Friday, January 27, 2012

Hey Hey Paula....We finally got to meet!

BLAZER:  Vintage Pendleton..Thrifted, SKIRT:  Leather Wilsons's Thrifted, BOOTS:  Bandolino....had for years, SHIRT:  J Crew hand me down.  

Wednesday was a GREAT day!  I got to meet.  IN PERSON. PAULA of FASHION OVER FIFTY!

There are 3 bloggers that I met almost immediately when I started blogging.  Paula, Terri and Pam.   I've met many more great women since, but these three have been there since the very beginning.  These women have been more than just fellow bloggers; they've been friends.  Paula prods me to get out of my comfort zone and embrace color!  Terri makes me think.  I mean REALLY think and ponder things, and there's also in her, an element of mischievous fun to her.  Like a really staid personality that belies a sharp wit.  Pam reminds me to "redeem the time" move forward toward my aspirations.  How precious to have these women in my life, even if it's just cyberly!

I met Paula at the Starbucks by my apartment.  As soon as I walked up, she ran out and it was as if she jumped off the pages of her blog!  A very Merry Poppins surreal moment!  We sat and chatted for over an hour and we ran out of time before we ran out of conversation.  We talked about EVERYTHING!!!  Family.  Style.  Aging (she helped me out sooooo much with this one!  helped me to see that I wasn't losing my mind!) .  Blogging.  What we love about blogging.  What we hate about blogging.  And to be honest, when she and her sweet husband were driving off, I thought, "MAN!  I wish she lived around here!"

Do you ever wonder, as you read your favorite blogs, "Would I be good friends with this woman if I met her in real life?"  And it's just so cool when you meet one of your closest blog friends and realize that "style" is the LEAST of what you have in common!  That the woman behind the pretty poses and witty prose is not just another pretty face.   She's a kindred spirit!  And that's something to be thankful for!

Paula, I hope this is the first of MANY get togethers!  You made my week!!!  You most definitely are a KINDRED SPIRIT!

Right before Paula got back on the road!

Just like on her blog!


Me right before Paula got here!



Sunday, January 22, 2012

MAINTENANCE: High? or Low?

SWEATER:  H&M, SKIRT:  Thrifted, BOOTS:  Bandolino, SHIRT:  Thrifted, NECKLACE:  Inherited from my mom

When it comes to appearance maintenance, I think the only way I could be lower maintenance is if I were a construction worker.  Here is my regular maintenance:

  • Haircut about once a year
  • No hair color 
  • Wash and go hair with occasional rolling
  • Eyebrows waxed (threaded) about every 6 weeks
  • Manicure maybe once a year
  • Pedicure once a year
  • Make up from drug stuff about once every 6 months.  I probably replace my mascara the most.  Then experiment with a new lip color about once every 3 months
  • Generic moisturizer
  • Aveeno face wash
This is all that comes to mind at the moment.  As I'm looking at this, I'm thinking on the 1-10 maintenance scale, this would probably land me on a 4 or 5.  However, lately, I've been thinking I probably need to step up my game some.  Fact is, I'm not as young as I used to be.  Midlife hormones  make hair grow in the strangest facial areas.  Wrinkles and creases grow faster than hair (and in my case, that's sonic speed right there!)  My long hair quickly goes from elegant to earth mother in a matter of a couple of inches.  And honestly, with just one little chickie left in the nest (our youngest is a HS freshman), I actually have more time on my hands to take  care of myself than when I had 4 young ones at home.

On Saturday, after about a year without a professional trim (I've had my husband lop off dead ends from time to time), I broke down and got my hair cut.  I also treated myself to a new red lip color.  My previous red was far too bright.  After reading what Shey uses, I looked for the same shade, but opted for one shade deeper.  

What do you do for maintenance?  How often do you get your hair cut?  Waxing?  Dye jobs?  Manis?  Pedis?  Do you find that you allow for more maintenance as you age or less?  My next post, I'll tell you what my revised maintenance will look like.  I think I need to crank it up to at least a 7!

By the way, guess what tomorrow is?  VISIBLE MONDAY!!!  So mosey on over to Patti's neck of the woods and check out all the visiblooms and be sure to link up as well!


Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm just a girl....

