February 24, 2012

10 Easy Ways to Age Gracefully Today

If you can't change it, move on.Thou shall not stew.

Stop getting stuck in your story about woulda. coulda. shoulda. and get on with doing what you love to do.

Surround yourself with loving, low-maintenance people who increase your vitality instead of rob it.

Remember that aging is part of the wondrous cycle of life. It is normal and it is what is suppose to happen, just like getting our baby teeth.

Take care of that pesky task that has been hanging over your head for way too long. It won't take nearly as long as you think it will.

Have an orgasm.

Did I just say that?

Stop worrying about what other people think. It's your life.

Don’t forget that human's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Acknowledge someone.

Get over your fear. Fear is normal, so embrace it and then you'll be able to move past it.

Take care of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. Be your own best friend. It is the foundation for a good long life.

Photo by Jef Bettens, Limburg, Belgium

February 22, 2012

And So It Comes

My mama turned ninety recently. It's amazing to me that she is this old. I would be surprised if I didn't know her. Sometimes I still think of her as I did when I was six and she was just forty-five. Always the calm provider for her large flock. Ironing in the afternoon sunlight as I came through the door from grammar school, looking for an afternoon snack. Homemaker extraordinaire.

Toasting her on her birthday.

She is standing strong still. Almost always optimistic, and welcoming, and steady. So level headed and reassuring. With a warmth that to me is unexplainable. Somehow when I was young I made a connection between her and Pillsbury pop and fresh dough. You might remember the tube that you tapped on the edge of the counter and out popped ten little sweet smelling rolls, ready for the warm oven.

Strange, I know!

Mom and her friend at the party.

Since my Dad died, almost eleven years ago, she has marched on. Bringing us all forward. The threads of his life interwoven in her life still, and ours. Sometimes I feel that she is all that we have left of him.

And I know that from here, that if she is fortunate, she will grow older and older. Perhaps she will reflect and re-experience the beauty of her life as her days grow slower. I say this because I have experienced it with someone else before.

And luckily for me, I will be her gate keeper. I will be holding her hand.

I will be her protector now, and her provider, seeing her through to the end.

February 17, 2012

Aging Gracefully with Sustainability

Jane at her 60th birthday party
This week's beauty is Jane Weeks who is 63 years old. Jane is an environmentalist and lives in Gore's Landing, Ontario. She is the owner of a store called Smallbones, where she sells her hand-made pure beeswax candles, organic soap, natural perfumes, lip balms, and eco-friendly gifts. All of Jane's great products are also available online.

I bring you Jane:

"Wisdom comes with age...

...I guess I'm not old enough yet! I think that perhaps the phrase confuses wisdom with plain, old life experience. At 63 I have plenty of that, but wisdom? 

My old Doubleday Dictionary defines wisdom as: 1. The ability to discern what is true or right and to make sound judgments based on such discernment. 2. Insight or intuition. 3. Common sense. 4. A high degree of knowledge; learning. 5. An accumulated body of knowledge, as in philosophy, science, etc.

I'd probably get a passing mark for #1. I'm not bad at #2, and #3 I think I have in spades! I'd not get high grades for #4 or #5.  The first three definitions come from experience; the last two from learning/education. I think I'm a tad wiser than I used to be in that I wouldn't repeat a past mistake, but there again, I wouldn't have known to not repeat it if I hadn't experienced it in the first place — insight and common sense both!

“Leap, and the net will appear.” Experience gives us the confidence to believe in ourselves, to not second guess ourselves or needlessly heed others’ opinions. I think I need to experience a lot more, though, to be a truly wise, old woman, and I'm looking forward to it. I’ve always worked where my heart is, the not-for-profit sector (no benefits or pension plans); now I have Smallbones, a risky experiment in which I have pride. My motto is "Simple, Sustainable & Natural"! In a couple of years I’ll retire, I hope, and have the time and energy (fingers crossed) to spend the next phase enjoying and experimenting with my simple life. The scent of freedom is enticing! 

Allow me to share some of the things that are different since I turned 60 (an age, BTW, that came as a complete shock!). Letting go: hair colour and style, fashion, makeup — no more hair dye, I don't care that I'm wearing my 25 year old coat;  it's bright and cheerful and warm. What am I going to do when I grow up? It's a little late to be worrying about that now; life went ahead, regardless. Stewing over past hurts/losses/mistakes: the hurts and mistakes are mostly ancient history now; the losses still hurt, but they're a little easier to accept.

The worst thing about aging? How fast the years go by and how few are left. The last 20 years have flown past and 20 years ahead I'll be 83! Wonder if I’ll be wise by then? "

Thank you Jane. I love what you are doing.

February 14, 2012

Love is Art

One of my favorite sites, Daily Grommet, for all things new and exciting, recently featured a creative, outside-the-box-way to celebrate Valentine's Day, or any day. If you happen to be looking for a creative way to spice things up, the Jeremy Brown painting kits (below) put a sexy spin on couples’art. For those adventurous partners who give it a try, Jeremy’s body-painting technique is said to be a liberating, expressive, and beautiful way to create art together.

Oh baby...

Not sure I could comfortably put this on my wall if people knew what it actually was.

Seems so personal...as in...what body part made that little paint splat right there?


On another note, if you desire to spruce up your kissing technique, on this day of love, be sure to see last year's Valentine's Day post.

