Living in a frightened world

I grew up in the 1960s when the threat of a nuclear holocaust hung over our heads. The world was about to end, or so many people thought. I wasn’t more than 10 years old when we visited a colleague of my father’s and were ushered down to the basement to view the fully equipped fallout shelter that was going to save his family from annihilation. Later, I clearly remember sitting in a sixth grade classroom when a substitute teacher told us that we had no chance of growing to adulthood. A nuclear bomb would wipe us out before that could happen! There was no internet back then or the hype would probably have been even more intense than it was.

Not only did I live to adulthood, but so have my children. Throughout my lifetime, however, it seems that there has always been another doomsday looming just ahead. On a lesser scale than the nuclear threat, there was Y2K, the day when all the computers were going to shut down and the world as we knew it was going to grind to a halt. I knew people who spent months living in fear, stockpiling essentials, and preparing for the crash that never came. There have been many other similar predictions to instill fear in the masses.

Now, it’s climate change. Don’t get me wrong. Is the world’s climate changing? Of course, it is. When has it not been? Climate has never been static. In my mind, though, the latest  predictions of looming catastrophe lead to more questions than answers. How much of the climate change that is actually being observed or recorded today has been caused or escalated by human action and how much is part of the cycles and changes of nature?  Can we really make a significant difference? What extremes are the radical climate change activists actually willing to go to to make this happen? What changes are they making in their day to day lives? What comforts of life are they really willing to give up? Air conditioning? Forced air furnaces? Television? Computers? Global travel? Driving to the grocery store? How about washers and dryers? Are they really willing to go back to the back-breaking way of life of our forefathers? Legislating an end to global fossil fuel usage when green energy has not been developed to the point where it can take over and provide the benefits of modern life truly would cause a global catastrophe of enormous magnitude and it would be felt most strongly by those of us living in the First World.

Like the substitute teacher in my grade six classroom, activists like young Greta are  spouting off frightening “facts” some of which aren’t even true. “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear,” she says. No it hasn’t. For example, consider this headline in the April 16, 1970 edition of The Boston Globe: “Scientist predicts a new ice age by the 21st century.” There are too many similar prophecies to begin listing them here. “People are dying. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction.” Really? Last time I checked, the world’s population was at an all time high and average lifespans were continuing to increase.

People have been prophesying the end of the world since the earliest days of recorded history. Even Christopher Columbus got into the act predicting in his Book of Prophecies (1501) that the world would end in 1656. So far, none of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates have come true and I would hazard a guess that the most recent one won’t either.

I would love it if my grandchildren could grow up in a world free from fear mongering and doomsday predictions, but perhaps that’s just not the way of mankind. Perhaps God placed within the heart of man an understanding that the world is eventually going to end. Scripture predicts it. We are told “When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines.” (Mark 13:7-8) Does that sound familiar? Elsewhere, in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 we’re told, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” I believe that we are living in these times, but I wouldn’t be so rash as to try to predict how soon it will all play out and the world will come to an end. The Bible tells us that no one will know the time or the day. (Matthew 24:36) 

In the meantime, let’s send the kids back to school, seek to educate ourselves and understand the facts using reliable sources (there’s the teacher in me talking), and strive to do the small and reasonable things within our power to be good stewards of all that we’ve been blessed with. And if there’s to be another student protest, let’s see how many come out if it’s held on a weekend. That’s the teacher in me talking too!

I realize that this is a controversial topic. Some will agree and some won’t. All I ask is that we keep the dialogue respectful.

Look what I found!

LogoEvery spring and fall when I do my seasonal closet switch, there are decisions to be made about what to put away for the following year and what to get rid of. At the beginning of each season, I turn all the hangers in my closet around. If the hanger is still turned at the end of the season, I know that that item was never worn and that I should think about shipping it off to the second-hand store. This year is a little different though. We had such a non-summer here in Alberta that there are more unturned hangers than usual. There simply weren’t enough truly warm days to wear all my summer clothes!

Sometimes there are items in my closet that I haven’t worn for a long time that I can’t bear to part with. Those go into storage and sometimes they remain there for several years. Eventually some of them come back into circulation. I’ve shared a few of those on the blog before and today I’m going to show you one that’s coming out of hibernation this fall.

In a recent post about wearing black and brown with confidence, Pam Lutrell of Over 50 Feeling 40, shared this outfit.

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The Eileen Fisher jacket, which had apparently been in her closet for a long time, immediately brought to mind a similar one that I used to wear. I knew that it would look great over my new zebra top, but did I still have it? I couldn’t remember for sure! It was a much loved piece, gifted to me by my very generous sister-in-law. Surely, I wouldn’t have gotten rid of it. I went looking and sure enough, there it was, just waiting to be resurrected!

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I used to wear a lot of brown. So much so that I eventually tired of it. Now that brown is so on-trend again and I’ve had a nice long break from it, I’m definitely ready to put this piece back into circulation.

Though the jacket is old, you may have noticed something brand new in my photo… my haircut, fresh from the hairdresser! Now that summer is pretty much over and I don’t need to be able to put it in a ponytail to golf, it was time for a shorter do.

