I'm turning 39 in two weeks. Yep, you read right, 39. Next year, 40. My mother couldn't believe I made a joke about this in the AOL MyDaily bio last week. "Everyone is going to know how old you are!" she said. Yeah, they will. Yet I'm ready for forty. I want to give it a hug, maybe take it out for a drink. I'm ready to figure out what I'm going to do next.
I've been thinking about aging naturally because of my birthday, and I read a essay by Patti Davis on the online version of More Magazine. I've always liked Patti; someone who is a different drummer. I remember watching footage of Ronald Reagan's funeral and there was a shot of ling estranged Nancy Reagan and Patti holding hands. No matter what political party you belong to, one couldn't help but be touched by the sight of mother and daughter united in grief.
Well, Patti's done it again. She posed naked in More magazine. When I first saw it I thought "Patti! What would Nancy say?"
Yet she wanted to show her body and how looked at fifty-eight. One has to admire her chutzpah. Odds are I'm not poising in the buff anytime soon. Yet Patti talks about parts of her body that have changed though the years, which I can relate so much.
I started losing weight by accident several months ago. My cat Felix disappeared, and now I believe he's gone for good. He was having more seizures and I was about to make an appointment to get him checked out by a vet. Now I realize he might've had a brain tumor that went undetected. And I felt terrible about it.
I knew something right away: I wasn't going to turn for food for comfort. I'd done that in the past. If I was stressing about school, work, life, watch out Ben and Jerry's! Here I come! Patti wrote that she ruined her body with drugs. Me, food was--and for many women--my drug. I didn't ruin my body, but I came too damned close. It wasn't illegal! You could go without alcohol! Food, not so much! Yet this time I knew food wasn't going to give me the comfort I needed.
I consulted a friend of mine, who said my instinct was right. "Make yourself exercise," she told me. "Take good care of yourself." Although I didn't always have time to hit the gym, I made myself walk. I walked in the City, taking everything in: the tourists looking for Pier 39, couples walking hand in hand. I made a point walking by the water to see ferry boats going by, and people who worked Pacific Princess strolling by me. I resisted asking "Hey, where's Gopher?" I'm sure they would've thanked me for this.
I knew also that when the urge came to overeat, I needed to do something else. I decided to catch up on watching movies. I made myself watch a movie every Saturday night. Movies I missed in the theaters like Black Swan, The King's Speech, and Eat Pray Love. Documentaries like Jesus Camp, The Weather Underground, and The Life of Harvey Milk. I needed to involve myself in other people's stories, see how they survived personal tragedies. I needed to see people triumph over adversity, come to the other side whole.
I still eat sweets. Yet I noticed something the other day: Instead of eating a whole row of Oreos, I only eat one (with milk, of course) Instead of the whole pint of Ben and Jerry's, I can eat a couple of scoops.I always have to be careful, yet I'm not angry about it.
I still feel sad about Felix. I always will. I remember reading in one of Patti Davis' books how heartbroken she was when her dog, her constant companion, died in her arms. Yet I knew like her I gave Felix the best life possible. He loved being scratched, loved snuggling up with a Teddy bear I bought him. I also know that when someone dies, Buddhists ask what was the person supposed to teach you? I believe it was to appreciate little things, and to be there for someone when they're in trouble. I'll always be grateful to him for that.
Looking at Patti didn't make me want to get naked in front of a camera; I have problems posing for photos while fully clothed. Yet it reminded me that aging is a gift. It has made me more gentle with myself. I might not lose enough weight to be a skinny Minnie, but my jeans are a lot looser. I did grab a cupcake at my niece's church play, yet I was good the rest of the day. On my DVR I have several Esther Williams movies to watch the next week. I might not have a perfect Playboy body, but it's mine. And I better take darned good care of it while I'm still around.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries