On a recent lunch time jaunt to John Lewis with a couple of colleagues, we found ourselves discussing the relative merits of different sewing machine manufacturers. The only overlocker the store stocked was made by Janome, and my colleagues weren’t terribly impressed by this. I pointed out that the Janome sewing machine my parents bought me for my 21st birthday is still going strong, but I quickly realised that this was only a glowing recommendation of the brand if you know that birthday was twenty years ago. The colleague who didn’t already know my age was, understandably, surprised.
I don’t look, dress or act like I’m 41 years old. Well, I don’t appear to be how mainstream media would portray a woman in her early 40s, or match up to the image a lot of people will have in their heads of someone that age. This may be because I’m not a parent. It may be because I’m still as forgetful and disorganised as I was in my early 20s. I’ve never had a plan for how I want my life to pan out and so pretty much just live for the present, or the near future. Planning ahead is a sensible thing that grown ups do, and I still don’t feel like I am in their gang yet.
People often ask me for the secret to my youthful appearance. As far as the superficial side of it goes, it may be mostly down to genetics but that’s not especially helpful and wouldn’t make a good blog post. So, I’ve tried to come up with some ‘top tips’ instead. If you’ve got any suggestions of your own, feel free to share them in the comments!
Look after your skin
This one may seem obvious, but I’m not saying that everyone should adopt a rigorous daily skincare routine and always stay in the shade. After all, Helen Mirren has proved that fabulous skin doesn’t have to be wrinkle free. It’s the ‘inner glow’ that conveys a youthful glamour and I have three tips for achieving it: 1) moisturise, 2) drink plenty of water, and 3) always take your make up off before bed. If you don’t wear make up, then you’re part of the way there! Also, never dismiss the happiness that skincare products can bring. It doesn’t have to be twice daily or anything expensive, but a product that makes your skin feel nice when you put it on will really boost your mood.
Ignore fashion rules
All that stuff about not wearing certain things after you reach a particular age? Rubbish! The only rule you should have about clothing is: if you love it, wear it. This doesn’t have to mean that every day needs to be approached in your most fabulous outfit – after all, some days are more about ‘soft and cozy’ – but I firmly believe that you’ll never find the joy in life if nothing about getting dressed in the morning fills you with happiness. Even if you hate fashion, you can find that happy moment by wearing your most comfortable jeans with a t-shirt your partner gave you and a jumper that’s so soft you couldn’t ever bear to throw it away.
Live your life your way
Don’t ever want to get married? Always wanted to learn circus skills? Life’s too short to tick the boxes on some standard ‘life checklist’, so ensure that you make your own. I’m not saying that you have to take an alternative route, just make sure you ask yourself which road you really want to take at every turn. Always wanted two kids and to take your husband’s name? Great! Desperate for a house with a garden so you can have a dog? Lovely! Just don’t do it because you feel you should have done certain things before you reach a specific age, or because everyone else you know has done it already. Make sure you only ever live your dream.
Do what you love
I’m not talking about work here. We all need money to pay bills and sadly we can’t all have a job that’s 100% fulfilling all of the time (do those even exist?). Instead, I’m talking about the other stuff we do. Some people love cooking, some adore chain watching long-running television shows on Netflix, others like riding a motorbike down country lanes. if there’s a thing you enjoy, make time to do more of it. Write poetry, eat brunch with friends, take photographs, knit… whatever makes you happy. As a kid, I had homework to do, but I also spent loads of time reading, listening to music, dressing up and drawing. As we get older, we mustn’t lose time for hobbies.
If you never smile or laugh, I can pretty much guarantee that ‘agelessness’ is not and will never be your thing. Finding the joy in life is what kids do. Seeing the down side to everything is what world weary adults do. You can be sarcastic and misanthropic but please don’t ever forget how to smile, even if you only ever deploy this tactic in well chosen company. I promise, you won’t regret it.