Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Energy of Time

As I get older, time seems to have sped up.  I remember as a kid the amount of time between one Christmas and the next seemed to take foooorrreeevvvveerrrrr.  Now, I've hardly finished paying of last Christmas when it's time to start shopping again!  I have a theory that it isn't just my perspective of time that's changed (like everyone tells you: as you get older and gain more experience, your perception of time changes).  When my kids were little, even they would be shocked at how quickly one Christmas came on the heels of the last.

So it's not just me.

Four days ago I was sitting at this desk quite convinced that time had stopped altogether.  It was 2:33 pm.  On Friday.  Before a three-day weekend.  The sun was out, the birds were pooping on my car...and the last place I wanted to be was in here: sitting at my desk.  The weekend was full of all the things that make an adult weekend fun: time spent with your favorite person, hanging out with friends, drinks on the patio, travel, relaxation, late nights and late mornings, and did I mention drinks on the patio?  It was almost perfectly the perfect weekend.

And it flew by.

So now, here I am sitting at my desk again.  It's Tuesday, 11:25 a.m., and time has, once again, stopped.  I was talking to a coworker this morning about how energy and time are perceived so differently depending on your location and what you happen to be doing.  Time to me, while at work, goes pretty slowly even if I'm busy.  Time at home, no matter what I'm doing, speed's like crazy, whether I'm doing something I love or doing the dishes.

What's up with that?

As I get older, I notice that I'm rushing my weeks to get to the weekend which, no matter what we do, always seems to be FUN.  But that's two days a week.  One-hundred-and-four days of my year.  That's a lot of time in between those weekends that I'm rushing, and it's probably not the best thing to do considering now that I'm in my mid-40's, I only have half of my life left!

Rushing any of it is sort of a bad idea, don't you think?

I've neglected a lot of things working as much as I do.  One thing that I probably need to get back into is meditation and working on my perception of time and how it relates to the energy I have with which to spend it.  How does on make every minute count?  Enjoy each day as it presents itself?  Sometimes work is drudgery.  A 9-hour day (counting lunch) that drags by as you repetitively do the same actions over and over and over again until you've done them so much, you do them without thinking?  Just like sometimes you're on your way to work in the morning, you leave your house, and then - it seems almost suddenly!- you're at work with almost no memory of how you got there!

Autopilot.  Scary.

I'm open to suggestions.  I don't want to waste the majority of my life, that part spent at work, wishing it away to the weekend.  I just don't know how.  I mean, I guess you can find a job that pays you to do what you love so then you're not ever really working, but that doesn't seem to be the reality of things for the overwhelming majority, me included!  I love my jobs.  I've had SO much worse!  But I love doing nothing more.  No, that doesn't' make me unique.  But it does give me guilt that the other 5 days of the week are all about getting to the two golden ones...

I need to stop this.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Déjà Vu of Knowing

When I was in college I worked nights waiting tables at this college hangout a few blocks from UTEP in El Paso called "The Surf Club"; someone's idea of irony as all water in this region almost exclusively comes from irrigation.  This was before places like "Hooters" were popular, but along the same lines: young co-eds in short-shorts and tank tops waiting tables to the backdrop of nightly live bands, and partying with the customers was encouraged.  Working there was a typically 'college' experience with a strong focus on partying rather than academics.  

I had a blast.  

Strangely, I first heard about it from a commercial on the radio about a week after I moved to El Paso to enroll in college.  Just the commercial sounded like a party.  And, sight unseen, I knew that's where I needed to work.  I don't mean that in a passing fancy sort of way.  I knew it.  Knew that was where I had to be as soon as possible.  Maybe knowing that 'I had to work there' isn't an accurate portrayal...it was like I'd been waiting to hear the ad on the radio so I knew where to go next.  And when I heard it, I knew.  It was the strangest thing...I hadn't really had that happen to me to this point.  But I knew it as surely as I knew my next step was going to college.  THIS was where I was going to work.  Fortunately it was near the college, so I found an apartment nearby to both and, strangely to my surprise, I was hired.

I worked with this guy named Todd.  From the very first day I met him, he reminded so much of someone,  so strongly.  It drove me nuts that I couldn't ever think of who...like the name was right on the  tip of my tongue, but it just wouldn't make the leap to verbalization.  It bugged me every day...and probably him too as he'd catch me looking at him in that "Hmmmm..." sort of way, and he'd just sort of shake his head and roll his eyes.  It was such a strong feeling!  Like when you're having a conversation with someone about a celebrity and you can picture their face, but their name just eludes you, but you know it!  You KNOW it.  You just can't get it off your tongue.

A man walks into the bar.  (No, the implications aren't lost on me...).  He was tall, had blonde hair, and at first glance, I honestly thought he was Val Kilmer.  (Remember him?!  And I'm talking about the Val Kilmer from his 'Thunderheart' days; not Val Kilmer from his 'McGruber' days.  Well, now).  I think every waitress in the place stopped talking and lost all memory of their conversation the moment they saw him.   He walked into the bar along with about 8 other men, and almost all were tall, good looking, total muscle heads, and in uniform.  This was 1990 near the end of Desert Storm, and there were GI's in from all over waiting to deploy to the Persian Gulf from Fort Bliss, the Army's largest installation, located there in El Paso.

