Friday, November 12, 2010

Youthful Inside and Out

by Dina Sleiman

This year at the American Christian Fiction Writers national conference, I made a startling discover about myself. I knew I looked young for my age. I figured I looked 30 instead of 40. But, at the conference I heard over and over (and over ad nauseam) that people thought I was twenty, or that someone had even snuck a teenager into the conference. Seriously?!?! I actually had mixed feelings about that. Of course, it’s complimentary to be told you look young, but there’s a certain wisdom and maturity that come with age as well. I didn’t want the editors thinking I was some dumb kid.

But I digress. Once I got home, I really started thinking about youth. Most of the women in my Virginia Beach area appear young for their ages, and so I don’t stand out so much here. Must have something to do with the healthy, laid-back, beach lifestyle—California girls look young too. Right? I stopped and really asked myself, what are my secrets for looking young? And might there be some spiritual applications?

1) Spend More Effort on Health than Beauty: What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. ~I Peter 3:3-4 The Message Version

I’ve found this to be true on so many levels. First, taking care of your spiritual and emotional well-being will keep you young and healthy. If you spend all your time working or caring for others and don’t take time to refuel, you will soon find yourself exhausted. Exhausted is neither youthful nor pretty. Get enough sleep. Take some quiet moments each day to get in touch with your emotions. Spend time in God’s presence communicating with him and being refreshed by his Holy Spirit.

Second, you have to eat the right nutrients to build both health and beauty from the inside out. There’s nothing attractive about sallow skin, scraggly hair, or brittle nails. Don’t focus on “diet;” focus on nutrition. Too little healthy fat will age you quicker than anything else. And make sure to exercise. Exercise will help to keep you youthful and vital.

Finally, give time and energy to a good regimen for skin health--not make-up. I buy quality serums, creams, and moisturizers, but most of my make-up is Covergirl. Concerning those facial creams, remember ingredients matter, not name. Wal-Mart carries plenty of quality skin care products.

2) Say No to Stress: Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. ~Matthew 6:27-28 NIV

Have you ever taken one of those “real age” tests? A lot of the questions have to do with stress factors in your life. Nothing will age you like stress. Now, I can’t say that I don’t have any stress factors in my life. There are some stresses we just can’t avoid like a death in the family or the loss of a job. However, I have gone to great lengths to keep stress to a minimum in my life.

How do you say no to stress? Most of the time saying no to stress means saying no to people. When you take on too much responsibility, get too busy, or give into pressure to become involved in activities that you don’t enjoy, stress is certain to ensue. Guilt is probably the #1 reason people over commit and stress out. Say no to guilt, and say no to stress.

During that quiet time with God recommended under the first point, ask him what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your time, and don’t let anyone pressure you into things God isn’t asking you to do. Ultimately, keeping busy with “good” things can keep you from accomplishing God’s unique plans for your life. Let’s face it, no matter how hard you work, you can’t fix the world. No matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone. Concern yourself only with pleasing God, and leave the world fixing to him.

3) Learn How to Play Again: And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." ~Matthew 18:3 NIV

In many ways, God wants us to be children. He wants us to embrace life. To laugh, to cry, to play. To keep our hearts open and not grow hard. A time to mourn and a time to dance. If we want to stay young and healthy both physically and spiritually, we need to become more like children.

When I take stock of my own life, I find I make much time to play and be like a child. One of my favorite activities is worship dance. Through that avenue I find time to play, exercise, and find refreshment in God all at once. Nothing lifts my spirits and energizes me like dancing in God’s presence. In addition, I love to act and sing and paint. The arts fuel the imagination and the inner child. Part of being youthful is not being self-conscious, but rather freely enjoying yourself and the beautiful world God has given you. Spending time out in that beautiful creation is yet another way to play and stay youthful. I love to walk, ride my bike, and swim outdoors.

Play reduces stress and feeds our spirits. It allows us to be like the little children God has asked us to be. It frees us to rest in his arms and not take so much worry and responsibility upon ourselves. Think of it from a parent’s point of view. Yes, you have jobs you want your kids to do, but nothing gives you more joy than watching them at play or at rest. So play hard, then take time to cuddle in the arms of your heavenly daddy and cast all your cares on him.

Be young, be healthy, be free!

What are your secrets for staying young and/or beautiful?


  1. Excellent post, Dina. One thing struck me though - my nails have always been strong without being 'flat' or 'ridged' which show a lack of nutrients and protein. Until I lost the 50+ lbs. Now they split oh so easily. And they have ridges, which are like vertical bumps in the nail itself. Nice to fidget with but not to look at.

    I believe a part of looking young is coloring your hair--oh wait! That was Gina's post. LOL

    Actually, part of it is feeling young inside. I always feel like that 20 yr old on the cusp of an adventure. So much so that when I pass a mirror, I'm surprised at who I turned into. When I play my 'childish' games or jokes, people ask how old I am. What they mean is that I'm not acting my age. And honestly, I don't usually remember. I have to think about it because really it doesn't matter to me.

    Anita Mae.

  2. Thanks, Adge. And to everyone, seems like blogger is glitching today. So my apologies if I don't reply to comments for a while.

