The Freedom of Aging: Personal Style

Growing up in the sixties through the mid seventies it was not uncommon to wear home made clothes. In fact, I don’t even remember buying clothes other than under garments until I was a senior in high school. It is possible it happened, but I truly don’t remember. 

Simplicity…Butterick…and Vogue, Oh My!

Every year before school started, my mom and I would pour over pattern books and decide what I wanted to wear that year. I know I got to help plan but my memory is foggy. I wasn’t devoted to clothes and the times were just so different. Even in junior high, a time when conformity is mandatory for survival, I don’t remember comparing my clothes to other people or having to have a certain look. I continued this tradition of making my own clothes right through most of my first marriage. In fact, I didn’t put the machine into time out until after my divorce in 1987. Since then, an occasional hem or repair is all the action that machine has seen. It was time for change in all areas of my life.

Round Body In A Skinny Jeans World

I became a devoted watcher of “What Not To Wear.” I secretly wished that someone in my life would arrange for Stacy and Clinton to surprise me at work, whisk me off to New York and then teach me what to do with my this short, round body I inherited from my Scottish-Irish ancestors. I understand that this body type is designed to survive the harsh climate of the North Sea, but let’s get real…I live in tropical Houston, Texas, how do I make this look good? I watch Outlander and think to myself, in real life Scotland in the 1700’s Claire would not have been a svelte woman. But, then Jamie wouldn’t have looked that good either. But, back to me.

Of course I tried most every diet in the world, but it seemed that no matter my weight and the distribution of said weight, I never was able to dress myself in a way that I felt reflected who I am on the inside. This dilemma led to many different styles through the years until I finally just gave up. I gave up trying to create a persona via my clothing. I think there is something very telling in that last sentence but I don’t wish to dig through that psychological mess at the moment. It was in the giving up that I think I found myself. I had arrived at an age where I accept that I am who I am and I need to make the best of that rather than trying to be something or someone else. As I have said many times, I’m a slow learner.

My Pinterest boards Aging Beautifully and My Style are the places I record visual reminders of what I love and who I admire. I recently logged back in to Polyvore and designed my go to fall outfit.          

Polyvore, like Instagram can be a black hole where people like me fall never to be heard from again. But, it is also a wonderful tool to see what is possible and passively get the shopping experience without spending a dime or being woefully disappointed by what is looking back at you from the mirror. In this fantasy can look just the way I want to look.

You can see evidence of my 1970’s Southern California Boho taste in this ensemble. Somethings never change. In a world that seems upside down and backwards, I take great comfort in a little bit of status quo.




The Freedom of Aging: Acceptance

I am about six months away from a major birthday. Forty was fabulous; I freaked out at fifty; and now I’m staring at sixty. 

The Culture of Aging

The American culture is devoted to youth and perceived perfection.  It is an inevitable fact that at some point this earthly vessel will wither and die. So isn’t it a show of honor to the life we have been given to accept, relax and enjoy the journey? Now before any of you are tempted to jump on a soapbox, I am not talking about letting one’s health go to hell in a hand-basket filled with fried chicken, pizza and hamburgers. We should all take the best care possible of our bodies. Eat in moderation, be physically active, and keep our brain and spirit active as well. I’m advocating a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order for the outward appearance of the physical wear and tear on our bodies. Face it, the folks advertising anti aging anything do not have your best interest in mind. They are looking to make money from your fear. We have been given a gift, and I was taught to always say thank you and cherish what has been given to me. 

My Crowning Jewel

Ahhh….my hair. The one physical attribute that I have loved, cherished and obsessed over my entire life. As a third grader I desperately wanted a pixie. I have no recollection of why, probably because my best friend from the third through fifth grade had shorter hair. No amount of pleading with my mom could make it happen. Next I tried asking for bangs. Still the answer was no. My hair and how it was styled took on a whole new meaning in the my life. It represented power. 

Having a drop of Chinese blood in me is the genetic marker I associate with the appearance of my hair. It may not be true, but I’m sticking with the theory. My mom has told me stories of trying to comb out my hair after a shampoo and how I screamed and cried through it all. About once a year she would trim the ends, but that is as close as I ever got to a hair cut. I was stuck with long, thick, straight hair. By the time the early seventies rolled around and I was in junior high, my hair had become my crowning jewel. While friends with wavy hair were using giant rollers or ironing their hair, mine was wash and go fabulous. The length might vary from waist length to just below the shoulders, but that is as close to short hair as I ever got…until the spring of 1976.

