Opinions Are Not Truths

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When confronting our opinions, it’s important to ask ourselves, “What is the truth?”

I’m going to be honest here, much of my opinion is formed from what I feed myself, and therefore is a perspective on truth, but likely not the whole truth. I try to glean information from a variety of sources and not just the sources that tell me what I want to hear. Still, I’m not even sure if it’s possible to know the whole truth in our era of relentless micro-targeted electronic transmission. Our corporate media may present itself as being liberal or conservative or centrist, but the insatiable 24 hour news cycle is ever seeking the sticky stuff, and that means sensationalizing and exaggerating to keep us glued to the screens. That’s how they sell the soap, folks. We are all being manipulated by media and marketers and politicians. Our every click, view, and move is being tracked and the information we’re fed is being carefully orchestrated to appeal to us on a visceral level.

If I believe something to be true, that doesn’t make it true. It makes it my belief. If I’m not constantly challenging my beliefs and their sources, then how can I be sure of their validity?

I’m fascinated by the ways we come to see our opinions as truths. People will fight relentlessly with someone who holds and opposing view, and get nothing more from that exchange than the belief that they were right and the other person was wrong. Maybe they were both wrong, or both a little bit right, or maybe one of them was wrong and the other one was right. Some of that depends on your perspective, but it seems these days that everyone is clear about one thing, they are right and no amount of evidence to the contrary, however strong, matters.

I’ve been watching people begin to ratchet up the rhetoric as we approach the 2020 election, and to be honest, it’s disheartening. This isn’t a two sided coin, it’s fragmented further. Take, for instance, the Nancy Pelosi conundrum. Liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike will insist she’s the devil incarnate. Ask them why, and they’ll offer a variety of firmly held opinions, swearing they are truths. Yet, pin them down for facts and they elude.

Are their opinions truths?

Is Nancy Pelosi the devil incarnate?

Would you say the same thing about her if she was a man? Is there inherent bias in the way we view a powerful older woman? If so, how does that bias inform our opinions of her? If you feel she’s ‘evil’, can you dig deep to figure out exactly why you feel that way? This satire article shines the light on this bias and the ways in which we are manipulated into believing things that may or may not have any basis in fact. Women are suspect, especially powerful women, and most definitely powerful older women. Therefore, any negative narratives written around them resonate, on an archetypal level, with our collective unconsciousness.

When a steady drip, drip, drip of negativity surrounds someone, some of it starts to stick. I don’t know what it is about this person I don’t like, but I know I don’t like them. If you dig a little, can you get to the center of that thought? Is it based in truth, or is it an opinion formed from the calculated air of negativity that appears to surround them?

Beyond the complexities of gender bias, what about the other firmly held opinions we hold based on what we feed ourselves? Do any of us know the absolute truth? Does it even exist? I am confronting my convictions, my truths, my beliefs, and opinions. What do I know to be true? What is formed by the information I’m feeding myself. Are the biases inherent in the source of this information or in the way I am processing this information? How can I stay flexible, a word I’m finding has a lot of resonance this week, and be open to the distinct possibility that my opinions may be lacking in a factual basis?

Food for thought.

Our opinions are not facts, they’re beliefs based on the information we feed ourselves.

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Ba Donk Ka Donk Brought to you By Random and Disjointed, LLC

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Hello, Gorgeous!

Wow. I have not posted here since November 28th. Seriously?

I’m entirely unclear as to how this most egregious situation transpired. I mean, really. I don’t have much else to do beyond creating content for the internets and thinking too much, which of course results in more content for the internets. There are also rants, which I perform for the dogs, or my husband, much to their chagrin.

Oh Lort, ma’s gone all ranty again.

Yet, here we are, three days into a brand spanking new year and I’m finally tapping some drivel into my keyboard. I have no idea what might transpire. I have nothing more than my synapses firing randomly and my fingers acquiescing to the electronic impulses. Therefore today’s essay is brought to you by Random and Disjointed, LLC.

I was contacted by multiple social media coordinators for multiple brands over the holidays looking for me to create content in exchange for free things OR allow them to provide me with content in exchange for…this is fun…back links and affiliate marketing.

This is all, essentially, free advertising.

Even if they offer to send you a sample, it’s still pretty much free advertising.

I don’t work for glitter unless it’s really, really, really sparkly glitter that I really, really, really want.

Glitter of that caliber is almost as elusive as my formerly svelte ass. Speaking of my ass, my husband and I exchanged a hug recently, and he grabbed it with both hands and said, “Ba donk ka donk.”

Seriously.

I am sure he found this amusing or perhaps he meant it as a compliment.

I was neither amused nor flattered.

Yes, my trunk is packed with a generous portion of ba donk ka donk, but I’d prefer any memo regarding said junk be sent in a more thoughtful way.

Like say, “Oh, my, that’s a sassy ass you’ve got there.” or “Now that’s a bodacious booty!”

Grabbing someone’s booty and saying “Ba donk a donk” is like squeezing a boob and saying, “Honk” or twirling a nipple while saying “Tokyo, Tokyo, Come In Tokyo.” The latter I do find amusing. Go figure.

I’m a conundrum wrapped in a riddle stuffed with a quandary and a generous helping of ba donk ka donk. But let’s not dwell on these things, there’s so much more to ponder as we boldly march into the new year. So. Much. More.

Like this feeling I have that ‘this is the year.’ THIS IS THE YEAR! I declared at midnight whilst sipping champagne with my husband who wisely did not make the mistake of shouting ‘ba donk ka donk’ at that moment.

THIS IS THE YEAR! Those 55 other years, they were practice years! This is the year I’m going to make the stuff happen! Not that I haven’t made stuff happen before, because looking back objectively I have definitely made stuff happen, it’s just that the stuff hasn’t resulted in a healthy bank account balance.

Did you know that you can’t pay your mortgage in glitter?

Someone please explain this to the social media outreach coordinators for brands. Thank you.

This year, I plan to crack the code for making all of the stuff that I make happen also make money happen. I have big ideas. I have plans. I may even make a schedule and a master plan. It could happen! Or maybe I’ll continue pulling random rainbows out of my bodacious booty.

Stay tuned, we’ll find out together.

xoxo,

Madge

An American in Paris (with Butts and Stairs)

This young woman, amazing.

This young woman, amazing.

We just returned from a week in Paris, visiting our daughter Avalon who has been attending Sciences Po for fall semester. It was incredible. She is incredible. I am so proud of the young woman she’s become, and so impressed with her fearlessness in navigating a city that is not easy to navigate. We are home now, spanning two time zones, feeling out of time and pensive. I have lots of thoughts about Paris. I am sure this does not surprise you. I have lots of thoughts about everything.

Where’s Madge-y? Just a small smattering of the stairs in Montmartre.

Where’s Madge-y? Just a small smattering of the stairs in Montmartre.

If you don’t like stairs, you may not like Paris. Somehow, without meaning to do this, I managed to climb the stairs to Montmartre, again. There was a point in the ascent from the Metro when I considered living on the stairs for the rest of my life. I have asthma, so hundreds of stairs are incredibly challenging for me. I did it. I climbed all of the stairs in Metro station after Metro station, at the Louvre, in Montmartre, in our small apartment three circular flights up from ground floor. I did not complain…much. Between the stairs and the walking for hours and hours and hours every day, well, it was not easy. It’s a tough city for anyone with mobility issues. I am glad I got new orthotics and brought the right shoes. I’m also thankful for portable nebulizers and patient family members.

It’s no secret why Parisians are slender…stairs.

However, if you budget for Ubers or Taxis, you can skip the Metro and the walking everywhere. Though you will miss so much. Whether you don’t mind stairs, or you avoid them altogether, if you like fresh baked culinary delights and inexpensive delicious wines and overpriced incredible meals in cozy cafes and being surrounded by stunning architecture and fascinating history, you may like Paris. You may even fall in love with Paris, which I did, again, despite the challenges I faced physically.

Palais-Royale, in the rain, doing my best impression of a statue.

Palais-Royale, in the rain, doing my best impression of a statue.

Paris is a magical city, but it’s also a stinky, dirty, smoky, pickpocket friendly, stair riddled city. It’s an endless array of contradictions. Wonderful, weird, frustrating, fabulous contradictions await you on every block. Cool street art and crappy graffiti abound. There is a homeless problem in Paris, and it is sad. There’s no sugar coating it. There are also rats, they scamper around the bushes and along the edges of the Seine. There are painfully persistent people trying to sell you trinkets at every tourist attraction. There are flim-flammers and ne’er do wells, hoping to scam unsuspecting tourists. You must keep your wits about you, as they say. Don’t be too loud, don’t act or look like a tourist. This is hard to do when you are the only woman in Paris with hot pink hair. Yet, I managed.

