July 28, 2011

Aging Gracefully with a World Record

This week's beauty is none other than 61-year-old Diana Nyad. You may have heard the buzz lately about Diana's upcoming 103 mile swim from Cuba to Key West. Any day now she will begin and it is going to take her about 60 hours of swimming to get there- stopping only to refuel while she threads water. I've been checking in on her facebook page every day in anticipation of any news about the start of the swim. You may remember that I wrote about her last year when the swim had to be postponed until now because of water temperatures. Anyway, I can't remember being this excited about anything for a very LONG time. I don't know if I will be able to sleep once she sticks her toes in those Cuban waters and begins her swim towards Key West.

I like how Diana and her partner's mission, even before she had the idea to train for this swim, was to raise the collective self-esteem of women through exercise. That is one very profound concept. A few weeks ago at a master's swim meet I was fraught with fear, as usual, before my race. I just wanted to run in the locker room and cry. But then I thought of Diana and I said to myself, "If Diana can swim 103 miles, at the age of almost 62, in shark infested waters, I can swim my best time and win this thing." And guess what? I did. It just goes to show how much one person can inspire so many others. People all across America, and even the world, are doing things they were too afraid, or unmotivated, to try before hearing of Diana's mission. She has awakened a generation.
A heartfelt best of luck to you Diana.
xo, Louise

July 26, 2011

The Obsession with Youth

I somehow missed this clip of make-up artisit Bobbi Brown, Galina Espinoza (from Latina magazine), and Kathie Lee Gifford talking with Meredith Vieira several months ago about why people are so obsessed with youth. The lure of the fresh young face is stronger than ever now partly because celebrities pretty much have a full time job of looking good & youthful, and they are unfortunately one of our prime examples. I was suprised to hear Kathie Lee Gifford say that the women who are obsessed with staying young are women who do not understand or believe that they are valued. I agree. Bobbi Brown says that she thinks that aging really is about resetting our brains- it's not so much about how we look- it's about how we feel and think. I like Bobbi Brown and her whole attitude on aging. Plus she has a great make-up line that brings out the best in women. I especially love her under eye cover-up called Bobbi Brown Corrector for my dark circles. I've been using it for several years and it's great.

July 22, 2011

Allowing Nature to Take its Course

This week's beauty is actress Julianne Moore who is 50. Every now and then I like to feature a celebrity who is aging naturally and give them the thumbs-up for setting such a public example for all of us of what it looks like to age without erasing our face.

Plus, Julianne's comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love", in which she plays Steve Carell's wife (from the Office), is opening in theaters next Friday. Hopefully it will get good reviews as I 'm looking forward to seeing it.

Julianne has said she has no plans to undergo cosmetic surgery. She prefers to age naturally and allow nature to take its course. That's my girl!

Recently she was interviewed in Health Magazine and had this to say about aging:
  • "My feeling is live and let live. But some of those procedures that make you look younger—I don’t know that they really made anybody look younger. I think most of the time they made you look like you’ve had something done to your face. Even with the laser stuff, the skin becomes so shiny. It’s like nothing sticks to it. It’s just shiny, shiny skin, and it doesn’t have a normal patina, so you’re like, "What’s the matter with them?"

  • Look, it’s hard to age. Let people do what they want to do, but I do think that a new normal sometimes starts to exist where the cosmetic surgery itself starts to look normal, and we lose track of what a real face is like.

  •  The big thing about being 50 is the bar is much lower. People are like, "Oh my God, you look great!” So that’s sort of good." "

  • " I also credit my mother for keeping us out of the sun."

Keep it coming Ms. Moore :-)

July 20, 2011

Trusting Ourselves

Photo by Roma Flowers NY, NY
When I lost my knitwear design job in '07 and started The Hole Thing I took an entrepreneurial workshop with Brenda Stanton. The workshop was terrific and I liked Brenda so much that she has become a good friend. Brenda is a business leader and female empowerment coach who publishes an inspirational weekly ezine called Note Worthy which inspires and educates her readers how to "Claim Your Worth". Brenda also does weekend retreats and coaching via the phone. She is really good at what she does. Her down-to-earth approach allows clients to look through a different lens about what is possible in their lives. Brenda helps people get beyond their fears and be courageous.

Recently Brenda wrote about learning to trust ourselves. The topic has been an important theme in my life this past year and I wanted to share it with you all. I imagine many of you will be able to relate.

