April 28, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Love

This week's beauties are Lines of Beauty's first couple, artists Alice and Richard Matzkin. Some of you may remember that I featured the Matzkins and their wonderful first video The Art of Aging- Celebrating the Authentic Aging Self  last autumn. If you missed it, it's a must see as it's about their journey to embracing and celebrating the aging process through their art. One of things that struck me in the Matzkin's latest video (posted below) is that they have married each other not just once or twice, but five times. The last time they married they vowed to each other that they would always remember that this might be the last day that they can be together. What an inspiration. I say this because clearly they are a couple who are committed to creating a great marriage.

Too bad they are on the west coast as I'd love to have them for dinner.

This is what.the Matzkins have to share about growing older:

"We are Richard and Alice Matzkin a loving husband and wife, presently in our late sixties and early seventies.  As we entered middle age, we became disturbed by the increasing signs of aging we were experiencing – wrinkles, bulges, grey hair, etc.  Being artists – Alice is a painter, Richard is a sculptor – we began using our art as a way to explore and work through our emotional turmoil and negative views we held about aging.  After 15 years, we have produced an impressive body of work, and a beautiful art/inspirational book, THE ART OF AGING, Celebrating the Authentic Aging Self (Sentient Publications, June, 2009).  Most important, this work has helped us come to a sense of peace and appreciation of our aging process.

Through various art projects related to aging, we have explored essential issues about growing older, such as …looking beyond the surface and discovering inner beauty. … joys and advantages of mature love and relationships ... finding acceptance of the changes taking place in our aging bodies … coming to peace with parents in their old age and death. These art projects, writings, and interviews with elders who are living their lives with passion and zest, have helped us discover that aging can be a time of ripening and harvest rather than stagnation and despair. 

Photo by Donna Granata, Focus on the Masters, Series 2009

Especially in our age-conscious society, “old” brings up fear and judgment.  While we don’t minimize the challenges of growing old, we have found our present moment to be among the best of our lives.  Age has given us a wider perspective, a deeper understanding of the meaning of our lives, a gratefulness and appreciation of the preciousness of “now”.  This has come about primarily because, instead of trying to hide or deny the ongoing effects of time on our body and mind, we have attempted to consciously and joyfully embrace our aging.  This is a message of hope that people of all ages can benefit from."

What follows is the Matzkins latest video The Art of Aging. In it Alice's paintings and Richard's sculptures capture people over the age of seventy. The Matzkins also explain that aging has deepened their love for each other. They say that life becomes more precious as it goes on, as does their time together.

Thank you Alice and Richard for being this week's beauties.

April 26, 2011

Gratefully Green

The simple, pared down lifestyle of the Johnson family, above, caught my attention on The Today Show this past week. All I could think of was what a different place this planet would be if we could all pay a little more attention to the waste that we create. And they do it so beautifully.

I am not a die-hard green girl but I honestly enjoy paying attention to the impact that I am having. It's a start. In the last few years, I've bought a second-hand hybrid. I rarely accept a shopping bag when I make purchases from a store, and I try to be ruthless about turning off lights. We also rarely get take-out in part because I hate all the packaging. In addition, my felted wool sweater, accessory and houseware line, The Hole Thing, is made solely from recycled sweaters. 

Years ago I also decided that I prefer the simplicity of just having two bras (one black, one white) and only a few pair of jeans going at a time. This was before anyone was worrying about the environment. I did it simply because it is easier to keep track of fewer things and it suits me. And it's inexpensive.

Americans SHOP and SHOP and SHOP and it's so disgusting. It's ruining our planet. We are a culture of consumers who shop to make ourselves feel better and to fill emotional voids, or to keep up with the Joneses. It's so pathetic. 

I can be guilty of this too....

If you have not yet seen the documentary No Impact Man, about a Manhattan family that takes a year off and rides only bikes and scooters and doesn't buy ANYTHING but locally grown food, it is a very entertaining and fun film to watch. Great for all ages. You won't be disappointed.

And if you have not yet seen Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff  you can watch it on YouTube if you're interested. It is out in book form now as well.

Also Kim Urig, a former Lines of Beauty beauty of the week, has a great green blog called Our Daily Green that you might enjoy too. Not to mention my dear cyber buddy Aldra and her fabulous blog Consciously Frugal out there on the left coast.


April 22, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Photography

This week's beauty is Rose who is 84-years-old. I met Rose at my first master's swim meet last fall. Rose raced the 50 freestyle right before I did. She was so remarkable that I wanted to be sure to say hello to her before I left the meet. I went into the locker room to shower and who should be in the shower next to mine but Rose.

Rose has four children and besides swimming spends her time gardening and doing photography. She also started a lyme disease support group since getting lyme disease herself a few years ago. Members of the support group come from 43 towns. Rose said that the lyme disease has affected her short term memory and that taking pictures helps her to remember things.

