You're made of so much beauty

One of the benefits of having a cupboard full of journals is that some days, for some reason - or maybe for no discernible reason at all - you find yourself flicking through the pages and (re)discovering something jotted down a few years ago. I'd completely forgotten about the poem I found yesterday, and which came at a perfect time...

There have been a few occasions recently when I've been confronted by the fact that I really am getting older. Before you rush to tell me that 40-something isn't very old, I should clarify: until now I pretty much felt the same as I did in my 20s, except for the exhaustion and permanent eye-bags which I put down to being a mother of two. But lately it's different. Gravity is visibly taking it's toll on a body that has grown and nourished two children and that walks several miles every day, but would otherwise prefer to be seated to facilitate something more interesting (to me) than exercise. My hair is getting more 'glittery' and I can no longer jump out of bed as soon as I wake. I need to wear glasses, and things are starting to creak and ache a bit more than I'd like. Also I was a bit shocked at the forty-two year old me in those Blogtacular photos - my body seems to have shrunk and considerably 'softened' - if it continues along the same trajectory I may eventually turn into a ball! 

Some time ago Lisa Condgon wrote about ageing, and how she decided to own her image as a middle-aged woman with grey hairs and laughter lines - I went back to read it again this week (it was fitting, Lisa was a keynote speaker at Blogtacular. Meeting her was one of the highlights and she didn't look old at all, she looked strong and beautiful). So I had been thinking about all of this when my journal appeared in my hands and, flicking through the pages, I found a perfect poem copied out in my own handwriting. (My memory is also bad these days and if it hadn't been my writing I wouldn't have remembered writing it down.) I've reproduced the words below - maybe you will enjoy them too. 


You are not your age,

Nor the size of clothes you wear,

You are not a weight,

Or the colour of your hair.

You are not your name,

Or the dimples in your cheeks,

You are all the books you read,

And all the words you speak,

You are your croaky morning voice,

And the smiles you try to hide,

You're the sweetness in your laughter,

And every tear you've cried,

You're the songs you sing so loudly,

When you know you're all alone,

You're the places that you've been to,

And the one that you call home,

You're the things that you believe in,

And the people that you love,

You're the photos in your bedroom,

And the future you dream of,

You're made of so much beauty,

But it seems that you forgot,

When you decided that you were defined,

By all the things you're not.

- Erin Hanson


These words were written by a poet half my age. You can find more of Erin's beautiful (and wise) poems here

21 comments

  1. All so very true.....what scares me most, you also touched upon, my memory...I've tried to remember things that someone else has reminded me of and failed, I've seen things that I've written and forgotten about later and most annoyingly I've looked back on things I did when I was younger and think the me now wouldn't have the balls to do the same again. To boot I've started having tinitus in the last year...too much fish-wife yelling at my kids ;-)

    Great poem, maybe I shoild write it down and put it somewhere I will fall over it :-)

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    1. You should! On the subject of memory, my 80-something grandmother told me recently that she was "going doolally" because she was forgetting the date, and where she'd put things, and the names of people she's known for years. I congratulated her on getting to 80-odd, I've been like that since my 30s!

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  2. Wow - so true for me too! I get frustrated at trying to find my glasses, look longingly at those people who run and skip without either breaking a bone or causing the earth to tremble.... Caught myself reading an article yesterday on make up for over 40's and then thought 'WTF who cares' ..... No one else just me being hard on myself again! Love, love the poem and now if only I could remember where I put my glasses........

    Sending hugs xx

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    1. Hahahaha, oh Louise, how I can relate! :D xxx

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  3. Sarah, I turned 50 this past March and I have to say it freaked me out just a wee bit. I'm not sure where the 25 years have gone since I was 25. I looked at the grey hairs, the laugh lines, the podgy tummy and the ever increasing thighs and wondered where they came from. They've actually been there for years, just growing at a nice little pace. I realised that I have earned every single grey hair, wrinkle and bulge. A mum of 3, a survivor of a very violent first marriage. I looked in the mirror and realised that its not the number that defines me, its the way I've lived, the way I've nurtured, loved and laughed. The "F" word is now a very proud "Fifty" because I know it earned the number with grace and dignity.

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    1. How wonderful - I love this Amanda. Thank you for sharing xxx

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  4. I was 56 last week and when I look in the mirror I'm still shocked to see this old grey lady staring back at me (somehow my brains says I'm still 19). I'm definitely not as active as I used to be, have aches & pains that just won't go away, and yep I'm turning into a round ball, but you know what, I've enjoyed my life so far & earned every line. I like the poem for many reasons but mainly because we're a celebrity obssessed / image driven culture at the moment, and there is so much pressure from outside, you really don't need to add any more to it from inside.

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    1. Spot on! And happy birthday for last week! xxx

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  5. A beautiful poem and one that I can relate to. I remember walking down a corridor, with 3 female colleagues and a group of guys walking towards us, eyed up the 2 to my left and then the 1 on the right - missing me out completely! I thought crikey I'm 45 and invisible, that shook my confidence for a while. I'm now 61, grey haired, gravity is winning and most things creek when I move, but I embrace every day because you only get one life and sometimes that life is too short.

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    1. Yes - you're right! Becoming invisible also brings with it a certain freedom though, I find. It's not all together unwelcome ;)

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  6. I love it (not) when spell check decides to change words I meant creak not creek!

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  7. Awh, I'm feeling a little bit emotional as I read this! I have a few years on you and my hair glitters quite a lot now.
    The poem is perfect, some people are so wise!

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    1. You're not the only one - I have had some lovely emails and text messages from people in tears (I feel I should point out that wasn't my intention ;) )

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  8. Such a lovely poem Sarah - I think we all have a tendency to be so hard on ourselves ( as women ) the important thing is to check in with yourself- how many times do we ask others "how are you?" But how often do we ask that question of ourselves? We are all unique and we are all beautiful and need to remember that. Like the other lady I'm turning 55 soon and yes I've flipping well earned every line and spongy bits - the creaky bits aren't so welcome but heigh ho.... That's life. Remember to ask yourself "how am I doing " Rhian x

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  9. I love this poem, ive never heard it before now. Im only 29 and I already feel myself ageing. My memory is so poop too. I also feel I havent accomplished much in my life but maybe thats not who I am xx

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    1. It's very beautiful and wise isn't it? You're still young enough to accomplish whatever you want :)

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  10. I've always agreed that true beauty is on the inside and can be seen in your actions.
    <3

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