Saturday Morning Flashback — Am I There Yet?

I have always considered myself a pretzel logic (scratch the logic) kinda girl. I love a little bit of everything, and there is never a straight path from point A to point B for me. I’ve learned to live with that, and so has my linear, straight line hubby.

But I do have a few common sense rules I stick by. My Facebook is only for my family and friends, people I’ve communicated in real time with (even if it’s only been once). I don’t really see the importance of Twitter, although I use it for my blogs. I need to get artists up on Instagram but haven’t really conquered that app. Don’t use Snapchat or other viewer apps (nothing like me first thing in the morning before a shower….)

But I digress. As usual.

What I do like about FB is that they show me memories of past posts, everything from when my grandbabies were born to concerts I’ve attended to blog posts.

This one came across this morning from four years ago. It’s funny how I’m still in the same quandary as I was back then. I know you will say “you are who you are” and all that, but it’s rubble because I still want to be that BoHo Lady. I really do. And I still want to shake that conservationism that is stunting my growth. I”m so much better, but I still have a long way to go.

Anyone else still working on letting go? Changing? How’s it going?

For those who are interested, here’s the blog from 2015….

Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter

For all of you who are tired of making sure your blues are all the same blue and you wear only one pattern at a time:

This morning I complimented a girl on the color combinations of her outfit. She was wearing a purple t-shirt over a pink shell, with a bright green jacket. I didn’t notice her pants, because I’m sure they were the basic black/navy/dark brown. And that’s point number one.

I didn’t notice her pants because they were very basic.

Despite the fact that she was half my age and weight, she carried off the rainbow pretty well. And I told her so. (I like to give out compliments when I can.) That led to my second thought — if I were dressed like that, I’d look like I was heading off to the circus.

Tada dum. An instant putdown to a healthy thought.

Now, the outfit wasn’t offensive in any way. It wasn’t too short, too small, too tight, too sloppy. It was a play on colors I had not seen together. And — I liked it.

Yet I hide in my black-on-black and silver-and-black and pink-and-black. Summer may throw in some whites and greens, but it’s pretty much old lady old. Last year I wrote a blog called Old Lady BoHo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu) where I was going to lighten up my wardrobe and wear flowy skirts and peasant tops and whatever felt good.

And here I am, writing this blog, dressed in black pants and a black-and-white mosaic shirt. Woo hoo.

And I think — I can’t do this any more.

I know there are plenty of women who are perfectly happy in the monochromes of the world. But deep inside I am not. I think I’m so afraid of “stepping out of the (color) box” because I’m afraid of looking stupid, so I pass on a lot of fun, comfortable, ME things.

I’m not totally helpless yet — I do have tops with promise, and I have bought a few of those cotton dresses from India for summer evenings.  But I sure could use some advice — and a boost of confidence. I’m sure there are other readers out there who could use a boost in the wardrobe department, too. Or who have taken the plunge and never looked back.

I want to be that person.

I know I can’t (nor do I want to) dress like I’m 20 or 30. I might have the legs for mini skirts, but my buttocks and stomach aren’t quite as accommodating — or forgiving. But there has to be fun colors and patterns out there I can put together and not look like the a haushalterin. But my color palate is like the image above and right. Always moving, always confusing

The first step is stepping over the conservative barrels our youth set out for us. Catholic schools are at one end of the horror spectrum, big city public schools the other. We have to shed this heavy coat of conservatism and find a middle ground.

And I really do want to start this today. I only have 20 or 25 years to get this right.

Better start sooner than later.

How about you?

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Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Pierre Brissaud

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Pierre Brissaud  (1885- 1964) was a French illustrator, painter, and a prominent figure of French Art Deco.

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He created illustrations for publications Les Feuillets d’Art, La Gazette du Bon Ton, Fortune, House & Garden, Vanity Fair, and Vogue.

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Many of his illustrations are realistic leisure scenes of the well-to-do.

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From the mid-1920 to the early 1930’s, Pierre Brissaud was known for his stencil prints meant for magazine covers and advertising.

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Not only did Brissaud created prints and posters for fashion houses, but he also did book illustrations including Manon Lescaut, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Madame Bovary.

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It is through his creative artistry that the reflections of elegance of days gone by are preserved.

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More about Pierre Brissaud can be found at http://bestarts.org/artist/pierre-brissaud/

Wearing Purple

I feel like I was shopping drunk yesterday evening. Of course, I did go out to dinner first, but I don’t believe either the walleye or the potato pancake contained any alcohol. Nor the McDonald’s ice cream cone.

But I digress.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to meet my bestie in Ashville, North Carolina, and hit the Art Scene like a internet data conversion analyst specialist online art director writer.  I was in need of a few new artsy outfits to fit in with my fellow abstractionists and surrealists, so I made a pit stop at the most fashionable store around — Walmart.

Now, I’m sure you have seen those pictures on the Internet of Walmart “shoppers”…the images that show off the uniqueness of the characters and their wardrobes. Well, walking out of of the store a half hour later, I am afraid I will be added to their hidden camera library.

First off, I bought a pair of capris. No problem. Except they’re purple. Which is to match the purple and teal print open style Kimono shawl. Which matches the teal peasant top.

What was I thinking?

Every early winter I write a blog about what women over 50 shouldn’t wear. Fuzzy purple leggings always leads the list. Now I’m afraid purple capris will be second. I am running parallel with all the advice I so willingly gave about dressing your age.

Now, the fuzzy purple leggings I’ve been exposed to and write about are a long way from the royal purple cotton capris that are peeking out of my Walmart bag. The fuzzy leggings are usually wrapped around legs that are too big to wear something that tight, and don’t have the advantage of a long tunic to hide additional large body parts. The purple cotton mid-calf pants hang loosely on my chicken legs, and the teal peasant blouse with the same undercurrent of blues will hang down far enough to semi-cover my estomac and derrière. (Sounds less offensive when spoken in French, no?) Then comes the flowery sheer scarf that set this whole wardrobe malfunction into motion. It’s really a pretty shawl thing…it’s sheer and light and one of those patterned things that chubby women shouldn’t wear.

Since I am in this wardrobe for the long hall, I don’t see myself as a chubby old lady in purple capris, but rather a tall, willowy creative artist with a thing for fashion. Since I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror too often, I can picture myself however I wish. When the breeze blows the kimono scarf around my body I can turn into the sultry maiden looking across the moors for her lost lover, or the skeleton thin strutter down the fashion runway. I can be the trendsetting Zelda Fitzgerald or the fashion pioneer Elsa Schiaparelli.

I can also be the poster woman for weird, over-colored, middle aged+ women. Pathetic, insecure, never quite fitting in, never really confident, drawing too much attention to herself wearing bright prints and too-bold colors.

But not today. Or tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how the outfit turns out in the light of day. After a good night’s sleep. And a shower. And some body spray. And a touch of makeup.

Oh my goodness — I just thought — is this totally unexpected phase reflective of the first few lines of Jenny Joseph’s poem….?

 

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

 

 

 

 

What Should I Wear?

1First I wrote about it — Fashion Faux Pas (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-1kO) for those over 50. I was generous with age.  This includes velvety purple leggings, pigtails, and chugga boots with short skirts.

Then someone else (obviously not far from 30) wrote 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30  (http://www.rantchic.com/2014/10/24/20-things-women-should-stop-wearing-after-age-30/).  This one was a little hard on us middle-aged fashion statements. While I agreed with a few (sparkly pants, short dresses, booty shorts), I took offense at a few others (hoop earrings, cheap bras, old sneakers, scrungies), as that is still part of my wardrobe.

Then my great friend Jilly posted the latest take on middle-age dressing on Facebook: 24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear   https://warningcurvesahead.com/2016/06/04/24-things-women-over-30-should-wear/#comment-2898) and boy, does the blogger have it right. The pics say it all (along with a feisty refrain). Women of all ages should be able to wear whatever the $#&+ they want.

My wondering is — do you really wear what you want?

I enjoy fashion. I also like comfort. I figure somewhere there is a meeting of the two. Runway model I’m not. Curvy middle-aged babe — closer.  But really I’m more like a pudgy granny with a love for bling. My heart says long skirts, wraps, hats, lots of bracelets…and my wardrobe says prints, black and navy pants, and plain shoes. I honestly think I’m afraid of being laughed at if I came to work with some of the outfits I deem cool. That at this point in my life everyone will think I’m one foot into dementia should I step out of dull.

Why do we let others dictate our sense of fashion? Our sense of art?

Some of my friends have been fashion freebirds forever. They wear whatever and look good in whatever. They have that fashion sense I seem to lack. You can dress up and dress wild and dress classy all at one time. Not me. It was only a few years ago I got that the navy in my shirt didn’t have to exactly match the navy in my pants.

