Every so often when I'm at the computer, I look up, unwittingly catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and am always surprised to see a furrowed brow and grumpy expression. I may be deep in thought, engaged in whatever it is I'm doing, but I look really pissed off.
My 6-year-old granddaughter asked me recently what was wrong, to which I answered, "Nothing." I was sitting there reading peacefully, thank you very much.
Most of the time, I'm in a pretty good mood so it's frustrating to look like a crabby curmudgeon. In fact, it's become more and more apparent that I've unfortunately inherited what my older sister has dubbed a "Resting Bitch Face." It's a family jewel that doesn't exactly sparkle.
Well, damn. Who wants that? And exactly what are my options for getting rid of it?
I flew to California last year to help a friend recover after her partial face lift that also included liposuction to bid adieu to the jowls that had taken up residence where her neck used to be. She had marionette lines so deep from her nose to her chin that she resembled Howdy Doody. She's in her late 50s and a realtor in Los Angeles where youth rules and age, or at least looking old and tired, can render her invisible. It's a battle we all inevitably must face.
There's no judgment here (in fact, it's the reason she asked me to come help, bypassing others who were certainly closer to her geographically). We each find our individual tipping point of comfort between longing for a more youthful appearance and our desire to remain true to our authentic selves.
Breasts lose their perkiness. Butt cheeks aren't as firm as they once were. It's a downward dog kind of world when you hit your 50s. Me? I don't mind. Really, I don't mind (doth the lady protest too much?) the signs of aging on my face. Wrinkles, crow's feet and laugh lines have eased themselves so gradually into my reflection that I'm not shocked about or disdainful toward their presence. It's that bitchy, crabby resting face that I (and apparently my granddaughter) can't abide. It's not a younger look I'm after so much as an inviting and energetic one.
And so I've been engaged in face workouts. We exercise the muscles in our bodies, but how many of us do the same for our face? It's not like muscles end at our neck, and the many small ones in our face are certainly as susceptible to the ravages of gravity and lack of use as the larger muscles in our bodies. I started doing them after a friend I hadn't seen for a while raved about the results she's seen.
"My cheeks are fuller. You know, up where they used to be," she said, "and the puffiness under my eyes is gone."
She showed me a couple of the exercises she does nightly, which are all pretty goofy-looking, and use very small repetitive movements. Later at home, I found and studied an online image of our face muscles. It's important to know what the musculature is if you're going to work it correctly and I really had no idea what lied beneath the skin on my face.
There are books, DVDs and programs — like Yoga Face, Facercize, and Facerobics — for facial rejuvenation but I simply watched several YouTube videos until I found the ones that targeted my problem areas and combined them into a routine I do at night around the time I brush my teeth. They take about 10-15 minutes.
The first thing I noticed, which totally surprised me, was a feeling of more energy in my face. Maybe I had a resting bitch face because my face was tired. Doing the exercises increases blood flow, oxygen and circulation, which must be where the new vitality came from.
After about two weeks, I noticed less frowning when my face was relaxed, a smaller double-chin profile, less drooping eyelids and the V between my eyebrows was vanishing.
Because I work at my computer for hours on end, I've also incorporated a short acupressure routine (which I also found on YouTube), targeting different points on my face when I'm feeling foggy and mentally fatigued. It takes me about two minutes to do them and I feel an immediate increase in clarity after I apply light pressure to these points, so much so, that I usually forego an afternoon cup of coffee.
Give it a try. You have to be consistent and patient and it helps, like it does with any workout, to be mindful and have fun. I've been doing them for about four months now and can see that my face is more toned and tightened, especially around my mouth and eyelids. I like that the process has been completely natural and free. I'm now aware of muscles that have literally been right under my nose. An added benefit of consistently practicing these very precise movements at night, is that when I'm frowning or have rectangle eyes during the day, I'm conscious of my expression and soften it, hoping the intelligent, spiritually empowered, happy person I am on the inside shows outwardly in my resting face as well.
Gravity may be a bitch, but I don't want to look like one.