Ageing and Youth in Asia

Ageing and Youth in Asia

I am in my mid-twenties, and I think about aging. You might wonder now why I am already thinking about a topic like that. Aging is a big thing in Asia, and with my half Taiwanese heritage, I have been confronted with beauty and skincare from a very young age. 

People always wonder how Asian women look so young, let me tell you it’s not just the genes, they really know how to take care care of themselves. Natural medicine, herbs, and understanding what you put into your body is deeply embedded into East Asian culture. 

The older I get, the more I want to keep my body young and healthy. I don’t think it is narcissism that fuels this wish, it is that I see a lot of older people suffering from problems that they could’ve prevented while they’re young. I want to give my body a fair fighting chance, a good head start when age is slowly going to give it a hard time. 

Now, what do I actually do to keep myself on top of my game? There is no secret ingredient, it’s basically beauty from the inside out. We all know about it, but not everyone really knows what that means. 

While I am writing these lines, I think I want to make it a series. There are so many things that I do and to make you read all of it at once? It is a bit much. 

I don’t know how many women my age are actually thinking about aging. I want you to think about it differently because the aging I talk about is not the wrinkles and gray hair. It is all about health and feeling strong, fit, and healthy. 

Today I am going to start with something we can all put more effort into; Skincare. As a teenager, I couldn’t care less about my facial products. I would just use whatever mum was buying. When I hit 17, I started modeling here and there, and I had an ex-model as my mentor. She had those gorgeous long legs, and every time she would walk into a room, you can’t help but look at her. That’s how much of an aura she has. She is one of the OG models (I’m sure you chuckled a bit haha). She had a very traditional model carrier. When she was doing runway shows, they didn’t have a makeup artist. Someone stuck a picture of whatever the look was for today’s show, and every model had to figure it out themselves how to get that look done. She had a proper runway and posing training, and she wasn’t less strict on me. She would reprimand me for not taking care of my skin properly, and she would force me to put on SPF every day. She was strict and mean at times, but I looked up to her. She’s now a beautiful mum and businesswoman, and she looks hella good for her age. I thought: “I want to look like that!”.

That’s when I started to put more focus on what I put on my face. And as simple as it sounds, SPF is so important. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, windy, rainy, snowy, or cloudy. Put your SPF on EVERY SINGLE DAY! Find one that your skin likes and slather it all on your face. If you are outside all day, remember to reapply!

Favorites of mine are the SPF day creams by La Roche Posay. They have all kinds of different day creams for different skin; sensitive, dry, allergic, dull…etc.

Right now I mix Tone-up Light Cream SPF 50+ PA++++ by La Roche Posay with my daily moisturizer (Skintelligence® Daily Moisture Enhancer) and apply it in the morning. On the go I have a powder with SPF from Maybelline, to reapply my SPF during the day.

Fegefeuer der Eitelkeiten

Fegefeuer der Eitelkeiten

Photo by Enrico Carcasci on Unsplash

(Scroll down for English version)

