Monday, 31 August 2015

The Best Laid Plans

 I went out dressed like this, actually rather hoping to be INvisible.......

                         Posing secrets:  If dying plants are not available use cat toys as props.

I had Sunday planned out.  I was going to a favourite cafe where I would treat myself to brunch and an Americano, settle into my favourite corner and read blogs.  I did get to the cafe and I did have a nice brunch and coffee.  But I didn't even get my laptop turned on.

There was a young man sitting in my favourite spot but the table next to him, which is almost as good, was available.  I slid into the bench seat and aplogised for crowding into his corner, thinking perhaps I should explain that I need a corner, since there were plenty of other empty tables in the room.  He smiled and indicated that this was fine and that normally he did not choose the corner but it had been his only option when he arrived.   This should have been my clue that perhaps I was not dealing with a kindred spirit, a corner seeking introvert, but an extrovert who'd had to make do.  I am not sure how it happened but it came out almost immediately that he was writing fiction.  His laptop was open on the table and perhaps I politely asked if he was writing something or perhaps he just told me.  I don't recall but I do know that I found myself saying, 'oh I write too'.

Immediately he wanted to share his work with me, and I felt awkwardly for a moment that perhaps he thought I was an actual published writer, an expert but I just smiled and said, "sure, yes I'd love to hear what you have."  He explained that it was more of an outline, plans, descriptions, because it was fantasy and he had a whole world and its creatures to invent.  I listened to him read and I took in most of it, though the Sunday musician at this cafe is rather loud.  I made appreciative and encouraging comments which I do not recall and then somehow we were deeply involved in a philosophical discussion.  He was full of ideas, examples from history, quotes, bits of knowledge and facts that he seemed to have stored away, encyclopedia-like, in his brain.  I certainly did not agree with many of his points but he talked quickly, threw out his historical examples which I was not equipped to debate and so the best I could do was to constantly question his theories.  At times it was a challenge to take them all in and at first I was a bit intimidated.  Eventually I discovered that there was a great deal of bafflegab going on.  Like a good politician he did not answer my questions directly, but went off on tangents with more historical examples, Ghengis Khan this and Hitler that, Aristotle said.... and so on.

Some of his opinions and ideas were offensive to me but then I too have opinions that would offend some.  We managed to keep it a friendly debate/discussion though at times it was difficult to tell if we were in agreement or disagreement.  I blame the bafflegab.  Eventually the conversation worked its way to aesthetics, which he seemed to consider frivolous and vain.  Any time I mentioned that different people have different aesthetic preferences so there may be some difficulty agreeing on how to construct a theatre or a town hall in his utopian society, he informed me that no, the best and most perfect people would know that function is beauty.  I maintained that the theatre across the street from us did indeed perform quite well as a building to house a stage and an audience but that I found its appearance left me cold.  This apparently meant that I am vain and have bought into the trap that all women fall into where they think appearance matters.  How I did not slap him at this point I do not know.

Despite a number of annoying moments, I did enjoy the discussion and debate and three hours went by.  As I'd forgotten to put on my watch and had not even gotten to the point of turning on my laptop, I did not know the time.  Eventually I managed to sneak a look at his computer screen and discovered that three hours had gone by.   At that point I was late for meeting a friend and I could see that my cafe acquaintance, whose name I did not even know, would be able to talk forever.  I made my noises and motions of needing to leave and still he continued to talk.  Taking a chance in a small moment of silence I said, "Well I guess we haven't solved all the world's problems yet but it was lots of fun talking to you.  Good bye and take care."  I grabbed my bag and launched myself towards the door.  I am still behind in my blog reading plans but at least I have a story to go along with my otherwise random OOTD picture.

                                Let's randomly look at a different  corner of my home. 

There is actually a reason for showing this photo.  This is a very ordinary outfit.  Although I am wearing four different colours, they are subtle ones and the grey of the cardigan and the denim are usually read as neutrals.  It's just a tee shirt, cardigan and jeans along with my favourite shoes and a favourite necklace.  I feel as visible as I wish to be.  I do not feel invisible or more accurately I do not think about whether I am visible or not.  I am just happily myself like this and I suspect confidence prevents invisibility.