This is what I wore AFTER I changed out of the leather skirt from the last post!  I was FREEZING!
JACKET:  Doncaster, inherited from my mom (why don't I wear this more?!), SCARF:  gift from my sweet husband, JEANS:  Kenneth Cole via TJ Maxx, WEDGES:  BCBG thrifted, SWEATER: Same as here, GAP thrifted.

Today I read an article about a couple who did not reveal the gender of their child for five years.  It seems that they believe that gender is societally imposed and did not want that for their child.  What was interesting about their choice, however, is that they allowed the child (turned out to be a boy) to choose whatever he wanted to wear with the exception of  "hyper-masculine outfits like skull-print shirts".  He WAS allowed to wear a shiny pink girl's swimsuit though.

How much does the role of gender play in what we wear?  For me, it plays a HUGE part!  I'm a girly girl through and through, albeit, MY interpretation of girly girl (I don't wear ruffles); but still dedicated feminine.    When I get dressed, part of the whole experience is that I FEEL so very womanly.  Whether its the fit, the style, the parts making up the whole; I'm really looking for that feminine experience.

Without forming too much judgment over something that's basically none of my business; this article intrigued me.  We really aren't an androgynous society.  And even when women wear men's wear inspired clothing; they still bring their feminine form to it.  Think Marlene Dietrich.  Known for her penchant for masculine clothes, she was still decidedly feminine!

My mom used to tell me that when I was a little girl, I used to cry when she tried to put me in pants.  I LOVED dresses!  One of my earliest memories was of my sister and I going shopping for Easter dresses and matching purses (another accessory that I've always had a weakness for!).  

I don't remember anyone really TELLING me, "Serene, you're a girl!".  I just KNEW.  A couple of years later, my older sister and grandmother teasingly tried to convince me that I was really a boy, but that my father wanted a little girl so badly that they dressed me up in girls' clothes and pretended that I was one!  I actually BELIEVED them!  I didn't understand at that young age the anatomical difference in genders.  All I knew was that there was a marked difference between boys and girls and I REALLY wanted to be a girl!

Apart from traditional gender roles, do you think it's possible to be truly gender neutral.  To just embrace EVERYTHING?  I don't think I buy this.  Because it seems like all of us break to one gender or the other; either physically or mentally.   

Do you enjoy dressing "feminine" and what IS your idea of feminine dress?  Would love to hear your thoughts on this!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Body Contentment vs Body Happiness

Gap Wool Sweater:  Thrifted, Vintage Leather Skirt:  Thrifted, BCBG Wedges:  Thrifted, Bangles:  Thrifted

See this body?   It's not the smallest it's capable of being.  It's true!  Through really vigorous exercise, I've gotten myself down to a size 6 and at my smallest, was even trying on some size 4s!  All the while weighing in at just under 140 pounds.  Great accomplishment, right?  I certainly thought so at the time.  In fact, most of my life has been spent either fretting over my body's size or shape OR trying to break it's stubborn will and suborn it to my idealized mental image of what I wanted it to look like.

When I look back through the years, I can only think, "What a futile life's purpose!"  Because it really was a life's purpose.  Trying to have model thin thighs monopolized my thoughts.  My pants size became the obsession of my brain.  And all of my angst was rewarded by the shear delight of going into a department store and "fitting into" a smaller size.  And because there's ALWAYS one size smaller, my angst was never relieved and my lust for being satisfied with what I saw in the mirror was never sated.

Through that decades long journey, I've come to a conclusion.  As small as one CAN get is probably not where their body's meant to be.  That's why those 10 pounds usually always find their way back on.    We're not failures.  Our body is trying to tell us that we're not SUPPOSED to be that size!  Just because you can GET to a size 2 isn't proof that it's the right size for you.    I could attain a size 6, but maintaining that size would require herculean effort and time.

We hear so much talk about body image and body acceptance.  And that's a GOOD thing.  But it saddens me that it's even an issue at all.  How unfortunate that we put unattainable or unMAINtainable body shape standards on ourselves at all!  For some reason, women (more than men) make such a connection between happiness and the size of jeans we wear!  I certainly did!  And if I'm being brutally honest with you and myself, every now and then that mindset still wants to creep in.  It takes discipline to break the habitual thinking that started in my preteens.

