Choosing your Grandma name

When this hilarious video showed up on my Facebook newsfeed this morning, I couldn’t help laughing out loud! Those of us who have grandchildren have all faced the question… What will your grandchildren call you?

Next Tuesday I will have been a grandmother for ten whole years. That’s right! Our Drew is hitting the double digits! I can’t believe how quickly that decade has flown by. It seems like only yesterday that I was thinking about what I would want him to call me.

Growing up, I had a Gran and a Nana. I only have one clear memory of my Gran who passed away when I was five. Though she was younger than I am now, she had a serious heart condition and all I remember is a frail little lady who needed help from the car to the house when she and Grandad came for a visit. Tiny and frail wasn’t the kind of grandmother I hoped to be, so that name didn’t resonate with me. My Nana was robust and a woman known for speaking her mind. I think I must have inherited that trait from her! She was very much a part of my childhood and lived to see my first two children. The only reason I didn’t want to be called Nana was that some of my childhood friends didn’t know what a Nana was. I wanted a name that clearly identified me as a grandmother, but like the lady in the video, I wanted one that sounded younger and hipper than Granny.

I didn’t want to be called Grandma because Drew’s other grandmother already had three grandchildren who called her Grandma or Tiny Grandma because of her small stature. I wanted to choose a name that was different from hers and I most certainly didn’t want to end up being Big Grandma!

After considering many possibilities, I settled on just plain Gram. It’s simple and easy to pronounce, or so I thought. I was thrilled when Drew, at the age of 15 months, began to call me Am. Of course, we didn’t realize then that that was a symptom of a severe phonological disorder that caused him to drop the initial sounds off almost every word. As he began speech therapy and he and his Mom worked diligently at home, we began to see a marked improvement in his speech and finally the wonderful day came when he called me Gram! Thankfully, you wouldn’t know today that there had ever been a problem with his speech.

Now there are five children who call me Gram. Distance prevents us from all getting together very often so the photo is over a year old, but these are my treasures. That’s Drew in the top left hand corner with his siblings in front of him and their cousins to the right.

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Do you have grandchildren? What do they call you? How did you choose your Grandma name? If you don’t have grandchildren yet, but hope to, have you thought about what you would like them to call you?

 

 

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Thankful for a root canal?

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8 is a scripture passage that can be very easily misunderstood. There are many things in life that I am not thankful for. Fortunately, I’m not told to be thankful for every situation, but rather in every situation. In even the most difficult circumstances of life, we can find things to be thankful for, whether it be the resources to handle the crisis or the support of family and friends through it.

That being said, I am actually thankful that early Monday morning I’m going to be having a root canal! How can that be? Thankful for a root canal? Am I crazy?

No, I would rather not have to have a root canal, but considering the other possibilities that crossed my mind after I discovered a lump on my gum a few weeks ago, I’m quite delighted that the problem is only an abscessed tooth and that the solution is as common as a root canal. You see, this is something that happens to ordinary mortals, not just cancer patients!

So, yes, as crazy as it sounds, I’m thankful for a root canal!

It isn’t going to be a simple procedure which is why it’s being done by an endodontist, a root canal specialist. The roots of this particular tooth are fused together. Apparently that’s not terribly uncommon, but it can make the procedure more complicated and it’s something my own dentist didn’t feel comfortable tackling. In spite of that, I’m still feeling

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Have you ever been thankful for something as crazy as a root canal?

Fashion is art

LogoIn a recent post, fellow fashion blogger, Pam Lutrell of Over 50 Feeling 40, wrote that “all fashion is art”. Her statement resonated with me because I also believe that fashion provides an opportunity for each of us to be creative and to express who we are through what we wear. 

My involvement in the arts is largely in the area of community theatre which actually intersects with my passion for fashion in an interesting way… costuming. I’m especially fond of period drama because it involves researching the fashions of a particular time in history and doing our best to recreate them onstage. As a small town theatre guild, we don’t have a large budget to work with. We have an incredibly talented costume mistress who can create amazing and elaborate costumes when they’re needed, but much of what we wear onstage comes from our own wardrobes or from the group’s substantial collection of clothing that has mostly been donated or purchased at thrift stores.

Our recent play was set between 1928 and 1946. I played the role of a household servant and was dressed accordingly. That’s me in front holding the serving tray.

