Young At Heart

OWIWQyT%TPavPa0fLOvV7QThere’s nothing quite like a little get away to restore the soul, and my recent one did just that.  It was wonderful to escape the cold of Winter for a little while, and to have the chance to walk along a warm beach and enjoy colorful flowers in the middle of January.  The stresses of the past few months melted away a little more with each passing day, and best of all, the cold that I’d been fighting off and on since November finally went away.

But all good things must come to an end, and my vacation was no exception.  And since all the undone chores that were hanging over my head before I left were patiently waiting for me when I returned, I made a new “to do” list and started ticking them off, one by one.  Things were going along rather well until I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for my new “Real ID” driver’s license.

I’d found a list of all the necessary documents online, but the wording was confusing.  All I could tell for sure was that laminating my social security card had been a huge mistake, and that it was going to take a whole lot of paperwork for me to prove to the state of Missouri that I was indeed who I claimed to be.  So I gathered all the documents I could find and trotted off to the DMV.

It turned out that I did have all the required  paperwork, and everything was great until the woman behind the counter took my photo for my new license and made the mistake of showing it to me.  “This okay?” she asked, raising her eyebrows skeptically as she held it up.  I can’t tell you how much I regretted not asking for a retake, but I was too stunned to answer.  The photo not only looked like a mug shot, it looked like a mug shot taken of a very old woman whose criminal past and misspent life has finally caught up with her.

I’m not a vain person.  Even in the bloom of youth, I was solidly “average” in the looks department.  So my problem wasn’t that the photo made me look decidedly unattractive. The problem was that the photo didn’t even remotely match the image of myself that I carry around in my head.   And it wasn’t just because I’d rushed off that morning without bothering to apply make up or fix my hair.  The photo showed a woman who looked much older than I than I secretly, but sincerely, believe myself to be.

I know that our looks change as we age, but I’m still surprised when I look in a mirror and see a face with droopy eyes and sagging chins looking back.  I struggle sometimes to identify with the “old” person I have become in the physical sense.  (It’s probably the reason why so many people choose to get a face-lift:  they just want to keep on looking like themselves.)

Personally, I think the time has come when I need to accept that my physical appearance has changed and is going to keep on changing.  (And not for the better.)  But that doesn’t mean I have to think of myself as an old person, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I have to behave like one.  Yes, my body is aging and it shows.  But in my heart, I’m still the same person I’ve always been, and I have no intention of giving up that particular identity any time soon….

111 thoughts on “Young At Heart

  1. Yep. I know that feeling. When I was a just out of college kid, my grandmother lamented to me that she felt that she was 16 in her head but her body was much older and sometimes she didn’t recognize herself. I didn’t understand at the time but now I do! Although I too want to look good I’ve decided that good doesn’t mean young! Three cheers for maturity!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes, I think this is something that you have to experience before you understand it. But I agree with you, looking good doesn’t necessarily mean looking young. We just need to make the adjustment and accept ourselves as we are now!

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  2. I hear you, Ann! on both your angst having to get “official” things done, as well as growing into our new bodies.

    Like you, I would like to believe that I am not a particularly vain person – but I have frighted myself more times than I’d care to admit, by passing myself in a reflective surface, or looking at photographs shot without the opportunity to school my face into something familiar.

    It is a common enough tale, I suppose, those of us who chose to age naturally rather than fight it. But I suppose a little startle every now and then won’t do us much harm?

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    • No I think those startles are just normal! We do imagine ourselves as we used to be, no matter how hard we try not to. So the mirror is always going to surprise us a little. Still, I’m with you on aging naturally. It’s the way I chose to deal too!

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      • I think the decision came quite easily – constantly checking my roots to see if they had to be re-done wasn’t the way I wanted to spend my time …. and plus, I wasn’t invested or diligent enough to get it done when they needed to be done.

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  3. Yes I totally relate to this post, understand it, and have had the exact same experience with a recent drivers license photo and with the mirror. I look at myself without recognition and then remind myself of how fortunate I am to be aging, as so many don’t get to have this experience. Im not particularly vain either but the sagging skin gets to me… the sheer weight of gravity, haha. If I weren’t so scared of surgery and had the bucks I would probably be tempted to go for a lift. But heck I won’t even consider botox ~ way too scared of a mess up job and not keen on things being injected into my skin. We have no choice but to accept our new looks, our aging skin and enjoy life to the full as if we were still whatever age we feel inside!

