Taking time to recharge

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I ran across this recently and it resonated with me as it describes what I’m planning to do over the next little while. I won’t disappear completely, but I won’t be spending as much time as usual on social media and I probably won’t be blogging very regularly. Over the next 6 to 8 weeks I’ll be spending lots of time camping, hiking, and paddling quiet waters; time away from my keyboard and often far from internet connection.

Writing is who I am. It’s what I do. To me, it’s almost as important as breathing, but spending time in nature is one of the ways that I recharge my batteries and perhaps in the silence I’ll find some new things to write about.

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Perspectives on growing older

Earlier this month, Sue Burpee, writer of High Heels in the Wilderness, wrote a very thought provoking post about the feelings of sadness and dissatisfaction that she was experiencing as she contemplated the realities of getting older (she’s 66). It obviously resonated with many women as it generated a vast number of heartfelt comments. In fact, it struck such a chord with Frances, over at Materfamilias Writes, that she responded with this post on her blog. Again, the comment section exploded with women in their 60s, 70s, and beyond expressing feelings of worry and despair as they faced their own mortality. Many wrote of feeling that time was running out and one of Sue’s readers likened it to falling into an abyss. Some wrote of physical decline or the fear of losing their spouse. Others were already alone. Some mentioned lack of purpose, having nothing good to look forward to, or feeling invisible to those around them. There was also an acknowledgement by many that the pandemic had robbed them of valuable time that they’d never get back.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about those two posts and the comments that they generated. I keep asking myself why I don’t share the feelings that so many women expressed so poignantly. I do lament time lost to the pandemic, but I’m just three months short of 70 and rather than feeling down about it, I’m excited! I’m already thinking about how I want to celebrate that milestone. But why? Why don’t I feel the way they do?

I think that there are three reasons.

The first was a major shift in perspective that happened almost ten years ago. I’ve written before about the fact that I spent the whole year that I was 59 fretting about turning 60. It sounded so old! How had I got there so quickly? Then came 60 and it wasn’t so bad after all, but before I turned 61, I was diagnosed with cancer and within a year, a second unrelated one. If you’ve been following my blog for very long, you know that the past decade has brought a number of other diagnoses as well as surgeries, treatments, and medications. Now, still with one incurable cancer, but stable and feeling 100%, I’ve learned that every day is a gift. Nine years ago, I had no reason to think that I would make it to 70. Now it feels like a victory!

The second reason that I feel optimistic about the future is the faith that sustained me through all the ups and downs of the past decade and for many years before that. I, who in my childhood and young adult years had an abnormal fear of death, of disappearing into nothingness and no longer existing, found peace with that when I finally cried out to God in desperation and asked Him to remove my fear. That was forty years ago and to this point, it has never returned. I don’t pretend to know what life beyond the grave will be like, but I firmly believe that it does go on and that those of us who have a personal relationship with the Creator will continue in His presence. That’s all I really need to know. That may sound naive or foolish to those who don’t share my faith, but that’s not surprising. Scripture says that that will be so. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

Perhaps the main reason that I’m not burdened by the dark thoughts and feelings that seem to plague so many of my fellow seniors is that my life has purpose. Hubby and I fairly recently gave up a volunteer position that was beginning to become too physically taxing, but as my father always said, there’s no end to the things that you can do in retirement as long as you don’t need to be paid. I’ve edited almost 750 Kiva loans since I took on that role early last year. When I was younger, I led a ladies Bible study for more than twenty years. I didn’t expect to find myself doing that again in my late 60s, but I just wrapped up my second year back in that role and I look forward to continuing in the fall. In addition, I have a leadership position with an online women’s ministry and I’ve just been accepted into another role that will put my writing skills to good use. Nine years ago when I was looking death in the face, I certainly didn’t anticipate new beginnings at age 70! Clearly God isn’t finished with me yet!

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Personal style types

Logo by SamAfter thinking about personal style last week, I thought I’d explore the topic in a little more depth today by looking at some of the most common style types. Each one of us is unique and it’s unlikely that you will fit cleanly into any one of these styles. Instead, you might take inspiration from more than one of them and by combining traits that resonate with you, identify your own personal style.

Sporty  This is the woman who feels at home in athleisure wear. She wants clothing that is casual, comfortable, and allows ease of movement. She might be seen wearing yoga pants, joggers, or leggings with a t-shirt or a hoodie. Her shoes will be sneakers or flats and her accessories minimal. 