Eigentlich hätte ich darauf gefasst sein müssen, als ich mich auf das Abenteuer einließ, mit meiner Familie nach Mailand umzuziehen. Mailand, die Stadt der Mode, des Designs, das ist ein großer Wurf von unserer kleinen Kreisstadt im Alpenvorland, in der Sportlichkeit, nicht Eleganz den Ton angibt. Trotzdem komme ich sogar heute noch manchmal aus dem Staunen nicht heraus, wenn ich die eleganten, bis in die Zehenspitzen gestylten Donnas mit ihren überhohen Absätzen an mir vorbeistolzieren sehe. Natürlich kommt es darauf an, wo man wohnt. Der Zufall wollte es, dass wir mitten in der Stadt gelandet sind, 100 m Luftlinie von Armani und der weltweit bekannten Nobel-Modemeile Via Montenapoleone. „Rechts oder links?“ ist die Standardfrage, die ich meinem Mann stelle, bevor wir aus dem Haus gehen. „Links“ bedeutet das kleine, mit bunten Boutiquen gespickte Viertel Brera, „rechts“ die mondäne Welt der Mode, in der alle namhaften Geschäfte innerhalb von 100 Quadratmetern zu finden sind. Zwischen „rechts“ und „links“ liegen Welten, was die Anforderung an mein eigenes Outfit angeht, ich möchte ja schließlich nicht auffallen wie ein bunter Hund. Elegantes Schuhwerk, aufeinander abgestimmte Accessoires und natürlich Sonnenbrille sind die Mindestanforderungen, sollte die Wahl auf „rechts“ fallen. Die Mailänder Frau legt großen Wert auf ihr Äußeres und ist auch bereit, jede Menge dafür zu tun – angefangen mit dem asketischen Frühstück von trockenen Keksen und Espresso über den regelmäßigen Besuch des Fitnessstudios, bis hin zum zeitweisen Totalverzicht auf Süßigkeiten. Insbesondere wenn die ersten warmen Sonnenstrahlen in Mailand wieder an den bevorstehenden Sommer erinnern, gilt es, den inneren Schweinehund zu überwinden. „Ma no, pensa al costume!“ „Aber nein, denken Sie an den Badeanzug!“ ist die entsetzte Antwort, die mein Mann standardmäßig zu dieser Zeit von seinen Mitarbeiterinnen zu hören bekommt, sollte er sich erdreisten, ihnen zum cafè eine kleine süße Versuchung anzubieten. Die Mailänderin verwendet viel Geld und Zeit, um das, was sie zu bieten hat, in Szene zu setzen. Viele Frauen geben jeden Monat ihren letzten Cent für Mode und Körperpflege aus. Sparen als Zukunftssicherung – ein Thema, das die jüngere Generation in Mailand nicht kennt. „Le donne devono essere belle“, „Frauen müssen schön sein“, das ist die gängige Meinung des typischen Italieners und für viele zahlt sich die Schönheit dann früher oder später aus, weil man dem richtigen Mann zur richtigen Zeit die Augen verdrehen konnte – eine andere Art der Zukunftssicherung eben.

Was aber geschieht, wenn die so übermäßig zelebrierte Schönheit und Jugend dem Alter weichen müssen? Was, wenn das Haar ergraut, die ersten Falten kommen und das Gewebe schlaffer wird? Ganz einfach, Frau sucht nach Lösungen und die gibt es in Mailand quasi an jeder Ecke. Als ich vor einiger Zeit meinen Friseur gewechselt habe, bediente mich die Chefin, eine sehr kompetente und nette Frau. Wie viele Italiener strahlte auch sie diese lebensbejahende Haltung aus und wie viele Friseure war auch sie äußerst redsam. „Ma sei una bella donna!“ „Du bist aber eine hübsche Frau“, meinte sie ganz begeistert und fügte etwas bedauernd an: „ma tutte queste rughe!“ „Aber die vielen Falten…!“ Bevor ich noch auf den Affront reagieren konnte, erklärte sie auch schon versöhnlich: „Ho un amico che fa il botox, e nemmeno caro!“ „Ich habe einen Freund, der Botox spritzt, und das nicht einmal teuer!“

Es fiel mir in diesem Moment wie Schuppen von den Augen, dass sich eine solch skurrile Unterhaltung zwischen zwei quasi Fremden beim Friseur tatsächlich nur in Mailand abspielen konnte. Ich war mir absolut sicher, dass meine Friseurin mich keineswegs beleidigen wollte, immerhin gehörte sie auch selbst nicht mehr der jüngsten Generation an. Nachdem ich mich vom ersten Schreck erholt hatte, brachte ich die Natürlichkeit als Argument gegen eine Botox-Behandlung an, doch die Friseurin starrte mich nur mitleidig den Kopf schüttelnd an. Sie fragte sich wahrscheinlich gerade – nicht zu Unrecht – weshalb sie mir denn dann eben noch die neue Farbe ins Haar geschmiert hatte. Meinen inneren Zwiespalt erkennend, lächelte sie mich schließlich bemitleidend an, so als wolle sie sagen: „Warte nur, irgendwann kommst auch du noch auf den Geschmack!“ Auf mich wirkt Botox wie die unvermeidliche zweite Runde: Zuerst werden die Haare gefärbt, dann wird Botox gespritzt. Und was ist dann mit der dritten Runde? Auch hier hat Mailand jede Menge zu bieten im guten wie im schlechten Sinne. Die Bereitschaft über schönheitschirurgische Eingriffe zu reden, ist in Mailand unter Frauen erstaunlich groß. Egal ob Lifting, Lippen oder Busen, man befindet sich in guter Gesellschaft. „Eigentlich sollte das Alter der Frauen von 39 direkt auf 60 umspringen“, meinte meine Tochter kürzlich, angewidert vom Anblick einer mit Luftballonlippen entstellten älteren Mailänderin. „Alles was dazwischen kommt ist doch eh nur purer Stress! Mit 60 darf man dann getrost richtig Oma sein, und muss sich nicht mehr um all diese Äußerlichkeiten kümmern!“ „Aber das tut es doch“, gab ich ihr schmunzelnd zurück, „ich werde in diesem Jahr ja auch schon das siebte Mal 39!“

