Friday, October 31, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 31: I Did It!!!!

When I began this blogging challenge, Write31Days, a month ago, my blog was lying almost dormant.  I figured, what better way to show myself that I CAN blog regularly, than to be obligated to blog every single day for a month?

I chose the topic "Gracefully Aging," because that is my goal at this stage of my life.  To be honest I found so many resources and angles, I probably could have enough material to blog for two monnths and not just one.  But...whew!...I'm glad I don't have to.

Will I blog every day from now on?

No.  That's a burden that I don't think is even necessary.  My blog readership isn't that big, even though it has increased substantially during this challenge.  I don't have thousands of readers hanging onto my every word.

I blog mostly for the pleasure of it.  It's like having my own little's an area where I can be creative in a fun way.

But I will definitely blog more than I was doing before this challenge.

I've learned I can commit to something and see it through to the end...and that's a great feeling!

If you found me through this challenge, I hope you'll continue to stop by here.  One of the best things about this challenge is finding some really wonderful blogs that I don't want to lose touch with.

It was from one of my fellow challengees that I found the quote I'm going to leave you with. Charity of The Wounded Dove posted this as part of her topic, Falling in Love with the Journey.  It's a quote from a Reader's Digest article.  Although it pertains to marriage, I think it fits perfectly with the concept of aging gracefully:

Part of being a happy man is to never lose the boy within; the same goes for women – there is the spirit of a young girl inside, no matter how many wrinkles edge the eyes. Maintaining a childlike love of life, laughter, nature, and each other is the real secret to a perpetually blessed relationship. It is also living in the present, not the past. In the completion stage of marriage, there is never a belief that the best times are over – they should always be today and tomorrow.
To those of you who visited my blog and commented during this challenge. THANK YOU.  It's been a great experience.  It's injected me with a new enthusiasm for blogging.  I hope you'll keep coming back!

I just finished  "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I've been blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for inks to each post in the challenge!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 30: Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren
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We all know women who wear their age well...who are lovely in spite of the advancing years.

In my case, those women include my mom and my older sister, both of whom I've profiled in this series.

There are a few famous women who also appear to be aging well.  One of them is actress Helen Mirren, who was recently chosen as a spokesmodel for L'Oreal Paris.

Several years ago, at the age of 63, Mirren set the world back on its heels when a paparazzi caught her on the beach wearing a red bikini and looking fantastic in it.

This is from a recent article:

"...Mirren, thank the Lord, doesn’t feel bad about her face... She doesn’t look like someone who has had work done. She looks like a woman who has lived a bit, and laughed a lot, and who knows she has been lucky in her looks, but also knows that how you look is a pretty small part of who you are. She looks, in fact, like a woman who is happy in her skin. 'The weird thing is,' she says, 'you get more comfortable in yourself, even as time is giving you less reason for it. When you’re young and beautiful, you’re paranoid and miserable. And then you’re older and it’s ironic.'"

And this from an article about the now 69-year-old Mirren's new role for L'Oreal:

"Participants [in a consumer survey] described Mirren as 'genuine, intelligent and glamorous, with looks that seem only to improve with the passing of time.'  And this down-to-earth, positive approach to ageing comes across in the 69-year-old’s comments about the L’OrĂ©al gig: 'I am not gorgeous, I never was, but I was always OK-looking and I’m keen to stay that way.

'I hope I can inspire other women towards greater confidence by making the most of their natural good looks. We are all worth it!'"

photo credit

I'm participating in "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I 'm blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for more information and links to each post as they become available!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 29: Blogs! Patti of Not Dead Yet Style

Patti of Not Dead Yet Style
A few years ago, I realized that I had to make peace with the fact that I was getting older. Along with that realization came the decision to actually embrace it and be the best "woman of a certain age" that I could be.

A couple of blogs have been major inspirations to me in this journey.  One is Over50Feeling40, which I posted about earlier.

Another is Not Dead Yet Style.

First off, the title is SO perfect! As Patti, the chic and elegant woman behind this awesome blog, says, "I am a fifty-something woman, wife, professional, auntie and crazy cat lady. Though pressured by society to recede gracefully, I prefer to burst out with a love of fashion and style. We are not dead yet, so let's enjoy every sandwich and gild the lilies."

