The Highway To You

At 53, I’ve become more obsessed with fashion than I ever have.

I’ve bought five fashion books either print copies or e-books.

I find myself at odds with the target market of forty and older women profiled in a book like The Women’s Wake-up.

That book should be titled Howdy, Dowdy.

I don’t think those drab-color clothes and suited attire are becoming. At least, I wouldn’t be caught dead in those outfits.

The women profiled in these kinds of books are Baby Boomers. I’m not dissing the women themselves. I’m simply astounded that there’s a dichotomy between how I dress and how most older women dress.

It’s most likely because I was born in 1965–the first year of the Generation X cohort.

What a difference one year makes. I align with the Gen X ethic.

This must be why I abhor acting, thinking, dressing, and living in a one-size-fits-all monochromatic fashion.

My kind of mid-life crisis has involved going shopping: for clothes and a man.

I browse the J.Crew and Banana Republic websites because they have Petite clothes. I look for coupon codes or items sold at a reduced price.

Each of us has the right to do what gives us joy. We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or ashamed for liking whatever gives us joy.

Do men who blather on about their cars or gym routines get the kind of grief women are given for expressing our love of fashion?

At mid-life women shouldn’t give up on ourselves. We should embrace our individuality. We should live and think outside the book.

We should honor the unique facets of our personality, which experts now think isn’t fixed and can change over the years.

Lucinda Chambers is quoted in  Know Your Style:  “I think great style is individuality with confidence.” I recommend you buy this book. It’s a treasure trove of information.

In the next blog entry I’m going to give a list of beauty and fashion books that have been like bibles to me at this time in my older life.

I’m 53 and have become a rebel in my older years. A rebel who dresses in chic clothes.

Perhaps you understand what it’s like to live your life left of the dial?

Do you also fear living a monochromatic life?

Yes I say: wear an olive suit if that’s your thing. Wear beige if that would make you happy.

I simply need color. I don’t look alive out there in an ivory sweater.

I don’t follow rules that don’t make sense.

Women, start your engines: today is the day to live boldly.

The highway of life is calling.

Burn rubber, because the past has ended.

Listen to the Paula Cole song “The Road to Me” from the 1990s.

The open road beckons at mid-life.

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Doing What Gives You Joy

In this blog I want to return to other more positive topics.

Today I lobby for doing what gives you joy. Every day or as often as possible we should do what gives us joy. This is the ultimate adjunct way to heal from an illness as well as using traditional medicine.

This claim I don’t make lightly.

The fact is that when you’re happy, it will upset other people. Those who are miserable about their own lives won’t like it that you have and express your joy.

Yet what is doing what you love if not an expression of joy, if not a life force that can help a person heal?

I think of this today as the season starts to roll into autumn. The late summer and early fall are a magical time in New York City. Street fairs abound. It’s the perfect weather to talk long walks in parks.

Finding what gives you happiness and going and doing that is the key to living well in recovery. The older I get I’m emboldened to shout louder about this and other things.

It matters to me that everyone has the equal opportunity to recover and do well after becoming ill. You should view recovery as the chance to change your life for the better.

Obviously something wasn’t working before you got sick. Post-illness each of us has the choice to continue the way things were before. Or to risk making changes to grow and get better.

We have a second chance to find joy and happiness in our lives.

What gets lost in the critical nature of a few reviews of Left of the Dial is that doing what gave me joy helped me recover. If this is a sin, let me be guilty.

When I set out to write the memoir I wanted it to be a different kind of narrative. I chose to focus on everything that happened after I recovered. My goal was to show how how I healed through creativity.

Music, art, fashion, writing, and exercise have long been in my life the five elements that gave me incredible joy.

I’m going to end here by telling readers that if anyone else tells you either subtly or outright that it’s wrong to focus on getting your needs met in terms of being happy you should question what their stance is all about.

Be happy. You have the right to be happy.

It’s precisely when you’re in pain that you should do what you love.

A Million Thanks

Grazie.

