Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Woman in the Glass

This ad for a designer faucet stopped me in my tracks.  I have felt this way most of my life. Well, at least since I first dipped into Little Women, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and the novels of Jane Austen.  The modern woman peering at an 18th century version of herself captured my imagination because I have often wondered what it would have been like to have lived in an earlier age.  My romantic notion of being a great heroine from one of my favorite books was later tempered when I matured and realized that most of the centuries I would have selected for myself were before central heating and indoor plumbing.

However, I am still entranced by trailing gowns, chaste courtships and love in other times.  A friend who knows some Hollywood types told me that Sense and Sensibility, the film production of Jane Austen's novel, is considered one of the most perfectly made movies and I agree.  The colors in the film, the images, the language and the loss and regain of love makes for a charming romantic escape to Georgian England.  Who wouldn't want to be Elinor Dashwood, the heroine who finally claims the heart of honorable and handsome Edward Ferrars?

I've discovered that my fancies have continued well into middle-age.  But now they manifest themselves in my desire to associate with courteous and genteel people who still keep their voices modulated when in public.  They manifest in the happy feeling I get when a little boy shyly holds a door open for me.  They manifest when I frequent shops where people are polite and make me feel welcomed.  And in the way I still care about dressing well.

As for love, gallantry in a relationship cannot be overstated.  The night my date helped me into my coat, my heart sang a song I hadn't heard in years.  If there were a puddle, I do believe he would have laid down his cloak for me.  Yes, I know the world is broken and far more complicated than the one the lass in the mirror faced.  And I know the past was not always what it seems to today's romantics.  Still, I reject overt cleavage, crassness, and vulgarity.  Instead, I seek out kind acts and perform as many as I can.  At times I feel like a dinosaur but I don't care.  The woman in my mirror keeps egging me on.

"The Woman in the Glass "

When you get what you want as your struggle for self
And the world makes you queen for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that woman has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or husband
Whose judgement upon you must pass;
The person whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

She's the person to please, never mind all the rest,
For she's with you clear up to the end.
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the woman in the glass if your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of life,
And get pats on your back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears if you've cheated the woman in the glass.
~Dale Wimbrow

Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter Musings

Charity begins at home...and so does kindness.  When I need to make changes in myself, mostly in regards to fitness and well-being, I am far more successful when the changes become a source of pleasure and not torture.  And it begins with being gentle and kind especially when my inner critic is threatening to chastise me.

I reflected recently that any major changes I have made in my life I accomplished on my own.  I didn't rely on any program, facility, or guru...I charted my own course and stuck to it.  And in each case, I had success.  But the precipitating factor was always an abrupt unveiling of Reality which resulted in a quick departure from Denial and that is what fueled my return to well-being.

A friend asked me today how we can begin a health and beauty regimen without a future event, such as a wedding or trip, as a goal.  I wondered how I would do it without any particular motivation.  I decided it begins with kindness and a commitment to ourselves.

For me, I need to get my sleep issues under control again.  Without a good night's sleep, I eat the wrong things and I am too lethargic for exercise.  And no matter what promises I make to myself, the moment I fall short, negative self-talk kicks in and I am once again on the fast track to failure.

Winter is a perfect time for change.  The new year brings a fresh start along with the new pretty calendars.  But we have to give ourselves a chance to ramp up to the new scheme.  Kindness means understanding that our path may lead us two steps forward and one step back and that the real challenge is silencing the malevolent voice within.

I plan on being kinder to myself in my approach to beauty and fitness.  Instead of punishing exercise, I have gone back to yoga.  Instead of sleep aids, I am back to drinking frothy warm milk before bed.  I know I can eat and enjoy salad for lunch and give up afternoon caffeine.  If I need to indulge, I will...but then I will get back on track.  All that matters is trying because trying turns into doing.  And doing it with my head held high will get me there a lot faster.


Inconsequential Miscellany:

~I felt quite sad at the passing of Alan Rickman, one of my favorite actors.  I especially loved him as Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility where his brown eyes held a vulnerability that belied his vigorous regimented past.  And I am gladder than ever that he had the chance to get his girl at last. I never tire of watching him pace in his tall boots as he frets over his beloved Marianne.

~Storyline not withstanding, the clothes in this season's Downton Abbey have been exquisite.  I especially admire Mary's various dressing gowns - one in a perfect Asian print of Wedgwood blue. As well, we were treated to an amazing glimpse of Mary's skivvies as she undressed with lady's maid Anna's help.  As her dress dropped to the floor (for poor Anna to retrieve), her luscious bralett and panties were front and center in creamy lace.  A friend pondered if the internet mighten be lit up with searches for the brand.