There are many dogs in Paris, but the Parisians do not want you to pat their dogs. Non. NON.

I was none too happy with that.

Le pinch.

Le pinch.

The Parisians do not pick up le poo de chien. You have to be aware of this as you traipse about the city. I feel that the least they could do is let you pet their dogs if they are going to leave poo everywhere. However, I am sure they do not much care about my feelings concerning dogs and dog poo.

When in Paris, it is best to try to speak some French. I ordered everything in French, and entered and exited every shop or attraction with a greeting in French. The French appreciate your effort. If you walk in and start talking English, this is not going to win you any prizes. Even when annoying French people with dogs, I did so in French.

“OH! Petit chien! Le petit chien mignon!” I said. One must remember that French dogs also speak French. The dogs seemed as nonplussed as their owners. At least I annoyed them in French.

“Hohn, hohn. Hohn.” I say, whilst twirling my imaginary pencil thin moustache.

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There are also butts. Lots and lots of naked butts. Statues with naked butts. Paintings with naked butts. Pottery and objets d’art with naked butts. I find this tres amusant, therefore I must pretend to pinch these butts whenever possible. I do this discreetly, as the French may not find my obsession with naked butts as amusant as I do. Who can resist a naked butt? I mean, really. I pinch your butt. Le pinch, pinch.

Tangentially, I’m still mulling over the idea of failure. It is being funneled through a juxtaposition of cultures and attitudes, after a week abroad. My views on failure and success are filtered through a uniquely American lens. We don’t savor here. We don’t stop to exhale. We race from thing to thing, eyes on some elusive destination, ever focused on making the grade, winning the prize, having it all. Europeans take four weeks off every year for vacation. They linger in cafes and savor meals. The preponderance of patisseries, wine vendors, bakers of crusty baguettes and vendors of fresh fruits, cheeses, and vegetables speaks to a different attitude about food and drink. I found it weird that so many people smoked in Paris, considering the focus on fresh, organic, simple food, and there you have it, more contradiction.

Statue and pigeon in deep conversation.

Statue and pigeon in deep conversation.

I am home now, making plans for new directions and still thinking, thinking, thinking about failure and how to sit with it, embrace it, savor it. I am thinking about how to see failure differently, and in doing so see myself differently. Life is not a race. Life is not a monologue. Life is not a competition. Change is the only constant. Life is an evolution. There is no there to reach, there is only here, this moment, now. Painful, joyful, dirty, delicious, stinky, and sometimes poo covered now. Life, like Paris, is full of contradiction. It is all of the things.

I don’t have to race towards some perfect moment, because this moment is perfect, even if it’s filled with imperfection and contradiction. And yes, there are stairs, always stairs, always a climb to the next moment. Still, it’s okay to sit on the stairs and exhale sometimes. Maybe sip a glass or two of inexpensive, delicious wine, enjoy a warm from the oven crusty baguette with salty French butter, and be fully invested in now.

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Merci beaucoup, Paris. Merci.

Fail Better

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I have been thinking a lot lately about the ideas of success and failure. What do they mean in a big picture sense and what do they mean in my small picture?

Fame, money, success, stuff, recognition, a sense of self-importance based on external measures are all illusions. Pretty illusions, yes, but illusions nonetheless. We all want to feel special, extraordinary, important. But in the relentless pursuit of these illusions something gets lost. Life is mostly chopping wood and carrying water. If we can do whatever we do with the same enthusiasm, the same love, the same joy and find a way to be present in the moments of boredom and joy and sorrow and anger and hope and fear, without becoming attached to these emotions or stuck in these moments, that’s where the magic happens.

I have spent years trying and failing and trying and failing and succeeding occasionally before failing spectacularly again. This summer, I hit a wall. I retreated. It’s hard to fail spectacularly in public, I’m not going to lie. It’s difficult to let go of the concern about what other people think about you. It’s tough to accept that maybe things are not going to work out the way you planned.

I’m finding myself less relentlessly driven to keep searching for some elusive moment when I can say to myself, “Oh! There! Yes! You made it!” Because buried in that, lurking underneath, is the desire to feel important. So that then the people I love and the world at large will say, “Oh! There! Yes! She made it!”

I don’t think I need that any more. I don’t think it matters if the world at large celebrates me or recognizes me or cherishes me. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. My value is simply in being me. That’s it. I’m already there. I may never succeed in the conventional sense of success. I may never be popular on the internet, write a best selling book, host an award winning TV show, be crowned the Queen of DIY, or act in an off Broadway One Woman Show. I’m okay with that.

I won’t stop creating or reaching or being insatiably curious, but I’m letting go of my attachment to the outcome of these things. Life goes as it will, not as we will it. It’s okay to fail.

I watched the Mr. Rogers movie today. Towards the end of his life there was some backlash on his messaging, the idea that everyone is special, which I also believe. The negative spin on this was that it made entitled adults and didn’t prepare children for life’s disappointments. That’s a cynical spin, indeed. His message was about love, acceptance, kindness, and inclusivity. Everyone matters. Everyone counts. Everyone deserves to be loved. Fred Rogers clarified the meaning in his message beautifully in a commencement speech.

“You don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love you.”

Fred Rogers

This shot straight into my core essence. I burst into tears, big soulful down to the marrow tears.

Oh! There! Yes!

Exhale.

I already made it.

I don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love me. People who matter, the people in my day to day life love me exactly as I am. I don’t have to be popular on the internet or write a best selling book or host an award winning TV show or be crowned the Queen of DIY. I don’t have to worry about failing, because the people who love me, love me anyway.

All I have to do is show up, with an open heart and an open mind and be the fullest expression of who I am. The fullest expression of who I am is revealed when I practice love, acceptance, kindness, and inclusivity.

I am enough.

And you know what, gentle reader? So are you.

You don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love you.

Thank you, Mr. Rogers.

“Ever tried, ever failed, no matter. Try again, fail again, fail better.”

Samuel Beckett

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Love Trumps Hate

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As the unrelenting onslaught continues from the #worstcircusever, it’s hard to keep both feet on Terra Firma. But, that’s part of the evil plan, right? Keep us distracted and ratchet up the fear, anger, and vitriol! Leave us in a state of shock, then gaslight us. Respond to our outrage with denial and half-assed calls for ‘civility in these trying times.’ Lies are truths, truths are lies, goes the doublespeak. Our current president is goosestepping boldly into a Facist dictatorship. Every day is a fresh assault on the foundations of our republic. The institutions in which we held faith are failing to stop him. Then there is the willful failure of the folks in charge of both houses, who are so giddy with glee over dismantling regulations, attacking ‘entitlements’, stealing the Supreme Court, eroding the Affordable Care Act, dismantling voter rights, rolling back civil rights, and making sure the 1% and their corporate donors get white glove treatment in the form of tax breaks and rule changes while the rest of us poor schlubs sink into the miasma of the rigged economy.

What are you whining about? It’s the economy, stupid! It’s going like gang busters! Don’t you know?

Meanwhile, inflation is rising, wages are stagnating, and the cost of living is increasing exponentially. You’d think there was a war on the middle and lower classes.

Because there is.

Back in DC, Scrooge McTurtle and Ayn Ryan roll up their sleeves and get to work. The richest of the rich are making off like bandits. Yet, millions of unwitting minions, who are disproportionately affected by these reverse Robin Hood policies, are so brainwashed by the toxic propaganda of Fox “News”, micro-targeted social media manipulation, and The Big Lie, that they’re heading towards the cliff at a breakneck pace. Watch the red hatted masses cheer “MAGA!!!” while they leap into the abyss!

How insidious the deception that pits the poor against the poor. How twisted the narrative that shifts the blame to the elusive “other”, fueled by fear and loathing and endless lies. How strange that the Man with the Golden Toilet has convinced the disenfranchised that he’s one of them.

One wonders how far the GOP will let him go. Will they be shocked when he devours them and spits out their bones on the gilded altar of his greed? Because, left to his own devices and unfettered by laws and rules and codes of conduct, he will devour us all. The only loyalty he has is to himself and the almighty dollar. He’s sold his soul to the Russians and the Saudis and sold us out in the process.

Here’s the thing, though, folks. The #worstcircusever is a misdirection. As long as the media keeps shining a spotlight on the rhetoric and Tweets and insanity, it keeps us all from seeing what’s actually happening behind the curtain. The plan is to make and keep us outraged, and it’s working. Chaos is a game plan. Division is a game plan. Misdirection is a game plan. We have to stop reacting to his vitriol.

The only way to defeat this monster is to stop feeding him. He survives on a steady diet of our constant attention. Turn the cameras off. Stop reacting to every toxic Tweet. Pressure our elected officials to stand up to him or threaten to vote them out. VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. Demand that our VOTES be held sacred. Remind them that they work for us. Remind him that he lives in OUR house. FOCUS on what’s really going on, because it’s not even being concealed.