The instant I saw him, I knew we were connected somehow.  I wasn't sure how, but I knew it like I'd known other things in my life.  Not many things.  But things that in every other instance I'd had this feeling, had never once been wrong.  We dated off and on for the next few months, and it was right after he was sent back home after the war was over that I found out I was pregnant.  I never saw him again.  (Yes, he knew).

Fast forward eight years.  I'm living in New Mexico, married now with two children.  My marriage is almost over, the only thing left the money I needed to be able to get out of the marriage for good and on my own with the kids, chalking it up to a bad mistake, one I probably knew at the time I shouldn't have made.  But, like some other mistakes sometimes turn out, I had two little boys who were the very heart and center of my world; and there was never, ever any negativity attached to that.  My very soon-to-be ex-husband had invited a friend down to visit, someone he'd known for years but whom I'd never met.  He walked in the door to my house and I'll never forget it.  I was standing at the sink fixing the boys' dinner, and when the door opened, I turned around.  In walked the person who Surf Club Todd had reminded me of nine years before.  The first thing I remember thinking was "Oh...there you are!"

Nothing happened with this man.  We didn't have any kind of an actual relationship until years later.  But we were instantly friends.  I can't speak for him, but for me it was like I'd known him my whole life.  And for a large quantity of time even before.  Like I'd been waiting for him to show up so we could finish the conversation we left hanging 100 years ago.  Like a part of me that I was certain I'd misplaced dropped suddenly and completely into place when he walked in that door.  And I knew that he was the person I would grow old with.  Someday.



the power to foresee the future.


acute, canny, cautious, clairvoyant, commonsensical, cool-headed, discerning  judicious, levelheaded, perceptive, politic, prescient, provident, prudent, sagacious, sage, shrewd, well-balanced, wise

Prescience...deja vu...  I don't know what that knowing is honestly.  I know what it isn't, and it certainly can't be considered 'commonsensical', 'levelheaded' or 'wise'!  But, for me, it's never been wrong.  It's presaged giant turns of events in my life...milestone moments, and moments that turn into lifetimes.  It's given me my oldest son Zach who paved the way for a meeting with that ex-husband and eventual father of my younger son, Will.  And when that feeling -- that knowing -- presents itself, I've never once considered the choice of not 'going with it'.  

Some might call that a shortcoming of character: choosing to allow life-altering decisions to be made based on what those same 'Some' might consider nothing more than a stroke of whimsy.  But when it happens, I see it for what it is: a "Hey!  Something important is happening!  Pay attention!"


When I was a child, I remember having a conversation with my mom.  I was about 6 years old.

Me:  "I wish you weren't married to dad."
Mom:  "But if I weren't married to your dad, I wouldn't have you!"
Me:  "Yes you would...I'd just look different."
Mom:  "........that's not possible.  You're here because you're daddy and I created you.  If I didn't have your dad, I wouldn't have you!"
Me:  "No, I'm here because I was supposed to be with you.  I don't have to be with him; but I'm supposed to be with you.  So I'd still be me, I'd just look different."

It would help to understand that until I was in my mid-teens, I really didn't socialize outside the church that my parents' raised us in.  I wasn't exposed to differences of belief, and their region certainly didn't believe in anything even remotely similar.  And where I 'got that nonsense' was as big a mystery to me when mom asked me as it was to her!  But I believed it.  I knew it.  It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I realized a large number of people, some religious some decidedly not, believe the same thing.

Last night I rented the movie 'Cloud Atlas', a movie based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Daniel Mitchell.  I expected thoughtful entertainment.  I was surprised to find it profound.

"Our lives are not our own.  We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future".  The idea that we come into our lives to live them surrounded over and over again by the same people...the coming together, whether briefly or for decades, speaks to me.  Do I have proof that this is a fact?  No.  Do I need proof?  Again, no.  But I've felt it.  Felt it in that knowing.  Seen it play itself out over and over again from the conversation I overheard my children have at the ages of 5 and 3 about their time "before we came to be with mommy", to the very first conversation with my best friend and every subsequent conversation thereafter in which we can go years without speaking and pick up right at the exact spot we left off without missing a beat.  In that recognition of My Person, who I waited so long for and who growing old with now is a privilege and one of my greatest honors.  To the children who have added so much to my life...it's played out over and over and over again.

And it's never been wrong.

I need to remember this.  To consciously accept that the mirror image of that knowing is accepting that, even without knowing, things happen when they happen and at exactly the right time. Even when it doesn't feel like it.  Even when it's not a wonderful gift like the birth of a son who changes your life or your soul mate walking in your front door.  It might even be the single most vexing event of my life to-date.  But it's playing out how I agreed to play it out before I ever came here.  And I'm playing it with people I've known.  Forever.

