My Signature Wardrobe Piece

bandanna purple photo

The Accidental Icon blogger Lyn Slater talked about having a signature item in your wardrobe.

The photo above attests to what has become my signature item: a colorful bandanna.

The summer I turned 51 my hair start to frizz up and curl in different directions in rainy or humid weather.

I’d dry my hair straight. Going out the door in the rain or humid air I’d arrive at my destination with unruly hair. You can predict the weather by looking at my hair.

That summer I bough 5 different bandannas in a dollar store. (I”m not proud that they have a Made in China label.)

Since I can’t wear a hat on my job I was pleased to be able to get away with wearing a bandanna to staff the reference desk.

Isaac Mizrahi in his book How to Have Style recommended wearing bandannas to brighten your mood.

A woman featured in the Andrea Linett book The Cool Factor sported a bandanna as her trademark.

These two fashion guides inspired me to start wearing bandannas as a bad-hair day cover-up. My cover has been blown.

In New York City the Human Rights Commission has made it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers because of their hairstyles.

I think I was able to get away with wearing bandannas at my job precisely because so many people wear different kinds of headscarves as a matter of course.

In fact: sometimes a hairstyle born out of a bad hair day can become a celebration of your individuality.

Taking away someone’s right to self-expression should be forbidden.

There are so many beautiful people walking around with hair that is a point of pride.

If the hair is not on your head you shouldn’t be concerned with what it looks like.

My unruly hair brings me no happiness.

The bandannas I wear bring other people joy. Walking down the street people stop me and comment on my choice of headscarf.

At midlife wearing a bandanna has become my signature.

In a coming blog entry I”m going to talk more about why uniformity and conformity should be illegal.

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Art and Soul

crescentmoon lovers

This is my “Love You to the Moon” painting.

It’s the fourth painting I’ve created in the last seven years.

You cannot give up on yourself after you have a setback.

It could take one year. It could take five years or ten years. It could take longer.

Yet the point is you can recover yourself along with your mental health.

Our lives aren’t over by a long shot when we have a hurdle (or two or three) to clear in life.

My goal is to continue to go to the painting events.

I recommend you try one out in your city or town. The cost hovers around thirty-five to fifty dollars. You get one free glass of wine. Sometimes you can buy a personal pizza to have if you get there earlier.

The artists are friendly. It’s a happy place.

I believe everyone can be creative. That giving form to beauty via the creation of art and music and fashion is what gives us joy in life.

We could use more light love and laughter in the world.

At the Paint-n-Sip events the music is upbeat, everyone’s friendly, and the instructor gives positive constructive feedback.

You can click on my art work category to view my Golden Goddess painting too.

The Gift of Creativity

wired to create cover

The book above is the most empowering nonfiction book I’ve ever read so far.

Quite simply if you are an artist you must create your chosen art.

To encourage you to go out and buy it I’ll quote from the Apple computer 1997 advertisement featured in the book:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”

Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (2015) by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire is the most uplifting and inspiring ode to doing your own thing.

10 things highly creative people do differently involve:

Imaginative Play

Passion

Daydreaming

Solitude

Intuition

Openness to Experience

Mindfulness

Sensitivity

Turning Adversity into Advantage

Thinking Differently

Wired to Create is on par with Dark Horse: Achieving Success through the Pursuit of Fulfillment.

For any reader engaged in battle between self-doubt and confidence about their Art or your Self as the individual qualified to make this Art I say: Read this Book.

Being wired to create is a gift. What makes you different gives you an advantage.

The Golden Goddess

golden goddess

The Golden Goddess shown here is proof that making art is like riding a bicycle–you don’t really forget how to do it.

After I came out of the hospital the first time I stopped making art. Even though I was sketching and painting ever since I was in the second grade.

Making art has mental health benefits according to a research study an M.D. conducted.

Going to a Paint-n-Sip workshop is a low-cost, judgment-free way to try out art-making to see if you’re good at it or simply if you’d like to do it.

I say: do what you love even if you’re not good at it. With practice you’ll get better.

This is only the third painting I’ve actually done over the years. All three paintings were created from 2012 through today.

I’ve titled this painting Goldie.

What do you think?

Acting True to Yourself

I’ve learned a life lesson courtesy of having interacted with the jewelry vendor.

It’s a lesson I’m reminded of because on my job I deal with books and people every day.

The life lesson comes after years spent trying to conform by working in cubicles in corporate office jobs.

Mid-life is the time to get this schooling right once and for all. You won’t ever be happy trying to be someone you’re not.

