The jacket!

Melania Trump jacket

I REALLY DON’T CARE. DO U?

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Thursday of last week we were pulling into the central Alberta city of Red Deer to participate in a convention that I’d been preparing for since early April when I received a message from one of our daughters-in-law alerting me to Melania Trump’s latest fashion faux pas. My post for the following morning was already ready to publish and there was no time to write a new one. Though the furor has died down and I’m a week late, I still can’t help commenting.

When we lived in Japan, it wasn’t unusual to see someone wearing a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or jacket bearing a message written in garbled English. Sometimes those messages made absolutely no sense and sometimes they were extremely vulgar. The one that stands out most strongly in my memory was a young teenage girl wearing a t-shirt with PEDOPHILE BAIT boldly blazoned across her chest. Surely neither she nor her parents knew what that message meant. In fact, most of the Japanese who wear these garments have no idea what they mean. It’s simply popular to wear English.

I wish I could believe that Melania Trump didn’t know exactly what I DON’T REALLY CARE. DO U?  meant! I don’t believe in putting other women down for what they choose to wear, but Melania is a public figure whose conduct and choices have an impact far beyond herself. The message on her jacket would be completely inappropriate for the first lady of any country anytime, but it was made even worse by the fact that she was on her way to visit a few of the more than 2000 immigrant children wrested from their parents’ arms at the Mexico/US border and being held in various shelters around the country.

What was she thinking? What could possibly have possessed her when she got dressed that morning? And where were her advisors? She knew that her surprise visit to the border would attract plenty of media attention. If the intent of her trip was to demonstrate her care for the children who have been separated from their imprisoned parents, the message on her jacket seemed completely contradictory. Or was this a carefully thought out plan by Melania herself or someone behind the scenes to deflect attention away from the humanitarian crisis itself?

The president weighed in later in the day defending his wife’s choice of jacket by tweeting, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!” Sadly, his message made no more sense than the one on the back of her jacket and it contradicted Melania’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, who said, “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message.”

So why did she pick that particular jacket to wear? Melaina Trump has been carefully crafting her public image for decades. I can’t believe that she simply grabbed any old jacket without thinking about how it might be interpreted. She has lots of jackets and I believe that she chose this one very deliberately. I can only assume that she wanted it to send a message, but to who? And why? We can only speculate.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had something to say about one of Melania’s jackets. First there was the $51 000 Dolce & Gabbana that she wore when she arrived in Sicily last year, but my indignation over that one pales in comparison to this $39 one from Zara!

Melania Trump jacket

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Living a life of significance

I think it’s safe to say that most people yearn for significance. Perhaps when we’re young, we’re too busy to think about what that means or to wonder if what we’re doing will have lasting significance, but those of us in the second half of life, especially those who have entered their retirement years, may struggle with finding purpose or significance in their daily lives.

Significant Living - Jerry & Shirley RoseSo what does living a life of significance really mean? Significance can be defined as “being worthy of attention” or “meaningful”. It begins with the word “sign” for a reason. A thing’s significance is a sign of its importance.

I’ve just finished reading Significant Living: A Road Map for the Second Half of Your Life by Jerry and Shirley Rose. One of the things that the Roses point out is what significance is not

“Some people confuse significance with success” but they are not the same thing. Many so-called successful lives lack true significance.

It’s very easy in this day and age, when we’re exposed to the lives of the rich and famous through the media, to feel that we’ve somehow missed the boat if we haven’t done something truly big with our lives, but what does significance really look like? The answer will be different for each one of us, but again I quote the Roses, “For some, significance may come through mentoring or having a significant influence on the family. It may be starting a business or doing volunteer work. The important thing is not the size of what we do. Whether our pursuits are ‘big’ or ‘small’ the importance lies in filling a need in the lives of other people. Significance usually translates into getting involved with others.”

That definitely resonated with me. I do want to make it clear, however, that in our relationships, and particularly in marriage, we ought not to depend on another person to give our lives significance. Significance should come not from another person, but rather, from how your life affects the lives of others.

The simple key to living a life of significance is to share your time, talent, and treasure with others. Those of us who have reached retirement age usually have an abundance of time to give. Chances are, we have also developed skills and talents that can be used to better the lives of others. Regardless of where you are in life, you don’t have to be wealthy to give generously of what you do have to worthwhile causes, to family, or to friends in need.

For me, significance begins by knowing that God has a purpose for my life and that I am using the gifts He has given me to impact the lives of other people. I believe that the most significant thing I ever accomplished was raising my children to be the responsible young adults that they are today. I know that I also had a significant impact on at least some of the students that I taught during my career. Now that my children are grown and I’ve retired from teaching, it would be easy to feel that my significance had waned, but that is not the case. Even in our very small rural community there are many opportunities to volunteer time and talent. Over the past couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of teaching two young immigrant women who never had the opportunity to receive a formal education how to read. I’ve also done online editing and mentoring, again on a volunteer basis. If anything I’ve said on the blog has impacted another person in a positive way, that too has added significance to my life.