Here's Brenda:

Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The other day I couldn’t make up my mind.

I had decided to leave a meeting early, but then, I doubted my decision. You should have seen me in the parking lot as I got into my car, then doubted myself, headed back inside, doubted myself again, and got back in my car! Honestly it’s true. It must have been a funny sight to watch –if anyone was in fact – watching!

Yet, it was such a great example of what I feel so many do on a daily basis when it comes to making either simple or complex decisions – doubt yourself vs. trust yourself.

I’m sure you know what it feels like to regret a decision that you made. You most likely fretted over it for weeks, months, maybe even years. But, have you ever given yourself credit for the decisions that turned out great?

Most of us tend to forget to acknowledge when things go right and the decisions that we make actually turn out okay. It’s a rare thing if you find somebody acknowledging themselves for a great decision as many times as you’ll find somebody beating themselves up for one that goes awry.

When I made the decision to leave the meeting the other day I did so because it’s what my intuition told me to do. I simply went with the impulse. Then, when I got into my car, my head wreaked havoc on me – telling me I shouldn’t have left early. What if someone was looking for me after and I wasn’t there? What if someone found out that I left before the event was over? What if this, what if that.

Ugh. Self-doubt sucks!

But self-doubt is what can wreak havoc not only on your self-esteem but on your self-worth because it takes you away from trusting yourself and knowing that the impulse that you acted on was what was right for you in the moment.

Imagine that every decision you ever made – good or bad – or mediocre – turned out exactly the way it needed to – for your highest good? Wouldn’t that be fantastically freeing to be able to live life that way – without having to worry about outcomes – just go with the impulse?

This is what learning to trust YourSelf – Self with a capital S – is all about. Your little self will try to convince you that what you did was bad, wrong, etc. – but regardless of what happened, what if it truly happened the way it needed to? Ahh, I just felt my shoulders drop, did yours drop too?

If you’re a woman who has a tendency to doubt yourself and your decisions many times over- I would bet that you’re extremely creative and sensitive – and by sensitive I don’t mean ‘weak’, I mean being able to sense what is the right thing to do – from inside of you – without having to ask anyone’s opinion, just consulting your own inner wisdom – is enough.

Yet, you may have been taught to doubt yourself, doubt that part of you that has guided you to be who you are – because that side of you may have gotten you into loads of trouble – because she had/has opinions, likes to draw outside the lines, be different, etc.

If this resonates with you, check-out the Worthy Work to learn how to trust YourSelf more – and to allow your inner wisdom to guide you – regardless of the outcome – because – again – whatever happens is meant to happen."

If you would like to know more about Brenda and/or receive her free weekly ezine Note Worthy simply sign-up here.

July 15, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Life's Blessings

This week's beauty is Paulette Grant who is a Canadian artist and illustrator from Elliot Lake, Ontario. Paulette renders earthy landscapes and figurative studies ranging from contemporary slant on a Norman Rockwell influence to the imagery creations of fairies and angels. Paulette is also a poet.

I think following one's passion is the key to youthfulness and aging gracefully. Aging is not a disease. It is a natural process but it doesn't mean we have to dry up like a prune and spend a fortune to stop it. When the mind ages the body will follow. I am turning 64 at the end of this month, and believe me, it is just a number. I am vibrant, and have a joy of life, and I find it so surprising when someone is shocked at my youthfulness. I am just me looking out through eyes that have seen so much. Aging is a mindset .We are here in life to live it with as much joy as possible for as long as we are willing to accept life's blessings with gratitude for being here at all.

Paulette also has a blog called Breaking Free.

Thank you Paulette for being this week's beauty. I really love the richness of your paintings and I'm so inspired that you are self taught. Happy early birthday.

July 12, 2011

How to Throw a Carefree Summertime Girlfriend Gathering in 3 Hours (or less)

Party throwing rule #1: Start by setting the table. It will get you in the mood for doing everything else.

For me this is kind of like having dessert first.

Don't bother ironing the tablecloth unless Portuguese relatives are coming.

Gather flowers from the yard. Can only find weeds? Weeds are beautiful too.

Run to the grocery store and pick up supplies and wine. Have girlfriends bring the apps and dessert.

Drive home.

If the house needs vacuuming allot only 15 minutes. First floor only. Throw perfection to the wind and just get rid of the dust devils.

