Have you noticed? There seems to be a recurring theme for a lot of people these days. Everyone has a different reason, but the result is the same: when in doubt: reinvent! This happens to be a great idea, if we take the time to think about it without fear. It is a big challenge for me, but I have to admit that it has some allure.
Research conducted in the USA has discovered that we are limited by our imagination. We have an idea of what happened at anytime in our lives and we rarely try to see if it really happened that way. What to do? It’s human nature, it seems. We are set in our ways and hate taking risks. Most of our decisions were taken because they were safe, whatever that means. We craved acceptance, so being different and taking risks, were not really the thing to do. Did you really chose your career or your lifestyle based on your passion? Did you really see the purpose of your life when you started? Some of us did, of course, but they were the minority, trust me. Most of us just chose what was acceptable and practical because we didn’t know ourselves well when we decided. I know I didn’t!!!
Then we hit our middle years. We suddenly realize we have another life ahead of us, we think of the choices we have made and pause. Maybe they were not exactly what we should have done, maybe we played it safe, maybe there is a new opportunity to do it right: reinvent. Perfect, go for it, we say……then, not so fast, we think. What do I really want at this time and is this reinventing worth it?
Doubts creep into our minds: I can’t do that, I’m too old to try this, what would people think, how will my family react, it’s too risky…have I covered every excuse? Maybe you have some others just as important sounding or as logical, you think. Well, we are all wrong! To reinvent ourselves, all we need is the desire to do so. All we need to do is listen! We know ourselves well by now, we have confidence and passion, we know our purpose, we can do this. We are not going to change who we are, reinventing is not changing, we are going to live as we truly are. Not as the world sees us, as our friends and family see us, but as we really are inside. Toss your old self and go for it, I say.
Once you have decided that reinventing is the way to go…..move on with the idea. There is no point on coming to a conclusion and then…just letting the ball drop. Absolutely not the thing to do. You need to step up and make your plan come to fruition. To do that, you need to dare, not easy I do know. Most of us were not brought up by parents that actually preached this. Think back….were you ever told that you needed to take risks? needed to just go ahead and act upon your ideas? I, for one, do not remember hearing this.
Yes, my mother was very positive and always said that we could do anything, we should dream and make those dreams come true, but there was not real encouragement on acting on them! A contradiction, indeed. My maternal grandmother used to say that if one doesn’t jump in the river, how does one know if one can swim!!!! A statement way ahead of her times, but was not a daring soul herself. So much for reinventing; not quite sure my mother listened to these wise words either, even though she was forced into decisions that changed her life.
Now, here is another crossroad and most of us are really trying to do what we feel is right for ourselves….well, some of us at least are trying to. Hand twisting, coming up with excuses, going back and forth over how we should do this. Nothing coming out of this heart wrenching exercise…so frustrating! Dare, that is the only way. It is not a matter of trust vs control, it’s not a matter of trusting others: it is daring to trust yourself. Julia Cameron, teacher, filmmaker, poet, artist, journalist, playwright and composer has said: “Leap and the net will appear“. Can’t think of a more appropriate quote.
Last night, my daughter Camille and I had a girls night-out. We went to my favorite vintage store in Coconut Grove, Sale Rack, they were celebrating their fourth anniversary. It was a complete success: we drank, ate, conversed with new friends and shopped!! When we were leaving, Allison, the owner, told us: “Ladies, remember to empty your closets!!!”. Of, course, she meant that we should look through our closets, decide what we’ll keep and what we’ll toss. She will be more than happy to buy what we don’t want……yeah!
I have been de-cluttering for ages. In my opinion, this exercise is life affirming, addictive and necessary. It helps you feel in control more than anything. As in everything in life, there are different kinds of de-clutter. The easiest, in a way, is getting rid of physical objects. I follow the three adjectives formula: useful, beautiful and loved. Each category is carefully considered before making a decision. I can get tangled in sentimental wanderings and end up with more than I want or can keep. So a bit of ruthlessness is called for.
First things that need a good look-over are those you have accumulated throughout the years. I don’t know about you, but for years I collected things. Adding small boxes, small houses, silver miniatures, until I needed a special display to stored them. There were things, as you can see, without any practical use, except that I loved them. Now, how much did that matter? was it necessary to just accumulate and store? They are now in boxes, somewhere in storage. Need to go over them and toss. One thing is for sure: nowadays I use this simple rule of thumb: if you buy one, toss one. You’ll think twice when buying something you do not need. It’s worked so far.
When I moved, and I have done my share of that, I try to get rid of whatever I feel would not be needed in my new place. Unfortunately, here I come against sentimentality. Should I keep my children’s favorite toys, books, baby clothes? I have been ruthless, but I still have a few of boxes. With a bit of force, I have told my children that once they have a big house of their own…they have to take all this! We’ll see…..I don’t think they take me seriously!!!
