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My Self-Conscious Hands

They say you may hide your age until someone looks at your hands and neck. I've certainly found that to be the case with myself! I feel so young on the inside then I see a picture of myself and I pick it apart. I usually start at either my hands or my neck.

This past week, a friend of mine mentioned how she loves my strong healing hands. That gave me pause. Why wasn't I looking at my hands like that? Why was I so critical of such a beautiful extension of myself? When I look at my hands, I see a lot of freckles and, gulp, age spots. When did those happen? I see short nails because I frankly don't have the time or interest in keeping them. I am in the middle of writing a book. Nails are not my priority. I love to garden. Again, nails are not my priority.

When I look at my hands, I see a wedding ring that my husband worked very hard to pay for. That ring encapsulates so much love, from my husband to the family and life we have created. I realize, in looking at these worn hands, that I have held and cradled four children and six grandchildren. I have held the hand of my child as she died. I have held the hand of my lover and best friend for many years. I continue to hold my Mother and my Daddy's hands in mine, cherishing the time we have left.

My hands have protected me and supported me countless times. They have broken falls for me and supported my body in ways immeasurable. They have absorbed deep wounds when I wasn't careful while using something sharp. Yet they never complain. I reach out to friends who are in need. I cannot even begin to imagine how many arms I have touched in consolation, the hands I have held in comfort or the hands I have gripped in fellowship.

I cook nourishing meals for those I love but, even more important, for myself. I have learned the importance of nourishing and loving myself. I use my hands in self-care as I wash and clean my body. I spread lotion over my skin, helping it to absorb needed nutrients.

I have used my hands to create the art I so dearly love, from my painting to my button and embroidery work. My hands have never failed me.

Why, then, was I being so critical of how my hands looked? It took me a while to ponder this. I finally realized that my hands, by showing my age, were reminding me of the passage of time. I am now over the hump. Sixty is looking at me in the face. My life is more over than it has begun. This is a sobering fact for me. I don't have as much time left as I thought I used to. Yet, I am acutely aware that aging is a privilege that is denied for many.

For now, I'm going to let all those harsh judgments go. I am going to appreciate these hands. I am going to be thankful every single day for all that my hands have given me, for the opportunities they afford and for the great love that they have shown me all these years. I am going to be grateful that I am quite literally able to give a hand to those who need it. I believe I will forgive myself for having forgotten the importance and love that is encapsulated in these beautiful extensions of my body and remember how they have served me so wonderfully in this lifetime.

Now, it's time to look at my neck and I plan to be a bit more kind and gracious. Until next time.....

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