This is a FACT in my book of life:

Taking joy in being who you are is the greatest gift you can give yourself. To be who you are when others don’t want you to be this person takes guts and grit. The glory of being you lasts a lifetime. To squander this gift is the greatest tragedy.

 

New York City Aubade

New York City has been overtaken by multi-million dollar high-rise apartments dotting once downtrodden areas like the Lower East Side.

You have to be rich to live here today. Like Patti Smith–one of my favorite artists–told newbies: Forget coming here.

I’m proud that I wasn’t ever guilty of gentrifying a neighborhood by moving into it. Mostly because the neighborhoods I’ve moved into no one else wanted to live in.

What’s the appeal then of living here? Listen to the song “New York Cares” to understand why those of us who fell in love with Manhattan when we were young are committed to staying.

For a mere $10 dollar cover you can attend a poetry reading.

The host of one event told me: “You look good. You have a tan.”

Actually, I wore Lancome Teint Idole foundation in 260 Bisque N. I have ghost skin and don’t understand the appeal of getting a tan. I have ivory skin with a pink undertone. It’s the foundation I bought after getting the latest Sephora makeover.

You have a 5-minute time limit during the open reading. The clapping is thunderous before and after you read.

The featured readers at the poetry events always want you to buy their books.

I showed up in one of my mod skate park outfits: a cotton black-and-white stripe tee shirt dress, black leggings, and hot pink Converse. I wore a pink bandanna as a head wrap.

As I walked down the street before the event a guy who was a stranger who saw me coming said: “I like your head wrap.”

“Thanks.” I smiled at him and walked on by.

This time of year in New York City is magical and unforgettable. Street vendors sell their wares at tables in the West Village. With a little time before ducking in to read I struck up a conversation with a guy selling jewelry.

“Sterling silver. Not nickel. Don’t take it off when you wash your hands.” He referred to a ring I tried on.

That was good to know as I’ve lost too many rings taking them off in public restrooms and forgetting them. Keep your ring on your finger when you’re washing up. Simply avoid the area where the ring is if it’s a stone like turquoise.

Life is too precious and material things are just temporary joys. They won’t last forever, so wash up with your ring on your finger and be okay with this.

“Are you Italian?” The vendor asked after I paid him.

“Si.” I nodded “Have a great weekend.”

After the event I exited into the cool night. My Levi jacket draped across my shoulders as I hailed a cab.

The chapter titles of my memoir Left of the Dial are actually song titles from the early era in my life when the city was a wonderland.

One chapter “Cotton Crown” was misspelled because the actually song title I believe is “Kotton Krown.” The song is by Sonic Youth and it’s the 1980s anthem to New York City.

The song lyrics talk about mystery and chemistry. As a person who takes medication I was always entranced with the idea of taking control of the chemistry.

New York City will forever hold an allure for us rebels, beautiful dreamers, and creative folk drawn to the undiluted pockets of energy on side streets teeming with cafes and restaurants.

Here and there you can still find vestiges of the Vanished New York. They’re harder to find as For Rent signs dot the landscape where mom-and-pop stores used to be.

Yet walking down the street and being cheered on for wearing a head wrap reminds me that it’s true:

Your dreams aren’t ever too crazy here, they’re beautiful and so are you.

Remodeling Your Self At Mid-Life

The book The Happiness Curve talks about the myth of having a mid-life crisis. Apparently, people are happier in their fifties sixties and beyond. There’s an uptick in joy in our later years.

We have the balls or breasts to defy other people’s expectations:

We go back to school, remodel our kitchen, get a divorce or do any number of new things when we’ve had enough of life as it’s always been.

Today I reckon with this new requirement to stop caring what other people think.

It’s true no one’s going to like you or approve of you for speaking out, for having a diagnosis, or whatever you do or have that they can’t wrap their head around.

Only here’s the truth:

No one changed the world for the better (or even just their world for the better) by sitting on the sidelines and waiting to be called into the game.

Readers, mid-life is our game to play. We own this particular playing field at forty and beyond.

Only you have to be okay with your newfound bravado.

The secret to success at mid-life is indeed doing what gives you joy that comes easy to you. Other people might be envious that you’re happy. That shouldn’t concern you.

The older we get our time here becomes shorter. To steal the Maxwell House Coffee advertisement from the 1980s, we need to make each moment: “Good to the last drop.”

At 40, at 53, at however old you are, it’s time to pay attention.

Life will tell you what to do, if only you stop to listen.

So, remodel your kitchen or your self. It’s all good.