    Peta

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    • I know! The “fixes” scare me too, more than the sags and wrinkles. I don’t like surgery that isn’t absolutely necessary, and botox doesn’t seem worth the risk. So I guess the answer is to just accept the way we look on the outside, and to keep our youth on the inside.
      Thanks for the comment, Peta!

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    • I have a “thing” about the idea of cosmetic surgery. First, the majority of people I know (or see) who have had face lifts or some kind of “help” don’t look like themselves. They look like a doll with skin pushed back. They can’t smile or lift their eyes to highlight joy. They look …. kind of fake. The other ‘thing’ I have about the idea of cosmetic surgery is that I’d rather our society/culture envy those of us who have aged and are enjoying life and the added wisdom/knowledge that comes with it. I’m still hoping that a woman over the age of 60 can be seen as beautiful, with all of her sunshine/laugh lines, graying streaks, and full-throated laughter. ❤ I going to add here that all of the women I've "met' through blogging are so beautiful to me. xo

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      • I agree! The problem with plastic surgery (in addition to the risk of any kind of surgery) is that it usually looks like plastic surgery. It doesn’t often just make someone look like themselves, only younger. And I do wish that we could see the beauty in older women. When only the young are considered beautiful, it’s no wonder women have a hard time accepting their aging looks! At the very least, it would be nice to remember that true beauty comes from within….Thanks, especially, for that last sentence. That’s been my experience as well!

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  4. It’s why I don’t take ‘selfies’ anymore, and always check other pictures people take of me before they get posted to social media…I have a difficult time accepting the fact that I look more and more like an old man. But, like you (and as my latest post brings up), I refuse to ACT like an old man. To hell with that!

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    • That is a mystery, isn’t it? Why does our skin have to thin and sag as we get older? Meanwhile, we just have to try not get too upset when we begin to resemble our parents…in my case, I got my Dad’s neck. Lucky me! LOL!

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    • I honestly don’t understand why the photo on our licenses, which is supposed to show what we actually look like, aren’t a bit more accurate. Because we’re not really all serial killers! But yeah, we can certainly keep right on acting as young as we feel, and I fully intend to do that.

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  5. Oh, Ann, of course you’re the same person, young at heart always! But I know what you mean. I had a photo taken a few years ago for my Working with Children Card and I swear I looked like a criminal! 😎

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  6. Know what you mean.Its hard to see what we dont feel. I still feel like I did twenty years ago. But the fantastic thing is we can all grow older together. Maybe its the DMV…we all look like criminals perhaps its a built in filter on their camera 😊

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    • I kind of think they do have one of those filters! Because even when I was young, I always looked like a criminal in the photo on my license. But hey, aging isn’t the worst thing that can happen to us, and as you say, we have plenty of company. It’s just so odd to look so different from how we feel, but I guess that’s something that we all go through if we’re lucky enough to reach our senior years!

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  7. Growing up, I always thought I would get to a point where I would “feel” grown up, and I’ve come to the realization it’s never going to happen. I am always going to feel like that girl. It’s a shame we can’t completely project outwardly what we feel inside! But I imagine we do more than we know, we probably appear completely different to others than we do to ourselves in the mirror.

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    • Me too! That’s the most surprising thing about aging, that although we do become wiser and more comfortable with ourselves, we really don’t even feel completely grown up. And yet we look all grown up (and then some, in my case). The difference between how we look and how we feel can take some getting used to!

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  8. You think the DMV photo is bad, then wait until you travel and are shocked to “see” the BIOMectric camera they use for boarding the plane now. OMG! Shocking can’t even explain the image I saw in the screen and I would have complained to the airline personal but the person behind me pushed me towards the door. Maybe I looked like I needed to be pushed as I was in such a state of shock!
    I think we should always be able to show the picture in our head and not the actual one to those DMV and airline cameras!

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    • I haven’t had that experience with the airlines yet, but I’m not looking forward to it! That’s why I’m not a fan of facetime either….I don’t need to see what I look like when I’m talking to another person, and frankly find it distracting. I love your idea of how we should be able to show the picture in our head instead of those horrible ones we get!

