7 May 2012

The importance of self-image.

Aging concerns every one of us, even if we would rather deny the fact. As part of creation and made up from the original stardust, each form of life lives and dies.
Ah, but we're different—we're special, made in the image of God. We have a soul.
Yet do we know other forms of life are not similar? Can we prove otherwise?
I'd prefer to give every living creature the benefit of doubt, hoping to see my beloved pets in heaven again when I die.

 But I diverse. I want to share my thoughts on the stage before I leave this plane.
I started off so young—like everyone else. As a teenager, I never considered the possibility of aging. I'd remain beautiful forever with smooth skin, a flawless complexion, long legs and a ready smile. I flaunted death by riding on motorbikes with boys, much to my mother's vexation.

http://www.freeimageslive.com/galleries/nature/trees/pics/tree01826.jpgOn through the years of motherhood, I remained young with my children. When they left home, I separated from their father and left the country, ready for adventure. Not as callously as that. I needed to shake off oppression and decided to take my chances elsewhere. I achieved my aim alone. Heart quivering, I travelled to a new country where I knew no one. Within a week, I'd settled on a job as a nanny—accepting comfort and security from the family I worked with.

Then I met my present husband and began a new stage of life, like a tree sending out a new, strong trunk while the other withered. I felt young and vital again while I established a new role. I worked in catering through almost twenty years until injury forced retirement.

http://www.freeimageslive.com/galleries/nature/trees/pics/nature01864.jpgI maintained a youthful approach to life while embroidering, writing poetry and finally creating songs. Full of enthusiasm and with a positive attitude, I turned to writing a novel based on my life. The project soon changed as my character took me in unexpected directions. I discovered the joy of writing and created a whole new world. Finally, two separate publishers accepted my work, one of which I created one with my writing partner, Edith Parzefall. In my own mind, even though I'd turned seventy, I was the same vital woman.
Now we come to the topical subject. Aging and self-image.
For the first book launch, my local newspaper wrote an article and sent a photographer to capture me at my desk. Overjoyed, I waited for the picture to appear online at their website.

http://www.freeimageslive.com/galleries/nature/trees/pics/trees01839.jpgWhen I looked at my photograph, the awful truth sunk in. I'd aged while I wasn't paying attention. That person in the mirror looked the same to me, but the one in the article looked like an old woman.
Okay—I can accept my aging just like everyone else. Only natural. Don't make a fuss. Smile and think of the publicity. But self-doubt crept in. I didn't look like the person I knew myself to be. I rallied with the idea that people weren't buying the image of me, they were buying my book—something I'd created with my mind. Yet I'd lost joy. The spark had fizzled out.
I'll go on writing. Creating stories gives me a reason for living. I only hope self-belief will return after the staggering blow of reality.

#Tree images from: FREEIMAGES.co.uk


  1. Hi Francene

    I am just getting around to doing some quality visiting with bloggers who stopped by my blog during the A-Z challenge.

    I had literally just started my very first blog only days before the challenge began, so as you can well imagine...I was pretty overwhelmed throughout the entire month of April!

    I found it very hectic, trying to decide on what to blog about, then actually getting a decent post put together, but I survived!! My husband was a blog widower for almost the entire month--ha ha.

    Now comes the pay-off...for me....I can enjoy visiting other blogs and leaving comments....something I didn't get any time for in April!!!!

    I love your blog and I'll be back!

  2. Francene, this post really hit home for me. Although I'm in my early forties, lupus has stolen much of the vitality that was once a hallmark of my personality. Forced inactivity and prednisone (which I no longer take) have packed on the pounds and aged me beyond my years. I grieve for the energetic woman who gardened large scale, broke and trained horses, and remodeled houses on her own. I don't want to be the frumpy woman with the cane and the glasses who blocks the grocery store aisle while younger, busier people rush to get past. Yet on the outside, that's exactly who I've become.

    But sometimes I suspect that God consented for my body to be stilled so my fingers could write. Otherwise I might never have stopped long enough to type a single complete sentence on the laptop. That's more than a consolation to me; it gives my circumstances purpose.

    I still avoid cameras, though. It's so much easier to remember the person I used to be when I'm not looking at proof that she's gone.

    1. Not only did your illness cause you to write a great book, Rhonda, but you learned a new, quite tricky form of art as well. Now you can create the image of yourself that you like best. No need for a camera. Of course, I wish you could have achieved all that with your health intact. I do admire you!

  3. Hey partner, I never felt like I was writing with an elderly woman and definitely not an old lady. You're young and beautiful to everyone who knows you! And smart and kind and witty and the master of beautiful prose and atmospheric descriptions. I learned so much from you. And I can already sense new branches growing on your trunk, with tiny new leaves and blossoms.

    Write on, my friend!

  4. I realize that while I don't like aging, I do like the 50's in spite of all the things falling apart! I'm still having fun. I'm happy to be alive. I, like you, don't care for the photo images of my aging, however, I like being me and I LOVE writing. I think you and I share that, not just with ourselves, but with many others as well. Sometimes when something like age hits us literally in the face, it's nice to know we aren't alone!

  5. I've struggled with body image all of my life. The turning point came 12 years ago when I began to work with special needs kids. They don't care what I look like - they are just delighted to be in school, they love when I smile and joke with them, they make me feel beautiful. And my BF makes me feel like a movie star. Maybe the secret is to look for our reflection in the faces of those whom we love and who love us - and not in mirrors or photographic paper :-)))

  6. I always feel younger than I am. In most pictures I still see the youth, but with other pics I think, "Wow, I do look my age." It'll be interesting to see how I'll look and feel in the future. Aging does seem to creep up on people. Nevertheless, the essence of who we are remains the same.

  7. I like you never notice how old I am until I catch myself unawares or look at pictures. What strikes me even more is how I don't notice how my husband has aged. Even though I look at his lovely face every day, I never notice how he's aged along with me until I see a picture of him. Pictures don't speak...they don't wrap us up in loving arms and happy, kind words. Those are the markers of how we age...and you I imagine dear one, are very young at heart.

    Thank you for the kind comment on my blog. I am indeed blessed to have my adult children living in driving distance for the most part. My siblings live all over the South. I miss when we all lived in one town but that's been near 30 years ago. We stay connected thankfully through letters, phones and internet.

  8. Francene,

    Thanks again for visiting during A to Z! Hope to see you again next year.


  9. Cracks me up that I've made it this far... Everyday is a trip!

  10. I'm not very good at leaving comments on beautifully written, serious posts. I love to read them, but I always hesitate to comment because I'm not sure that I have anything to add. And then I read comments like this one: "Maybe the secret is to look for our reflection in the faces of those whom we love and who love us - and not in mirrors or photographic paper", and it's so beautiful that it fills my heart. I wish I could write comments like that. Instead, all I can say is that I was here. I read your words. Thank you.

  11. Yes, age does creep up on us. I, too, don't look like I feel. When do the two merge? I help my aging folks (89 and 92), and they still feel young too. What a full journey you've had. It's important to live to the fullest while we can. Very nice post.

  12. Don't know what to add that hasn't already been said here. You ladies are wonderful! I'm "turning" 55 next month and was just told i'll be able to get the Senior's discount at one of the local craft supply store. That blew me away; i think i'd rather pay full price than admit i've attained this goal!!! I remember the days, not so long ago it seems, when they checked my i.d. at the liquor store! I'm sure glad God is the one who knitted me this way- then i don't mind the odd unraveling of my self image; He doesn't make mistakes! Cheers, Sylvie

  13. Great posting. I am entering the magical age of the very scary period in life. I figure there is no stopping it, so I just write and laugh about it. :) Enjoyed reading your story


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