There's no arguing that getting older isn't always easy... But along with the rigours of ageing common to all of us, people ageing in the spotlight tend to face a higher degree of attention, scrutiny and criticism. Today at 64, I firmly believe that I am ageing victoriously, in large part due to the positive examples set by those who are ageing in the spotlight. These are five lessons I think we can all benefit from:
1) It is Possible to Get Better with Age: On the surface it's easy to think that this expression applies only to men, as they seem to become only more handsome and distinguished as they age. For women, getting better with age is often about "figuring everything out". The prime example of the "figured it out phenomenon" that I look to is Jennifer Lopez. Ms Lopez, still quite a young woman, has improved in countless ways as she has gotten older. Her fashion choices have improved. Her hair and makeup are now always flawless. She has put it all together, which to me is an attribute of experience and wisdom. As time goes by, if we're lucky, we find the perfect hair colour, the best makeup and clothes that enhance our shapes. I swear that the best thing I ever did for my appearance was to ditch the red hair I had since I was fifteen and go back to the blonde hair I had as a young child. I look back at pictures of myself in my forties, and because I wanted to hang on to that 'signature' color, I looked older than I do now. Sometimes we need to break out of ruts and go outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we need to learn from those around us, but however we get there, figuring it all out can hold the keys to getting better with age.
2) Don't Underestimate the Power of Reinvention: Twenty years ago, who would have imagined that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be governor of California or that Madonna would author children's books? They themselves probably couldn't have even pictured it. But when we venture into unfamiliar territory, it's hard for our batteries not to be recharged. It's inspiring! After a lifetime as a singer, I never dreamed that I'd be involved in a skin care brand. But, Gail Federici (co-founder and former CEO of John Frieda Professional Hair Care/current CEO, Federici Brands) helped me reinvent myself in a completely new role. After launching Time Bomb anti-ageing skin care five years ago on QVC in the UK, Time Bomb will debut on QVC in the US on 28 March. The whole experience has given my life a new layer of meaning and purpose, which I feel helps keep me young.
3) It's All About Attitude: Attitude goes a long way as we age. A lot of people think of age as a detriment or use it as an excuse for slowing down. But others, like Betty White, have the attitude that age is just a matter of fact and simply go on living despite advanced age. At 89 she wrote a book, started acting on a new TV show and essentially just kept right on working like she always has. On ageing she says, "So many of us start dreading age when we're in high school. That's really a waste of a lovely life". That is a brilliant perspective. People tag people getting older as 'declining', but there are plenty of people who rail against that term. Betty White's attitude embodies the importance of laughter in the ageing process. When asked how she stays fit she answered, "I have a two-storey house and a bad memory so I'm always forgetting something and having to walk up and down the stairs. It's good exercise." Those who enjoy such longevity really have a lot of time to develop such wisdom, which is why we can learn so much from them. It's all about looking at the facts of life with humor and not taking ourselves too seriously, but also not giving in to the notion that we're "too old" to do things. At 86 Emmanuelle Riva recently starred in "Amour" and became the oldest actress ever nominated for an Oscar. For me, although it hasn't always been easy, I have enjoyed getting older. But much of that has to do with enriching my life with new experiences, staying current and keeping active. If your attitude allows you to approach life with the same energy and curiosity that you had in your teens and twenties, then your age will be nothing but a number.
4) A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss: It's a basic principle of physics that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Bette Midler are exemplary women who never stop moving (both literally and figuratively). They embody a youthful spirit because they don't slow down. When we having young children, jobs and busy lives, we tend to think fondly about days when our calendars will be empty. But as we age, it's more important than ever to keep our calendars filled. For me, keeping my days filled, taking care of my grandchildren for the day, rehearsing for gigs, etc may be exhausting, but helps me stay young. Sure I may have to push myself harder, but it's a lot more satisfying now, at this stage in my life.
5) How You Look Impacts How You Feel: Putting effort into our appearance definitely correlates to how we feel. Taking the time to get dressed and do our hair and makeup is a reminder to ourselves - and a message to others - that we care! The pride that we take in our appearance when we're young shouldn't disappear as we get older. It's not about going to extreme lengths, but just enough so that when you look in the mirror before you go out, you smile. Helen Mirren, Goldie Hawn, Sophia Loren and Jane Fonda, all women who seem to be defying the ageing process, are great examples of how a little bit of effort goes a long way. And it's not about impressing others, but it's true that when you look good, you feel good!
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