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Actually, I should have been prepared when I embarked on the adventure of moving with my family to Milan. Milan, the city of fashion, of design, that is a far cry from our small district town in the foothills of the Alps, in which sportiness, not elegance, sets the tone. Nevertheless, even today I am still sometimes amazed when I see the elegant Donna’s, styled up to the tips of their toes, strutting past me with their incredibly high heels. Of course, it depends where you live. Chance has it that we landed in the middle of the city, 100 m as the crow flies from Armani and the world-famous Nobel fashion mile Via Montenapoleone. “Right or left? is the standard question I ask my husband before we leave the house. “Left” means the small Brera neighborhood, dotted with colorful boutiques, “right” the sophisticated world of fashion, where all the well-known shops are within 100 square meters. Between “right” and “left” there are worlds as far as the demands on my own outfit are concerned, after all I don’t want to seem totally out of place. Elegant footwear, coordinated accessories and of course sunglasses are the minimum requirements if you choose “right”. The Milanese woman considers her appearance vastly important and is also willing to do a lot for it – starting with an ascetic breakfast of dry biscuits and espresso through regular visits to the gym to the temporary total renunciation of sweets. Especially when the first warm rays of sunshine in Milan hint to the upcoming summer, it is important to conquer one’s weaker self. “Ma no, pensa al costume!” “But no, think of the bathing suit” is the horrified answer that my husband gets to hear from his colleagues at this time of year, if he should dare to offer them a little sweet temptation to go with the café. The Milanese woman uses a lot of money and time to stage what she has to offer. Many women spend their last cent every month on fashion and body care. Saving for the future clearly is a concept that the younger generation in Milan isn’t familiar with. “Le donne devono essere belle”, “Women must be beautiful”, this is the common opinion of the typical Italian and for many women beauty pays off sooner or later, because you could turn the eyes of the right man at the right time – a different way of securing the future.

But what happens when the excessively celebrated beauty and youth have to give way to old age? What happens when the hair turns grey, the first wrinkles appear and the body loses some of it’s attraction? Quite simply, today’s woman is looking for solutions and you can find them on every corner in Milan. When I changed my hairdresser some time ago, the owner, a very competent and nice woman, did my hair. Like many Italians she also radiated this life-affirming attitude and like many hairdressers she was also extremely chatty. “Ma sei una bella donna! “But you are a beautiful woman,” she said enthusiastically and added somewhat regretfully: “ma tutte queste rughe!” “But all those wrinkles…!” Before I could even react to the affront, she already declared friendly: “Ho un amico che fa il botox, e nemmeno caro!”. “I have a friend who injects Botox, and that’s not even expensive!”

At that moment I was struck by the fact that such a bizarre conversation between two quasi strangers at the hairdresser’s could only take place in Milan. I was absolutely sure that my hairdresser didn’t want to offend me, after all she wasn’t exactly green either. After I had recovered from my first shock, I explained that I was rather the natural type, but the hairdresser just stared at me pitifully shaking her head. She probably just wondered – not without good reason – if so, why I just had my hair colored. Recognizing my inner struggle, she finally smiled pityingly at me, as if to say: “Just wait, at some point you’ll get a taste for it, too”. For me Botox seems like the inevitable second round: First the hair is dyed, then Botox is injected. And what about the third round? Milan has a lot to offer here, too, in both the good and bad sense. The willingness to talk about cosmetic surgery is surprisingly high among women in Milan. Whether lifting, lips or breasts, you are in good company. “Actually, the age of  women should change directly from 39 to 60”, my daughter said recently, disgusted by the sight of an older Milanese woman disfigured with balloon lips. “Everything that comes in between is pure stress anyway! When you’re 60, you can be a real grandmother and don’t have to worry about all those superficial considerations! “But that’s what it does,” I gave her back with a smile, “I’ll be 39 for the seventh time this year!

Age with Grace

Age with Grace

So I finally got my act together and started this site. The world may not need another blog but I do, so there! 

There have been heaps of thoughts flashing through my brain on the subject of aging. I never really thought about it much. I was happy to accept the fact that I will age as we would all do. And yet about a couple of years or so ago, it hit me that there are changes in my life that I am having some challenges with. 