I hope to link up to Patti's Visible Monday more often this Fall.  If you want to visit some past Visible Monday's go here.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Personal Style and Home Decor

Does your home decor match or jibe with your personal dress style?  Sometimes people have homes that surprise me given their personal appearance and they psychology of that interests me.  I wonder if one of them is not a true expression of the real person, if the home is reflecting a great disparity amongst the people who live there, and thus much compromise, or if the person has two distinct style preferences.  It could be a budgeting preference as well, with money and effort put into one but not the other.  I have been through times in life when most of my home decor was hand-me-down or good enough second hand purchases and did not express my personal taste terribly accurately.

I am mulling over this while I eat scrambled eggs, drink my first coffee of the day and watch the stormy sky out my window.  My attention tends to turn from home style to personal style with regularity.  I can only focus on one or the other and recently my attention is turning back to my home.   There isn't a budget for any spectacular changes, as much as I loathe my kitchen floor, but I've been dedicating some of my limited energy to cleaning out cupboards and really evaluating what I have and what I need.  It's a bit shocking how extra unneeded or inappropriate stuff can accumulate and I aim to be better at not letting that happen.  I will never have a minimalist home decor aesthetic ( or at least it is highly unlikely) because that feels cold and impersonal to me, but I dislike what feels to me like clutter.  Everyone's definition of clutter is different, as is the concept of what is part of a comfortable and happy life. 

I was raised to be conservative and practical about life.  I was raised by people who held onto many things for that just in case moment.  It's called the Depression Mentality, referring to people who lived through The Great Depression and had to make do and mend, do without, and who saw the value in every scrap piece of string or paper.  Two generations past this Great Depression and I still fight off that mentality.  My ex husband has it even more strongly than I do and the clutter of our shared home affected me deeply.  At the same time, as soon as I left that environment and set up house on my own, I was driven to accumulate all the right items that would make me prepared for anything.  I am now the confused owner of three hand saws. 

During this time of establishing myself as a single woman after so many years as a wife, there were other significant changes going on as well.  My body finally made it clear that this particular body with its chronic auto-immune disease was not cut out for employment, and I let a career that is of the type that tends to define you.  I went from being a wife with a busy family life, semi-custom home in a good neighbourhood, an Elementary school teacher and woman with an illness she tried her best to hide, to a single woman with a grown child, a debilitating illness and no employment.  I lived in a rented apartment and had taken less than my legally alloted 50% of the shared posessions because I was moving into less than 50% of the shared living space.  I accumulated things at a somewhat shameful rate, building a new nest, anchoring myself into it with the weight of possession, experimenting with living according to my tastes and  mine alone.

Eventually, after gaining weight due to ten years of extreme stress and illness and not paying much attention to my clothes, I began to pay attention, to want to dress with some style that expressed who I was at that moment, and I also began to lose the weight.  I lost 30 pounds, in addition to the 180 pounds I shed the day I moved out of the marital home.  I had a new body to dress, but it also felt like my old body.  It was like getting the original me back and I was excited to dress it. But how should I dress it?  I wanted to express my newest self, I had the freedom of being able to wear anything I wanted because there was no dress code in this new life.  I've always had an aesthetic preference for dramatic, artsy, boho, colourful, creative things and I was experimenting with that in my home so it was time to put it on my body.

I wanted very much to shed the more traditional and conservative guise that had covered most of my life. It did not feel like the best fit but something more forced on me, what I had been taught was good taste.  I did not want to be boring, or typical or look like everyone else.  I did not want the pearls and twin-sets wardrobe any more either, although that did not look like everyone else in my environment except my immediate family.  I come from a long line of very tasteful dressers, and I did not want to be tasteful, I wanted to be creative and different.

