The A-Z of Positive Ageing
29 September 2020
Tricia Cusden is a style and beauty writer and founder of make up company Look Fabulous Forever.
Whenever I am sleepless in the middle of the night in that horrible ‘dead time zone’ at around 3 a.m, instead of counting sheep, I play a mind game of thinking up categories and then seeing if I can come up with an A to Z list.
So, say, cars - Audi, Bentley, Citroen, Datsun etc... or animals - Aardvark, Bison, Cougar, Dingo and so on … or flowers - Anemones, Bluebells, Carnations, Dahlias, Eglantines, Freesias… and before long I have usually drifted off because the thing that was buzzing around my mind and keeping me awake can’t intrude on my thoughts as I struggle to come up with an animal beginning with ‘U’.
A few nights ago I challenged myself to come up with the A to Z of Positive Ageing.
I found it relatively easy to think of 26 ways that I am enjoying my life as an oldie. So here is my list and I’d love to hear what you’d add to your own if you find yourself unable to nod off in the wee small hours…
A: Attitude. Key to everything in my view as we age. I sometimes find that I am ‘thinking myself into being old’ and realise that I must fight this tendency with every fibre of my being. After all, I am ‘only’ 71 not 101 (now that’s properly old but I bet I won’t think so when the time comes…).
B: Beauty. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said ‘beautiful young people are works of nature, beautiful old people are works of art’ and she was spot on.
Of course we can be beautiful when we are older, it just takes a bit more of an effort.
C: Confidence. The number one thing that you tell us that your Look Fabulous Forever makeup has given you in some research we have just carried out. And that fills me with more joy than I can tell you!
D: Dancing. Dance like no-one is watching, in fact, especially when no-one is watching. Strictly is back and I am to be found doing the Perfect Paso, Vivacious Viennese Waltz and Sexy Salsa in my sitting room every Saturday evening. Straight 10s from all the judges.
E: Exercise. NO EXCUSES! I was exhausted when I arrived in France for my hols, so I allowed myself to fully indulge my inner couch potato. It’s proving hard to get back into the routine of daily exercise, but I know that there is no alternative if I want to avoid seizing up altogether.
F: Friendship. Fabulous Female Friendships. Of my three closest friends who were each brilliantly supportive to me when my special grand-daughter India was so sick, one has had cancer, one has a husband recently diagnosed with cancer and the other has a husband with Alzheimers. I just hope that I am being a good friend to them in their hour of need.
G: Grandchildren. My oldest grandson has just turned 11 and is nearly as tall as I am. How did that tiny baby boy that I was so passionately in love with get to be so big? All five of my grandkids spent time with me in France this summer and it was an absolute joy to be surrounded by such happy, healthy kids.
H: Happiness. I am probably happier now than I have ever been because living a long life gives you a better perspective from which to view whatever is happening. ‘This too shall pass’ works for me every time I am feeling down.
I: Image. Taking time and trouble over one’s appearance can be seen as shallow and vain or as a symbol of good mental health. Allowing myself the time every morning to put my face on, do my hair and wear some nice clothes may be self indulgent or, as I see it, as a sign of self worth.
J: Joy. I’m with Marie Kondo on surrounding yourself with whatever sparks your joy. It’s the simple daily pleasures which spark the most joy for me, whether it’s that first cup of tea in the morning or climbing into the most comfortable bed in the world at the end of the day to read my book.
I try never to take any of it for granted.
K: Kindness. We’re living in challenging times here in the UK and what seems to have become lost is kindness towards and respect between people with different views. In my opinion, whatever the eventual outcome, there’ll be no winners. And the permanent loss of civility in our society would be the greatest loss of all.
L: Look Fabulous Forever. Nearly six years in and I am still amazed almost every day by the wonderful feedback from our customers about how much you love what we stand for as a beauty brand which celebrates rather than castigates ageing.
M: Makeup. A daily pleasure and a daily miracle as my face goes from drab to fab in about 15 minutes. I’m sure I don’t need to convince any of you, this makeup does what it says on the tin. And I am very proud of that.
N: Niceness. Believe it or not, I made a decision to be nicer when I was in my mid-forties. Up until then I had believed that it was important to fight your corner or others would take advantage of you. Then I realised somewhat belatedly that you attract a lot more flies with honey than vinegar.
O: Optimism. Apparently optimists live longer than pessimists which doesn’t surprise me. I have always believed that expecting the best whilst accepting that the worst might happen is the only way to have a happy life.
When the worst has happened to me I have (optimistically) believed that things will eventually get better. And they always have.
P: Primers. Our three best sellers from day one, and still flying off the shelves. We have one customer who regularly buys 4 of our Smooth Like Silk Face Prime at a time. I have always wondered if she loves the silky smooth effect so much that she uses it all over her body!
Q: Quality of life. I am so happy to be living at a time of increasing longevity. Who wouldn’t want to live a longer life given that choice? But a long life with no quality of life is a different matter. That’s why I watch my diet, exercise regularly and do all I can to keep my brain active.
R: Renaissance. Rebirth at the age of 65? Deciding to start a business in an area (beauty) of which I had no experience was both mad and also made complete sense to me. I passionately believe that we are never too old to take a new direction in life, to continue to challenge ourselves and to stay open to new learning and new possibilities.
S: Style. Difficult to quantify but we know a stylish woman when we see her. My best advice would be to create a ‘signature’ style, maybe with colour or accessories and stick to it. I was recognised by one of our customers in a French motorway service area when driving through France because I was wearing a jazzy, colourful pair of earrings!
T: Time. Tempus Fugit. Time waits for no man. Why does time seem to be speeding up the older I get? Apparently that sense of time passing more quickly is because we have unvarying days (unlike children who are learning new things all the time). So the answer is clear, slow down time by switching it up as often as you can.
U: U Matter. So many women feel bad if they behave (in what they see as) selfishly. So, any time they spend on themselves is seen as self indulgent. You aren’t a bad wife, mother or grandmother if you occasionally allow yourself to say ‘no’ to the demands of those closest to you.
V: Vivacity. Dictionary definition: ‘Life; animation; spiritedness; sprightliness’. Not words that are often associated with older people but useful watchwords when it comes to our demeanour. I try not to shuffle and slouch when I walk because I think it makes me look ancient.
W: White Hair. I absolutely adore beautifully cut white hair and know that many women who have allowed their hair to go grey or white get lots of compliments. And, dare I suggest, I think artificially dark hair can be more ageing than the very thing you are trying to cover up.
X: Xtraordinary. Jeanne Socrates is 77 and has just sailed alone around the world in 340 days without any backup or support. In response to questions about her age she said “I do think at my age you have to be a bit crazy. It helps fend off the perfectly rational reasons why you shouldn’t be doing certain things.” Well said Jeanne, you are extraordinary!
Y: Youthfulness. Why is youthfulness the only way to age successfully? Why do we celebrate older actresses (who have often had a ton of plastic surgery) for looking eerily youthful?
I am 71 and I am not interested in looking younger but I am interested in looking fabulous.
Z: Zizzing. Last word to Shakespeare: ‘Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourisher in life’s feast.’ Amen to that!
This article was first published 25 September 2019 on the Look Fabulous Forever website.
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