Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and aging, part 2

Grim news. Maslow’s hierarchy has been discredited and out of favor for decades. Decades! And nobody thought to tell me! But his flawed framework will continue to be used as we continue on with aging. Just don’t base anything important, like a term paper or a master’s thesis on it.

Ok so once you have the great attitude in place, what’s next? To my way of thinking the next two things are these: finding and maintaining a good weight and excellent skin care.

Let’s talk about weight first. (crickets silence) It’s tough to write about weight, especially because as an emotional eater, my weight fluctuates by about 10 pounds and right now I’m at the top of my weight range. Neverthless, finding and maintaining a good weight “reads” younger than lots of unnecessary pounds. Please know though that “good weight” does not = “perfect weight” or “unattainable weight.” Because I like odd numbers and the idea of being super thin is appealing, for years I thought my ideal weight would be 123 or 127 pounds. (Yes there are more odd numbers to be found, but those seemed right.) (Full disclosure: in my mind, my perfect weight is 113 or 117. I weighed in that range when I was 14 years old.) Grrrrr — the point here isn’t to get bogged down by THE NUMBER but to find a weight that you can maintain with relative ease and then stay there, or thereabouts.

Going way up and way down in weight is bad for your body, bad for your skin, and bad for your soul. Remember The Zone diet? I’ve rarely been as bitchy as when I tried to do it. Bitchy is not a word that describes what I’m after. 🙂

Moving on to skin care. Good skin reads healthy reads youthful. For good skin:

  • Don’t tan.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Buy the best quality skincare products you can afford and use them.
  • Wash your face. (But we’ve already talked about that!)

I was a teen in the 70s and this was the time of lemon juice in the hair and baby oil on the skin. But I got lucky because try as I might, I could never get good at laying out in the sun. I found it boring and uncomfortable. In my 20s and 30s I would hit the tanning salon before vacation but not on a regular basis. I now know that your history shows up in your skin. Young readers, please oh please oh please wear sunscreen and don’t use tanning beds! Your skin will thank you for it, I promise.

Smoking. Yes, I was a smoker. I smoked off and on from age 19 to 25. Quitting smoking was incredibly difficult. But I’m so glad I did. Smoking not only robs the skin on your face of vital oxygen, and dumps a whole bunch of free radicals onto you, it also hijacks your money. Just say no. Just say no. Just say no.

As far as skincare, make sure you use sunscreen every day (good lord this is the most boring thing I’ve ever written!), and use both moisturizer and eye cream at night. Most skin care systems also want you to buy toner which I think is an attempt to get you to spend more money. Save your money and buy a Revlon facial brush and use it with your cleanser.

If you have good skin and maintain a consistent weight, everything else is so much easier. Clothes look better. You’ll need less makeup and application will be faster and easier. In part 3, which will be more interesting, we will talk about makeup and fashion.

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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and aging, part 1

Before I get started let me say that men have it so much easier when it comes to getting older. Wrinkles? Sign of character. Beer belly? Easily disguised in a loose fitting golf shirt and some khaki pants. Here’s the thing. (Start of a rant that some of you may have heard. Sorry.) As a society, I believe we value men for the power/status/money and women for their looks. So men “peak” when? Maybe late 50s? Early 60s? Maybe even beyond. But women reach their physical apex at maybe 22 or 23, and nearly every girl of that age only sees her flaws, so she’s past the peak before she even knows it. Fuck! This is why men in their 40s and beyond can be leading men in movies, romantically paired with women who are a decade or more younger, and nobody thinks a thing about it.

Writing about aging is a pull of opposite forces for me. I believe with all my heart that you can’t judge a book by its cover and who you are on the inside is what really matters, and our bodies are just containers for our souls, nothing more. But I’m still going to share my thoughts on how to age gracefully, which will include tips that have everything to do with the outsides. Because the reality is that we can’t help but see what people look like, and while you could not pay me enough money to go back to who I was in my early 20s (I was a mess inside!), I’m trying to be the best 53-year-old me I can be on the outside.

If you took Psychology in school, you were probably introduced to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theory, as I remember it from many decades ago, is depicted by a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid represents your basic needs (oxygen, food, shelter) and according to Maslow, if your basic needs are not fulfilled  then you will not be able to strive for the higher needs (in his pyramid, self-actualization is at the top).

How does this relate to aging? Well, I believe that there are basic things we can do to age gracefully, and once the basics are covered we can look to the next level of taking care of ourselves. If I knew how to do cool diagrams then there would be a very cool, probably multi-colored pyramid here with pop outs describing what each layer consists of. For today, words will have to do. And for today I’m just going to talk about the foundation of the pyramid, from which everything else flows.

BASE OF PYRAMID: a positive optimistic attitude and curiosity about life. Without this, no matter how young or cute you are, you’re eventually sunk.

I’m sure you’ve met people who got more attractive as you got to know them, right? I think that phenomenon is based on having a sunny outlook. I’m not talking Pollyanna here, but to find the good in life is a very good thing. There’s a saying “Life can make you bitter or it can make you better.” This, my friends, is true.

Let’s talk about my mother-in-law, Margaret. If you met her you would be charmed by her smile and how interested she is in life. She is wonderful to be around. But her life has been far from charmed. If she chose to, she could tell you about her physical issues. Or the hardships and losses she’s seen and endured in her 80+ years of life. Or about how her husband of 60 years died. But I promise you if you met her today, she would be talking about her visit to see her brother and how much fun it was, and maybe about the new lamp and table she’s considering for her dining room, and how her bridge game is going. And she would want to know about YOU!

Let’s talk about my mother, Sandy. (I am lucky to be surrounded with such wonderful examples.) Sandy joined Toastmasters about 8 or 9 years ago because she wanted a place where she could wear all her pretty high-heeled shoes. I think she took up ballroom dancing around the same time. Why? Because it seemed fun. And then she started working out with a trainer at her gym, because she wanted to be stronger for dancing. She’s competed several times, and been asked to compete in a younger age group because it will level the playing field for the others. Sandy lives in a very exclusive part of Orange County, and from the outside it looks like she has it all. And she thinks she does. But she’s been through a LOT to get where she is. Hers is not my story to tell, nor will I tell you her age, but I will tell you that you wouldn’t believe her story or her age if I did.

I know that health issues and circumstances can completely suck and are often out of our control. But what’s the “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you make of it” speech? It’s just true.

I’ll write soon about the next level of the hierarchy. In the meantime for those of you motivated by assignments and homework and such, go watch the movie Shallow Hal. It came out in 2001 so it’s probably free on Netflicks or being sold for a nickle on Amazon, and it’s one of the best “what you are on the inside is what matters” movies I’ve ever seen. And it’s wickedly funny.

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