On this journey I learned a few things and almost came full circle.  Not quite, as my home has a definite bohemian-style spin on traditional but my style of dressing myself has settled into something much less dramatic, colourful and creative than I had originally aimed for.  How and why did that happen?  It turned out that I can admire and appreciate certain aesthetics but not live with them, and particularly not live with them on my body.  While in my home I will never be a minimalist, my style of dressing is heading towards a more minimalist expression that I had expected.  I had not taken into account comfort when I thought about what I liked.  I had only considered appearance.  I learned much about my physical and emotional comfort in my clothing experiments and I confirmed that while I am a creative person I am not a dramatic person, I am not bold and I am not seeking to stand out.  I am seeking to feel authentically me, to look good but for people to see me and not the clothes.  If they do not see me at all because my style does not stand out, I am quite comfortable with that. 

My artistic expression is very colourful and bold and that seems to be enough for me.  I paint the style that I cannot wear and  I live in a home that also expresses a style I cannot wear.  I use the word 'cannot' as an emotional thing.  I cannot feel relaxed and comfortable in a dramatic outfit.  It exhausts me to have to perform a role that my clothing dictates and that is not what personal style should be about at all.  I did not want to look boring because I am certain that I am not a boring person.  You may think differently if you have actually read to this point in my essay!  I thought that in order to not seem boring I must not appear boring or dull or simple.  I have changed my mind.  If you meet me, I do not want you to remember what I wore, but who I am, how I made you feel, what I said, how we laughed together.  If you do not care to meet me because I do not look interesting, well that's just fine with me.  I don't have the energy for a lot of people in my life.  I prefer to give my best to a limited number just as I prefer to pour my creative expression into my art and to my home.  You might wonder at the three, home, self, art, not seeming to match up.  Or you might not.  You might not be an excessive thinker like I am.

The storm that was approaching when I began to write this is now raging.  I sit here feeling very much at east in a pair of jeans and a favourite white tee shirt.  It's a minimalist outfit in line with any you might find in a book or on a website illustrating minimalist chic, but with my own twist.  I am adorned with my typical selection of intricate silver earrings and finger rings.  My toenails are a deep rose-pink colour.  It is simple, personal and feels like home.  I am surrounded by colourful things I love, books are stacked around me, objects collected, purchased and found, paintings, plants and cat fur.  My scrambled eggs were delicious (I always add a little bit of herbed soft goat cheese.)  and I am ready for a second cup of coffee.  In the spare bedroom is an intimidating pile of clothing, housewares and other items that need to be boxed up and sent off to charity.  It took five years post marital separation, but I finally know who I am and it feels good.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Today I am wearing my favourite shorts and blouse combination because it's supposed to be our last nice weather for a few weeks.  I should have ironed or steamed my clothes but I didn't so I am too wrinkled to consider putting my photo on the internet...oh wait...I have put all sorts of unflattering pictures of myself on the internet.  And perhaps wrinkled clothing could detract from personal wrinkles.  It's a strategy worth trying.....

...I forgot that my hair is still damp from the shower.  Oh well, the camera has nicely removed about half the wrinkles  so that's a win.

I'm here to talk about legs and knees today.  I have a tendency to hide mine and I am not putting their relative merits up for debate today.  As with all things, I have better legs than some and worse legs than others.  I do know that, but I struggle not to zoom in on my perceived flaws and I have a tendency to hide myself in clothes.  I cover up as much as possible and could beat any Mormon fashion blogger in a contest of modest dressing.  (Did you know the internet is awash with young Mormon fashion bloggers? I learn such things when I wander the internet)  Now back to my legs.

By the time summer comes around I am not ready to start revealing my legs and it often takes the whole course of summer to get there.  Intellectually (if musing on legs can be considered intellectual) I know this is silly.  My emotional reactions are another thing.  I won't provide you with the list of everything I think is wrong with them but I will tell you I am on a mission to become less modest.  And what better time for that than the stage in my life when I am approaching fifty and get very little exercise?  This is who I am.  This is what I look like.  I am not the slender, muscular, tanned thing I was in youth but so what?  There isn't only one way to be or one way to look good.  I look like ME and that is the very best way I could look.  I'm calling this look boho-minimalism and the pose is called Hey, Check Out My Knees.