I don’t think free flow fashion means letting go and looking like a clown. I know people who wear too-short tops with too-tight pants and their body is too-endowed to get away with either. But I’m not talking about bad choices. I’m talking about good choices that aren’t always in-the-box choices. Which, listening to myself, is probably true for most of us in most situations.

Peer pressure is hell. I would guess that a lot of my readers were made fun of some time in their life…from  snickers to cooties, it hits us all. It is within these over-blown memories of days past that our sense of self arises. And often times who we want to be is never who we become.

I think it’s not so much dressing/being conservative vs. liberal. I think it’s more a reflection of how you feel about yourself deep down inside.  If you’ve ever liked that person that hides in the closet. If you’ve ever given that person a chance.

I encourage all of you to take a peek at afore-mentioned 24 blog. Look into the eyes of the women who are dressed just how they want to be dressed. Ladies of all sizes. In all sorts of fashions. Feeling, being, who they are.  Then find a way to be your own self. They are not, nor ever will be, you.  Don’t let other people tell you what to wear and how to live.

Except for velvety purple leggings. Please — don’t wear velvety purple leggings.

 

Repeat That Lovely Day (or Lovely Blog, Whichever…)

In the Midwest we are FINALLY getting the touch of spring we were promised, which has opened the flood doors to many projects (real and imaginary) in my creative world. Sometimes I scare myself with all the great things I want to do (but will most likely never do).

Trolling to see what I wrote last year about this time, I came across this blog, and it seemed so appropriate for today.

Except today is Friday. But you’ll get the gist.

Happy Friday Y’all!!

 

 

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I didn’t think I’d be adding to my Fashion Advice Blog (my FAB blog…heh…) so soon. After all, I just packed two paper bags to give to Good Will.

But dressing this morning Lesson Two dawned on me:

Don’t let the crabbies dictate your outfit.

Now, being on a different shift than my other half, I’m often looking through my closet in the morning with the flashlight app on my smartphone. Yesterday I woke up crabby, and neglected — no, downright ignored — the outfit I had picked out the night before. I couldn’t fall asleep, I didn’t want to wake up. So why should I look fresh to the world?

Because of that frumpy choice I felt off-center all day. Even my bling of a necklace couldn’t push me left or right of the funk. By the end of the day, though, the temperature outside was near 60, the sun danced between the clouds, and I had a great time outside with my grandbaby.

Just think that I could have had that feeling all day long if I’d just dressed in what I had originally chosen.

We’re not big dresser-uppers at work; the younger generation does wear great outfits, but the middlers and post-middlers don’t often follow suit. Well, I want to follow suit. As I said in my earllier blog (Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-ZR), I don’t want to be that monochrome person (paraphrasing, of course…)

This morning I was again crabby. Not the I’ll-knock-your-socks-off-if-you-talk-to-me crabby, just a why-do-I-have-to-do-this-five-days-a-week crabby. The sun was rising over the trees out my back window; the promise of 60 degrees in the air. So I went back and picked out yesterday’s outfit: a blue top and flowered skirt, and a pair of blue sandals.

And I feel young again.

Now, I hear many of you say, “I’m not a skirt/dress person.” During the winter I’m not either. But there’s something in a flowy skirt blowing in the breeze that makes me feel fresh. Different. Lighter. As if my cares have fluttered away. Lightweight pants and flowy tops can do the same. Or colorful scarves.

Kinda like church on Sundays back in the old days.

So that will be Lesson Two. Pick out your outfit the night before (when you still have some fun left in you), and don’t be swayed by the grump you can sometimes be. Lighten Up. Take a Chance. If you can’t do the night-before-thing, take an extra three minutes and do it right in the morning. Don’t go searching with the flashlight app. You may pull out blue bottoms and a different blue top.

Think of the horror of mass boredom you might create.

You Know You Want To…

Restless? Wandering? Don’t know where to go? Snow or Rain gotcha down?

How about an art gallery or two to chase the blues away?

My Sunday Evening Art Gallery has creativity of all sizes and colors for you to wander through.

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Minerals

Who Knew the world was so Sparkling?

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Stilettos

Add a little Snazz to your Pizzazz!

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Craig L. Haupt

Whimsical Abstraction at its Finest!

Pirates in a bathtub

41, 9/30/09, 2:57 PM, 8C, 6612x7596 (528+1464), 100%, Custom, 1/40 s, R46.5, G2.7, B18.9

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Guido Daniele

I Want to Hold Your Hand…

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Kaleidoscopes

You Mesmerize Me!

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Stairway To Nowhere

Amazing Stairs Winding to the Stars

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Come On — you know you want to — a little voyeurism never hurt anyone! And New Galleries are being added every week! Come take a peek!

Boring will be Boring no more….

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Roza

Creativity is a flower blooming from the heart. Every one of us can do it.

Every One Of Us.

All we need to to is find a way to open that connection.

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As a visual artist, Roza has always drawn most of her inspiration from the natural world around her.

With its diverse, stunning nature, Australia presented Roza with a profusion of ideas and influences; and it was in 2011 that Roza and her partner Afshin launched Shovava, a line of women’s clothing based on her hand drawn paintings and prints of the natural world.

All her designs are hand drawn and then digitally printed on very fine fabrics which she sources herself on her globe-trotting adventures.

 

In describing her creative process, Roza says, “I observe nature and find inspiration in the smallest details. Maybe it’s a butterfly’s wing or the patterned cell structure of a leaf. Maybe it’s a feather or a raven perched on a tree limb. I take in what I see in the nature and then create my pieces.”

Shovava‘s wonderfully creative works can be found at https://www.shovava.com/

Also, you can find another great article about Roza and Shovava at

http://www.boredpanda.com/wearable-art-takes-flight/

Their work is also on their Facebook page:  facebook.com/shovavaclothing

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Glass Frames

When you wake up in the morning and the light is hurt your head

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The first thing you do when you get up out of bed

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Is hit that streets a-runnin’ and try to beat the masses

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And go get yourself some cheap sunglasses

Now go out and get yourself some big black frames

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With the glass so dark thay won’t even know your name

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And the choice is up to you cause they come in two classes:

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Rhinestone shades or cheap sunglasses

~~Z Z Top

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Fashion Faux Pas

tumblr_manpcrm67D1qae69do1_250I was hoping to hold out on this annual blog a little longer. I was hoping not to coin it as an “annual” thing.

But she wore them today.

I have added a few more categories, highlighted in red, adjusting for newer fashion fads that make my blood boil.

And so, for the third annual “What Not To Wear” blog, I give you…

Not Again

It’s only mid-October…the leaves are glowing in their spectacular colors, evenings bring a cooling atmosphere for sleep, the nights are getting longer (more time for sleep and TV!). We begrudgingly  pack away our summer duds and bring our our winter ones (although, in my case, I pack away less and less so I can deal with those hot flashy moments). We look forward to hoodies and joggies and fuzzy socks. The transition is usually painless.

But it is only mid-October…and the outfit is back. The number one no-no for fashion divas of all ages. And it hurts my eyes. It hurts my eyes and pushes my buttons and shivers me timbers.

And it makes me want to repost a warning from April of this very year.

SEVEN FASHION NO-NOS FOR GODDESSES OF ALL AGES pants

During these doldrums of Winter, I’ve been planning my new fashion statement. Or rather looking for one. I’m up for the Boho Chic style. But I can’t really BoHo now, because there’s something about wind chills of ten below and snow two feet deep in every direction that discourages peasant dresses and shawls and beaded whatevers. I figure between now and Spring I’ll gather up some fun things and have fun being a fun kinda woman.

But lately I’ve been seeing a few “Middle Age Magic” women following their own fashion muse, and, well, the sight is not a pretty one. I am all for comfort, fashion, and practicality. My BoHo is not your BoHo and all that. But good taste should always be good taste. I am all for the “this is who I am” state of being, too, but there are some things Middle Age (and older) women should really think twice about.  Here are a few of my humble fashion suggestions:

1.   Leggings and long sweaters and boots can look good on some women. Velvety purple leggings can not. Ever.

1A. If you MUST wear leggings (as if life as you know it would cease to exist if you didn’t), make sure your top goes down to at least mid-thigh. No one wants to see your jiggles and jellos from the waist down. Especially if they have ripened with age.

2.   Pigtails should only be worn by women under 10 or those who want to play the baby doll thing with their loved one. In private.

3.   Makeup is not a necessity. A fresh face is. Cleopatra’s eyes looked good only on Cleopatra. On older women it just looks scary.