Visible Monday

One of the first things that drew me to Patti's blog was a bi-weekly bloghop she hosts called "Visible Monday," in which women are encouraged to feature "a post that includes any outfit, accessory, piece of jewelry, hairstyle, cosmetic or other adornment that makes you feel more confident, alive and visible that day. No restrictions, just share your beauty."

I've actually participated in this bloghop many times, and it stretched me because I never considered myself a fashion blogger.  But it was fun getting to play model for the first time in my life.

Here's the post that inspired this bloghop.  Patti writes: "Common wisdom holds that at a certain age, women no longer garner the attention of men in public. We are still loved by our husbands and partners, and told we are beautiful, but the world at large no longer sees us as noteworthy."

She says Visible Monday is a way to "celebrate our diverse beauty and love of style." 

"I came up with the idea of a 'Visible Day' for us bloggers, in which we post an outfit, accessory, lipstick color, hairstyle, etc., that expresses our Joy of Being (Physically) Visible."

If you want to be inspired, motivated and encouraged in your determination to age gracefully, I can't recommend Not Dead Yet Style highly enough!

I'm participating in "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I 'm blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for more information and links to each post as they become available!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 28: Living in an empty nest

I cherish any time I spend with my daughter and two sons, because they all live away from me

"I love that my kids are all out of the house," said a friend to me recently. "When I clean something, it stays clean for a while. I can put something in the fridge that I want to have later and never come back to find it gone.  My husband and I don't have to hide it when we want to be intimate.  Honestly, when they come to stay for a while, I'm ready when it's time for them to leave!"

My friend just summed up some of the positive aspects of the empty nest...and there definitely are some!  However, her kids all live either in the same town or just a couple of hours away.

Insert whine here.  I live in Illinois, and all three of my grown children live in Texas.

My empty nest syndrome doesn't have anything to do with, say, not knowing who I am other than a parent, or not knowing what to do with myself.  It just really boils down to MISSING MY KIDS!

Since it doesn't appear that my husband and I will be moving to Texas any time soon, I deal with the problem by going to visit them as often as I can, and having them visit me as often as they can.

I recently quit my part-time job so that I would be more free to take these trips to Texas, because all three of my grandchildren are there too...and I'm quite simply CRAZY about them. I'm still adjusting to the loss of income, and trying to expand my freelance voice-over career to make up for it.

To me, here are some of the disadvantages of the empty nest:

1) Too much alone time.  My husband has a very busy job, and I often find myself alone.  I try to deal with it by reaching out to friends and family members...walking with my sister-in-law, going out to lunch.  And frankly, it doesn't hurt that I'm a voracious reader and can be content at almost any time and place with a book in my hand!

2) Feeling sorry for myself because my kids are so far away.  I try to deal with this by being involved in other things, like my church's prayer chain, working out, tackling home projects I never had time for when I was working, etc.

3) Again, quite simply, just MISSING my children.

But, as my friend said, there are advantages! Remember how crazy busy you used to be as a mom? Driving kids to activities, cooking, cleaning up after them, doing laundry, packing lunches, the never-ending cycle of duties and chores?

Those duties have either disappeared or greatly diminished, and that can be very enjoyable.

I'm going to leave you with some quotes about the empty nest.

After the last child moved out, my husband said, "Do you realize we can make love every single day, even in the daytime, in every single room in the house?" I had one single thought.... I need to find a day job fast. -- Robin Fox

via Pinterest

Now that the kids have moved on, I have two unoccupied kids rooms in my house. I don't call them that, I prefer to call them rent-free storage facilities. I got two rooms full of two decades worth of stuff they insist they need until they have a bigger place of their own. Only thing missing are a few dead cats and then we could be on "Hoarders." -- Robin Fox

via Pinterest

If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the piles and piles of laundry will disappear all too soon and that you will, to your surprise, miss them profoundly. - Thomas Manson

I'm participating in "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I 'll be blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for more information and links to each post as they become available!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 27: Losing a Parent

In a few days, I'll observe an anniversary I never wanted...the first anniversary of my mother's death.  Of course, people lose parents at every age.  My husband's mom died when he was 12 years old.  But as we age, it's only natural that our parents may precede us in death.

Three months after my mom died unexpectedly, I wrote the following.  I thought I would share it again here.


On the evening of November 5, 2013, I got the phone call that forever changed my life.

It was my son Justin, calling from Texas where most of my family lives.