Real Life colours:  blouse- soft white, shorts -green, walls- mustard, carpet- beige, scary floors -just as they are.

Posing Tips:  Try standing beside a struggling plant. It makes you look like you are thriving.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Trying to Come Back

Summer tends to be exhausting, with extra social demands which are all catching up to me.  Just when I feel well enough to go out to an appointment or get some groceries, the outing leaves me ready to crawl into bed.   I've been wearing schlumpy comfortable clothes, which are the best thing when your body is sitting on the sofa schlumping more by the minute.  The few times I've gone out I've hated what I wore, made the mistake of washing my hair and ending up too fluffy, and generally gone totally makeup free because, as a young woman in Vancouver kindly pointed out to me, I am too lazy.

If I were a French woman I would never dare to be so lazy, or at least that is what the how to be Paris Chic type websites would have me believe.  I would never present the world with less than my best self.  I have something to say to that and it begins with an F and ends with THAT!  But I admit that if I made an effort I would probably look better.  I'll let you know when looking my best is a priority over basic self care.  Having said that, yes, I do know that making an effort can be part of self care.  So is feeding myself, bathing and getting enough rest so yeah, there is a balance to be worked out there.

I usually make an effort with my clothing but have run out of steam by the time it comes to doing anything to my face.  It has been a long time since I went out looking a tad sloppy but I did recently and it was rather refreshing. Such a rebel, I am!

I started out with this jacket, which is not black though currently my photography makes everything darker than it really is.  The jacket is burgundy.  I liked the shape of it with the slouchy pants but not the darkness with the light shirt, which is actually a softer white than it looks in this photo which I had to brighten and well, as I said, I am having lighting issues.

After rejecting the jacket I threw on my trusty cardi and after seeing this picture made sure to leave it unbuttoned.

I was feeling quite unwell on this day so there is a great deal of faking going on here.

Two days later I had an appointment and attempted to feel a bit more like myself.  There was definitely a hair cooperation (or lack thereof) issue but I can't remember the last time I felt able to do up the whole package.  I put on a favourite dress in order to feel safe going to the appointment.  The cardi is navy, not black.  The dress is not quite this dark and the shoes are red, also not quite this dark.  I decided to give you total honesty and grabbed the heavy bag, book and my glasses which I would truly be going out the door with but usually don't think of when taking my picture.

I know, my whole vibe tends to be college prof of a liberal arts persuasion.

Too tired to get out much of a smile.  I love this dress and have two, in different colours of course.  I kind of wish I'd bought four of them and just lived in them all summer.

I like delicate jewelry but not delicate purses.  I think my body is large enough to pull off a chunky bag and if I pile on the delicate jewelry I am convinced that works too.  I've discovered that while I love the look of chunkier baubles I can't wear them.  (Can't as in not comfortable, don't feel right)

Recently, I decided one evening to experiment with my face.  I wondered what I would look like with dramatic makeup on.  Of course, I don't really own products that would give me a dramatic look so the best I could do was apply my brown eye shadow and mascara more liberally than I normally would.  Lipstick in the right shade always makes me look like I am wearing blush.  I can't imagine bothering to do this daily but I must admit it is probably worth the effort if I am leaving home.  I think it looks nice, though I am sure my version of dramatic makeup would make some laugh.  It feels quite dramatic to me though perhaps that is because it is accompanied by messy hair and a tee shirt. 

I think I needed to do this, just to remind myself that I can look nice if I try.  This is my favourite lipstick shade-too bad it's so drying and starts to flake off. (Revlon Colourstay in Supermodel)

I know, I know, three pics is a bit much.  Just imagine that with each one I am saying to myself "Is that really me?  Let me see that again!"