The thing about happiness, though, is that it's usually circumstantially based.  When the skinny jeans fit; we're happy.  When they don't; we're depressed.  When we like what the scale reads; we're  happy.  When we don't; we're blue.  Do you see that pattern?   And we can't even deny it, because how many times do we get dressed in the morning and try putting on something that's not too tight, only to find our day is ruined because we now see ourselves as fat?  I've seen (and been there myself) so many women who step on a scale happy as a clam because they just KNOW they'd be lighter than they were the day before.  And when they don't see the number they were expecting, like a card in the hand of a magician....happiness disappears.

So, while I'm not the HAPPIEST I've ever been with my body (remember how giddy I was over a fleeting size 6!); I'm absolutely the most content with the ol' bod!  I'm content with the fact that I'm strong.  I'm content with larger calves that now hang from my shins like a rotisserie chickens, not dangle back and forth from them like chandelier earrings!  I'm content with my muscular legs, even if they're not exactly small.  They can climb, walk for hours and kick some butt if need be!  I'm content with my poochy tummy, because it reminds me that this amazing creation  that is my body, housed four healthy children!  I'm content with my arms because they're strong enough to embrace my husband and my children in a honkin' big bear hug!

 I'm content with the woman I see in the mirror.  I'm content with this body.  And I've come to realize that  contentment is so much more fulfilling than fickle happiness.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Do you have a dream?

Sweater:  Vintage Jantzen, thrifted, Skirt:  Suede, thrifted, Boots:  Can't remember, Bracelets:  Thrifted

A few months ago our pastor preached on having a vision and going after it.  I sat there in church thinking, "I DO have a vision!"; but was afraid to really follow it.  I knew I wanted to make my thrifting my full time job.  I believe I have an eye and definitely a passion for finding amazing treasures, and I wanted to turn that into something I could do full time.  I also had been wanting, for some time, to be my own brand.  I've been fortunate in that I've had the privilege of helping build up the businesses of others.  But now I was ready to do that for myself.

I wish I could say that I went home, quit my job and took the plunge.  Or at least that, I went home, kept my part time job and BEGAN pursuing my vision.  But the truth is I didn't.  I talked it to death.  I berated myself for being such a pansy.  I was terrified of the embarrassment of failure and I realized that I trusted my employer's business sense more than my own and really, for no good reason.  Simply put, I was all talk and a big ol' chicken.

When we moved, I didn't keep my former job because it was a local business.  So now was the time for me to finally follow my dream.  I was kind of kicked out of the nest because my only other option was to start looking for work.  But I felt like, if I was ever going to do this, right then was the time.  To be honest, it's been WONDERFUL and I'm a little embarrassed that it took me so long.  Within the past couple of months since I've started selling, I've probably sold about 70 items on eBay.   I'm loving what I'm doing and my confidence as a business woman is building every day.

I've no aspirations of building any kind of business empire.  I'm not striving to reach my first million.  I find that the older I get, the less MONEY means to me and the more the people in my life  DO  mean to me.   But being able to help my family out AND be home and available to them is such a treasure for me at this time in my life.  And that fact that I get this while doing something I feel so passionate about, is just a bonus!

I've said all this to say, What's your vision?  What is it that you just KNOW you'd be great at?  If you could spend your day doing ANYTHING you wanted to do, what would it be?  What would your days look like if YOU decided how your time would be spent.  I'll never forget that Sunday when our Pastor said, "Either you get a vision, or someone will get a vision for you" and it's so true!

Now, as I'm finally living my vision, I'm thinking, "SERENE!  Why did you wait so long?!?"  For me it was fear.  For you, it may be something else.  But in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, I want to do my small part to encourage anyone out there to follow your vision.  You can put it off until "just the right time", but usually that time never comes.

Seize the day girlies!  I just know you have some awesome visions!  I'd love to hear about them and I'd especially love to hear about how you're making them happen!  Big love to you all!!

By the way, here are my auctions if you'd like to take a look!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Still blooming, not pining.....

Top Left:  Downtown Apex, Top Right:  Statement Necklace that I DIDN'T buy; but DO think it's really cool!  Bottom Left:  Men's Suit shop, Bottom Right:  My Sweet Baby at Starbucks

Before heading to Apex.  I'm confused.  Is it January or May?!?!

