Hello, Tuesday

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Hello, Tuesday.

It's sunny. There's melt-y snow on the ground. My daughter is upstairs, asleep, which makes me happy. She's only here for the week, and then gone again. Right on the heels of that unwelcome departure, of course, my husband is heading overseas for a week and a half.

This refrain is getting really old. 

I am adjusting to the new home, new town, and the new wrinkles that have arrived unceremoniously.

Oh, hello, new wrinkles.

From whence did you wander and how might I direct you onward?

Hi thee ho, wrinkles.

Thither and yon.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

Not that you have asses, but you get the point.

Oh, that's how it's going to go then. 

Persistent little buggers, aren't you?

Aging is an interesting phenomenon, because it's mostly incremental, but there are these occasional little leaps forward that seem to happen overnight. My lower face is marching ever towards my neck. Then, there's my neck, also on a southern trajectory. You can read all about that in my new book

Shameless book plug? Why yes, thanks for asking.

I don't see these changes in the mirror as much as I see them in photos. Social media, that insatiable beast, is ever in need of photos. Since I'm home alone, often, they're often selfies. It's weird, taking and editing photos of yourself. It's illuminating seeing your face on a computer screen as you lighten the contrast or brighten the exposure in a vain attempt to present yourself in your best light. Oh so much dual meaning in that sentence...I would unpack it but I think it best to leave it where it is. 

According to the aging gracefully police, I'm supposed to embrace the passage of time and the changes to my face and body with solemn reverence. Honestly, I'm not on board with that agenda. I admire those 'wicked cool' over 50 ladies who claim wrinkles as stripes as they strike bad ass poses in couture clothing. I am not one of them, at least not yet. I lack the couture and the conviction. I'm just me, Madge, doing my best to negotiate the indignities of aging and learning to accept, if not embrace, the ravages of time. 

The truth is, much of what happens to our skin as we age is a result of sun damage and inflammation and free radical damage none of which is inevitability. It's not written in stone, merely etched in your epidermis. You can always sandblast that shit. It's just a meat suit, after all. I am not my meat suit, I am the consciousness that currently resides inside. At least this is what I tell myself. I may just be a random array of synapses firing in my brain and central nervous system surrounded by a random collection of matter briefly arranged in this meat suit that will return to the great cosmic dust bin upon my departure. We are the stuff of stars, just ask Carl. 

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.
— Carl Sagan

It's not that I'm afraid of getting old, because I'm hoping to live a long, long time. It's just that I like my face the way it is and I'm not yet ready to let it go. I've already let my wonderful child go, and my hopes of ever playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret go, and my ability to traipse about town in ridiculous high heels go...how much must I release to the passing of time?

Besides, time an illusion we humans accept as reality, as is space. We're having a consensual delusion. 

Wow, this got deep.

Anyway, it's Tuesday. I'm writing a blog post. I think I hear the vague sounds of my daughter rustling around upstairs. The dogs will need to go outside to sniff things and pee on other things. The small details of my daily delusions beckon. I do hope that you have a lovely day. If you see my wrinkles, kindly tell them to fuck off.





We Can Do Better, Women

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We no longer have access to live TV, we've cut the cord and our antennae is useless. Thusly, we didn't watch The Oscars last night. I avoided social media until this morning, because I knew what I would find in my feeds. 

And there it was...in all of its ugly, sad, judgmental glory...the ubiquitous women bashing other women for their sartorial and dermatological choices. I scrolled through a disappointing stream of nasty comments about 'her face' and 'her dress.' The snide asides about Botox, fillers, exposed boobs, hideous dresses...blah, blah, blah.

Break out the Scarlet Letter, Hester. But don't you dare Bedazzle that shit. Women should neither be seen nor heard. 

Like clockwork, even with #timesup, the snark pours forth from fingertips poised on keyboards as they sit on a couch in their PJs passing judgement and desperately seeking attention. Look how funny I am! I risked nothing! I did nothing! 

Go me!

I wish we could be better, women. 

First came the speculation about a variety of actresses over 40 and who had the most work done. How could she do that to her face? How dare she not age gracefully!