I don't know what's going to happen with this new and 'vexing' issue that I didn't see coming and didn't ask for and, to this point, have fought tooth and nail and lost literal sleep over.  But it's going to be okay.  Most things eventually are.  Maybe my recognition of these people who seem so foreign to me is only an illusion because I'm so blinded by the event I can't see the players.  But I am bound to them as surely as I breathe.  Their outcome will be a part of the fabric of my own life and will affect its outcome in a profound way, too.  I don't know how I'll handle it, and maybe that's okay.

Wish me luck...I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy Weekend!

Happy Weekend!
This weekend is another busy one!  Tomorrow we have a birthday party for a good friend that is going to be held at this great theater that serves food and drinks!  Can't wait to see the new Star Trek movie 'Into Darkness' with My Person and all of our friends, have some great food, a few rum and cokes, and super good time!

Then I'm hoping to make some time on Sunday for a drive in the mountains in my new Mini "Lucy".  Seems like the drive to and from work just isn't enough. :)  Got to fit in a pedicure some time, along with all the usual weekend drudgery of doing laundry and ironing, grocery shopping, and house cleaning, with a few hours of my night job work thrown in for good measure.  After this weekend, I'm gonna need a weekend!

Happy Friday Everyone!


Monday, May 13, 2013

An Irregular Choice

I first discovered these heels about two years ago and fell in love with them INSTANTLY.  They're fun, quirky, and I guarantee you, no one in your office is going to have the same shoe (if they do, I want to work where you work!!!)

The brand was created by a man named Dan Sullivan in London, England in 1999 and heavily influenced by the punk era of the 70s of his childhood where he grew up on Kings Road.  His parents owned a chain of shoe stores called 'Transit', and encouraged his obvious talent for design, encouraging him to begin his own line of shoes when he left home at the age of 15.  He opened his first shoe shop at the age of 18, and by 23 closed the store so he could travel.  While traveling in the far east, he learned about shoe making from the sole up, and his travels also served him well when it came to his designs.  **"Embellished heels, ornate wood carvings, tiny intricate charms, lavish fabrics, memorable colour combinations...everybody has an Irregular Choice favourite shoe..."
Irregular Choice 'Patty'

He launched a clothing line in 2010 that has taken off as well, with his same quirky trademark designs for which he's known.  Very popular in England, he's still not hugely known here in the states, though you'll see a celebrity walking the red carpet in a pair of his shoes from time to time.

Irregular Choice "Oz"
From the functional to the fantastical, his shoes are nothing but fun.

Irregular Choice "Shoulda Wouda Coulda"
I can't speak to comfort as I don't personally own a pair (they run on average around $175 a pair).  But someday I'm sure I'll find a pair I can't live without and will save my pennies in order to make that purchase.
Irregular Choice "Cherry Shaker"

Keep an eye out!  You'll start to see them more places once you realize what it is you're looking for.  In a way, I'm hoping that they won't become as big here as they are in England.  It's always nice when you get a new pair and don't run into them all over the place once you've made your purchase!

Whoopi Goldberg in Irregular Choice from Macoo - The Shoe Blog

Whoopie's shoes above are just adorable and were the inspiration to replace the laces in these cute low-heeled Oxfords with ribbon.  I've gotten so many compliments on them since doing this!  And the little change made them look like an entirely different shoe for about $0.99!


Weekend Road Trip

We took Saturday and ran up to Wyoming to say Happy Mother's Day to My Person's mom.  Gotta say, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride!!!

The weather was a perfect 70+, and we put the back seats down, covered them with a blanket, and loaded up the Rocket Dog.  The top stayed up on the drive up there, but yesterday was spent driving around with it off once we'd spent a few hours getting her all buffed up and shiny.

I enjoyed the trip immensely, time spent getting to know my new car, who I've now dubbed 'Lucy', and how she runs in all different types of traffic.

Here's a pic of our two new additions (mine is top, My Person's is bottom).  We're both in love!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Weekend!

Happy Weekend!
The weekend here in Colorado is shaping up to be fantastic!  Big plans to take the top off the new Mini Cooper and road trip to see My Person's mom for Mother's Day this weekend.

No matter what your plans are for the weekend, I hope it's wonderful, relaxing, and seems to last a week.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

My Newest Accessory

True story....

The kids left home about five years ago.  Since then I've continued to drive my 'Mom Car': a 2005 Chevy Equinox that's seen better days.  I've always bought the car that made the most sense; the vehicle that was best for the family.  In fact, the main selling point on the Equinox was that the back seat would push back giving growing boys more leg room along with extra space for soccer bags and fishing poles!

Friday night My Person and I were headed out to the movies and I was driving.  Remember, he knows cars.  As in, can diagnose something just by listening to a noise or hearing a good description of someones trouble.  And he's as good with cars as he is with his costuming.

Him:  "That noise is coming from your car, right?"
Me:   "Yah...I think it's the suspension."
Him:  "Yah...I know what that noise is and it's not good...how long as it been making it?"
Me:   "A few months now...I thought you knew about it!"
Him:  "No.  Nope, didn't know about it."

Long pause....

Him:  "We're getting you a new car....like, now."

