Because I'm the Mom

How mothering pervades all relationships in life.

Exploring & Exposing the Anti-Aging Industrial Complex

Advice from the writer who investigates the salves - and the scams - of aging

Can you "reverse your biological age from the inside out?" If anyone can, it is author Lauren Kessler, an Oregon writer, teacher and currently a fearless explorer into every possible anti-aging treatment she can get her hands (or feet!) on (or into!).

This is the last in my three-part series with the anti-aging warrior.

Lauren is seeking the Fountain of Youth – and revealing all the miracles and mirages along the way. I'm sharing her wisdom with you because of all the books, blogs, articles, advice and steaming cauldrons of anti-aging potions, Lauren Kessler's journey – as a reporter, gardener, social critic, midlife mom and Woman of a Certain Age, I like and trust her assessment of what's out there. I don't the time, money, energy, patience or guts to try what's out there. Lauren does. She chronicled it in her blog and her upcoming book. I'm eager to share her wisdom, wit and wacky adventures in anti-aging with you.

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Where can you get all this great information? Here: In her latest project, a blog and a book, Lauren offers her findings in her blog Counterclockwise: My Year of: Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-aging.

Here, we continue our Q&A on aging, anti-aging, states of midlife body and mind:

Question: Okay, bottom line: Is there a fountain of youth?

Lauren Kessler: Yes.It is maintaining a sense of curiosity about the world, a sense that the best thing might be around the next corner. Seeking challenges, taking risks – this is what keeps us young.  Also blueberries and Greek yogurt.

Question: What is it about the idea of youth or being younger or turning back time that so obsesses us? Or, what are we really looking for, yearning for that the idea of youth seems to represent? We are so hard on ourselves. We all are held hostage by that cruel inner narrator always reminding us of what we're not doing to look good, stay young, lose weight, blah blah blah; any advice from your perch on how to counteract that habit of mind?

Lauren Kessler: I think we SHOULD be obsessed (probably not the best word) with staying "young" if young means vital and vibrant and creative and curious.  If it means resilient and nimble and open to being surprised.  That's my definition of "youthfulness."  It's being obsessed with the fleeting trappings of the young, like unlined skin, that's ridiculous.  If you want to obsess about a youthful body, obsess about plaque-free arteries not a crease-free forehead.

Question: Give me the sales pitch for being a Woman of a Certain Age. I have to say I've never felt smarter, more in control, more in tune with myself, more confident and clear. There are so many deep perks for us in this phase. Do you agree?

Lauren Kessler: I want to agree.  Some days I would agree.  I certainly do not yearn for my youth.  Here's what I wrote at the beginning of Counterclockwise: "I don't actually want to be my younger self – as in aimless. Confused, angst-ridden, a nail-biting cigarette smoker with a dud of a boyfriend and a job I hate, driving a clunker car and sleeping on 100-thread-count muslin sheet. Muslin."

This Certain Age does bring clarity and confidence, and I love that.  But I am also now, at this Certain Age, haunted by all those roads not taken, those lives I could have lived but can't any more.  There is this sobering sense that life really is finite.  I didn't feel that 20 years ago. I don't like feeling it now.  So maybe, partially, this counterclockwise endeavor is my effort to stay fabulous long enough to check out a few more paths.

 

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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