Then, the winner of most offensive thread in my feed was from a woman who suggested that "me to" (sp) actresses whose "boobs were sticking out of their sexy dresses" got what was coming to them. Yup. Blame the women. According to this mythology men are weak willed perverts led around by their dicks and women are sirens luring them into wanton acts of sexual harassment merely by their presence. If they would keep their boobs covered, men would keep their hands to themselves. 

You know, that old chestnut, they were asking for it. 

This story is as tired as the women who keep telling it.

Let's write a new story, shall we?

What a woman wears is her business. What a woman does with her face is her business. Every aspect of a woman's appearance is her business. If you insist on being an arm chair critic, roll that chair up to a mirror and take a good look at yourself, sister.

Because bitchy doesn't look good on anyone.




Shameless Self Promotion

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Hello, Gorgeous!

Today we're talking about the Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion. I wrote the book on this topic. (Affiliate link.) One would think that I'd have no problem shamelessly self promoting.

One would be incorrect.

No matter how much confidence one may possess, it's hard to put yourself out there. It gets more and more difficult as the noise and the nasty increases exponentially online. Also, and this is a big one, a lot of people take issue with women who dare to shamelessly self promote.

Ladies don't demand attention. Ladies let their work speak for itself. Speak up and speak out, and you may find yourself losing followers, fans, and friends. 

Put that away, Lady! No one wants to see that! 

Ladies should not be bold, bodacious, nor braggadocious. Ladies should sit back and let the spotlight find them, eventually, by chance. Just a few steps to the right...and...oh sorry, darling. Maybe next time. 

This is particularly true for ladies of a certain age, who should be fading away gracefully into the scenery to allow the younger ladies to step forward.

This premise is predicated on the idea that there is only so much room for women to shine, which, BTW, there is not. There is infinite room. Ageism is just another form of sexism. This idea that older women are tired and useless and need to disappear, is tired and useless and needs to disappear. Older women have plenty to bring to the table, because they've lived more, experienced more, learned more. We should be celebrating older women, not dismissing them. 

I've said it before, and I'm likely to say it again, "There is room enough in the sky for every star to shine."

Instead of being threatened by a Super Nova, be inspired to shine your fabulous self even brighter. We are not dimmed by the light of others. If we all shone our lights and celebrated each other's sparkle, how fucking brilliant would that be?

Still, shameless self promotion also requires asking other people for their support and assistance. This is often awkward, at least it is for me. One cannot succeed in a vacuum. One does not want to suck, either. Therefore, asking other people to help you shine means reaching a new level of shamelessness. This is best achieved by offering a little tit for tat, because no one wants all tat and no tit.

It goes something like this:

"Hello, person I know, kind of. I am sending this semi-awkward correspondence to request your support as I attempt to defy gravity. In exchange, I will shine a spotlight on you. Then, perhaps, we can shine together."

Underneath this request in subtext is this, "I wish I had money to pay you for this. I am pulling rainbows out of my ass every day, but I've yet to reach the pot of gold. I'm just a woman standing in front of another woman asking for her support."

I spent the day yesterday sending out awkward emails. Every time I hit send I felt a heady mix of excitement and trepidation. I've been on the other end of these emails. I don't want to be the person asking for a favor and offering that nebulous thing called exposure. Nobody can pay the rent with that.

I think too much, which is a blessing and a curse.

So, in thinking too much, I think, should I articulate my trepidation in the email or does it start to sound too weird? 

Then I hit send and say, "Fuck it." Either they'll be insulted or excited and I can't control that. 

I have reinvented myself many times, and every time that I've succeeded it's been because I was willing to ask for help, to put myself out there, to be bold, bodacious, and braggadocious. I've also paid it forward, backwards, and sideways every step of the way. 

As a woman over 50 who is just getting started and fighting the cultural attitude that it's time for me to step aside, I'm going to have to dial up the shameless even higher. After all, that's what my book is about! In the process, I'm going to encourage other women to do the same. 

Shameless? Yes I am. There's no shame in shining, women.


How to Make Your House a Home

Hello, Gorgeous!

After 35 moves in 54 years, I've learned a thing or two about how to make your house a home. I've never had a big budget, and much of what I own has been thrifted or scored from the clearance shelves. Much of of it has also been transitory. I get rid of a lot of stuff with every move. My goal is to have less and do more, and I'm working towards that on a daily basis. If I bring something new into my home, I let go of a few other things. We don't really own anything, anyway, we're merely caretakers. I've tried to be a good caretaker.

