‘Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost

It’s the end of the year and time for the usual year end reflection. If you’re nearing forty, it’s probably a time to be doubly reflective. Today Rachel reflects on loving, losing love and how all of it is just a part of developing…

rlw bnw My parents divorced when I was seven years old. I remember the day that my mother, brothers and I moved; it was a cold and wet winter day. I cried as I said goodbye to my swing set and my climbing tree and wondered about the new school I’d attend and whether or not there would be children on my new block. I knew the word “divorce” and I knew from adults’ reactions that it was supposed to be a negative thing, so I decided at that moment that I would never get divorced. I knew that I would one day be married, but divorce was just not option.

My grandparents, parents and just about all of my aunts, uncles and older cousins smoked. I swore I’d never do that either—and happily, I’ve kept that promise. But the divorce thing…Well, like other things, divorce happens. I used to believe that if I loved someone enough to marry him, then I could never possibly hate him enough to divorce him. The love-hate extremes in that theory expose the immaturity and simplicity of it. Hindsight is truly 20/20 vision and knowing what I know now based on my experiences, hatred is often not even part of the equation.

My parents didn’t hate one another. I know this because they were always friendly and cooperative with each other once they were separated. They seemed like friends who met every other weekend and during family functions and holidays. We sometimes enjoyed family outings together and in later years, my parents enjoyed an occasional date. Even to this day, holiday dinners are attended and enjoyed by both of them simultaneously and without drama or weird rules about Mother being in the house for an hour, then Dad and then another rotation.

Neither fortunately nor unfortunately, my experience with divorce was quite a bit different. Thankfully, there were no children involved. However, there were threats, harassment and less-than-civil behavior that made that period of my life almost unbearable. Looking back, there still wasn’t hatred (at least not on my part), but there was a distinct lack of love between us. Despite the absence of love, there was still an overwhelming sense of failure and shame for me. I had expected better of myself and my life.

At some point in the middle of depositions and hearings, I realized that I hadn’t failed myself or my soon-to-be ex-husband. I realized that I hadn’t even been in the marriage. The part of Rachel in the marriage had been played by a hollow version of me who was afraid to speak her mind, show her talents or simply be herself—my desolate, depressed and disillusioned doppelganger. That person didn’t know joy, she didn’t know confidence, nor did she know peace. She had gotten married at a time in her life when she didn’t really know herself, let alone what she wanted, needed and deserved in a husband. The marriage was destined to fail.

I now realize that my failed marriage was an important part of my development was a person, a woman and a mate for a future man. At almost forty years old, I know not only what I want, need and deserve in a mate, but what I need to offer a mate. I also know what I don’t want or need and what I am not capable of giving. There are moments when it is tough to face my own reality—my strong points and my shortcomings. However, there is a certain triumph, a feeling of victory in accepting myself and having the courage and tenacity to be that person—warts and all. As the saying goes, “You can’t love another without loving yourself.” I found out the hard way that it helps to know yourself too. Most importantly, I’m confident that I will know and love myself even more at forty.

Rachel Dachel is a freelance writer and editor, and creator and author of the blog Rachel-y Motivated Incidents.

Skin Deep – Great skin care advice for women at forty

Be Happy!

Today Women at Forty welcomes a new contributor, Jeffrie Ann Hall. Jeffrie’s an Esthetician specializing in Anti-Aging Skin Care for women 40+.  Through her blog Beauty-and-the-blog, and sales of innovative science based skin care, Jeffrie focuses on helping women stay fresh and vibrant at all stages of life. In her first post she covers everything from microdermabrasian to chemical exfoliation, and shares  some secrets about facials and finding ingredients that will slow the onset of wrinkles…

So you’re 40…

So you are 40. And when you look in the mirror do you feel like saying “hi mom”? Seeing little lines and sags creeping up that you never thought would happen to you? And OMG, that’s mom in the mirror. Not that your mom isn’t lovely, mine is. But maybe you aren’t exactly ready for your face to start showing its age. I wasn’t! And I still am not, even now that I am way past 40.

Well, sit tight because we have an advantage that our moms didn’t have. Skin care for women in the 40+ group now offers so much new technology, product and ingredient advancements. The number of products and choices can be confusing and mind boggling though.

So I am going to give you a few tips and recommendations for keeping your skin glowing and fresh. Plus tell you what ingredient you need to look for in skin care to slow the onset of wrinkles, and improve the appearance of the ones you may already have. By the way, I am an Esthetican (facialist) with advanced training from The Aveda Institute in Minneapolis.

The importance of exfoliating

The first thing you absolutely must be doing is exfoliating your skin. Dead skin cells must come off in order to glow. There are a number of ways to do this. What you choose will have much to do with your skin type and how much time you want to spend on this step. There is manual exfoliation which involves you spending time with a product that has mild abrasives in it. Think “at home microdermabrasion kit”. In my skin care experience this is best for medium to fair skins. There are also various scrubs with particles that gently remove dead skin cells. You will need to gently massage these products with very light pressure over your entire face. These are generally recommended for strong, thick and oily skin, any ethnicity. Just be sure to stay away from scrubs containing nut shells. Those are fine for your body but a major no-no for the face!