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How do you decide which garments to keep and which to get rid of?

Dressing for an autumn hike

Dressing for a hike is all about comfort, not style. I don’t want to look terrible when I’m on the trail, but I’m much more concerned about wearing clothes that are comfortable and well suited to the conditions. When we set out last Saturday morning, the sky was overcast and the temperature was 17ºC (about 63ºF). We knew that it was likely going to get warmer as the morning went by, so as always, layering was the key.

I started with a long sleeved grey and white striped Breton tee and a comfortable pair of jeans that used to be black, but are now faded to a dark charcoal grey. (Any tips for keeping black jeans from fading would be much appreciated.) Both items are several years old. Next, I added a lightweight athletic jacket that I bought at our local thrift store back in January. It was like new and was definitely one of the best $3 investments I’ve ever made! It’s been to Mexico and Europe with me and I’m sure its cost per wear is already just a few cents. The final layer was my Uniqlo ultra light down vest.

I wear a ball cap to shade my face. There’s a good reason for that. I have no depth vision. I never have had so I don’t know what I’m missing. My brain has other ways of compensating, but wearing sunglasses removes whatever sense of depth I have and makes walking on uneven ground treacherous. As a result, I never wear them when I’m hiking.

Being surefooted on the trail is important, so good sturdy footwear is vital. My Merrell hiking shoes may not be particularly glamorous, but they’re comfortable and provide excellent support.

One thing I’m not wearing is makeup. Why would I? I admit that I look a little washed out in the photos, but I was hiking! I did wear sunscreen though. Even when it’s overcast, I want to protect my skin.

As the morning progressed, the sky cleared and the temperature rose. Layers came off and by the end of our hike the jacket was tied around my waist, the vest was tucked into it’s little sack and tied to one of my belt loops, and my sleeves were pushed up.

One more time!

Every fall, regardless of how many times we’ve had the trailer out over the summer or where we’ve taken it, I yearn for one more camping trip. When September arrives, however, the calendar starts to fill up and it doesn’t always happen. The weather didn’t cooperate when we planned on going earlier this month, but this weekend we finally managed to squeeze in two more days of camping, hiking, and kayaking. Now I can clean the trailer out and get it ready for winter without regret.

Big Knife Provincial Park, located in central east Alberta where Big Knife Creek flows into the Battle River, takes it’s name from a native legend. Two hundred years ago, the Blackfoot and Cree who inhabited the area were bitter enemies. According to the story, Big Man, a Cree, and Knife, a Blackfoot, fought near the banks of the creek. Apparently, both warriors died in the battle. In spite of this somewhat bloody history, the park, which is less than an hour from home for us, is now a lovely place to retreat from the busyness of life.

After setting up camp on Friday morning and having an early lunch, we set off to hike the 4.7 km River Flats trail. Beautiful views like these ones whetted my appetite for getting out on the river!

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Unfortunately, it started to rain shortly after we got back to camp and we spent the remainder of the afternoon in the trailer playing crib! As we ate supper, the clouds parted again and the sun came out, so I decided to go for a quick paddle before dark. Richard’s back has improved, but he’s not taking any chances with it yet, so I was on my own in our son’s single kayak again. When I set off shortly after 7:00 PM, the river was bathed in golden evening light.

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Soon afterward, I accidentally took a wrong turn leaving the river’s main channel and I ended up spending most of my time in a shallower dead end backwater. That wasn’t all bad. The quiet arm of the river was bustling with beaver activity! I lost track of how many I saw and how many tails slapped the water when I got too close!

An hour after I set off, the river looked like this and I had to boogie to make sure I got back to the boat launch before it was too late to see anything at all!

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After breakfast yesterday morning, we ventured out to hike the park’s longer trail system, the 5.8 km Highlands Trail. This one climbs out of the river valley and follows a ridge above. I love this view of the meandering river below.

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The Big Knife trails are far from challenging, mostly level, grass covered, and well maintained.

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With the abundance of rain that we’ve had this year, everything is very green, a beautiful backdrop for the fall colours.

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The beavers weren’t the only ones busily preparing for winter. It seemed that almost every Canadian thistle along the trails had a bee busily gathering nectar and they were completely oblivious to me and my camera getting up close. There were clusters of little purple flowers everywhere and just as I stopped to take a photo of one, a bee decided that it wanted to be in that picture too.

In the afternoon, I was back out on the water. The Battle River flows so slowly that looking at it, one might wonder if it moves at all. The fact that I paddled upstream for an hour and a half and returned in an hour, even though I spent some of that time drifting, proves that it really does! The push ups and planks that are part of my daily exercise routine definitely pay off, but by the time I spotted the bright yellow buoy in the distance that marks the location of the boat launch, my arms were ready to say they’d had enough!

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Now we’re busy cleaning out the trailer and getting it ready for winter. If we do get out for any more hiking or kayaking this year, it will be as a day trip.