Instead of dusting, vacuum tabletops with the round brush attachment. Don't forget the TV.

If you have a porch, don't sweep it, just vacuum it quickly as well. Presto!

Take 5 minutes to tidy up the bathroom that your guests will be using.

Put on your favorite tunes.

It's time to prep dinner (15 minutes).

This menu is delicious:

Salt and pepper salmon fillets. Spread with Grey Poupon Dijon mustard and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar. Grill after girlfriends arrive for a few minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Don't overcook.

Make a salad of arugula, walnuts, goat cheese, avacado and grape tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in half and marinate in a bowl with Paul Newman's lowfat sesame ginger dressing. Pour on top just before serving and toss.

Ooh- la la!

Husk corn.

Slice up a delicious whole grain baguette right before dinner.


Hop in the shower to refresh for 5 minutes. Put on a comfortable, summery skirt or dress.

Kick off your shoes.

Pour a glass of wine.

Bon appetit :-)

July 08, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Interior Design

The week's beauty is interior designer Carole Freehauf  whom I met at a Boston Design Salon gathering. Known for her ability to seamlessly pair beautifully crafted materials and furnishings with refined architecture, Carole creates comfortable, elegant homes that are both modern and timeless. Carole has appeared as a design corespondent on This Old House, and her projects have been published in a number of design publications.

Carole has this to share about growing older:

I’ve been fortunate to have the luxury of time lately: time to think big picture about where I am right now, and how I might combine a number of lifelong interests and creative passions in the future. I’ve been around long enough to begin to recognize patterns in my life, to realize that what I liked to do at 12 isn’t all that different at 51.
I’ll never forget the advice of an art professor back in college, who over tea one afternoon charged a group of us to go through life not half asleep, but fully awake. He noted the faces of people on the subway as an obvious example of this sleep state (which after commuting on one for years I can totally understand). How often in our busy lives are we so preoccupied that we don’t really see what’s right in front of us?
Last fall, while on a day trip up to Provincetown with my husband Paul, I was suddenly so inspired by the many galleries we visited. Although I hadn’t picked up a canvas since college, the next day I signed up for a painting class. Painting challenges me to really look at objects, color, light and texture on a completely different level and find great joy in an activity I loved as a child. It has reminded me how soothing it can be to tap into some of the passions that I discovered when I was younger. I find that handwork, like making jewelry or cooking, has a similar effect. Not only pleasurable, making things is good for our health and can actually evoke the same relaxation response as meditation.
Travel is always a source of inspiration, whether it’s a nearby town I’ve never visited, 
or a trip to another country. The jolt of discovering new places and people, however short.
After a number of years of falling asleep on the third page, I’ve been making a point to read more novels again, another childhood passion (without, unfortunately, the treehouse). Following the twists and turns of a good plot is a great mental workout!
Speaking of workouts, while I often plan to get to a yoga class, many days it doesn’t happen. However, a little bit of stretching and walking everyday with my dog Jake has become necessary to clear up mental fog and loosen me up. I’ll often bring along varied styles of music, freshly mixed by my 18-year-old son, to quicken our pace and keep the routes interesting
I’m also trying to drink more water; it’s a great, inexpensive moisturizer!
As a designer, I can be a bit obsessive about reinventing my surroundings, yet this keeps a space interesting. Simple changes, like rearranging objects on a table, or adding a jolt of fresh color or scent, are powerful ways to add calm or energy to a room. I will see the same objects and furnishings in a new light. I really do believe our environment affects our wellbeing. There’s a lot to be said for living only with what you love and appreciating all that you have.

Thank you Carole for being this week's beauty. I think your work is divine.

July 06, 2011

The Illusionists- Insecurity Sells

Tom and I spent the long weekend driving back and forth to our house on Pleasant Lake in NH to work on it. The kitchen  isn't installed yet or all the floors and baseboards, and there isn't any landscaping but we're getting there...

It wasn't our usual 4th of July weekend but it was really gratifying. We worked real hard, but the beauty of it was that when we got too hot or too grungey we could just jump off the dock into the lake and get rejuvenated. Plus it was fun having a picnic lunch each day with Mr. Fix-it- out on the back deck- on our only furniture, which are two white plaster buckets turned upside down. What is it about campy situations like this that I love so much? I honestly can't think of a better place to spend some time. Especially with a little chocolate in my nap sack.