4.   I know it’s sometimes necessary to run to the store in jogging pants. It’s just the nature of the beast. But jogging pants and chuggie boots and parkas are not a fashion statement now or ever. Remember — you are a woman first. Don’t ever be mistaken for the football player down the street.

4a. Lately I’ve seen a new trend that makes me wanna say, “Whoah??” Wisconsiners are known for their shorts and hoodies look — it’s just a W thing. But when women wear leggings under their shorts and big chugga boots when the temperature is below 30 — too much. Like in the circus. Too much.

5.  The office is as good a place as any to try out a new look. Just don’t be the one to test the dress code every time you do. You do nothing but create army punishment for the rest of us, making us unhappy co-workers and fashion enemies.

6.  Did I mention the thing about leggings and sweaters and boots? The older you get, the more you should think twice about it.

6a. That reminds me of boots. I love the look of women in boots. But when you are older and wear boots with short skirts or boots with leggings and short sweaters or boots with shorts, you look more like a rolly polly, not a fashion statement. I’m not saying you don’t have a figure after 50, but face it. Few of us do. Don’t slip back into your teens.

7.   Know you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try new looks. Just use your head. Don’t wear shoes that pinch, pants that bulge in the butt, tops that show too much of your endowments, shoes your father would wear, tops that make you look like a sausage, colors that make you look like a clown, or earrings bigger than your head.

There is fashion, and then there is fashion. And then there is no fashion. And then there is deliberate no fashion. Don’t let your steadfastness close your mind to the colors and sensations of the world. But in the same vein, don’t let your need to make a statement as you get older make you say something you’ll regret later. If a look works, great. If not, make sure you have a great look to go back to. Be proud of who you are and how you got there. Don’t let others dictate the colors of your feathers. But don’t forget you’ve GOT feathers.

And they never look good in velvety purple leggings.

Get Your Exotic On!

15 - 1Saw this picture on Google+ the other day, and it made me wonder — what’s your exotic?

Most of us are closet voyeurs at best. A peek here, a daydream there. Then back to work/family/football games, content with regular sunrises and sunsets and football fantasy pools.

But you know that somewhere deep inside you’ve got an exotic idea. An exotic dream. An exotic fantasy.

And most likely it will never see the light of day.

But I wonder — are exotics different when you’re younger?

I used to think it would be awesome to be dropped into the middle of Japan or China and find my way out. Oriental worlds are as foreign to me as the canals on Mars, so I thought getting a real fix on a world where their language is nothing but mixed up sticks would be quite exotic. The trip never materialized, but my curiosity continued.

I am the same person at 62 than I was at 22. And 42. But my idea of exotic has changed through the years. Octopus was high on the list, as was caviar and croissants. Now days, ate that, done that, so exotic has to be a little more … risky. Makeup? Nails? My fascination of those exotics have led to two SEAG blogs (Nails:  http://wp.me/s1pIBL-nails, and Tal Peleg, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-19M). How can you not love that devil-may-care look?

My dreams and my pocketbook are miles apart, but that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about the exotic. How about a weird, wild Ferrari 599 GTB to drive? A vacation to South Island, New Zealand or Tasmania, Australia? I looked up “exotic” in relation to clothes, and too many kinky selections popped up, so I will settle for BoHo for now. How about exotic flowers? I found a great website (http://www.psdeluxe.com/articles/photography/beautiful-exotic-flowers-pictures/) that blew my mind. Exotic for real.

Food is an easy slide into the world of Exotic. Spices like Grains of Paradise (also known as Melegueta pepper) from Western Africa or Furikake Wasabi from Japan.  How about pho from Vietnam or  pambazos from Mexico  or Tim Tam from Australia?  Our own American cuisine can be exotic, too, with turtle soup, grits, deep fried Coke, and alligator fritters. Who knew?

One cannot get hung up on words (unless you’re a writer). You have to explore words that dance on your dreams, words that make you say “Oh!” and “Wow!” and “Really?” It doesn’t matter if your version of a word is different than the next person’s. Who cares? Life is for us to explore. To dream about. To play with.

Exotic is just one of those play words. Like Unique. Adventurous. Surreal. Luscious. Savory. Words that make us want to explore more of what’s around us. To open our minds, our palates, our creative space.

What is your definition of exotic, anyway? Do you have fun with the word? With the imagery? Do you let yourself check out the extraordinary? The unique? The far away?

I like the word “exotic”. It makes me think of Mediterranean edibles and temples in Japan and punjambi’s in India. The exploration of words and worlds makes me feel like a kid again.

And there’s nothing wrong with that…

 

To the Rennie in All Of Us

medieval_castle_decorationI don’t know if it’s a girl thing or a Sagittarian thing, but I really enjoy reinventing myself. Oh, I am the same ‘ol person inside, but the outside influences change every so often.

For years and years I used to be a Rennie Girl. Anything Renaissance would tickle my fancy to the moon and back. Every year I went to the local Renaissance Faire, bought lamps and cups and jewelry with dragons and unicorns and faeries on them. I adored the music, had fun playing the (conservative) wench, and even decorated my B&B with medieval flair.

After that wore off, I was off to being an (conservative) Irish Wench. I became a Gaelic Storm groupie; I went to Irish Fest every year, bought jewelry with my Irish family crest, wore green and drank beer and cried at the sad Irish songs, missing my red-haired Irish mother even more than I normally do.

I still keep the Rennie and the Irish Wench in my heart, and they are a part of me that will never leave. But I am a Sagittarius, and that means I’m always looking for my next adventure, my next reincarnation.

I really want to be BoHoChic. (say…bo-ho-chick really fast).

Now, I know I’ve talked about this fancy before. In the last six months I’ve really cleaned out my closet, getting rid of clothes that don’t fit or have never looked right or blah blah.  I’ve also pulled out the more “conservative” pieces and donated them to other conservative people. What’s left are skirts and sun dresses and a couple of wild, flowy tops.

I need more flow.

My conservative psyche evil step sisters keep whispering discouraging things in my ear: You’re too fat. You’re too ugly. You’ll embarass yourself. I’ve had these sisters since grade school, and while I’ve tuned them out most times, they do slip in now and then like a needle into silk. Why I listen to them at this age and point in my life I do-not-know.  But I DO know that BoHoChic is a whole life experience. And I want to wander off that way.

There are connections between being a Rennie and being an Irish Wench and a BoHo. It’s that feeling of freedom I’ve always denied myself. I’ve always thought more of what other people thought of my looks and outlook than I did of my own. Bad habits are hard to break. But I’m making the big push to throw those step sisters out the tower window.

And it’s working.

Everyone does their own thing. Some women enjoy the way they are all their life. Some like to kick it up now and then. Some want to kick but lack the boot skills. I think it’s the newfound freedom I’ve found with writing and art that makes me want to freebird like the texts and canvases I’m finding. I’ve always enjoyed reading and watching things that are a little off-center; why can’t my wardrobe — and attitude — be the same?

I am offcenter anyway. It might be a prelude to dementia, but if it’s coming it’s coming. Why not go into the last 30 years of my life flowing and mismatching and blinging? In 30 years no one will care. Least of all me.

So take your whims and dress the part. Be a futuristic clip or a black-and-white Chanel or a designer chick. You don’t have to break your budget: Good Will and local second hand stores always have your designs flowing through. Let your outside match your inner calling.

And don’t be afraid. I’ve wasted 50 years of my life doing that.

And after all, there’s always something else waiting in the shadows. Maybe one day BoHoChic will turn into FuturisticBoHoBling!

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Tal Peleg

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

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Or is it beauty is in the beholder of the eye?

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Israeli make-up professional and blogger Tal Peleg paints scenes from fairy tales, imagery from classic novels and pretty embellishments  —  including intricate designs of sushi — onto tiny areas of the face using only liquid eyeliner and eyeshadow.

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One needs a steady hand, a feel for color, and a wonderful sense of play. Tal Peleg has all of that and more.

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Tal says she loves art, color, creation, makeup and all that between.

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Looking into her eye — into her eyes — you see her love of all of the above

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Tal Peleg shows the world that color is makeup’s best friend — and every eye reflects it

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Tal Peleg’s incredible eye art can be found at the following websites:

https://www.facebook.com/TalPelegMakeUp

http://www.tp-artwork.com

http://www.boredpanda.com/eye-makeup-art-tal-peleg/

Good Hair Day

CAM01687Yesterday my husband went shopping at Walmart (you know…the wonder world full of wonder things). He called me about noon, as said since he was there buying oil for the car he’d pick up my hair color, too.

This is the first time he’s ever offered to purchase something as personal as hair color. First time in 35+ years. ANd there was something about the combination of oil and hair color that gave me a wee bit o’ the shivers.

