She walked past me in high heels that were at least four inches tall – maybe five. Black, strappy, stilettos. The shoes were as beautiful as the young woman wearing them.

The emphasis here is on the word young.

My days of wearing heels like that are long gone. On Saturday at the Kentucky Derby event hosted by the Symphony, as I watched this young woman and her friends, each one decked out in high heels and tiny size zero dresses, I was awash in a cocktail of powerful emotions.

Envy was at the top of the list. The old green-eyed monster made me lust after those shoes, and more than the shoes, the ability to wear them. I was going to write that I couldn’t remember the last time I wore high heels, but I do remember. I was dressed up for an event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and by the end of the evening I was forced to hobble to the car early because my feet hurt so badly. I was near tears with the pain.

How could I forget? Oh right. We humans tend to repress bad memories. It keeps us from committing murder.

I’ll tell you this. The next day I donated those babies. No need to have them in my closet, reminding me that I am no longer a player in that particular game.

Along with envy, I felt a huge, pounding sadness that really was grief. Thank goodness it didn’t last long, because it was the most powerful of all. It was like a big glob of black sludge sitting in my stomach, reminding me that I couldn’t wind the clock of my life backwards.

I felt old and frumpy and I hated that. But there I was wearing my sensible shoes feeling like the dorm supervisor.

Not a good image!

When did I go from being prime real estate to not-so-prime? Looking back, it seems like it happened very quickly.

I want to age with grace.  Really, I do.

I want to enter into this phase of my life with ease – to embrace where I am now.

I’ve seen women hang on to their fading youth with a death grip. They white knuckle their way through life, pretending they are still young. I’ve never thought it worked. In fact, quite the opposite. In my opinion, women who try too hard to look young end up looking very old.

And kind of desperate.

I don’t want that fragrance of desperation to waft off of me like too strong perfume.

This is Lily. She’s a youngster who performed a beautiful choreographed dance with her rider at the Symphony event.

See her roses?

She was so pretty and expressive. My photography doesn’t come close to doing her justice.

The Kentucky Derby party was held at the Colorado State University Equine Center so there were many horses to admire – all of whom looked healthy and fit.

What really smacked me in the face was the difference between my sweet Pepper and Lily.

It was muscle tone. Lily is in her prime with a body that is muscular and well conformed. Miss Pepper on the other hand has lost muscle tone. She’s lost actual muscle. Her conformation isn’t so good anymore.

Rather like my lack of ability to wear high-heeled shoes. It’s something that comes with age. Except for Tina Turner who, at age seventy, is still struttin’ her stuff in her Jimmy Choos. Don’t her feet hurt?

The difference between Pepper and me is that she isn’t filled with envy and sadness. She has no grief about getting old. At least I don’t think she does. She simply accepts where she is in her life at this time.

What a concept!

Yet again, she is my Zen master, my role model for aging. Now all I have to do is carry her lesson with me the next time I’m attending one of those fancy, schmancy events.

May the “Pepper force” be with me – and you.

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