A million thanks to everyone who has been buying a copy of Left of the Dial every month.

The royalties cover the cost of a hot chocolate at the local bake shop.

It’s a place with a few tables and a seating area with a blanket bench.

The perfect hole-in-the-wall for having a casual tet-a-tet with a guy you’ve met online.

Or for you and a friend to meet to critique each other’s writing.

One thing I would love is to get more four and five-star reviews on Amazon.

That would be the happiest goal for any author like me who’s here to make a difference not make millions.

My other manuscripts are brewing and percolating: I’m editing and revising a bunch of books I want to publish in the coming years.

More towards early fall I’ve have more details about the career book and the first novel I seek to publish within three years.

My goal in writing Left of the Dial was to uplift and inspire readers that recovery is possible.

The theme of the memoir is: “Enjoy your quirkiness.”

Life is short. Have the macaroons.

My Choice Not to Have Kids

Let’s face it: doesn’t every woman out there have hard-luck romance stories under our Hermes-H or other belt?

One of the psychics I went to told me: “Love’s been up and down and all around for you. It’s been to the dogs.”

This waterfront fortune teller told me I’d meet a lot of turkeys along the way. Yes, she used the word turkeys to talk about the guys I’d meet.

Taken in this context I haven’t been so quick to drop my skirt to get into bed with just any guy that walked on by in my life.

As a women with a mental health diagnosis I didn’t want to get married and raise a family either.

I’ve known without a doubt since I was easily only 15 or 16 that I didn’t want to have kids–not even one kid.

This stance of mine doesn’t fit into the white middle-class heterosexual norm that prevails in American society.

It’s this world that I was born into that I so intuitively rejected as not being the right lifestyle for me to live.

Leading yet again to how I championed everything Left of the Dial in my memoir.

I still haven’t found Mr. Right. Nor have I found Mr. Almost Right either.

And I definitely haven’t found Mr. Not-Right-Yet-I’ll-Take-Him-Anyway.

In this dry climate with no prospects does it make sense to risk getting pregnant by having sex just to prove you’re a normal woman?

This is the double-bind or double-standard women are in or held to:

If we’re not having sex we’re viewed as being screwed-up and that there’s something wrong with us.

If we’re having sex and heaven help us too much sex we’re viewed as having a lack of morals.

What do you say:

Isn’t it time to give the boot to restrictive regressive political policies that make it harder and harder for women to remain child-free by choice?

Isn’t it time to stop judging women for the choices we make?

Isn’t it time to accept the multitude of expressions of what constitutes normal in society?

It’s time.

I for one have failed at living a mainstream life.

I have failed to please the people who stand in judgment of me even though they haven’t met me.

I have failed to see the logic most of all in overpopulating the planet.

Radical Chic

I’m fond of this sentence Kim Gordon wrote in her memoir:

“I believe the radical is more interesting when it appears ordinary and benign on the outside.”

This rock star/artist/author (the former Sonic Youth singer and bassist) wrote a great book, Girl in a Band. I urge you to buy this memoir.

Sonic Youth are my favorite band–I played them on my 1980s radio show.

Her words are prophetic, because you can’t judge a person. How we look on the outside ultimately tells others nothing about our character, our personality, and the things that matter.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s dressing in trendy clothes was my way of telling the mental health establishment: “Screw you, I’m not going to conform to how you think a person diagnosed with SZ should look and act and live.”

That’s the truth folks: I rebelled the role of mental patient. You should do the same–and the sooner the better.

I think of this now as 53 beckons in a couple of weeks. Not all of us are destined to get dressed every day like we’re Nicki Minaj performing on a concert tour.

There’s a benefit in only looking like we conform when in reality we’re rebels, dreamers, and free thinkers marching to a different drum on the inside.

It can be liberating to fool others with our persona. We don’t have to be who they want us to be. We can and should only be ourselves.

Acting true to yourself will always be in style. Act true to who you are today. Reserve the right to be who you want to be tomorrow.

You don’t have to dress like a Pop Diva to make a statement. You can be radical dressed in ordinary clothes like Kim Gordon admires.

