Ratatouille

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Image by Sergei Belozerov from Pixabay

Whether it be a delicious French country dish made from harvesting late summer vegetables, or the animated film centered around a rodent gourmand who dazzles a restaurant critic with the same dish, ratatouille involves nourishing our soul.

In the Chinese calendar, we are on the verge of the Year of the Metal Rat. These zodiac Rats are know for their industrious nature, and the ability to gather sustenance and prosperity and tuck it away much like the harvesting of late summer vegetables.

I am a Metal Rat and fit that profile quite well. Coincidentally, I am petite and small-boned and quite adept at hiding in corners. You will often find me there, worrying and working myself to the bone, typical behavior of the first sign in the Chinese Zodiac. Although it might not be listed in this lucky sign’s traits, I do love me some metal music.

If you are a fellow Metal Rat, it is our year to shine. Metal is a conductive energy, so whatever we touch will have powerful energy behind it. Be careful and vigilant where you focus your thoughts and tasks, you don’t want to waste that power down the wrong path or in too much worry. I consider it quite auspicious that I am about to retire and making plans to building the next chapter in my life’s story. My efforts have been in the left-brained, logical world for many a year, so I am gearing up to give my right-brain, creative side some release. #Create!!

Even if you are not a fellow – ahem – rodent, it is a potent year for shoring up your resources. Invest wisely, beautify your nest and fill your coffers with that which sustains your life. The little rat is a workaholic worrier, always afraid there is never enough financial abundance, yet loves practical luxury. That little nest will always be stylish and those little feet shod in beautifully made shoes. The task at hand for the rat, is that in order to avoid excessive worry about money is to not overspend. Go green, recycle, upcycle, my little friends, and don’t overlook secondhand and consignment shopping. I have just discovered this market, and have scored some lovely luxury items at minimal cost. Minnie Mouse understands that you can look fabulous and be frugal at the same time.

Don’t neglect the inside, while covering up the outside. An overload of chemicals will keep you feeling off, bloated, itchy and overweight. Chemicals are everywhere and in most everything, and our bodies have difficulty in eliminating them. Think of your intestines and skin as a filtering system, and drink pure filtered water every day. Eat organic, non-GMO food. Rats have thin skin and are susceptible to the “itchies” and you don’t want to look like that. This is going to be a big year and you want to keep your body in as good a condition as possible so you have the energy to give it your best. Not that you shouldn’t do that any other year.

Remember to be a little social too, my fellow Rats, all work and no play is unhealthy. Our workaholic tendencies cause us to put all our duties before play, and usually there isn’t enough time nor energy left for play. Yes, I know you want to put the laundry away before going to the party, but no one has ever died from not having folded towels. A much refreshed you is a much happier you.

Come out of the corners, little Rats, dream big and put those plans into action. Be sure to join those celebratory parties when you meet a milestone. #wineandcheese

PS. I’ve also been told that rats make good pets.

Ever Evolving

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Aging. There is a reason why it is a verb and not a noun. Or a journey rather than a destination. Some days I just blaze through them when I am focused on a task and not even notice that the time has passed.

Other days, I look in the mirror and think: WTF what is going on here?

Lately, I’m a bit obsessed with my wardrobe. I’ve always been a fashionista, with a tendency to make a statement with my clothing. I like edgy with leather moto jackets and studded boots. I like bohemian with flowy prints. I like color, texture and patterns. No one that knows me would call me beige.

What comes with aging, that is so mind-boggling, is the constant state of body change. All you women out there who have gone through menopause, know exactly what I’m talking about. There are a gazillion blog posts written on this very subject. Lots of WTF moments.

Change is inevitable, but I think it is difficult to accept what happens to your body. Your boobs get bigger and they droop. Your ass gets bigger and droops. And then there is this round thing that shows up around your waist like a Monday morning donut. WTF. It is not an easy task to get them corralled and back in shape.

A diet shouldn’t be a diet, but a lifestyle. Learn to love vegetables. Eat hormone free meat. Seriously? If it makes an animal get bigger, what do you think happens to you? Practice intermittent fasting, if nothing but to eliminate the digesting grumbles in the middle of the night. Take supplements because, yes, they really do work. Drink water with a chunk of lemon in it. It makes you pee, but you’ll notice the puffiness goes away.

Exercise. Walk. Take the stairs. Do weight-bearing repetitions several times a week. Even if it doesn’t do much for your shape, your bones and joints will love you. Having muscles will help you get out of bed in the morning, instead of just rolling over and hoping you don’t end up on the floor. Our muscles get weaker as we age, so you can counteract that by lifting weights.

Take care of your hair and skin. Nothing ages you faster than looking like you don’t give a sh*t. Gray hair looks awesome when it is well-cared for. Spending money on good hair products is worth it. Same thing with your skin. If you live in a dry climate, like I do, moisturizers are a must unless you like itching your way through winter. Coconut oil works quite well.