Photograph by Rose

Roses's daughter Patty told me that she really looks up to her Mom and hopes that she can have the energy that her mom has at age 84. She said that her mom forgot her bathing suit once and borrowed hers and looked better in the bathing suit than she does! She said that her mom has always loved to race sailboats and still sails a Sail Fish, as well as three remote control sailboats on the pond where she lives. She is also very computer literate for her age, and likes to ride her blue bike all around town.

When I asked Rose about her secrets to good health she said that besides swimming she has always eaten very healthfully and especially likes low-fat milk. She said that one of the most important things to aging well is having good friends and family in her life.

Her daughter Patty added that Rose has spent her life caring for people and doing for others.

Thank you Rose for being this week's beauty. You are quite an inspiration.

April 19, 2011

New For Spring

As some of you know, until 2007 I worked in knitwear design for Susan Bristol for sixteen years. In the last year or two, before the company went under, someone cut an ad out of a magazine and taped it to one of the design room doors. The ad said "It's not how young you look, it's how good you look."  I saw the ad a gazillion times because it was on a door that I passed through frequently. I remember always thinking how perfect it was.

Anyway, in keeping with this, I always get a little excited about what is new and different in the world of fashion even though I am a far cry from a fashionista or a 'clothes horse', as they use to say. I sometimes wear old clothes that I have had for ages and love, but still there is something exciting to me about what designers have drummed up to present to us each season. It's like a breath of fresh air. 

So here is what's new for spring 2011:

For Color:
Nudes, neutrals
All shades of orange are really big
Rust, sienna, sand
Brights are big too.
Color blocking is back.
Lots of pastels.

For Style:

Striped tees
Chambray-the light weight, light colored denim, has made it's way back again into pants, tops, skirts, and dresses.
Happy prints all mixed-up and worn together. I love this.
Sheer layers.
Polka dots.
Wide-leg pants, long jersey skirts, big blouses, draped dresses.
70's silhouettes.
Tops worn out, not tucked in.
Lace is everywhere.
Sweet A-line coats.
Military’ish jackets and dresses
High waisted flared jeans.
Retro bohemian staples like peasant blouses and floor-grazing skirts.
Big bangle bracelets
Japanese inspired styles.
Embellishment is out.
Simplicity is in.

Also, on another fashion note, I found a very interesting  little gizmo on Real Simple's site that allows you to see what you look like with all different hair styles. This was particularly interesting to me because I have pretty much been sporting the same hair style my whole life while quietly wondering- how would I look in short hair? How would I look in bangs?  All you have to do is upload a forward facing picture of yourself. If their hair styles aren't sitting on your head exactly in the right position you can use the arrow buttons underneath your photo to adjust them.

So what did I find out?

That bangs make me look like a guy in drag :-) 

Check these before and afters out:

Also, click here for the lastest Michelle Obama fashion slide show.

 Happy spring everyone.

April 15, 2011

Aging Gracefully with the Beauty of Textiles

This week's beauty is Sara Sharpless who recently turned 40. A few summers ago I visited Dorset, VT with my mom and my sister for a long weekend. While there my mom bought this fabulous Turkish purse (or pocketbook as they say here in New England) at a store in Dorset.  After I got home I really wished that I had bought one too. Finally I called my Mom to ask her if she could look in her purse to see if there was a label of who had made it. It turns out it was made by Sara and her husband Ersan, who is from Turkey, and their company Derin International. After going on their website, I was so taken with the collection that I ended up buying their beautiful Turkish bags, eye glass holders and note cards to sell at my trunk show this past November.  I sold out of many styles. Their make-up bags and little coin purses were especially a big hit.

Today I am pleased to introduce Sara Sharpless:

Shortly after we were married,  Ersan and I moved from New York City to Ersan’s native Istanbul, Turkey . It was there that we discovered small purses made out of replicas on traditional woven carpets. So taken with the beauty of the fabric, we were inspired to create our own fabrics and designs, more in tune with the American market. The response to our vision was overwhelming.We now live in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York and I design all of our bags and colors, with the help of our weavers. Our line of accessories, bags and shoes are still made in Turkey.

I am fluent in the Turkish language and have learned all I can about the food, culture and way of life.  I love to cook and have mastered most of my mother-in-laws dishes. In addition to the business, we have two wonderful children. I feel raising them has been the most wonderful, difficult and rewarding experience life has to offer me. Every summer our whole family journeys over to Turkey and we will one day live there again.