My man, watching the ballgame on Sunday

My kiddos, AKA The Fab Four, having chili on Sunday

I know it's Wednesday and here I am talking about my weekend, but what can I say?  It was a really great weekend!  On Saturday, the temps hovered around 70 degrees which made it impossible to just sit inside.  So here was my weekend:

Walked 8 miles on Saturday (head held high as I type that!)
Got purdied up and went to downtown Apex exploring with my daughter.
Found a FABULOUS bakery and also a tearoom that serves a lunch tea of cucumber sandwiches.
Made myself a promise to take myself to tea!
Came home and fixed dinner.
Went to church.
Came home and made a big honkin' pot of chili (I put coffee and cocoa in it!
Welcomed home my oldest sons (twins) from Wilmington.  They came in to help take my daughter BACK to Wilmington for school.
Lots and Lots of hugging!
Worked out Monday morning with Sweet Baby, and then we explored a bit and found a really great bakery/breakfast place minutes from our house!  (Have I mentioned how much I love living here?)
Sat at Starbucks with my honey bun, did computer stuff and made googly eyes at said honey bun!

Can you tell it was a great weekend?!?!  Although, I'm expecting another stellar weekend this one coming, I try very had to stay "in the moment".  That's so cliche isn't it?  But yet it's also very true.  I've found myself on a Monday morning saying to myself, "Wow!  I can't wait till Friday!"  It was sobering to realize that I was so quick to bypass 5 days every week just to get to 2!  So as much fun as this weekend will surely be, Wednesday's shaping up to be a pretty good time too!  Hope yours is as well!

High fives all around!

By the way, all the above pictures were taken with my iPhone.  I'm completely feelin' it!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Using seduction to get attention...



Shy Biker first blogged about this photo a few days ago, which was the first I had heard about this controversy.  The full story is here, but in a nutshell, this young girl (Sidney Spies) submitted the first photo to the yearbook staff to be used as her senior picture.  Upon rejection of the picture, on the grounds that it was inappropriate for the yearbook, she was asked to submit another picture.  She then submitted the second photo shown above.

As far as I'm concerned, whether or not this is suitable for the high school yearbook is a no brainer.  Of course it ISN'T!  The bigger issue is why do many young girls  go directly for sexualization when vying for attention?  Sidney is a beautiful girl and I'm sure very intelligent as well.  According to the article, she's an aspiring model and wanted this picture in the yearbook to  make that point clear.  According to Sidney, " I honestly think (the picture) describes who I am......I'm and out going person and I really do think it's artistic."   

 Call me a prude, but no, this is not artistic.  This is nothing short of blatant sexuality.  And my question is, in the 21st century, after decades of women fighting to be seen as bright individuals who have so much more to offer society than their bodies, why are more and more young women (and their mothers) allowing themselves to be overtly sexualized?  Sidney is certainly not the first.  There's been Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus and very recently Dakota Fanning on the cover of Cosmopolitan AND in a rather suggestive Marc Jacobs perfume ad that was actually banned in the UK.  Playing the sex card seems to be the quick and easy way to fame.

When we play to quick visual titillation, we sell ourselves short.  We say to the world, "THIS is how I want to grab your attention!  See me as a sex object! "      But is that REALLY how we, as women, want to be noticed?   If it takes exposed skin and an arched back to grab attention, then what does it take to hold that attention?   Stimulating conversation?  A mutual exchange of ideas?  Sharp wit?  Prooooobably not!   It's going to take amping up more of the same visual seduction.  And aren't we so much more than that?  Don't we have so much more to bring to the planet than cleavage and a seductive over the shoulder gaze?  Of course we do!

My message to Sidney, all of us in the sisterhood is this:  We need careful using our sex appeal to gain attention for ourselves.  Because THAT speaks so loudly, nothing else of value that we have to say can be heard.  As Ralph Waldo Emmerson said,  "What you do speaks so loudly, I can't hear what you say."


Sunday, January 8, 2012

I've got all the riches baby, one man can claim...

I really appreciate the comments that all of you left on my last post!  My mind has been racing with things I want to talk about....some just fun and frivolous and others, a little more substantive.  I don't want people to get caught up on the term "lady" because, obviously, that's very subjective.  I think it's one of those ideals in which it's easier to recognize what it isn't rather than what it is. defines lady as "a woman who is refined, polite and well spoken".  Certainly that's unoffensive enough.   It also defines it as simply a woman/female.   I think that term has been subjugated by some who would make it mean something far more narrow than these definitions.  Again, absolutely NOT my intention.  More to come on all of this!  I'm looking forward to exploring more of my and YOUR ideas of what being a woman means to all of us in the sisterhood!