But perhaps what most of us just need to celebrate today with is a simple, wonderful six second hug.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

February 10, 2012

Aging Gracefully in her Studio

This week's beauty is artist Liz Smith who is the creator of  Made in Lowell. Liz is a fellow lover of felted wool whom I met several years ago at the Sowa Holiday Market in Boston. Since then she has been featured on Martha Stewart with her polymer clay eggs and is creating  all sorts of things wonderful in her Etsy shop.

"I’m 42, turning 43 this year. My husband and I are both the youngest kids in our families with siblings much older than us. He’s the only other person I ever met with the same family structure as mine; 4 kids with 3 bunched together in age and one 7 or 8 years later. We were surprise babies for our parents. It was like being only children, with siblings. We grew up accustomed to being around older people. Our parents were often the age of our peers’ grandparents. I feel like this made me more attuned to the aging process, made older people less “other”.

Sometimes I feel alone in that I didn’t love being young, I think I exhaled when I reached 30. Not that I’m in a hurry to get through life, I cherish every moment. But I adore being an adult! I feel autonomous and in charge of my life, well, as much as anyone is. It’s such a contrast to the chaos I felt right through my childhood and into my twenties. I notice it every day and it feels like freedom.

I do notice that I have been inculcated with society’s youth obsession and sometimes find myself chagrined at the draping of my neck skin, the softening of my face. I am determined to fight these feelings as I believe they are false instincts, that I am brainwashed by advertising. No better proof of this is that I don’t have these thoughts about anyone else! Someone else's soft, wrinkled skin is a sweet indication of experience and wisdom.
I interact with the public a lot when I vend at craft shows. I make it a point to thoughtfully acknowledge and listen to anyone I think might have become invisible in society due to her age. It’s a small thing but I hope it helps.

If we are lucky, we grow old. I hope to be very, very lucky."

Thank you Liz for being this week's beauty. 

P.S.I love this picture of your adorable parents.

February 07, 2012

The Beauty of Being Alone

I am an extrovert who really enjoys being alone. Maybe this is partly due to having grown up as the youngest of five children with an eight year gap between myself and my next oldest sibling. From age ten and on I grew up as an only child.

I used to play cat's cradle all by myself with my fingers and toes.

And I learned to play both parts of the chopsticks duet simultaneously on the piano.

I busied my days with cooking and baking recipes from the Betty Crocker cookbook for kids, creating ornate doll houses out of big cardboard boxes, and learning how to knit and crochet. This was all before puberty hit, when kids tend to grow away from doing what they love.

To this day, I love to go to the movies solo, go on runs all by myself, and do errands alone.

I've learned, from observing my mom grow older, that enjoying time alone can come in very handy as life moves along, as we work less, and as friends pass away.

When we can enjoy being alone, the time to ourselves is rejuvenating.

I think the above clip is very inspiring.

I hope you do too.
XO, Louise

Thank you to Kathryn Feigal for letting me borrow it.

February 03, 2012

Aging Gracefully by Tapping In

This week's beauty is opera singer, massage therapist, poet, and home renovator Kathryn Feigal who is 63 years old.

"Most of my life I have had the unfortunate anxiety-producing combination of No Impulse Control and Caring Too Much What Other People Think. As you can imagine, this has created a perpetual cycle of regret. Now that Im three months shy of 64, Im somewhat dismayed to admit that I still struggle to preserve or maintain what's left of my imagined dignity. In confronting a society given over to a collective identification with frenzy, Im less inclined to adapt to the illusions that society promotes. Maybe we all have a degree of Tourette's Syndrome with its accompanying rapping, hip-hopping bumbledom of multitasking to fulfill spurious requirements for living.

One of my favorite movie moments was the department store scene in The Women where Annette Bening, when assaulted by a department store cosmetic hawker said, "This is my face. Deal with it." Like Annettes character, I think if I can avoid the temptations of the eternal youth marketers, the sellers of unnatural thinness and cosmetic surgery, I may be able to tap into who I really am.

Kathryn in flight
At this stage in life, this sentence keeps running through my head, “How do I want to live the rest of my life?” There’s an urgency that wasn’t there before. Joan Baez said, “You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.”

In taking care of my mother the last years of her life, I witnessed her inability to confront her fear of dying. She truly raged against the dying of the light. I know that I want to die consciously. I want to be fully alive when I die. I want to have lived my dreams.

I feel more propelled to condensed action since 3 close friends have died in the last couple of months. One of them lived a big portion of her life trying to please other people – doing things she really didn’t want to be doing. I now get it at a level that I never have before that I need to live my own life.  To punctuate this vow, I took a running, jumping, flying leap off a mountain last summer. 

I’m viewing my own personal process of aging as a series of leaps into future possibilities that I’m igniting with gusto. I’m realistic about the fantasies I recognize as unattainable and I’m able to release them. Lately I’ve been going through my house throwing away items that don’t fit in with my goal of producing and performing my One Woman Show.  It’s symbolic of the balancing force behind the things I’ve given up by aging. I don't need to fill the spaces I've cleared in my house. Now I have room in my head and heart for laser-beam clarity into my future artistic expressions.

Here's wishing you the same,

Thank you m'dear.

You can enjoy Kathryn's poetry here as well as her neat site Redoing The Undone.