Business Casual

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“Who said Business Casual has to be boring?”

We have forgotten how to dress. I like yoga pants. . .for the gym. Or lounging at home. Or the occasional visit to the massage therapist or doctor, when you need to get your clothes off quickly. But not for work. We’ve slid down into this oh-so-casual look of low maintenance, which really just gives the appearance of “I don’t give a sh*t”. Lack of time is just about priorities. If you don’t care about your appearance, what else does that translate into? Lack of funds. . .sorry, I don’t buy into that either. I used to sew my own clothes when I couldn’t afford new prices. Nowadays, consignment stores are popping up everywhere offering designer wear for low-budget prices. I don’t get the “ewww, pre-worn” prissiness. How many times do you think that brand-new shirt was tried on before you bought it? At least the consignment store wares are clean.

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“Tell me again, that bullsh*t story.”

I have never been a fan of business suits, at least the bland, woolen versions. Me, I like a little bit of edge to my business look. I scored this vintage Claude Montana blazer off of Poshmark, an online consignment boutique. Italian made, impeccable tailoring, it features those power shoulder pads so famous in the 80s and early 90s. Mr. Montana was famous for that power suit look, but unfortunately went bankrupt in the late 90s. I consider it an extra investment that I now have two Claude M blazers. Paired with the Hermes scarf in place of a tie (another Poshmark bargain), and Manolo Blahnik wingtips, this defines my version of the power suit. Affordable, due to the secondhand purchase, this look is classy with a definite edge. A better business casual than the blazer and ripped jeans favored by the younger crowd, not that I don’t like that look.

Why I need this look when I’m three weeks out from retirement, speaks more to my opinion about dressing than anything else. I am happiest and feel more like my self when I am dressed well. I’ve been like that since a small child, and then it was ingrained into me when I attended Patricia Stevens Fashion and Business College in the late 70s.

Patricia Stevens originally began as a way to educate and polish young women for entry into the workforce. Part of the curriculum included personal development and appearance. Classes included etiquette, modeling and professional presentation. We were required to dress in heels, nylons and dresses every day. These days, that might generate the opinion as sexist, but I did not and still do not feel that way. We were taught to look professional and act with professional manners. Pretty damn good skills to have. I have read research study findings that state attractive people get better jobs and pay. I don’t think that means you need to be beautiful, just well presented. If you have ever sat on an interview panel, those that come in looking like the job they want usually get the job they want.

One of the trainings that was ingrained into our being was the “Patricia Stevens stance”, a modeling pose with the weight on the angled right foot, forward facing left foot, hips turned to appear narrow and wide shoulders. A feminine, yet powerful presentation of self. I can drop into that pose instantly. When I do, I feel confident and beautiful, even while wearing yoga pants.

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-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.

He Said, She Said

silhouette-2480321_1280There is a lot of finger-pointing between the sexes these days.  No one is right, yet no one is wrong.  It appears to be battle of control, when what it really should be is a balance of power.

Energy must be balanced in order to flow.

In every effective relationship, there is a balance of feminine and masculine energy.  This is not limited to gender nor sexual preference.  Feminine energy is receptive and sensing-feeling.  Masculine energy is giving and thinking-doing. 

Women can be masculine energy, and that doesn’t mean that they look like men or lack femininity.  Likewise, men can be feminine energy and still look and act masculine.  It is only how the energy is processed.

I am a masculine energy, very feminine woman.  I have friends and acquaintances who are similar.  I am in a heterosexual relationship and am a total fashionista.  I am highly intelligent and get more sh*t done in a day than many people do in a week.  My sweetie is a feminine energy male, who is also very intelligent and a creative former ironworker.  He appreciates my forward thinking.  Neither of us is weak and neither of us is in charge of the relationship.  Because we have a balanced energy relationship, the energy can shift back and forth depending upon our needs, desires and skills.  Good relationships have this ebb and flow.

The problem comes from two same-energy people in a relationship.  Two masculine energy people will constantly fight for control.  Two feminine energy people will passively want their way.  In either situation, neither get their needs met nor get sh*t done.  Trying to pretend you are one type, when you are not, does not work either.  Just like coloring your hair, the dark roots will always grow out the blonde.  Why create more conflict to an already conflicted situation?

The first step is to acknowledge your energy type.  Forget the male-female, masculine-feminine typecast for a bit.  Ask this question instead: are you more offended if someone calls you stupid or if they call you ugly?  If being called stupid sets you off, then you are more likely masculine energy, whereas you don’t give a rat’s a$$ if they call you ugly.  You might also get irritated and impatient by people who cry all the time.  If being called ugly makes you cry, then you are likely feminine energy.  Your feelings are more important than whether or not you know how to calculate the return on investment.  Again, neither energy type is right or wrong.  Just learn to be happy with which one you are.  You will have a happier life if you do.

I almost wonder if what we are seeing in the world today is from real energy types finally emerging.  Perhaps the conflict is more from within and easier to project on someone else than to acknowledge what is.  Internal conflict can turn nice people into alien life forms from hell.  Figure out what type you are, but throw away the label.  The energy will settle down and fall into balance.

Because it is better to be happy than to be right.

My Mother, My Body, My Self

mother-1327186_1280My mother was mean and fat.  I suppose she had her reasons.  I was born to her when she was a teenager, unable to graduate with her high school class, and the subject of scorn from many.  Self-hatred can cause you to pack on pounds in an effort to deflect other’s criticism.

I swore I would never be like my mother.

I never grew fat, just slightly chubby during difficult periods in my life, but always managed to ditch those few extra pounds when happiness was more prevalent in my life.  But I absorbed my mother’s dissatisfaction in other ways.

I became her punishment.

She told me once, “never get pregnant or you’ll ruin your life”.  I suppose, then, that I had ruined her life.  Her self-hatred ran deep, and so I spent the better part of my life attempting to appease her.  Wasted effort.  Once I gave up, my life changed in dramatic ways.

Shame and blame are guilt trips that are all too easy to fall into.  It takes courage, it takes strength, and it takes total compassion for yourself and your struggles to dig out of the rut of shame and blame.  My mother never got there.  She might still be in that place, but I don’t know as we no longer speak.

I still hate her on occasion.  I would guess that’s normal.  When my thighs get fat, I hate her.  When I stand with my hands on my hips, I hate her.  Sometimes we mimic our mother’s body to heal the pain of rejection.

I am not my mother’s body.

When I see these aspects appear, they just remind me of the wounds left behind.  They remind me of my struggle to create my own identity and not the one my mother impressed upon me.  And as each day goes by, and I allow my wants, my needs, and the desires of my true self thrust outward like a seedling in fresh mulch every piece of my mother’s rejection drops into my arms like a newborn greeting the world.

Like Phoenix rising from the ashes.

And knowing this, I wrap my arms around those injured bits of my soul, and tell myself that I am Loved and I am Cared For.  And I smile as I watch shame and blame fade away.

Waist Not, Want Not

belly-2354_1920Remember when a tiny waist was so important?  You would measure yourself daily and if there was a slight variation, you would starve yourself or do those twisty exercises or maybe just suck it in for the next week.  Once you are in the menopause-ing years, that tiny waist should be as forgotten as eight-track tapes.

I read a story once about maiden, mother and matron.  The maiden had a tiny waist to attract a really good husband, as a place for his hands to hold her.  The mother’s waist expanded so that when she held her child, the head was supported and placed for nurturing.  The matron’s waist was much thicker as to provide warmth and comfort on a cold night.  Hmmm.  Seems like our waist is only for the benefit of others.

Our middle section has been a focal point of our physical body since we discovered we had one.  Thick, thin, poochy, six-pack muscles, we spend more time on it than brushing our teeth.

Does your waistline trouble you?  Review your diet.  Do you need to clean up your eating habits?  Maybe go grain-free and check out the plan in “Wheat Belly” by William Davis M.D.  A ketogenic diet might work well so read “Fat for Fuel” by Joseph Mercola M.D.  If you have health issues, review them with your doctor.  It might be time to ditch the TV watching and go for a walk.  If you are physically impaired, roll your wheelchair down the sidewalk and experience the healthful benefits of fresh air and sunshine.

If you have taken the necessary steps to be your best self and your waistline still is not what you want, then it is time to accept this change.  Wrap your arms around your middle and give yourself a big hug.  That is what Loving Your Sh*t is all about.

Note: while the story about the waist was a cute fictional version, Maiden-Mother-Crone is considered the Triple Goddess in Neopaganism and often a woman’s power symbol in Celtic lore.  I also like to consider the waist area as symbolic of the third chakra – the solar plexus – as the area associated with personal power.  Claiming your personal and feminine power might actually strengthen and tighten up your waist.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Recently, at work, the subject of dress code has surfaced again.  We have a new director, and he is getting his feet wet in all areas of the business.  After initiating the topic of shoes, he wisely turned the dress code idea over to a team of women.  Women police each other, after all.