  3. Anita, you have to be careful when you lose weight. I notice, I tend to have some hair fall out. You probably need more healthy fat in your diet. Top choices, salmon, olive oil, raw almonds, and avacado.

    I think when you hit your goal weight, you should treat yourself with a trip to a great salon.

    And, yes, you do have a fun, youthful side.

  4. DINA!!! Great post, girl, although a little too late for this "oldie but goodie" ... :) I know, I know, you're going to tell me it's never too late, right?? Yeah, tell that to my mirror ... :)

    And Anita said: "Actually, part of it is feeling young inside." I cannot agree with this more!! You've heard it said that old people feel like they are still 21 inside, and I can vouch for that. Only with me, it's more like ... uh, 13!! But I truly credit my immature personality as one of the main reasons I come across a little younger than I am because well, basically, I'm a kid inside no matter what the outside says!! And let's face it, if you see a grandma skipping down the street, spinning and twirling in delight, she does appear younger, right??? Say yes, PLEASE, because I just did that last week and hope I didn't look like a dork. :)

    Happy weekend, all!


  5. Vivacious is a word that comes to mind when I think of you, Julie, and that sort of vivaciousness instantly makes anyone seem a decade younger. Add that to your hip wardrobe, and you're doing awesome. I'm sure you were utterly adorable dancing down the street.

    I think I'm about twenty on the inside. When I'm in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation, I tend to hang out with kids and teenagers.

  6. Thanks Dina. Loved what you said about stress. It really takes a toll. I try to get into the cleft of the rock with Jesus when I need to let the world melt away.

    Health is beautiful! I know that I need to make some changes in my diet- too much sugar and caffeine- my favorite food groups...

    Oh, and SMILE!! A real inside out smile is so lovely.
    Have a beautiful and healthy day everyone!

  7. Wonderful tips, Cheryl. Thanks. And actually, a moderate amount of caffeine is fine. It boosts your metabolism and most caffeine sources are high in anti-oxidants. The problem is when you fill it with sugar, carbonate it, or use it in place of sleep.

    Try coffee with skim milk and truvia. Better yet, make a latte of it.

  8. This is great, Dina!
    I struggle with stress, knowing it makes the corners of my lips turn down and wrinkles appear on my forehead. But even more than that, I have a terrible time letting myself PLAY! In fact, I've begun to sense the Lord dealing with me more and more to take some time just to play.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  9. I think part of feeling younger is finding enthusiasm for something. It creates energy and energy feels and looks young!
    Oh, and yup, hair color, for those of us I mean you who need it.

  10. Niki, hopefully that new grandchild on its way will help you find time to play :)

  11. Yes, Deb, I agree. Enthusiasm counts for a lot. Keeps you young and alive.

  12. Julie, you do act like a kid! LOL

    However, I used to visit my Finnish grandma in her seniors complex. I remember when she was 82 yrs old and we went to get the mail. She ran and skipped down the hall. Another senior passed us and shook her head. She smiled and said, 'That mama of yours is like a little girl. Run and skip and dance. She never walks.'

    So Julie, you're in wonderful company because Mama loved Jesus since she discovered Him at 9 yrs old and a day didn't go by when she wasn't acting like David dancing down the streets. :)

    Anita Mae.

  13. Do you know what I think it is that keeps you so young Dina? Your unassuming humility. I mean, you would NEVER be one to repeat flattery, whether it was even in ernest or not, would you? The other thing that keeps you looking so young is probably that fantastic cool-aid that you are drinking. By the way, would you mind sending me some? LOL

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  15. Thanks, Emma. I knew someone would have to call me out on that one :) Leave it to an old college friend. But since it's been a joke around the inkwell here for a while, I decided to just go with it.

    Out of cool aid. So sorry.

  16. BTW, Emma, you were looking pretty young yourself the last time I saw you, and I bet those new college classes have energized you even more.

  17. So glad I feel younger than last year. I felt about a hundred years old. Much better now. Maybe only 70. Glad I don't look how I feel inside. LOL! Loved your post! God has blessed you, Dina.

  18. Hi Carrie! Haven't seen you around here much. I'm so glad you're feeling better. I actually was feeling old last year for a while from a medicine I was taking. It was awful.

    And by the way, Angela and Kim both thought you were in your forties, so you're doing pretty good for yourself.

  19. Sorry, Dina, for not responding earlier. I spent the morning and most of the afternoon cleaning house for the party tonight. Once done, I prepared the food and set it out. Finally around 9pm folks began arriving. My street and the one perpendicular to it was lined with corvettes...and I didn't get a picture. Bummer. I'm guessing we had 80-90 people here.

    Anyhoo, great post.

    What beauty-care regime do I use to look young? Sleep 8 hours a day. Drink lots of water. Yell at kids often to relieve stress. Hug and kiss kids and hubby often.

    Oh, and read my last week's self-help post. Yes, tonight I will not wash my makeup latered face before I go to bed. However I will brush my teeth. :-)

  20. I got to watch Gina practicing not smiling too big last weekend. Great fun. Chip MacGregor did not make this an easy task, very humorous and entertaining guy.


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