You can also choose to do a chemical exfoliation using products that contain one of the three effective ingredients that remove the dead cells from your skin by dissolving them. These are Alpha, Beta and Poly Hydroxy acids. This works well for all skin types and only requires a few seconds to apply the product. The difference between the three is that Alpha works best for mature skin that lacks radiance, Beta is best for skin that is oily, and Poly is the best choice for sensitive skin. They all work well and are great for any ethnicity. I personally use the Alpha Hydroxy. And keep in mind that Alpha and Beta come in different strengths, start low and build up.

Exfoliation is the number one most important thing to do for your skin at and after 40 to keep a radiant glow. The aging process involves a gradual slowing of the natural sloughing of dead skin cells and regeneration of fresh new cells. Exfoliation helps to keep this process working at a faster rate. And if you aren’t removing these dead cells, anything else you use on your skin is just sitting on top of dead skin. It’s not penetrating, it’s a waste.

The truth about collagen and elastin

Next you need to consider what is in your treatment serum, if you use one, and/or your moisturizer. The most important thing to remember here is that collagen and elastin molecules are too large to enter your skin’s pores. You will not be adding collagen or elastin to the structure of your skin. Just using a very expensive moisturizing ingredient. What needs to be in your product whether it is a serum or a spa-facial moisturizer is Peptides. Peptides are amino acids that have the capability to get into the skin. They are “cell communicating”. Peptides can restore normal function in the skin to keep producing collagen and elastin naturally, from the inside out. Wrinkles are really only symptoms of the aging that is going on at a deeper cellular level.

A good facial is also another great tool in keeping fresh and glowing skin. You can go to the spa and pamper yourself or it can be as simple as giving your skin a good steaming and applying a moisturizing masque. If your skin tends to be oily, use a clay masque followed by a moisture masque.

When at the spa, go for things that are not too exotic. These are generally just money makers for the spa. Stick with the basics. A good Esthetician can customize a basic facial to meet your needs. Anyone who says they can’t is just looking to make extra money.

There are also a variety of tools you can use for an at home facial. My personal favorite is Galvanic Therapy. This is low level electric current that actually pushes moisture, peptides and nutrients into your skin. It also increases the efficacy of any skin care you use, allowing it to penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin. Galvanic also has the ability to firm the skin as well as giving it a lift. I used to do these facials in the spa when I was still working in one. Now I can do this at home as there is a home version that is very effective. I do it twice a week for 15 minutes and am very happy with how my skin looks!

And by the way, nearly any facial is fine for any ethnicity as long as it is tailored to your skin type, meaning dry, oily or sensitive.

If you are interested in more information on how the skin ages, what products I recommend, what to avoid, or some advice, visit me at my own blog, www.Beauty-and-the-Blog.com. It’s all about Anti-Aging and Skin Care Solutions.

Photo: Jeffrie Ann Hall – happy and beautiful!

The decade from hell?

LIFE 2000-2009 Decade 2009 is quickly winding down, and as we enter the height of the holiday season, it’s time to start that year end reflecting we all do.  So, 2000 – 2009, the decade from hell. Really? Not my words, TIME magazine’s. Last week’s cover story calls the first decade of the 21st century the decade from hell. Life magazine calls it “The Decade that Changed the World.” Here are a few reasons why:

  • September 11th
  • Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • The DC snipers
  • Foreclosure crisis and the economic meltdown
  • Record unemployment rates
  • Hurricane Katrina…

No doubt, the first ten years of the new century have gotten off to a pretty rocky start. TIME blames it on a combination of chance, neglect, greed, self-interest and deferral of responsibility. I think they’re right, and it got me thinking about my personal decade and wondering whether I’d call it a decade from hell.

Taking a long hard look at the past 10 years of my life has been revealing. Two major layoffs – one from a job that allowed me to travel internationally, something I’d always dreamed of, a couple of bad relationship choices and the end of a 15 year friendship, on paper anyway, screams of a decade in need of a do-over.  If the me at 30 read a story about the me at 40, I’d demand a rewrite.  The me at 30 would probably choose to stay in the ignorant (and thinner) bliss of 30. But if I did that, I’d miss the faith and optimism that I’ve developed over the past, not so easy, decade. The ability to see the positive despite standing in the face of the negative isn’t something we’re born with, it’s developed through adversity. Iron sharpens iron, and it’s been a heavy metal decade for me.

The bad relationship choices I made could have ended up worse. I could have been married to the wrong person, miserable and unhappy. And the end of the friendship meant the beginning of new ones.  Our nation and the world have suffered over the past 10 years, but I think it’s precisely because of the hard times that we’re still standing and stronger than before. We’re all still moving forward, one day at a time, and that’s why I won’t call it the decade from hell.

