By Mary Ann O’Neil

Recently, I overheard a woman complaining that it was her 50th birthday. The only reason I didn’t burst into my rendition of the Happy Birthday song: I heard her say, ”I told my husband not to even consider giving me a surprise party. I would rather forget that 50 ever happened!”

She said the word “fifty” as though it was something painful and a milestone that only a few dared to reach before her.

“Yikes”, I thought.  “I wonder if she knows that after the 50 milestone birthday comes 60, 70, and….oh dear.”

I recalled turning 30, 40 and 50 with ease, always feeling and looking younger than my years.

I did not consider jumping off a bridge when I turned 60 either, but I do recall examining my face in the mirror more carefully than in previous decades.  When I turned 60 ,wrinkles and other odd marks interrupted my once smooth, olive-toned skin. People stopped saying what beautiful skin I had.

My grandson, TJ, refers to the wrinkles above my upper lip as “stripes,” as though they were some sort of reward or recognition. I explain that “I earned those stripes– they are part of my story. “

But few women celebrate their “stripes” and, as a result, we are bombarded by the multi-billion dollar industry of face creams, injections and laser treatments to hide them.  We cast aside politics and discussions of the economy, and instead discuss who tried what product or procedure to conceal her age.

A long time ago, I read Socrates and while it had little meaning for me then, what he wrote so long ago takes on a whole new meaning for me today.  Socrates offered,

“Life wrinkles the skin, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

I am all about enthusiasm.

I am enthusiastic about the sunrise and the Gift of Today, about my new life in the “city,” about my family and friends and all they are doing, about writing and publishing and, frankly, about a new man in my life.

I am certain if you saw me today you would see many wrinkles on my face and of course my “stripes.”  These are the story of a woman who ran four businesses, experienced a few failures and some successes well beyond her wildest dream.  I am also sure that if you took an MRI of my soul, you would not find one wrinkle, not one!

Ladies, whatever you choose to do with your stripes and wrinkles is your choice. And I hope you are happy with the results.

But please, before you do that, check out your soul and take care of those wrinkles first!!!

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