Now, clutter is not only the physical things we cherish. Clutter is also emotional: toxic friendships, loose ends, unfinished projects. We cannot and should not forget these. They clutter our lives and rob us of precious time we could use to work on our passions. Here I come against guilt. We want to, but we don’t want the tangled mess we can get into. You know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you? Guilt makes us keep this emotional clutter……Need to let go of that guilty. Really…
Since Camille returned from London, I have been on a de-cluttering mood. Every week or so, I go through my closet, kitchen cabinets, boxes. I give away to charity what I don’t want, I throw out stuff that is not longer usable. I now will take to Allison everything that is in good condition and see what she has to offer. If she doesn’t buy something, she will ask you to donate it to a shelter for abused women. Can’t think of a better place for my pretty things to go!!!
One final thought: clutter blocks the flow of energy into our homes and into our lives. Cleaner and uncluttered surroundings boost our mood. Cleaner and uncluttered emotional state boost our happiness. So, toss and make space for magic to happen in your life!!!
P.S. Trust me, if you live in Miami or are visiting….you are going to love this place!!
Let’s talk about one of the great truths in life: we are the best company. Of course, we are! Unfortunately, women tend to forget this and proceed to be always surrounded by friends, family, co-workers. There is time in our lives for each and everyone of them, but not all the time! Spending time with ourselves will make us more receptive to everyone around us. Believe me!
We feel guilty because we are relaxing or feel uncomfortable because we changed plans. We stress because we don’t finish everything in our to-do list! Women think of everyone else before themselves or say yes when they mean no. More upsetting: we feel uncomfortable with what we have accomplished. It is time to toss that, don’t you think? It is not going to be easy, but the time has come. I think this is a good start: we need to spend time with ourselves.
This brings us to the need for a quiet place, where we can let our imagination run free and where we have control. A place to call our own – room, bed, chair, balcony, garden – anything, really will do. Read, paint, write, listen to music…what we do is our choice, our pleasure. This need is universal and is essential for our well being. It’s taken me a while to realize this, but I am fully aware now.
The realization came slowly, but was welcome. Living in a condo affords less privacy than living in a home. So, from the beginning, it was important to define spaces. Can’t say it was a plan or that it was clear what I was doing. One thing for sure, it felt great! As time has passed, I have realized what a great idea this is. Spending time with myself ( observe that I don’t say by myself ) is now a very important part of my life and it’s about time!!
There is a difference between the two. When we take time for ourselves to pursue what we like, our passions, to do things we enjoy, to relax or to do nothing at all: we are spending time with ourselves. When we are alone and do things we need to do, like housework, we are spending time by ourselves. The first kind makes us feel happier, healthier, better. That is what we need to de-stress, to unwind. I’ve learned that taking time to spend with myself allows me to renew and to heal and gives me energy and peace.
Since I am home most of the day on my own, I have several quiet places. I can read in bed, sit on a comfortable chair watching television, have a glass of wine or tend my potted plants on the balcony. Alright, the glass of wine is mostly in the late afternoon when the park on my small island is full of children playing and the sunset has tinted the buildings a reddish hue. In the last couple of years, my quiet place has, more than once, saved my sanity. Listen and try it, you’ll see what I mean!!!
After months of debating, with myself and others, I have finally taken the big plunge. I tossed the hair color out the proverbial window and, listening to my instincts, I am determined to go grey! Absolutely, you read right. I am going grey and will enjoy the ride.
We all remember the television ads from the 1960s: does she or doesn’t she? Coloring one’s hair was a matter of appearing as natural as possible, never admitting to it and continue doing for as long as one lived. Most every woman of a certain age did and pretended not to. Who did those ladies believe they were kidding? Until what age does one’s hair stay a youthful shade? Apparently, they thought it was a forever thing!
Now, there has always been women that colored their hair. Egyptians were the first to used hair color: a rich reddish tone achieved with henna. In Ancient Greece, hair color was very popular. Noblewomen tinted their hair red, middle class women colored their hair blonde, and poor women colored it black. Roman matrons used anything from henna to saffron to beechwood ashes. It was never an easy process and there were many mishaps, burned scalps and such. In the Middle Ages, hair color was widely used and women kept their recipes a secret. I seem to recall reading about Lucrezia Borgia’s hair coloring recipe: dried dregs of white wine with olive oil combed through the hair then sitting in the sun until it dried. It was supposed to give you beautiful golden tresses and awful headaches! Through the ages women have used cinnamon, as well as lemon juice, chamomile and marigold.
So, the fact that women today dye their hair in every color and shade is a long and very cherished tradition. I have been doing it for years. At times, I didn’t remember what color I started with! We will not go into the different stages, suffice to say that when we moved to Miami ten year ago, I decided to go blonde. Not the kind you achieve with a lengthy hair salon process of highlights and lowlights and all that mess. Slowly, I became a blonde, of course I had help once in a while from professionals, but mostly I did it myself. I applied a lighter shade every time my roots showed and kept my hair rather short. Went to the pool and let the sun help the process. It worked and I loved it!