Most men (and I’m not picking on you guys) do a decent job of buying toiletries for your lady. I know you wince slightly when you yave to buy those monthly things, but shampoo, deodorant, no problem. It’s slightly harder when it comes to shower gel and toothpaste. Forget things like nail polish and lipstick — I mean, how could he tell the difference between Relish the Moment and Pink Peony? And, of course, there is lip stick, lip gel, lip color, lip gloss — how would he know what to buy if even I don’t have a clue?

Most time hair color falls in that category, too. Most women use the same color every time. Simple Simon. Not me. My hair was really bleached out multi blonde/brown from Disneyworld, so I needed go to brown town. But I often vary my choices between a few. Which colors? I don’t remember. Which manufacturer? I don’t remember. I usually pick the color that never quites comes out the way the box says.

But back to hubby’s gesture. I was going to pick out my own box, but it would have involved making my own trip and possibly buying something “not needed” and taking my time and making my hubby late for work, so I figured, what the heck. So I gave him the thumbs up.

“What color?”

“Brown.”  That was safe.

“Light brown? Dark brown?”

Getting dicier.

“Medium brown. Dark makes me look gothic, and lighter browns still turn out auburn.”

So last night I sat all by myself looking at the box.  Medium chestnut brown.

I’ve never been a chestnut.

But I trust my husband’s intentions (especially now that I think he’s finally over the blonde-me and the grow-your-hair-as-long-as-Cher me), so I went for it.

Maybe I should let him make a few more selections for me as the years go by. After all, one hit in 35 years can be the start of something special.

What do you think?

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Nails

This is Cherry Blossom Season in Japan. Gorgeous trees blooming in brilliant colors of pink and rose and white.

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The Japanese are stars ahead in another flowering world as well — the world of Nail Art.

 

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When I first came across this fashion statement, I had marveled at the shorter versions.

 

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But then they got longer…

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And longer….

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True works of art.

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Some are hand painted, others glued wonders.

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It made me wonder…….do you think they do the dishes?

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Do they type?

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I decided these questions are best left to the mystics. Or at least to the manicurists.

amazing-nail-art

 

 

Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter

giphyFor all of you who are tired of making sure your blues are all the same blue and you wear only one pattern at a time:

This morning I complimented a girl on the color combinations of her outfit. She was wearing a purple t-shirt over a pink shell, with a bright green jacket. I didn’t notice her pants, because I’m sure they were the basic black/navy/dark brown. And that’s point number one.

I didn’t notice her pants because they were very basic.

Despite the fact that she was half my age and weight, she carried off the rainbow pretty well. And I told her so. (I like to give out compliments when I can.) That led to my second thought — if I were dressed like that, I’d look like I was heading off to the circus.

Tada dum. An instant putdown to a healthy thought.

Now, the outfit wasn’t offensive in any way. It wasn’t too short, too small, too tight, too sloppy. It was a play on colors I had not seen together. And — I liked it.

Yet I hide in my black-on-black and silver-and-black and pink-and-black. Summer may throw in some whites and greens, but it’s pretty much old lady old. Last year I wrote a blog called Old Lady BoHo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu) where I was going to lighten up my wardrobe and wear flowy skirts and peasant tops and whatever felt good.

And here I am, writing this blog, dressed in black pants and a black-and-white mosaic shirt.

Woo hoo.

And I think — I can’t do this any more.

I know there are plenty of women who are perfectly happy in the monochromes of the world. But deep inside I am not. I think I’m so afraid of “stepping out of the (color) box” because I’m afraid of looking stupid, so I pass on a lot of fun, comfortable, ME things.

I’m not totally helpless yet — I do have tops with promise, and I have bought a few of those cotton dresses from India for summer evenings.  But I sure could use some advice — and a boost of confidence. I’m sure there are other readers out there who could use a boost in the wardrobe department, too. Or who have taken the plunge and never looked back.

I want to be that person.

I’m sure I’m not alone with this.

I know I can’t (nor do I want to) dress like I’m 20 or 30. I might have the legs for mini skirts, but my buttocks and stomach aren’t quite as accommodating — or forgiving. But there has to be fun colors and patterns out there I can put together and not look like the a haushalterin. But my color palate is like the image above and right. Always moving, always confusing

The first step is stepping over the conservative barrels your youth set out for us. Catholic schools are at one end of the horror spectrum, big city public schools the other. We have to shed this heavy coat of conservatism and find a middle ground.

And I really do want to start this today. I only have 20 or 25 years to get this right.

Better start sooner than later.

How about you?

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Stilettos

In the beginning of October I wrote a blog called Magic Shoes (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-Dq) about the debacle of buying gym shoes. The pic I found for that article was awesome.

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But in searching for the perfect image I came across others that made my eyes (and my feet) pop.

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I can’t tell you how many foot-squishing, toe-breaking, gorgeous shoes I came across.

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I have flat feet, so I have never fantasized about wearing shoes like these. I believe you have to have a certain kind of foot, along with a certain kind of personality, to walk out of the house with creations such as these.

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If you can get past the outrageousness of the height, you can admire the creativity of the mind behind the shoe.

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So instead of viewing these heels as foot torture to the hundredth degree, I choose to look at them at creative freaks of nature.

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Just make sure if you think of dancing in these shoes,  you have a paid health insurance policy as well.

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Not Again

smacking headIt’s only mid-October…the leaves are glowing in their spectacular colors, evenings bring a cooling atmosphere for sleep, the nights are getting longer (more time for sleep and TV!). We begrudgingly  pack away our summer duds and bring our our winter ones (although, in my case, I pack away less and less so I can deal with those hot flashy moments). We look forward to hoodies and joggies and fuzzy socks. The transition is usually painless.

But it is only mid-October…and the outfit is back. The number one no-no for fashion divas of all ages. And it hurts my eyes. It hurts my eyes and pushes my buttons and shivers me timbers.

And it makes me want to repost a warning from April of this very year.

 

SEVEN FASHION NO-NOS FOR GODDESSES OF ALL AGES pants

During these doldrums of Winter, I’ve been planning my new fashion statement. Or rather looking for one. I’m up for the Boho Chic style. But I can’t really BoHo now, because there’s something about wind chills of ten below and snow two feet deep in every direction that discourages peasant dresses and shawls and beaded whatevers. I figure between now and Spring I’ll gather up some fun things and have fun being a fun kinda woman.

But lately I’ve been seeing a few “Middle Age Magic” women following their own fashion muse, and, well, the sight is not a pretty one. I am all for comfort, fashion, and practicality. My BoHo is not your BoHo and all that. But good taste should always be good taste. I am all for the “this is who I am” state of being, too, but there are some things Middle Age (and older) women should really think twice about.  Here are a few of my humble fashion suggestions:

1.   Leggings and long sweaters and boots can look good on some women. Velvety purple leggings can not. Ever.

2.   Pigtails should only be worn by women under 10 or those who want to play the baby doll thing with their loved one. In private.

3.   Makeup is not a necessity. A fresh face is. Cleopatra’s eyes looked good only on Cleopatra. On older women it just looks scary.

4.   I know it’s sometimes necessary to run to the store in jogging pants. It’s just the nature of the beast. But jogging pants and chuggie boots and parkas are not a fashion statement now or ever. Remember — you are a woman first. Don’t ever be mistaken for the football player down the street.

5.  The office is as good a place as any to try out a new look. Just don’t be the one to test the dress code every time you do. You do nothing but create army punishment for the rest of us, making us unhappy co-workers and fashion enemies.

6.  Did I mention the thing about leggings and sweaters and boots? The older you get, the more you should think twice about it.

7.   Know you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try new looks. Just use your head. Don’t wear shoes that pinch, pants that bulge in the butt, tops that show too much of your endowments, shoes your father would wear, tops that make you look like a sausage, colors that make you look like a clown, or earrings bigger than your head.

There is fashion, and then there is fashion. And then there is no fashion. And then there is deliberate no fashion. Don’t let your steadfastness close your mind to the colors and sensations of the world. But in the same vein, don’t let your need to make a statement as you get older make you say something you’ll regret later. If a look works, great. If not, make sure you have a great look to go back to. Be proud of who you are and how you got there. Don’t let others dictate the colors of your feathers. But don’t forget you’ve GOT feathers.

And they never look good in velvety purple leggings.

I’m….Too Sexy for My (too small) Shirt….

1950vogueLiberation!

At least that’s what my mind calls it. I’ve been going through my closet and getting rid of ANYTHING that doesn’t fit/has a stain/looks frumpy.

You do that all the time, don’t you? Or don’t you?