As most of you know, I work two jobs.  Not because I enjoy working 16 hour days most days, but because like so many other people, I'm trying to dig myself out of a financial hole.  I'm getting closer to China...I can see through the dirt now and can almost see daylight.  But I'm still digging.  Because of this, what I can afford will greatly influence what car I buy.  And no matter how cheap the car, financing is going to be ugly.  Really ugly.

Or so I thought.

He found a Mini Cooper on line yesterday and sent me an email link.  I knew it was 'the one' the instant I laid eyes on it.  A lovely dark slate blue with black stripes down the hood and...dare I dream.... a convertible.

In my price range.

We went to look at it last night.  And, because I'm such a lucky girl and he's SO so good to me, he helped me get the financing to a car that's pretty close to my dream car and definitely more than I ever imagined I'd  ever get to own myself.  He insisted on helping me because he wanted me not only to have something reliable, easy on gas and safe, but also (in his words) "...something fun...something nice.  Because you deserve it!  Not just something reliable that will get you from point A to point B because that's all you can afford, but something FUN."  He knows me pretty well: this car will be FUN.

I don't think I'll be buying matching shoes any time soon, but I may actually have found my ultimate accessory!

***** Thank you Rik! *****  Thank you Rik! *****  Thank you Rik! *****  Thank you Rik! *****  
We're halfway there!  

<3  The weekend is almost here  <3

Happy Wednesday!


Friday, May 03, 2013

March-April 2013

Thursday, May 02, 2013

More Trends I'ts Okay To Fall In Love With

I've never been one for lighter colors.  I lean more toward black or the jewel tones myself and always have, although I can't tell you why.  My closet is full of reds, dark blues, deep purples and burnt orange.  And in summer, I tend more toward summery fabrics rather than lighter colors.

That's all about to change.

This year we're seeing pastels all over the place, either alone or showcased together in floral prints.  From bits and bobs that you can add to a monochrome outfit, to purses in lemon-ice yellow, and jeans in robin's egg blue.  Or even entire monochrome outfits in the palest violet.  Pastel is IN.

This is another one of those trends that I'm loving, though for me it will require new clothes.  Fortunately I know where to buy them where we can all afford to shop and we'll talk about that shortly :)

Pastels have actually been 'In' since last spring.  We just weren't ready to give them up yet, so designers in their wisdom know a good thing when they see it, and have upped the ante by adding flowers.  That means we get to keep the pieces we picked up last summer and just add to them this summer!  How thoughtful of them!

If you're not into the flowery pieces, just start with the simple!  But even adding a flowered scarf in soothing mints and blues can bring your favorite power suit up to speed.

Pastel skinny jeans are all over the place.  I picked up a gorgeous pair of the palest blue Arizona brand, similar in style to those above, at JC Penney last weekend on clearance for $4.

If you want to participate in this trend but don't want to have pieces that may be wayyy out in five months, you can do this slowly, a little piece at a time, and add a few of the following to your wardrobe.

  • It costs about $6 to purchase enough beads and stretchy string to make yourself a cute new necklace!  Check out place like Michael's and Hobby Lobby.  For a dollar or two more, you can make a matching bracelet and earrings!
  • Right now on sale racks at places like Walmart and Target, there are stretchy rings and earrings in all the hottest pale colors.  Most of them can be found on clearance!  You can also check out places in the mall like Claire's and Ice to shop sales for great finds under $5!
  • Only have a couple of dollars?  Hit the corner drug store.  Brands like 'Wet&Wild' and 'NYC' have lipsticks in all the cool shades for under $2!
  • Walmart and Target are good places to look for things that are trendy and inexpensive items that cost a little more than a couple of dollars like a new purse, pair of shoes, or scarf.  Something that you're not sure is going to last style-wise through years, long enough to buy quality.  But if you want a cute new bag for the summer in a bright pastel or print, or a quick pair of kicks, this is your best bet.
  • Don't forget places like Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon!  These can be excellent resources for something chic and cheap!
If you go with a new purse like the one pictured above, you don't have to be in it for the quality if it's just a fun, trendy piece you're adding to your wardrobe for kicks.  For under $20, you can pick up a purse very similar to the one above, or a pair of ballet flats like those pale blue lovelies up there, and you won't be heartbroken when summer ends and you find you've worn out the bottom, or the lining on the purse hasn't stood up as well as the Coach bag you lucked into at the consignment store last month!  But if when August rolls around you find that you've come to love that pale yellow bag and want it as part of your collection, you'll be able to grab a good quality one at outlet or flash-sale shops like Ideeli or even one of the shoe clubs like ShoeDazzle or JustFab, usually buy-one-get-one-free as retailers make room for the new fall lines that are arriving.  Think of it as test driving fashion!

How These Trends Apply To Us Real Girrlz

Again, using what you probably have in your closet, you can add one or two (or more if your budget allows) and bring your regular clothes into the Spring 2013 collection!  Go to the Deal of the Day page on this blog and check out some of the stores I've featured.  Most have a good clearance or sale section in which you can find any and all of the items suggested below.