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We have owned three houses. The first was a former Amish school house and union hall that was 125 years old. It was stucco over stone, with thick walls and huge windows with deep sills on both sides of the structure. Had we a bigger budget, we would have redone the kitchen and the bathrooms, and finished the dirt floor basement. Sadly, our budget was mostly limited to paint, so we made the most of that. Because this house had so much light, I chose rich, saturated, intense colors. Verdant grass green, vivid orange, Tibetan red, navy blue, periwinkle, and buttery yellow. It was all planned to flow from one into the next. The kitchen was wild, but it sure woke you up in the morning! The house was bold and bodacious, but also cozy. With 9 foot ceilings, lighter colors or white walls would have made the rooms feel too open and cold. We had big plans for that house, but then a job offer came up in another state and we moved. Our agents were concerned that it wouldn't sell because the market was cold, but it sold to the first people who came to look at it. They were surprised, but I wasn't. I staged it in a way that felt warm and inviting, and I knew someone would see what we saw when we looked at it. 

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Our second house was in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Perched precariously on stilts, it had huge windows on the side with a view, a wraparound porch, wood floors, and pine wood details. It was rustic, but modern. Because it was surrounded by trees, we painted the living room a vivid (but not obnoxious) green that brought the color from the outside inside. I wanted to make it feel like it was part of the mountains that surrounded it. Again, with the open vaulted ceilings, white walls would have made it feel too open and cold. The bedrooms were painted dreamy shades of periwinkle and blue, the hall a soft yellow and the kitchen a shade in between yellow and green dubbed Extra Virgin Olive Oil. My only regret was the lobster pot red I chose for the staircase, it just didn't flow as well with the other colors. Picking colors isn't easy. What's on a paint chip is not the same as what it looks like when you paint it on a wall. So much of it is affected by the light coming into the space. Always test swatches and look at them at various times of the day to be sure you can live with them. We sold this house, after the job opportunity proved to be less than ideal. Again, the first people who came to look at it bought it. 

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This is our third house, a brick American Foursquare built in 1920. Like our other two houses, it's very well constructed and has great bones. Unfortunately, the original white oak hardwood floors on the first level were buried under a dark cherry hardwood in the dining room and semi-shag carpeting in the living room. We were hoping to expose them again, but those plans were thwarted by plywood sheets riddled with a gazillion screws. One wonders what possesses people sometimes. We found a lovely faux pecan laminate on sale at a home store and it looks beautiful. This house does not get as much light as our other two. I had to adjust the colors to help bring some light and a feeling of openness into the space. The kitchen was renovated by former owners with high end cabinetry, but the wood was darker so I chose a spicy orange to bring out the warmth in the wood. I call the dining room the Zen Garden Room, painted two shades of blue/green surrounded with bright white trim. I find bright white trim frames colored walls beautifully. Lowe's has a color called Ultra Pure White that is the brightest white I have found in my searches. It's fabulous. The living room is yet again a happy shade of green. I like a green living room, what can I say? My friend Carolee recently described it a mix of pistachio and lime, mostly pistachio with just a skootch of lime. It's very light and playful. 

I am not afraid of color, as you may be able to tell. I am also drawn to eclectic, interesting, folk art inspired decor. However, if I moved into a mid-century modern home with clean lines and big windows, I would veer towards white walls with bright colorful sleek mid-century furniture and accessories. If I bought a beach cottage, I'd tend towards white washed faded pastels and vintage nautical inspired decor. Though I can't say, honestly, how I'd decorate a house I've yet to meet. Every house has a story to tell. It's your mission, should you choose to accept it, to discover that story and bring it to life. I love old homes because they have history. They've seen things. They've stood the test of time. They're more often than not built with far more care and quality than newer homes, at least the new homes in our budget! 

You can see photos of our progress over on my Instagram. I will post more as time passes. Once we finish painting and decorating the inside, we have to tackle the landscaping. Some former owners had a serious love of rocks. There is a dump truck or two of them scattered around the garden beds in the yards front and back. Big rocks, little rocks, gravel rocks...so many, many rocks. 

Hopefully it doesn't make for a rocky gardening experience.

