Self-Acceptance

Years ago a Nike print ad featured athletes with the tag line “Make Yourself.”

In the end, that’s what a person does in recovery: you have the chance to make yourself into who you want to be.

You don’t have to get a J.D. or M.D. You don’t have to do what I do.

You just have to be the kind of person that it gives you joy to be (regardless of the number on the bathroom scale).

Surprise–I think about the beauty and benefit of “self-acceptance” as a mantra in recovery.

If you’re not happy being you, ask yourself why exactly you’d rather be someone else. Change what you can of what you don’t like, and live with and forget the things you can’t change.

I’m 52–next week I will write about my 25th anniversary of being in remission.

Here now I want to write about self-acceptance because it’s the secret to feeling good about yourself. It could help to define what makes you a true original.

I would say my personality is “creative-kinetic.” Like the athletes in the Nike ad, I understand that there’s a power in creating yourself.

What I’m possessed with right now is a Deborah Harry quote. In a magazine, she said that all artists go “inching and crawling” towards their situation.

That sums up recovery: it too often involves going “inching and crawling” toward each goal; each milestone; each victory.

I will write more about recovery in here in my own inimitable way in the coming weeks–because it needs to be said what I have to say.

I’ll end here with this prelude: if you’re an artist, you cannot ever not do your art.

If you’re in recovery, you have to be true to yourself.

A good first step to embracing who you are is to remember that a mental health diagnosis is simply a tool for getting the treatment you need. It’s not who you are.

I call using your diagnosis to define yourself–I call this an “identity straitjacket.”

The beauty of living in recovery is that you get to decide how you want to describe yourself. That’s how I hit on my own two-word statement.

Try out your own self-definition. Meet me here next week when I talk about how I’ve been in remission for 25 years.

Rock On, Females!

Rock on, females!

Though I find it all very sad that when a woman turns 50 or older–and she dares look like she’s fifty or older–she’s considered not attractive.

It’s women editors at magazines setting this tone of an expiration date. They’re complicit in this vanity trap–for perpetuating that a woman is only as good as she looks.

We’re complicit for buying magazines that endlessly preach salvation from old age via anti-wrinkle products.

Even Deborah Harry of Blondie has gotten a facelift. She’s 71, and still rocking. Harry was interviewed in Bazaar recently.

Facelift aside, I commend Harry for having her own sense of style, her own imaginative use of language, and her own tempo. Harry marched to her own beat–and Blondie now has out their 11th album.

I say: if you want to get a little wrinkle relief or get Botox or do something: that’s your choice. More power to you for wanting to make yourself happy.

Only I just think it’s sad that women often choose to go under the knife not because they want to be empowered. A lot of them might be doing it because they think they’re all washed up at 50. There’s a difference.

By all means, go under the knife if that’s what you want to do. It’s a personal choice that each of us has the right to make.

It’s just that I think there’s a double standard: women are held to a higher standard of perfection. And men get to go around acting like they’re hot shit regardless of the scowl on their faces or how they treat other people.

I’m going to use a photo here of Deborah Harry. In a way, it might illustrate the case for a good facelift. That’s not my intention.

My goal is to show women that we can be rocking at 50 and beyond, at 60 and beyond, and yes–at 70 and beyond.

You live that long–you get to choose how you live your life. Rock on.

deborah harry

 

 

 

Choose Love

Last week I attended an open mic where I read the poem “What She Said” that starts off Left of the Dial.

The host started the evening by quoting Audre Lorde on self-care:

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Self-care–in whatever healthy form it takes–is an act of love and healing. That’s why fashion and beauty aren’t frivolous pursuits.

I ask you: without self-care how can a person really feel and look their best? In this regard it’s imperative that each of us treats ourselves and the people we meet with kindness and compassion.

At the open mic I was witness to stories of tragedy and the overcoming of tragedy.

Ashley Smith, a fellow blogger, has alluded to the idea that we’re all in recovery, from whatever it is we’re in recovery from.

A breakdown; an illness; a diagnosis; an attack–all these can be a traumatic event.

Though I’ve only been 52 for two weeks I suddenly have zero tolerance for the hate, violence, and killing in the world.

I want to talk about this now because when you hit your fifties you’re faced with a choice: continue on the same path (that might include having negative thoughts or unhealthy behaviors)–or choose empowerment through having empathy for yourself and others.