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For one very short scene, however, I wore a dressier outfit that included a little velvet jacket from our costume collection that I absolutely fell in love with. It’s always bittersweet when a production comes to an end. After entertaining four dinner theatre audiences and having so much fun doing it, the time came to strike the set and put the costumes and props away, but I couldn’t part with the little velvet jacket. In my mind, I could imagine myself dressing it down with a pair of jeans. I just had to give it a try, so with permission, of course, it came home with me. It will eventually go back and be hidden away in the giant bin labelled “jackets” until it’s needed onstage again, but for a little while I plan to have some fun with it.

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First, I tried it with a simple black camisole and then over my white Indulgence Tank from cabi’s Spring 2017 collection. Since I’ve been told that a woman should be able to style every piece in her closet at least different three ways, I also tried the jacket over a column of colour, in this case my camel coloured cords and camisole. I loved all three of these looks!

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With the gold embroidery design on the jacket, I decided to keep the jewelry at my neck simple or nonexistent, but I did try it with my antique gold-finished Flapper Earrings from cabi’s Fall 2017 collection, reminiscent of the 1920s.

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Do you agree that fashion is art? Please tell me what you think in the comment section below.

Bold!

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t care to be known as fierce, but what about BOLD? Oh yes, absolutely! You can definitely call me BOLD!

 

Brenda Kinsel

When I saw this photo of fellow fashion blogger, Brenda Kinsel, her t-shirt jumped out at me! It was love at first sight! In her post, Brenda wrote about a conversation that she had with Michelle, Director of Social Marketing and Brand Public Relations for Chico’s who got in touch with her to discuss how women see themselves and how they want to be seen. They talked about how Chico’s is attempting to use their brand to reach out, connect, and open the conversation about women and visibility and possibilities. Michelle asked Brenda if she would like to participate in a small way in the launch of their message and, of course, Brenda said yes. A couple of weeks later, a package arrived in her mail containing the t-shirt that she’s wearing in the photo. With it came a letter from Diane Ellis, the President of Chico’s. Brenda included this excerpt in her post.

These days, women can be almost anything. They can be curvy, curly, scientific, athletic, CEO’s, politicians, mothers, mechanics, and marines.

But there’s one thing women still can’t be:

49, or 52, or 65

WHY NOT?

Well- that’s what we wondered. After all, we are a company that celebrates women. Being bold is in our DNA. Our mission is to support women with fabulous style in all that they do. So why were we hesitate to say our age out loud?

It’s time for that to change.

It’s time to GROW BOLDER.

By wearing this t-shirt with pride and sharing it on social media using #HowBoldAreYouit will inspire women everywhere to embrace their own unique personal style no matter their age. Yeah, it’s great to be 20, but it’s also great to be 52 and 43 and 61.

Let’s decide together that we’re not growing older, we’re growing bolder. And let’s shout it from the rooftops.

Later in her post, Brenda had this to say about herself.

I’m proud to be 65. At 65 I’m not worrying as much about what other people think. Is that bold? Yup, probably!

I’m 65 and brave. I’ve had to be. I’ve had challenges that pushed me to the ground but I’m not staying there for long. I’ll get upright and look at my scuffed up knees with confidence that those hurts will heal and I’ll be here for tomorrow’s rich experiences.

That truly resonated with me!

At the end of her post, Brenda asked, “Can you relate? Is it a stretch to say you’re feeling bold?” Here is my response.

I LOVE this post and I NEED that t-shirt! On my last birthday, I threw myself a “still alive at 65 party” because I’ve been living with a chronic cancer for the past four and a half years. I know that it could take my life at any time and that every day is a gift, but I’m determined to squeeze every bit of life out of the days, months, or years that I have left! Yes, I am BOLD!

That was rather bold, wasn’t it? Perhaps even a wee bit brash. I wasn’t really asking for Brenda’s t-shirt though, just exclaiming over how perfect it was and how it’s message suits me to a T (pun intended)! So imagine my astonishment when Brenda responded…

Elaine, guess what came in the mail today: a duplicate 65 t-shirt. Email me your address and I will send it to you. I relate quite personally to what you’ve shared. Gosh, you must have this t-shirt. I mean it, email me!

I could hardly believe my eyes!

When the t-shirt arrived, it was a bit too big. Brenda had warned me that it might be, but a little while at my sewing machine was all it took to alter it so that it would fit.

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So what does it mean to be bold?

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I think I’d draw the line at daredevil, but I hope that the rest of the adjectives under definition #1 are ones that could be applied to me. That wasn’t always the case. As a child, I was incredibly timid, but like Brenda, the challenges of life knocked me down and I had a choice… be broken or be bold. I choose bold!

