Dawn of 54

I will be 54 in the spring.

I’ve discovered the Accidental Icon blog I’ll link to at the bottom of this blog entry.

The goal is to admire not envy others.

In mid life it’s time to accept the things you cannot change.

And to change the things you’re able to.

I’m only 5 feet tall. I couldn’t possibly wear obdurate dangling earrings that steal the show. I would look ridiculous in a rust coat too.

Yet I find that observing that look I can take from it my own distinct variation: maybe my lightweight gray coat and the designer sunglasses picked up at a discount store.

It’s time to get wise to the Instagram-worthy selfies that others post on social media.

Research says that younger people are winding up depressed. Most likely it’s because they’re viewing the perfect-seeming feeds of peers.

“I admire people who seem to have a charmed life,” I told a woman I consider a friend.

Seem to. That’s it. There’s no charmed life,” my friend shot back.

On the cusp of 54 it’s time to start liking yourself and your imperfections if you haven’t already made peace with these things.

I’ll only ever be 5 feet tall. I won’t have perfect hair ever.

Now I think trying to emulate another person who is supposed to be inspirational as a role model is a myth.

Trying to follow fashion trends is a myth too.

In your fifties you have to trust that you have enough and you are enough.

Regardless of what other people insinuate about your worth.

It’s called self-worth because it comes from within.

The Accidental Icon blog is my new added attraction.

I’m keen to riff on things this other blogger talked about.

Stayed tuned for my own city girl take on getting older.

 

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Downtown Train

green coat

This is the coat that proves my point that fashion isn’t frivolous.

Wherever I go people compliment me on the coat. Even a homeless guy (I kid you not) told me: “That’s an attractive coat.”

It’s from J.Crew and was touted as peacock green. I used a 25 percent off coupon code to buy it.

The coat seems to put others in a good mood when I wear it.

I boarded the downtown train. Clutched the pole near the door because it was standing room only.

After two stops I felt a hand on my sleeve. I turned around thinking it was someone who knew me wanting to say hello.

A guy standing nearby motioned to a newly empty seat. “Thank you.” I sat down.

As soon as I arrived home I installed the Tom Waits song “Downtown Train” in my iTunes library. Waits’ gravelly voice is like no other.

I was touched that a stranger didn’t take the empty seat for himself. Such acts of human kindness restore my faith in the inherent goodness of people.

Is hate learned? I don’t think people are born hating. It comes from seeing others as competition. I talked about the American pie metaphor years ago in this blog: how everyone’s grabbing not just for their fair share, but bigger and bigger slices at the expense of allowing others to have their slices.

The scarcity mindset (Brene Brown wrote about it in one of her books) is alive and well. This mindset is reinforced when citizens are allowed to go hungry. When others are told they must compete to get into elite colleges. When any number of prerequisites are imposed for obtaining success.

There’s a better way. There’s a way out of the fear of not having enough or being enough.

It starts with practicing gratitude. It continues with having compassion.

As we head into the holidays I want to give some insight in this blog that I think can empower readers.

A quote goes like this: gratitude is when what you have is enough.

Especially at this time of year a lot of us can be depressed. My goal is to help readers feel good.

It comes down to slowing down and stopping to smell the American beauties of life.

Seeing the beauty in yourself and others is a way to feel merry and bright. Good people are out there. Kind people are out there.

In the next blog entry I’ll quote a star athlete who riffs on feeling good in the guest column she wrote in the New York Times this week.

 

Shouting to Be Heard

I’m a Visionary who first advocated for recovery over 16 years ago. And I’ll continue to champion the rights of people who historically haven’t had a voice.

In 1988 I shouted to be heard–in my choice of wild clothes and then in my fight to have a better life. This is chronicled in Left of the Dial.

It’s no coincidence that achieving fashion freedom and female power are inextricably linked as drivers of recovery–either from a mental illness or any societal illness.

How you style yourself is an act of love for yourself. Dressing well–in your own inimitable style–is empowering.

What you wear can change the dynamic between you and another person.

