Feeling Good in My Skin

As part of the GenFab launch today, celebrating midlife writers, I am blogging about the beauty of growing older. I love the French expression, “bien dans sa peau,” which means be happy in your skin. That is what aging gracefully means to me.

Maybe it is easier for me because I never relied on my looks; however, I did take great pride in my athleticism, which faded due to aging, accidents, and illness. Nevertheless I am still an athlete. My joints no longer withstand the wear and tear of running laps, shooting hoops or playing tennis, but I still walk to school, ride a stationary bike and swim every day in summer -rain or shine- in my beloved lake.

Okay, so my belly bulges, my triceps look like bat wings, my ankles buckle, knees creak, back aches. But, hey, I am not complaining cause I am still upright and mobile. When a car accident ended my professional athletic career at age 25, I could have been confined to a wheelchair or laid out in a box five-feet under, instead I globe trot with the teams I coach and shuttle between continents visiting friends from around the globe. I curse the mind boggling electronics in the digital age. Yet since I can never be in two places simultaneously like I would like, I sure appreciate the instant connection via facebook, Skype, and email.

Due to a mystery illness that behaves so strangely it sounds like science fiction, I have avoided sunlight for the past five years. I hide blemishes behind big, black glasses that make me feel like a movie star without all the paparazzi.

Pat and her beloved shades

Pat and her beloved shades

Early on I learned to embrace my faults when I faced my immortality. It also helps that I circulate in the shadows, keeping the lights on low. You don’t like how you look in a mirror? Seems like a no brainer. Simple solution. Don’t. Look. In. A. Mirror. Ever. I never do. Works wonders.

Seize the day. Enjoy a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate, a late night out, because well, tomorrow you might just not be here.

Aging gracefully means being myself, trying new things, traveling distant horizons, letting go of anger and forgiving others, because what the heck, we all say and do stupid things sometimes. Rage zaps too much energy.

Aging graciously means having the wisdom to know that life does not last forever. Every morning, we have a choice – we can give up or go on. Sags, bags, wrinkles be damned! I choose to embrace each day grateful for another 24 hours to learn from others, to inspire courage, break barriers, and create connections.

Je suis bien dans ma peau!

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Posted in health, humor, inspiration, social view.

32 Comments

  1. I’m a big fan of “bien dans ma peau”… Then again, some cultures (like the French) are somewhat kinder at promoting understanding that a person is a total package…

    I might add that a woman who is bien dans sa peau et bien dans sa tête – also comfortable and balanced in her head – is a whole lot easier to live with!

    • Oh you are so right. I think French women are probably just as obsessed about defying age, but they seem to be have a je ne sais pas quoi way of carrying it off with a flare that comes across as glamorous.

  2. I TOTALLY endorse this! I’m enjoying the growing wisdom, borne of life experience, that’s coming to me as I age. No turning back – run, skip, walk briskly to the precipice, I say! Laugh and fill your heart with
    joy along the way. And don’t let go of the hands of those you love. 🙂

    • I know you are living the dream happy in your skin in Italy. And how I do enjoy the stories you share of your open-arm-let’s-embrace-life adventures.

  3. Hey, I might just take that advice about mirrors. My inner self is a vision of beauty. I should just project the confidence from that image (even if I’m the only one who has a firm view of it!). Wow, you have had an amazing journey. I love your line where you list all the aches and pains and then wave them away. I’m starting to get a list like that, and I’m trying to develop a response. You are a great role model! Keep strutting your stuff.

  4. Pat, you’ve put down some wise words here! When we consider how many people we’ve known who never “made it” to midlife, when we contemplate how many dumb things we did in our youth that could have put US six feet under — why, we’re blessed to have this time! Regardless of appearances! Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Best advice I’ve read yet: “Seize the day. Enjoy a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate, a late night out, because well, tomorrow you might just not be here.” Wonderful, positive take on the topic. (Now if I could only figure out how to pronounce your phrase, that would be my mantra going forward!)

    • Don’t worry about the pronunciation, Lisa. I have been over her thirty-some years and still can’t roll my “r” like the French do.

  6. That’s a lovely French expression. I love your take on aging as an athlete.

    • Thanks. I will always be a athlete in my heart. The French have lots of lovely expressions…most of which have something to do with food and wine. tee hee

  7. Love your take on being happy in your skin. So sorry about your accident, but am glad you’re finding ways to enjoy life – and you look Fabulous in your shades.

  8. Pat, it is amazing how gratitude changes everything. You nailed it. Accepting our limits and putting our energies into what we can do helps us claim the positive and minimize the negative. Amen and thank you! I especially like the wine and chocolate 🙂

    • Kath, is I ever feel down and out, grumbley and ungrateful, I hop over to your blog, Memoir Writer’s Journey, for some more positive energy.

  9. Well said Patty. I like your advice about the mirror. I have one of those super magnified ones so I can actually see and get at some of those blasted hairs that have arrived on my face, bent on messing up my “aging gracefully” plan. Problem is, I see every other flaw as well. So the question is, will I be able to age gracefully while sporting a beard and mustache. Je ne suis pas sûr! Here’s to getting where we are and enjoying it. Joyeuses Pâques!

  10. I wrote a post about that expression, Pat. It has always resonated with me, because I am have never been comfortable in my own skin. But it’s something I’m working on. 🙂

    • Helene, I am also a work in progress. My husband, who has picked up American slang, calls me a “piece of work” in his cute French accent. Love your writing, just signed on to your Books is Wonderful blog.

  11. Hey, that’s remarkable, that same expression exists in Dutch as well, ‘to feel good in your skin’. Yes, I learmed from my father never to try to be younger than you are, although I suppose that in some ways for males that can be a bit easier (although of course we also lose our athletic prowess (if it was ever there to begin with *ahem*)).

    • Yes, Laurent, I think it could be argued that the aging process is kinder to men at least in terms of looks or perhaps society puts a higher premium on women’s “face” value. At any rate your father’s advice is solid. I am going to ask my Dutch colleague how to say “feeling good in your skin” in Dutch.

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