I canít wait to get to dance and zumba tonight. I just hope Iím not tired by the time I get there. Thatís the problem with going in the evenings after work.

I had to miss dance and zumba on Sunday because I was working on re-caulking my bathtub. What an exciting life I lead.

During lunch today, at work, I went shoe shopping. I havenít gotten new summer footwear in ages. As the years have passed, Iíve become more about function and less about form in my shoe buying. Technically, I donít need to buy shoes because I have a variety of summery high-heels that are still serviceable, but a few years ago, I decided that Iíd had enough of heels.

Throughout my 20ís, I was plenty agile in heels, and walked around plenty. At the end of a long day, or a long night out, Iíd come home with sore and beaten up feet, sometimes even bleeding, where satin straps had cut into my skin.

When I moved to a job with a much more relaxed dress code, I was ready for the change. Now I only wear heels when Iím salsa dancing; dance shoes that I put on in the studio, or in the club, and remove the minute I leave.

I love being out and about, walking and exploring, and I guess Iím crossing over to a new age; the age where comfort trumps vanity. Iím lucky because now, more than ever before, form and function are being combined. Itís possible to get a cloud-like shoe experience, and have them not be the ugliest things on Earth. We still havenít reached a point where the most beautiful shoes are the most comfortable shoes, at least, not based on what I saw in the store today.

Now I have two new very functional pairs of shoes; a pair of brown suede sandals and a pair of breathable Mary Janes. Neither of which are exactly the most beautiful shoes in the world, but they versatile enough to be worn with a variety of outfits, for being out and walking around.

I love that fitness clothes are starting to combine form and function, too. It seems like in the past ten years, the fitness apparel market has exploded with workout clothes that donít make you hope and pray you donít run into anyone you know on the way to the gym (or running trail, or whatever). Itís now possible for me to buy a top that I can wear to a party, and then go straight to a yoga class, without changing.

Iím only pushing 35, but within the short time of my adulthood, there was a time when a sporting goods store would barely carry anything for women. As a younger woman, sometimes Iíd go into a sports apparel store and there would literally be one kind of sports bra (and it would be the most hideous thing ever). I think itís only been within the past 5 years or so that sports retailers have really started to understand that women who have breasts are active, too. Athletic does not equal flat-chested. Weíre not mini-men that only require a smaller size.

I have to admit, when I used to hear older women talk about how much better it is to feel ok with putting comfort ahead of beauty, I was horrified. I know that sounds exceptionally vain, but aesthetics have always been important to me. I never wanted to become the kind of person who doesnít care what she looks like.

I still care, but now I understand the other point of view. It is nice to not feel compelled to squeeze into a bustier, or push my breasts so high that I need a periscope to see, both things I never did, but you get the point. Beauty shouldnít have to hurt, and if it hurts, itís going too far.

I think part of what has triggered my new attitude is just the aging process. Things started changing, and I had no control over them. I had to accept aging, and with my acceptance, I learned appreciation.

I gained weight, and in the past, if that had happened to me, my attitude would have been, ďCome hell or high water, I will be a size 2, again, and it will be soon

Rather than merely focusing on weight loss, I focused on healthy weight loss, probably because I was older, and hopefully that means wiser. Turns out, at this stage in the game, healthy weight loss just might not be an option for me. The German DNA has expressed itself.

There is also the grey hair thing, which Iíve previously discussed at length.

And now, when someone mistakes me for being younger than I am, rather than being flattered, my gut reaction is more along the lines of, ďOh noÖ do I seem silly or awkward? Do I look like I donít have any experience or wisdom?Ē Then, my I catch myself, and realize that most people associate beauty with youth. I donít, anymore, though, which is strange considering that we live in a culture that worships youth.

I remember the first time it happened. It was when were in Japan, and my brother took us out to dinner with all of his ex-pat friends, so we could meet them. I ended up sitting across from an Irish guy, with a cute Japanese girlfriend, who adored him to such an extent that Iím sure if he would have let her, sheíd have spent the entire meal in his lap. Besides her adoration for him, I didnít get to know much about her, since her English was sparse. Luckily, her boyfriend spoke fluent Japanese.

During the brief few minutes he was able to wrench free from her attention, he said to me, ďSo, youíre Joeís sister? How do you like visiting your big brother in Japan?Ē I think it was the comparison to my brother that did it. I felt like I was robbed with all the grade school prestige that came with being the older one. There I was, a woman in her mid-30s, and actually offended for being mistaken as the younger one.

ďNo! Iím older! Iím the older one!! Iím visiting my younger brother in Japan.Ē I said a little bit too vehemently. I leaned across the table to look over at my brother to see whether or not he was looking more sophisticated and mature than myself.

When the guy saw my reaction, he quickly apologized and corrected himself.

Then, I went on to answer the question like a proper adult.

That was the first time that, rather than automatically associating youth with beauty, I automatically associated it with immaturity, naivete, silliness and awkwardness.

I still go back and forth on this. I canít say that Iím happy to lose elasticity in my skin, high metabolism or natural hair color, but Iím starting to value the aging process, which is something I never thought would happen.

Rather than feeling like it makes me appear less vital, I feel like it makes me appear more vital. I feel like the signs of aging are saying things like, ďIím wiser, Iím better informed, Iím reliable, I have significant responsibilities, and I contribute to society. I have more self-confidence and personal power. My current lifestyle choices have truly been choices and not some ego trip or cry for attention.Ē

Perhaps no one else agrees, and when they see my grey hairs, they think, ďWow, sheís too young for grey hairs.Ē For me, believing that my signs of aging make me appear to be all those other, more worthwhile, things makes me feel good.

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Tuesday, Jun. 21, 2011 at 4:21 PM