I am the type of person who use to never stop. My life was go, go, go for 10 years. And now, I am at a very interesting point in my life and have really done a lot of soul searching this year. Six months ago I was diagnosed with lupus. When my body started saying "no, no you must stop" it was very difficult at first.  I realized that I was rushing my life away never really enjoying all of my blessings.  It has been quite a journey of taking steps forward and then back again.  It has given me an unusual opportunity to reflect at this time in my life. I have gained an unbelievable appreciation for all I have. I am now able to look at my life's daily stresses and let them roll off my back. Perhaps this is the beginning of me aging gracefully.

Thank you Sara for sharing your journey.

Derin's collection is available on their website above. I am not getting a commission on sales or anything but I just want to say, being the thrifty gal that I am, one of the things I like most about their beautiful line is that is very affordable. And they have a great sale section too :-)

April 11, 2011

Lines of Beauty Has a Birthday

Yesterday Lines of Beauty turned one :-)

I didn’t have any idea what I was heading into when I began this site. All I knew was that I had to start it. When I think back to my main concern, other than a time constraint, I can’t believe that what might have potentially derailed Lines of Beauty was my worry about what people were going to think of me. Holy mother of god don’t ever let this thought get in the way when your heart is telling you to do something. Promise me.

Little did I know a year ago how much Lines of Beauty would enrich my life. Little did I know that my checkbook would never get balanced again, or that my sheets wouldn’t get changed as regularly, or that the fall leaves wouldn’t get completely raked before the first snow fell. I also didn’t foresee that a love affair between writing and I would ignite. Until this year I always thought for me to be creative it involved yarn, an embroidery needle and some felted wool. Now I know that as long as I am creating something, even if it’s cooking, I am usually a pretty content girl.

Early on in the year I remember my sister asking me how I felt about Lines of Beauty. My response was that I felt different about it every day. Some days it energized me; some days I wondered what the hell I was doing. But as the year continued on I could see from my stats that my readership was growing and I became slightly obsessed with how people were arriving at Lines of Beauty. I grew encouraged, and Lines of Beauty found a comfy little home in my life. It has become my favorite thing to do.

And this is where I begin to get a bit verklempt:  If it weren’t for all of you and your continued support and interest in the conversation of aging, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I know for some of you embracing aging is a challenge. I hear you. It is at times for me as well.  I want to thank you all for visiting when life allows you the time. I would especially like to thank all of this year's ‘beauties of week’, pictured above, for stepping up and sharing your story. So many of you have said that it was an enriching exercise to be featured, which makes me happy. I can’t wait to hear more of your stories. I know that there are probably many of you out there that are hesitating sending yours in, and to you, one of my favorite quotes come to mind: Nothing feels better than doing what you are afraid to do. So send your thoughts on in!

In closing I want to share with you a very serendipitous blog birthday surprise that occurred. Lines of Beauty turned one yesterday and also yesterday our little baby got its first mention in the press.  It was completely coincidental. It was like magic.

Special thanks to Aldra at Consciously Frugal for letting me steal your ‘holy mother of god’ line that I love so much.

And love to you all,
from down under (the water),

April 08, 2011

Aging Gracefully Through All The External Noise

This week's beauty is Medelise Reifsteck. Medelise is the sister-in-law of my sister-in-law Laura, and I have a hunch that Medelise and I share a similar creative/energetic thread that runs through both of us. Aside from being a mom, she runs The Garden of Wings Butterfly Pavilion in South Kingstown, RI. She is also a ski instructor at Burke mountain in Vermont where this year she was named the most requested instructor in the snow sports department. Medelise will also begin teaching surfing lessons with Peter Pan and Narragansett Juice at a local surf shop this summer.

But that's not all. Medelise recently participated in The Revelation Project which is a great new photography project intended to guide participants to a new vision of themselves through exploring concepts, and constructing self esteem. It is NOT about beauty, great skin, perfection, being skinny, or fixing us. The project is just nine weeks old and sounds amazing.  I am hoping to partake in it as well. Their website isn't all the way up but click on their blog for more info about the project if you are interested and be sure to catch their short film at the end of this post.

Here are Medelise's thoughts about mid-life:

I forget sometimes that I am almost 50; I started surfing when I was 42, created my dream job when I was 46, started working as a ski instructor when I was 47 and at now at 48 am just beginning to embrace who I truly am! It is not always total bliss but there is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction knowing that your authenticity can reign. The difficult part of aging isn't necessarily the loss of youth but realizing that if I had known what I know right now earlier that I would have had more time to enjoy the true beautiful person that I have always been but somehow couldn't see with all the external noise. I have struggled with a serious health condition in the last five years that robbed me of two precious years. It was a wake-up call for me....OK is not good enough. We all have the right to be happy and satisfied. We have a right to follow our heart on the path that will lead us there no matter how difficult that path may be.

