April 30, 2010

Aging Gracefully with Guidance

This week’s Beauty of the Week is my sister Sarah. She is 58 years old. As they would say in my husband Tom’s family: Can you believe??? Sarah is nine years older than I. When people meet the two of us, they have a hard time believing that we are sisters because we look so different. They also might have a hard time at this point telling which one of us is older! Sarah has been blessed with a beautiful, peaches and cream, freckly complexion, and hair that is just now beginning to grey.

As many of you with a much older or younger sister might be able to relate, it is only recently that the age gap between Sarah and I has come together. For many years she and I existed, for lack of better words, in different decades. When she was going off to college, I was the age that she was when I was born. When she got married, I was in middle school. When she had her first child, I was in high school... It has only been in the last ten years or so that she has become more of a sister/girlfriend and less of aunt/mother to me. This is not to say that she hasn’t been a great sister because she absolutely has. She has watched over me, and guided me all these years so incredibly well. I credit my foundation partly to her. Almost every roadblock I have come to in life she has already been at, and is able to talk me through it. Kind of like a personal life coach.

What I love about Sarah is her voice. She sings beautifully and has the stage presence to be able to share her music with others. Even when she isn’t singing her voice calms me. She is also a great listener. Not just with me, but with everyone. She is loving, and thoughtful, and analytical. She is good at getting down underneath all the layers to where the truth resides. She is the best teacher/administrator I know. We also share a similar whacky sense of humor, and can always count on one another to laugh at each other’s slant on life.

But here is the most important thing that I want to tell you. Sarah came up the great name for Lines of Beauty. If it wasn’t for her this site might have been called The Beauty of Wrinkles or some other strange Louise name. I remember we were standing in my studio when I told her about my idea and the first thing that she said was “This is good work Lou.”

 Sarah you couldn’t have said anything more supportive to spur me along on my adventure. I love you sista.

April 28, 2010

Do What You Love

For years I’ve had a postcard on my bulletin board that says “Do what you love, love what you do.” Of course I can’t always follow it as much as I would like to because, like all of you, there are tasks in life that need to be taken care of.  For instance paying the bills. Regular household stuff that makes life flow better when it’s done and really screws things up when it isn’t! Like laundry. But then there is this whole other realm of things that we choose to do but don’t have to do, right? Well, something has happened to me this past year. I don’t know if it is because of menopause, or what, but this little bell goes off in my head louder than it ever has that says “I am sooooo BORED” when I am doing something that isn’t in sync with how I want to spend my free time. It’s like a flashing red warning light.

The other piece to this story is that my mom had a cousin named Arthur who lived until he was almost 102 (that's his adorable photo above). For the last several years of his life I use to visit him every Thursday, and thankfully, he use to say some very wise things to me. One time he said, “Lou, it is very hard to be truly creative when you are doing too much like you are.” To put it another way- he was saying that when there is too much noise in our heads it is difficult for our best selves, our most authentic selves, to come forward. Luckily soon after he said this to me I was able to scale back a day a week at my job where I had been for almost sixteen years.  And, don't you know- soon after I did this I came up with the concept for my felted sweater line.

This past winter Arthur’s words of wisdom about doing too much rang loud and clear again. Just after the holidays I decided to leave my seat on a local council and two business groups that I have been a part of for several years. Soon after I let these three commitments go I came up with the idea for Lines of Beauty. I don’t think this was a coincidence.

I’ve decided to call what happens when I stop doing what is uninteresting, and create more time in my life for something that excites me, The Shift. When we stop doing what is tedious, we naturally make room for something that is more exciting -even when we don’t always know what this new thing is going to be…

So how does this all relate to aging gracefully? A large part of aging gracefully is about having vitality in our lives. Having passion. And when we are bored with how we are spending our time, our vitality and passion get choked so to speak, which in the end probably makes us old and cranky and bitter don’t you think?

Anyway, it’s a wonderful thing to notice what is uninteresting in our lives, and give ourselves permission to let it go.

After all, we only have to be who we are.

April 23, 2010

Beauty of the Week

This week's beauty is my Mom. She is eighty-eight years old and holding so strong. She is remarkable. What I want to tell you about her the most, besides that I love her dearly, is that she has set such a good example, in so many areas of her life, for all her children, but especially for her two daughters, and her seven granddaughters.

In terms of aging, she never dyed her hair or even took hormone replacement therapy. She gets plenty of fresh air and exercise, eats lots of veggies, and cooks healthfully. She also has a great attitude. The only thing I ever remember her saying about growing older is that her neck was getting “crepe-y”. I was probably about twelve-years-old when she mentioned this, which would have made her about the same age that I am now. I see what she means!

What I love about my mom is her kind soul, her big heart, and her easy going-ness. I also like how she spends her days. I love that she is liberal-minded, way ahead of her time, and is easy to talk to. I can tell her anything.

As many of you can probably relate with your own mother, my mom and I are a good example of the apple not falling too far from the tree. I know that if it weren’t for her, I never would have had the thought to begin this adventure.

Mama, you will always be my favorite aging beauty, and I dedicate Lines of Beauty to you.