How was this decade for you? Did it unfold the way you thought it would? Share your thoughts and stories in our comment section, or on our Facebook Fan page.

Image Source: Life

Nearing 40 and Getting Younger on the Way

rlw bnw My favorite niece turned eleven this year. It’s actually a bit hard to believe. Not having children of my own, other people’s kids (OPKs) are just about the only way that I can mark and keep up with my own age anymore. To me, I am perpetually about 24 years old. I feel mature and old enough to be a full-fledged adult, but in no way do I feel “middle-aged” or nearing forty. Ever.

Well…Except when it comes to my niece. I can remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. I was in my twenties and absolutely thrilled that my older brother’s wife was expecting their first child. I remember eagerly awaiting the phone call from several states away that would confirm my niece’s safe arrival. I still well up with the emotion I felt when I answered my cell phone and heard an infant’s cry followed by my brother’s voice saying, “You’re an auntie! You have a beautiful niece.” For many years, that was my seminal moment of adulthood; my brother was somebody’s father (which still blows my mind sometimes) and I was a proud new auntie.

Photographs, phone calls and frequent flyer miles began to shape my relationship with my niece in the coming years. She grew in leaps and bounds while I pretty much looked and felt the same as always (aside from a few hair don’ts and some weight changes). As my niece began to walk and talk, I still felt youthful and exuberant; after all, a 24-yar-old woman with a two or three-year-old child is plausible, right?

Soon came preschool and eventually kindergarten as well as an expanded vocabulary on her part. I can vividly recall the moment when my niece let me know that I was not as young in her eyes as I might have thought I was. My then-fiancé (thankfully now my ex-husband) and I were visiting when my niece looked me squarely in the eye and asked, “Noo-noo” (Just accept it as a cute pet name and keep it moving, thanks.), when are you going to get married?” In an attempt to be funny I responded, “I’ll get married when you get married.” I had never seen such a look of utter horror on a five-year-old child’s face before and she quickly exclaimed, “But you’re OLD, Noo-noo! You’ll be DEAD by then!”

Continue reading Nearing 40 and Getting Younger on the Way

Bah Humbug…

tanya f I made a horrible discovery today that shook me to my core – Christmas ain’t what it used to be.

The startling revelation came today when I was at my youngster’s school assembly and the president of the PTO talked to the kids about the Santa Workshop that was coming up next week.  For those of you who have never experienced Satan’s Workshop (oops – typo), it’s a money making (shakedown) opportunity for the PTA/PTO to set up the school’s library or cafeteria with little cheap (in quality) but overpriced  “Happy Meal” type gifts with a Santa’s elf workshop theme.  Kids compete with their friends to buy gifts for family members.  I have worked one of these Santa Workshops and I have seen children have mini meltdowns because they weren’t given enough money to buy ALL the kids in their class a gift.  I even witnessed a kid run a tab and the PTO members let them! “Anything to raise money for the school” was the theme.  I knew the parent who had to pay the $55 tab and she was NOT happy.  Sorry, I digress.  I was thinking about how I didn’t want my kid to participate this year because it was so catty.  Then my mind started drifting to when I was in grammar school and we made Christmas gifts in art classes.

Christmas was magical and wonderful and sacred.  I traveled back to a time where I made Christmas ornaments & gifts; friends received homemade Christmas cards; popcorn garland on the tree; cookies, cakes and pies made “from scratch”; caroling in the neighborhood; watching the Christmas specials on TV together while sipping hot chocolate; and family events every weekend leading up to Christmas day.  There was always the “Santa Factor” but there was also great emphasis on the Birth of Jesus, showing Christ-like cheer and reconnecting with family.  I don’t feel that anymore. I feel pressure to compete with other parents who have socked away money since the previous Christmas to buy their kids the biggest, most expensive high tech gifts that are new on the market in December.  When did the idea of “give from the heart” become “break the m****r f*****g bank?”  Disney Channel & Nickelodeon have toy commercials back to back and every toy is a MUST HAVE for my daughters.  Christmas decorations go up right after Halloween decorations come down.   Poor Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick. As quickly as it comes, it’s forgotten about because of the exhaust fumes of Black Friday and the countdown to shopping days before Christmas.

I know times were different in the 70s & 80s – they were simpler with A LOT less technology.  But at what point did Christmas become so commercial and one dimensional?  Is it because I’m forty now and my view of the world has become cynical and jaded?  Is there really no feeling of peace, joy, love and good will to all men?  Times have changed and so have I, but this is one time I wish I was wrong.

Tanya

Tanya’s an “exceptional military wife and extraordinary mother of two who has rediscovered life, love and a new reality” at age forty.  She’s a friend and frequent contributor to Women at Forty.