And in a month I will let poor neglected Jason fix up my self inflicted pixie.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sometimes I Just Want to Live in a Star Trek Unitard

Clothing both delights me and frustrates me and that may be apparent by now in all my bloggy blatherings.  I have spent considerable effort figuring out what I want to wear, what suits me and how to make the two somehow line up, what colours fabrics and styles I'm happiest in, sorted out the stuff I like the look of from what I am actually comfortable wearing, played around with dressing more formally or creatively than required, and generally tried to avoid the casual jeans and tee-shirt uniform that suits my lifestyle.  I have had fun, learned a great deal and am still learning but I see some changes coming.

*While minimalism and capsule wardrobes are not quite right for me, I do crave simplicity.  After having fun playing, I find I do not regularly wish to express my creativity in my clothing.  I want to grab something easy, comfortable and flattering that suits my body, my life and my personality.  I mostly wish to direct my creative energy to places other than my clothing. 

*I know what I want but finding it is not easy and making it is not a likely option.  For this reason I am increasingly interested in having fewer items but willing to spend more money on them than I may have in the past because it's worth it to get the right thing.

*Quality is rarely found in my local thrift shops and I would rather pay for quality, non-fast fashion clothing. 

*On the other hand I am not yet prepared to spend $80 (or even $50) on a tee shirt.

*I am ready, emotionally, to live mostly in jeans, tee shirts, jersey tops, leggings and tunics. 

*I want natural or naturally derived fibres and it is going to take awhile to build up a wardrobe that goes beyond cheap cotton.  I will wear the jeans and tee shirts until I find the right skirt or dress of my dreams in wool jersey.

*There is my fantasy wardrobe and then there is reality-the reality of my lifestyle, my bank account and what is available to me. 

*I need to invest in some light weight warmth layers for winter and it's time to allow myself to spend money on something that is not visible. 

*It's okay to hold onto some of my less than ideal things as I wait to eventually replace them with something better, but I would rather live with fewer options than keep dressing myself in things that don't feel good or flatter me, which I am prone to doing.  This is essentially a re-wording of my first point but it's been a hard one for me to really follow through on so it's worth saying twice.

Here are two outfits that are staying in my closet and one that isn't.

This dress could be better but it is the best I've got for now.  There is something about the design of it that makes my shape look a bit odd, as though I am bending forward slightly and sticking my bum back.  It's some sort of optical illusion created by the seaming at the mid-section which I think perhaps sits a bit too low on my torso.  It's a lovely heavy weight jersey fabric and I love the denim blue colour so it stays for now.

I just can't get the lighting right in my photos lately and colours are not always accurate.  In a previous post my purple dress looks black and in this outfit below the blue leggings also look black. The shoes look darker than they really are too, and are a red to match the dress but almost look brown in this picture.

This  green dress has a flattering shape on me but the fabric is cheap and thin and I have to wear a slip or second skirt under it. It also instantly shows perspiration which is not so good for a pre-menopausal woman.   After wearing this outfit several times I am not as happy with it as I was initially. It did teach me how to aim for a more body skimming shape though, and cost me about $8 so I think I've gotten my money's worth. I abandoned the necklace after taking this picture.

                           I will hypnotise you with my stare and my blinding watch face.

              It ended up being too hot to keep the cardigan on -the cardigan which is also blue and not black as it almost looks here.    It's kind of obvious which outfit I'm happiest in, isn't it? 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Exhaustedly Existing

Hello lovely people.  I am so fortunate to have fallen accidentally into blog land and met such great people.  I am certain that you lurking, silent readers are great people, and I am always so thrilled to read the lovely comments my commenting friends leave for me.

This is one of those brief posts to say I am struggling and might be MIA for awhile.  I try to read blogs and get through maybe one or two each day.  Obviously I am well behind with that sort of schedule.  I am not painting or writing, struggling to read or to cook anything beyond scrambled eggs.  I amuse myself Facebook and Pinterest and then get worn out from that.  I am not always showering or dressing.  TMI?  Sorry. 