This really is the year for trends for real girls!  I can't think of a year that I've been more excited about what's IN than I am this year.  It's fun to Chic things up, and I'm tellin' ya, you can do it On The Cheap!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

It Don't Matter if You're Black or White...or Broke

There are a number of trends this Spring that I really love, and a few I won't be touching with a 6-inch heel!   Not sure if you've noticed, but the 80's are back and they've brought their neon and shoulder pads!  I know that sometimes women our age tend to look at trends as frivolous.  Something for younger women.  Or we don't have the money to follow them or keep up.

But I'm gonna have to disagree with you, sister.  And I'll tell you why here shortly.

The Trends

The Spring Fashion Week in New York had some of the trends that stick out most in my mind.  I'm really loving the white-on-white: solid monochrome at its best (followed closely with black and white, and black-on-black, but we'll get to that shortly!)

pic cred: StyleBistro  -  Designer: DKNY
There's something crisp, clean, and bright about a completely white outfit.  Throw in a pop of color like some fuchsia pumps or a checkered bag, and you've got an outfit that is far removed from your corner baker and ready to walk down any major street in style.  If I try this one myself though, it will be with a backup change of clothes in my bag as I'm the biggest klutz when it comes to keeping white white.  That may be why I wear so much black come to think of it...

As mentioned, right on the heels of monochrome white is the black and white ensemble.  I've always loved that look.  And it struck me most in the Vera Wang Bridal Collection for 2014.

Pic Cred:  Tom & Lorenzo - Designer: Vera Wang
I love the drama of it...and the fact that it gives a nod to the freaky 15-year-old I once was who lamented to her mother that if she ever deigned to marry, it would be all in black and held in a cemetery.  Yah...creepy.  And this was before Goth and cutting!

Pic Cred:  Tom & Lorenzo - Designer: Vera Wang

But isn't this just fantastic?!  Simple lines bold black on creamy white...it's a perfect confection.  And I'm already designing the cake that would go with it!


Not getting married anytime soon?  Then do what I do and grab yourself a hot pair of black and white pumps.  These Penny Loves Kenny 'Ronny' peeptoe platforms are available at Heels.com for $69.99.

I find the black/white contrast to come of very mysterious for some reason.  Maybe it's the whole light/dark, good/evil, "black and white" aspect of black and white that's the draw.  This year, this trend was given to me for Admin's Day in the form of the ShoeDazzle 'Ailish' from my manager in the form of a gift certificate.  Should be here tomorrow!  (So glad I ordered last week as they're now completely out of stock.)

If you follow the Today's Outfit page, you'll see that I own a lot of chiffon shirts, things that are very filmy and transparent, that go under a blazer, tucked into a power suit with a coordinating frilly bra underneath and just a hint of it seen to the outside world.  LOVE that.

Pic Cred: Style Bistro  -  Designer:  Nanette Lepore NY Spring 2013
The sheer panels, appropriately placed, can be a design wonder giving just that hint of skin or lacy bra that sets your outfit apart from all the other suits in the office without being bawdy or offensive.  And the bright colored statement shoes...who doesn't love an outfit that takes an amazing pair of shoes and builds up from there?!

I was going through my closet last weekend (when it was 80 degrees, a far cry from our current high of 18 and blizzarding), and found this adorable short sleeved shirt that I got from my  mom as a hand-me-down.  It's very similar to this (below), but the bits of you that show are the bits of you that generally look good no matter size.  I'd wear it anywhere!  Well, maybe not to work.

Geometric shapes are another fun trend to buy into.  We're seeing this a lot in shoes right now, and the shoe goddess be praised!!  I mean that sincerely.  And this is yet another trend that defies age.  Doesn't matter how old you are, what you're position is in your company, or what your office dress code is made up of. Geometric statement shoes or shoes with cutouts can be part of a fantastic outfit.

I was recently asked by a friend to help her find the perfect pair of shoes for her wedding day, and have therefore spent the last couple of days looking through literally thousands of shoes on line.  And ladies, I've discovered Nirvana.  

I love the cutouts in heels right now...they add a sense of design to a shoe, taking it (in my opinion) from common functionality to a work of art.

Or the adorable seesaw heel on these polka-dot pretties.  Not sure how easy they'd be to walk in, but they sure are cute!


How These Trends Apply To Us Real Girrlz

There really is a lot to like in this springs fashion trends, many of which you already have in your closet!  I'm guessing if you're anything like me, you've got at least one black pair of pants, a black shirt or sweater, and a bright pair of shoes.  BOOM! you're stylish!

Right now, I have all of this in my closet.  Throw it all together, and I can walk into my office tomorrow in an outfit very similar to ones seen in magazines right now.  And I didn't have to go shopping!

Same goes for the one above!  Absolutely no need to hit the shops.  And you've probably got something similar sitting in your closet right now!

The moral of the story is, this years trends are totally doable no matter how old you are.  Not everything is all about sparkly nail polish or earrings with feathers.  If you keep an eye out, you'll always be able to find a trend that you can participate in with the clothes you have in your closet.  Sometimes it's about how you pair them together, or maybe what you can pick up on the cheap to accessorize with!