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Message t-shirts are on trend again this season and I’ll definitely be wearing this one with pride. If you’re between the ages of 40 and 80, you can wear one too. Order here.

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What about you? Are you bold?

What to do when life seems overwhelming

What do you do when life seems overwhelming?

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Recent circumstances have resulted in us leaving the church that was our strong support system for many years. We’re living in the midst of a home renovation project gone very wrong and trying to figure out how to deal with that. I’m off to the city early next week to see a specialist about a lump growing on my gums that my dentist hasn’t been able to find the cause of. We’re moving into the busiest season of the year for me in one of the volunteer positions that I hold. And to top it off, we seem to be living through the winter that will never end.

You’ve probably lived through similar seasons. Maybe you’re there right now. You may be dealing with an enormous stressor such as job loss or the death of a loved one or it might simply be an accumulation of smaller aggravations that have left you feeling completely swamped.

So what should we do when life leaves us feeling like we’ve reached the end of our rope?

If you’re a young parent, you probably feel this way a lot of the time and with very good reason! I asked my daughter what her advice would be and her reply was, “In my case the answer is don’t bite off more than you can chew!” That’s good advice for all of us. Sometimes we’re the cause of our own stressful predicaments. We simply take on more than we can handle. None of us has an infinite amount of time available, so perhaps in those cases the answer is learning to prioritize, learning better time management skills, or simply learning to say No!

But what can we do when we’re overwhelmed by circumstances that are beyond our control? I’m reminded of a dear friend who often asks, “In the light of eternity, does this really matter?” Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the situation from a wider perspective. Yes, the new ceiling surface that was applied throughout the main floor of our house on Saturday is a superb example of shoddy workmanship and will have to be redone. We’re not sure how or when that’s going to happen. As stressful and aggravating as that is, it isn’t life threatening and years down the road, it won’t seem as big a deal as it does right now.

The lump on my gum, however, could be a big deal. When you’re a cancer patient, any inexplicable lump or bump is reason for concern, but the same wise friend once reminded me that 99% of the things we worry about never come to pass and all the worrying in the world won’t prevent the other 1%.

Whether we’re overwhelmed by the busyness of life, legitimate concerns, or distressing circumstances that are not of our own making, there are things we can do to help alleviate stress when it threatens to overcome us. What works for me, might not necessarily work for you, but here are a few suggestions to try.

  1. Focus on getting through one day or even one hour at a time. Matthew 6:34 gives this wise advice, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  2. Don’t skip meals. When I’m severely stressed my appetite is the first to go, but our bodies need fuel. Eat regularly to avoid low blood sugar, fatigue, and brain fog.
  3. Drink a cup of tea. My automatic response to crisis situations has long been to brew a pot of tea, but now studies conducted in the UK have actually shown that drinking a single cup of tea can significantly reduce anxiety levels after suffering a stressful experience.
  4. Escape. Go for a walk or a drive in the country, lose yourself in a good book, get out of the office over your lunch hour. Do whatever it takes to get away from the stressful situation even for a short time.
  5. Exercise. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, exercise in almost any form acts as a stress reliever, providing a distraction from worry and boosting the production of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
  6. Pray. Prayer is an age old stress reliever that doesn’t require a prescription! Taking a few quiet moments to pray can help you gain perspective and find peace in the midst of turmoil. When the situation is so overwhelming that you can’t even find the words to pray, remember that Romans 8:26 tells us that “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
  7. Soak in a hot bath. Add a few drops of lavender oil which is commonly known for its relaxing effects on the body.
  8. Sleep. It may be difficult to quiet your mind enough to get to sleep when life seems overwhelming, but getting a good night’s rest should be a priority. A cup of chamomile tea half an hour before bedtime is widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. Lavender oil can also be helpful here. Rub 2 or 3 drops on the palms of your hands and inhale deeply then wipe your palms on your pillow to leave a hint of lavender there.
  9. Don’t try to handle everything on your own. Delegate, ask for help, share your struggles. When stress doesn’t go away, and you’ve tried your best to manage it, you may need talk to a doctor or mental health professional about it. There’s absolutely no shame in that.

Give sneakers campaign

LogoHow many pairs of shoes do you own?

I may have missed a few when I counted, but including sandals I have at least 28 pairs. 5 of those are sneakers. Perhaps you call them running shoes, runners, or tennis shoes where you live.