I don't intend to be soliciting sympathy or get well comments of the sort I know will inevitably appear here, and thank you in advance for those.  I just want you to know you are appreciated and missed and of course I will make my way back.  It's not that easy to get rid of me!

Best Wishes to all of you.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Hey! I Resemble That Remark

                                     I am a cat.  I am not vain.

I am mortally wounded (sarcasm alert) because I have just read that bloggers are self absorbed, vain, self promoters, and all sort of other words that might suggest narcissism.  (I can never spell that word on my own but I can always spell narcissus.  Why is that?)

I haven't gazed at my own navel in at least a few hours so I don't know what they are talking about.  I started blogging to meet and connect with people and I think that in all situations the only way to meet and connect is to put yourself out there and say hello, share a little, visit, comment, support and how do you meet people you have things in common with if you don't make it known who you are?  Am I justifying?  Do I sound defensive?  Maybe.

0=fecks I give.  Now, on with the Shawna Show

Queen of Awkward poses, she loves wearing dresses with pants, she loves purple, she hacks off her own hair in the middle of the night....she can do whatever the feck she wants to because she is her own boss.  You know you envy her....I present, in all her silliness awesomeness, Shawna. 

*Posing hurts.  I don't have enough hip to convincingly thrust it sideways.
*Necklaces: you can never wear too many of them!
*Shoes?  You don't need 'em.
*Scary ugly floors?  Yes.  Not much I can say about that.
*Kitchen: the someone lives here look is going on in there.

I am participating in Natalia's Rise and Write challenge.  The goal is to write for five or ten minutes on a provided topic.  It's first draft writing so thoughts, experimenting and just doing it are the main focus.  I haven't really figured out where I will put my little writing blurps in order to link and share so for now I am putting the first two here.    If you don't enjoy such things STOP READING NOW.

The first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning is not the same every time.  Some mornings my face is smooshed into my pillow and sheets are over my head.  This morning I opened my eyes to my cat, Matty, lying on my chest purring and gazing at me.  As soon as we made eye contact she tapped her paw gently on my lips.  I was very tired and feeling ill; not sure if I was going to be getting up for the day, not sure if the nausea would be improved by breakfast, and there was something about that gentle little pat, as though she were saying, I'm here; it will be okay.  You have been here for me and now I am here for you."  I like to think that, but it is more likely she was saying, "Hurry up and get out of bed."  Matty is more inclined to snuggle up to my legs so finding her on my chest, looking at me, meeting those big, round, gold eyes when I first opened mine, just feels like a special moment of connection.  An understanding that we are two middle aged females, looking after each other.

The first bouquet of flowers I remember is not much of a bouquet by normal standards.  Like many little girls, I happily picked wild flowers and clutched them in my grubby little fists, hurrying home to give them to my mother.  I believe that it is this typical behaviour, this demonstration of love from early days, that leads grown woman to hope for and to appreciate flowers given to them by their romantic partners.  Flowers in a bouquet mean love.

I grew up in a small town where there were still wild areas around, empty lots with no houses, wooded areas, fields of grass and flowers, and dandelions, buttercups and daisies were a regular part of my daily play, but in the wooded areas the small purple flours of the wild geranium could be found and they were my favourite.   The woods was magical, a place where the fairies lived so of course the flowers that grew there were more enticing to me than the dandelions of the fields.   I picked little nosegays of the little, delicate flowers and presented them to my mother, who must have somehow found some sort of tiny vessel to put them in.

Fast forward many years-decades-and it is now my mother who brings me bouquets of love.  She has a talent for flower arranging and an large overflowing garden.  I too was a passionate gardener, but having a garden no longer, due to those circumstances and life changes that it is best to take in stride, I miss the presence of flowers in my life greatly.  Regularly, my mother drops by with colourful, artful, sweet smelling bouquets she has picked for me.  Or, as I see it, regularly my mother comes to visit me and brings me love.