I am not a Millennial. I rarely take selfies, and when I do, I am ALWAYS unhappy with how I look.
My twenty-something daughters and nieces grew up in front of the camera in a way I did not. They can snap a gorgeous selfie and post it to their world in one quick click.
I never know the angles and the poses, so the current environment of self-love in social media just makes me anxious!
We are forced every day to view and compare ourselves physically to those around us, and this culture of obsession with our looks is a constant stress for me.
I turned fifty-one in April, and have gone completely insane trying every gadget on social media to turn back the clock. I wish I had taken more selfies when I was younger!
My picture here looks pretty good, because the light was diffused and you can’t see the wrinkles by my eyes, the acne scars on my chin, and the bangs cover my deep frown lines – but that’s exactly my point! That’s me, but not REALLY me.
So how to navigate this problem (at any age) of solving our beauty woes and not lose ourselves in a sea of chemicals, devices and treatments?
I’m going to just put it out there – I’m doing experiments on a million “cures” right now. I think it’s time to share the journey, along with any answers I find, and some honest reviews on some ridiculous hype I’ve tried along the way…
Read the Beauty Garden topic as I try to nurture and find “me” in a world of impossible beauty standards.
That sounds like a big promise. After all, how can just three things give me a better life?
But we have to start somewhere, and I get overwhelmed with the many “self-help” articles and podcasts I take in every day. There’s NO WAY to do all the things I want to do to make life better.
These three, however, make the top of the charts for me. Anything else is what we call in Louisiana, “Lagniappe,” or, a little something extra.
1. START THE DAY WITH GRATITUDE. Whatever we focus on expands. This is an absolute law of consciousness, and WILL NOT FAIL when practiced consistently.
This morning, for example, I skipped my usual half hour of journal time, spending that time hand writing four THANK YOU notes. Two were to clients, one was to someone who helped me through a real estate crisis last week, and one was to a new friend, who invited me to breakfast and shared some gardening secrets.
Sending actual thank-you notes in the mail is a lost art, and has huge impact these days on the receiver – and the sender. I picked some beautiful notes from my collection, put aside everything else, and wrote notes of sincere thanks, with detail, to each of these four people, and used my “wine country” stamps to mail them in their linen envelopes. This made me feel old-fashioned and thoughtful and kind. And it expanded my outlook for the day into creating new reasons to give thanks, based on my inbox.
Whether it’s taking time to write in a journal, a quick “gratitude walk” around the block, or a simple gesture like sending a “thank you” note… start every morning with a deep breath and a review of the wonderful things that have happened – and thank anyone who helped make good things possible. Without fail, when I do this, I am given more than I need throughout the day.
2. DON’T TRY TO MASTER THE DIET. JUST EAT ONE BETTER THING…
I’m drinking bone broth, doing smoothies for breakfast, trying to eat only organics, and taking collagen supplements right now – plus trying to remember all the beauty routines I’m supposed to be doing for clear skin, a tighter butt, better flexibility, and more energy. NO WAY am I ever going to make it through the whole regimen of self-imposed responsibilities for a healthier me. I have about twenty daily things I’m supposed to be trying!
So, rather than beat myself up about what I forgot to do consistently, or feeling ashamed of not taking any of it seriously enough… I’ve committed to start each morning with a banana smoothie, because I am dangerously low in potassium right now – and everything else will fall in place as I go through the day.
I don’t do any of it perfectly, and things fall by the wayside as quickly as I commit to them; but just by starting my day with my banana smoothie, I find it easier to drink the bone broth at lunch, then I feel like I’ve accomplished two important diet goals, and I just find myself eating a more sensible lunch – then I feel I can eat whatever I want for dinner. I’ve earned it.
It’s an imperfect system, but just ONE right choice leads to many others throughout the day. By the time I settle in for evening, I feel like I’ve stayed on track, I tend to exercise before bedtime more often, and then that leads to more mindful skin care, etc. It all starts with just one thing. Without that, it’s easy to fail all day.