The art of getting dressed

LogoBefore we look at how we dress, let’s consider why we clothe our bodies. First of all, not to would be considered immodest and in most cases illegal! Of course, we also dress to protect our bodies from cold and from the damaging rays of the sun. If those were our only reasons for wearing clothing though, we could all dress the same and we’d only need two outfits each, one to wear and one to launder. We’d need very little closet space, it would be so much easier on the environment, and just think of how much money we’d save! It would also be incredibly BORING!

Clearly, our clothes serve another purpose. They are an expression of who we are, of our individual uniqueness. That’s why I encourage you to identify your personal style if you haven’t already done so.

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It’s also important to dress the body you have, not the one you want or the one you used to have. Like most fashion bloggers, I don’t show you how I dress in hopes that you’ll copy me. Absolutely not! My goal is to encourage and inspire you to experiment with fashion and to learn how to dress in a way that fits your personality and makes you happy. I love the comment that one reader left on another blog recently. She said, “You wear you and I’ll wear me!”

Getting dressed is like creating a work of art. Every morning, you start with a blank canvas. Many artists begin a painting with the background. We, too, need a good foundation to build our work of art on. That means wearing good quality undergarments that fit well and keep everything in place.

Next we begin to fill our painting with the larger shapes. As you look into your closet and choose which pieces to use to build your outfit, consider where you’ll be going, what you’ll be doing, and what you want your look to say about you. Once you’ve established that, use accessories and makeup to add finishing touches to your work of art.

Artists also experiment with colour. While having your colours “done” and sticking to a specific palette (no, I haven’t found my swatches!) may seem too restrictive, it does help to know which colours make you come alive and which, especially when they’re worn close to your face, make you look tired or washed out. Knowing whether your skin has cool or warm undertones can help in choosing the colours that are best for you. One easy way to figure this out is to look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. Do they look blue or green? If they appear more blue, you are cool-toned; if they’re more green, you’re warm toned. The study of colour can be a complex one, but essentially, if you are cool-toned, take your inspiration from the cool end of the spectrum. Bright blues, deep purples, emerald greens, and frosty shades of lavender, ice blue, and pink will look good on you. If you’re warm-toned, look to the warm end of the spectrum for your best colours. Think fiery reds, peach, coral, oranges and rusty tones, creams, camel, and earth tones. Of course, there are also those universal colours that look good on everyone. In addition to experimenting with colour, you might enjoy mixing patterns as well.

Now, at the start of each day, whether you’re going somewhere special or just staying home, take a look in your closet and create a fabulous work of art! You are so worth it!

 

Zebra stripes, more than just a fashion trend

LogoIn August 2013, I was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer (NETS). In August of this year, I attended a cabi party and treated myself to a zebra print top from the Fall 2019 Uniquely Us Collection. Those might seem like two completely unrelated random facts, but they aren’t.

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The zebra is the symbol of neuroendocrine cancer. Neuroendocrine tumours are difficult to diagnose. The symptoms are usually vague and similar to more common health problems. Many family doctors have never encountered a NETS patient. When presented with symptoms like stomach pain and diarrhea, they naturally think of things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease or lactose intolerance. Flushing, especially in women of a certain age, makes them think menopause, not cancer. Medical students are taught “when hearing hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.” Neuroendocrine tumours are rare and therefore they are considered to be zebras.

Some NETS patients and advocates think the zebra symbol is foolish, that it trivializes the grave nature of our disease, and would like to see us stop using it. I disagree. I think we need to take advantage of every opportunity to draw attention to our cause and if that includes zebra stripes, I’m all for it!

Since my diagnosis, I’ve noticed zebra stripes everywhere! As I mentioned in last Friday’s post on trends for fall 2019, the zebra motif is particularly popular this season, but animal prints never go out of style and the zebra has been around for a long time. I’ve seen zebra t-shirts, zebra leggings, zebra jeans, zebra pjs, and zebra bras. I’ve also seen zebra handbags, zebra luggage, and even a zebra golf bag.

I remember trying on a darling zebra dress a couple of years ago, but I didn’t buy it. Like most zebra garments, its stark black and white pattern wasn’t flattering on me. With my pale Spring complexion, I look better in warmer tones. That’s why my new cabi top is so perfect. With its creamy vanilla background and chocolate ganache stripes (doesn’t that sound yummy?) it’s perfect for me.

With soft flutter sleeves, the top is a good stand alone piece for the occasional warm summery day that we enjoy at this time of year, but worn under sweaters and jackets, it will transition well into fall and winter. When worn alone, underarm insets provide good armhole coverage. While the neckline isn’t immodestly low, it leaves enough décolletage exposed to nicely frame a statement necklace. The top looks great tucked in, worn loose, or belted.

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I even tried mixing animal prints. Because both prints are within the same colour family, I think it works!

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For today’s photo shoot, I wore my DIY frayed white jeans. Later in the season, I’ll pair the zebra top with darker pants or skirt, but obviously I don’t adhere to the antiquated don’t wear white after Labour Day rule!

And what am I wearing on my feet, you ask? A pair of flip flops that I bought for $5 at Walmart’s end of season clearance sale. They perfectly match my golden summertime toes!

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