Photo by Sarah Becker

April 20, 2010


Thank you for all your great feedback during the last week. It has been so encouraging. Someone emailed me and said, “Thank heavens there is hope!” and she is so right. I like that a conversation has begun. Maybe for some of you it is just in your heads, but if you ask me that’s a great place to start. I guess the bottom line is that it’s so much easier to embrace growing older, instead of dreading it. This I know for sure.

I was in a home store recently standing in line to pay for some new sheets and there were 4-5 women ahead of me. The line was angled in such a way that I could see everyone’s profiles. We all had at least two things in common: I could tell that we were about the same age, and probably also happy to have found something a little exciting to bring home. But the thing that really stood out for me was how beautiful everyone in that line was in her aging process. It is as though I am looking through a new lens now. I keep thinking that growing older and wrinklier is as normal in the cycle of life as getting our baby teeth was. I was also going to say easier, but maybe not! I guess it depends on the day.

The other thing I wanted to share is that starting this site has continued to be a little scary for me at times. I had my pre-launch fears that I told you about and now I am having some post-launch ones. What if this idea is bigger than I am? What if it takes me too far outside my comfort zone? What if it is total flop??? Anyway, I just thought I’d tell you. I imagine we’re all a little afraid of our own possibility, and certainly of our failures.

Which brings me to my next topic: Do you any of you remember Dove’s Pro-Age advertising campaign? Well, it was banned in the US for showing too much skin, which is sad because it was pretty good. Have a look here if you haven’t seen it. Apparently on their product page they said, “It is important to care for rather than disguise your changing physical appearance.” which is neat. I also think their Campaign For Real Beauty looks optimistic as well. Click on the above photo-I like what it says. It will be interesting to see what comes from Dove and other companies in the future.

Another bit of news: As of this posting our little blog has already had 289 hits. So something is happening. Thank you again everyone. Also, I only have 5 photos in the docket for Aging Beauty of the Week so send in a photo if you'd like.

And have a good rest of the week you beauties :-)

April 16, 2010

Aging Gracefully With Search for The Truth

Lines Of Beauty's first Beauty of the Week is my dear friend Cindy Weintraub Brennen. We met each other on the swim team when we were just ten-years-old, and have been soul sisters ever since. What I love about Cindy is her sunny disposition, her healthy lifestyle, her good heart, and her search for the truth. I also love her laugh. We usually think the same things are very funny.

April 14, 2010

The Unfolding

Photo by Leroy Skalstad
I had the idea for Lines of Beauty in January after watching a documentary about photographer Annie Leibovitz called Life Through A Lens. What stuck me about the film were her shots of older people. Once again I noticed how beautiful they are. It made me want to pick up my camera and begin capturing them. This led me again to thinking about all the anti-aging stuff that is happening in our culture, which led me on a mad search on the internet to find someone who is talking about the beauty of aging. I found hardly anyone. I discovered some good articles, but not a blog whose primary focus is the celebration of aging. My next thought was “ I have to do this!” which was quickly followed by “I can’t do this! Writing for me is torture! There are so many ways to write even a single sentence! I don’t really even know how to write!” You know what I mean? Plus there was a time consideration. Where do I fit this into my already very busy life? The next thought that came along was what everyone was going to think of me. I had visions- while having hot flashes in the middle of the night- of becoming this weird pro-aging wacko woman who people whisper about. After a winter of planning Lines of Beauty I finally came around to thinking that this was probably okay, and worth it. I think.

Which leads me to this: I don’t mean to be judgmental about anything other people are doing to freshen-up their faces. I understand it. I totally do. I have even at times briefly considered it. I absolutely enjoy hearing details from women who have done it and my hope is to not alienate especially those near and dear to me. The bottom line is that I want people to be happy and I will always support whatever choices they make to be content. I frequently say that we all have a different tape running through our heads about everything in life and mine for whatever reason is encouraging me to let my face line naturally.

Maybe it is partly because I hardly look in the mirror unless I am brushing my teeth, driving, or getting ready to go out. You know where I actually observe my aging most? My hands. Like many of you perhaps, I notice my hands a lot while I am working. In recent years I have been watching them evolve and slowly morph into old lady hands. The other place I have noticed aging is in my eyesight. Now at night Tom and I get into bed with our books and our glasses on. It’s actually kind of sweet. After he falls asleep I don’t just set his book on the bedside table and turn out the light anymore. Now I carefully lift his glasses off him as well.

We’re two partners in a bed, maneuvering through life, and growing old together.

April 10, 2010

The Beauty of Aging

For many years I’ve had a vision of how I want to be when I grow old and I’ve looked forward to this time in my life. I’m even a little excited to be an old woman. Sounds strange, I know. I think it stems from always having had a fondness for older people. Among other things I like to observe how they have maneuvered through their lives and hear of the wisdom they have gathered along the way.

In addition to this, I’ve always thought that older faces are beautiful. Etched with an amazing patina of wrinkles, they are a work of art. I think that aging is incredible and I hope that someday as a culture we will grow to understand this a little more. It seems that all the messages in our media are about the glorification of youth. It’s all about how to look younger, how to chase our youth. Hardly anyone is talking about the beauty of aging. No one is talking about what a gift it is it to allow ourselves to be right where we are supposed to be.

Lines of Beauty is the celebration of aging naturally, and gracefully. It’s about embracing growing older instead of dreading it. Lines of Beauty is a conversation.

Photo by Elkor