I am the first to admit that sometimes it’s hard to donate that great-looking, swingy dress that looks smashing with those gold sandals. How many parties and barbeques did we attend together?  What doesn’t compute is that it’s not as flowy as it was 15 years ago.

15 Years?? What kind of fashion maven am I?

Fashion for women is a very touchy thing. I still have my mother’s mink stoles in the front closet that she wore 50 years ago. I can’t think of a party or dinner that they would fit in, though. I still am a fan of shoulder pads in women’s sweaters, but the look I get when I wear any that are left in my closet is worth ripping them out. I am not a fashion dinosaur — I’m more like a make-the-most-of-your-bad-purchase kinda gal. Some things I thought would look great once I got them home looked just as “iffy” as they did the day I plunked them off the shelf. But I stubbornly hang it in my closet hoping they will look better. They never do.

Now, men — in an odd, pretzel-logic sort of way, this goes for you, too. I mean, how many wrenches does one man need? How many fishing lures?  Bottle openers?

And clothes? Shoes? Bling? I am all for the odd piece, the one-in-a-million outfit. I am for keeping shoes that are comfortable and jewelry that is inherited. But between those two places is a bizillion pieces of collectables that would be better off being collected elsewhere. Think of all the little kids who would LOVE to start their fishing tackle box with one of the eight identical lures you are holding onto. The unemployed woman who would look smashing in the shirt and pants that haven’t fit you since 2001.  And what granny wouldn’t give her eye teeth (if she still had them) for a pair of comfy slippers that someone gave you years ago and you’ve never worn because they’re too big?

Perhaps there is a deeper psychological issue here, one that my little fried brain can’t digest right at the moment. I believe we are always “spring cleaning.” Our collections define us, mold us. If we don’t get out from under our old trappings we can never evolve…never follow our beautiful, wandering, growing nature. There is so much out there for us to experience. So why not? Keep a bit of the old, opt out for the new. If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it. If you haven’t fished with it in a year, stash it. Quit cluttering up your todays with yesterdays. It’s a fact of life. You can only use one wrench at a time. Having six of the same size doesn’t increase your chances of fixing whatever it is you are fixing.

Once you thin out your earthly possessions, you will be amazed at how the clutter in your head thins out, too. You wear what you really enjoy wearing — what really looks good. You catch  fish with the reliable lures your daddy gave you…you don’t need to keep the “maybe” ones that have cluttered up your tackle box for so long.

There is a double meaning somewhere in here as well. But I’ve no time to think about it. I see those dreadful, adorable sandals that pinch my feet sticking out from beneath the bed.

I’m sure there’s a bitchy boss out there who would love to wear them.

 

Fashion No-Nos for Summer

thSummer is much more forgiving of fashion faux pas than other seasons, as the variety of dress and style dances all over the board. Gone are the black and dark browns, in with the peach and lavender. Hats and jewelry and sandals take over the sanity of minds both male and female, as we try and beat the heat by being chic. Even the velvety leggings are put away for the season!

But there are many ways us summer “kids” give away our age and our sanity when it comes to fashion sense. It’s more like nonsense. So here are a few tips to keep you in the game and not locked in the yard somewhere.

Too Much Bare is Hard to Bare.

Unless you are at the beach or in the privacy of your own home, showing more skin than allotted in the Garden if Eden is frowned upon. Showing way more than a healthy proportion of legs, middles, breasts, and other body parts is not safe nor wise. This includes too-short-shorts, too mini mini’s, and too skimpy shirts.  No one wants to see bubba thighs or pooky middles. I’m not saying hide those parts — hey, we all have them. But find ways to cover without confrontation. Besides, getting sunburn on those rarely-shown skins is pretty painful.

Two Piece or Not Two Piece

I am all for whatever kind of bathing suit fits your fancy. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Just do the rest of us a favor and wear one becoming of your age and style. Bright fluorescents and too-small tops are just as bad as big, flowery things. A splash of color, a cup size too small, bottoms too big, all can be uncomfortable and distracting. Do yourself a favor. Be pretty, be masculine, have fun, but wear something that fits.

Strap This

I am of the do-not-show generation, but I have lightened up quite a bit the last 15 years. You can’t always hide your bra strap with today’s fashions, especially if the shoulder straps are thinner than vermicelli. But if you are going to show the strap that holds your all, make it a part of the look, not apart from it. With all the colors and patterns of underwear these days, there’s no reason why you can’t color coordinate your straps and tops.  And BTW, straps that fall down your shoulders aren’t sexy…just annoying. To all of us.

Stained for Life

Sloppy is as sloppy wears. Get real. And know everyone at Walmart can see the spot that never quite washes out. Get rid of all positively, slightly, and barely perceptible duds with tell-tale duds. Take pride in your look and know you can do sooooo much better.

Too Small T’s and A’s

Most people are not the size at 50 or 60 that they were at 20 or 30. Face it. Until the day you wake up pencil thin (unless you are pencil thin), stop dressing in the past. Stop wearing shirts that gap, shorts that rise, tanks that squeeze, and Ts that don’t meet your pants. The hot weather may tempt you to wear less, but spare yourself — and us — a lot of embarrassment. We all hate to get rid of the t-shirt from Woodstock or cargo pants from the start of millennium, but you look so much better these days in clothes that FIT.

Grown Up Feet

With all the gorgeous (and inexpensive) sandals around, the last thing the world wants to see are socks shoved into them. Although this is a popular “man” thing, is also is a “silly” thing. Wearing socks with sandals makes you look fuddy duddy, not to mention uncomfortable. If you must sock, white socks with shoes, bare feet with sandals. You are allowed splashes of colors if you want to match your outfit, but, again, keep the shoes tenny or loafery.  (You think I wouldn’t have to mention something so obvious, but you have no idea how many toddling adults walk around looking like that).

Flower Gardens

The sun and shine of a beautiful summer day is often a temptation to bring nature into our wardrobe. A splash of nature’s pattern here and there is bright and fun. Looking like a giant sunflower isn’t. Avoid the temptation to be covered in daisies, sunflowers, or unclassified species. Pin one to your hat, clip them to your sandals. Know that there is nothing more uncomfortable for the viewing public than seeing huge flowers winking at them as you and your body creases walk by.

Getting older is a wonderful time to establish yourself through what you wear and how you wear it. I don’t have a big wardrobe; I hate most of the stuff I have most of the time, so I make quite a few visits to Good Will and  Kohl’s and Aeropostale. I finally am getting used to this body and want to make it stand out in unique and refreshing ways. What I don’t want is someone snickering behind my back because I look like Granny Does Disco or the Writer-Who-Wore-Too-Tight. There are so many opportunities to create a new and sparkling version of the women I’ve come to love through the years.

I just want to be able to breathe while I create that version.

 

 

 

Seven Fashion NoNos for Goddesses of All Ages

pantsDuring these doldrums of Winter, I’ve been planning my new fashion statement. Or rather looking for one. I’m up for the Boho Chic style (Old Lady BoHo http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu). But I can’t really BoHo now, because there’s something about wind chills of ten below and snow two feet deep in every direction that discourages peasant dresses and shawls and beaded whatevers. I figure between now and Spring I’ll gather up some fun things and have fun being a fun kinda woman.

But lately I’ve been seeing a few “Middle Age Magic” women following their own fashion muse, and, well, the sight is not a pretty one. I am all for comfort, fashion, and practicality. My BoHo is not your BoHo and all that. But good taste should always be good taste. I am all for the “this is who I am” state of being, too, but there are some things Middle Age (and older) women should really think twice about.  Here are a few of my humble fashion suggestions:

1.   Leggings and long sweaters and boots can look good on some women. Velvety purple leggings can not. Ever.

2.   Pigtails should only be worn by women under 10 or those who want to play the baby doll thing with their loved one. In private.

3.   Makeup is not a necessity. A fresh face is. Cleopatra’s eyes looked good only on Cleopatra. On older women it just looks scary.

4.   I know it’s sometimes necessary to run to the store in jogging pants. It’s just the nature of the beast. But jogging pants and chuggie boots and parkas are not a fashion statement now or ever. Remember — you are a woman first. Don’t ever be mistaken for the football player down the street.

5.  The office is as good a place as any to try out a new look. Just don’t be the one to test the dress code every time you do. You do nothing but create army punishment for the rest of us, making us unhappy co-workers and fashion enemies.

6.  Did I mention the thing about leggings and sweaters and boots? The older you get, the more you should think twice about it.

7.   Know you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try new looks. Just use your head. Don’t wear shoes that pinch, pants that bulge in the butt, tops that show too much of your endowments, shoes your father would wear, tops that make you look like a sausage, colors that make you look like a clown, or earrings bigger than your head.

