Friday, February 19, 2016

The In-Between

I have long adored J.M. Barrie's tale of Peter Pan and was delightfully charmed when Peter said he would wait for us between sleep and awake - the space where dreams are remembered and love is endless.  My brother called that drowsy spot BooBoo Land, a cozy suspended state between dual worlds.  Anyone who has experienced anesthesia may well know that warm and fuzzy place too. But as I found out recently, there is nothing warm and fuzzy about an in-between land where one waits for medical test results.  Scary medical tests.

Helping a loved one cope in the medical In-Between is as good as residing there yourself.  You want to take away the pain, the want it to be you and not them.  The endless "what-if's" expand and seep into every crevice of every thought...until the mind is bubbling and spouting like spreading lava.  Or perhaps I should just say I understand the phrase, "waiting to exhale" like never before.

My dear sister and I were in the In-Between for several weeks.  I'll stop here to tell you, she's going to be fine.  But the not-knowing nearly did us in.  And it got worse until it got better - to make it even more agonizing, we dealt with an appalling number of apathetic medical office staff, dropped phone calls, a doctor's sudden vacation was hell.

One night, I googled "how to cope while waiting for medical test results" and surprisingly found something called, "A Healing Prayer for a Sister Awaiting Medical Tests Results".  It was sweetly comforting and genuine and I shared it with my sis.  But there is no really good information on coping with life in the In-Between although I know it's a place nearly everyone gets to visit.

Throughout, my sister and I did learn a few things.  Numero Uno is that one must have hope however that manifests itself in your life (i.e., the found prayer).  Next, I would be careful with whom you share.  I cannot tell you how many people responded with an immediate "Yikes!" when I described what was going on.  I'll be very careful next time.  As best as one can, sticking to a routine is helpful as well as ice cream - the creamy full-fat kind.

In the end, my sister found out she will be made as right as rain.  The relief was immense.  And because she had been suspended for so long, she was exhausted.  So yesterday, she took the first flight out of In-Between and landed in BooBoo.

With love...I met her there.

PS:  Would love to hear how you coped on your trip to the In-Between.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Warmth of Winter Perfumes

Winter is a heady time for the senses:  frosty cold, pristinely white landscapes, soft cashmere, the glow of firelight, comforting soups, and rich warming perfumes.  Choosing fragrances with opulent spicy undertones mirrors our cravings for soothing restoration during nature's most savage season.

Here in the Northeast, we are having a spate of ice, snow, and ultra-cold temperatures.  The stress of commuting and constant treacherous walking and shoveling, has me turning to my favorite just-for-winter scents which enrap me in cheer and comfort.  Burrowing into my scarf on my way to work and inhaling a warm ambrosial scent puts a heartening lilt into my winter day even knowing that I will have more snow to contend with before my evening commute home.

Don't be charmed by the fresh spring scents that are popping up in department stores now.  I promise there will be time enough to choose those breezy scent sisters when the light returns in earnest again.  For now, reach for deep and evocative forest-like perfumes with calming accords. If you live in the Northeast, you're going to need it.

Here are my favorite winter perfumes, all mysterious and all with the potential to make others want to nuzzle.

Chanel 5
Prada Candy
Tuberose Gardenia (technically a floral, but with a powerful richness that clings to coat linings, sweaters, and scarves)

What winter perfumes are warming you?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Valiant Fight for Glamour

When I was newly single, I became a docent at a wonderful historic home that was rich in costuming.  A lovely elderly woman managed the volunteers and when she found out about my divorce she took me aside and said, "Now the world is your oyster!"  I knew she meant that I could make different choices, try new things, explore, have freedoms I never would have had as a wife. Over the years, I have come to see how very right she was.

If it were not for my divorce, unwanted though it was, I would not have found my dearest friends, begun a writing career or have even written this blog.  I would never have been able to discover so many wonderful things to be passionate about.  I've been finding "oysters" for years in places like my daily train ride to Boston where I conducted a private three year self-study of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and in a bookshop where I found my forever muse, the 18th century Mrs. Delany.  I have been able to read and contemplate and then incorporate others' truths into my own life from those I admired in the books I never would have read as part of a married couple.  And my single life has been all the richer because of it.

My latest oyster is the now-forgotten teenage designer, Emily Wilkens.  Miss Wilkens fell into clothing design when her charming illustration work in the 1940's was eventually noticed by a few Hollywood stars who then asked her to make clothing for their children.  Before long, her style aligned with young teenage girls who loved her easy-going pretty clothes.  Miss Wilkens' focus on the young set may have actually ushered in the youthquake of the 60's.  Her resulting book about teenage grooming called "Here's Looking at...You!" has a charm school quality written from a big sister to a little sister, with advice to begin a "valiant fight for glamour".  Miss Wilkens believed that all teenage girls could look wholesome AND glamorous and proved it by designing the first little black dress appropriate for a young miss.

The advice I love most from Miss Wilkens is to "ease into your clothes...make them part of you".   I know that when I feel my best, it's usually because I am wearing something beautiful and luxurious but delightfully simple too.  Clothes like this make one forget what's on their back and just enjoy life.  That's the beauty of fashion done right.

The picture above is of Emily Wilkens in one of her own designs.  Note the brooch tucked into feminine and gently flopping bow.  Later, Miss Wilkens became a spa and beauty expert and always maintained a happy youthful insouciance.  I simply cannot get enough of her.

Emily Wilkens' suggestion to keep jousting for beauty and style is something I take seriously.  Many people lament that no one dresses well anymore and there is truth in that.  In a world where yoga pants are worn all day and pajamas are allowed in restaurants, I'm going to continue to fight the good fight against all that's base and banal.  I mastermind the narrative of my life by wearing my best clothes with as much elan as I can find in the far reaches of my jewelry box and scarf drawer.  My valiant fight begins again every morning.