You can’t afford to go down a path of ill health when you’re in your fifties. Now is the time to intensify your efforts at self-care.

If you’ve suffered a trauma–be it a mental health challenge or something else–please be good to yourself. You can’t blame yourself. Self-care is a necessity not a luxury.

There can be no shame and guilt involved in having a diagnosis. There can be no fear of reprisal when you choose how you want to live your life.

I bought a silver necklace that spells out: CHOOSE LOVE.

That’s the message I want to spread in the blog now:

Choose Love.

The Necessity of Self-Care

I want to write about the necessity of self-care as you get older.

Readers: if I gained weight I doubt I’d care at this point anymore.

Like so many women at mid life proclaim: “It’s either my face or my ass.” This is because:

In your fifties you might have a wrinkle-free face and gain a few pounds or have wrinkles and no extra poundage.

Research studies indicate that women who exercise feel better about their bodies even if they haven’t lost significant weight.

My secret is to lift weights twice a week as often as I can and to watch what I eat on most days. Now that the spring weather is here I often walk places instead of taking the subway. That’s how I get in “cardio”–cardiovascular exercise.

That’s the secret to hang a healthy body and a healthy mind: strength training. You feel better after you’ve exercised. There’s also some kind of idea that lifting weights firms the skin on your face too. I wouldn’t go so far as to think this–this seems incredulous to me.

My regimen is: At night I use L’Oreal Eye Makeup Remover and some kind of Neutrogena cleansing cloths for the rest of my face. After this I use Simple facial cleanser you can get in Rite Aid. Then I apply an old-school product from the Body Shop: the Vitamin E Night Cream.

In the morning I use Neutrogena Hydro-Boost moisturizer with SPF 15–the one that comes in the tube not the jar. I use an eye cream that costs about $15.

The reality is that you have to–at least I have to–wear moisturizer every day when you’re older. So I use a moisturizer with a sunscreen. I also notice that foundation goes on better if you’ve applied moisturizer first.

I’ll end here with this now:

No one will tell you–only I’ll tell you–that the future won’t always be totally rosy or always better and not ever challenging.

I learned the hard way from being the victim of an attack that your life can in some ways get harder at times not easier.

Which is the prime reason that self-care is so important now if you’re in your fifties.

Doing healthy things to make yourself feel better is a necessity not a luxury in recovery at mid life. 

Birthday Makeover

This is the Before photo of a makeover session at Sephora:

2017 before.JPG

The After photo is below:

 

2017 after.JPG

Using primer before you add foundation and blush definitely helps make the blush look smoother.

I wouldn’t brush up my eyebrows with powder like this IRL on an ordinary day.

The lipstick is Poeme by Lancome that I chose because I arrived early and browsed the makeup lines. 

The makeup artist chose the blush: Nectar by Lancome.

Though this was a birthday makeover I’m not keen to keep doing this every year. The cost can add up.

I also bought the concealer that the artist chose for me. Alas I have dark circles under my eyes and haven’t kept up with using concealer. Now I would like to try using the concealer.

You need something to hang on to that makes you feel good when you have a mental health challenge. Having a makeover can be a bright spot in your life when you’re going through a hard time.

It can also be a mood boost “just because” you want to get a makeover.

I picked up some tips and tricks from the makeup artist that I’ll start to use on my own.

Fifty-two isn’t so bad really. I’m newly fifty-two.

The secret to loving life whatever your age is doing what suits you and discarding the rest. I’m in full swing with the writing and editing of the career book and with the writing of a second memoir that is a collection of essays.

I will tell readers everywhere to have no fear: the future can be brighter than your life was in your twenties.                  

Happy Birthday

The singing waiters sang  “Happy Birthday” to me in the Red Lobster as the free vanilla ice cream with whipped cream was brought to my table.

They had pleasant voices and had been called into service numerous times because in the short time my family sat at the table we heard at least five or six neighboring “Happy Birthday” tunes at other tables.

The highlight of the day was finding two clothing items I could buy in Boscov’s. Is there a Boscov’s near you? My mother wanted to get me a birthday gift so took me to this store that anchors a shopping mall.

What is the attraction to cheaply made and poorly constructed chain store garments? If you can’t afford better clothes shopping here only makes sense if the clothes are on sale.