Remember that LOVE TRUMPS HATE.

Fight fear with compassion. Fight hate with love. Fight lies with truth. Fight violence with RESISTANCE. Stay strong. These are trying times and they’re not likely to get less so for a while.

We can do this, people. Together.

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Conscious Consumption

Hello, Gorgeous,

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Yesterday I finally managed to get my ass in gear and edit a new Crap I Found at Thrift Stores Video. The crap was starting to pile up and it was time! I do have big plans for this series and this concept. All will be revealed. The truth is, I don’t wish to keep most of this crap, but I do love finding it and sharing it with folks. As I’ve said before, I think of it as urban archeology.

We have reached a critical point environmentally and socially. Our mass consumer culture is wreaking havoc on our planet, the inhabitants, and our collective psyche. Where things were once made to last, they’re now imbued with planned obsolescence. Most things are designed to fail. Therefore, we are perpetually in search of the shiny new thing. The cycles of fashion and trend have become so accelerated that things become irrelevant moments after they are purchased. The detritus of our existence is mounting at an alarming rate. Our trash is running out of places to hide. Our consumption may well consume us. Then, there’s the human cost of mass production. People are suffering so that we can have that endless stream of cheap and shiny new things. One can only ignore this for so long. It weighs us down, even if we aren’t fully aware of why we feel so heavy.

I have been thrifting for decades. Much of what I own, which continues to be pared down on a regular basis, is thrifted or flea market-ed or estate sale-d or handcrafted and fairly traded. I have always been intrigued with history. I love ephemera. I find it fascinating to ponder where something has been and what it has seen. I also love the idea of giving an old thing a new life, instead of buying a mass produced thing. I do make exceptions, even I am sometimes swayed by the siren song of a quirky Target bargain. I am striving, though, to be more mindful of how I spend my money. That has implications. It is also true that some things are best purchased new, however these can be made with more sustainable, mindful, socially responsible practices. We can slow down, and reject the fast fashion mindset. We can practice conscious consumption.

I’d like to think of thrift shopping and buying handmade, fair trade, and recycled/upcycled as the antidote to our current reality. It’s the anti-mass consumer mindset. There is already so much stuff on the planet that can be given a new life with a little bit of vision and effort. Things made with care and craftsmanship feel good to buy and own. They have an energy that is palpable and positive. Taking an old thing and re-purposing it gives the owner a stronger sense of ownership.

20 years ago my husband and I opened a fair trade gallery called Oroboros. The Oroboros or ouroboros is the world snake, the serpent that eats its own tail. It represents the end as beginning, the cycle of life. We were making something out of nothing then, and we’ve spent the past 21 years together continuing on that journey in many different iterations. Back then we sold odd, unusual, funky, beautiful fair trade and handcrafted goods from artisans in the US and around the world. Many of the items sold were being made to help lift people out of poverty and train them in new jobs. We were different from Ten Thousand Villages, because we focused less on the ‘airport art’ designed to appeal to the Western Consumer, and more on the unique and interesting things that reflected the cultures from which they came and also items that reflected emerging and fascinating creative dialogues between cultures. Our focus was on making the world a little better by helping our customers become conscious consumers. Everything we sold told a story, created a connection to someone, made a difference. We hand selected every item, and sometimes sold items we made ourselves alongside things discovered at local thrift shops. I’m older and wiser and more savvy now, I see where we failed and were we might have done better. I think there’s a space opening up for this kind of approach to retail. I think people are growing tired of mass consumption. Less really is more, especially when it makes the world a better place. I want to return to this mission. These kooky videos are part of that plan.

I’m thinking deeply about conscious consumption, and how I can transition away from the mass consumer culture and towards a more mindful, sustainable, positive way of being in the world. I have plans. Things are happening. Watch this space. More to come.

Oh! And check out my latest Crap I Found at Thrift Stores Video! It’s a hoot.

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What Boy Has Not Done This?

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Millions of boys and men have not done this. Millions of boys and men have not sexually assaulted women or other men. I married one. I’m friends with many of them. This idea that men are incapable of controlling their sexual or aggressive impulses is a perniciously persistent fallacy that must be put to a permanent end. Alcohol is not an excuse, it does not turn non-rapists into rapists. Boys will be boys’ or ‘locker room talk’ or ‘youthful indiscretions’ or ‘she asked for it’ are all part of this fallacy. Women who make excuses for this shit need to do some serious soul searching, because if the men they know do these things, they are hanging out with the wrong men.

For the record, I do not make excuses for this behavior for partisan purposes. I find it disgusting if a man is a liberal or a conservative or a moderate. I do not make excuses for women who participate in sexual assault or the cover up of sexual assault. There are no excuses. The abhorrence of this behavior is not negated by an expiration date or a political party or a social class or an ethnicity or a religious affiliation. Sexual assault and harassment are crimes, regardless of who commits them. However, I do believe that the mere suggestion of impropriety is not enough to condemn anyone, serious allegations deserve serious scrutiny.

“I don’t want to ruin his life over an accusation.” Lindsey Graham

You are not ruining his life by shining a light on a series of accusations. If he did do the things suggested by his accusers and witnesses, he ruined his own life. He ruined his life and the life of those involved if and when he chose to sexually assault another person or did not report sexual assault that he witnessed. When a person shows a pattern of deviant behavior in their youth, it shines a light on their character. If they got married, had children, rose to prominence in society, and did good deeds, that does not give them a free pass. A person who is the victim of sexual assault lives with the trauma of that experience for their entire life. These allegations merit investigation. If he did not do these things, then an investigation should help to clear him of suspicion.

In the early 1980s, I worked at a popular restaurant and bar called The Laundry Works in downtown San Jose, California. Many of my co-workers were students. Several of them were members of fraternities and sororities. Multiple female co-workers told me deeply disturbing stories about being sexually assaulted at fraternity parties. The most disturbing story came from a young woman who had been drugged at a party and woke up to find herself being gang raped by a group of young men. This is called a train. There is a name for gang rape of young women at parties. That is because it happened and still happens at campuses across this country. She was too ashamed and afraid to speak out to authorities. She had been drinking. She wasn’t sure but she believed that she’d been drugged. Since time had passed and any physical evidence was no longer accessible, she remained silent. I was appalled, disturbed, heartbroken for this young woman. I was angry for all of the young women who told me that they had been sexually assaulted at parties and were afraid to speak out for fear of being shamed, humiliated, threatened or harassed.

Fraternities are powerful and protected by universities, even when serious and sometimes deadly illegal events occur. Members of prestigious fraternities at prestigious schools like the ones Brett Kavanaugh attended go on to become prominent elected officials, judges, and even presidents. The alliances and connections created in these institutions last lifetimes and any illegal and immoral behavior by members of these fraternities which is denied, concealed, and protected has serious implications for our society as a whole. Private, prestigious schools feed students to private, prestigious universities who join private, prestigious fraternities and go onto lead prestigious, protected lives of privilege. The Good Old (mostly white, male, privileged) Boys Network is still firmly entrenched. When politicians bemoan the undue influence of the ‘elites’ and the corruption of ‘the swamp’, this is where the focus should be placed, on the Good Old Boys Network and its insidious influence on our government. Everyone should be held accountable for their actions, regardless of their status.

Why did she wait 37 years to speak up about this?

I was date raped at 19, while living in Sacramento, by a friend of a friend of someone in my family. I was ashamed, confused, humiliated, and terrified. I did not go to the police. I did not tell anyone. This does not negate the seriousness of what happened or the lifetime impact this event had on me. Women don’t come forward for a litany of reasons. To suggest that not coming forward implies consent or complicity is absolute and total bullshit. If a woman speaks out years later, it’s because she feels it is crucial that her story be heard in the light of the set of circumstances that compel her to come forward. No one gets to dictate that to her or belittle her experience because of the passage of time or the prominence of the accused.

If it is even remotely possible that the current candidate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court sexually assaulted a woman, sexually harassed another woman, was present at parties where young women were drugged and gang raped, or may have participated in gang rape or shown a lack of willingness to intervene during such an event, then it is incumbent upon our elected officials to put their partisan politics aside and seriously investigate these claims. If, in fact, the GOP knew there were multiple claimants regarding sexual improprieties and Judge Kavanaugh and opted to ignore their claims in an attempt to force this nomination to vote, then they should be held accountable for their actions. He also accused of lying, under oath, multiple times, and that also merits further scrutiny.