Keep up with your teeth. Brush, floss, see your dentist. Healthy teeth keep you healthier.

Breathe. Meditate. Get out in nature.

It will make it a lot easier to go back into your closet and throw out all the things you bought last year that no longer fit.

Festi-fall

IMG_0687Every now and then, my fashionista side says “let’s go play fashion shoot” and off we go to some interesting locale to get my vogue on.

September is nearly at its end, and the leaves are changing colors and floating to the earth. These last few days of warm weather herald a flurry of festivals; whether it is an outdoor concert or a romp through a pumpkin patch. Or for many, a chance to suck down a few gallons of beer at an Oktoberfest.

The beautiful colors of fall had me pulling on some festival worthy garments, such as this gorgeously embroidery tunic from Johnny Was, aptly named “Festival Tunic”. The pants are from Sundance and the 4-inch platform sandals are by Schutz. Although I wouldn’t recommend sauntering through a pumpkin patch in them. The happy hippy hat is from some shop in Estes Park.

IMG_0674Fall is such a lovely season. I think Mother Nature gives us all Her glory as a present before the frigid days of winter. Something to stick in our mind as we hunker down and nurture ourselves while She rebuilds herself for another season. And so should we. Getting out there in all my glory helps to remind me that whatever is hiding beneath those layers of clothes, like it or not, it is me and I can rebuild myself with all the intent and care as Mother Nature. Sometimes She, too, doesn’t look Her best, but with faith and knowingness comes another season to get Her festi-fall on.

And so will I.

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A Whiter Shade of Gray

senior-3336451_1920In the last several years, there has been growing popularity in older women and men being chic, fascinating and featured in magazines. Well, why not? Older people have this “been there, done that” attitude and are going to continue doing what they want. Old does not mean slow, stupid or even about to die.

Our bodies are aging, each and every day. We know that. Yes, our brains do too, but that does not equate to being senile. We have a wealth of experiential knowledge that helps us to make quick and powerful decisions. We are no longer burdened by the “image” society has picked for us. We can sky-dive if it so pleases us. We can get married when we are in our 90s. If we want to wear florals, stripes and sequins all in the same outfit, so be it. “Insta-Grannies” are all the rage now. I won’t list them, because by now you will have seen, read or are following most of them.

Is this a fad that will slowly fade away as many of these icons pass on? A fad is something that gets worn out and loses its appeal. If we are all aging, then we are all fads. So why not be so individually cool that you never outlive your time?

active-cyclist-elderly-264073What these ultra-cool elders are really showing us is that you must keep going and growing in order to live your best life. Having your 60th birthday, or whatever age you deem to be old, is not an automatic indicator that you must now move to an assisted-living facility and wear Velcro shoes. A continually stimulated brain will spur you into stimulating your body. Walk, dance, climb, hike, swim, sky-dive, whatever challenges you want to place upon your body – just go for it. Be safe; just because you can do it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care for your body. Our muscles don’t recover as quickly as they used to, and our bones aren’t as strong as they used to be either.

barca-473854_1920Are you a widower and think that because your spouse of 50 years is gone, you should just sit alone in your tiny new apartment? Au contraire, my friend. Loneliness will kill you faster than your one martini with dinner. Why not a companion to share that martini with? There is no social demand that you be married. Living in sin, if you call it that, is far more fun than withering away by yourself.

Many seniors become entrepreneurs. Done with the working-for-someone-else world, many active adults start new businesses built upon hobbies or passions. We have a lifetime of skills and workplace savvy to make it lucrative.

How about a little Botox, sculpting, or other cosmetic enhancements? False eyelashes and eyeliner aren’t just for the 20-something set. Whatever you choose to make yourself look and feel better should be just to make yourself feel better, and not about what anyone else says.

old-2742052_1920Growing older isn’t an easy thing. The changes in your body can be very frustrating. The lapses in memory are annoying. Don’t let them overwhelm you. Be kind and loving to yourself. Use them as opportunities to slow down and savor the moments of each day. You now have time to do all the fun things you put off while you were working and raising children.

You might even have time to go sky-diving with your grandkids while wearing your new purple-sequinned jumpsuit.

Leat-Her Wear it

I’m not a big fan of leather coats. They tend to be too bulky and too stiff. Even my fave – the biker jacket. But when I saw this coat in the Sundance catalog (Robert Redford’s company), I decided that I seriously needed it. So I searched up a coupon and then pressed the Order button.

I’m glad I pressed Send. This coat is like butter and it has enormous style, almost military/calvary in its cut. The buttons come to a V at the waist and then the remainder are hidden. Those couple are a little hard to button from the inside, but oh-so-cool. It’s great for a slightly warmer winter day in Denver.