Casual.  Similar to her sporty sister, the casual woman likes simple lines and designs. She is focused on comfort and her look is easy-going and relaxed. She wears jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, and sneakers or flat boots with minimal accessories.

Classic  The Classic woman chooses tailored garments in quality fabrics and timeless styles. Her menswear inspired look is polished and put-together. Her wardrobe will include blazers and pencil skirts in neutral colours. Her accessories are simple and complement her outfits.

Dramatic  This is the elegant woman who invests in quality pieces for her wardrobe. Her look is striking and sophisticated. She wears bold makeup, eye catching shoes, and statement jewelry.

Preppy  Originally inspired by North American prep school uniforms, this look includes khakis and chinos, polo and button-down shirts, pleated skirts, blazers, vests, stripes, plaids, and all things nautical. Loafers are a popular shoe choice. Accessories are simple and often involve pearls.

Bohemian  The flamboyant Boho style has a 1960s and early 70s hippie aesthetic. It has a loose, laid back vibe that includes flowing maxi dresses and long skirts in natural fabrics, earth tones, and ethnic prints. Garments are often embellished with fringes, beads, or feathers. Accessories include large brimmed hats, slouchy handbags, oversized scarves, wide belts, long necklaces, big rings, and chunky bracelets. This is a style that often appeals to the artistic non-conformist.

Artistic  The Artistic or Creative woman is another innovative individual who doesn’t mind being a bit unconventional. She wears unique outfits in a variety of bright, bold colours and prints. She also likes to play with unusual shapes, silhouettes, and textures. She wears bold jewelry and statement footwear.

Romantic  This is the woman who chooses soft, flowy garments with pretty, feminine details including ruffles, bows, and lace. She wears muted or pastel colours and floral prints. She likes delicate, traditional accessories and ballet flats.

Minimalist  The title refers to a particular style, not the number of clothes in this woman’s closet. The Minimalist likes a paired down look with clean simple lines. She most often wears classic neutral colours and chooses simple, sparse accessories.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I wrote about Gentlewoman style in this post and the very trendy Coastal Grandmother style here. There are Grunge and Goth styles, but since they wouldn’t likely appeal to the demographic that usually reads this blog, I didn’t include them. Then there is the Eclectic woman. She loves to try new styles and combinations and mixes elements from many different styles to create one that is uniquely her own.

The photos that I’ve included are a very limited sampling of each style, but hopefully they are enough to give you an idea what each one looks like.

Do you see yourself somewhere in the list? As I mentioned in the introduction, you will likely fit into more than one category. For example, I see myself as a Casual/Classic dresser, but I occasionally incorporate elements from several other styles.

Thinking about personal style

Logo by SamHubby and I spent three days this week attending a conference as representatives of our local church. It was a full schedule of making connections, worshipping together, and attending sessions. There was no down time, no time for writing a blog post! We came home yesterday feeling both uplifted and exhausted! I sat down last night to write this morning’s Fashion Friday post and absolutely nothing came to mind! Nothing except the desire to soak in a hot bath and crawl into bed. All this to explain why today’s post is later than usual and why it might be a little thin in content!

We often tend to use the words fashion and style interchangeably, but there’s a difference between the two. Fashion is the clothes, accessories and shoes that are produced. They are what you see when you enter a store or shop online, but style is what you do with them, the way in which you wear those items.

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Style is how we personalize what the fashion industry produces.

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One way to identify your personal style is to choose 3 to 5 adjectives to guide your fashion choices. Check here for an exercise that will help you do that. Pinterest is another excellent tool to help you identify or clarify your own style. This post will show you how that works.

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Personal style shouldn’t be static. We all change as we go through different stages of life and our style needs to change with us. It’s important to evaluate and update our style from time to time so that our outfits express who we are today, not who we were sometime in the past.

What words would you use to describe your personal style? How has your style changed over the years?

Furries, feathers, and fireflies

If you’ve been following this blog for very long, you are no doubt aware that hubby and I love to camp, hike, and kayak. Here in Canada, the season for enjoying those activities is short and if we’re not careful our calendar fills up with other activities such as the meetings that we’ll be attending next week as delegates for our church. Sometimes we have to be creative in order to carve out time for the things we most love doing, so that’s what we did this past week.

