Angela Paul's Books

The Beauty of Aging - Intro

Last week I watched two pop icons, Cher and Tina Turner, being interviewed together by Oprah. Oprah asked them both this big question: "how do you feel about getting older?" Cher, now sixty-one, quickly and candidly replied, "I think it sucks." Then, the sixty-eight-year old Tina responded quite differently, "I welcome it with open arms, because my senior life is so much better than when I was young … you don't mind being sixty-eight, number doesn't mean a thing—it just doesn't." My guess is that when it comes to getting older, most midlife American women probably fall somewhere between Cher and Tina Turner's take on aging.

Personally, I think it's a great time to be a woman in her fifties. I would never trade the poise and confidence I have gained over the years for the looks and insecurities of my youth. Would you? It took every one of those fifty-three years to feel the way I do now. I value every year I have lived, and I love the woman I am becoming. I am no longer a girl, nor do I desire to be one.

I also do not feel bad about my neck or any other body part for that matter. It's not that my body is free from saggy flesh or parts that need some serious lifting; it's just that age has brought with it the unexpected gift of self-love and self-acceptance. This is priceless to me. I am more at ease in my own skin than I was at twenty-five or even forty. I have grown to be a woman with more depth than I ever dreamed I was capable of, and let me tell you—that is such a wonderful, long-awaited surprise. Sure, it has also brought with it wrinkles, creaky joints, and hair that grows in some unwanted places.

But at the end of the day, however, our aging experiences, like anything else in life, will be determined by our perceptions of it. It's pointless to keep striving for outer beauty without addressing the deeper need to examine how we think. Despite our fervent attempts to deny our aging, every year we all get older. The issue is whether you are going to get old. The problem for many women is that they get old in their heads first. Aging is a natural part of life, so the sooner you can relax and accept that fact, the more pleasurable your experience of aging will be. Yes, at times it may also be fraught with some of the hard stuff in life, but that's just part and parcel of the human experience.

This is what I know—life is short and over far too soon. I do not have time to worry and obsess about something I ultimately have no control over. I prefer to use that energy instead to enjoy the life I am still fortunate to have. By the time we reach fifty, most of us have been through our share of challenges and losses, but in the big scheme of things, I don't count the loss of my youth as one of them. In fact, I'm grateful to be here at all. My health is pretty much intact, and my body continues to serve me well. And as for my less-than-perky boobs, I'm just glad I still have them. I have friends and family who haven't been so fortunate.

I have not let go of my vanities, however, nor do I intend to. I'll probably still be shaving my legs at eighty and searching for the best push-up brassiere to lift my girls. I enjoy the outer frivolities and indulgencies that make me feel good and help to deflect time a bit. But the beauty secret that serves me the most is the knowledge that while superficial beauty fades over time, beauty derived from wisdom, joy, experience, and humor does not. This is what sets us apart from the generations behind us who have not yet figured it out.

It's not about whether you can compete in the looks department with a woman a decade younger than you—that's easy these days with Botox, fillers, and all sorts of cosmetic surgical procedures. I'm talking about the light and glow in your smile and the intelligence and laughter in your eyes. It's about the confidence that comes from knowing who you are in the deepest sense. That's what sets us apart.

We can live brainwashed by our youth-obsessed society into believing that beauty is reserved only for the young. I beg to differ. There is beauty in our aging. I staunchly believe that beauty has no age limit. I see it in the amazing women I observe everyday. I see it in you and I see it in me. We may live in bodies that age, but our souls are ageless. And if you take care of yourself from the inside out, your mind can be as young as you want it to be.

So what does it take to live joyfully as we age? We need to free our minds, love our bodies, and nourish our spirits. With those principles in mind, The Beauty of Aging is divided into three sections. I start with "A Makeover for Your Mind" because without the inner work of changing our outdated perceptions of aging, then no amount of primping the outer self is going to bring lasting joy and self-esteem. We'll also look at how the sensual delights of pleasure and great sex start in the mind and go a long way in keeping us vibrant and young. Once you free your mind, then it's onto "Love Your Body," where we look at body image, self-care, and tips on healthy eating, exercise, sleep, and of course, all those fun beauty "secrets" I've stored up over the years.

In the last section "Nourish Your Spirit," we get to explore the healing benefits of meditation, faith, service, and the transformative power of silence and solitude. We will also look at the many aspects of love, including one of my favorite topics, marriage. Believe me, I have a lot to say on that! I conclude with "Death and Immortality" because I am a firm believer that in order to live well and fully, we have to come to terms with that white elephant in the room, formally known as death.

The possibility to be healthy, happy, and beautiful at midlife and beyond is available to each of us now more than ever before. All you have to do to start is to know it, believe it, and live it. The Beauty of Aging will show you how. My wish is that my book will help you feel your most beautiful ever and inspire you each day to fall in love with the radiant woman you have become.

It's Hard Being Human - Intro

It's hard being human. That may seem too simple, but it's the truth. The simple truth is that being human is an experience often fraught with challenge and struggle. Once that is said and done and we accept that fact without fuss or fear, we can take a deep breath, let out a sigh of relief, and get on with the fine art of living.

Human consciousness is complex and mysterious and often painful and bewildering. There is so much we don't understand, so much that doesn't make any sense. It takes a long time to make sense of ourselves, to figure out why we act and feel the way we do. Each one of us is born with his or her own unique set of tests and challenges perfectly designed to teach us exactly what we need to learn in order to accomplish our purpose in life, and overcome that which holds us back from achieving it.

It is as if we are at school, but instead of seeing life as a school of hard knocks, I prefer to view it as the University of Unlimited Potential and Possibilities, or the college of Constant Growth and Choices. Life is unpredictable and rarely behaves the way we want it to. It's just the way it is. Expect the challenges and uncertainty. Accept it; welcome it even. You are then already ahead in the game of life.

Our lives are made up of billions of small moments and passing thoughts. How we embrace those moments, how we direct our thoughts, is up to us. It is our daily choices that steer how our journey through life proceeds and determine whether we will be happy and at peace.

This impermanent life is forever changing. Sorrow and joy, pleasure and pain, fear and faith, gain and loss; it all comes and goes. The goal of our journey is not perfection but wisdom and understanding. Never stagnant, life is in perpetual motion between the opposites of creation: light and dark, sorrow and joy. We experience it all, and yet somehow in the center of the chaos and confusion of living, we can find peace.

To be graced with a moment of peace is such a blessing. We learn to bend with life instead of fighting against it. And we learn to live a day at a time, moment by moment, open to all that life is offering us now.

Essential Reading

1. Healthy Aging, by Andrew Weil, M.D.
2. Still Here, by Ram Dass
3. Grow Younger, Live Longer, by Deepak Chopra M.D.
4. The Transformative Power of Crisis, by Robert M. Alter with Jane Alter
5. The Noonday Demon, by Andrew Solomon
6. When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron
7. Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, by Christiane Northrup M.D.
8. The Wisdom of Menopause, by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
9. Tired of Being Tired, by Jesse Lynn Hanley, M.D. and Nancy Deville
10. A Path With Heart, by Jack Kornfield
11. Where There is Light, by Paramahansa Yogananda
12. Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
13. The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron Ph. D.
14. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, by Deepak Chopra
15. Who Dies?, by Stephen Levine
16. Hope Will Find You, by Rabbi Naomi Levy
17. Ten Poems To Change Your Life, by Roger Housden
18. Dog Years, by Mark Doty
19. Anatomy Of The Spirit, by Carolyne Myss
20. From Aging to Saging, by Zalman Schachter- Shalomi