There is a poem I carry in my wallet. I like to read it from time to time to remind myself of how much I have learned over the years:

Wisdom is sweeter than honey
brings more joy than wine
illumines more than the sun
is more precious than jewels.
She causes the ears to hear 
and the heart to comprehend
I love her like a mother
and she embraces me as her own child
I will follow in her footprints
 and she will not cast me away.

Thank you Medelise. I love the poem and your project photos and of course what you said about us all having a right to be happy and satisfied.

Below is a clip on The Revelation Project set to Alanis Morissette's "Thank You." Beautiful photos. I love the lyrics. xo Louise

The Revelation Project "THANK YOU" Video from monica Rodgers on Vimeo.

April 05, 2011

One Hundred Years Old Today

This past weekend two of my brothers and I traveled to Connecticut to join other relatives in the celebration of my cousin Betsy's 100th birthday. Betsy and my mom are first cousins. Doesn't she look terrific in her fresh flower lei? Betsy is truly a marvel. Before I left for the party I googled what percentage of the population makes it to age 100 and it is only .003%.  So Betsy has a lot to celebrate.

Betsy is the sister of Arthur-another dear centenarian, and the mother of Ellen.

I've known Betsy since I was a baby and she has always been so much fun to be around. As I explained in my toast to her at the party, she not only introduced me to New England and the Atlantic Ocean, but also to Florida and key lime pie. When I was young I loved to visit her just as I do now.

So what are Betsy's secrets you might be wondering? What allows a person to drive a car until they are 98 years old?

I think genetics have a lot to do with her longevity but so does exercise, which she still does regularly. She loves to do tai-chi and walk. Betsy also loves ice cream as well as a vodka with a splash of tonic every night at 5:00. That's my girl! She has also enjoyed a lifetime of ice dancing, playing bridge, and being a very talented artist.

Betsy it was wonderful to see you again on Sunday and get to celebrate your 100th with everyone. Thank you.

Happy birthday my dear :-)

4/6 Post Script:

Neat picture circa 1962 in Waterville, NH with Betsy (in the middle), me (as a baby next to my mom) and Betsy's daughter Ellen sitting to the right.

4/9 Post Script Two:

Forgot to post this article: Why Do Some People Live So Long?

April 01, 2011

Aging Gracefully with the Flow of Life

This week's beauty is Marci Lubore Calantonio. Marci has a ninth grade child as well as two kids in college and says that her greatest pleasure has been being able to work from home and raise, engage, and inspire her kids. Marci was able to do this for the past twenty-five years by being a medical linguistic specialist that creates legal records of patient/doctor encounters. She is a floral designer and has her own interior design/consulting business called GoToYour Room Designs. Marci also loves nature and the opportunity to be with horses whenever she can.

Marci has this to share about her life:

I am a 48-year-old really spirited, vibrant, woman. I’ve worked hard to get here! I have arrived in my greatest version yet. I do not feel a bit old, I feel renewed. I remind myself that the circumstances of my life, the people I share it with, the like-minded souls I am meeting are all a part of my life’s best journey ~ the one that helps shape and mold me into who I really am. I am here to share and co-create beauty with many people all over the world. We all have a unique blueprint: our own inner beauty. We need to reveal our true colors! We need to declare what makes us happy and joyful, and then surround ourselves with it. We need to mirror our best reflection back into the world.

This is the best time in my life to ask how I feel about getting older. I am truly living my life in the flow with not much resistance anymore. I focus on abundance instead of hardship. I perceive every person I meet, every problem I endure, and every joy as a gift. I am meant to interact with others, for our respective benefits. I welcome change and expect it, as life is not meant to stand still. I am aging with a great attitude, healthy diet, red wine (add the brie and French bread ;), and engaging with people, places, and activities I love to do. My days are sculpted by me to include the things I want to do now, as well as what I need to do. Talk about less stress and more fun! I use only organic coconut oil on my skin, including my face and body. After 3 years of that delicious treatment, I truly look 7 years younger! Ask my kids :)

I have given myself permission to live life on my terms! I fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning my Interior Decorating/Consulting business. I have reconnected with my love of horses, and became the caretaker of about 40 horses! I stated out loud that I would meet my daughter overseas in England after her summer study abroad, and I made it happen. That was so empowering! Sharing time with my daughter in England, Ireland, and Wales, and meeting new friends was exhilarating. That was probably the best 21 days I have ever experienced.

My greatest words of wisdom for everyone to remember:

“This is the day that God made, be happy and rejoice in it.”

This is the real deal. This one day. Live it fully.

Above all else, be grateful. Be open to receiving.

Love yourself first. Treat those you love even better.

To keep the stress levels low, look up.

To remember where your feet are, look down. Be present!

To find your your path, ask your Creator.

Marci thank you. My favorite line of yours is "We need to declare what makes us happy and joyful, and then surround ourselves with it."

A great recipe for a content life.