Wah, wah.

xoxo, Madge


Crap I Found at Thrift Stores

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Hello, Gorgeous!

Today we're discussing popping tags! Get ready to get your thrift on, folks. My first thrift shopping excursions were at school sponsored tag sales and White Elephant (second hand) shops when I was a young child. I remember being thrilled to discover that there were shops where one might dig around for old treasures. 

What fun!

I love old stuff, neat old stuff, weird old stuff, beautiful old stuff, ugly old stuff. I don't collect it as much anymore, because I move too often and I am tired of hauling stuff around in boxes. I can appreciate it without needing to bring it all home. At one point, way back in the 1980s, I had several hundred pairs of fabulous vintage shoes from the Victorian Era through the 1970s. I sold most of them when I left California and then sold the rest of them on eBay for a pretty penny back when eBay was fresh and new. It's harder to find vintage shoes these days, but they're still out there. 

People didn't used to have so much stuff. We didn't live in giant houses with rooms that need to be filled with furniture and knick-knacks. We used to make things to last, before the planned obsolescence of massive amounts of cheap crap made overseas took sway. It's a thrill to find something from 50 or 60 or even 100 years ago that is still functional and beautiful. Even mundane things like toasters or sewing machines were thoughtfully designed and masterfully constructed.

I have a particular affinity for old handcrafted things. You see a crocheted blanket at a thrift shop for four or five bucks and think about how many hours went into making it, how much love when into every turn of the crochet hook. Or you stumble on a woodblock print or an oil painting or a basket or a ceramic...and it's like a little message in a bottle from someone long gone or maybe someone still alive, evidence of their existence and their creative spark. What's not to love about that?

I'm also inexplicably drawn to the kitschiest of kitsch. If it's absurdly bizarre or highly inappropriate, chances are that I will love it. Kooky old ceramics, kids toys, knick-knacks, tchotchkes, weird and wonderful oddities all fill me with delight. I love vintage graphics, which has led me to collect old magazines, greeting cards, post cards, card games, and other bits and pieces of ephemera

The flip side of the equation is that thrift shopping offers a harsh reminder of the cost of mass consumption. There is an unbelievable amount of crap in the world. So much stuff, so much of it poorly designed and shoddy in construction. Much of it ends up at thrift stores, where shelves are bursting with the detritus of our throw away society. Much of our discarded clothing ends up in landfills or is shipped on barges to third world countries where it is sold for profit, disrupting local production. The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing annually. Wrap your mind around that number for a moment. Trends are shifting at incomparable speeds, and as the trends shift, the stuff is discarded in favor of something shiny and new. Fast fashion has a cost both in the sweatshop labor that produces it and the proliferation of cheaply made, quickly discarded clothing. 

Then this leads you to wonder. How much stuff do we need? When will enough be enough? Trends have accelerated to the point that things we "must have" lose relevance within months. I have also been pondering my footprint as a creator and a human being, what have I added to the pile of things in the world and what value does it have, if any? I no longer have the desire to hoard things these days. I have jettisoned epic crap tons of stuff and it feels divine to have less and do more. I can appreciate things without needing to possess them.

A few years back I started a website called ThriftScore and began selling some of the treasures I found in thrift shops and flea markets over the years. At that point Etsy was becoming saturated and eBay had changed and Facebook was mesmerizing millions with their magical algorithms and micro-targeted wonders. After some reflection and refocusing of my energy, I decided to shutter the shop and return most of the merchandise to the thrift-iverse.

Still, I enjoy thrifting. It's urban archeology. I think it's a far more sustainable way to live. I recycle, often, things I have found and enjoyed and then returned to the great cosmic dust bin. Our new house has plenty of room, but I am not intending to fill it with things. Unless those things are clearance pillows, then apparently I'm in. In my defense, pillows are not great things to buy at thrift shops for people with allergies. But I digress, I think about re-visiting the idea of selling some of the things that I find at thrift shops. We shall see, but in the meanwhile I recently started making new videos sharing some of my most recent thrift shop finds or as I like to call it 'crap I found at thrift stores.' Here's the Playlist, for your entertainment. I plan to make more over the coming months and perhaps share some of this thrift shop goodness for sale here on the website and on my Instagram. Stay tuned!

xoxo,                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Madge