Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 12, 2014

Finding the fountain of youth


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — On my way up the bleachers — still painted a deep royal blue  — a gentleman said, “You be sure to write about tonight in the newspaper.” I never make a promise on what I am going to write in my columns. You never know what can happen between that moment and the day I sit down at my desk in the newsroom. But I knew I would write about that Saturday night. It isn’t everyday you get to put on a basketball jersey and pretend you are 17 again.

It has been a week since the Mercer Christian Academy alumni games. My sore muscles have recovered from four quarters of basketball. I sprinted down the court. I jumped for loose balls and played man-to-man defense. I loved every second of it because for an hour or so, I felt like a teenager again instead of 33-year-old wife and stepmom.

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Beauty companies love women in their 30s. We are prime marketing targets for creams, lotions, serums and more. The fountain of youth, which we never thought of before, has become more appealing in this decade of life. I have fallen for a few splashy, well-design ads in the magazines. I am always disappointed. I don’t glow. Neither do I look any younger. The mascaras I pick out never seem make my lashes as big and dark as the model. All tricks of the trade, I assume. Or smoke and mirrors. Celebrities spend millions in beauty treatments and plastic surgery. Most end up looking unnatural. Some look ridiculous. Yet thousands of women crave a nip, tuck, filler, injection, nose job and more. Plastic surgery is neutral territory. If a person truly desires a change, they are entitled to find their happiness. But there is a line drawn down the cosmetic counter. No industry, Hollywood celebrities or magazine should make any of us feel our best isn’t good enough. We can each find our own fountain of youth without pressure from outside sources.

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I have thought about what I would change if I had the ability and resources. My eyes are small. My hair is half straight/half curly. My nails never grow. I can always find something. It is a bad habit, almost like biting your nails or leaving a cabinet open. I don’t believe a woman is 100 percent confident ever day. We have Mondays when our hair looks flat. Days where we oversleep or have a nasty winter cold. But self-esteem is a trait we build throughout a lifetime. It takes years to create self-esteem. That is why I wouldn’t trade places with any 17 year old. On  bad days, I find my self worth despite living in a society that believes I need fuller lashes, shiny hair and a facial. Beauty products and treatments are a treat, not a lifestyle or fountain of youth.

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No beauty product or pedicure has lead me to the fountain of youth. But I got a taste of it on the basketball court. Remembering the hobbies and loves from our youth is an instant time machine. It had been years since I played a game with friends. I was clumsy with the basketball. It felt strange in my hands, unfamiliar. Everything else was the same. The body doesn’t forget. Hands up for defense, box out for the rebound, sprint down the court. It was easier in the 90s, I admit, but nowhere near as satisfying as last weekend. I had found my youth.

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It will probably be awhile before I play basketball again. Life, work and other fitness-related sports have my attention. However, I know the secret to feeling young. Find the sport, the instrument, the class, the activity and the hobby of youth. Revisit it, even if its hard or challenging. You will be surprised where it takes you on memory lane. That is something no one can advertise in magazine.

Jamie Null is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jnull@bdtonline.com or on Twitter @BDTParsell.