I’ll write about this in more detail in the next blog entry.

Sometimes investing in an item of clothing is a way to invest in yourself. It gives you confidence to meet the challenges that arise in your life.

In this holiday season I want to write about the true spirit of our humanity, which must override greed, religion, and political ideology if humans are to survive for another millennium.

My experience simply wearing a new coat attests to the power of kindness.

Becoming Who You Are

An enduring quote tells us:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Post-illness you can recover yourself along with your mental health.

My persistent belief at mid-life is that you shouldn’t stop doing new things until you’re carried out on your last day.

Make every day a celebration.

I wanted to talk about the necklace in the photo in the last blog entry. The woman took it out of the counter to show me. The tag read Murano.

“I’ll take it,” I snapped because Murano is a famous glass maker from Venice, Italy.

I had bought a Murano millefiore glass bead necklace on a tour of their factory.

The point of this blog entry being that you should not hesitate to give yourself little perks to feel better.

“The Road to You” should be paved with kindness and compassion.

Be not afraid to act and dress a little bolder to make a statement:

“I’m here. I have breasts. Get over it.”

You owe it to yourself to be happy. By expressing yourself through how you style yourself in clothes you can also make others happy.

I’m the resident Fashionista at the poetry readings.

You can absolutely reclaim the good from your life before illness and discard the rest.

I’ve decided at 53 that I want to channel the time when I was a disc jockey on FM radio in the 1980s.

This reinvention started by wearing the outfit in the photo in the last blog entry.

In the coming blog entry I will talk about in more detail about reclaiming yourself after illness strikes.

I’ll talk about exerting your power to be who you are without fear of reprisal.

Tying this in to setting goals in mid-life to get more of what you want out of life.

You can absolutely use your personal history as the springboard for making changes at mid-life.

It truly is never too late to be what you might have been.

Creating Yourself at 50 and Beyond

I find myself wanting to talk about fashion more often in here. To talk about topics central to being a woman in today’s world apart from fashion too.

I will recommend again the book Nothing to Wear? A 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet. In it Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo walk women through the steps of discovering our style and dressing in a harmonious way.

Julie Morgenstern is quoted in the book after the two consultants gave her a makeover:

“Wearing clothes that nurture and embrace me is a way to love and care for my body.”

I couldn’t have said this better.

I checked this book out of the library and have been reading it over and over for its sage advice. At some point I’m going to buy a copy of the book.

At 53 I reckon with not wanting to wearing stilettos and a cleavage-bearing mini skirt.

In the September issue of Bazaar jeweler Gaia Repossi talks about gender fluidity and fashion choices.

Perhaps you can relate to thinking that you fall down in terms of what is accepted in the mainstream?

Using Nothing to Wear? to find your style and having the courage to flaunt it could be the antidote to feeling sub-par in mid-life.

I say too: having the courage to flout convention in a sartorial or other way shouldn’t be frowned on.

Am I the only woman who has hit mid-life with the sudden desire to remodel her self and her life and her clothes?

I want to talk more about mid-life matters in the coming blog entries.

Cleaning out your closet and restocking it with a few stylish pieces could be the start of feeling better.

This is not frivolous. It’s also not the only worthy goal at mid-life.

Coming up I’ll talk about other things I think might strike a cord in readers.

 

Fresh Lipstick

In extolling fashion and beauty in this blog it’s not my intention to dwell on fluff and not substance.

In my Visionary way I simply wanted to branch out from the typical standard mental health reportage because there’s so much more to life than the pain a person can be in.

If dressing up and wearing makeup is going to make a person feel better I’m all for this. It’s precisely when we’re in pain that we should do what gives us joy.

From my view today I understand what it’s like to be going through “the Change” or menopause.

Our bodies and our looks are evolving. Some of us don’t like that the direction everything’s going in is south.

There are genetic wonders among us who have creamy flawless skin and look good without makeup.

There are other women who simply choose not to wear makeup at all.

I honestly believe that everyone living on earth is beautiful.