So jump in!  Participate!  And it's always fun to see what new outfits you can create with stuff already on hand.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Just A Quickie...

I'm completely uninspired.  Totally, entirely, wholly, utterly, and wildly inspired.  Can't think of a single thing to write and haven't been able to for well over a week now!  Part of it may be lack of inspiration, part of it may be sadness that my staycation is over after so many fun days free of both jobs.  Either way, I've not nuthin'.

So here's what we're gonna do:  Just to break the writers block that has apparent;y been erected between my brain and my fingers on the keyboard, I'm just going to share with you the cool site I found today while looking for wedding shoes.

Not my wedding...nice try.

The store is called 'Pink Basis' and they've got an AMAZING sale going on.  Yes, I know...I'm cheating.  This should actually be under the 'Deal of the Day' tab.  But, like I said, writers block.

These fantastic Black Canvas Latin Pattern platform pump:  $7.99.  Yah...you read that right.  SEVEN NINETY-NINE!!!

Not into heights?  How bout these Two-tone Faux Leather Flats for $2.99?!!!  And they come in SIX COLORS!!!

But wait...there's more!  These Orange Belted Short Shorts for $9.99.

So here's your challenge:  Head over there and treat yourself to something.  Anything.  It doesn't have to be big.  And give yourself a little something to look forward to for the rest of the week.  You deserve it!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm Dating a Superhero

I've mentioned in the past how amazing My Person is when it comes to learning new things.  He's one of those strange people who will decide he wants to learn something and then just does it.  He'll research what it is he wants to do, read everything he can about how it's done, talk to people, check out local resources, and then just goes for it.  I find that frankly amazing as I'm more like the rest of us who looks at something, says "Wow!  It'd be cool to be able to do that!" and then promptly forgets about it.

A few years ago, he decided that he wanted to learn how to sew.  Another of his many talents is working on, building, and racing cars.  This was a few years ago, and he's not really doing that anymore, but cut his sewing teeth on car interiors when he built his last race car.  This time though, he wanted to work on costumes.  We'd been going to the Renaissance Faire here in Colorado for a couple of years at that point and begun dressing up and thoroughly enjoyed it.  But it's only for a few weeks in the summer.  He'd always been interested in science fiction movie props, but decided to take it a step further and learn to sew and create his own costumes.

And this is how I came to be dating Captain America.

Most of us who don't dwell in the land of Geekdom aren't familiar with the culture, though we've heard of the big things like Star Trek and Comic Con (if you haven't, Google them).  He'd looked into a local comic book convention ('Con') here in Denver, which is usually held the middle of April.  StarFest has a huge following locally and is growing every year.  For those of you who are completely uninitiated, Wiki defines a Con as "an event in which fans of ...an entire genre of entertainment such as science fiction....gather to participate and hold programs and other events, and to meet experts, famous personalities, and each other.  Some also incorporate commercial activity".  These are usually put on by the fans themselves, the biggest of which is Comic Con in San Diego  CA, though there are many others.  Here's a short clip that will give you an idea of what they're about:  the trailer from the movie "Galaxy Quest".  

At this point, he didn't have any friends who were involved in this.  He didn't even know anyone involved in it.  But he bought a sewing machine and got started.  When April rolled around, he packed up everything he'd created, and headed to the Marriott where the con would be held.  I can't even imagine the nerve it took to do this: to go to a place you've never been, amongst people you've never met, dressed in something you created yourself.  I'm in awe.  Like, for real.  He's amazing.

That was one of the coolest things he says he's ever done.  At the end of the weekend, he'd met tons of new people who have now become part of our core group of friends, fantastic, creative, wildly talented people like himself, who love having a good time.  Dressed as superheros.  Or zombies.  Or people from the future. Or monsters.  You name it; there's no limit to the things these amazing people create.

A lot of the fun of this (having gone to Ren Faire dressed up) is getting to see the little ones who don't realize it's make-believe.  And it didn't seem to be different here, watching the little boys eyes light up when they saw their favorite superhero or movie character talk to them.  And most all costumers are very gracious in allowing you to take their picture, admire their costume, and congratulate them on a job well done.  Asking to have your picture taken is the highest honor. :)

This past weekend was StarFest.  He'd worked so hard on his costumes this year and was as excited as I've ever seen him to get there and get set up.  My best friend had come into town the night he left, and she's never been exposed to anything like this, so we drove down on Saturday, the biggest day of the con, to check him out, show our support, and see all the costumes.

He made this costume....almost all of it.  And what he didn't make from scratch himself, he bought blank (like the helmet) and finished it himself, down to the same scratches that Judge Dredd's helmet had in the movie.

If you ever get a chance to go to one of these, DO.  It really is a fun time.  I mean seriously...where else can you run into a bunch of dwarves (the movie 'The Hobbit') at the bar?

Or a butterfly princess (I'm sure this is from some manga comic I'm unfamiliar with) in a doorway?

Or a minion in a ballroom?