There is fashion, and then there is fashion. And then there is no fashion. And then there is deliberate no fashion. Don’t let your steadfastness close your mind to the colors and sensations of the world. But in the same vein, don’t let your need to make a statement as you get older make you say something you’ll regret later. If a look works, great. If not, make sure you have a great look to go back to. Be proud of who you are and how you got there. Don’t let others dictate the colors of your feathers. But don’t forget you’ve GOT feathers.

And they never look good in velvety purple leggings.

Old Lady BoHo

I have finally discovered my fashion calling.  It’s called BOHO CHIC.imagesCASW5EHX

Now, I’d never heard of this phrase before. Sitting having coffee with my oh-so-chic bestie, the word came up in conversation. So off to GoogleLand I went.

One site said Boho-Chic is “a style of female fashion drawing on various bohemian and hippie influences, which, at its height in 2004/5, was associated particularly with Sienna Miller and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The twins went off with a ‘homeless look’ (or, as some call it, everything-but- the-kitchen-sink look).”   I must admit I’ve never put Sienna in the Peace/Love/Dove generation, and, seeing as I barely know who the twin kittens are, I didn’t count much on their ideas of fashion. But with all those negative, scrub-woman adjectives, the style seemed perfect for me.

Another site said the Boho style of dress has been described as the “retro-hippie-shabby-chic.” That seems like a lot of hyphens to describe something you wear. And since I’m a little closer to the senior world, retro is relative. A third described this style as “sweet and tough, grunge meets Chanel.” Since I own a bottle of Chanel (it’s 15 years old), I would have no problem spraying some on something grungy. (Although I must admit, “grunge” is not one of my favorite words.) I don’t mind the word “hippie,” since I always wanted to be one of those (I was much too dorky to be one).  Chic has never in my repertoire of words (or thoughts), and I still can identify with shabby.

I have always loved the Bohemian look, although I always thought it was more for young, willowy things.   But I love the idea of looking like I blew in on some oak leaf.  Boho-Chic is wild and flowy and free — something my size, wallet, and creativity can handle.

And  I mean — Fringes! Shawls! Beads!  What perfect timing! I really don’t like any of my clothes; too tight, too conservative. I’m tired of curling and fussing with my hair, and I’m too flighty to have to match shirts and pants all the time. My favorite place to shop is second hand stores. So why can’t I start adding shawls and beading and mish-mash accessories to my every day wardrobe? I love embroidery and vests and skirts, and have been known to sit and sew beadery around necks of tops and loungewear. I love sparkly jewelry, and now that I’m older I don’t have to worry if it goes with the outfit. I have been looking for the day where the blue in my shirt doesn’t have to match the blue in my pants, and the liberating thought of wearing two different patterns — oh my word! Dare I dream?

You have to understand that the first two-thirds of my life were pretty conservative. No…boring. Vanilla. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I do so love jewelry and skirts and shawls and sparkles. I just haven’t felt secure about myself to wear those things until right now. I have always been afraid to experiment, to be myself. Now that I’m getting older I really don’t care if I fit in with everyone else. If I don’t slip out of the box now, when will I do it?

But the thing that sealed the deal on my current Boho-Chic thing was watching American Horror Story-Coven the other night. I saw the queen of the gypsies, the gravelly voiced Stevie Nicks sing and swirl around in her beautiful flowered shawl, and I decided — I want to be her. She is 65 and still going strong. Go Your Own Way, as the song goes. Maybe I’m a few pounds heavier, and don’t have the styled hair or the great voice, but I sure can twirl in a shawl.

Let’s get bohoing!

What’s Back There?

book4Greetings! I did a little “rollover” dance with my Explorer the other day. All is well, thank the Goddess, but I thought a little backwards glance into my glorious blog might entertain you while I recuperate a little…

Chocolat and the Sun 

Escapism with a Reality Check.  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-2w

2 Chocolat and the Tuscan Sun1

Life is a kaleidoscope of feelings: it is pain and death, birth and life. Because the cosmic implications of these things are way above my head, I would rather contemplate my own daydreams.

I Can’t Believe I Believed That

Legends are So Much Fun…  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-6g

Dolly-Parton-with-Crossed-Eyes--58695a

Urban legends are as old as Medusa turning those who look at her to stone — old as dirt.  The more society has matured, the easier it is to decipher falsehoods from the truthhoods. Or is it? Here’s a list of ditties I found on my wanderings while doing research for my Great American Novel #3 (let’s hear it for the Internet and a few spare hours!)

Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Dressing comfortable is one thing … dressing like a hobo another … http://wp.me/p1pIBL-67

31 Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Are you one who enjoys presenting your best side to the viewing public?  What I mean is, do you spend time fixing your hair, pants, shirt, purse, shoes, the whole bit?  Not that you strive to strut your stuff down the Chanel or Yves St Laurent runways ― it’s just that you want to be presentable. Most women who take care of their heart and/or soul take care of their appearance, too.  What I’d like to know, then, is why is it when we are away from the public eye, we look like hobos from Hoboville?

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Parents and their kids often speak two different languages. http://wp.me/p1pIBL-8N

chinese_symbol_for_laugh_postcard-p239398313843791555trdg_400

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

You Make Me Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Ever feel like you’re always doing the spin-a-roonie?  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-jt

dizzying

Not so long ago I wrote a blog entitled, “I Make Myself Crazy.” You know ― it’s the on-sweater, off-sweater, hot/cold thing.  http://www.humoringthegoddess.com/2012/04/07/i-get-on-my-nerves/  Nervous ticks aside, I now try to slow down and think before I flutter.

Reminding Myself to be Feminine

It had been a long day — a long couple of days. The dishwasher leaked all over the floor, the dog got into the garbage and threw all the non-edible parts down the hallway, we ran out of shampoo and liquid dish soap at the same time, I was late for work, I did three loads of laundry each of the last two nights, I had broken my favorite glass — yes, a long couple of days. Finally I found time to crash on the sofa and “relax”. I kicked the cat off the pillow, turned on the TV, and, pulling my socks off, observed feet and toenails that looked like they’d been run over by a steel wool pad. It seemed I have to remind myself to be feminine — again.

 You say – wait! You are female! Feminine comes from the word female! Why do you need to remind yourself of what you are?

Well, my friend, ask any woman — sometimes the difference between female and feminine is as far apart as fudge and lemons. Feminine is the girly, sparkly part of womanhood. It’s the stuff that Victorian novels are famous for. It is the pseudo-world of high fashion and graceful movements; it’s swishing one’s hips when walking and never raising your voice and being perfectly groomed at all times and wearing satin and lace on a daily basis. It is being gentle and wise, flushing at the first off-color remark, and waiting for men to do everything from open doors to help you into the car/carriage.

 A female, on the other hand, is an animal that produces gametes (ova), which can be fertilized by male gametes (spermatozoa). It is the reproductive machine of the planet. Being female is also being a cook, floor scrubber, maid, chauffer, dog feeder and babysitter. It is using the washroom with the longest line, buying jeans that fit in the waist but never in the leg, and being left to do the dishes while everyone else retires to the living room.

As the world around us changes, so does our perception of what feminine and female really mean.  No longer content to be docile, frail creatures, women boldly take over responsibilities that were once in the domain of the opposite sex. Driving a forklift, shoveling snow, fixing a leaky pipe — these were things that used to wait until those stronger and more masculine got around to doing them. But somewhere along the line women got tired of waiting and decided to take on the world themselves. After all, waiting for a man to put together a water fountain or carry some boxes upstairs can age you faster than time travel. In the whirlwind of single motherhood and two working parents and family obligations and school activities and domestic responsibilities, the role of the female has taken a new moniker.  Women are able to do things we never thought possible.  We are stockbrokers, accountants, doctors and lawyers; positions that were reserved exclusively for the male genre a hundred years ago. We have started companies, run for political office, and enlisted in the military. We have done things our grandmothers would shiver to think about. We are proud of the strides we have made and the balances we have found.

But does all this female awareness make one feminine?

The definition of feminine has also undergone its own metamorphosis. The very thought of fainting at the sight of blood or blushing at an off-color word is as alien to us as chopsticks. One cannot swoon when their child has stepped on a nail or their friend has passed out from heat exhaustion. Femininity is not defined by the size of your clothes or the money you make. It is a richer, more complex brew than days of old. Being feminine is finding the core that makes us unique and exploring it, pulling out the parts that make us feel good and keeping them in front of us. It is a more expansive way of thinking: being tough without being rough, creative without being flighty, curvy without being lumpy.