I know that from a social viewpoint, leather and its sister, fur, get a bad rap. Along with eating their contents. I have no “beef” [pun intended] with anyone’s choice; it is all in how you grew up. I grew up on a self-sustaining farm in Iowa. We raised milk cows (my favorite, as previously written), stock cows, pigs and chickens. We grew corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa. We planted a huge amount of potatoes and an average-sized garden. We ate what we grew and sold some for profit. That is what farming is all about. In the middle of an Iowa winter, having a freezer full of meat is a necessity. We had canned vegetables and potatoes in cold storage, but it is not enough to feed a family through those long cold months.

Pigs and cows were sold at the stockyards, which gave us money to live on. They, of course, generated meat, but the hides had to go somewhere. So, they became coats, shoes, belts, handbags and so on. A very practical use of all the parts. I abhor cruelty in any form, but it normally doesn’t exist in a family farm situation. All our animals, right down to the adorable baby ducks were well cared for.

So if you see someone walking down the street wearing something you don’t agree with, allow them their choice. They might be farm-raised like me. I’m sure no one will berate you for wearing broccoli on your pants.

So let her wear it.

A-Dior-able

images[5]On February 12, 1947, Christian Dior launched the “New Look” collection from his Paris couture house. The world was recovering from World War II, and its austere, masculine clothing. The New Look returned the feminine silhouette with a full bustline, tiny waist and curvy hips. I believe that it reminded the world that the feminine, nurturing energy was returning. It was criticized as being a wasteful luxury when times were still lean. Thus is the power of the feminine energy, to create, to nurture, to honor the need to pamper our souls.

Today, my Sweetie and I attended the Dior exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. The show is in its final tour, ending on March 17th. The exhibit included dozens of beautiful gowns and suits, beginning with the classic “Bar Suit” categorized by a creamy fitted jacket and a black, calf-length full skirt. Think Lucille Ball in her heyday. From the simple suit to fabulous gowns of detailed embroidery and gems, lean silhouettes to curvaceous sweeps, all stunning in this gorgeous collection.

 

I, myself, enjoyed the blatant outrageousness of John Galliano. Highly satirical, if you studied the garments closely. One fabulous gown, that I failed to take of photo of, (God knows why not), which I dubbed “Queen in Bondage”. Bejeweled red satin, the bodice was a tightly fitted corset style with the seeming intent to expose the breasts, although there was a bit a fabric tucked in to keep it decent. Or so I assume. The skirt flared out from the knees, mermaid style, looking almost impossible to move in. The entire garment was capped by an innocuous-appearing crown. Luxurious, over-the-top, this gown defined Galliano’s evil genius. Too bad he couldn’t limit his antics to design instead of running off at the mouth.

IMG_20190303_115107239 (1)Like all art, fashion is beauty in the eyes of the beholder. For women in general, it is the living expression of our soul. You can wake up in the morning ready to deal with what is likely going to be a sh*tty day, and instead, choose to arm yourself with a great outfit. Fake it ‘til you make it, or so they say. Dressing in your favorite outfit, because you know you look fabulous in it, will change the day into something great. And I hate to disappoint you guys, but women don’t usually dress for men unless they are hunting for a husband or boyfriend. As designer Betsey Johnson said “if girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times”. Just notice when you are in a public place, most of the women are looking at each other and often commenting about shoes and handbags.

Why? Because we are just f-ing adorable.

You-nique

img_0628Cleaning up your stuff and your life is getting rid of what does not serve you or doesn’t make you feel good.  Cleaning up means allowing your authentic self to come out.  If you can’t be you, who will?

Living a good life means being yourself.

Some people say that they don’t know who they are.  Well, if you have done the clean up work then you know who you aren’t.  What you are left with helps to define you.  Living your life as a lie can cause deep suffering within your body.  Trying to conform to other’s ideals of who you should be can actually cause cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  Who wants that?  You can only live your life for yourself, because you must live within yourself.

Being authentic does not mean harming others or things.  It does not mean you get to be an a$$hole.  Being authentic is treasuring the uniqueness of you, the beautiful, spontaneous, quirky, creative, sparkly inner being that radiates with joy.  Now that’s what I’m talking about!

 

Maybe you think you are weird.  So?  What is wrong with weird?  A lot of people are and like weird.  Find them and buddy up.  Maybe you are very traditional and old-fashioned.  Nothing wrong with that either.  Lots of alike-you’s out there.  Spirit wants to grow so therefore, interesting, unusual and quirky people were created.  Spirit loves this.  I think Spirit has a giant paintbrush and a bucket of colors and has an absolute riot dashing them on the canvas of life.  Now isn’t that just a beautiful thought?

