A pro-aging revolution

LogoAs long as I can remember, advertising aimed at women has screamed one message loud and clear… youth equals beauty! We have been hoodwinked into believing that we lose value as we age. As a result, many women go to great lengths to try to fight off the natural effects of passing years. Thankfully, there is finally a “pro-aging” revolution beginning to happen in the cosmetics industry.

Perhaps we baby boomers have always been rebellious. In our youth, we protested everything from materialism to the Vietnam war. Now, as we reach our senior years, we’re rebelling against the concept that young women have a monopoly on beauty.

Thousands of women across America and around the world recently petitioned two major cosmetics firms, L’Oreal and Estee Lauder, to stop using the term “anti-aging” on their product packaging and in marketing campaigns. Last month, Allure magazine announced that it would no longer use the term.

I’ve been thinking about age a lot lately. When I was 59, I dreaded turning 60. Now, 65 is less than a week away and I’m embracing it! In fact, I’m throwing myself a “Still Alive at 65!” party! Perhaps being diagnosed with cancer shortly before my 61st birthday has something to do with that. After all, aging skin and greying hair seem like such insignificant issues in comparison!

Even before my cancer diagnosis, however, I had little interest in hiding my age. I may not be crazy about my marionette lines and the little wrinkles appearing above my upper lip, but I think that a young face, as pretty as it might be, is a bit like an empty canvas waiting for an artist’s brush. In my opinion, believing that beauty belongs only to the young is like thinking that a blank journal is more interesting to read than an autobiography!

I concur completely with the petition mentioned above which said, “We need to stop the anti-aging bias. Aging is perfectly okay! It’s a beautiful thing to be here on this earth, and with every passing day we gain beauty, experience, wisdom, and appreciation for life. This is why we need to start celebrating, not fighting, aging.”

Jamie Lee Curtis Pro Aging

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18 Tips for Successful Thrift Store Shopping

LogoPeople often wonder how I find so many amazing items in the two small thrift stores in our local area. Racks packed with clothing of every size and description can be overwhelming for even a seasoned second-hand shopper, but a few tricks can make the search much easier and a lot more fun.

1.   Let go of your prejudices.

Perhaps your idea of a thrift store is a dingy, cluttered mess of old and worn out clothing. While there may be a few of those out there, thrift stores are often clean, bright, and well organized. Also, second-hand shopping isn’t only for the poor amongst us. In troubled economic times, it’s definitely a good way to stretch your wardrobe dollar, but thrift store shopping is for everyone. If you must, think of it as doing a good deed. You can help whichever charity the shop supports while at the same time keeping perfectly good merchandise out of our already overcrowded landfills. It’s definitely a win-win situation!

2.  Allow yourself plenty of time to browse.

Be patient. Sometimes you have to sift through a lot of things to find one treasure, but it’s definitely worth it!

3.  Dress comfortably.

In my opinion, any second-hand clothing store worth its salt will have a dressing room, but some do not, so be prepared. If you have to try things on in the aisles, you want to be able to do it easily and modestly. Even if there is a dressing room, wearing leggings, a cami, and slip on shoes will make trying things on a breeze.

4.   Try everything on.

Just because it looks nice on the hanger and the tag says it’s your size doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. Don’t buy just because the price is right. Make sure it’s something you’re actually going to enjoy wearing.

5.   Don’t limit your search to the size you usually wear.

Sizes have changed over time. What used to be a size 12 might now be an 8, so when you’re looking at older or vintage garments, expand your search to take in sizes on both sides of what you normally wear. Also keep in mind that sizes vary widely between manufacturers as well as areas of origin. North American sizing is different from European.

6.   Consider making a list.

If you’re looking for specific items, having a list can definitely narrow the search and make it less overwhelming, but…

7.   Be open-minded.

Look beyond what’s on your list. Be creative. Think outside the box. Thrift store shopping is a great way to step out of your fashion comfort zone without spending a lot of money. It’s a perfect opportunity to try colours and styles that you haven’t worn before.

8.   Examine the item carefully.

Second-hand stores seldom take returns. Before you head for the till, check cuffs and collars for wear. Look for holes, stains, missing buttons, loose seams, and zippers that don’t work.

9.   Consider tailoring.

A vintage, designer, or high quality item that doesn’t fit quite right can often be altered to fit you perfectly. Investing a little extra might be well worth it if you end up with a quality garment that you love to wear.

10.   Look for quality brands.

Lots of well-made, expensive clothing can be found hiding in thrift stores. You may have to search for it, but I consider that part of the fun!

11.   Try new brands.

Thrift store shopping is also an opportunity to try brands that you may not have worn before.

12.   Know the current trends.

You can often recreate new looks with older items. For example, velvet is on-trend this season, but it’s been popular before. Look what I found for my daughter this week…

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Black velvet heels! Ooh la la! For myself, I’d love to find a velvet blazer.

13.   Go often.

Inventory is constantly changing.

14.   Learn when new inventory hits the racks.

Larger stores like Value Village and Goodwill tend to restock their shelves all day, every day, but smaller stores may not. For example, our local Good As New shop is closed on Mondays and Thursdays. Clothing is sorted and racks refilled on those two days, so obviously Tuesdays and Fridays are the best days to shop.

15.  Watch for sales and specials.

Whenever the Good As New is overstocked, they hold a “Brown Bag Sale”. With the exception of a few items such as jewelry, you can buy everything that you can stuff into a large brown paper bag for $5! Some thrift stores have regular half price days.

16.   Find out whether or not haggling is acceptable.

The second-hand stores that I regularly shop at have set prices and I’m glad they do because haggling is not something that I’m good at or care to do, but when in Rome as the saying goes. If haggling is part of the thrift store culture where you are, learn to bargain with confidence.

17.   Don’t be afraid to leave empty-handed.

Thrifting is like a treasure hunt; sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not, but don’t give up. Just try again another day!

18.   Thrift while on vacation.

If you have time, seek out second-hand stores in places that you visit and go home with mementos from your trip for next to nothing.

If you don’t shop second-hand, what’s stopping you? Why not follow these tips and give it a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

 

Creating a distraction

LogoIt’s now been five months since I made the decision to let my hair grow out and I haven’t given up yet! I even survived six weeks of camping, often without power. I’ve been surprised and pleased with how well it’s gone, but there are days when I despair and consider giving up; days when the unruly curls and frizz almost get the best of me.

I’m enormously grateful to whoever invented hair combs. Some days sweeping the sides back and holding them in place keeps me from completely losing my mind, but I’ve also learned that accessories are a great way to create a distraction taking attention away from my hair and focusing it elsewhere.

Here I’m wearing a silky scarf designed by Northwest Coast indigenous artist, Clifton Fred, and a pair of eye catching earrings.

The same principle works to draw attention away from other flaws or body parts that you’d rather not accentuate. Hats, scarves, sunglasses, belts, statement jewelry, colourful handbags, or stylish footwear are all great ways to steal attention. Use them to draw the eye away from those parts you don’t particularly like and to enhance those that will give you your best possible look.

For example, if you have what is commonly referred to as a “turkey neck”, lose skin around the neck that often develops as a woman ages, you may want to camouflage it by drawing attention down and away from that area. Opt for scarves, necklaces, or earrings that create long vertical lines. On the other hand, if you are big busted and prefer not to accentuate that feature, shorter statement necklaces that draw the eye up to your neck area are a better choice.

Be careful not to overdo it by wearing too many accessories at once, but be sure to add one essential and inexpensive accessory to every outfit… your beautiful smile!

Before we leave the topic of my unruly hair though, I just wanted to share the fact that it’s a genetic trait inherited from my mother’s side of the family. Clearly, I have passed it on. Here’s my youngest grandson ready for his first day of preschool last week.

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And here’s what he looks like when Mommy tries to tame his locks!

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Photos of Simon: Melaina Graham

Reflections

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I’ve been reflecting a lot on last week’s post about what it means to be an evangelical Christian; a teller of good news.

Why? Why do we, as evangelical Christians, believe that it is our responsibility to share our faith with others? Not every faith does this. So why do we?

Well, first of all, as I mentioned last week, the Bible very clearly instructs us to. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) 

But why? Why does the Bible tell us to do that?

Is it to earn Brownie points with God? To earn our way into heaven? Sadly, there are faiths that take that approach, but that is not true Christianity.

Is it to grow our churches? To put more butts in our pews? To add dollars to our offering plates? I certainly hope not for that is not true Christianity either!

Is it to attempt to make the rest of the world more like us? Again, I hope not! Sadly, some early Christian missionaries equated evangelizing with Westernizing, but that was never God’s intent nor should it be ours.

It all comes down to that Greek word, euangelion, which means good news.

After all, if you have good news, aren’t you eager to tell someone? If you found the cure to cancer, wouldn’t you want to share it?

We believe that we have found something even better, the key to living an abundant life now and forever! Jesus said it himself. ” I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Isn’t that news worth sharing?

Is it arrogant to believe that we have found the one true way? It might seem that way, but if there is really one true God, doesn’t it make sense that he might offer one true way? Isn’t it at least worth considering? The opportunity to do that is what the true evangelical Christian is offering.

Jesus also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

Transitions

LogoI live on the Canadian prairie where we have very distinct seasons. As a result, I have two distinct wardrobes, summer and winter. Sadly, it will soon be time to pack away my shorts, capris, and all my other warm weather gear and prepare for the cold months ahead, but tucked in between summer and winter are the shoulder seasons, spring and fall. Times of transition. What do you wear when it’s 5ºC (41ºF) first thing in the morning and 30ºC (86ºF) that same afternoon? That’s the kind of weather we’ve been having this week and that’s why there are some pieces that stay in my closet year round.

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My new Graph Blouse from Cabi will be one of them. Though it’s from the Fall 2017 Collection, it’s floaty layers make it a perfect stand alone item for summer days and warm autumn afternoons.

To ward off the morning chill, I’ll simply add one of the lightweight cardigans that spend the summer at the back of my closet. As long as my shoulders and upper body are warm, I’m comfortable.

When winter arrives (I hate to think of it!), the Graph Blouse, tucked in or worn loose as shown here, will continue to serve me well under warmer sweaters and jackets.

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What is an Evangelical Christian anyway?

Christian terminology can be confusing even to Christians. We have a tendency to use words that aren’t part of the everyday vernacular of most people and sometimes we don’t even agree on what they mean!

When the word evangelical entered the conversation at our dinner table recently, a non-Christian guest asked what it meant. I was embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t readily come up with a clear and concise definition off the top of my head.

Then came the media reports of unprecedented flooding when Hurricane Harvey slammed into the coast of Texas forcing more than 30 000 people from their homes and leaving the area in a devastating state of emergency. When it came to light that Lakewood Church, one of the largest churches in the United States, pastored by televangelist Joel Osteen, allegedly refused to open their doors to hurricane victims seeking shelter, the media had a heyday. Mainstream and social media immediately began to paint all evangelical Christians with the same brush. Ignoring the fact that hundreds of them were, in fact, slogging through the mud and water striving to bring help and hope where it was so badly needed, evangelicals everywhere were suddenly uncaring hypocrites.

Please don’t get me wrong! If Lakewood Church did, in fact, turn a blind eye to those in dire need, they acted in a most unChristlike manner and deserve no one’s sympathy. Personally, due to conflicting news reports, I have no idea what really happened at Lakewood or why. I do know that I have problems with Joel Osteen’s theology as he preaches what is often referred to as the “prosperity gospel” or “health and wellness gospel” which teaches that that financial blessing and physical well-being will always come to those who have enough faith. This could not be further from the message of the Bible. Rather than guaranteeing them a life of ease, Christ told his followers that “In this life you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) If wealth was a legitimate goal for the Christian, Jesus would have pursued it himself. Instead, he was a poor itinerant teacher with “no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) In fact, the only disciple who concerned himself with financial wealth was Judas Iscariot.