Sexual assault is about power and control. Giving a man who has shown a pattern of sexual assault the power to change laws that would control the bodies of millions of women is unacceptable. There is also a pattern of rulings by Judge Kavanaugh that show an impulse to control the rights of minorities, immigrants, handicapped, LGBTQ, and non-Christians, which are also disturbing. Then there’s the matter of a letter signed by 1000 Yale alumnae and professors condemning Yale University for the enthusiastic support of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Brett Kavanaugh was singled out and groomed by the GOP (along with fellow conservatives Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, George Conway, and Matt Drudge) and by a cabal of conservatives who have spent millions of dollars working to stack our courts with judges who reflect their ultra-conservative agenda. Donald Trump was given this list to use while selecting Supreme Court Justices, and has consulted with The Federalist Society on a series of lower court appointments all designed to subvert the will and the rights of the majority of citizens in favor of the agenda of a powerful, wealthy group who has spent years attempting to take control of this country. That in and of itself should disturb every citizen. Add to that the questionable character of this current nominee and the willful subversion of the rule of law by our elected officials, we’re in deep, folks. It’s not just the Supreme Court, the wealthiest and most powerful conservative families have spent years and millions of dollars influencing our elections, laws, and policies. We, the people, lost control a long time ago and as gerrymandering, voter suppression, court stacking, the unraveling of civil rights, environmental protections, student rights, protections for minorities, women, LGBTQ and the handicapped, and the dismantling of government agencies, continue at a breakneck pace, we are losing more control with every passing day.

We have a president who has been accused by over a dozen women of sexual assault and aggression. He admitted on tape to this behavior. He has shown a complete disregard for the rule of law, decorum, civility, and the rights of the citizens of this country. Yet, elected officials from the party in power (who are fully aware of his authoritarian impulses and his corruption) do nothing because they are more concerned with getting the agenda of those who financed their campaigns firmly entrenched to secure absolute power. The same party that held our former president’s Supreme Court nominee in limbo because it was ‘an election year’ are racing with the clock to avoid the results of the mid-term elections from thwarting their ability to confirm their nominee. The ramifications of this nominee being approved would be epic with decades of influence, and they know this.

It’s time to tear apart the Good Old Boys Network, for good. That time has been up for a long time. The American people deserve to know the truth. The American people deserve a judicial branch and elected officials that reflect the will and protect the rights of the majority of our citizens. We, the people, need to rise up and demand it, before it’s too late.

Crown Yourself(ie)

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Hello, Gorgeous!

#crownyourselfie because you are a queen, a goddess, a magic maker, a creatrix, a light bearer, a sparkle spreader, and a wonder. There is no one who has ever been or who will ever be exactly like you. That’s your super power.

Don’t wait for the world to tell you that you’re worthy, tell the world. You are worthy. You will not be silenced, shamed, belittled, or demeaned. You are not too old or too fat or too weird or too loud or too much. You are not less than, you are infinite.

Yesterday, after another attempt at shooting some ‘fashion’ pics for my Instagram, I took my hair down, tossed on my tiara, and shot this picture as an afterthought. This whole taking fashion pictures thing is weird for me, even though I have done it throughout the years as a vocalist, actress, and TV person. I’m not a model. I’m 55 and overweight and…blah, blah, blah… insert self-deprecating bullshipoopy here. Pointing a camera at yourself and posing feels so narcissistic. It can be, but it can also be so freeing. Because the manner in which you see yourself is a big part of how you move through the world. Why not own it, your fullness, your beauty, your scars, your wrinkles, your saggy bits, your fluffy parts, your messy, wild, weirdness…the wonder-full-ness of being YOU?

I crowned myself(ie) WAY back when. Never have been much for following rules or fitting in.

I crowned myself(ie) WAY back when. Never have been much for following rules or fitting in.

I used to say that every girl needs a tiara, but in retrospect I disagree. Every woman needs whatever she feels she needs. She should be able to move through the world as she pleases. Now I think of that tiara as more of a symbol, a symbol of self acceptance and self love which once achieved allows you to accept and love everyone you meet as a uniquely beautiful expression of being. The tiara is virtual, or it can be literal. I prefer the idea of a crown now, because that’s more powerful. Owning your power, that’s something right there. And a crown is not limited by gender roles or social mores or binary constructs. Anyone can crown themselves, anyone can step into their power.

From the moment we are born, people begin to limit us. We are herded into a binary set of rigid rules that tell us how to act, think, dress, and behave. Yet, we are not binary beings, we are not limited beings. Our limitations are self imposed. Our rules are self created. There are as many ways of being in the world as there are people being in the world. Who we are is not limited by our physical appearance. We are not our bodies, we are the consciousness residing within, and that consciousness is limitless.

Life can be a process of becoming the fullest expression of who we are, but the journey cannot commence until we let go of the need to be who we think the world wants us to be. Crown Yourself(ie), strike a pose, color outside of the lines, be fearlessly fabulous and encourage others to do the same. Life is a glorious illusion, stop taking it and yourself so damn seriously.

I’m inviting you to #crownyourselfie. Begin the journey to becoming you. If you want to share a pic on social media and use the hashtag, maybe we can start a ripple that becomes a wave.

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Bangs, the Eternal Struggle

Bangs, the eternal struggle.

Serious bang attitude.

Serious bang attitude.

We cut them off, we grow them out. Again and again and again. If you look to your right in my sidebar, you can see my bangs being secured by a sparkling barrette three years ago. That was the last time I grew my bangs out. This was before the last vestiges of Botox faded and I developed a triangular shaped set of lines between my eyes. I do not like these lines, not because they make me look old, but because they make me look angry. Grumpy Madge is not my best look.

In my lifetime I have had all manner of bangs. Bettie Page inspired shorty bangs, Mod style longer bangs, swept to the side bangs, weirdly choppy bangs, subtle piece-y bangs, frizzy perm bangs, and the dreaded solid wall of bangs that weighs on my forehead like a bag of bricks.

I said bricks, get your minds out of the gutter, people.

I like bangs, when they’re banging, but not so much when they’re not…so much.

My daughter had bangs cut recently. It took months of careful consideration. She bought fake bangs and wore them around to see how people reacted. She asked me at least twenty times if I thought she should get bangs. This is a tricky question, because if you say yes and it doesn’t work out, you risk becoming the villain in this hair-story. Yet, I took the risk and suggested she go for it.

“What’s the worst thing that can happen? Other than complete hair failure and months of headbands? Hair grows!” I said, knowing this is cold comfort when you are gazing at a chopped up mess hovering defiantly above your eyebrows.

Thankfully, the bangs were a success! Perfect for her fall semester in Paris peeking out from under a jaunty beret, accentuating her large electric blue eyes, giving her a gamine appeal with that certain je ne sais quoi. She was worried they’d make her look younger, but they gave her a new sophistication instead. Hooray for bangs!

Feeling the rock and roll vibe here.

Feeling the rock and roll vibe here.

I decided to trade my side bangs for straight across bangs last week. I needed a change, but not a drastic change. It’s amazing to me how a small change in your bangs can have such a big impact in your looks. Bangs give you a lot of bang for your buck, folks. Pun intended. Groans ensue. But seriously, depending on your face shape, adding bangs really frames things nicely and shifts focus from forehead to eyes. This can be a very good thing.

Cutting your own bangs, though, can be a very bad thing. I have done it many times and every single time I have immediately regretted it. I have very strange hair, and it’s difficult for hair stylists to cut, let alone me with whatever scissors I dig out of a drawer in my craft studio. Yeah, that happened…more than once. I have no excuse other than temporary hair-sanity.

I like the new bangs, they have a 60s into the 70s appeal. For now, they’re working. I may change my tune as time passes. It’s just hair after all.

Speaking of hair, I just finished a new video with an essay from my new book Fifty and Other F-Words all about my lifetime of bad hair. It’s funny, give it a watch!

What about you? Do you like bangs? Have you had a bad bang experience? Do tell!

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Stop Telling Women Over 50 What to Wear

I love this apron found on clearance at Target. Would I wear this in public? Yes, yes I would. Photo by Avalon Potter

I love this apron found on clearance at Target. Would I wear this in public? Yes, yes I would. Photo by Avalon Potter

Seeing that I have never bent to the rules of fashion, it's not shocking that I am not bending to the rules of fashion over 50. These rules are almost always articulated by a 20 something or a 30 something or a man or a woman over 50 who is conservative in dress and mindset. Even women over 50 who are rule breakers often make rules for other women:

You can be weird, just don't be THAT weird.

You're only authentic and brave if you embrace your gray hair.

You should dye your hair because the gray makes you look old.

Women who opt for plastic surgery look hideous.

How could a woman give up like that?

She's too old for that outfit.

Oversize plastic jewelry, vintage neon smock, hot pink slip-ons from Target, sassy side pony tail. Photo by Avalon Potter

Oversize plastic jewelry, vintage neon smock, hot pink slip-ons from Target, sassy side pony tail. Photo by Avalon Potter

I have opined this topic many times, including in my new book about being a woman over 50. (Shameless self-promotion alert.) I believe that women over 50 should wear whatever the hell they want. They should opt for whatever hair color or style they want. They should have or not have plastic surgery if they want. They should be able to be comfortable or outrageous or conservative or understated or over the top or all of the above depending on the day and their ever shifting moods. What a woman wears or how she presents herself to the world is entirely her business. Period. 