Now imagine that you had none; that you had to go barefoot everywhere you went. Imagine that your children or your grandchildren had to walk to school in their bare feet every day. That’s reality for children in many parts of the world including Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and you can do something about it!

New Missions, a non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization, has been establishing churches and schools in Haiti for over 30 years and in the Dominican Republic since the year 2000. Through child sponsorship, New Missions provides children with quality education, a daily meal and regular medical care. Today, approximately 10 000 children attend New Missions schools; 10 000 children who need shoes to walk to school. Through the New Missions Give Sneakers campaign, you can help cover those little feet with brand new sneakers! Visit givesneakers.com to find out how to get involved. The campaign started on April 1 and continues until June 30. While you’re welcome to purchase sneakers and send them to the collection point in Orlando, Florida, postage is expensive, so making an online donation is also an option.

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When New Missions ran the same campaign two years ago, I committed to donating an amount equal to what I spent on footwear between April 1 and June 30 of that year. I kept that promise, but I’m sure that those little sneakers are completely worn out by now, so I am making the same commitment again this year. Why don’t you join me? I wonder how many little feet we could cover.

Now, speaking of sneakers, I have this pair still sitting in their box. I absolutely love their taupe rose colour.

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I bought them at an amazing clearance sale at the Bay back in February and I’m eagerly waiting for the snow to disappear and spring to arrive to begin wearing them. I was going to wait until then to share them with you, but I’m beginning to wonder if winter is ever going to disappear this year! We’ve had record breaking low temperatures this week and there’s more snow in the forecast.

Oh, there I go complaining again! Imagine a woman with 28 or more pairs of shoes complaining about the weather when poor little children are going barefoot. Shame on me!

More favourite fashion blogs for women of a certain age

LogoOne of my most popular Fashion Friday posts has been Favourite fashion blogs for women of a certain age which I wrote a little over a year ago. In that post I featured four blogs written by and for women over the age of 40 that I continue to read faithfully.

They were:

Over 50 Feeling 40 by Pam Lutrell

A Well Styled Life  by Jennifer Connolly

That’s Not My Age  by Alyson Walsh

High Heels in the Wilderness  by Susan Burpee

I also included links to a few others that I had found useful. Since that time, I have started reading one of those ones regularly as well as three others that I’d like to share with you today.

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Josephine chic at any age

Josephine, writer of chic at any age, started her fashion career in public relations and later trained as a fashion consultant. She divides her time between her homes in London, England and St. Tropez, France. She calls her blog “a fashion resource for women over 50 who want to learn more about style, fashion and what will suit them as mature women” and “a community of supportive women sharing their opinions on what constitutes style for them.” Pink is her favourite colour.

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Susan B. une femme d'un certain age

With it’s French title, it took me awhile to realize that Susan B. of une femme d’un certain âge actually lives in California! She loves Paris though. She started writing her blog in 2007 when there didn’t seem to be any online fashion sites for women of a certain age and has since expanded it to include travel, travel wardrobes, and living our best life at any age.

SusanAfter60.com

Susan SusanAfter60

Another Susan, the writer of SusanAfter60.com, has had a long career in the fashion industry. During her 40s, she went through a dramatic life transformation which eventually led to the launch of her first blog, Fifty, not Frumpy, in 2011. After turning 60 in 2016, she introduced SusanAfer60.com where she continues to share what she has learned and is still learning about making excellent wardrobe choices. She has been dating the dapper Mr. Mickey for the past 12 years. He is very much a part of the blog, taking all the photographs and planning the many outings that Susan shares with her readers. Together they make a very elegant couple.

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Brenda Kinsel

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Last, but definitely not least, is Brenda Kinsel. Brenda is a professional image consultant and author of 40 Over 40: 40 Things Every Woman Over 40 Needs to Know About Getting Dressed and several other books. She encourages women over 50 to “catapult themselves out of their ruts and enjoy their beauty and style” teaching us how to be the best we can be from the “inside out”. I came to her blog quite recently and it has quickly become one of my absolute favourites. Brenda shares both wardrobe tips and snippets of her life in such a personable and entertaining way that reading her blog feels like a chat with a friend.

Some of these women clearly have a much bigger clothing budget than I do. They shop at stores that I don’t necessarily have access to here in Canada and live in areas where the climate is very different. Their lifestyles may not be similar to mine, but none of these factors stops me from getting ideas and inspiration from them that I can translate into looks that work for me at my price point.

Do you have any favourite fashion blogs for women of a certain age that I haven’t mentioned here?