Being blonde did not come without the usual mistakes, the shade was not always the same, too light or not light enough. I figured this happens with any color and to everyone. As for having more fun, that is a matter of opinion. Overall, I enjoyed the attention….until everyone accepted the fact!
With everything we do, every change we make in our appearance, we can hit a plateau. I got tired of the coloring, the retouch every couple of weeks. Then my hair started to fall. All sorts of tests were ordered. My endocrinologist was sure it was my thyroid (it was!!!) and I was put on medication. The hair continued to fall, it was thinner and thinner. I was not very happy. A decision had to be made since my hair fell even more on the day I colored it. Hairstylists tell you that is not supposed to happen…whatever. I knew what I saw every time I touched up those roots. It was time for another change.
I tried a couple of times, but gave in to my husband and daughter’s reasoning: “you are too young to go grey/gray”, “why are you going to do during all the time it would take to grow the color out?” and so on and on. This time I was determined. About six weeks ago, September 2nd, I colored my hair for the last time.
I was traveling to Panama to see my mother and, why not?…I was not going to be socializing for three weeks. Perfect. While there, I had very light highlights done. One of my sisters loved it and said it looked great. I could pull it off, she said. The other one is waiting for results. Neither one of them will join me in this experiment!
I am doing fine, so far. Have not had an urge to dye my hair….yet, but every time I go to the beauty salon everyone tries to convince me. Most of my friends have not seen me, but the ones that have are mostly supportive (they would not do it themselves, though!). They cannot understand why I am doing it….but I know. It was time to toss that bottle and listen to my inner grey panther. I will go grey without letting myself go. After all, look at Helen Mirren and Christine Lagarde. Will keep you posted!!
I am not good a taking selfies, it seems….but you get the point. This is how it looks at the moment!
As I closed my last blog, turned the page, sort of speak….I promised myself I would start another and be more positive. Actually, this is what I wrote: It’s a new era, a new dawn…..nothing dramatic or earthshaking…just life changing!!!”
It took me a while, but here I am. Had to come up with the idea to anchor my blog. The fact is that we have been daughters, wives, mothers, friends, lovers, caregivers. We have done everything required of us and more. We have put our dreams and our goals on hold for family and friends, husbands and lovers, aging parents and demanding children. What have we got in return? Well, some would say we have the satisfaction of having done our duty. Or we should feel at peace with ourselves. All that is good and personally rewarding, but don’t you feel sometimes we deserve better? don’t you feel we have the right to expect some palpable recognition? I do…..Sorry, but we are human and there is nothing wrong with that. I am not going to wait to get it from others, I will make my own reward. So here it is…
Let’s be realistic. In my age group, we have more years behind us that we have in front of us. Unless there is a medical development I do not know of, we are not going to live another 50 or 60 years! Then, we have to put our foot down…we will live the rest of our lives as we want. It will be marvelous! Do what you always wanted to do…why not?
Go places you wanted to visit, even if it is the museum in the next town…….travel farther if it is possible. Remember when you wanted to take a cruise or walk at night along the Seine, or spend time in a Tuscan town, an English village or a Caribbean beach? Well, do it! why not?
Were you interested in painting, photography or pottery making? Do you think you want to explore your artistic side? Go for it! There are classes and groups and clubs that encourage all those things, right there in your city or town. I have a friend in Maryland who just had her first photography exhibition in Annapolis. So you see….why not?
Do you keep journals? why not publish your memoirs? We all have something to say, share your experiences. Do you think you can tell a story? or have you been told you are a storyteller? why not put that in writing? It is so easy nowadays to get your work on the internet. I wrote a book and started a blog at an age when others are thinking of retiring. So, why not?
Have you been called the life of the party? do your friends laugh out loud at your witty comments? Start a blog, share your wit and your humor. Remember, laughter is the best medicine and is side-effect free! Gather your thoughts and start writing! People love to be entertained. So, why not?
Do you love to cook or have a knack for organizing events? are your parties always well attended because nobody wants to miss them? Do your friends ask you for advise when buying clothes? Do you get compliments about your garden or your home? Then consider doing this….a hobby that can bring an income! Besides, if you love it, you’ll be great at it. So, why not?
Now, whatever you decide to do, do with flair, with passion. These are the best years of your life because the only person you have to please now is you! Go out and get the most out of the rest of your life!!! WHY NOT?
To achieve this, I think I have come up with a formula: TOSS and LISTEN.
TOSS: so important to leave behind anything that will impede progress. Get rid of things that are not useful anymore, be it casseroles or relationships that drag us down.
LISTEN: more important still is to open ourselves up to the new, be it attitudes, opinions or friendships.
This is my why not way and I will share my progress with you. Hope to see you here often and hear from you as well. Let’s Toss and Listen together!!