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  9. I have been in that same train of thought lately! I have quit wearing any make up at all! I never have worn much, but still this is a big deal and most especially at my age, Next, I am going gray- O well-I too get shocked at photos. Your description was funny, but I do get it!! The last few years everything has showed up! Sp . . my friend you have company on this venture! haha! love Michele

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  10. This seems to be part of the new winter bucket list…scrutinizing ourselves for aging. I’ve been writing around this bush, probably because my friends are all sort of obsessed with the topic. We can’t help but compare ourselves to our youth….

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  11. I think most (if not all) of us “seniors” can relate to the adjustments to our outward appearance but, as you note, it is still “us” inside. That does not have to change. The people I feel really sorry for though, are those whose life it is to feature in movies. I cannot imagine being confronted with not only a much younger Colin … but one is clearly about 20 years old and moving around on-screen as such. I can handle still photos of me, and even the brief home movie. I can accommodate my reflection in a mirror, but I cannot imagine sitting through a 3 hour movie of me from years past! 🙂

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    • That’s a good point, Colin! And probably explains why so many of the people who go overboard on plastic surgery, injections, etc., are actors and others who live high profile lives. The rest of us get to age somewhat privately, while they are constantly confronted with how they looked when they were young. And probably have lots of fans who also expect them to keep their youthful looks!

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      • The thing is though … all the money that can be spent on the latest medical advances to improve our outward appearance is really for what? We can admire the botox job (e.g.) in the bathroom mirror, but we know how old we are, so who are we trying to fool? Does a face free of wrinkles prevent stairs from becoming more of a challenge? Does it improve ones memory suddenly? Does it make one go to the bathroom less often?
        I am 73 and ran a sub 3 hour marathon many years ago. No amount of cosmetic surgery is going to prevent my 73 year old bones and muscles from reminding me of my age. Of course I can look back and mourn the loss of my youth, but I can also choose to look forward and celebrate my hoped for future. Would I rather live as a youth with minimal experience of our world, or live now with all that I have learned over the 73 years? To me it’s a no brainer! I choose to celebrate my age. I know exactly how old I am, and refuse to try and hide it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Aging is a normal, healthy part of life. It’s become fashionable to look younger and dare I say…..’less normal’,therefore we tend to be more critical if our natural selves.
    Such a shame! You wear ‘life’ on your face, it’s a badge of honour, and you…..no doubt……look better and more attractive than if you’d have unnecessary surgery or chemicals. ( unless you’ve been disfigured).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, aging is a gift that not everyone gets. And I agree that the current trend toward trying to look younger than we are is not a healthy one. For me, the hard part to accept is just the fact that I don’t think I really look like “me” anymore, but I have to remember that this new fact IS me now. And as you say, it can be a badge of honor, too. Thanks for the comment!

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  13. Very sound advice, though I’m not having as much trouble accepting my aging face as I am my aging body. I used to bathe my mom when she was in her 90s and I now see how my skin, fat deposits, and muscles are on their way to resembling her. Perhaps I should get rid of all mirrors in the bathroom that show more than my face.

    >

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    • I think we all have the little things about aging that bother us. I’m not a fan of the wrinkled skin on my arms either, for the same reason….reminds me of my mother as a senior citizen!

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  14. I can sooooooooooooooooo relate! I thought it was only me. I am so shocked when I look in the mirror and especially at photos. I can’t believe how much aging has changed my looks. I, too (or at least as you say of yourself!), have never been a beauty queen – solid average – but sheesh – this aging thing. I am trying VERY hard to appreciate all the spots, wrinkles and sags and embrace it. I really am! So so tempting to consider getting some botox or other things – but I really want to just appreciate the process. DAILY CHALLENGE! I try to say it to myself and others to enforce that we are enough just as we are – not only enough – but BEAUTIFUL in our own aging way! Let’s try to embrace all the wonderful smiles and laughs that have created those lines around our eyes and mouth – and the joys of grandparenthood that are like no other that come with aging. Again – self talk as much as pep talk for you! Sending hugs to BEAUTIFUL YOU!

