This sudden spate of blogging (two long posts! In less than a week!) has been brought to you by the fact that, though a big job is in the mail on its way here and another is coming soon thereafter, I have no actual freelance work in-house at the moment. I can’t remember how long it’s been since that was the case. I’m enjoying it tremendously.