As a society, we want women over 50 to fade away. We ask them to "age gracefully." We suggest that they refrain from trying to look "too young" lest they appear "desperate." We tell them not to wear mini skirts or too much make-up or candy colored hair...or we tell them to seek the fountain of youth through anti-aging potions, serums, surgeries, and hair dye. These are the two sides of the same coin, the coin of shame. You are old now, so these are the new rules. Follow them or risk being judged. Try to look younger but don't try to look too much younger. Do this, do that! Wear this, don't wear that! You are OLD now, act your age!

I think it's high time that we stop telling women over 50 what to wear. It's time that we stop making grand declarations about what is and is not acceptable. It's time to stop demanding 'authenticity' as if you know what that is for someone else. Let's make a new rule, shall we? Do what makes you happy, allow others to do the same. Period.

Thrifted tunic, vintage bracelet, earrings and necklace designed and made by me, glitter glasses Kate Spade. Photo by Jennifer MacNeill Photography

Thrifted tunic, vintage bracelet, earrings and necklace designed and made by me, glitter glasses Kate Spade. Photo by Jennifer MacNeill Photography

Here's some unsolicited fashion advice for women over 50. When deciding what to wear you might ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does this make me happy?

2. Do I feel good when I wear this?

3. Do other people's opinions matter to me?

If it makes you happy, makes you feel good, and you don't give a flying fark what other people think, wear it. If it makes you feel sad or uncomfortable or you are concerned what other people will think, don't wear it. What is in or out or cool or uncool or pretty or ugly are subjective, arbitrary, and mostly irrelevant matters. After 50, you have earned the right to wear what you please. You always had that right. If someone feels compelled to piss in your cornflakes with their unsolicited opinions about your sartorial choices, feel free to tell them to kiss your sassy ass, sister.

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How I Approach Fashion After 50

Thrifted Talbots dress and Steve Madden platforms, glasses EyeBuyDirect, hoops from LouLou Boutiques, necklace from Forever 21 years back, and gifted one of a kind glass bracelet. Photo by Avalon Potter

Thrifted Talbots dress and Steve Madden platforms, glasses EyeBuyDirect, hoops from LouLou Boutiques, necklace from Forever 21 years back, and gifted one of a kind glass bracelet. Photo by Avalon Potter

Hello, Gorgeous!

I've always found the articles that tell women what to wear at a certain age insipid and ill advised. Women should wear whatever the hell they want to wear. Period. Still, it can be frustrating trying to navigate fashion as we get older. Most of the clothes sold at retail are designed for younger women and clothing that is designed for older women can be a little...boring, safe, figure concealing, blah. Then the challenge becomes finding clothing that makes us feel stylish instead of dowdy. My secret? I don't shop much for clothing at retail, because there's so much good stuff at the thrift stores. This means I'm not always wearing what's 'in' and I don't give a hoot about the idea that you can't wear a style if you wore it the first time around. I wear what pleases me.

Once you reach your 50s, you likely have a sense of what works for you and what doesn't. You have, subsequently, cultivated your own sense of style. Style transcends fashion. If you were to define my overarching style, it would likely be vintage inspired with a modern flair. 

Thrifted dress and BCBG shoes, gifted jewelry designed by Daniel Espinosa.  Photo by Avalon Potter

Thrifted dress and BCBG shoes, gifted jewelry designed by Daniel Espinosa.

Photo by Avalon Potter

It's challenging dressing a changing body, and mine has changed significantly over the past 7 years. I'm still figuring out what works and what doesn't, in terms of cuts and styles that flatter my significantly curvier frame. Mass market clothing is cut/designed for smaller sizes and just making the same garment larger doesn't address the different proportions of a curvier body. Often the tops of dresses are too big on me because my breasts are not big enough in proportion to the rest of me to fit the standard measurements. Sometimes skirts, pants, or the bottoms of tops are too tight, because my curves tend towards my lower half. Some might say that I'm a pear, but I find the whole fruit comparison insulting. I'm not a pear, I'm just a woman with her own unique body shape, just like every other woman. 

I've never taken myself or fashion that seriously. The goal of fashion is to sell you clothing, the key to doing this is to make you feel compelled to buy the latest styles. What's in? What's out? In the age of fast fashion, it's becoming more difficult to discern. There's no need to be a slave to rules or trends or the unsolicited opinions of other people. I'm a big believer in doing what makes me happy and allowing other people the breathing room to do the same. I don't care what someone else wears or doesn't wear. That's their business. 

Photo by Avalon Potter

Photo by Avalon Potter

What do I know, for sure? I know that accessories are everything. They can take a simple outfit and elevate it immediately. I'm a fan of big and bold or delicate and simple. I don't do in between. I also make my own jewelry. I've written 7 books about the topic and created some easy to follow YouTube videos if you're interested in learning how! A great bag, fabulous shoes, a statement necklace, a wrist full of bodacious bangles, a printed scarf, a jaunty beret, I love a great accessory or three or four. I do try to edit, but I'm with Iris Apfel, "More is more and less is a bore!"

Thrifted Target dress, earrings H&M, bracelet was my grandmother's. Photo by Avalon Potter

Thrifted Target dress, earrings H&M, bracelet was my grandmother's. Photo by Avalon Potter

If someone were to ask me for fashion/style advice I'd suggest they lighten up and have some fun. Life's short. Fashion is fickle. Wear what makes you feel confident, happy, and beautiful, or wear what makes you feel bodacious and bad ass or wear what makes you feel comfortable. You do you! One day you may feel like a saucy minx, the next like a sophisticate. Some days you want to stand out and other days you want to go incognito. (This is not easy when you have hot pink hair...just sayin'.) You don't have to fit in or look like everyone else. Letting go of the desire to fit in is deliciously freeing.

When we were young, playing dress-up, fashion was fun. Then we got older and people started telling us what to wear. Dress codes, style rules, people who feel compelled to tell us how they feel about what we're wearing...

You can't wear that in public! Egads!

This is even more pronounced as we hit middle age. Every fashion expert with a blog or an Instagram is ready to tell us what to wear after 40 or 50 or 60. I prefer to blissfully ignore their directives. Regardless of the arbiters of style, fashion can be fun at any age. When we reach mid-age and we realize that rules are absurd, it's the perfect time to play dress-up again. 

How do I approach fashion after 50? With a healthy sense of whimsy and a complete lack of concern about how other people feel about that.

"Glitter up those eyelids and rave on, darling." 

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Facing Rejection After 50

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While I was working on this graphic recently, I received an email rejection. It happens. Getting an email is better than hearing nothing, which also happens. I'm sending out energy in every direction right now to promote the book. Or, to be blunt, I'm tossing as much a shit as possible at the walls and hoping some sticks. Yup, looking for the sticky shit. Unfortunately, this shit was not sticky.

As a creative, my entire adult professional experience has been about setting myself up to be rejected. As an actress auditioning for shows and then awaiting the reviews, as a TV talent auditioning for on-air spots, as a vocalist fronting bands, as a design expert writing books, articles, and creating DIY designs to inspire creativity, and now, as a writer. I could share all manner of stories about the humiliations and indignities I've endured. 

"They", the proverbial they, will say that you cannot be thin skinned and be a performer, writer, artist, or on-camera personality. The truth is, for all of my bravado and braggadocio, I'm a sensitive person. Creatives are supposed to just take rejection with a smile. We're not supposed to admit, out loud, that it hurts to put everything on the line and be casually dismissed. Well, guess what? It hurts to put everything on the line and be casually dismissed and I AM SAYING IT OUT LOUD. So there. 

When faced with rejection, I feel all the feelings. I have a good cry and beat myself up and start to think maybe I'm not worthwhile. It may take a day or so for me to dig myself out of the self pity pit. Yet, I grab a shovel and get to work. Rejection doesn't really get easier, but you get better at getting over it. 

I can focus on rejection, but that would grind down my resolve. Instead, I am going to focus on the feedback I am getting from women (and men) who have told me how much they love my new book. They love the honesty, the humor, and the painful truth about what we all experience as we grow older. They love the way I'm able to articulate the things they're feeling, and my willingness to talk about the things women mostly keep to ourselves. If the gatekeeper from the company that sent this email can't see the value in that message, that's their loss. 

Being a woman over 50 is to know rejection at a cellular level. Making it to your mid-century mark means you have survived. You know what it means to keep fighting the good fight even when you're bruised, broken, and beleaguered. You know what it takes to get up and get moving in the face of the worst that life might toss in your pathway.