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    • It’s not just you, Jodi! I try hard to accept this aging process too, but then I see a photo of myself and am shocked at how I look (and I’m not just talking about the DMV mugshots). But you’re right! The best way is to embrace our new selves and realize that we are beautiful in our own way. I’ve always thought that beauty has more to do with a beautiful personality than physical appearance anyway, so pursuing that kind of beauty makes much more sense. And in the end, that’s what makes us happy, too! Hugs to BEAUTIFUL YOU, too, Jodi! And trust me, you are beautiful in every possible way!!!

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  15. Wow…did this hit home. I’m right there with ‘ya. I really do FEEL so differently than I LOOK. I’m trying to decide if I want to quit the haircolor, but can’t bring myself to do it yet. I’m careful to dress my age without looking TOO old, but I have to admit, these “patio dresses” (or what my mom called mumus) sure are comfy! I guess we’ll eventually grow into our (saggy) skin? 😉

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    • I think we do grow into accepting out age gradually. For me, having a grandchild helped, because that’s one of the fun parts about aging! But it also helps to remember the personal and emotional growth that comes as we grow older. Still, it is hard to look in the mirror and see an “old” face and realize that it’s ours. As for dying your hair, I think that’s a personal decision that each of us gets to make for ourselves. I still dye my hair, and probably will for a while longer. I won’t ever have a facelift, but I have two good friends who have done that, and that’s a perfectly acceptable choice too!

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    • They really do! Plus, there are dangers in injecting stuff into our faces that I’m not willing to risk. I admit, if they ever come up with a cream that we can safely put on our face that really does get rid of the sags, I’m sure I’d use it. Meanwhile, I stay young on the inside, where it counts the most.

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  16. My mother is eight-five years old. In April, she will be eighty-six. Long before summer comes, she starts talking about how she needs to get some sun before bathing-suit weather. Sometimes, when we go shopping together, she will pick out a dress to try on that she might have worn fifty years ago. She always says, on the ‘inside’ she feels like that young girl she once was. Oddly, I often forget how old she really is; I have to remind myself of her age. She does complain, don’t get me wrong…aches and pains and all that. Still, she goes along season to season doing what she always did; hair appointments are a must, going to the gym, watching her weight… I have learned something from her about this aging process. The warm summer months will come, regardless of our age. Take the best care of yourself that you can…eat right, exercise, rest when you must. Never miss out on a sunshiny day at the beach. Treat yourself to a new bathing suit now and then. The most important thing we will ever wear is a smile…:) And whatever the season, there is always something to celebrate!

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    • I do think that a big part of aging gracefully is simply accepting it and living our life as fully as we can. One of the other volunteers at the animal shelter is 74, and she comes in three times a week and walks at least ten to fifteen dogs every time she comes in. She may have grey hair, but trust me, it is impossible to think of her as old! I think your mother has the right idea, and is a good example for the rest of us. And I agree that each season of our life brings gifts that we need to appreciate. Have you ever read the blog, whitehairgrace.com? It’s very good, and does a terrific job of talking about the challenges, but mostly the gifts, of aging!

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      • I absolutely love her blog!!!:) She inspires me to no end!!! We learn so much from one another as we age. It is new territory, a brave new world. I believe it is a gift beyond measure…a place where you can look back to where you have been, a place to dream new dreams with a lot more experience and wisdom. Age is a great teacher and there are lessons that can enrich these sometimes bittersweet moments. But then, if we are honest, every age has had bittersweet moments. When we look back, we must look at the whole picture. Our society glorifies youth; youth has its own challenges. If we remember that, it makes this brave new world of getting ‘older’ easier to navigate…and more fun!

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        • That is so true! Honestly, I would like to have my young body back, but that’s it. If I had to go back in time with what I understood then, and how I felt then, I wouldn’t want to do it. Age does bring wisdom, and acceptance, and I wouldn’t trade that for unlined skin..

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          • Every age we live offers us something. We must be open to the gifts, which are different from the ones that came before. We cannot open the exact same gifts we once unwrapped, but we can be open to the gifts presented to us today. In this way, we will not miss out on the present; we will enjoy this season as we did every other season.