Femininity is a state of mind, a state of soul. To want to be feminine is to want to be softer, smarter, more understanding than the rough and tough ways of men folk. And in order to find that feminine state of mind, we have to take care of the package we are stuck with. You don’t need to be built like a model or have a soft, southern drawl in order to be feminine. You don’t have to sway your hips or be a gourmet cook to bring out the lady in you. It is what you do with what you have that separates you from the world of ova. Being feminine is taking care of yourself so that you are strong enough, wise enough, and mellow enough to handle all facets of the female persona. Being intelligent is feminine; so is being scattered. Being innocent is feminine; so is being experienced. You can be feminine at 15 or 50. After all, that adage that age is nothing more than a three-letter word is just as true today as it was years ago. It’s just now we can shout it from the treetops instead of whispering it behind closed doors.

I feel good about feeling girly. I feel good that I cry at the end of movies and at dog food commercials. I still like to play with jewelry and take bubble baths and collect stuffed animals, even if I insist that I’m not a collector. I also like to mow the lawn and shovel snow, and don’t mind trying my hand at fixing things either. Being feminine is the cream atop the already warm, rich coffee of being female.

Now if I could just work on those feet….

                       

 

Finding the Divine Feminine

As I sit and flip through my latest stack of chick magazines, I find myself wandering through the world of today’s woman and the concept of “divine feminine”.  I wonder what that means — not only the “divine” part, but the feminine as well.  I can see the divine in books and magazines, but where do I fit in?   Where does the world of flowing gossamer and satin and lace meet spandex and terrycloth?

            One of my favorite magazines caters to the “over 40” generation of women who want to believe they are still a viable, strong contribution to society.  I can identify with that feeling.  I want to believe I’ve not outlived my usefulness now that my children are out of college and beyond, that the job market is more considerate of middle-aged women — that there is more to life than a nine-to-five job and frozen pizzas for dinner.  There are many women tripping over the big 4-0 mark and the even higher 5-0 mark, trying to make a difference in the world.  I read about glamorous movie stars, corporate women, restaurant owners, writers, doctors, and others doing things they only once dreamed of.  Antiquing through Europe, opening their own restaurant or bakery, rehabbing rundown parts of cities — all of them doing things that are somehow bigger than life.  Closing the magazine, I wonder — where do I fit into all of this?  Where does my revolution, my evolution, fit in?

             In this age of airbrushed images and designer wardrobes, I often wonder where a Renaissance woman such as me belongs.  Where are the articles that coddle mid-life, mid-waisted women?    Where are the look-good, feel-good articles that cater to billing clerks or waitresses or shipping and receiving workers? Where are the dress-ups and weekend activities that address basketball and football moms and women who take kindergarteners on field trips and others who milk cows every day?  Is it possible to be feminine and divine in a world without dress sizes?  Is it possible to wear sweatshirts and uniforms and still sparkle in the divine feminine? 

            Sometimes it seems that the more liberated I feel, the more confused I become.  In some ways that’s good, for it helps strengthen the connections between the synapses in my brain.  Eternal confusion is eternal fodder for mental longevity.  I love being female. I love the world offered to our species alone.  Femininity comes from within; it is a state of being that comes from our very souls, our very thoughts.  It is a pride in our sex, in our ability to feel and react in our enhanced sort of way.

            But what about the next step?  What is “divine feminine”?  How are we supposed to find the “divine” in our green computer screens or packing boxes on an assembly line?  Is it possible to be divine and feminine and not be on the pages of the latest trendy magazine?  To find valued even if we are not on the board of directors of some giant corporation or running a four star restaurant? 

            Inspiration comes in many forms, but it begins with a wisp of an idea, a flutter of a heartbeat that beats to a slightly different rhythm.  There is a seasoning that comes with the over-40 crowd, the wonderful reaping of the harvest that has been fertilized and nurtured and growing inside of us for the last 30 to 40 years.  It is fueled by heartbreak and ecstasy, by hard work and curiosity.  Divine is not dictated by the color of your skin or how big your paycheck is.  Divine feminine is also enhanced by menopause:  pre-, actual, and post-.  There is something to be said about the shuffling of hormones as they start to decrease in a woman’s body.  So many physical and mental changes trickle through our being, some real, some imagined, that we can’t help but redefine our feminism.  We applaud the fact that we can no longer get pregnant, but mourn the fact that we can’t get pregnant.  Our emotions run the gamut from high and energetic to scraping along the bottom.  We have best friends, we have no friends.  We love being alone, we fear being alone.  Is this what the divine feminine is all about?

            It is this and so much more.  It is the beauty of being female, the freedom of experiencing our emotions up close and personal like no man could (sorry guys…but take it into consideration with your own divine feminine female).   It’s the adventure of finding the self, the creativity that lies just below the surface, playing with the child who’s always been there.  We cry, we laugh; we take estrogen if we need it and vitamins even if we don’t.  We wear the jewelry our mother’s used to wear or make our own. We become mentors and advisers just because we’re here, and we walk in marathons instead of run.  We realize that a job is merely a means to an end, an end that is just a beginning. 

            The divine feminine is who we’ve always been.  She is a goddess, she is a nymph.  She is a crabby middle-aged woman and a playful school girl.   She loves men and is tired of men.  She sparkles in gym shoes and brightly patterned shirts and well-worn flannels.  It doesn’t matter what she loves, as long as she loves.  As long as she feels feminine — as long as she embraces what she is.

            And the “divine” part?  Used as an adjective, divine means “of such surpassing excellence as to suggest divine (god/goddess/God) inspiration.”  Combined with the powerful feminine (a gender that refers chiefly, but not exclusively, to females or to objects classified as female), that makes for one kickin’, sparklin’, inspirational being, doesn’t it?

            If that’s what it’s all about, count me in.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

Dancing in a Too-Tight Tutu

I was sitting around the other day with my gal friends, sharing tales about the weekend. We all seemed to have gone through the same delightful experience, albeit in different ways. We all were relaxed, having a good time, and probably drank a little too much, for we all said, “I’m too old for this.”  One sat with friends and sipped with friends all day, one went to an outdoor concert, and I party hopped.  I’m sure the situations were on the same astral plane as many others “my age.”  Time flows, excitement and comfort wraps around us, the atmosphere make us feel good, and before you know it we are waking up the next morning with a headache, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

This psychic phenomenon is not limited to girls sharing drinking stories. This magical phrase echoes around us all the time.  My husband and I spent one glorious day working outside. The air was cool, the dogs well-behaved, and we planted flowers in pots and mowed the lawn and fixed broken things and worked in the yard a little. Maybe more than just a little, for the next morning we both woke up, joints stiff, hands scratched, and twinges in the small of our back, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

Just think of how many times you have said this. In fun and in fear.  A mother with a house full of 10-year-old girls staying overnight, giggling and talking till wee hours of the morning; college kids downstairs, friends over, drinking beer and playing cards, getting louder and rowdier with each hand; babysitting more than one of anything younger than five. You’re trying to be nice. You’re trying to be patient. But hours into the melee you think, “I’m too old for this.”

As I always like to point out, age is in your point of view.  When the ladies shared their drinking stories, I wanted to stand and cheer.  There were late 30s mingling with mid 40s mingling with late 50s. One has a 10-year-old, one has two in high school, I have one in college and one married.  Yet all three of us unconsciously slipped back into our early 20s, losing track of time and responsibilities and all the trimmings that go with it, at least for an hour or two. Were we trying to recapture our youth? Were we silly old goats   trying to dance the dance of the sprite in a tutu that was too tight? Or were we just human beings who never forgot how to have fun?

By now we all know that life is what you make of it. Jobs and kids and finances and health problems plague us all. Some can pick up and make a clean slate of everything; others have to muddle through the chaos and hope they squeeze out the other side sane. So when they say laughter is the best medicine, it really is. Sharing stories, playing games, dancing and prancing and acting silly all are ways to exorcise the demons we create for ourselves. I’m too fat. I’m too dumb. I’m tired of my job. I’m tired of my mother. I’m tired of being a mother. All tinny squeaks in our ear that cause us to over-analyze, over-react, and over emote. All of which get us nowhere in the end.

So what’s wrong with not acting our age? What is our age, anyway? If judged by our bodies, it might be ancient. If judged by our responsibilities it might be grown up. If judged by our dreams, it might be juvenile. Somehow there has to be a way to unite all sides of ourselves into one happy camper. So why not let go of those inhibitions once in a while? Why not drop the fear of embarrassing yourself (or others) and laugh with others? It’s not like you haven’t been embarrassed before, or never will be again. But you would be amazed the different feeling you get when you are a part of the joke, not a victim of it.