Do you feel that your life lacks significance? Consider your gifts and passions, then look for ways to use them to impact others. Are you living a life of significance? If so, please share what it is that makes your life meaningful. Perhaps it will help someone else!

 

 

Should I keep it?

LogoTwo of my favourite fashion bloggers, Pamela Lutrell who writes Over50Feeling40 and Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life, write a weekly Would You Wear It feature in which they each post photos of a mannequin they’ve found and ask if their readers would wear what its wearing. Today I’m going to do something similar only instead of a mannequin, you’re seeing me and I’m asking Should I Keep It?

One of my fashion goals this season is to cull my summer closet removing older, worn, or unused items that are simply taking up space. This dress, purchased at one of our local thrift stores a few years ago, didn’t come out of my closet last summer and I’m debating whether to keep it or let it go.

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I don’t wear dresses very often but this one seems casual, bold, and a bit quirky, all things that I’d like my summer wardrobe to say. The bodice is a bit snug, but it’s just  loose enough around the midriff to hide the bulges that lurk there and I love the double slits front and back that make it cool, comfortable, and easy to walk in. Many women in my age range don’t like to bare their arms, but I love to go sleeveless in the summer.

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I’m wearing it with a favourite bracelet, a piece of wearable art that picks up the colours in the dress, and a pair of dark brown American Eagle gladiator sandals that were also second-hand.

So, what do you think? Should I keep the dress or pass it on? Please give reasons for your answer.

Packing fail?

LogoWe’re home from Vancouver and I just unpacked a dress, two pairs of capris, a pair of cropped pants, and four tops that never came out of the suitcase during the sixteen days that we were away from home! Considering how much time we spend living out of a suitcase, that definitely felt like a packing failure, but was it?

Why did it happen? Spring and fall are easily the most difficult times of year to pack efficiently for in this part of the world. Weather can vary widely and one needs to be prepared for almost any eventuality. It was 30ºC (86ºF) when I was packing. but I knew it wouldn’t be that hot in Vancouver. I packed for a variety of weather conditions, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for the month that Vancouverites are referring to as Junuary! I expected cool days, but also some warmer ones, but day after day it was cool and damp with temperatures in the mid teens. I only wore my sandals and the third pair of capris in the suitcase once. Thankfully, the day that we played tourist was the nicest one of our stay.

Two of the tops were definitely a packing fail. I actually considered wearing them, but in spite of careful folding, they came out of the suitcase looking creased and crumpled. When I shop for clothing, packability is one of the factors that I consider, but these two were hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law. I hadn’t traveled with them before and I learned that I’ll be able take them with me in the trailer where I can hang them up, but not when I’m traveling with a suitcase.

So how did I manage when my choices of what to wear were severely limited? Three factors saved the day:

  1. The morning we left home was a cool one prompting me to add one more pair of jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt to the suitcase at the last moment. I was very thankful for those two extra pieces!
  2. The majority of what I packed was neutral in colour allowing me to mix and match, creating a variety of different looks with a limited number of pieces.
  3. I packed plenty of layering pieces including two camis for added warmth under lightweight tops, a jean jacket, a lightweight cardigan, and my cabi waterfront shirt from several seasons ago.

Regardless of season or destination, the latter two are always keys to successful packing. So, while this wasn’t the best packing job I’ve ever done, it wasn’t a total fail!

Celebrating 95!

Our main reason for choosing this particular time to come to Vancouver was the fact that my father was turning 95. Rather than all three of we Alberta siblings visiting at once to help Dad celebrate this momentous occasion, we determined some time ago that it works better if we space our visits out giving him company more often. Thus it fell upon me to make this birthday a special one, but I certainly didn’t do it on my own.

On Dad’s actual birthday last Tuesday we took him to his favourite restaurant for dinner. There were four generations at the table that evening. We told Dad that our son, Matt, would pick him up after work and bring him to the restaurant where we would meet them along with Matt’s wife, Robin, and their two boys. What we didn’t tell him was that Matt would be driving the Beatrice, the 1983 Volkswagen Westfalia van that my parents picked up at the factory in Germany, lived in in Europe for over a year, and that Dad drove until just a few years ago when his sight began to fail! It’s now one of Matt’s most prized possessions and the grin on Dad’s face as they pulled up to the restaurant was heartwarming.

