In praise of good behavior

DSCN0851In a bookstore last month, I stumbled on the new gift edition of Dale Carnegie’s motivational classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. It prompted a sweet memory of my late father — and inspired a column on the topic of our nation’s lack of civility. Look for it in the March issue of Michigan Prime this weekend in your Sunday Detroit Free Press — or click here to read it online, page 3. 

Reaching a creative goal

Version 2Few things are more rewarding than reaching a creative goal.

My photo blog, Something Beautiful Every Day, began last spring as a personal challenge to share something positive every day for one year. Looking for an escape from our nation’s brutal political climate, I decided to spend part of my day putting something lovely, or thought-provoking, out into the world. So I started carrying my camera everywhere — and not just for writing assignments.

I scouted for beauty in my neighbors’ gardens, the local farmer’s market, my kitchen drawers, my bookshelves, my husband’s art studio — and everywhere I traveled. Then I posted my images with a meaningful quotation every morning.

The project, which has been featured in several lifestyle magazines, will end on March 23. After a short break, I plan to start another photo blog, or I might put a new spin on Something Beautiful Every Day. 

Subscribers will receive a link to a special video inspired by the project. Produced by Detroit journalist and videographer John S. Schultz, the video combines music with favorite images posted over the past year. I look forward to sharing this gift after the conclusion of the project, on March 24.

Fierce after 50

Like most mature women I know, I have an uneasy relationship with mirrors in department store fitting rooms. While trying on clothes, I scrutinize my body like a roadmap, noting the topography of my lifelong journey. I can still spot traces of post-delivery stretch marks and joint replacement scars, for instance, and I’ve also acquired age spots that can’t quite pass as freckles. But that’s OK.

Last week, I heard Cat Stevens’ “Miles from Nowhere” on my car radio. The tune was a favorite of mine in high school, but its lyrics resonate even more now:

     Lord my body, it’s been a good friend / But I won’t need it when I reach the end.

unnamed-1Throughout six decades, my body has been a very good friend indeed. It has endured years of dancing classes, playground accidents, and skinned knees. It was hit by a car; it gave birth to one spectacular son. It has survived blood transfusions, several bouts of skin cancer, and two hip replacements. 

Of course, I was in much better shape in my twenties, yet I constantly compared myself to other women. In those days — and even on good days — I believed I fell short of our culture’s impossibly high standards of fitness and beauty.

Thankfully, maturity broadens and reshapes our view of physical perfection (and not just our backsides).

On the road to aging well, it also helps to have a few inspiring role models to light the way. While researching pro-aging topics for my columns in Michigan Prime, I’ve happily discovered a whole new world of female fashion bloggers who are rocking their late forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond. I’ve only scratched the surface, but here’s a short list of my favorites:

Advanced Style

Brenda Kinsel

Fabulous after 40 

FASHION SHOULD BE FUN

The Middle Page

More than turquoise by Jamie Lewinger

Style at a certain age

Stylish Paradox

Susan after 60

THAT’S NOT MY AGE

Une femme d’un certain age

Speaking of mature fashion bloggers, I have more great news: This week is the official launch of The Fierce 50 campaign, featuring 50 fashionistas from around the country, all over 50. Visit their blogs and you’ll be treated to a celebration of gorgeous women who’ve mastered their individual styles and have plenty of tips to share with you. 

DSCN0029No matter how old we are, those of us who love fashion want to see ourselves mirrored in magazine spreads, ad campaigns, and fashion catalogs. We want to see clothing modeled on women close to our own age — in all shapes and sizes. Despite the fact that our demographic wields considerable spending power, we’re consistently overlooked by most fashion editors and advertisers. 

That’s why I’m grateful for mature fashion bloggers. Flaunting beauty, courage, and confidence, they remind all of us that we, too, can be women of style as well as substance.

Last spring, I was invited to model in a local fashion show at Leon & Lulu in Clawson. As owner Mary Liz Curtin reminded the audience, her store proudly features “real women” of all ages and sizes in its popular quarterly fashion shows. Naturally, I was relieved to find that several of the other models were older than I am.

There was a palpable sense of excitement while we dressed backstage for the show. One of my fellow models confided that she was “a little nervous” about modeling for the first time at age 73. At the same time, she admitted, being in a fashion show had encouraged her to appreciate her appearance — including her trim figure and stunning gray hair.

Watching her strut down the runway ahead of me, I knew I wasn’t the only woman she had inspired that night. The whole audience applauded and cheered.

________________

Top photo: That’s me with my husband, Doug, both in our sixties. We’re posing for HAP’s Balanced Living magazine — our first cover shot.  

Paying it forward

IMG_2891There are times when friends and loved ones need more than a get-well bouquet. In this month’s issue of Michigan Prime, I share ways to offer your help and support during an emergency or a serious health crisis. The column appears in the print edition of the magazine (delivered with your Sunday Detroit Free Press) and online here, on page 3

Celebrating 12 years of “Writing Home”

DSCN0180My story collection, Writing Home, celebrates its 12th anniversary this month. Published in 2005, the book is now in its second printing — and available in a Kindle edition.

Written during the years I worked at home while raising my son, Writing Home has been called “a love letter to home and family life.” Some of the columns first appeared in the Sunday Daily Tribune and The Christian Science Monitor, while others were published in national magazines including Reader’s Digest, Better Homes & Gardens, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, and several popular anthologies.

I’m especially proud of the fact that — within the first year of publication — I sold enough copies to donate a few hundred dollars of my proceeds to organizations serving the homeless in my community. Along the way, Writing Home has been honored with several awards, too, including one from Writer’s Digest and another from Midwest Independent Publishers Assoc. But the real rewards, for me, come from the readers who tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the book over the years. Thanks to you, dear readers, it continues to sell in local stores and workshops, and on Amazon.

Local shoppers: Writing Home is now available at the Yellow Door Art Market in downtown Berkley — an absolutely wonderful shop specializing in Michigan-made art and products.