That's what my book is about, surviving the rejection from a world that wants me to become invisible. I categorically refuse. There are millions of women over 50 who are struggling with the same rejections. They may be finding it harder to find a job, or facing the end of a partnership, or feathering the empty nest, or swimming through the pause that is meno, or finding the resolve to embrace the loss of their youth. Whatever they're experiencing, their experiences matter. 

We're here. We're over 50. Get over it.

We're not going anywhere, in fact, we're just getting started.

Rock on, 
Madge

It's About Time I Shift My Perspective

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Summer is making the slow transition into fall, my awareness of this seems to increase every year. Falling leaves, fading plants, the increasingly insistent songs of insects, subtle shifts in the atmosphere...mid-August and I can sense it already. I have not had enough of summer, I long for the siren song of the ocean, the taste of salt air on my lips, the feeling of sand crunching under my feet, the long exhale. Yet, summer will fade and fall will arrive with winter nipping at its heels. My daughter is home for a nano-second before she leaves for a semester abroad. I'm facing another milestone birthday, which will be spent alone. The prospect of this does not delight. Yet, I shall embrace the new normal and flow with the increasing awareness of the passing of seasons, the continuum of the empty nest, and accept this new number of 55... 

In other news, or tangentially, or because my brain keeps hopping about as I tap at this keyboard, I have found being funny increasingly difficult since the last election. I keep reaching for it, though it mostly eludes. It's a weird new world filled with daily disappointments. I have adjusted with a weird new level of seriousness. Or more aptly, my underlying tendency towards Brooding Irish Melancholia is surfacing with more frequency. Don't get me wrong, I am not allowing my joy to be siphoned away, but it's being tempered by my awareness that we're living in strange and troubling times. 

Thinking. Thinking. As I am wont to do. So much of how we measure reality is structured by our perception of time. How fascinating that is. Today, tomorrow, daily, hourly, frequency, strange times, birthdays, age, years, passing, numbers... 

Seasons are real, but calendars and clocks are illusions. Knowing this, I attempt to release my attachment to arbitrary numbers on falsely constructed timelines. A little perspective is in order. 55 is not much of a leap from 50 or 45 or 39. A few more wrinkles, yes, but the core of me remains the same. What matters most remains the same. Time may keep slipping into the future, but that isn't a tragedy. I'm here. Seasons keep changing, and I keep marching bravely forward even through these strange and troubling times. Stranger and more troubling than times past? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It's all perspective. If time is an illusion, if it is a circle and not a straight line, if it is a matter of the observer and their perspective, then none of this matters in the grand cosmic scheme. It's all happening, it's already happened, it's going to happen...today, tomorrow, daily, hourly, frequency, strange times, birthdays, age, years, passing numbers...blah, blah, blah-biddy blah.

A hearty sense of absurdity is in order and this I shall seek to summon in spite of any melancholic undertones...or undertows...as they may be. 

It's about time for a shift in my perspective. 

See what I did there? 

Cheers, darling. 

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Slow Down, You Move too Fast

slow down you move too fast

It seems that time is on a rapidly escalating trajectory. I'm not a physicist, mind you, just a curious observer. Our hyper consumer culture combined with the urgent immediacy of social media and the insatiable beast of our constant connection have created a new reality. In this reality, we are incapable of being present in any moment. We must capture the moment, live stream the moment, filter the moment and our reactions through the lenses of our cell phones or computer screens. In doing so we diminish the power of the moment. We exist in a constant state of anticipation of the next moment, the next trend, the next episode, the next season, the next holiday! 

We are twice removed from reality, immersed in a pale and demanding reflection. 

Everything is filtered, curated, cropped, edited, and condensed into soundbites and snippets. Go to a museum or a public event and you will find most people holding up their phones. It's becoming increasingly difficult to see around them. 

Excuse me, folks, I was wondering if you could PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN so that I might observe the masterpiece on the wall...there in front of us...in person?

Hello? Anyone? 

They start pushing Christmas in July, proof positive that there is no war on Christmas.  However, it leads me to believe there's a war on summer. I mean, really, JULY?! Can we save Christmas for after Halloween? Or save Halloween for after Labor Day? For the love of PUMPKIN SPICE, enough already! I prefer to enjoy beach balls, pool floats, and flip flops until the last possible moment before I embrace sweaters, boots, and spiced wafers. I'm surely not ready for peppermint lattes, Santa Claus, and jingle bells until there's a chill in the air and the pumpkin has melted into a moldy pile of pulp. 

Am I the only one who feels the strain? Is it just me standing in the middle of August surrounded by fall and winter decor while desperately clinging to my drippy ice cream cone?

Trends that used to linger for months and years burn out in a matter of weeks. Fast fashion is moving so fast H&M has a mountain of clothing they've resorted to burning. What's in? What's out? What's up? Those sandals are so last week, sister. They are?! Egads! Things go out of style before you've had a chance to wear them twice. Meanwhile, some trends are constantly being resurrected. Did they ever leave? How many times can we revisit gladiator sandals and wide leg jeans? But not worn together, good grief, have you no fashion sense?

Images that seemed appealing at first glance lose appeal when they've been plastered on everything from sweatshirts to sippy cups. How many llama encrusted items can one own?

That's a rhetorical question. 

All the llama encrusted items! Until the pineapple or unicorn or narwal or sloth or rainbow emerges victorious! What's next? Who knows?! Marmosets? Sea slugs? The oft neglected platypus?

We'll find out this week, as the tides keep shifting and the trends keep escalating. 

We binge watch our way through seasons of TV shows that used to unfold over the course of months and years. More, more, more! Faster! Louder! We want information and instruction and entertainment served up in smaller and smaller bits and pieces. The mini-series has morphed into the web series of 2 minute videos. Friendly faces have been replaced by hands moving at the speed of light as they create impossible to reproduce brightly colored internet friendly tutorials of DIY and Home Improvement projects. Real people are being replaced by virtual social media stars who lack the pesky imperfections of their human counterparts.

I miss being in the moment. I miss the slow burn. I miss sitting face to face and having thoughtful conversations. I miss the exquisite boredom of a lazy afternoon uninterrupted by social media notifications and the ever present and insistent cell phone. I find myself torn between the need to promote my book and my brand on the internet and the deep seated desire to unplug and reconnect with the real world. I've traded autonomy and serenity for an insatiable digitally escalated fake reality. Most of us have, and it's changing our brains and our relationships.

On the one hand, we are more connected than we've ever been. This allows us opportunities to meet people we would not have met before the digital age, and it allows us to reconnect with people we may have lost along the way. However, we're also more disconnected than we've ever been. Add into this fake news, online bullies, social media depression, decreasing attention spans, the loss of person to person connectivity, and the lack of immersion in the moment and I'm not sure if the trade off is worth the cost it exacts. And then there's the reality that the free platforms we're using to stay connected are built to observe, collect, sell, and exploit our data. This has had big real world consequences, as evidenced by Brexit and the 2018 election. 

Maybe this is a sign of my becoming old, rejecting the progress of technology. Perhaps by hanging on to the idea of being in the moment, of embracing reality, I'm clinging to something that will be lost to future generations. Virtual reality offers a perfection that reality lacks. Imperfection is what makes real life fascinating, but even imperfection can be mimicked. 

I'm trying to find a balance between the digital world and the actual world. I am not alone. There is a pull being felt by many to step away from the screens. People are growing weary of social media and the way it makes them feel. What is real is right in front of us, and we can feel it, taste it, touch it, and connect to it at any moment. There is so much to explore, if we're willing to put down our phones and reconnect. We don't have to race on the hamster wheel of fast fashion. There is no need to be slaves to the trend machine. We can savor a meal without sharing it on social media. We can engage the people around us as we move through the world. We can stay connected without feeding the data beast. 

Time is not moving faster, we are. I've decided that it's time to slow down. I'm not sure what that means yet, or how I will manifest it in my day to day reality. But I do know that I want more of that and less of this fast paced, frenetic illusion.

 

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My At Home Teeth Whitening Experience

I found a great reason to #smilefearlessly! 

I found a great reason to #smilefearlessly! 

This post was sponsored by Smile Brilliant. I was provided with their Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening System and offered an extra kit to giveaway in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

It’s said that a smile is the best (and cheapest) face lift. Over the past couple of years, I have found my smile losing its appeal. Drinking coffee and taking medicines for asthma were turning my teeth increasingly yellow. I started digitally whitening them for social media photos, but I can’t hide my tooth discoloration in my videos and there are no teeth filters for real life. This made me feel less and less excited about smiling. Yellow teeth were making me look older, which is the opposite of the best face lift! Sad face. I tried a variety of at home teeth whitening toothpastes, drug store home teeth whitening gels and strips, and even a higher end tooth whitening gel brush on system, but they irritated my gums and my teeth didn’t really get much whiter. I explored professional teeth whitening through our family dentist, but it costs well over 500 hundred dollars and it just wasn’t in our budget.