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  17. I wanted there to be a ‘love’ button to click instead of the ‘like’ button. i so get this. the picture I have in my head never lines up with what I see on the screen. Even the me in the mirror looks better but I think that’s because I simply see what I want to see. This year I am trying (hard) to accept that this is me. I’m sick of working so hard at compensating for what nature and time are doing. I always enjoy your thoughts that seem to put words to many of mine!

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    • Thanks so much, Cara! I think so many of us deal with this issue…it’s not really a vanity thing, it’s the fact that we no longer look the way we are used to looking. And wonder how in the world that happened? As for the difference between the mirror and the photo, I agree: when I look in the mirror, I tend to look more at my eyes rather than the entire face. So photos are even more of a shock!

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    • Yep! I don’t have the nerve for a facelift, but I do understand why others get them. It’s no fun watching our bodies change into something we no longer recognize. The good thing is, we can control our attitude, and as long as we think and act as young as we wish, then that’s the most important thing.

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  18. I know what you mean. I look in the mirror and I don’t see who I think I am, but I’m not vain enough to do much about regaining my youthful looks so I remain this kind of stranger to myself. But inside… I’m as young as ever. Good topic here.

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    • Thanks, Ally! I think the disconnect between how we look and how we feel is one of the challenges of aging that we didn’t see coming (even though our parents tried to warn us about it, but it seems to be something you have to experience to understand.)

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    • That is a very good perspective, Jill! And yes, I think when we have health issues, it puts our concerns about our looks on the back burner, very quickly. Just being alive and healthy is a gift, no matter how many wrinkles come with it!

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  19. Glad you had a good vacation, but sorry you are feeling discombobulated about your current appearance! I can cope with mirrors but find looking at myself frozen in a photograph to be less comfortable. Still, as others have said, the alternative to ageing is not great so I’m happy to take it. And I don’t care enough about it to spend a lot of time and money trying to fix things. Life’s too short!

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  20. When my 50-yr old face appeared in a local paper along with other (all but one were younger) nursing assistant grads, my first thought was, “Dear God, I look like a retired hooker!” Not a good look on anyone, but at 50, I didn’t care about it for long. (50, however, was so long ago!) I do struggle with the whole aging thing, now, but not to the point where I would do some procedure that might leave me seeming inauthentic to those who love me. It’s the greatest gift we and we alone can give: self.

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  21. Hi Ann – you put this very well. I still feel the same as I did in my twenties and thirties, but I know I look older. Sometimes it’s hard to accept, but all we can do is take good care of ourselves! By the way, getting the Real ID is on my list. Have to get another birth certificate because mine is missing! Hope my picture is good but you never know :0

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  22. Your post prompted me to look at my drivers license (I just got my new Real ID last year). That picture isn’t too bad – it was taken far enough away not to reveal every wrinkle… and I may have been wearing make-up that day. BUT, my passport photo is a completely different story. It is truly awful. For some reason, I didn’t fix my hair or put on make-up before I had the picture taken. I keep hoping that someone looking at my passport will question me because it looks nothing like me… but they don’t. I guess it looks more like me than I am willing to admit 😦

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  23. Good for you, Ann–stick to your guns. You will always be you. As someone who has a faith life, I take great comfort in knowing that God knows “the real me.” And I’ve been trying to acclimate myself to the idea that my outside will age–a lot. I look at women in their eighties and think, “She never really thought she’d look like this, either, and she’s coping. She even looks happy.”

    So I’m trying to look at it as joining a sisterhood. My grandmother did this, as well as all the great-grans in a long chain going back in time. I can face what they’ve faced and learn to do it with a measure of grace. It helps me some to think of it as being honored to join their ranks. : )

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    • I like the idea of reaching “a certain age” as joining a sisterhood! Because you’re right, so many women have done it before us, and faced the exact same issues, and so many women are doing it right now. That’s encouraging, and it reminds us to live our best lives possible, no matter what our age. And it does help to know that we are the same on the inside, and that God does know who we really are…even when we forget now and then!

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  24. Your post reminded me to add one more item to my ToDo list Ann. I have been putting off the Real Id visit to DMV. I dread that visit.
    Don’t even remind me of the pictures taken for these cards. I look at them and wonder who it is. That even makes me think some of the pictures of criminals that get flashed on TV could be the ones taken from these cards and they need not actually look like that.