When I saw his picture on my phone, I expected a light-hearted chat.  But the first thing I heard sounded like some sort of static. I later realized it was the sound of him crying.

When he was finally able to speak, I heard the terrifying words, "I don't have any details, but Uncle David says Momo is unresponsive, and it isn't good."

That was a little over three months ago, and I'm still navigating an ocean of grief.


The sudden death of a loved one is different from other deaths. I'm not saying it's worse, just a bad way.

I don't discount or minimize the grief that lasts for years, seeing a loved one waste away slowly, perhaps in pain or not themselves. That's what happened with my dad. The loss is no less of a loss, and carries its own brand of heartache.

But the death of my mother...with no warning, no inkling other than that she was 80 years old and had high cholesterol...gobsmacked us.

 In my father's case, we were able to peruse hospice literature that readied us for the end. We were able to gather around him and say our final good-byes. We were as prepared as one can be for the death of a loved one--which, granted, is never prepared enough.

 But we were able to release him to heaven and not feel sucker-punched.


One thing we cling to is the apparent peacefulness of her death.  She laid down for her usual afternoon reading session that usually resulted in a nap. She had fallen asleep and died of cardiac arrest. No trauma, no pain...she simply went to sleep and woke up in heaven.

And yes, we are so thankful for that. We are completely cognizant of and grateful for the blessings...that she never suffered, didn't linger in the throes of a painful and debilitating disease. We rejoice that she's with my dad and all the loved ones that have gone on before.

But my mother...oh, my mother was amazing, wonderful, everything a mother should be. She was central to our existence. She was the hub around which we all gathered. She was the matriarch. Her unconditional love, her joy, her encouragement, her support, her smile, her faith, her grace--essential to our lives.

An ocean of grief

I said earlier that I'm navigating an ocean of grief.  Some days are relatively smooth and fair, others are stormy and tumultuous.  It's unchartered territory for me, because the pain is much more acute and shattering than was (and is) the grief for my beloved father.

We siblings ask, almost rhetorically, "When will this pain end?" "When will our grief settle down and become manageable?"

The truth is, on any given day, at any given moment, I could cry for my mother.

Sweet friends who have been through the same thing try to give us light at the end of the tunnel.  I look forward to a time where it won't be so raw, so painful to the touch, where tears will be few and far between.

I also look forward to the day that I'll see both my parents again.  If I didn't have this hope, this faith, I don't see how I could carry on at all. How do people do it who don't have this hope?

In the meantime...

I just miss my mommy.

Note: A year later, I'm still grieving, although the grief seems more manageable in many ways.  If you lose a parent and are haven't a hard time dealing with it, please be aware that most communities offer grief counseling groups that can be very helpful.  That may well be an option for you.

I'm participating in "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I 'll be blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for more information and links to each post as they become available!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 25: Judy Chapman, Modern & Mature

As I said before, I'm a big fan of YouTube beauty tutorials. But when I first started watching them, there were very few tutorials by anyone other than young women... many of them little more than teenagers.

I was very pleased to find a few that were near my age.

Judy Chapman of Modern and Mature is not only my age, but she's gorgeous. She doesn't talk about make-up much--she leaves that to her daughters, make-up artist Samantha and Nicola of Pixiwoo.

 But she gives marvelous fashion advice, and she looks AMAZING. Always appropriate for her age, but fashionable and attractive.

I'm participating in "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I 'll be blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for more information and links to each post as they become available!

Gracefully Aging, Day 26: Great Quotes about Aging Well

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
Henry Ford

I think women should start to embrace their age. What's the alternative to getting older? You die. I can't change the day I was born. But I can take care of my skin, my body, my mind, and try to live my life and be happy.

I'm participating in "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I 'm blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for more information and links to each post as they become available!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 24: The Joy of Grandparenting

One of the biggest blessings of getting older is become a grandparent.  Being Nana to three precious little boys is one of the greatest joys I've ever experienced! Here are some quotes about grandparenting.

What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars' worth of pleasure. ~Gene Perret

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Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~Welsh Proverb

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What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. ~Rudolph Giuliani

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Grandchildren bring a whole new dimension of love.~My mom, Cynthia Garrett

Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends - and hardly ever our own grown children. ~Ruth Goode

It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace. ~Christopher Morley

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I would love it if my grandchildren someday feel this way about me.

I'm participating in "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I 'll be blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for more information and links to each post as they become available!

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