I am not here, however, to defend or attack Lakewood Church or their pastor. I simply want to correct my own shortcoming and ensure that from now on when I use a term like evangelical, I know for sure what I’m talking about and can clearly communicate it to someone else!

So what exactly is an evangelical Christian?

Christian is the easy part. The term, first used in Acts 11:26, simply means a follower of Jesus Christ. But what makes us evangelicals?

That term comes from the Greek “euangelion” which means good news. An evangelical Christian, then, is simply a follower of Christ who believes that it is important to tell others the good news that through his death on the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins and that by his resurrection, he conquered death and provides everlasting life to all who follow him. It is a message of divine intervention; a message of hope for mankind who, no matter how hard we try, cannot save ourselves.

In the public arena, however, the phrase evangelical Christian is used in different ways, some of them derogatory. For some, it is simply a title used to differentiate between Christian denominations. Generally speaking, evangelical denominations are those that believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and that individual believers must accept Christ’s gift of salvation for themselves and enter into a personal relationship with God. For others, the term is equivalent to “wing nut”, “intolerant extremist”, or “right-wing, fundamentalist Republican”. There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview, but being an evangelical Christian most definitely does not demand allegiance to a specific political party!

In reality, all Christians should be evangelical Christians; tellers of good news! The Bible very clearly instructs us “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) 

Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone

LogoDo you ever feel like you’re stuck in a fashion rut? Are you tired of looking in the closet and seeing the same old, same old? Are you unhappy with what you see in the mirror? Perhaps you’d really like to try something new, but you have no idea where to begin. Maybe it’s time to step outside your fashion comfort zone!

Most of us get stuck in a fashion rut from time to time. I know I certainly have. There was a time when almost everything in my wardrobe was some shade of blue or brown! How boring is that?

Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be scary. Take it slow. Experimenting can be fun, but this doesn’t mean that you should try to change everything at once. Small changes can make a big difference.

The first step might be to look for ideas and inspiration. Though magazines can be a good source, I like to read fashion blogs written by real women just like you and I. You can find several of my favourites here. If you do a bit of searching, you’ll find others that may be more your style, especially if you’re significantly younger than I am.

People watching is another fun way to gather ideas. Try sitting in a mall for a little while and really looking at what the women who pass by are wearing, especially the ones who seem to exude confidence. You won’t like everything you see, but you might pick up some ideas that you’d be willing to try. Don’t make the mistake of trying to copy exactly what you see someone else wearing though. You want to put your own stamp on an outfit and allow your unique personality to shine through.

The easiest way to step out of your comfort zone and switch up your style is to try wearing a colour that you typically wouldn’t wear. If red isn’t part of your present wardrobe, that would be a great place to start since it’s a popular colour this season and there will be lots to choose from in the stores. For advice on how to choose the right red for your complexion, see my post from last Friday.

Accessories are a great, budget friendly way to update your look. Adding jewelry or shoes in a style that you haven’t worn before will instantly take your outfit to a new level. Be adventurous! I remember reading of one woman who admired hats on other gals. Eventually she bought herself one. She told of sitting in her car outside the mall, hat on head, terrified to get out and be seen because this was such a new look for her. I don’t remember if she ever wore her new chapeau into the mall or if it stayed behind in the car. I really hope she wore it!

Sometimes a wardrobe update is as simple as embracing a new, on-trend version of your favourite fashion item. I spend a great deal of my life in jeans and I admit that I’m not always quick to adopt the newest cuts. It took me awhile to accept the low rise variety and now that I’m accustomed to them, waistlines are rising again!

Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone doesn’t have to involve shopping for something new. Sometimes it can be as simple as combining items that you already have in new and different ways. Again, be adventurous! You might find several new looks right there in your own closet!

Are you waiting to lose a few pounds or to get in shape before you try to climb out of your fashion rut? Please don’t! Instead, begin by dressing the body you have. Again, look at the women around you. Not one of us has a perfect body, but by stepping out of our fashion comfort zones we can begin to feel better about ourselves just the way we are and maybe by doing so, we’ll be challenged to take the necessary steps to make those dietary changes or to join that gym.

What changes will you make this fall? You’re worth it!

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