59745-2001_CEREZA[1]Many a man, to his everlasting regret, has ventured in to the female shoe closet thinking to discuss the quantity, cost, necessity, appropriateness and style of female footwear.  Many of them wisely retreated when they notice the squinty eyeball staring back at them.  A brave few thought to continue the topic, and then determined that there is a fine line between brave and dumb.  Some hearty souls continued on, and were grateful that the living room sofa was a comfortable place to sleep.  And some were never heard from again.

The only men who can safely traverse the domain of the female shoe are those of a “different persuasion”, or the Great Oz of Shoes himself: Mr. Manolo Blahnik.  Should Mr. Blahnik ever appear in a woman’s shoe closet, especially if he were bearing gifts, she could succumb to a heart attack at that very moment and consider her life complete.

51g35jLUYvL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Shoes represent the Holy Grail to women.  They are the ultimate form of self-expression.  We willingly spend thousands of dollars for coveted pairs, suffer untold agony and blisters for a few hours of wearing a spindly high needle for the praise of a friend or stranger.  Women have made new friends over a pair of shoes.

A beautiful pair of shoes can brighten a woman’s day.  Knowing that pain could come later, she will still step out proudly and with confidence that she can kick a$$.  An ugly pair. . .well, can make a woman feel ugly.  They are the equivalent of Superman’s kryptonite.  A necessity, if you will.

Oh and if you are available, Mr. Blahnik, my closet is open. . . size 7, if you please.

Will & Grace

will-and-grace[1]I have never watched the show, but I don’t watch much TV.  So I don’t know much about it.  I am talking about your Will, as in your personal power and Grace, staying calm and cool under pressure.

In today’s crazy times, it is very easy to lose your cool and have a public meltdown. H*ll, we see it all the time on the news! Doesn’t mean that we all want to witness that, much less be the one who wails like a two-year-old.

Having a Will is healthy as it means that you have a sense of self and appropriate boundaries. Will helps you get up in the morning. Will gets you to the gym to do something about that beer gut. (Yes, you know it’s there.) Will gets you to survive and thrive. Will helps you write that novel.

man-1207675_640But the most important thing that Will does for you is getting you to stand up for yourself. You have a right to your beliefs. You have a right to your emotions. You have a right to be safe and cared for. Will doesn’t do this at the expense or pain of anyone or anything else. That’s Will’s black-sheep cousins, Coward and Narcissist.

When Will stands up for your beliefs, Will needs to invite Grace to the party. Grace acts with dignity. Grace remains calm, but stands firm. Grace has an inner badass. Grace does not screech and demand her way. Grace bends her Will to a Higher Power as she knows that something bigger is there to guide and protect her.

If you put Will & Grace on your team, you will walk through life being respected for honoring your needs with dignity. And some people will think you are a badass.

IT Is Not An Earring

earring-2591496_640Have you ever stopped wearing pierced earrings and after a time the hole grew shut? Maybe you had three or four in each ear and decided you didn’t want that many anymore. Maybe you just decided you didn’t like pierced ears after a time. Earrings are a fun and beautiful accessory that can be enjoyed.

Sex is not earring. If you don’t use IT, the hole will not grow shut. You might think that when you are in your menopause years. Your body is changing and maybe sex is not what it used to be. Our inner tissues get thinner and drier and that can make sex painful. Enough so that you would rather just quit and let the hole grow shut.

man-3221066_640Sex is enjoyable and healthful for you in many ways. If you do not move your joints the fluids surrounding them do not lubricate them properly and then you have pain. Same thing Down Below. Using IT keeps it healthier and lubricated. Plus all the brain chemicals and hormones that get generated during sex keeps you happier and healthier.

If you are experiencing a lot of pain, talk to your doctor. There are many options that can help. If you are in a relationship, SHARE your issues with your partner. It will help prevent them from thinking that you are not interested in THEM. Try different things with your partner. If penetration is too painful, try oral. Invest in a Battery Operated Boy, otherwise known as BOB. BOB can be your friend if you are not in a relationship. Just do not give up sex because it is painful.

You are still a sexy, beautiful woman. Be that! And put the earring back in.