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    • As long as you do your research on what paperwork is needed, getting the Real ID isn’t that bad…except for the photo part. That really is bad! But you’re right, it’s much worse than we actually look. I’ll those mug shots they show don’t really look like the criminals either. That’s a good point!

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  25. I definitely relate. I don’t feel like I am a middle aged woman. We don’t have control of how the outside of our body is aging but luckily we do have control of how we stay young and alive on the inside. I know some enthusiastic and very alive 80 and 90 year olds. They are my role models.
    Take care Ann.

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    • Yes, those women make excellent role models. One of the other volunteers at the animal shelter is in her mid-seventies, and she walks shelter dogs (even the big, strong, ones) three days a week. That gives me hope that I can continue to do what I love for many years to come. And it also helps to remember that staying young “on the inside” is what matters the most!

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  26. Unfortunately, my like button isn’t working (I’m away on my break) but if it did, I’d be liking everyone’s comments. You certainly hit our buttons with this post, Ann. Oh boy, can I relate. We don’t have a lot of mirrors at our home, but here on vacation I keep “running into” one and think, “oh my…who’s THAT?” 🙂 But then I remind myself, hey, I’m active, I’m happy, I’m breathing and yoga-ing and meditating, and my insides are actually better than who I was in my 20s and 30s…and 40s. I know myself more. I feel love even more, and I appreciate every day even more. So…. perhaps I’ll just do better to avoid mirrors. 🙂 (P.S. I got my Real ID two months ago. The guy who took my picture there – we were able to get it done at our local AAA place – did a great job – best photo of me in a while! So funny and unexpected. I should ask him to take our family photos – haha). xo

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    • You should frame that photo! Honestly, I think you’re the first person I’ve heard from who had a good photo taken for their driver’s license, so I think that’s something to be proud of. And yeah, the problem with mirrors is that we don’t recognize ourselves in them anymore. It’s good that we feel young, and I really appreciate that, but the problem is how I feel doesn’t sync with what I see when I look in a mirror. I think I’ll follow you’re lead and simply avoid them as much as possible…..

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      • 🙂 Best course of action. Unless we take those mirrors off the wall entirely. I always laugh when my guy says, “jeez, everyone here (at restaurant/bar/event) is old” and I reply, “Dear, they’re all younger than you are!”

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  27. I’m very sorrow that you’ve struggled with a nagging cold and happy you had a time to restore your health and your soul. I love “chores patiently waiting.” I adore lists and don’t think I could function without them. I detest photos of myself now-a-days (especially of the passport / ID version). I’m of the opinion those who take those photos go to a “How to take a dreadful photo” school. I have my own version of myself and avoid mirrors whenever possible. Since making the decision to stop dying my hair, and letting the gray win, I startle whenever I look at my reflection. And did those wrinkles sprout overnight? But, I’m with you … “In my heart, I’m still the same person I’ve always been, and I have no intention of giving up that particular identity any time soon.”

    I’m sorry for not visiting the last little while. I’ve been traveling, off and on over a month, with a few precious trips thrown in with just my daughter. It’s been wonderful to have her visit. She leaves next week to start a new chapter in her life. I’ll be sad, but excited for her at the same time. Love reading your posts!! You make everyday events relatable and entertaining. I groan, smile, frown, and laugh. Most importantly, I feel encouraged.

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  28. Thank you for your kind words! And please don’t apologize for not visiting my blog for a while…I completely understand. Real life comes first, and the blogging world is always here when you have time for it. Thanks for being such a good blogging friend!

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  29. Ann, I know exactly what you mean! It’s not so much the face in the mirror I have issues with (although there are decidedly more wrinkles and age spots) but more the Me in photographs that makes me gasp! I always look so much older than I feel on the inside. I am going to take your advice and start reconciling myself to the fact that this is how I look now but will not let it determine how I feel or act. Great post!

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  30. I hate to begin with this phrase, but my grandmother says the same thing. She’s 93 and is stunned when she looks in the mirror. I suppose there’s a level of acceptance that comes every year with age?

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    • I think there really is a time when we accept our age, at least I hope so! At this point, I do look much older than I feel, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand that I am older. I just don’t always like it… Thanks for the comment!

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