Joy Collector: Ode to Aging

This Inspirational Quote Changed The Life Of Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross shares the one quote that changed her life forever.

Posted by HuffPost Black Voices on Thursday, March 10, 2016

Joy Collector: Ode to Aging

Gwen Witherspoon
Left to right: College 1985, single mom 1986 (28 lbs lighter), 2008, August 2015

I just saw this HuffPost Black Voices video on Facebook featuring Tracee Ellis Ross, and it struck me when she said, “…really listen. Not just to what’s happening outside of you, but inside of you. Be who we are in a very full and beautiful way…”

My mind flashed through the honest truth that I feel more beautiful, capable, confident, and fulfilled than ever…today…right now. As I approach my 53rd birthday in just over a month…just as quickly, I cringed a little when I thought about what’s happening to me physically on the outside. Seeing myself age is difficult. There is a “pretty” that is escaping, and it’s being replaced with a person I don’t recognize at times. This is not a ploy for compliments. It’s just an acknowledgement of what happens to us all, if we are blessed with length of days…and I am blessed and grateful for it.

If only I’d had the strength of character and genuine joy in my being as a younger woman.

When I look at pictures of myself from 10, 20, 30 years ago–along with the wonderful memories and amazing life they represent–I think, “I thought I was fat.” Yep. Fat. I wasted so much time limiting what I wore–not because I was modest. Because I thought I was fat. Intellectually, I recognize that that’s ridiculous, but that belief was there from high school through most of my adult life. And I know I’m not alone. What if all women could take Tracee’s advice and “Be who we are in a very full and beautiful way…” every day at every weight at every age? What if we all lived as Joy Collectors?


by Gwendolyn Faye

I am beginning to view my naked form’s reflection

As a classic painter’s goddess

Just call me Boticelli’s Venus

My renaissance began before

The earth was called Mother

And my eyes started looking tired

When I see the veins popping out of my hands

I recognize that

A river of life flows through them

The failure that once clouded my vision

I understand was my proving

And I now celebrate it as my resurrection

Now climbing the stairs and hearing

The lyric of my heavy breathing and heart beating

Sings to me of dancing to be done

I have no need for plastic surgery

Because those lines around my eyes

Are more like the impurities in raw silk

Or brush strokes of a fine portrait

Mona Lisa ain’t the only one smiling

Mine is a beauty eternal

So you see, with all the heartache I’ve felt

The blows that been dealt

The youth I’ve lost at great cost

There’s more that I gained

With pure joy unfeigned

And the Jeopardy answer I’ve got

What is?

Even my wrinkles are hot!

© 2005 Gwendolyn Faye. All rights reserved. Duplication is strictly prohibited.


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