3. MAKE TIME TO BE LAZY.
This is really hard for someone like me, who is always dissatisfied with something. It always seems I SHOULD be working harder at something, progressing on a project, seeking enlightenment, whatever…
But lately, I have been forcing myself to enjoy the “lazy moment.”
I actually set a timer for this. 30 minutes in the afternoon before I pick up my son from school. I don’t read. I don’t work. I don’t allow myself to think about what I haven’t done today.
I simply go outside and “chill” in my garden and drink juice or coffee. I close my eyes, listen to the noise of the city, force myself to be still and listen deeper, for the birds, conversations, the swaying of trees and the rustle of leaves. All the sounds of the country exist in the city, too, if I make myself be aware. Mindful.
Then I breath in and note the smells. I drink slowly and savor the taste of my drink. I try to name every color I can see without turning my head.
I just sit there. It’s very hard to do, but once my 30 minutes is up… I feel like I’m starting a brand new day, with plenty of energy, and I look forward to getting moving again.
This is real progress toward the more mindful life I long for. It’s all right here, I just have to notice it by forcing myself to be lazy.
I’ve decided there needs to be a framework from which I decide what’s a “good” self-improvement, and what is a “bad,” more damaging effort that’s a no-win situation.
Particularly in the arena of anti-aging, I see many things targeting our fears about aging and the ravages of time. Fear-based buying and endeavors are absolutely not winning situations for any of us, and I think I have to create a set of rules for my journey.
That said, I’m just jotting down some quick truths that I hope will guide me, and I hope to refine this thinking over the next few months.
Realistically, as much as I’d like to live a whole and spiritual life in which I don’t care about how I look or how time passes me by… I’m just too vain and human to allow that kind of wisdom to prevail.
I know very good and well that my “wellness” efforts have ulterior motives. I want to look better, feel better, remain young and fit as much as I can. So… how to get the ego under control and let reason rule my decisions?
Here are my instinctive thoughts on protecting myself from things that will fail and disappoint me:
I must evaluate each new purchase or effort with a simple question, “Is this ego-driven, or spirit-driven?” I won’t always choose things that are spirit-driven, but at least I’ll be facing the truth about why I want to try it.
I must ask myself, “If this works, what will the reward be?”
Also, “If this fails, what will the consequence be?”
Is my desire to “correct” this beauty or health flaw driven by ego or love for myself?
That’s just a really quick assessment of some things I have failed to ask myself in the past, and a resolution I’m making today to avoid a never-ending cycle of trying diet yo-yo situations, snake oil beauty remedies, and quick-fix products for physical wellness.
Doing the work should nourish the soul and always represent progress, not an unattainable goal that will lead to disappointment and a sense of failure.
If you ever once click on a beauty product in Facebook and order something… you’re on the list. Your feed will forever be filled with more, more and more things you NEED to buy to look better.
It doesn’t end.
Just when you think you’ve mastered cellulite, then it’s protein supplements, then charcoal teeth whitener. Anything you can be self-conscious about – there’s an answer, right there on Facebook.
The spam email starts coming. The “suggested” websites start appearing.
They know! They know every insecurity, every line on your face, every pimple, every squat you haven’t done…
As if social media weren’t unhealthy for our spirits already, the added blow of targeted advertising has smashed us right between the eyes.
And I confess… I have bought at least nine things from Facebook over the last year that have really added up. And I can only think of three that have really kept their promises and made me feel healthier and better about my aging process.
Let’s be careful.
Before we click our way through another promise of a better life, let’s take a moment and gain some skills for deciphering which things we are using for health and beauty, and which things are propping up our need for greater satisfaction in our lives.
This is my own journey, as well as yours. I am a victim of my ego, and I think it’s important to think about why we are never happy with our physical selves, even as we work to connect to our spirits.
I am taking a “time out” right now. I have literally filled our guest bathroom with things I’m hoping will solve insecurities; and it’s time to evaluate WHY I’m doing each thing, before I go any further.
I’m going to start small, and I’ll share each product as I gain more experience with them, and others… I need to gift away and turn inward, working on the root cause of too much “info” on the news feed.