I was contacted recently by the folks from Smile Brilliant about trying their tooth whitening system. I decided to say yes, even though I was skeptical. Were my gums going to hurt again? Was this going to make a real difference? I get product review requests all the time, but I only say yes when I think it may be interesting/valuable to my readers. Since they offered a kit to one of YOU and to me, I decided to take their system for a test drive!  Win-win!

I received a package with multiple sealed syringes of teeth bleaching gel and desensitizing gel for use when whitening sensitive teeth, step-by-step instruction cards, a container for my custom fit dental trays, and everything needed to get a set of custom trays fitted to my teeth. The packaging is terrific, and it has lots of information to help guide you through creating your custom fit teeth whitening trays and using the system.

My tooth molds ready to ship back to Smile Brilliant!

My tooth molds ready to ship back to Smile Brilliant!

You receive a two-part putty you mix by hand, place into a form, and press into your upper and then repeat and press into your lower teeth. They guide you through the process to help you make perfect impressions. In case you have any problems, they give you a second set of two-party putty mixture to try again. The key is to be sure that you mix the putty until the colors are fully integrated. Since I’ve used a lot of two-part putty for crafting, I knew how it worked. It’s soft and easy to press into the molds, and it doesn’t take long for the putty to set once you press it on your teeth. You make impressions of your upper and lower teeth. Once you’ve created your molds, you ship them back in the provided postage paid envelope. Their lab will use your molds to create your custom trays. You’ll get your custom fit dental trays back in 3-5 business days.

As soon as you get your custom made dental trays, you can get started whitening! Before you begin, brush your teeth with water to remove any food particles. Squeeze a thin ribbon of the tooth whitening gel (which is 22% carbamide peroxide) into the front of trays, be sure your teeth are dry, then apply the trays, and whiten for 45 minutes at a time. If you are not experiencing sensitivity, you can increase the whitening time to up to three hours a session.  I found it easiest to keep a glass with me to spit out any excess saliva/gel while whitening, you don’t want to swallow the gel. Yeah, it was kinda gross, but not a big deal!

My at home Teeth Whitening Experience with Smile Brilliant!

My at home Teeth Whitening Experience with Smile Brilliant!

After whitening, brush with toothpaste. If you have the sensitive kit, like I did, there’s one more step. Clean and dry the whitening trays, squeeze a thin ribbon of the desensitizing gel into the trays and reapply the trays for 15 minutes. Remove the trays, spread gel around your gums and teeth and carry on! You don’t have to brush your teeth after you whiten.

This was the first time I’ve used at home teeth whitening products and not had gum or tooth sensitivity. If you are experiencing any gum or teeth sensitivity issues, you can apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to your gums before whitening to protect them and whiten every other day instead of daily. I didn’t find that I needed to do either. I started seeing results after my first session, and after a week and a half of daily 45 minute sessions, my teeth look significantly whiter.

Before and after using Smile Brilliant Tooth Whitening System.

Before and after using Smile Brilliant Tooth Whitening System.

Everyone’s teeth will reach a different whiteness level. Mine are not brilliant white, but they are exponentially brighter. I am so much happier with how they look! I’m smiling more and not self-conscious about my smile. I plan to keep using Smile Brilliant to maintain my results.

My impression? If you’ve been looking for an easy to use and effective solution for whitening teeth at home, Smile Brilliant is well worth the cost. It’s far less expensive than the system a dentist would use, and far more effective than less expensive products you’d find at a drug or other retail store. Once you use up the product in your kit, you can order more tooth whitening gel from their website to help you maintain your new smile! Great news for my international readers, Smile Brilliant ships worldwide!

I'm even feeling bold enough to share a no makeup photo and my new smile! Apparently Charlie approves. 

I'm even feeling bold enough to share a no makeup photo and my new smile! Apparently Charlie approves. 

I’m seriously excited to share that Smile Brilliant is offering a 15% discount to my readers using the code margotpotter15 AND one of you can win a full kit! (Open to US, UK, Canada, and Australia only) The retail value of this kit is $149.00! 

Here's the Giveaway Link! Good luck! 

You’ll be able to start whitening your teeth as soon as you get your custom tooth whitening trays back in the mail.

How cool is that?!

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I’m smiling just thinking about it…because I love smiling again!

Lifestyle Changes, the Humorists of Diets

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I've been implementing some lifestyle changes over the past four weeks. Lifestyle changes are the sophisticated older cousins of diets. They're like jazz or silk scarves or soft leather high end driving shoes. Lifestyle changes may not have the impact of a crash diet or a 30-day extreme exercise program, but that's what makes them sustainable. A tweak here, a tweak there, remove this or that from the plate-add this or that to the regimen. All substance, no flash. 

Last week I saw a billboard for an upcoming appearance by a 'humorist.' A humorist is the sophisticated older cousin of the comedian. Subtle humor for the erudite. Hearty guffaws and rip snorting chuckles are not guaranteed. Slight smiles, occasional quiet giggles may ensue. If you're looking to laugh your ass off, you need not apply. Comedians are so gauche. I mean, really. How many dick jokes can one endure? Take a walk on the mild side with the somewhat amusing musings of Dolores DuCharmet, humorist to the stars.

Lifestyle Changes are the humorists of diets. 

So far my subtle lifestyle changes have included almost daily 3 mile walks and removing coffee, sugar, bread and bread-like substances from the daily rotation. I can't drink coffee without sugar and half and half, so I've let it go. There has been an increase in berries, green leafy items, various and sundry vegetables, beans, nuts, and lean proteins. I've added more water, though it has not been easy. I don't like the way water tastes. You will tell me that water has no flavor, but you are incorrect. It has a weird, bitter, sad flavor that lingers after every sip. 

Sips water, sighs.

Yup, blech.

I've cut back on the consumption of wine, though the Queen of England, who looks to be on trajectory for immortality, has a glass of bubbly every evening before bed AND a pre-lunch cocktail. What's good for the Queen should be good for the rest of us. Yet, calories and weight loss and health concerns and yadda, yadda, yadda... I'll reserve my royal beverage imbibing activities for the weekend. This is a fancy humorist way of saying I'm cutting out alcohol and replacing it with...blergh...water. Huzzah.

I would like to report that my lifestyle changes have resulted in significant changes in my body. However, I have shed but a scant few pounds resulting in my being much the same curvy and slightly lumpy person I was four weeks ago. Walking is not a huge calorie burner, but my lungs and my gimpy right tennis elbow afflicted arm preclude me from more vociferous physical activities at this juncture. The thing is, when you go on a fad diet and you lose a bunch of weight quickly, it's satisfying but more often than not unsustainable. It's all flash and glitter that leads to crash and burn. I'm in this for the long haul. Therefore, regardless of how long it takes for these subtle changes to become evident, I shall march bravely with my water bottle in tow chewing on a leafy green something or other resolutely.

Stay tuned for my upcoming book: Lose Weight SLOWLY with Light Exercise and Simple Dietary Alterations with Madge's Lifestyle Changes, the Humorists of Diets. Introduction by Dolores DuCharmet, actual humorist.

xoxo,

Madge

 

 

Dog Days of Summer

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I have this thing with dogs. 

I love them. I love dogs. It's like Oprah with bread, except it's dogs. 

I. Love. Dogs.

If knowing weird dog breeds was a thing one could do for a living, I'd be in high demand. Sadly, it is not, which is why I'm blogging about dogs for the sheer fun of it. 

Woot. 

You may think I am exaggerating my dog breed knowledge, but you would be incorrect. Recently whilst speeding through DC in an Uber with my daughter, she pointed to a funky looking dog across the street.

"Look at that dog! What is that?" My daughter asked.

"Oh, that's a Dandie Dinmont." I replied, matter of factly, as if Dandie Dinmonts just spramped around every dog park or sidewalk on a regular basis.

"What's a Dandie Dinmont? Did you make that up?"

I make things up all of the time so it wasn't out of the question.

"It's a terrier. Google it."

Behold, the noble Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Behold, the noble Dandie Dinmont Terrier

And so she did.

Et voila, behold the Dandie Dinmont. Weird little dog, eh? Almost as weird as an Affenpinscher, almost.

Above you will find a picture of me with Cupcake, the poodle. As you can see, clearly, Cupcake is my spirit animal. Cupcake is also one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. I meet dogs all of the time. I'm the annoying lady who simply HAS TO come and pet your dog, even if you seem nonplussed by the idea. Just let me pet your dog, it will be quick and painless and we can all get on with our lives. 