~I recently wrote an article about upgrading one's at-home loungewear for the cold stormy days ahead.  Our model above is wearing a long cozy cashmere robe as she begins her New Year's beauty regime.  Here, I leave you with other choices to inspire (most impractical...all lovely):

Friday, January 15, 2016

Better Days Ahead

Many years ago, a friend whose life I thought perfect, let me read a card her husband had given her.  Inside was a simple handwritten line:  "Better days ahead".  As I was to learn, my friend's marriage had been in desperate trouble for a long time and with a small child to raise, she and her husband were trying marriage counseling to see if things could be put to right.  The three straightforward words sounded more like a promise to me than a wish and after I heard the story of their unraveling marriage, I thought it a truly hopeful sign, perfectly penned.

Winter has always been a favorite season, but this time around it has come with a flurry of sad things:  a friend's father died suddenly, loved ones have been plagued with difficult challenges and someone I care about is having a big surgery.  Now, a person on the periphery of my work world has taken his own life - a young father.  It seems as though the universe simply held its breath until after the holidays and then let it rip.  It has been very dark, too...the darkest of January's.  And snowless.

There have been recent nights when I went to bed feeling nothing but aching compassion and love for everyone I know.  Along with the prayers on my lips, I dared to send hope to that secret place of magical thinking where pain eases and tragic spells are broken with good deeds.  But instead of doing things for strangers and loved ones and using it as a fervent bargaining tool, I discovered that no matter what the outcomes, it always makes sense to be kind.  Afterall, as said best by the author, mystic, and irascible fellow human being known as Mark Twain, "...everyone we meet is carrying a heavy burden".

Snow is still not on the forecast and the darkness is too low for even one starry glint from above. But as I continue to support the troubled people in my realm, I do believe there are better days ahead.  We need only wait.  With loving kindness for each other.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

On the Twelfth Day of a Feminine Christmas

I love this elegant image of a woman in a Christmas green knit dress sitting with a friendly reindeer.  The deep forest green and red shoes (and hair) make for a lovely Christmas picture.  It alludes to a rich deep plaid of beautiful red, green, and gold.  A friend and I discussed today whether we are comfortable wearing tartans after Christmas and we both agreed that deep Christmasy plaids are best left in December.  I would happily wear a pink or baby blue plaid in winter, however.

My nose has been buried in a book I received as a gift called Tartan, Romancing the Plaid.  Being Scottish, tartans have a place in my heart and my grandparents had many tasteful touches of it in their wonderful home - plaid ribbons to hold places in books, a plaid tin picnic basket, and a few tartan pillows with lace.  In reading the book I learned the distinction between a tartan and a plaid but here I will interchange the words.

There is an inherent nostalgic mystery in this unique banner of fashion and home decor.  A simple tartan tie or pleated skirt is a fiery expression of the ancient lore of plaid.  And when plaid is used in the home, at least for me, it is an exuberant expression of belonging.

Our family's plaid is a surprising blue and my grandmother made sure we knew it was ours by sewing skirts and dresses in the tartan for us.  But she also created clothes using traditional red tartans as shown in the pictures below.  My niece and my daughter are each wearing the jumpers my sister and I wore years before.

I hope you enjoyed my Twelve Days of a Feminine Christmas and I appreciate all your kind comments very much.  More as January progresses...

Friday, January 1, 2016

On the Eleventh Day of a Feminine Christmas

This image says "New Year's Day" to me.  Perhaps it's her pastel coat and floral muff.  Perhaps she has done what I do which is to put away my fall colors and hues and bring my icy pastels to the front of the closet.  It's fun to have one's wardrobe mirror the frost and pale skies outside.

Do you watch the news?  I've eliminated most of it from my daily round.  Last night I did hear there was a terror threat in Rochester, NY, where a best friend lives.  One cannot entirely escape the events happening in the world today.  I am trusting that when I need to know something I will be told somehow.  But I still must go to work and function and so for me, I have stopped watching news programs.  Ditto, reality TV and anything about celebrities.  I prefer to spend my spare time reading and watching uplifting things that keep my spirits buoyant so that I can bring my small light to the world.  Who knows -  my "light" may actually be making a difference to someone and if it gets extinguished by news overload, how will I help?

I like to think this blog may be a beacon to some readers out there.  I really do ponder the things I write about and then my thoughts somehow meander right here to this page.  I admit to being stumped about what to write sometimes and I fear some readers may think I am naive because I do not bring world events to the blog.  Believe me, I take the events of our world very seriously and as a sensitive person, I could go overboard with empathy and it could consume me if I let it.

I believe our lovely lady in rose is about to embark on a journey to a New Year's house party at a friend's - just as I am about to do today.  And once there, I will be convivial and glad.  Glad because it is a holiday today - the very first of a brand new year.  And I don't think I am being pretentious to think that I may make someone else feel nice or ease their pain or make them laugh.  Edith Wharton once wrote, "It was an inner glow of happiness (that made the difference)...and it shone through like a light under ice"...

I shall leave you with that.