I was a senior in high school, eighteen years old, had a job, money, and access to a car. After senior pictures were taken I took the first bold step of my fledging adult life. In one short trip to the JC Penney hair salon I discovered a kind of power I would never relinquish. Fortunately for all concerned I do not have photographic documentation of this step. It lives on only in my mind. The act was far more impressive than the hair cut itself. 

For over forty years my hair has still been the place where I exert control and authority in my life. When I perceive someone or something is trying to control me…I change my hair. Need a change in persona? Color the hair. Now that I am planning for the decade of being stunningly sixty, it is time for my hair to represent who I am today. I remember Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz from I Love Lucy) telling Johnny Carson one time that the secret to her looking ageless is that she never dramatically changed her hairstyle. That clearly has not been my philosophy, until now. Ageless isn’t the goal, authenticity is. 

For ten years I have said that when I turn sixty I’m going to stop coloring my hair. I’m not even sure what my real hair color is. I know there is some gray up there, but that is about the extent of my knowledge. At my current length and rate of growth it will probably take almost six months to have all natural hair again. This coincides perfectly with my birthday. I am ready to embrace reality instead of covering it up. This place in life can only come by paying the dues and doing the time. I am reaping the rewards of many years of life; some of it good, some not so good. So, if these good things come with age, who am I to deny it or hide it? It is time to embrace the freedom of aging. Unlike when I was fifty and I thought I could trick the world into thinking I was younger, I now know better. One look at my neck or hands and it no longer matters what color my hair is…I’m no kid anymore. 

My Hair And Life Lessons

Like everything else in life there are lessons that can be learned from my hair journey. Here are mine.

  • A hairstylist can make or break the next six weeks of your life…choose wisely.
  • There are very few things that a little time and really good product can’t solve. 
  • Hair grows out, life moves forward.
  • You are never too old for a pixie!

Until next time….


Table For One, Please

When do we out grow high school? It took me a very long time to break free from some of the stigmas associated with adolescence. 

I did things kind of backwards. Junior high was a breeze for me. I had a strong circle of friends, got good grades and did well in band. Other than the occasional girl drama, life at Coakley Jr. High School rocked. My first year of high school was in the same town. I didn’t continue in band so I wasn’t as connected but I still belonged. 

Then we moved. We actually moved back to the exact neighborhood where had lived five years earlier. I had stayed in touch with at least one friend so I wasn’t terribly worried about fitting in. How precious and naive of me. 

It didn’t take long to realize that in those formative years I was no longer like the rest of them. I dressed and spoke differently. Apparently I had a Texas accent. Who knew?

Introverted by nature, I became quite insecure around all these super cool California kids. The group from fifth grade had now splintered into several cliques all dominated by one of the original quintet. They were the usual high school stereotypes: the cheerleader, most likely to succeed, band nerd, and the brainy one. And then there was me. I didn’t fit in anywhere. As a result nearly every lunch was spent alone. I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. I think I was quite successful as even by graduation, very few people really knew I existed. 

For years I viewed eating alone in public as a sign that I am a social outcast; a person to be mocked or pitied. I always reverted back to that high school girl who just wanted to fade into the background. 

I broke this curse by forcing myself to go out to lunch by myself. This was in the days before cell phones and at first it didn’t dawn on me to take a book. I was exposed for the world to see. I hadn’t let myself be that vulnerable in years. I couldn’t eat fast enough. I just wanted to get out of there and into the safe anonymity of my car. 

Through the years I forced myself outside my comfortable cocoon and subjected myself to a type of  aversion therapy. 

I went out to eat by myself. 

This didn’t happen until I was divorced and having to learn so much about my grown up self. At first I asked for an out of the way table, so I could be pitiful in private. 
Soon I got to the point of looking up from my food to notice the people around me. They were busily eating and chatting. No one really seemed to notice me. It was then that I discovered a wonderful sense of freedom and some important life lessons:

  1. Most people are busy with their own lives and don’t notice that I am dining alone. 
  2. Being alone and being lonely are two very different things. 
  3. I am really quite good company. 
  4. Never leave home without a book. 
  5. Sheryl, you aren’t in high school anymore. 

And life moves on.