Hubby had a medical appointment in Vermilion, a town a little less than an hour and a half northeast of here. (You know you’re in Canada if you measure distance by how long it takes to drive somewhere!) Vermilion happens to border a provincial park with a campground, an extensive network of trails, and a reservoir suitable for kayaking. What could have been a day trip for a doctor’s appointment became a three day camping trip instead!

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We quickly discovered that Vermilion Provincial Park is built on a giant gopher colony. These furry little creatures, a bane to farmers when they take up residence in their fields, were absolutely everywhere! At any given moment, we could see half a dozen or more of them grazing, standing like sentinels, or wrestling and playing on the grassy slope in front of our trailer. The young ones were particularly entertaining to watch. They were very curious about us too!

Vermilion is hometown to Beckie Scott, Canada’s most decorated cross-country skier. A three time Olympian, Beckie won gold in Salt Lake City in 2002, becoming the first Canadian (and the first North American woman) to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. The road leading into Vermilion Provincial Park is called Beckie Scott Trail and the Vermilion Nordic Ski Club, based out of a renovated 1905 train station in the park, maintains groomed ski trails during the winter which are used for hiking in the summer.

We did a 7.5 km hike on Thursday afternoon. While much of the hike was fairly level, as we made our way up and down some of the hills along the way, I was glad I was on foot and not skis! As a former cross-country skier, I knew that some of those uphill slopes would have been gut-busters!

As we set off on the trail, we noticed a “Bear in Area” sign. According to other campers, it was a mama with cubs. Not wanting to come face to face with her, we kept our bear bell jingling as we walked and we also had bear spray close at hand in case it was needed. Thankfully, it wasn’t. The only wildlife we spotted was these two bunnies who didn’t seem too concerned about our presence.

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Much of the time, the trail followed the edge of the Vermilion River reservoir. The water was almost dead calm, unlike the previous afternoon when we contended with a fairly stiff breeze while out in the kayak.

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Red-winged blackbirds are a common sight when kayaking on Alberta lakes and rivers, but I managed to get better photos of these ones with my feet solidly on the ground than I’ve ever been able to get from the boat.

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After a day in the fresh air and an invigorating hike, we were ready to let the campfire die out and head for bed by 11 PM, but I had to stay up later. Earlier in the day, a couple camped near us had told us that they’d seen fireflies the night before, something we’d never seen in Alberta before. At this time of year, however, with the longest day of the year less than two weeks away, the sun doesn’t set until nearly 10 PM and it isn’t fully dark until close to midnight. I had to stay up long enough to see those fireflies! Sure enough, when I stepped back out of the trailer just before crawling into bed, little dots of light flashed all around! It was magical!

Mindful shopper or impulse buyer?

Logo by SamMindfulness, the practice of being fully aware and in the present moment, has become a popular buzzword these days. There’s mindful meditation and mindful eating, but today we’re going to look at mindful shopping. 

Mindless or reckless, impulsive (and sometimes even compulsive) shopping is a trap that’s easy to fall into especially in this day of online, credit card shopping. Unfortunately, it can lead to buyer’s remorse, unnecessary debt, anxiety, and even relationship problems. It can also mean having a closet full of clothes, but still experiencing that all too familiar feeling of having nothing to wear. 

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So how can you move from impulse buyer to mindful shopper?

When I shop for groceries, I do so mindfully. I shop with a list. Before I leave home, I check the fridge and the cupboards to make sure that the list includes everything we need. Though I might occasionally buy something that isn’t on the list, I read labels and think about what goes into the grocery cart. My husband has cholesterol issues and I’m diabetic, so I take those factors into consideration when I decide what to buy. I don’t buy pineapple or kiwi because I’m allergic to them and I’ve never liked parsnips, so I don’t buy them even if they’re on sale and look really fresh.  Perhaps we can apply some of these same or similar practices to shopping for clothes.  