The great thing about taking chances like these, and saying “I’m too old for this” is that you find you are really not too old for anything. Alright – maybe bungee jumping or running in a marathon when you’re not a runner are contenders for never again. But even those occurrences show that you were not too old to at least try them.  The obvious choices are usually general ones: take a class about something you always wanted to know about; start walking around the block at night so you can walk in the annual Relay for Life; buy yourself a journal (or a laptop) and start recording those thoughts you thought you’d never get out of your system. Volunteer at a shelter or sanctuary and make friends with the animals.

Not up to all that work? How about wearing a color you’ve never worn before? Are you a meat and potatoes kinda dresser? Add a piece of bling to your wardrobe. Take a chance on bringing extra attention to yourself. You will be amazed at how many people notice ― and how many like the “new you.” Go to a concert and sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs. Dance like a crazy person in front of the speakers to your favorite music.

Oh sure, you say. You go dance in front of the speakers…you wear the bling. You wear the tutu that’s too tight.  I hate to admit it, but I already do. And I can’t tell you how scary and liberating it is.  And, even if I pull a muscle dancing the “hoochi coo”, it’s a great feeling to know that no one will ever forget the sight of me “hoochi cooing” in a too-tight tutu.

Especially with a glass of wine in my hand.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

The Emperor’s Clothes — the Naked Truth

            This is a pump-yourself-up kind of blog.  A universal message.  Just wherever I type writing you substitute your own creative passion.  Okay?

            I had the best time this evening.  Not only did I get to share coffee and gossip and love and energy with my best friend, I learned a lot about my personal creativity outlet, writing.  As much as we say we have a lot to learn about our passions and that we’re open to new ideas and critiques and opinions, we really aren’t.  We hold our best (and
worst) work to our chest, having poured love and angst and laughter and sweat and tears into it, but are hesitant to share all that power with friends and buddies.  So we polish our work, nickel and dime it to death, then enter it in a contest or show. Or worse, do nothing with it. Most of us are afraid to share our artistic baby with anyone else.  What if they don’t like it?  What if I think it’s good but others think it stinks?

             I suffer from the “Emperor’s Clothes” syndrome. You know that fable ― the king was a jerk, so one day his attendants convinced him he was dressed in the most beautiful outfit ever. It was just invisible.  And he was naked. So the dumb king fell for their flattery and wore the “invisible suit” to a court function.  You can imagine the laughter he pulled out from friends and strangers alike.  I think many of us are just like him. We are afraid that even though we think what we’ve written is really good, others will pat our head and smile and say, “Oh, that’s cute/good/nice.”  Then they will go home laughing their buttniks off, thinking, “Oh my gaaawd!”   So why bother offering our creation to the world? 

            One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is to not listen to that stinky piece of cheese demon on my shoulder that keeps filling my head with doubt. Why have I wasted so much time swimming in the pool of insecurity? How narrow-minded I’ve been!   I’ve let my insecurities creep into conversations and query letters.  I’ve been almost toe-kissing in my subservience to potential agents and publishers.  Even though I really am proud of what I’ve written, I’ve been afraid to seem too enthusiastic.  After all, the Emperor’s Clothes…

            Tonight I learned that it’s really okay to toot our own horn.  To be strong and aggressive and outwards about our passion.  That those on the other end of the query letter (or
photo studio or art gallery) would rather take a chance on someone who believes in their work than someone who shies away from it.  

            I suppose that’s why I started this blog. I had a boatload of short stories just yearning for release.  I have folders full of poetry and novels and research and all kinds of things that make me happy. While most of my dabblings were for my own entertainment, there were some I thought worth sharing. Would anyone read my ramblings? Would anyone think they’re as charming as I do? Would my readers run off and tell their friends what garbage they just read?

            I suppose that demon never falls far from my shoulder. From your shoulder. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shove it off the minute it returns. Pull it off, hold it arm’s length in front of you, and tell it you are tired of its ramblings. That you are okay just the way you are, and that your art is always evolving. And flush that cheese down the toilet.

            Don’t be afraid to tout your artwork. Don’t you want to show off the things you’ve worked so hard to create? Your paintings, your jewelry, your garden? What about
that graphic art you’ve been hiding? The cookbook you’ve been putting together? The furniture you refurnish? What are you sitting on that you should be sharing with the world?

             You only get one chance at this life. Why not throw conventionality to the wind and put yourself out there?  Believe in yourself, believe in what you write.  Sell it like
you believe in what you write.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Rejection?  Like it hasn’t happened before.  Like it won’t happen again. People going to laugh at you? Been there, done that. Who cares? Don’t let “thanks but no thanks” stop you from submitting the strongest, most positive masterpiece you can create.

            It’s time for me to change my clothes ― this Emperor’s outfit never really fit right anyway. You see, I’ve got my eye on some saucy little salsa outfit I saw at Good Will…

Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Are you one who enjoys presenting your best side to the viewing public?  What I mean is, do you spend time fixing your hair, pants, shirt, purse, shoes, the whole bit?  Not that you strive to strut your stuff down the Chanel or Yves St Laurent runways ― it’s just that you want to be presentable. Most women who take care of their heart and/or soul take care of their appearance, too.  What I’d like to know, then, is why is it when we are away from the public eye, we look like hobos from Hoboville?

I have gone full swing with fashion through my life. There was a time that clothing meant something more than tennies with mud and jeans with holes in the knees.  Power suits and tailored dresses (with shoulder pads, of course) were the trademark of the 80’s, especially in downtown Chicago.  Working on Michigan Avenue, there was a plethora of boutiques, department stores, and cutting-edge shops to keep even the weary well-dressed. I might not have kept up with the big-time dressers, but I did my best to look clean, chic, and, well, presentable.

Eventually I left the sparkle of the big city, choosing instead to become a mother and part-time sales clerk, and my wardrobe change again.  An elastic waistline took the place of leather belts, and casual pants and sweaters replaced the soldier-woman look.  Of course, once I became a mother, anything comfortable became the name of the game.  After all, who would want baby spit on a Liz Claiborne blouse?

Now my kids are either in college or married and on their own, and I’m at the point where the words “casual Friday” get me excited.  Back in the office after years of the “momma” mode, I am leaning towards a more crafted, uncrafted look. Flowing, easy going, with a bit of bling. These days women have their own version of dress up,  running the gamut from jeans to capris to dresses. Business suits (do they even exist anymore?) are kept for meeting clients, and people wear sweatshirts and jeans to office Christmas parties.

But here is the crux of my story.  I live in the country, and not long ago was co-owner of one old, crusty, buffy rooster named Rocky.  Left over from my husband’s desire to be a “country farmer”, Rocky was the last of a few generations of hens and roosters.  He had a little coop  all to himself, and, when the evening was pleasant, I would let him out to roam the grass and field around his abode. Well, one evening I went back outside to close his coop door for the night, and when I looked down, took notice of what I was wearing: pink slippers with Christmas socks, a long, flowery nightgown, and a faded purple housecoat. What a fop I had become!

What happened to fashion sense?  Why is it so easy to resort to horror story glamour when no one is looking?  I thought about other rendezvous I’ve had inside my four walls when no one was looking:  stained t-shirts, orange socks and green pants, nightgowns and chuggy boots.  Did I lose all sense and sensibility when no one was round? Most will say that when we are home we are free to be who we are, and if that includes wearing plaid boxer shorts and paisley t-shirts, that’s just fine.  This is true. I don’t mind skipping a shower on Saturday if no one is coming to visit, or wearing yesterday’s St. Patty’s day shirt because it’s got a little beer on it. I like to be comfortable, and I like to be practical.  And, after all, if the shirt is already stained from yesterday’s dinner, why not wear it while you’re making spaghetti sauce tonight?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the feminine side of fashion.  I love shoes that fit, earrings that dangle and bracelets that sparkle.  I love a comfortable pair of khakis as much as a flowery summer frock.  I shop at Good Will as often as The Boston Store, and bargain is my middle name.  I wear whatever I want whenever I want.  Having suffered through girdles, garter belts and shoulder pads, I have earned my place on the fashion ladder.  I like to think my fashion sense falls somewhere between fashion runway-itis and poverty chic.  I am not embarrassed by who I am; I revel in the fact that I can go with the flow and feel comfortable in any setting. That is the beauty of being a woman.

But I also admit that I’d be totally embarrassed if anyone outside of my dogs saw me tread out to the chicken coop in unicorn slippers and a ski jacket with a furry hood.
I’ve got to get a little common sense here; I need to find the balance between beautiful and bum.  I can never let anyone see me walk around the house in some of the getups I let myself get away with.

No one should be put through that kind of pain.