Seeing pictures of myself at this week's art event, I thought it time to hit "publish" on this post written earlier this summer. Never one to routinely look at others and guess their age, I have begun to spot the signs and see the changes in women from 30 to 40 to 50. I see myself last decade. I see myself in same decade of other women, also now in their 50s. Here's a take on one of those changes that often comes with age for the women folk. Be sure to watch the short, video of this phenomenal local performer.
In a gentrified railroad gulch, a midweek sunset mirrored off the sexy, sleek, glass-sided sky scrapers that dwarfed an unassuming one-story stone building. Inside The Station Inn—a sanctuary for bluegrass music—that night, for the early show, mostly mid-life women were gathered. 'Round small tables they clustered, munching popcorn and clutching sweaty bottle-neck beers. They'd come to laugh some more during the performance of local phenomenon: "speaker-songwriter" Minton Sparks.
Her signature "genuine bone, leather pocket-book" dangled from her narrow wrist. She dressed in her classic floral Sunday best, complete with matching bone-color pumps that slid both easily and awkwardly, for affect, across a stage backdropped by bluesy guitarist, John Jackson, who once accompanied Bob Dylan. (This IS Nashville.)
As our hour of laughter was concluding, Sparks strode across the stage, wiped the humor from her character clean and talked about a revolution sweeping the country. She asked if we'd heard about it. All over the country, she said waving her arm over half of the narrow stage. Women who once worked so hard with kettle balls and all sorts of upper arm torture were giving it up, she said. No more. No more beauty queen wave. These women were taking to the "HI HELEN' wave," flying the white flag-under belly of their mid-life arms. (A video of this skit was not available on the web, that I could find.)
Just weeks before I finally made it to hear Minton Sparks and learned about the "Hi Helen!" revolution, I'd turned 54. On my birthday, I wrote about embracing the bodily affects of aging. And then I began to see "the falling of my upper arms," as my companion put it--only when I mentioned it to him. I began puzzling: "When could I fit in a fitness class?" "What could I do with hand weights at home?" And, yes, in addition to daily walks in nature, I do yoga. Every morning. Since 1987. Back before it was cool.
This morning, a man in the coffee shop followed me with his eyes as I crossed in front of him and out the door. I nodded my head at him and then proceeded to walk down 12th South back to where my daughter was meeting with her art therapist. I strolled down the street thinking about how each decade had changed my body. I embraced my soft belly that permanently parked a decade ago. My long muscular legs, developed in my teens, transported me to my destination. Each six months to a year, something lowers or creases on my face. And, now, in my nearly mid-50's I celebrated, thanks to Minton Sparks, my latest metamorphosis, my "Hi Helen!" arms. This is me at 54. Me at 54, admittedly, not willing to sacrifice at at the alter of the gym. (My 50s-aged friends tell me that a gym does not cure the Hi Helen! wave.) Apparently, I've entered the decade of the "Hi Helen!" I told myself that those eyes that followed me were okay with all the body parts that had gone south in the last decade. I later told myself he mocked my "droopy wet hair." Or, did he think I odd, as I weaved through the crowd humming to myself?
What'ev. All that matters is what I think about me. And, at 54 going on 55, I'm embracing and waving it proudly:
(Disclosure: I'm still pondering a quick, home-based free-weights for arms routine. I used to have one.)
Check out this courageous woman who documented her aging in her birthday suit: