June 28, 2011

Erasing Your Face

Photo by Nevit Dilmen, Turkey

It occurred to me lately, in a very profound way, that practically everyone we see now in the media is just an illusion.

It's common knowledge that the images we see in fashion magazines and ads etc have for years been altered. With software, like Photoshop, photos can be enhanced or anything that is remotely displeasing to the eye- be it a shadow, a zit, a wrinkle, or a neck that is too thick- can be removed.  If you haven't seen the one minute clip on the process by the Dove Corporation, called The Evolution of Beauty, be sure to watch it when you can. It's really good.

Maybe what is less known is that television and movie cameras have a special lens that make people look younger. The initial technique for this, called "the Barbara Walters softening effect", was just simply vaseline smeared on a camera lens. But later the Tiffen company came out with a camera diffusion lens that exclusively fuzzes just flesh tone parts on a video image to remove wrinkles and soften facial imperfections. The lens was such a breakthrough that Tiffen won a technical Emmy at the Academy Awards for it. I always wondered why TV/movie personalities look so much younger in the studio then when they are taped out in public on the street...I thought it was just the lack of make-up and studio lights.

The latest 'Erase Your Face' technology- that just hit the market- is a camera for common folk, like you and me, by Panasonic called the Lumix DMC-FP7. Now this is really screwed-up...this $230 camera not only erases wrinkles and whitens your teeth, but it can even give you rosier cheeks and lips etc. Check out these photos. I seriously want to move to another planet.

But that's not all...

Hewlett Packard has had cameras on the market for quite sometime that have a "slimming feature" which instantly allow subjects to appear roughly 10 pounds thinner.

Gosh isn't this all crossing the line?

What's the point really?

I ran this by Tom while in the car this weekend and he said, "You know these cameras are perfect for people who need to post a decent picture of themselves on their business website."

I see what he means.

How about all of you out there?

What do you think of all this technology?

Post script 7/1/11 This just in: The American Medical Association condemns altering photos saying that, "We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software." Amen. Hallelujah! Thanks to Carole for sending this in.

June 24, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Children

This week's beauty is Denise Levesque Robbin who is 50 years old. Denise is the health and wellness coordinator at the South County YMCA in Wakefield, RI and was recently featured in an article about women who have children after the age of 40. Her kids are now 7 & 9. Why did she wait to have them? Partly because she was off traveling the world! But then, at the ripe age of 37, she bumped into an old friend from high school who eventually became her husband. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Denise thinks it's a real joy to have small children later in life, and believes that there really isn't anything better that she could be doing. She is glad that she waited as she thinks she has a greater appreciation of life's little moments certainly now and is more able to treasure the time with her kids, thanks to her age. The whole experience has made her feel very fortunate.

On the aging front Denise says that she feels great and is embracing the process. She said that she has had a good self image for a long time and has felt positive about her choices, but that one of the good things about growing older is that other people believe in her choices now too. People also listen a little harder, and give her more credibility which feels good, she explained.

Denise said, "someone once told me that everything has a front and a back, and I find it rings true on the subject of aging. We so often hear about and focus on the negative aspects of aging, but there are really so many positives as well."

Thank you Denise for being this week's beauty.
I hope we get to meet someday.

June 21, 2011

Start a Revelation

Photo by Nevit Dilmen, Turkey

Write yourself a love letter
Treat yourself with respect
Give yourself the benefit of the doubt
Ease up
Find your belly laugh
Say “NO” to any person who hurts you
Explore your inner world
Dare to share an insight
Hell, dare to have one
Speak your truth
Cry it out
Save a horse
Ride a cowboy
Be your own best friend
Reach out to those who love you
Let good people IN
Forgive so you can heal
Start a Journal
Sign up
Show up
Pony up
Woman up
It’s YOUR life
Live It among those
who are up
to something

~Monica Rodgers, The Revelation Project

Be sure to catch former beauty of the week Medelise Reifsteck's very inspirational interview about her journey back to health right here.

And happy first day of summer!

P.S. And don't forget to be your own best friend this week and every week. As Sophie Lumen says:

Say it to yourself. Remind me to do the same.

I love that.

June 17, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Reinvention

This week's beauty is Barbara Goldberg who is 66-years-old. I met this very adorable and hip nana at a Boston Design Salon gathering a few weeks ago. Barbara use to own Cafe Florian on Newbury Street, and until recently, was part owner of the furniture stores Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Barbara is also business partners with her daughter Jill who owns the fabulous home store Hudson in Boston's South End. Hudson is filled with great modern designs, vintage pieces, textiles, terrific gifts and is a real treat to visit. Hudson also has a Wellesley, MA location. I absolutely love these stores. They have a nice selection of their wonderful wares available online as well.