I have to say that I have been lucky in that I haven’t really pushed my body to the limit in the sense of sex, drugs and rock&roll. But having raised three kids whilst continuing to work made sure my system was always on overdrive. And yet I feel I am still not doing badly for my age. This is mainly due to the fact that I learned at a very early age to look after myself well. Avoided excess of anything (bar the occasional excess baggage). I was lucky enough that my parents had a penchant for food supplements when I was still very young girl and as luck would have it, I married a doctor who continued to provide me with supplements I otherwise would not get in my not-always-so-healthy diet.

It is not just my diet or the extras I get on top of it, I have always tried to balance my life as much as I can. I can’t say I have discovered an anti-aging formula but I like to think there are things I did that helped me get to my senior years with no drastic health issues and a healthy social and psychological state. It is doable. But I started getting ready for aging at a very young age!

 

I would like to share my tricks and tips on the topic of aging in future blogs & articles and look forward if I can help others along the way.

Another day in Paradise

Another day in Paradise

 I generally don’t use filters on my photos and I can honestly say that the water is this exact same colour live.  

How beautiful is this place??? Club Paradise in Coron lived up to its name. I’m out of superlatives here. This is a throw back shot from a couple of years back on my first trip to Palawan. We only had 4 days on the island but it was so peaceful that we could really tank-up on energy. I didn’t know what to expect as I had not originally booked for this island. It was an 8 day trip to the Philippines and we wanted to get a bit of beach feeling before attending a family wedding. Then some booking mishap led us to having to re-book and we ended up here. We were indeed lucky.

 There wasn’t much to do here. WiFi was close to non-existent and as the initial panic of being offline dissipated, I was finally able to let go and enjoy digital detox. The island was tiny enough to explore in no time and so I was left with no choice but to hang about the beach and read my book. The full-board offer meant we didn’t have to worry about where our next meal would come from 😉

It’s these regular downtimes between long periods of hard work that kept me sane in the least years. At one stage, I was able to take a short break ranging from 2 days to 2 weeks every 6 weeks. It just meant that in the time when I can feel the effects of my downtime wearing-off, I have the advantage of staying motivated at work by looking forward to my next break. I was never one for long 6-week-breaks. Having 30 days holidays a year on average (not counting overtime and public holidays), I was able to budget my holidays wisely. Downtime doesn’t have to be somewhere exotic….it could also be somewhere close. One just be aware that one takes the time to recover and regroup.

Quite often, I didn’t actually fully go offline. I simply changed my working environment. Working remotely from a small island like Boracay in November when everyone else freezing their assets away in Europe already helped reduce stress. I had my normal work pensum but my surroundings ensured that my stress levels were down to zero. Nobody ever got excited when I told them of the work I did but everyone tuned in when I told them from where I worked. In the end, you can’t impress people by telling them how much work you have or how “stressed” you are. Nobody cares! So look after yourself…for yourself!

Enjoy the sunset…

Enjoy the sunset…

My favourite time of day…sunset! Probably symptomatic of why I am not grossly fussed with slowly hitting my sunset years. There is something very calming about sunset. The day is just winding down, with a bit of luck, all that needed doing are done and if not, well…too bad! It’s time to just enjoy and see what happens next. 

I’m in that phase of my life where I am like, “I have done most of what I feel I needed to do…everything else is well deserved extras”…like this refreshing margarita at the end of hectic day! I would be very happy if I get to experience seeing my kids get married, spend time with grandkids, grow old with hubby. But if I don’t get to do all that, my life would still have been worth the while. I brought three gorgeous kids to this world who would no doubt leave their marks (if not their massive carbon footprint!!) and continue what legacy I may have left them. 

Now it’s time to sit back, hang out, enjoy what I can. I’d hate to spend the rest of my time hurrying about from place to place and trying to make a living and missing out on a life. I never was the type. I have had my share of workload…constantly on overdrive in my younger years. I can’t say I miss those times. They were hard. Juggling 3 kids, 2 jobs and a husband in a country where I didn’t quite master the language. But as with anything I encountered in life, I ploughed through coz I knew it would be worth it. I would not call myself a workaholic as although I worked a lot, it was also too finance the times I played hard. I was able to provide my family fun short breaks to balance out the times when I was out and about trying to bring home a small part of the bacon. My husband luckily took charge of the more solid and serious stuff.

I may not have done this everyday but on most days, I looked back on the whole day, reflected and tried to appreciate the positives. On the more challenging days, I tried to be grateful that the day was about to end and washed whatever frustration down with a glass of bubbly. Thankfully, I still have a functioning liver so my bad days couldn’t have been plenty.