And by and large, the costuming community is very friendly and helpful, are fun to hang out with, and more than willing to offer advice if you're having issues. :)  And my friend visiting for the weekend seemed to enjoy the experience, texting pictures back to Michigan to her kids and husband as we encountered particularly cool costumes.

Me?  I couldn't be happier.  I get to go home to Captain America every night.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Taking A Few Days Off

Real Beauty

I saw a Facebook meme recently that really stuck with me.    

It stuck with me because it's true.

As a mom, this instantly made me rush back to memories of how I spoke to my own children, wondering yet again with what baggage I can blame myself for having saddled them.  I did my best, but I know it wasn't perfect.  With the best of intentions I wanted to give my children a 'fair' view of themselves, gently given, with a focus on their strengths.  It's a personal pet peeve of mine, those people who seem to have no real idea of who they are; who've allowed only the positive, from any source, to become their "true picture" of themselves.  You know the ones...they usually have strong opinions about others that are prefaced with "I'm so glad I don't do/am/feel/look like that" when, had they even the slightest sense of self-awareness, would realize immediately that they are exactly "like that".  Whether despite me or because of me though, my guys are two pretty amazing menboys and I'm so proud of them.  My own childhood memories came more readily on this topic, not that I didn't grow up in an at least 50% supportive environment (my mom was fantastic...my father was the opposite).  But, at least for me, this saying is true.  

It's strange being a female in our society.  Not having traveled, I can't speak for women of other cultures and am curious if it is the same for them, this strange paradoxical way in which we grow up and form as women.  From the time we're young, we're told we're pretty/cute/adorable/beautiful, but then told not to let it go to our heads because no one likes conceited girls.  We're told to finish our food, but then  we hear our grandmother mention (in that tone) that we look as if we're gaining weight.  We're told we look good in red; but that skirt makes our butt look big.  And we wonder why we're confused by the time we hit adolescence.  

It isn't just everything we're bombarded with constantly by the media (Example:  A recent magazine cover: 'The BEST chocolate recipes!" right next to "Lose 50 pounds in 3 weeks!"...What the $&@%?).  It starts in our families, at home.  

And that outer noise almost always becomes our inner voice; the one that generally belongs to someone we don't particularly like but whose opinion we seem to value above all others: the one that just keeps knocking us down.

I found a video today quite by accident.  It's one I hadn't seen before and it really affected me in an unexpectedly visceral way.  But first, there's an interesting back story.

Dove, a well-known American brand of beauty and personal care products under the Unilever umbrella, launched an ad campaign, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty based on a study entitled The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report led by Dr. Nancy Etcoff of Harvard University and in conjunction with a number of other august entities. 

The mission of this study was to find out what beauty means to women today and why and, armed with that knowledge, see if we can change how we think and talk about beauty to make it more real to every woman rather than ideal: in a nutshell, how we feel beauty is portrayed and how that affects our own well-being.  They interviewed 3,200 women from 10 countries between the ages of 18 and 67.  And their findings were quite staggering.  For instance:
  • 4 in 10 women around the world strongly agree that they aren't comfortable describing themselves as beautiful.  And this was completely without regard to age.  Think about this one:  Universally, nearly HAlf of us were so uncomfortable by the thought, we couldn't describe ourselves as beautiful.
  • 42% of us rate our beauty as 'average' and 69% rated their physical attractiveness as just 'average'.
  • We overwhelmingly don't like comparing our own beauty and attractiveness to our sisters and consider ourselves, by comparison, far less attractive than other women.
  • 60% of American women rated their body weight as 'too high' regardless of whether or not it was.
  • Almost half (48%) of women surveyed felt that when they felt less beautiful, they didn't feel as good about themselves in general.
  • Only 13% of us are satisfied with our beauty. 
  • 2/3 of all women surveyed agreed that "physical attractiveness is about how one looks, whereas beauty include much more of who a person is".
  • There was a very strong correlation between how a woman felt about herself and how satisfied she was in her intimate relationships.

The study itself (link above) was fascinating reading and I encourage you to look through it and see what jumps out at you personally.

In September of 2004, Dove launched the first phase of this new ad campaign with commercials and print ads featuring 'real women', not models, of various sizes, shapes, and colors.  I remember seeing the commercial on television for the first time and breathing an inward sigh of relief and a quick 'thank you' to whatever goddess is currently in charge of the mental well-being of us 'normal' girls.

And I wondered if it would take off, or if I was one of the only women happy to see diversity personified in her underwear.  Apparently I wasn't the only one as they've gone on to do other ads, and I've seen billboards along with the print and television ads and have been impressed with every one.

But here's the video.  Watch it, and then we'll talk.

Wow....this really blew my mind and, I'll be honest here, actually teared me up.  The way that universally these women described themselves to the artist made me truly sad!  All of them, every single last one of them, was beautiful!  To see how they pictured themselves in their own minds, picking apart every small, insignificant detail that no one but them would even have noticed...it just really hit home because I do this too.  And I'm guessing, so do you.

