In pursuit of youth

Nora Ephron (American writer and filmmaker, sadly deceased and most famous for writing ‘When Harry Met Sally’) wrote some really enjoyable essays on being a woman and ageing. If you haven’t read them I recommend getting a copy of ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman’. These essays made me smile as they eloquently described some of the struggles and frustrations we all face as we age. The disappointment of looking at our sagging faces in the mirror and not quite believing the ageing process.

To cheer myself up I regularly remind myself, and anyone who will listen, that I am the same age as Kylie Minogue. This gives me some hope that if I put in some effort I could look much much better (although I do not have access to a team of stylists and make up artists….not yet anyhow).

I am reminded of the Nora Ephron book as I take delivery of my latest order of products from Healthspan which I am hoping will propel me backwards into youth. I am a bit of a supplement junkie, always searching for the product that will give me a boost of vitality and beauty.

This time I am trying Soy Isoflavones to replace some of my rapidly declining oestrogen (or estrogen to my lovely readers from the US). I was also hoping for great things from a tube of ‘Instant Skin Perfector’ which is enriched with phytoestrogens and is slightly tinted.

Can’t really comment on the Soy Isoflavones yet, but I am quite pleased with the cream. The effect is very subtle ( I put some on half my face and asked my husband to tell me which half… which he got right. He is a very patient man!) It makes my skin tone more consistent and minimises pores, but does not cover the skin. A good base for make up.

If I feel guilty about treating myself I remind myself of Nora Ephron who always bought her favourite, extravagant lemon bath oil (Dr Hauschka) because..well why shouldn’t she?

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The Big Life Tune-Up: Part 1

 

Although I am a new and inexperienced blogger, I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying it and thanks to anyone who is reading. I still find it amazing that someone on the other side of the world can read my random ramblings! However far apart we live, we all share the same problems and experiences.
So in preparation for my eldest son leaving home to go to university, I have decided to tune-up my life in four key categories:

1. My looks and style
2. My career
3. Future plans for income and location
4. Fitness and health

So here is my progress so far on Part 1. Firstly, I have severely edited my wardrobe using the Project 333 philosophy. The idea is that you choose 33 items ( excluding underwear and nightwear), but including accessories. These 33 items are swapped/reviewed every three months. Everything else is sent to charity shops or packed up and put away. This has definitely simplified my life. There are fewer clothes to consider each day which I find refreshing. It is a joy to have an uncluttered wardrobe. In addition, I have set some rules for myself that each day I must: put make-up on ( only the fresh-face of youth can get away with no make-up); wear some jewellery or a scarf ( I tend to not bother with accessories) and do something with my hair ( it is a stranger to the hairdryer). I am getting there, but finding it hard to accept that I must spend more than 5 minutes getting ready. I am a very impatient person! Also, I will need to give some thought to how to avoid middle-aged blandness when choosing new clothes in the future. It is quite a challenge,  but there are some great blogs out there full of ideas for a stylish midlife. I love to be inspired by Alyson Walsh’s ‘That’s Not My Age’ and many others.

The optician also stands to benefit from my style edit as I am going to attempt to ditch the glasses and get used to contact lenses once again. I have never managed to crack the “glamorous with glasses” look, rather I look sensible and boring. However, if the contact lenses give me blood-shot eyes then I will at least look as if I lead a more interesting life. Still not sure how to create an overall ‘look’. Is 49 too old for Punk?

 

Tune Up part 2 coming soon……

 

What is style?

 

Style is elusive and intangible. What is it really? How can two people wear virtually the same clothes ( such as jeans with a Bretton top) and one looks stylish and the other looks sensible and mumsy? It is a mystery to me which is why I am the one who looks mumsy rather than sexy. Perhaps it is the small things (that I usually forget)… jewellery, interesting shoes, a stylish bag, belt, sunglasses and a little dash of attitude. Yes, that must be it. It is the salt, pepper and spices that I am missing. The one or two little extras that add some interest or mystery to an otherwise boring outfit. There are so many considerations when re-vamping the wardrobe. For me the outfits need to be practical and wearable, but how to achieve this without being mind-numbingly dull? I have all the basics…T shirts, jeans, jumpers, but the total effect is usually completely forgettable and non-descript. Fashionistas, how do you do it?
Getting stylish is the first challenge in my ‘Big Life Re-tune’ and this is going to be tough for me. Thankfully there are some great blogs out there to help me spice up the blandness of my wardrobe. Here goes….