I admire women who can rock their natural face and look good without makeup.

I say: to hell with what other people think of you, your body, or your face.

Living in menopause is precisely the time to tell our critics: “I’m hot. Are you blind? Can’t you see I’m hot.”

We need to look in the mirror and like what we see by the time we hit mid-life. If we agonize over our looks or our bodies now it’s only going to be worse when we turn 60 or older.

I’m a 53-year old woman. I don’t feel so hot going out without wearing lipstick. My new favorite tube cost more than I care to admit.

This week I checked out of the library Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism.

The book flap inside Fresh Lipstick:

“Argues that wearing high heels and using hair curlers does not deny you the right to seek advancement, empowerment, and equality.”

In here I will argue too that dressing in your own authentic way and taking pride in your beauty can empower you to take risks to achieve other goals you have in life.

It’s a double-edge: looking good to feel good and feeling good to look good.

Let’s face it: post-50 most of us aren’t going to have bodies that are Thin AF.

This is precisely the era in our lives when we should think about remodeling ourselves from the inside.

We benefit from asking ourselves now:

Where do I want to be tomorrow? What can I do today to get closer to that goal?

Is there a habit holding you back? Are there negative thoughts persisting in your head?

Changing what we’re able to and accepting what we can’t change–the Serenity Prayer–is a good solution.

At 40, at 53, at however old you are, this isn’t the time to give up on yourself.

I say: make your own happiness a priority at mid-life. Do what gives you joy.

If that’s swiping on fresh lipstick or putting on your dancing shoes, by all means go for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Number on the Scale

I want to write about how following trends in fashion is a mistake.

Not every item of clothing offered in stores or online will fit and flatter every person’s body. This shouldn’t deter us. In the Bobbie Thomas book The Power of Style she has a section on determining your body type and the clothing choices that will flatter it.

Now Loft and Banana Republic online have Plus sizes as well as Petites. It has been a long time coming for this victory.

Repeat after me: the fit of your clothes is what counts not whether the clothing is popular this season. Going to a tailor for alterations will perfect the fit of your clothing.

If you’re in a store trying on clothes refrain from attempting to squeeze yourself into a smaller size because it’s “your” size. Size doesn’t matter: only the fit of the clothing item does.

To wit: I have four different sizes of pants and jeans hanging in my closet.

It’s also a mistake to rely on a single number on the scale as a barometer of how healthy you are. Some experts believe each of us might have a “set point” where our body stays in a certain weight range.

This is undoubtedly true. I’ve been lifting weights for over 7 years so far and I’m the same weight I was as before I started this intense exercise regimen.

The difference is I dropped one pant and skirt size because I gained muscle.

If you think you have to be or should be “skinny” that’s a mistake too.

I’ve excoriated Bethenny Frankel in here before for writing a book that claims you can be skinny forever.

It might not be realistic to want to weigh 127 pounds when you weigh 200 pounds now. Even losing just 10 or 20 pounds to start can be perfectly fine if you ask me.

Improve your health by exercising in some fashion and you’ll feel better even if you don’t lose a significant amount of weight (according to research).

Thinking in terms of having “functional fitness” is the way to go.

I’m happy that I’m fit, energetic, and can carry packages home from a store.

Yes–I’m not naturally thin. I’m “thin” because I exercise and eat mostly healthful food.

In my twenties I used to be 20 pounds overweight. By changing what I ate, seeing an M.D. that had a private nutrition practice, and starting to exercise consistently, I lost the weight in six years and kept it off.

You’re going to be miserable if you aspire to be “skinny” because a reality TV housewife star tells you it’s possible to do this by adhering to her latest scheme.

I’ll end here by telling you: relax. You shouldn’t feel or be made to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re not a certain acceptable number on the scale.

When I was 20 pounds overweight in the 1990s, I wore nothing but Esprit mini skirts.

So there–your weight shouldn’t deter you from dressing in style.

Buy clothes with the perfect fit or that can be made perfect with tailoring.

Doing so you’ll look and feel like a million bucks.