This week's beauty has a great outlook on growing older and says she doesn't feel her age at all. She thinks the fact that she tends to reinvent herself on a five year cycle has something to do with it. She also said that she doesn't really worry about aging and that her work ethic keeps her very active and healthy.

Yummy goods at Hudson.

I also like Barbara's no-nonsense beauty routine. She said that she usually goes without make-up and doesn't think she will ever do anything cosmetic because she dislikes needles. And as for diet and exercise? Barbara says that she doesn't exercise and has learned to just eat what she loves, which satisfies her. She said that because of this she feels better than ever.

Thank you Barbara for being this week's beauty.
More on Barbara and her daughter Jill and their designer mentor/mentee pairing  in Boston Magazine.

June 14, 2011

Do You Know Your Number?

I had my annual check-up a few weeks ago and was surprised when my wonderful doctor, Catherine Mintzer, sent me a note afterward saying that my vitamin D level was 26. It should be between 50-80. I take a multi-vitamin, and a calcium supplement, and I eat well. How could this be? I even use a face cream in the winter that doesn't have a sunscreen in it so that I at least get a little sunshine, which also helps vitamin D levels.

Being the info-maniac that I am, I headed straight to google to find out more about this vitamin that, until now, I have paid no attention to.

The weirdest thing is that I wasn't really noticing any of these symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:

Fatigue, general weakness, insomnia, chronic pain, depression, bone fragility, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, obesity, and low sex drive. Not to mention that vitamin D deficiency can be a contributor  to certain types of cancer. The lack of vitamin D also causes the immune system not to function at its optimal level. Therefore, we may notice an increase in colds, flu and asthma...

I also learned that vitamin D is the only vitamin that is a hormone.

Dr. Mintzer put me on a 50,0000 iu supplement once a week, for 8 weeks, and will test my level again in 3 months. The good news is that I am sleeping like a baby. Sleeping like I haven't slept in years. I don't usually have trouble sleeping, unless I have something on my mind, but lately my nights are like a triple matinee in the dream department, every night. I am not even getting up to pee. And guess what else? My sex drive is a little stronger too...maybe this is just a placebo effect, but who cares!

Anyway, I want to scream the news far and wide about vitamin D deficiency because I have a feeling that so many people are effected, don't know it, and could really benefit from a supplement.

So please pass it on!

And be sure to have your vitamin D level tested by your doctor if you are thinking of taking a supplement as you can become toxic with too much vitamin D.

Below is a clip of Katie Couric discussing vitamin deficiency with Dr. Jon LaPook.


June 10, 2011

Aging Gracefully with a Blessing

This week's beauty is my favorite actress Meryl Streep. God I love her. I have always loved her. Turning 62 on June 22nd, Meryl's talent, and natural, ravishing looks are allowing her to act circles around her over botoxed, frozen-faced peers in her golden years. Meryl's next film out is The Iron Lady in which she plays British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In an interview with Oprah, Meryl had this to share about aging:

"In our business, I think the attention that's given to how you look is cruel and unrealistic. The people in the audience will accept much more than the people who run the film studios will. I feel blessed to have my life. Besides, I have friends who are dead already, so why would I complain about getting older? We devalue ourselves, and we really have to stop that."

You said it darlin'!

Below is a clip of Meryl from 2006 with one of my other favorite people, Ellen.

June 07, 2011

The Early Boat

As some of you know, I went through menopause on the early side. All menses came to a halt for me on my 48th birthday... When it stopped I was like "Can this be? Is it coming back?"

But it was gone for good and to be honest, I haven't missed it. I know for many women there is sadness about reaching menopause and entering into the chapter of our lives where we are no longer able to conceive. A time that clearly signals that we are growing older. It was not this way for me. I guess reaching menopause was easy for me because the years leading up to it were not.

Tom and I had planned on having a larger family but after our two daughters were born, I never got pregnant again. I was 35 when we began trying to conceive our third child. Looking back, I was much more stressed then. We had a three and a five-year-old and I was commuting into Boston to work 32 hours a week as a knitwear technician at Susan Bristol. They were very hectic years and I was always on the anxious side. Dashing from here to there with two kids in tow, not a lot of sleep, and without the wisdom of taking better care of myself. You know what I mean.

All my fertility tests said that things looked normal. I was just getting older. So we tried and tried but nothing happened. The midwives kept suggesting I take "just a smigin of Clomid" to help with ovulation. I decided not to, thinking that we were lucky to have two healthy kids and if it didn't happen it was just meant to be. But it was hard, and sad. My heart goes out to women especially who aren't able to conceive at all.

For five years we tried without success. When I reached forty I knew that my chances were very slim and that it was mentally and emotionally time to move on. To this day I wish that I had tried acupuncture because it can help fertility problems.

And, to this day, I still miss that child that never came.

Photo by Alfred Borchard, Germany
Luckily for me, menopause wasn't difficult. I had heard such horror stories about other woman's transitions. I did have lots of hot flashes, and still have some, and I had a handful of crying jags, but for me menopause was relatively smooth sailing.  I credit this to having exercised almost daily throughout it.

Since then I’ve noticed that I'm traveling on a more even keel emotionally. I am enjoying the calmer seas. Dr. Christiane Northrup has said that PMS (and I assume menopause) is a time when what needs adjustment in our life gets highlighted. Kind of like the things that we need to work on get put under a magnifying glass. PMS and menopause are actually a gift, when all along I had been thinking them as something that I needed to disregard!

Hormonal fluxuations can make what is bothering us about ten (or even a hundred) times bigger wouldn't you say? The thing is, I no longer have this alarm system to alert me to what needs work in my life now. So I am trying to remember to get quiet enough and remember to listen to my inner voice. I also find exercise really helps with this.

I have some of my biggest realizations when I am out for a run, or in the pool swimming, down under.

Have a good week dear readers of mine.
xo, Louise

June 03, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Unexpected Joys

This week's beauty is award winning author, activist and communications consultant Shari Graydon whose latest book, an anthology titled I Feel Great About My Hands-And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging, recently hit the bookstores. So recently that I haven't had time to read it yet. But if it is as good as Shari's introduction that follows, I know I will like it.

I bring you Shari Graydon:

"Going through an old box of VHS tapes in preparation for a move recently, I stopped to view a series of commentaries I wrote and performed on CBC TV in the mid 1990s. I remembered the experience as deeply fraught. Unlike crafting arguments for the newspaper or radio, where my unshaped eyebrows or unsuitable clothing in no way interfered with the persuasiveness of my prose, TV commentary demanded an unprecedented degree of appearance vigilance. Insightful analysis could be easily and irrevocably hijacked by wind-whipped hair, my nose in profile, or visible evidence of my face’s recent intimacy with a pillow.

But watching the commentaries 15 years later, what struck me more than anything was how surprisingly okay I looked—if only relative to today. What exactly was my problem, I wondered. And that’s when I made the leap into the realm of French novelist Colette.  It was she who famously observed, “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I had realized it sooner.”
At that moment I vowed to keep on realizing that how I look and feel this year is likely better than I will next. As a still healthy 53-year-old, my carpal tunnel syndrome, growing bunions and sensitive digestive system are minor annoyances, put in regular context by my mother’s encroaching blindness, hearing loss and degenerating back. The time to celebrate is, indeed, now.
More importantly, while I was editing the wonderful and diverse reflections that have become I Feel Great About My Hands- And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging, my eldest sister was taken by cancer. Only 55, she was starting to experience many of the kinds of benefits celebrated in the collection: the years of accumulated wisdom and the confidence it bestows; the clarity around priorities; the willingness to unequivocally own who you are and speak the truth as you see it. 
Sally’s death underlined for me the obvious (but easily forgotten) truth: the alternative to growing old is not remaining young (despite what the purveyors of Botox, Viagra and other wonder pharmaceuticals would have us believe); it’s dying before one’s time. I think of my sister often, knowing that she would have embraced all of the worst indignities of aging just to spend a few more years with the people she loved."
By Shari Graydon, adapted from the introduction to I Feel Great About My Hands- And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging. Photo by Helene Anne Fortin. Helen also contributed an essay to the anthology.

Thank you Shari for your contribution to Lines of Beauty.

Below is a recent interview with Shari discussing her book.

June 01, 2011

The Revelation Project

Last Friday I drove down to Wakefield, Rhode Island to take part  in The Revelation Project. The founders of the project, Robyn Ivy and Monica Rodgers, are both photographers and self improvement mavens. I had never met them before I showed up at their door but loved what they were up to.

The Revelation Project is a combination photo shoot and discovery process intended to give participants a new vision of themselves. Kind of like photo therapy I guess. It was interesting for me to observe what went on inside my little noggin as their cameras snapped away. I'll write about my experience in an interview that they ask participants to respond to. I haven't seen the photos yet but I will say this- I have already gained so much from the process before even seeing them. The curve ball, and the kind of scary thing, is that the photos will get posted before I get to see them.

Monica posted the above video on the The Revelation Project's blog yesterday and after I watched it I thought it summed up very well- at least in part- what it was like for me to do the project.

Here are the 8 Irresistible Principles of Fun:

Stop hiding who you really are.
Start being intensely selfish.
Stop following the rules.
Start scaring yourself.
Stop taking it all so damn seriously.
Start getting rid of crap (that's weighing you down).
Stop being busy.

The video is great. It says that it is almost nine minutes long but it's really only eight so when you have time to relax and take it in be sure to circle back around if you can't watch it now.

Also lots of fabulous photos of other women who have done The Revelation Project on their Facebook page if you are interested.

In closing, I leave you with this quote that I keep bumping into:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us ~Marianne Williamson