From Maya Angelou to Betty White, here are wise words from ten sage women way ahead of most of us in dealing with aging.
I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias. We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.
I see myself on TV, and I say, 'Oh, I wish that weren't happening to my neck. And your face is falling down, and your eyes are so puffy.'... I don't want to look old and worn, but what can you do? My real focus is being an actor. I care more about having the opportunity to play roles that I haven't played than I care if my neck looks like someone's bedroom curtains.
Aging is out of your control. How you handle it, though, is in your hands.... In my older face, I see my life. Every wrinkle, every smile line, every age spot. There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles, your face gets saggy. If you're a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life. My face reflects the wind and sun and rain and dust from the trips I've taken. My face carries all my memories. Why should I erase them?
[When I was young], I opposed subjective to objective, imagination to realism. I thought that having gone so deeply into my own feelings and dramas I could never again reach objectivity and knowledge of others. But now I know that any experience carried out deeply to its ultimate leads you beyond yourself into a larger relation to the experience of others. If you intensify and complete your subjective emotions, visions, you see their relation to others’ emotions. It is not a question of choosing between them, one at the cost of another, but a matter of completion, of inclusion, an encompassing, unifying, and integrating which makes maturity.
Once I got over middle age, 60 was great. Seventy was great. And I loved, I seriously loved aging. I found myself thinking things like: 'I don’t want anything I don’t have.' … 80 is about mortality, not aging. Or not just aging.
Don't try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won't live long enough to find out about, but I'm still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, 'I'm going to be 30 - oh, what am I going to do?' Well, use that decade! Use them all!
We live in a youth-obsessed culture that is constantly trying to tell us that if we are not young, and we’re not glowing, and we’re not hot, that we don’t matter. I refuse to let a system or a culture or a distorted view of reality tell me that I don’t matter. I know that only by owning who and what you are can you start to step into the fullness of life. Every year should be teaching us all something valuable. Whether you get the lesson is really up to you.
I am part of the first generation of women who have worked most of their lives. We are the most financially independent women in the history of the west. And I can spend all that money on myself! I could spend it on my grandchildren ... but they need to build character.