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Dinner out, as nice as it was, wasn’t enough to mark reaching such an amazing milestone, however, so we hosted a birthday party at Matt and Robin’s home yesterday afternoon, managing to pull together a group of sixteen relatives, again representing four generations of Dad’s family. There were cousins and second cousins and cousins once removed, though I’ve never really figured out for sure what those terms mean! I just call them all cousins. There were relatives who hardly knew one another and spouses that some had never met. It was truly an enjoyable occasion and though I’m sure he was quite exhausted by the time the festivities were over, Dad was delighted to see everyone.

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Introducing Knix… realism in advertising

LogoWhen my children were small, I told them that Mommy didn’t have a belly button! I was that self conscious about my stomach which was marred by stretch marks and a surgical scar. Now older, and I hope somewhat wiser, I realize that these aren’t ugly. They’re simply emblems of life and survival.

I was beyond impressed when I saw this ad on Facebook recently.

Knixwear ad

I was intrigued by a company that would choose to use real women with “imperfect” bodies as models and wanted to know more. After checking out the Knixwear website and discovering Canadian designed products at affordable prices, I reached out to Knixwear and learned more about the company.

Following a successful crowd-funding campaign, CEO and founder Joanna Griffiths launched her brand in 2013 to fill a very specific void in the intimate apparel industry. After learning that one in three women experience Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) and that there were no leakproof underwear options available to them, she decided to fill that gap and introduced the first Knixwear product, high-performance underwear with an ultra-thin panty liner that absorbs up to 2 tampons (3tsp) of liquid. Featuring a moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and antimicrobial cotton top layer that keep the wearer feeling fresh, dry, and confident, Knix Leakproof are suitable for both light period days and minor bladder leakage.

The company quickly expanded into workout underwear. The first Knixwear bra was introduced in 2015 and today a variety of underwear, bras, tanks, t-shirts, sleepwear, and workout accessories are available. The new kid on the Knix block is Knixteen, products designed specifically for teenage girls.

I haven’t worn Knix yet, so I can’t personally vouch for the products, but the reviews are fantastic. Andrea, writer of Mommy Gearest and an avid wearer of Knix, wrote an in-depth review here.

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As a woman of considerable age, I appreciate the trend toward using older models in advertising and now I applaud Knix for using “real” women; women with stretch marks and cellulite. Women like me who have long had difficulty accepting or embracing our physical flaws because the world of advertising told us that we ought to look like airbrushed models. Women like Bree who is wearing the V-Neck Evolution Bra and the Athletic Bikini in the first of these photos and the Athletic Thong in the second one.

Knix

Knix

In addition to honesty in advertising, Knixwear is committed to ethical sourcing. All products are designed in Canada and manufactured in socially and environmentally responsible factories in China and South Korea that comply with the standards set out by WRAP, SA8000, and Okeo-tex.

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Disclaimer:  This is not a paid endorsement. Information and images were provided by Knix, but the words are my own.

Taking time to play tourist

In recent years, whenever we’ve come to Vancouver, it’s been a balancing act trying to spend time with my aging father, my mentally handicapped brother, and our quickly growing grandsons (as well as their parents, of course!) We’ve spent very little time enjoying this beautiful city that was my home many decades ago during my teen years. This time I decided to carve out a little bit of time to play tourist.

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Deep Cove

Deep Cove, the easternmost part of the District of North Vancouver, is one of the most scenic spots on the lower mainland. Once a sleepy little village at the end of the road, it has become a major tourist destination. While there are many things to do and see in Deep Cove, the hike to Quarry Rock, which we did with our daughter-in-law and grandsons a little over a year ago, attracts so many people that the District has recently had to introduce more stringent parking regulations and put a cap on the number of hikers allowed on the trail at any one time. Not knowing this, we headed out to Deep Cove late yesterday morning and were lucky to find what might have been the only available parking space in the area! We wandered the two block stretch of Gallant Avenue that forms the community’s commercial core checking out some of the galleries and boutiques before stopping at a tiny bistro for a fish and chips lunch.

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This morning, we crossed the Lions Gate Bridge and drove through Stanley Park on our way to English Bay Beach, Vancouver’s most densely populated beach area.

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Not far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver, we walked the long stretch of sandy beach and I breathed deeply of the salty sea air. Continuing on under the Burrard Street Bridge to the foot of Hornby Street, we caught the colourful Aquabus and crossed the narrow inlet to Granville Island.

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While a person could easily spend all day on Granville Island, one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions, we only had time for a quick wander through the Public Market and a few of the shops and galleries. After enjoying an outdoor lunch overlooking the water, it was time to cross the inlet again and retrace our steps so that we could spend the afternoon visiting with Dad and get back to North Vancouver in time to watch the boys’ Little League baseball game.

Just before we got back to the car, I had to stop and take several pictures of this Pacific Great Blue Heron near the water’s edge.