I remember I was a young teenager, maybe even just a preteen, when my sister told me I had ugly feet.  I don't even think it was meant maliciously; we were typical siblings and put each other down routinely.  But for years afterward, I was self-conscious about my feet.  Honestly, there's nothing wrong with my feet.  In fact, I like my feet!  But that is just one example of how our self image is molded while we're young and affects us for the rest of our lives.

My mother is beautiful.  Just gorgeous.  Perfect strangers comment on this when they see her.  She's aged gracefully and has amazing style and presence.  But she hates to have her picture taken.  In fact, the only reason she allows me to take her picture when I'm visiting her is that her own mother, now passed, hated having her own picture taken so much that pictures of her are a rare commodity.  And my mom feels that lack now that she's gone and doesn't want me to experience that same thing at some point.  I'm very grateful to her for acknowledging this and making the effort.

I hate having my picture taken too.  In fact, I had to have one taken recently for something at work.  My manager took one picture, and I turned to leave.  She asked if I wanted to see the picture first, to make sure it turned out the way I wanted it to, and I remember telling her "If I look at it I'm just going to hate it and pick it apart, so just use the one you took.  I'm sure it's fine".

We all have that mean little person in our head...the one who tells us we aren't as good as or as strong as or as smart as.  The one who looks back at us in the mirror in the morning, meets our hopeful gaze that is seeing we're having a good hair day and tells us "Yah, it's not that good!".  The eyes that look out from behind our own at other women and compares us to them starting from the top down..."See?  She's way prettier than you".  The voice that sneers at the new outfit we purchased last week and were so excited to wear, gives us that look and says '...really? You're really going to wear that out? Where people will see?"  

And we listen to it!  Like a child who's put in his place and told he's wrong, we listen to those put-downs and our whole demeanor changes, eyes cast down, smile turned to sadness, and we accept it as truth.

Sadly, I'd say that my self esteem right now at the age of 43 is probably the best it's been in my entire life!  Like most of us, I've been in bad relationships before.  Relationships that tore me down rather than built me up and, like so many of us, started with the very first and most important male relationship we ever have first: my father.  But I've waited a very long time for the relationship I'm in now.  In fact, I knew the moment I saw My Person 19 years ago that he was who I would end up spending the rest of my life with at some point.    And in the same way that I knew this, I also knew I'd be happy.  He's the first man I've ever been with who makes me believe I'm as beautiful as he thinks I am.  We've been together almost six years now and that hasn't changed even a little bit.  He takes care of me.  Not just the outside parts of me like making sure the tires on my car are safe and that the ice is cleared off the sidewalk so I don't fall during bad weather.  He cares for the inside of me.  That mean-spirited voice that tells me my nose is too big, my eyes too squinchy when I smile, and by boobs are too small:  his voice is louder than that mean little person who lives in my head, whose opinion I've listened to for so long.

I think I do this for him too...he's a very talented costumer...I'll have to do a post about the amazing costumes he makes from the ground up, like Captain America and Judge Dredd.  He's just... well, amazing is really the only word for it.  But I listen to his inner voice all the time because it isn't just inner...he actually vocalizes a lot of it.  Now, I can't sew and barely passed Home Ec in high school because of it.  But I know that ripping seams sort of just comes with the territory, especially if you're self-taught.  He has a fancy sewing machine that is so complicated I don't even look at it.  But I'll hear him saying "You idiot!!! I can't believe you did that!  You're so $&%# stupid!!!", and I've actually been shocked to hear out loud what I know goes on inside his head...in his fathers voice.  Lately I've started saying "Hey! That's my friend you're talking about!  Stop it or I'll beat you up!" (to which he immediately justifies his statements with explanations of why they're so well-deserved.  But still...it makes him smile at least.)

I don't know about you, but I'm really going to work on this.  One way I can start is how I deal with compliments (which right now, is not very well).  If someone at work gives me a compliment, I reply graciously.  But I'm guessing it must come off as insincere considering my internal voice is saying "They don't really mean that... they're just being nice".  (First of all, shut the hell up!).  On the other hand (and I might say, quite strangely!), when someone whose opinion I care about gives me a compliment, I generally try to convince them they're wrong.

My Person: "You look like you're losing weight!"  
Me:  "No I'm not...still as fat as ever".
Seriously?!  Why would I do that?  Do I really want him to think I'm fat rather than notice that I might be losing weight?

My Person:  "Wow!  Love the work outfit!  You look fantastic!"
Me:  "Thanks...but these pants are too big and I'm not sure about the shirt..."
Again, "?!!"  What am I thinking?  Why would I not want him to think of me in the best possible light?  I know that he doesn't just make things up with which to compliment me: he's actually noticing my outfit or a change in how my clothes are fitting and mentioning it with all sincerity!  Why don't I take it as such rather than trying to talk him out of thinking I'm fantastic?!

I don't know how much of this is human nature and how much of it is brain damage.  But I do have control over me.  And as much as I'd like to deny ownership of it, that mean little voice in my head is me; I control it, not the other way 'round.  And the same goes for you; you do too.  Dove has made a concerted effort to point this out to us, and we're plenty smart to see its benefit.  We are beautiful.  Every one of us.  How different life would be if we started believing it.