I am starting to see the effects of aging. It’s a new phenom for me and one that will continue, God willing.

The first thing that really threw me this year was the lines I’ve developed just below my neck, right above my collar bones. They are called necklace lines and when I first started noticing them last year, I was horrified. I initially started to freak out and got worried that these lines would make me look “old”. I began looking at every other woman’s décolletage and comparing to my own. Eventually I caught myself comparing and thereby stealing my own sanity/joy and knew I had to do work around my fears. I dug into the why behind the freak out around my “necklaces” and I found that to me “old” meant less attractive. This is something we all might believe subconsciously. Our society chases, praises and is obsessed with youth. We all know this. And when you’re young it doesn’t seem like that big of deal. Then the years roll by and suddenly the youth obsession starts to feel stifling.

After the first 6 months of my new “necklaces”, I warmed up to them. I did research on what causes them and developing them is a sign of collagen deficiency. I eat a plant based diet so, I can’t use animal based collagen and had to look into other avenues. The body cannot make or store collagen without the proper amount of vitamin C. Vitamin C holds cells together during the production of collagen and is mandatory for the process of creating it. We can’t rely on fruits and veggies alone to provide us with adequate amount of vitamin C either due to pollution, factory farming and pesticides. We must look to supplements to receive the amounts we need.

After researching (I’ll share more below), I turned inward to look at the programming behind my limiting beliefs and fears about aging. I am determined to age naturally and gracefully. I see plenty of older women doing the same and I am always admiring their gorgeous faces that show their laughter and sorrow so well. When it came to my own face though, I wasn’t finding the same grace. I think it’s because I had been trained to view myself from a male gaze. Meaning, the patriarchy has determined what kind of woman is hot and what is not. Perfect example, this skit. The patriarchal programming has seeped into my consciousness and something I have started to actively fight against this year.

My fight has looked like detaching from the notion that I am my body or that my worth is attached to what my physical form looks like. This is a practice I do religiously around weight because that’s always been a touchy subject for me— as I’m sure it is for all women. When I find myself looking at pictures and wanting to dissect myself and judge my appearance, I always take a mental step back. I acknowledge all that I’ve been through, done, seen, felt, experienced, etc and then I find deep gratitude for being able to continue on living/feeling/seeing/loving. I also allow myself to be seen just as I am. I no longer wear makeup- only very, very rarely. This has helped me tremendously because it’s helped me celebrate myself for for more than just my physical appearance. If I look tired one day or I have a pimple, I still keep my face bare to own what I look like as is and allow myself to feel beautiful from a deeper place than just the surface.

Does that mean I don’t want to look good? No, I still want to look beautiful. And for me, that has become all about healing my insides and using a few tools on the outside. I wanted to share how I’m helping myself age gracefully with you, in case you were looking to do so as well.

I know collagen is all the rage right now for skin and being that I won’t partake due to my beliefs, I was intrigued when Moon Juice came out with a vegan collagen. However, it’s $58 and mostly tocos, which is rice bran solubles high in vitamin E. And then a little silver ear mushroom. I decided I would make my own version and ordered the supplements separately! Silver ear is said to slow aging by improving elasticity and increase hydration in the skin. Tocos is said to promote healthy skin and connective tissues and as well as assist in removing toxins from the body. Does it work? I can see my skin looking more plump and luminous for sure. Is scientifically proven? No. If I see a difference in my skin then that’s what matters to me. Besides collagen I also use supplements, sleep, exercise daily, clean eating (no gluten, dairy or processed sugar and plenty of fruits and veggies) and staying sober to take a care of my insides. In addition to the inner work, I wanted tools for the outside so, I tapped my friend and favorite facialist, Adrienne for tools I could use to promote lifting in my face and neck. She recommend facial cups in the morning and gua sha at night to help flush out stagnant lymph (my lymph needs a lot of extra help!) and create lift in the skin.

I’ve been using all of the above for about 2 months now and I do see a softening of my necklace lines. And honestly, that’s feels great. I’m not striving to look 25 forever instead I’m aiming to be my healthiest and most vibrant self for as long as possible. Mostly, I want to remember I am in charge of how I feel about myself and no one else gets a say, unless I allow it.

How do you all feel about aging? Any natural secrets to share? Here’s one of mine- my go to collagen tonic. I drink this 4-5 days a week! It’s super easy. Links to the products and tools mentioned above, below too!

Collagen tonic:

1/2 tsp He Shou Wu

1 tbsp tocos

1/2 tsp silver ear mushroom (also known as tremella)

Boil filtered or spring water until hot. Spoon all ingredients into your favorite mug. Pour hot water on top and give a good stir. Sip and enjoy!