Learning to let go

In ‘My Family and other Animals’ Gerald Durrell described his brother, Larry, as a blonde firework who explodes ideas in other people’s minds and then takes no responsibility for the consequences. This has always reminded me of my eldest son who is so full of energy and is always bubbling over with new thoughts and ideas. He is now 18 and will be leaving home in September to start university. I can hardly believe how the years have shot past and my own blonde firework will shortly be leaving home. I am not fully prepared for this change and am slightly worried about how I will cope. To preempt any possible fallout, I have decided to develop some exciting plans of my own so that it doesn’t hit me too hard- and also so that I can let him go with joy and not be a needy mother. If I am suffering, then he mustn’t see it because this is such an important and happy milestone for him with so much to look forward to. We are all responsible for our own happiness and should not burden other people with our woes. If there is not enough in my life once he has gone then it is my problem to fix. So my big summer project is to tune-up my life. This is huge and exciting and falls into four key areas:-

My looks and style
My career
Future plans for income and location
Fitness and health

So, part 1 coming up…not sure where this is all going to lead but it should be good!

Reclaim your Va Va Voom

I was talking to a friend today who is going through the menopause. Apart from random feelings of rage and despair, she also feels totally unattractive, even though she is beautiful.  I have a lot of empathy with her. It is very difficult to feel attractive as you age and succumb to middle aged spread. Your body changes. Skin starts to hang rather than spring back and a flat stomach is a distant memory. The interesting thing is though, that I see women far bigger than me, who obviously feel attractive regardless of the love handles. Somehow, despite not conforming to the standard media images of women that we see in magazines, they feel attractive and this somehow radiates from them. So how is it possible to overlook our flaws and feel sexy again?

Esther Perel From Psychologies magazine tells us that attractiveness is a state of mind rather than a set of physical attributes..
“Beauty is a state of mind, feeling sexual is a permission you grant yourself”
So how do we change our state of mind?

It is impossible to feel sexy without feeling confident. So identify all the areas of your life where your confidence is low. The most obvious might be your body, so dedicate some time each week to how you look. This is time for you. Look at yourself in a mirror from top to toe. Which areas need some attention? Hair? When did you last have a new style or colour? Face. When did you last update your make up routine. Can you book a makeup lesson at a department store? How about a facial? What about your body? Freshen it up with a salt scrub and some new body lotion. Remove all surplus body- we are going for siren not cave woman. Hands and feet. Get a manicure and pedicure-at home or in a salon. If you’re still wearing clothes that you have had for over 5 years, get rid of them. Styles change and old clothes look dated. All black trousers are not the same..trust me-if they are from the 90s, they look like they are from the 90s! All this is going to be an investment, but it is important. Budget for an overhaul every year. Do an audit and keep your look fresh. Madonna was the master of re-invention and we can all take a leaf from her book! This year I booked a styling session at John Lewis and it was fantastic. I got a new set of clothes and, yes it was expensive, but I have had so many compliments since and I came away with outfits that I would never have been able to choose my self. Investing in yourself will give you a real lift and everyone around you will benefit from that too. Tone up your body by scheduling regular exercise. Give it priority in your diary: walking, running, Zumba…find something and do it! You will feel more toned and energetic. I really recommend a book by Lori Bryant-Woolridge called “The Power of Wow-a guide to unleashing a confident, sexy you”. It is packed full of top tips including having your own signature scent, wearing jewellery, beautiful underwear and being more aware of sensuality all around you.
The other main area where women lose confidence is in their sense of achievement. Women can often lose themselves after years of childcare or putting others’ needs first. Menopause is time for re-invention and feeling successful and valued is an important part of this. It is a great time to re-launch your career or investigate new income streams. This can be a very exciting time. A time to rediscover ourselves. There is nothing sexier than feeling successful and being noticed. Don’t become invisible- reclaim your VaVaVoom, starting right now!