My “After-Life” Series ~ Get a Handle On It!

By Susan Keats, Contributor & Seize-the-Day Propagandist

Did you know that a 50 year old woman from MY TOWN has found a secret to rid herself of wrinkles that is even better than Botox? And can you believe, DOCTORS don’t want me to know about it?

And, did you know that a 65 year old woman, also from MY TOWN (wow, what a talented town I live in) has NO CELLULITE and if I just click….right here on this….oh.  I have to watch this long video thing and….oh.  I have to buy this … stuff….

Love my love handlesNow that I have achieved mid life, I’m learning that I am still terribly flawed. I’ve been believing it too. I see “love handles” here.  And here.

I look in the mirror and I see a face that I don’t recognize as my own. I exercise regularly, yet my body is changing in ways that are unfamiliar. I see endless articles and blog posts written about aging gracefully, and boy do they irritate me. I’m feeling self-absorbed, self-deprecating, self-conscious…maybe self-ish.


These feelings are strangely familiar. I feel a sense of déjà vu. I have definitely been here before.

Oh, help me! I have become a teenager all over again.

Yes, somehow I’m still that kid who spent ridiculous amounts of time wishing that my hair was a different texture, or my eyes were blue, or my knees weren’t so knobby. Has anything changed? Really? At 51, am I not supposed to be older and wiser?

Advertisers don’t think so. They love people like me. I am still perfectly capable of being pushed and pulled by whatever definition of beauty they aim at me.But ironically, just the other day I was warning my daughters about them.  “They airbrushed those pictures!” I informed them. “Don’t believe it. Nobody really looks like that.”

Now I’m standing here in the light of day, poking at my face in the mirror. Squeezing flesh around my middle.  I don’t like what I see and I am NOT beyond wanting plastic surgery to make these problems go away. I am not beyond being upset by my appearance. DON’T tell me about aging gracefully because I won’t. I won’t. I WON’T!!!

Teenagers are known to throw tantrums.

While I’m feeling awkward about flailing my arms around and screaming a second ago, I’ve also come to realize that certain phrases are creeping into my vocabulary.

“Back in the day…” I said recently.

“Once, when I was young…” I started a story.

“A hundred years ago, when I used to be cool…” yeah, I actually said that one too.

“WTF?” my inner teen is screaming! “WTF! Listen to yourself! What’s up with that?”

We Boomers want advertisers to aim their sites at us, but in doing so, we also will fall victim to the same strategies that have historically made women feel inferior and never good enough. I feel it and I STILL want to be beautiful.

What a relief it would be if I wasn’t continuously bombarded with reminders of my age, but was encouraged instead to prioritize other things: books, classes, ideas, travel, excitement! Why, with a mind focused on my wonderful life ahead, (which is full of possibilities) I’d actually be a really happy gal!

It wasn’t so long ago that after having finished grueling cancer treatments, I had a new lease on life and a wiser understanding of what is important. But as time ticks on, wisdom gained seems to sift down into the sediment and gets covered over by the superficial rhythm of regular life. I don’t enjoy this adolescent, self-obsessed version of me. What do I do to recapture wise me? Where is the one who knew oh so clearly that all of this other stuff is ridiculous?

Turns out, all it takes is the Boston Marathon bombing to bulldoze those lessons right back to the surface. As I watch the horrific images it is all perfectly clear to me once again. How many times do I need to learn that life is precious and that in a moment all can change?

People in Boston have lost limbs and loved ones. I have mine. I have my face, my mind, my body, my life.

Feeling like a teen is unbecoming to me as a grown woman. I am fully capable of having a better handle on things than certain advertisers would want me to believe I have. Life can be too short to waste on obsessing over appearance.

Aren’t the most beautiful people we know the ones who are living lives that are fulfilling, who exude an inner joy that we all see and feel while in their presence? I aim to be THAT happy gal.

And this extra flesh here…and here? I no longer want to blast it away with pills and potions. Those are my Wise Handles. They are here to stay.

Susan-KeatsSusan Keats ~ In 2010 Susan received life-changing news after a routine mammogram. She had breast cancer. After plenty of tears, anxiety and soul searching, she finished treatments and is now entering a year of renewal, growth, and recovery. Susan hopes that those who are just stepping into the experience of illnesses or crises will find the same comfort and inspiration that she felt when others shared their experiences and wisdom with her. She is looking forward to rediscovering parts of herself that she had allowed to fall away. This is going to be a great year!

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8 Responses to My “After-Life” Series ~ Get a Handle On It!

  1. You have done it again!!! Wonderful. This is the cupcake eating Sue. (One that is good for your health, but sweet and happy). Lets enjoy our wise years, and may they be very very long.

  2. Jill says:

    Well said!!!!! Great article!

  3. Chris says:

    Two things – loving my Wise Handles and want to join the “seize the day” propogandist club! Oh, and watching morning tv today (while at the dentist) talking about how many options there are to get rid of our “saddle bags” – ughhhhhhhh.

  4. Aileen says:

    LOVE IT! what a perfect reminder! My mom tells her grand kids that her wisdom is found in the flesh that hangs under her arms, the kids think she’s amazing and full of wisdom! LOVE IT!!! As a fellow cancer survivor, aging is a great thing! I say bring on those birthdays (but not too quickly!!). HA!!

  5. Pingback: My “ After - Life ” ~ Get a Handle On It! - Generation Fabulous

  6. Anne (@notasupermom) says:

    I want Wise Handles! Sign me up for those.

    I think aging must be harder on women who are beautiful. It is a kind of power, and it fades–or at least changes–as we age.

    I’m nice-average looking. I think my appearance has been improving since I take more care with my appearance now than when I was younger. At least I haven’t had an “OMG-my neck!” moment yet.

    Though I never say never. One of my eyelids is less and less visible.

  7. Wise Handles! I love it!

    I was in a very difficult marriage and now that it’s over, I think I’m becoming more beautiful. Not because I’m getting younger–new wrinkles and gray hair show up regularly–but because I’m finding peace in my new life. Whenever I start feeling discontent I look back and realize just how good things are now.

  8. Marlen says:

    I Like you… You made me feel normal in this horrible ride they call midlife… Strangely and Sickly, after reading your comment of the Boston Bommb I long for an event in my life that will make me realize that this obsession with looks, and age is not what life is about. But until that happens, and I hope it isnt too dramatic, I will continue to read comments like yours and atleast know that I have not gone mad and Im not a terribly vain , insensitive human being. Good Luck

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