On a separate note, I tried doing my hair in a large bun as instructed in this tutorial.  May I just say, I REALLY LOVE IT!  My husband teased me that I was rocking the BIG hair!  What I felt like was a movie star from the 50s or 60s!  I'll be doing this one A LOT!

So, consider this my "Visible Monday" submission.  Be sure to check out the other Visibles at Not Dead Yet Style and be sure to say hello to Patti!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Art of Being a Lady


My husband and I found a website a few months ago called The Art of Manliness, AoM, Reviving the lost art of manliness.    They have articles such as:

Blacksmithing Basics - How to make a hook
A Resolution Romance - The 52 Lovenotes Challenge
Willpower Part 1:  The Force of Greatness
How to shave like your Grandpa
Bringing Back the Hat

And those are just a few.  I have utterly enjoyed reading this site and it would be an understatement to say that my husband merely "enjoys" it too.  It's a site where men can revel in some "traditional" erstwhile manly pursuits.  Do you think this is sexist on their part?

The reason I ask this is because my husband and I were talking about this and I mentioned that a woman could probably NEVER get away with an Art of Womanliness website.  She'd be accused of setting women's rights back a hundred or more years!    Sometimes, as women, we're uber sensitive to anything that pigeonholes us into what we view as archaic gender roles.

But are we cheating ourselves?  What would we consider "reveling" in being a woman?  Is it any more wrong or misguided for a woman to want to learn the basics of setting a table than it is for a man to want to learn how to shovel snow?  Does it make him sexist because he WANTS to do those things for the people he loves?  Are we trying too hard to be androgynous when it comes to gender roles?  Or perhaps that's the issue, these pursuits aren't "roles" because a role is something placed upon you.   Maybe WANTING to excel, or at least master, traditional feminine pursuits is just embracing the difference between the two sexes.

Because I want to know the correct way to iron, or take up knitting, or take pleasure in decorating my home doesn't mean that I think that it wouldn't be helpful for my own sons to know these things.  It just means that I'm looking for that place where I truly revel in being, not just a woman, but a lady.

Listen, I love that the iconic history of my gender includes Betty Boop AND Rosie the Riveter! I'm not interested in should-ing all over anybody.  But I've got to be honest.  I'm a bit envious when I read AoM.  In a world where women are shrinking to almost invisibility to fit into an industry's standard, it would be a JOY to  escape to a place where my swelling hips are lauded, not laughed at.  Where Mother Theresa is a more vital life coach than Kris Jenner (Kardashian).   And especially where, as we age, we have a greater voice not a weaker one.

You'll be seeing my blog take a turn toward The Art of Being a Lady.  For me, that includes everything from the domestic arts to wise financial investments.  And Sisters, I absolutely WELCOME your input!  I'm not just being polite.  I SERIOUSLY want your input.  I'm going through my head thinking of blogger friends who are truly gifted in various areas.  Right off the top of my head, I'm thinking of Patti with her specialty in counseling, and tenderness she brings to blogging.  Terri, a voracious reader (and educator) who can help me put together a female focused personal library.  Shey, a brilliant seamstress who takes the simplest items and makes the FABULOUS!  Paula, an artistic soul who has so much to say on bringing color to our lives.  Pam, a prolific writer and interviewer who has a passion for revitalizing women who may have lost their life's zest.  Vanessa, another amazing writer who proves daily that gorgeousness isn't pigeonholed into one size; and curves deserve color too!  Jessica, who is decorating her home BEAUTIFULLY on a meager budget through (what she has turned into) the "science" of thrifting!  And I could seriously go on and on.  So many of you are so incredibly inspirational that I can't possibly narrow it down to a finite blog post!

Oh my gosh!  My mind is racing and my heart is pounding!!!  That means I'm on the right track and hitting on something that impassions me!   I'm still going to be doing outfits because, frankly, I think more "thrifty" outfits would provide balance to the plethora of high dollar outfit  posts saturating fashion blogging.  But this direction is something that I've toyed with for a while and I'm taking the plunge!

What does "lady like" mean to you?