I met a friend the other day, a woman I hadn’t seen for a few months, and when she saw me she said, Oh, you look so young! It pleased me more than I think it should have to have that word applied to me, even though it was most likely out of charity and sweet friendship.

I really think I should be more mature about my maturity by now.

But in spite of that, I think I’m entering this new year with a sense of beauty I haven’t allowed myself to experience before.

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There’s this period of time, you see, between being young and beautiful, and being old and beautiful. It’s a settling time, a learning-to-find-peace-in-the-changing-landscape-of-one’s-body time. It’s my time, and while I’ve a ways to go, I’m finding the adjustment more peaceful than I thought I would. I’m looking at us all, myself included, though wiser, kinder, gentler eyes. We are gorgeous women, we really are, in our wholeness. Gorgeous in our years and our bodies and our spirits and our minds. Lovely in our selves, beyond the youthful yearning for perfection.

These days I am sweet to myself, mostly. I look myself in the eye and I like what I see, because what I see is a woman living her story, treasuring the chapters past and anticipating those to come. There’s no hollywood script with perfect words or well-chosen wardrobe. There’s little yearning for better or more. There are only lives, mine and yours, winding and bumping and crashing their ways through the days allowed.

I am softer now, and it’s not just in the skin. There’s a deeper gentleness that forgives easier and accepts flaws more gracefully and is more content with the making do of imperfection.

Today is the first of a new bundle of days. There is some magic in this beginning, if I look for it. It’s the magic of renewal, and renewal is meant to be kind and sweet and encouraging. I’ve spent other firsts more critically. I’ve seen failure and need for improvement and I’ve been stern with myself.

Today though, this first day of this new year, I’m not looking to recreate. I’m not looking to improve on or make better. I’m not scolding myself for not being more or not doing enough. Instead, I’m smiling at myself and laughing a little at the way that smile folds up my face in generous lines. I’m combing my hair and not telling myself it’s too long for my age or too silver for its length. I’m pulling warm clothes over a body that has borne three babies and hugged sorrow and shaken with anger and with laughter. I’m pulling bright red fuzzy socks over feet that have walked miles around the world and around my kitchen. I’m rubbing sweet lotion into fingers that have held the hand of a husband for almost half my life, and it’s all a wonder.

Women, we are adorned, so adorned, with all our years and all our stories, and we are beautiful.

Hello new year. Let’s be friends. Let’s mark these days with laughter and great love and sweet moments and grace. Let’s be quick with forgiveness and happy to overlook the small offence. Let’s wear comfortable clothes and drink our tea with honey and read good words and smile at all the children. Let’s be women… gorgeous, lovely, beautiful women… in our worlds.

Blessings on your heads, blessings on your hands, blessings on your hearts, dear friends. May 2015 find you drowning in kindness and love.

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