Thursday, January 6, 2011

Creative Crisis Step 1- Befriend Your Body

Photo from Dove Campaign for Real Beauty
In my quest to create a fulfilling midlife crisis for myself, (see below) one of the first things I want to deal with is my body. Things, as Dylan would say, they are a changin'.

Long ago, when I was on my high school Speech team, I did a reading from Ray Bradbury's story, Fever Dreams, about a kid diagnosed with Scarlet Fever who couldn't get anyone to believe his body was actually being taken over by alien microbes. Dude, I can relate.

I've been able to handle the cosmetic changes that come with middle age fairly well - the lines, the gray hair, the weight gain. But when I break into a drenching sweat in the middle of the night or can't make out the numbers on my alarm clock in the morning, I get this serious sense of disconnect. Hot flashes and cheaters don't fit with my vibrant, vixenish image of myself.

Since having a physical exam a few weeks ago, things have gotten worse. For the first time, I have conditions and they require managing. According to my doctor, I  better shape up, cut out the fat, increase the calcium, take supplements and stop drinking so much wine or I am going to die a lot sooner than I should - which seems radically unfair because I only realized last year that I was going to die at all.

Okay, so my body has some new stuff going on. We women are used to our bodies transforming, reacting and adapting - to the time of the month, to pregnancy, to our emotions. Is this stage of life really any different? Anyway, whatever shape my body is in, I need it! I have big plans for this year and I want to have the strength, energy, focus, and zest to carry them out. 

January seems to be the right time of year to focus on issues of the physical self, so that's what I'm going to write about this month. I'm going to investigate the changes that affect women's bodies after 40. My goal is to appreciate where I am, learn how to take good care myself, and ultimately, feel comfortable in my 47 year-old skin. 

Middle age is not an alien invasion - it's not even a decline. One part of our bodies, our brains, are still growing. In her book The Breaking Point, Sue Shellenbarger says "new discoveries in neuroscience support the behavioral evidence that growth and development can reignite in middle age."

Gals, my synapses are firing and my brain is sprouting dendrites like crazy. So check back soon because we are going to have some big ass fun exploring one of our biggest assets - our bods!

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