I wish I had taken more pictures. Too busy being a task-master I'm afraid.

Anyway, today's post is about a documentary that is being made called The Illusionists. It is about the manipulation and exploitation of women’s insecurities about their bodies for profit. It's so great to see someone forwarding the conversation. I love how KICKSTARTER helps to get great projects like this the funding that they need. Thank you to Cynthia for sending this in.

Also my photos from The Revelation Project are done. They are not an illusion, no photo shopping of wrinkles and all the other untruthful editing that is thrown at us right and left, everywhere we go, all day long, week after week, year after year. No wonder we worry about measuring up. If you'd like to feel more secure about yourself, just as you are, The Revelation Project is a great place to start. They have nicknamed me The Reverend because for some odd reason when I showed up for the shoot it was in their contact information as my job title. No one knows why, but it stuck. It's kind of funny.

Enjoy these blissful days of summer, dear readers.
xo, Louise

July 01, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Perseverance

This week's beauty is Theresa Allen from Forest, Ohio

Theresa is 52 years-old and has an inspiring story:

Growing up on a farm, I never gave much thought about issues of life, politics, or beauty. In my small, isolated world I was a tomboy. Then, school and puberty took over and the related awkwardness and self-doubt, but I soon found myself gaining a voice in academics and singing and becoming a young woman. Even with that, self-confidence was a late bloomer for me. Years of constant teasing by 14 older siblings didn’t help, but later allowed me a stronger backbone. A turning point was when I sang in a high school cabaret production, and the music teacher said she never knew I could sing like this. Moving away from my hometown and getting out in the real world made a difference too. I overcame domestic violence at age 19, and later, became one of the first volunteers at a domestic violence shelter. My skin was evolving.

Graduation saw me into a nursing career because I wanted to do something with my life to make a difference and help people. In the course of my 30+ year career came a new realization. People really liked and admired me for my work ethic, my humanity and compassion, my intelligence, my smile, friendliness, and humor. I was the first of two public relations ambassadors chosen at the hospital. This newly created position allowed exemplary employees to be role models for all employees. A new awareness of my own skin was beginning.

As a late life baby and the last one at home, I was very close to my parents. No matter what I faced in my personal life, I was there for them, full-filling a promise that I would look after them. The last 20 years of my parent's lives my brother and I stepped up to the plate to meet their needs spiritually, medically, and legally. I helped see my dad through major depression, which took its toll as he weakened after burying two sons before their time. After he died my mom and I became even closer. When she died I wrote a graveside eulogy, which simply stated, that long before Oprah coined the “random acts of kindness,” my mom lived it, all while existing on a fixed income. A part of me died the day she passed, but I rallied on. My "skin" was beginning to resemble my beautiful Mother's.

In 1999, I put my nursing career on hold to be home for our twins. As I mowed the lawn for the last time that fall, a bearded man came into the garage, handed me a business card and said, "We are National Lime & Stone, and we are going to have a quarry here next week. We will be your good neighbor!" I replied, "Not if I can help it!” The next 7 years a full time job evolved all on my own dime and energy.  I founded the PEARLS neighborhood group (Protectors Of Everyone's American Rural Life Style) and was able to get two of three amendments I fought for in a mining bill. I became a requested speaker to civic groups in the region, environmental law students, and other communities in similar fights.  These efforts won me the Ohio Environmental Council's Citizen's Environmental Watchdog Award for 2002. I have since run for Blanchard Township Trustee and am in my second term.

So, as I look back on the influences, struggles, and triumphs in my life I can tell you I have come full-circle and truly love the skin I am in. Overcoming many obstacles, gaining self-confidence in my looks, style, personality, profession, and especially, my abilities, has forever changed me. I am no longer the ugly duckling on the farm but have evolved into a swan in life and what really matters. I take care of myself, eat a healthy diet, avoid baking in the sun, exercise not just for looks but to have a healthy heart and bones.

Two mottoes from a favorite high school teacher have always guided me:

“He who asks is a fool for five seconds; he who doesn't ask is a fool forever.”

 “No tree no shade; no work no grade.”

Another saying, which my late father-in-law invoked, “It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog" has always given me courage and strength to stand up for what I believe in and take lemons and make lemonade.

These are my Lines Of Beauty.

Thank you Theresa for being this week's beauty. You are such a remarkable women. You should run for president (I'm serious). You're an environmental protection maven, my dear.