I have three dogs. Our three slightly irregular shelter dogs are horribly behaved and incapable of walking together in a public space. This is my fault, not theirs. My husband and I have tried and tried and tried to train them to walk together. We have tried various and sundry leashes. We have tried treat training. We have tried behavioral modification.

None of this has proved useful. 

I know all about dogs and dog breeds, but I am not a dog whisperer.

Oh no.

I am a Dog Yellerer. 

Cricket Bug, Charlie, and Pilkington

Cricket Bug, Charlie, and Pilkington

I owned the url dogyellerer.com for a while, but what can one do with that, really? Dog Yellerers don't get TV shows or accolades, they get sidelong glances from neighbors who question their sanity. My dogs have selective hearing and a propensity for peeing on my newly planted perrenials. They are also, all three of them, so deeply disturbed by wet grass that they refuse to pee in the yard when it's raining or after it has rained or when the dew is too heavy in the wee small hours of the morning. (Dew, wee small hours, see how I did that?) Two of my dogs are terrier mixes and the third is a Shih-Poo, or as we like to call him, a Shit-Poo. I'd explain why we named him that but trust me when I tell you, it's best we don't discuss it. That is me with our three misfit dogs in the photo there. They're cute, right?

I love my dogs, but I do yell at them. I am not proud of this. 

I don't yell horrible things at them, I just yell at them to stop barking and stop peeing on my perrenials and stop peeing on my deck furniture and stop barking at the neighbors' dogs. I also yell at them when they sneak off and pee or poo in the dining room, a frequent rainy day activity. Anything to avoid the dreaded wet paws. Some days I do a lot of yelling, because they do a lot of peeing. This is absurd, because I'm basically barking at my dogs. I'm sure this confuses them.

Am I joining them? Am I encouraging them? Why is this lady always barking at us?

Why, indeed.

If I could, I'd probably have more than three dogs, but my husband would leave me and I like having him around. Besides, the dogs love him. This might be because he is not a Dog Yellerer. When he's out of town, they love me, but as soon as he gets home they drop me like a cold dog biscuit. 

Whatever, barking lady. 

My husband and I have been walking for exercise in a local park lately. Our dogs are not good at walking together, as I mentioned earlier, so it is just the two of us on these walks. There is a proliferation of dogs at the park every day, this is extremely exciting for me. I must point out each dog, name the breed, get as excited as a three year old at an ice cream party, and then I must say hello and pet them. Today we saw a Basset Hound named Heinz, an Airedale Terrier named Tulpy, a standard Poodle whom I was not able to pet, and a Chihuahua named Coco. Who knows what excitement awaits us tomorrow? 

After all, these are the Dog Days of Summer, literally and figuratively.

Sirius-ly. Ruff-ly speaking. Gives one paws for reflection, doesn't it? Fleas, believe me. 

Good lord, it has come to this. 

This blog post has gone to the dogs.

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Who Are You Calling Old Lady?

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Greetings and Salutations,

Today we're talking about ageism and archaic linguistic idiocy.

Yeah, it's about to get real.

According to Dictionary.com:

"OId Lady: An elderly woman.

Elderly

eldərlē/ 

adjective

  1. (of a person) old or aging.

    "she was elderly and silver-haired"

    synonyms: aged, old, advanced in years, aging, long in the tooth, past one's prime;

    gray-haired, grizzled, hoary; 

    in one's dotage, decrepit, doddering, doddery, senescent; 

    informal getting on, past it, over the hill, no spring chicken

    "her elderly mother"

    old people, the aged, senior citizens;

    geriatrics, seniors;

    retired people, retirees, golden agers;

    informal oldsters, geezers"

First and foremost, who are you calling hoary, honey?

No spring chicken?

Cluck off.

Decrepit? Grizzled? Doddering? Geezer? OLDSTER?!

Seriously?

Nope. Not having it today...or tomorrow. Fairly sure that I'm not having it ever. Take that and stuff it in your toaster oven. 

Ageism is real, it's shitty, and I'm done with it. Why do we continue to cling to these archaic modes of thinking? People are living much longer, and more than that they're thriving and evolving and contributing much longer. They're retiring later, and many people aren't retiring at all. Old age is not what it used to be, and it's is changing rapidly as science continues to discover new pathways for longevity and vitality. Yet, our attitudes towards numbers on a timeline have not shifted, we're more age-phobic than ever.

Long in the tooth. Aged out. Over the hill. Past one's prime. There is inherent bias in all of these phrases and that bias trickles down into our cultural subconsciousness. Then it filters into the way in which we treat people over a certain age, and the manner in which we lump them all together and roundly dismiss them. We don't respect the elderly, we just insist that they disappear so we don't have to think about them. This starts at age 50, which is patently absurd as I've bemoaned vociferously in the past. 

We are terrified of death, and concurrently we are terrified of aging. Old people remind us of our fragility. Old women, in particular, terrify us. After all, the archetype of the wicked witch is the haggard old woman so desperate to regain her youth she'd murder children or beautiful young women for it. Youth being the prize we all covet, above wisdom, experience, insight, skill, and knowledge. All of the things we gain as we make our journey from youth to old age are meaningless when compared to youth, according to our cultural mythology. 

Age may just be a number, but people are obsessed with the numbers. They're also obsessed with telling other people how to think, act, dress, love, and live. This is particularly true for women. It is even more true for women of a certain age.

Age gracefully! Don't dare wear this after 50! Act like a lady! Act your age! You're too old for that!

The scrutiny is excruciating, and the rule making and judging relentless. 

I will not fit into your box. I will not conform to your requests. I will not accept your labels. I will not age gracefully. I will not make myself smaller to make other people comfortable. The world will have to shift, because I'm not shifting. I'll be an 'old lady' when I'm damn good and ready and not a moment sooner. I don't owe anyone an explanation or an apology for being five notches too loud, three notches too sparkly, and aging disgracefully. I will wear what I please, say what I please, think what I please, love whom I please, vote as I please, and live as I please. I will allow everyone else the breathing room to do the same. You do you, I'm going to keep doing me over here. I intend to keep being a bold, bodacious, bad ass bitch until the bitter-no scratch that-until the blissful end. If that's a problem for you, it's entirely your problem.

That's all I've got to say about that. Today. 

I made a video to go with this post, perhaps you will enjoy it. 

(If you like this post, you might like my new book Fifty and Other F-Words. I'm just sayin'.)

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Defiantly 55: Rewriting Outmoded Aging Scripts

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Hello, Gorgeous! 

When I turned 50, I was surprised to find out that I had crossed over into the dark side. According to the arbitrars of aging. I was...old. 

"What? 50? That's not old!"

"Oh, honey, 50 is old." 

"It is?! Why didn't anyone warn me I had an expiration date? Damn it, people!" 

Media, advertisers, marketers, manufacturers, and retailers ever in search of the younger demographic, are happy to drop older women like hot potatoes. Or hot flash potatoes. Or sweaty old spuds.

"Sorry, sweaty old spud, but we're keen on tastier tater tots these days."

"Tater tots? Please. They're so juvenile."

"Exactly." 

I'm sliding into 55 next month and suddenly I'm hitting a new milestone. I'm even less desirable than I was at 50, because I'm about to join the auspicious group known as 55 and older! Aw yiss! Congratulations! You made it! Woo hoo! Hello SENIOR! That's right, you can move into a 55 and older community! You get old people discounts! You are completely irrelevant to marketers! Are you a lady? You're even more irrelevant, because you don't need Viagra! We won't show ladies like you in sexy commercials with a hot young guy lounging on a bed while soft porn music plays and your old lady hair blows in the breeze of a fan. That's right, you're special like that. Nobody cares about your sex life, lady. Get a cat and some sensible shoes and exit stage left, thank you.

This is patently absurd! I don't feel old, I don't look old, and I'm not interested in 'old lady' things. I don't even know what 'old lady' things are. What are 'old lady' things? Doilies? Rubber swim caps? Toilet paper cozies? Gingham bloomers? Do they even sell those anymore?

Who decides this stuff?  

I imagine there are lots of women over 55 collectively scratching their heads. We're punk rock, independent, defiant women of substance, and that doesn't change the moment we hit some arbitrary age milestone. We're the same person at 55 that we were the day before. We are the largest demographic with the most discretionary income, and we've got YEARS left to earn it and spend it. 

Old lady my ass.

You can take that outmoded, archaic, patriarchal pile of crapadoodledoo and stuff it in a pair of gingham bloomers. This feisty feminist isn't having any of it. And hey, media, brands, marketers, advertisers...wake the hell up! 

"That sweaty old spud's got some spice in her britches."

"Yes, yes I do. Take that, tater tot." Tosses back her hot pink mane, straightens her lady pants, and sashays into her day. 

(If you like this post, and really what's not to like unless you're a tater tot, you might like my new book Fifty and Other F-Words. I'm just sayin'.)

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