Ever since Eve took that first bite of the apple, the human race has been obessed with beauty.
The truth is we begin the aging process just as soon as we pop out of the womb. Every day of our lives our bodies slough off and regenerate new cells. The speed at which that process takes place when we are children is vastly different as we get older.
Every day you are bombarded daily with commercial messages and beauty tips that attempt to lure you into believing that the most recent miracle drug is just what you need to fight off the ravages of Mother Nature.
We are living longer as a whole. Singularly, that can be a curse or a blessing, depending on your perspective.
The best route to natural beauty and healthy skin is to take care of what you have. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The truth is that your skin takes a beating from the environment every single day. Here are some of our favorite beauty tips for keeping your skin fresh and healthy:
1: Stay hydrated and do it with plenty of water! That does not mean soda, caffeine or any other type of liquid, even if it is low cal. Soda (even diet soda) has a high concentration of sodium. Sodium retains fluids. You need fluid that will hydrate and flush your body free of toxins. Make sure you are drinking at least 8 glasses a day!
2: Protect your skin from harmful ultra violet (UV) rays. We all love the sun. We love being in it and we love having a beautiful tan. The truth is you can poison yourself with too much sunshine. UV rays cause skin cancer and if that isn’t bad enough it causes your skin to age faster than it should, contributing to unsightly wrinkles. If you must play in the sun, make certain you are using an adequate sun screen. Don’t leave home without it!
3: Keep your skin clean. Use a soft warm cloth. Skin does not require scrubbing. You will do more harm than good if you do.
4: The best cure for wrinkles is to never have them in the first place! If you are like most of us, you didn’t listen to your Mom when she tried to tell you to stay in the shade, stand up straight and stop squinting!
5: Eat healthy. Knowing how and what to eat, can make a huge difference in how you feel. Improper eating habits can cause depression, weight gain, illness and an overall lethargy. Weight gain causes your skin to stretch. As you get older, it loses it’s elasticity and you’re left with sagging skin. The best solution to this is to maintain a proper weight.
A rule of thumb for eating habits are…don’t eat more calories than you consume. Don’t go one single day without doing something extra and physical for at least 30 minutes per day. This can be three ten minute walks. Or 30 minutes of vigorous aerobics, or 12 minutes of weight lifting and 18 minutes of walking.
6: Don’t worry, be happy. A happy outlook appears to trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins relax the cardiovascular system and cytokines which alert the immune system to pay attention in detecting abnormalities like cancer cells. Listen carefully to yourself. If you have put yourself down since childhood, over a lifetime, negative subliminal messages can take their toll by turning you into a pessimist. Spend one week writing down the phrases you use in your “self talk.” Chances are you will find that you repeat a dozen or so phrases over and over again that reinforce that negative image. If you know about them, you can change them. Outer beauty and inner joy go hand in hand.
Here are a few quick tips for increasing joy, hope and optimism that will work no matter what your age:
Make a list of at least 50 great things that happen to you every day.
Laugh a lot. You’ll heal your body and your mind.
Discover a new challenge each month.
Try meditating for just five minutes each day.
7: Sex After 50 – Ha! How many of you jumped ahead to this section?
The importance of physical intimacy actually depends on the couple. An alarming number of men used to give up on sex after 60 and many women used to feel that their sex life ended with menopause. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.
Sex at middle age can actually become better and more satisfying than ever before. Maturity gives a couple more experience in lovemaking. The children are usually grown and left home. The pressures of building a career and day to day life are usually less stressful than in younger years.
The answer is yes and no. It’s a paradox, isn’t it? True beauty begins from the inside out. Don’t you wish there was some way to “wriggle your nose” and regain that soft skin you had as a child? Well, until someone comes up with the true “Fountain of Youth” we are stuck with what we have.
Just remember that getting older doesn’t have to mean getting old.
Beauty And Perception
When it comes to perceiving a woman’s beauty, the range of possibility is enormous. I have been lucky in this lifetime to have known several men who love all kinds of women—all types, body shapes, sizes, colors, races. Blonde, brunette, redhead. Short and round or tall and rectangular. It’s all good. Sadly, I have known far more who have such a narrow window for what is lovely that most women can’t even get an “acceptable” rating. They may be liked well enough as people, but they would need to change, sometimes drastically, to be perceived of as a beautiful woman.