Here are 10 tips to help you make the transition: 

  1.  Change your mindset. Consider shopping a necessity, not a hobby or a leisure time activity. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyable, but if you’re simply shopping for fun, find another pastime.
  2. Don’t indulge in retail therapy. If you shop because you’re feeling down and need a pick-me-up, find another way to treat yourself. 
  3. Avoid temptation. Don’t go to the mall unless you actually have a reason to be there. Don’t spend your time watching “shopping hauls” on YouTube. Don’t window shop, especially online. We all know that as soon as you look at an item on the internet, you’ll be bombarded with ads for similar items all meant to convince you to buy. 
  4. Make a mindful shopping list. This involves taking stock of what you already have and thinking about what you actually need. Go through your wardrobe and take note of things that need replacing or gaps that need filling.  
  5. Resist the urge to buy something simply because it’s on-trend. Don’t buy something simply because everyone else has it.  
  6. Don’t be seduced by sales. I’m a frugal fashionista and I like a sale as much as anyone else, but a bargain is only a bargain if it’s something you need or something you’ll actually wear. Buying something on sale is still spending, not saving. 
  7. Be cautious of marketing campaigns. “Buy one, get one half price” is only a bargain if you need more than one of a particular item. 
  8. Take a breather before you buy. The next time you’re tempted to buy something that isn’t on your list, something that you don’t actually need, especially something that’s tempting you because it’s on sale, hit pause and take time to think about it. Leave the store and come back later if you’re still convinced that you ought to buy it. 
  9. Think quality, not quantity. Shopping mindfully is about buying less, but buying better, and having a well curated wardrobe that puts an end to that feeling of having nothing to wear. 
  10. Consider cost per wear. Ask yourself if you’ll wear the item often enough to make it a worthwhile purchase.  

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As a mindful shopper, you’ll learn to make intentional choices that help you save money while feeling good about what you’re wearing. Does that mean that you should never make an impulse purchase?  No, of course not, but don’t fill your closet with them. An occasional splurge, as long as you can afford it, might turn out to be something that you love and wear over and over again.

For the most part, I try to limit my impulse buys to second-hand shopping. Once in awhile, like last week, I’m lucky enough to find something that’s on my mindful shopping list in a thrift store, but that’s not likely to happen very often. The prices in our local volunteer-run, not-for-profit thrift stores are very low. When I can buy a top, a dress, a pair of jeans, or a pair of boots for less than the price of a latte, I know that cost per wear will be extremely minimal and even if I don’t end up wearing the item very often, I won’t have lost much. In that case, I can afford to let mindfulness go out the window!   

Musing about sandals

Logo by SamWhen I took my sandals out of storage this spring, I realized how worn they were getting. That’s not surprising considering the fact that the newest pair is at least five years old! I only know that because I’ve been keeping track of all my clothing, footwear, and accessories purchases since the beginning of 2018 and there aren’t any sandals on the list!

I have a couple of pairs that are still quite serviceable, but really, it might be time for this girl to be thinking about buying some new ones!

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Fishermans sandals are very much on trend for 2022, but something about a closed toe sandal just doesn’t sit well with me. They’re great for women who are self-conscious about exposing their toes for any reason, but when I wear sandals, I want my golden summertime toes to show.

Then there’s the recent popularity of fishermans sandals with socks. That one is a definite no for me! I haven’t spend all these years teasing hubby about wearing socks with his sandals to succumb to that fad!

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What about you? Are you a fan of this look? I always say that, first and foremost, we ought to wear what makes us happy.

I’m not a girly girl, but if I do go shopping for sandals, I’ll be looking for something a little more feminine looking than the closed toe fishermans sandal; something more like this pair from Naturalizer. I like a sandal that’s casual, but a little bit dressy looking, and something that I can comfortably walk a long way in.

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Sadly, the Naturalizer stores in Edmonton closed last year and I’d have to order these online. Not only do I much prefer shopping in person, but I have very narrow, difficult to fit feet. Ordering shoes online just doesn’t work for me. So, for now, until I have an opportunity to shop and try on, I’ll just continue wearing my old sandals and musing about new ones.

And then…

As usual, this post was written earlier in the week so that it would be ready to post first thing this morning. Yesterday, after getting my monthly injection, I stopped at one of our local thrift stores to drop off a bag of books that I’d finished reading. Of course, I had to take a look around and guess what I found? Sandals! Almost brand new Clarks in my size for $2.00! Similar sandals online sell for $110 and up. I’ll still be keeping my eye out for a dressier pair similar to the ones above, but in the meantime, I’m delighted with my find. They’re comfortable and supportive and the soft sage colour goes well with my summer wardrobe.

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On a totally different topic, I recently had the privilege of writing a guest post for the parenting blog, Leaf and Steel. I hope you’ll pop over and check it out here