By Janet Bellinger
There is a vase of tulips sitting on the mantelpiece in a green, glass vase. Five of the tulips are purple, five are rose coloured and one is creamy, with pale pink stripes. Half of the tulips are upright and half of them are drooping down onto the mantelpiece.
My daughter brought the tulips for me from Waterloo, on the day she moved back home for the summer.
. I haven’t changed the water in the vase; otherwise all of the tulips would still be vibrant.
I study the tulips, trying to figure out what it is about them that interests me so, apart from the fact that it is an interesting study that I would like to paint. Perhaps it is the beauty that is still evident in the drooping flowers.
The thought strikes me that it may be representative of later life in that we all lose our bloom eventually but that is a depressing thought and I don’t think it is what moves me about the flowers.
I see clearly, that although some of the flowers are drooping, others, which were placed in the vase at the same time, are still upright and blooming.
Women, like flowers are divided into those, which droop with age, and those who continue to bloom. Essentially, though we all have a choice about whether, like the tulips, we bloom or wither. Some things we have no control over, like the loss of a breast or a chronic disease.
We can however, choose to appear youthful.
Mary Anne Millar, a public health nurse for the Simcoe County Health Unit and graduate student at the University of Toronto, says that drinking lots of water is the best way to ensure that our skin stays young. Our skin is more a statement of the amount of hydration in our bodies rather than the amount of money we spent on cosmetics. “Of course you can quote me. I am actually very proud of my age and tell people, in appropriate settings, all the time.
Retaining physical youth has to do with active living - those who don't get stiff and lack flexibility. Dancing, one-leg exercises, stretching, laughter, music all enhance our youth. Being determined to live fully and not waste time. Having a positive, can do attitude - knowing you're a winner - that you will do what it takes to feel and be successful, all make you feel youthful. I love it when young men give me an appreciative look (the look that says "you're an attractive woman who cares about herself") and that I know that makes them feel good too to see someone with healthy self-esteem. I had classmates who said they wished their parents were like me - I have a co-worker who said she wished I had been her mother (after I mentioned that I was old enough to be her mother).
Thanks for the platform.”
Water makes our skin glow and stay plumped out.
I began drinking water while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and have continued to do so. My skin, which was once quite dry, now barely needs any moisturizer at all.
Mary Anne says that it is a good idea to maintain a healthy weight. If we are too thin, we are at risk of osteoporosis. If we are too heavy, our whole body carries the burden of the extra weight.
Mary Anne is herself an example of blooming womanhood. At sixty-three, she turns the heads of men of all ages. Her skin has a natural glow to it and, at the bank; a teller was astonished to hear that Mary Anne qualifies for seniors’ benefits.
Peggy Brigham of Yoga Connections says that yoga helps the body remain young.
Pat, cosmetic consultant at Shopper’s Drug Mart at the Orangeville Mall, says that the key to bloom is to accept yourself and that blooming womanhood has more to do with the inside than the outside. She says it is partly genetic, that women with deep-set eyes and high cheekbones do not age as quickly as others who do not have these features. She says that we wash too much and dry out our skins and that we are not working in coalmines. “Do not use hot or cold water on your face. Accept yourself. Don’t compete with your daughters. Your hands will show your age even if your face doesn’t.” “Whatever happened to those big bosomed ladies,” she asks. “I remember resting against my grandma’s chest and how wonderful that was.”
Pat practices what she preaches and eschews hair colour in favour of a glorious shining silver upsweep. Her face is ageless.
The availability of hair colour however, allows older women choice about whether to bare their gray or not.
I have choices about whether to change the appearance of my post mastectomy chest and choose reconstruction.
I will bloom once again, just like the tulips, which bloom each year. You can take the breast off the woman but you can’t take the bloom off the woman. Women may droop as they grow older but they can bloom over and over again, right up to the grave.
We all know that if we remain connected to the world and have special interests, we will retain our bloom. Blooming is not necessarily about remaining youthful but about celebrating age with all its possibilities.
We all can choose to bloom again, even if we feel like one of those wilted tulips.