One particular year, inspired by the men I knew who loved all women, I set myself on a course to learn more about this kind of openness.
In the several years between my two marriages, I dated a lot. A lot. I love men, and while I had my standards, they were not so high that I sat alone most Saturday nights. Even so, this one year, I really challenged myself. I decided that, for twelve months, I would not turn a man away because he was not good looking enough (nor because he was not as financially secure as I would have liked, since that is a more subtle but very real social attractor factor to most women). I wasn’t going to force myself to into a relationship that had no merit, of course. But if there was a draw of some kind, the looks and money “magnets” that I had been culturally trained to gravitate towards were not going to be mandatory. In short, I made myself push past my knee-jerk criteria for courtship and experience whatever came.
It was a good year. I made some good love and some good friends. As I had hoped, I learned that a perception of beauty was not required for love or intimacy. Neither was sex, for that matter. But there was more. I also learned that once I got past the standard issue version of physical beauty I had been trained to see, I saw new levels of beauty I never imagined.
Beauty as A Whole Body Experience
When it comes to true beauty, the single greatest challenge I can think of is to actually see it, even when it hits you upside the head. We are so culturally indoctrinated into accepting common standards of what is beautiful, and what is not, that finding our own true perception of, and response to, a person or object of beauty is a fantastic feat.
Notice in the last paragraph that I wrote “to actually see it.” You probably didn’t pick up on that limiting language, because most of us don’t. We have been trained to think of beauty in terms of the visual. Yet what about the beauty that wafts through our sense of smell, trails the beloved through the fingertip touch, greets us in a bird’s chirp, or tastes like down-home goodness? Are these not aspects of beauty? Must we see beauty as a movie with no sound—not to mention no color, no popcorn, no friend laughing with us, touching arms as we huddle in the darkened theatre?
We have been so bombarded with stimuli to the visual senses, we seem to have atrophied in all the others experiences that beauty brings us. Yet when we stunt the visual (which is what I did when I decided to date men that in my visual perception were physically unattractive), other senses come alive. It is not unlike the blind who develop a heightened sense of hearing.
In that year, beautiful men who were physically unattractive (to me) taught me about this. I learned that you can close your eyes as the tongue is awakened with tiny bits of dozens of different foods, in order to reawaken the sense of taste. I learned that you can close your eyes as the nose is awakened with the scent of roses, oranges, and evergreen needles. You can also close your eyes as the body is stimulated with feathers, fabrics, and fingers. So much so, you feel your skin, your arms, even your toes, as if you have never really felt them before. I learned you can close your eyes and awaken to the voice of the violin, then the cello, then the bass, finding them within the symphony as it plucks at your heartstrings and begs the blood in your veins to come along for the ride. Maybe best of all, I learned that you can close your eyes and awaken to the still small voice that speaks of what is true, what is not true, and what can’t yet be known.
If we must judge our experiences of beauty, we can at least learn to judge them on a full-sensory basis. Dating men I found unattractive physically, I discovered that is not all that I found attractive. I found I liked the smell of one man so much, I would anticipate his scent all day before a date. I came to love the skin of another, not because he was a muscle-man, but because his skin was so soft. His hair too. The sound of one lover’s voice always kept me laughing (in a good way), for he seemed to perpetually have joy in it. And the way I felt sleeping safely next to one particular partner—a big, rough and burly bouncer at a bar who was ever ready to fight any problem character at a moment’s notice—is a feeling of beauty I will never forget. We had nothing in common in the outside world, but his soul touched mine, and he brought the woman in me to life in a completely new way.
We can never fully appreciate the beauty of another with only our eyes. They have been trained to look astray, to judge in the nanosecond the gaze is focused. Only through the full body experience can the beauty of the body be the wonder it is meant to be. Only then will our perception be acute, and our memories vivid enough to savor, again and again. That year, I learned to live with my eyes closed and my capacity for perception wide open. It is a beautiful way to live.