The woman in the mirror

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change — Michael Jackson

The beginning of the year is always an introspective time for me, though not for the reason you may think. Yes, there are the usual New Year resolutions and intentions, but, for me, January begins the inevitable descent to my next birthday, which is in April. Throughout the years, that descent has generated a myriad of emotions, particularly if the upcoming birthday was a major milestone. For example, 25 was rough, just five years away from the Big 3-Oh. It made me realize that I didn’t want to work in retail forever, so I went back to college. In this case, my impending birthday spurred me to take positive action, but that wasn’t usually so. Most of the time, the milestones just reminded me that I wasn’t “where I was supposed to be” and didn’t have “what I was supposed to have” by that given age, leaving me feeling sad and hopeless.

This year, I will be 58, just two years away from the Big 6-Oh. I will admit that seeing that in writing is rather jarring. But it doesn’t fill me with dread the way that some previous — lesser — milestones have. And I attribute that to liking the woman I see in the mirror.

Some of it is about externals, the reflection of my physical self. When I was younger, I wouldn’t leave the house without applying my makeup. While I still love cosmetics, I have come to believe the adage that “less is more,” so being “made up” doesn’t mean what it once did. I even go to the gym without a stitch of makeup on without feeling the least bit self conscious.

Speaking of the gym, taking care of myself now includes working out six days a week. I’m beginning to see — and feel — muscles that I didn’t know I had. I’m slowly losing weight that was totally resistant to diet alone. I’m not where I want to be, yet, but my body is more compact and my clothes are looser.

Since I work from home, I practically live in workout clothes. When I go out, I wear clothes that I believe to be flattering, that please my aesthetic. My waist-length hair is thinner than it was due to age and medication, but it suits me and I wear it in a variety of updos despite common wisdom that “mature women” should have short hair.

Some of liking the externals is due to the acceptance that comes to most of us with maturity. At a certain point, we realize that railing against what we were born with is pointless. Wishing that I were a tall, willowy, blue-eyed blond isn’t going to make it so. It’s far more productive — and self affirming — to look into the mirror and appreciate the strength of my average-height body, the green in my hazel eyes and the shine of my reddish-brown hair.

But I believe that the core reason that I like — even love — the woman in the mirror has nothing to do with externals. Rather, it’s the result of decades of hard work on my mind and spirit. It entailed a year of therapy, which prepared me for 12-step recovery. There, I was encouraged to ask the question, “What do you need God to be in order to recover?” Answering that question was one of the hardest — and scariest — things that I have ever done; I truly thought that God would strike me dead for daring to ask. But He didn’t, so I continued to ask questions, starting with “Why do I believe what I believe?” I found answers in books, in churches and temples, in prayer, meditation and introspection.

In time, I ended up with the faith system that I call eclectic spirituality, which is an amalgam of what I consider to be the better parts of each of the religions that I have studied and practiced. It is uniquely tailored to my spiritual needs and utterly true to who I am and the person that I want to be. It has little to do with the afterlife and everything to do with how I live my life, how I treat others…and myself.

How do you feel about the person in the mirror? Is there anything that you’d like to change? If so, remember, it’s an inside job.

16 thoughts on “The woman in the mirror

  1. “What do you need God to be in order to recover?” This so hits home for me. That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out with my Seeker story (experiment). I think I know now. The story is still not quite finished, but I will say I, too, was scared to death to answer that question. Great post, Judie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judie Sigdel

      Thank you, calensariel! I’m glad that this post resonated with you. Asking these types of questions takes tremendous courage. I look forward to following your journey. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Judie! what a fantastic read this was! I had those same feelings turning 18 I think it was my most difficult birthday! meant I was no longer a kid and shit was about to get real! hahaa! I turned 50 the year before last and it was a great birthday for me becuz as you have said youve got to like the woman in the mirror! 51 however has proven to simply be the best year of my life to date! Working out at the gym in the pool and eating a healthy diet, loose clothing all of it I feel ya!! Life is good! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judie Sigdel

      Thank you so much for sharing your feedback and experience, maureenrose! I am so excited for you — all of the positive changes you’re making! It’s pretty darn awesome to be able to say that 51 is proving to be the best year of your life! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much Judie for saying! I feel pretty darn lucky to be honest! Im equally excited for you too honey! Living life is just more exciting and more fun once youve learned so much from it all right?!! XO!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan Davis

    Loved this Judie. I remember crying on my 20th bday because I was leaving my teens. I always looked forward to my birthday no matter what the number was but was never satisfied on how the day went. Since delving into my spiritual work I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday this week. You are right, change and everything else starts with looking in the mirror!
    xoxoxoxoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judie Sigdel

      Thank you, Suzie! Wow, what a beautiful story! I’m so glad that you enjoyed your birthday. You’re changing, and so is everything else! ❤

      Like

  4. Benkong

    Wow! Thank you. That was beautiful. As a practitioner I have been focusing so much on thoughts, speech and actions, that I often forget body. I am meeting a soldier today to find out what he wants to know about meditation and possibly help him. He is at his physical peak, can do one arm hand stands, back flips. My birthday is also in April. Mine will be the 65 milestone. I am in awe and amazement that I am still alive in spite of rheumatic fever, the Viet Nam war, the heroin and then AIDS epidemic and numerous exotic diseases. Happy to hear you are working so hard inside and out. You inspired me also do both mind and body workout.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judie Sigdel

      You’re very welcome, Venerable Benkong. I’m glad to hear that you found it to be helpful. You certainly have endured more than many people. It’s so easy to forget our bodies. I managed to ignore mine for the most part until about 10 months ago. I’m glad to hear that you’re going to add mind and body into the equation.

      Like

  5. We, dear lady, are almost exactly the same age. We even share a birth month. As a guy, I’m “lucky” enough to have never worried about makeup. I love the less is more look on women. It’s interesting, some of my daughter’s friends in their 30’s spend much more time before the makeup mirror than most of my own friends. It does say something about accepting your body and yourself as you age. I don’t spend a lot of time in the mirror. I am always surprised when I see pictures of myself now. I think of myself as a much younger person, and much thinner than the one I see pictured. Becoming a Wiccan at 44 allowed me to shun conventional concepts, and that has gone a long way to making me feel young. I only wish I had found it much, much sooner! Great post! Blessed Be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judie Sigdel

      Thank you for your lovely, thoughtful comments, Patchouli Sky! I think that many young women are still trying to conform to society’s concept of “ideal beauty” — what we see in fashion mags, on TV/movies, etc. At a certain point, some of us realize that the “ideal” isn’t real and that we are perfectly imperfect the way God/dess made us.

      I look forward to reading your blog and hearing about your spiritual journey.

      Blessed be!

      Liked by 1 person

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