Saturday, July 05, 2014

When I Become Unrecognizable

Disclaimer: This post will quite possibly read as self-centered and shallow. I know we all have problems, and I'm not writing about big ones here, but they matter to me. Feel free to skip it, but it's what I'm thinking about.

It's inevitable as we age for our appearance to change.

I am mentally aware of this fact. Seeing it unfold before my eyes and become viscerally real is sometimes a challenge.

This past week, I was at the Young Women Camp my church holds each year. I come most years, just to help out in any way I can. Over the last 20 years or so, I've been there in many capacities, from being totally in charge of the whole thing to being an assistant in the kitchen. It doesn't matter where you serve in God's kingdom, just that you're willing, and camp is a great place to be reminded of that.

It's also a great place to be reminded that one is nearing 50 years old. That amazes me. While I'm still very, very healthy, I can tell things are changing, and at a suddenly accelerated pace. Never before at camp have I had so many aching body parts, wished so earnestly for an air mattress (I usually sleep just fine on the ground), and actually found myself unrecognizable in the photos. As in, "Wait, is that ME? With that, that neck thing going on??" Ah the changes time will make.  I read a book about that once (Nora Ephron's delightful book I Feel Bad About My Neck) but never thought it would be about me. Now my neck is showing my age. Darn.

As if my belly wasn't already on the job. That's the other thing about the photos. I've gained a lot of weight in the last year, thus my body shape and the way I move are so foreign to me when I do become aware of them that it's difficult to take in.

I promise this is not a midlife crisis (though I do have a longboard in my amazon cart, does that count?) or a whine (in spite of the neck comments) but it is a moment of pause. I love being at camp. I always pray and hope that I'll be asked back once again, and even though every year I think the planners really do try to leave me out in order to give me a break, a space always seems to open up for me. I'd miss it terribly if it didn't. I mean, look at this morning light! And these girls! Their radiance helps keep me alive. It fills me with light to get through another year.

Next year though, I need to be more ready. Ready to hike and carry a pack for 24 hours and sleep in the woods and be stronger.

Ready to not make my body carry around too much stress and pain and worry. It's time to let these things go.

It's good to have reminders. I want to see myself in photos. Even an aging, maturing self. I'm not looking for my 20-year old self, just someone not so burdened by life that the aging happens too quickly. I figure I've got at least another 45 years to hang around, so I need to be ready for the long haul.

I know this is cliche. That so many get to "a certain age" and have the Holy Cow! epiphany of wondering who is looking back in the mirror. For me it's not the mirror. It's photos. The mirror is kind, perhaps too kind, with only daily, incremental changes showing up. I feel okay when I look in the mirror. The photos show leaps and lurches from my perception to reality, and they never fail to alarm me.

I also promise that I'm not particularly vain. I'm just me. I still have my twinkly eyes and my nice smile, and that's good. I also have great hair. For which I'm grateful. So all is well.

I'd just like to keep it that way. I want to be doing this for a lot more years.

sneaky photo by my co-leader, Lisa. 


  1. Thank you for sharing this post. It is nice to hear my same struggle put out there in a voice that is not my own. It is one of those struggles that I don't voice, because I really try not to emphasize it, but, yet there is always that internal debate on how much of my time/money I should invest to try and change the inevitable. In the end, I see the beautiful old ladies in the temple whose wrinkles and bodies tell a story of love and life, and I don't mind the idea of looking that way ONE DAY. Between then and now, I want to eat healthier, exercise more, and let the chips fall where they may. Until I see pictures of me...and the internal debate starts all over again.

  2. Women go through the same changes and each of us have the challenge of facing that moment when we look at ourselves and say Wait! That can't be me! I don't feel THAT old! What makes it easier to accept is letting go of that urge to keep on looking young and choosing instead to do those things that keep us feeling timeless... until you sprain something or sleep on the ground!

    Thank-you Kellie.

  3. I love when you post your epiphanies like this :) It is kind of tough realizing that our bodies are starting to give up on us. For all that we can do to keep it active, it still insists on slowing down. Love you just the way you are :::hugs:::


Thank you for sharing your insights!