 

We just finished some of our decorating projects.  It was a joy for me, because I allowed my artistic side to come out.  I went for bold, with a little bit of quirky humor and that suits my Sweetie too.  It turned out fab, if I say so myself.  I’m sharing a few of the pics with the hopes that you’ll be inspired to allow your inner delight to come out.img_0629

You do you.

Keep Calm and Clutter Down

pillow-650243_1920So hopefully by now you have cleaned out your closets, cabinets and the dreaded garage.  Did some soul work and let go of old issues.  Unfriended your unfriendly friends and put some effort into your romantic relationship.  Maybe you followed the feng shui lessons and amped up the living areas in your home to bring in more of what you need.

Now it’s time to settle in and enjoy your rejuvenated space and self. 

Don’t fall back into those old habits of tossing your dirty clothes on the floor.  Don’t junk up the kitchen counters with dirty dishes.  And for God’s Sakes, do not pile boxes and a bunch of other sh*t in your garage!  (I can’t let go of the garage thing.  My sweetie works out of our garage and it is in a constant state of change.)

Clutter got you into the emotional mess you just cleaned up, and, like the awful relationship you just ditched, don’t go there again.

Practice being organized, by starting with your closet.  If you read the Mari Kondo book, you will know that she recommends sorting your closet by color, then light to dark.  I did this and there many advantages to it.  First, you’ll really know what colors you like because you’ll see you have a lot of certain ones.  That’s good, you won’t buy the ones that don’t look good on you.  Secondly, it makes it easier to get dressed in the morning, because all you have to do is reach for your favorite color and have several styles to chose from.  Once you have taken something out of your closet to wear, put the hangar back in the same place you took it from.  Then you can put the garment back on the same hangar and you’ll be just as organized as when you started.

Follow this simple practice with all your newly organized things: after use, put it back in the same place you took it from.  You will always know where it is and you won’t create new clutter.  Life will run much smoother by following this simple step.  Sure you might annoy the other people in your household, but they are not you.  And who knows, they might follow your lead and suddenly the entire house will be like this Zen peaceful place.

You might feel so calm you’ll have time to sit down and read all those books I’ve recommended.

Oz-tober

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Photo: Pixabay, Efraimstochter

Last night, Ozzy Osbourne played at the Denver Pepsi Center.  I didn’t go because it was a work night and I just can’t stay up that late anymore.

Ozzie and many other musicians have been out on epic tours, some for several years.  Why the significance as that is no different than any other year?  Because most of them are over the age of 60.  They are still out there rockin’ it and kickin’ a$$ long after the rest of us are snoring in our beds.

Some ask “why?”  “Do they need more money; don’t they have enough?”  “That’s old news.”  “Sick of that music.”  (Seriously?!)  Or “they are too old to be doing that”.  The reality is that they are out there doin’ it because they LOVE it.  Music is their passion, their reason for living.  They live to make music, play music and perform music.  And why not?

I recently saw a photo of Klaus Meine of the Scorpions that said “this is what 70 looks like”.  If that’s 70, then everyone should aspire to that.  70 is no longer seen as the bent-over, shuffling wrinkled person with overgrown nose hairs.  Check out Ari Seth Cohen’s “Advanced Style” and you will see photos of [yes, real] kick-a$$ older people living life to the fullest.  “Old is the New Black” is the motto.

Older people have had enough of being pushed aside, told what they can or cannot wear, think, do or anything else a bunch of under-experienced brats have decided.  Older people live, love, wear purple hair and have sex on a regular basis.

We are not dead yet.

It is a time to embrace your passions, to do the things that you barely had the time for when you were younger, to play, to have a loving relationship, to think, to feel, to honor yourself and speak out for what you believe in.

Or rock it at an Ozzy concert.  Just remember to wear your ear plugs.

So Shoe Me

IMG_0117I love shoes.  I’ve written about them many times, probably more than anything else.  I guess I can’t help it.  I just love them.

I probably have too many.  Big Deal.

No one is starving because of my obsession with shoes.  If anything, the person who makes them is likely feeding their family from the proceeds.  I would like to think I am helping the economy.

The economy is like energy, there has to be a give and take flow in order for it to work.  When you buy shoes, or food, or cars, or homes or even just a pack of gum you are contributing to the flow.  When you go to work and create or support or provide service you are contributing to the flow.money-2159310_1920

Not doing any of those things merely stops up the energy like a two-year-old tossing a plastic dinosaur into the toilet.  I suppose that, too, contributes since you have to call a plumber to come dig Dino from the sewer.  Plumbers eat well because of two-year-olds and toys.

If you take something without an exchange or create harm, you might have to pay a fine, go to jail, or get sued.  All of which also stop the flow of energy.

By keeping the energy flowing, you create room in your life for more abundance, prosperity, success and just plain joy.  Allow yourself to receive and it will be easier to give.

Or just go buy a pair of shoes so someone can have a nice dinner with their family.