I too admire everyone for having the courage to get up in the morning, choose clothes, and get dressed in a way that is true to who they are.

The older I get I’m less impressed by what passes for normal in society. The mundane–in thinking, acting, dressing, and living–isn’t something I covet having.

Thus the title of my own memoir: Left of the Dial.

So you could say I look ordinary–yet I’ll always be a Girl on the Left Side of the Dial.

You can be radical and chic.

A woman in her fifties should leave people guessing.

 

Be Brave and Be Yourself

At the end of April I turn 53. I’m devoting a blog entry to a hot topic that no one else has ever talked about before. What I write is for peers to read first of all. If outsiders chance to read it I hope you will be moved to understand and have compassion for us.

It’s a reflection on how a friend is in awe of a woman with a formal serious office job. Yes I understand how she could covet another person’s life: that’s exactly what fueled my desire to have an insurance broker career: when my first boss developed a career plan for me.

I told my friend we should start a “F*ck You!” Club and dare to not conform to other people’s expectations. Who are either of us kidding thinking we would be happier being (or could even be) another person?

This I’m confident is the age-old dilemma of anyone with an MH diagnosis–going in the opposite direction to prove you’re normal–only to return to where you started as your original self.

I’m living proof that it all comes down to finding the job and workplace where you belong. I didn’t belong in insurance office jobs wearing “power-blue straitjackets” as I described that attire in my memoir.

The more I tried to prove I was normal, the more it backfired.

So it becomes imperative to find the place where you belong. That’s going to be a different environment for each of us. A good friend of mine rose up to be the CEO of corporations. He wore thousand-dollar suits and all that. More power to him for rising up. This is possible for some of us and not possible for others.

Either way it’s precisely when you turn 53 that it’s time to tell others: “F*ck You! I’m not buying what you’re selling about my worth. I’m NOT less than zero. I’m 24-Karat gold. Mess with me at your own peril.”

Or as a woman told me once: “You’re a diamond, not a rhinestone. Remember that.”

I’ll end here by telling readers:

Be brave and be yourself. There’s no other way to live.

Shine on.

The grass isn’t greener over there.

Honoring Martin Luther King’s Legacy

Ever since I was younger I have always had an affinity with Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message even though I was only 3 when he was killed.

It might be that as a person diagnosed with SZ I understand the plight of other people.

Racism got started by looking at a person’s skin color and stereotyping them.

I think about this now because of how people with SZ are stereotyped.

The fact is at 22 I had a minor breakdown. At 27 I had a relapse after a 3-month drug holiday failed.

I identify as a person with SZ because of having had these two experiences in my life.

A woman in the comments section below a news article I was quoted in wrote that I must be the exception.

To what or whom am I the exception when I’m only being myself?

If a person can’t do what I’ve done or what you’re able to do that’s not the point. Corralling everyone with SZ into the same homogeneous stereotype of what we’re capable of or how we act does a disservice to peers and others alike.

Frankly it upsets me  that so-called normal people often don’t have the decency and compassion to really SEE Who We Are–Who Each of Us Is–apart from the SZ.

To deny that people diagnosed with SZ are as unique as our thumbprints is to in effect render us invisible even though we’re standing right in front of other people.

Again it also upsets me that so-called normal people parrot that NO ONE can recover. Why aren’t they taking action to help us recover?

This is at the heart of what drove me to publish my memoir Left of the Dial: every other SZ memoir focused on chronic illness, symptoms, and long-term hell.

The pathology in the memoirs overshadowed the personality of the individuals.

Yes–I wanted to entertain readers not make them depressed.

The whole of success in life lies in SEEING who a person really is on the inside.

If you’re interacting with people and making judgments about them before you get to know them you’re contributing to stigma.

Stigma is a form of mind pollution that has infected human relationships for too long in society.

It’s 2018. MLK must be crying in his grave over how people still treat each other.

Let’s honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by reaching out and getting to know other people.

Let’s SEE.