My mother balked because one of the items–a simple blue tee shirt–was originally marked $38 dollars. How could that be you wonder? A tee shirt that costs $38 dollars and it’s not in Target or H&M? Luckily it was on sale for $15 dollars.

Numerous trips to the dressing room proved almost futile. For starters, the smallest size jeans in Boscov’s are often a 4 or 6 so they’re too big for me. (The horror–you’re laughing at this. Go on, laugh.)

Anyway, a size 6P pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans fit so I snatched them up before anyone else could take them.

A woman came out of the dressing room and told me: “These pants don’t fit. I’ve gained weight. Yet I refuse to buy a larger size.”

Honey, I wanted to say, the size on a clothing tag is no measure of your worth or whether you should like yourself or how you look.

I thought the woman who came out of the dressing room looked beautiful. She didn’t look sloppy or slovenly to me, which is what counts more than what you weigh.

By the way, I have gone into H&M and couldn’t fit into their size 8 regular pants. Only a Barbie Doll could fit into those pants. They were a size 8 regular and I couldn’t get them over my knee.

Have I now convinced you female readers once and for all that sizing is arbitrary and makes no difference as long as you LOOK GOOD in your clothes?

Submitted for your amusement–because it amuses the heck out of me–is that now I’m the proud owner of four different sizes of jeans hanging in my closet. I own a 0P, a 2P, a 4P, and now a 6P–all Petite sizes no clowning around so this shouldn’t garner me any sympathy.

Yet this panoply of clothing sizes should make it clear that the number on a tag is arbitrary. With good reason you might ask what causes this variation in sizes? Well, it is laughable more than anything that one woman could fit into four different sizes.

Which proves that not only is age only a number–I’m 52 now–the size on a clothing tag is only a number.

I wish the woman who came out of the dressing room could’ve seen it in her heart to buy the next size up in the pants. The pants really did flatter her–I saw her in the smaller size and she already looked good in them.

Retail stores are closing down all over the place. Penney’s is closing something like 123 stores this year. You wonder why? The clothing looks cheap, and finding clothes that fit and flatter is near impossible.

If video killed the radio star according a song in the 1980s it’s also true that Alfred Dunner killed retail stores in the 2010s. Alfred Dunner–need I say more?

I do buy cheaper clothes. I only buy clothes with a coupon code of at least 30 percent off. The difference is these clothes don’t look cheap. And you won’t see a mirror image of yourself wearing the same clothes going up and down the street.

It’s possible to look good in clothes that don’t cost a lot of money. You just have to be a detective to track them down. You have to use your eye to see whether the clothes flatter you.

I’ve bought for only $35 after tax online a denim jacket. I’ve bought for $44 dollars after tax from GAP online a pair of jeans. Which makes paying $69 for these items in a no-name chain store really ridiculous.

Cost isn’t the issue. Looking good is the issue. Trust me what woman wants to spend hours in a dressing room trying on pants and jeans and blouses that she winds up looking awful in?

None of the blouses I tried on in Boscov’s fit and flattered by the way. I was glad as heck to get out of that store pronto with two items of clothing that looked good and fit good.

Yes, I’m 52 now.  I’m glad to be 52. And at this point, I doubt I’d care if I gained any weight. How much a woman weighs is besides the point.

Joy in Life

I would submit that the goal is to take joy in life.

That can seem like a person is setting the bar low. Yet if you ask me taking joy in life is a lofty goal to aspire to when you get older.

Giving up on yourself isn’t an option in your fifties.

A positive outlook really can lift your spirits and also heal your body.

My only secret is to exercise consistently each week and to watch what I eat. I eat only chicken and turkey–not any kind of meat. I realize this isn’t a vegan diet yet that’s how I eat. Mostly fish and seafood and vegetables.

It’s possible to live a long life even though you have a mental health challenge. It helps to be able to afford great healthcare and to live where there’s access to great healthcare.

Forget the studies that claim everyone with SZ dies 25 years earlier. My good friend is 72 and he’s alive and kicking and hasn’t keeled over yet.

Besides what matters is the life in your years not the years in your life. I would be a happy camper if I lived to be only 70 and had a full life with cherished memories.

Perception is everything. A positive outlook really does help you improve your life.