BEAUTY AT ANY AGE ~ & Never too Late for a Date

I decided to dress a little better when I went out yesterday (in case I meet someone, I told myself). Except for my sneakers. Darn! So nice to walk in, but they’re NOT a fashionable statement.

I was glad later because I ended up sitting with two lovely Belgian women, one of whom I asked to photograph because she was so elegant that I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I think this is the best picture.

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It’s a little scary to sit and talk with people you’ve never met, no matter how extroverted you may appear to be. I had to keep pulling my giddy self back down to earth to check that I was not getting too excited and off-balance.

The Madame was dining with a friend who spoke perfect English. My good fortune again. We exchanged our contact info, and I discovered that Madame is an artist. No wonder she is so beautifully arranged, I thought to myself, and of course, the hat should have been a dead giveaway. She invited me to join them for their birthday lunch, which is one day apart~ same time, same place, next month. I accepted. When I got home, I immediately wondered WHAT shall I WEAR? I need to let my artist self be as free and expressive as she does. Hmmm… Time to go shopping again? At least I need some earrings to go with the red silk flower I plan on wearing…and I promised her I would wear a hat…

I always move quickly, without a lot of pre-thought. It can and often has been a problem, and I am trying to learn to think more before I jump. However, it can also be a great advantage to be spontaneous. While other less impulsive people might have hesitated until the opportunity got up and left, it took me less than 5 full seconds to make up my mind to move, and there we were, talking as though we had known each other before.

That 5 seconds before I walked up to their table, and the 15 minutes after I had returned to mine~ with a business card in my hand, an invitation scrawled on the back, and a beating heart that was trying to calm the adrenaline rush that had just washed over it~ can reveal a few things, and makes me wonder about the assumptions that most people make about extroverted people like me.

Which are you, an introvert or an extrovert?
Do you see yourself as a mixture?
If so, how would you describe the mix?

I’ll be waiting to hear from you 🙂

Les lacquements nature~ 3.25Euros and a specialty of Liege.

Les lacquements nature~ 3.25Euros and a specialty of Liege.

PLUS FASHION for 60+

I am 60+ and it never ceases to amaze me how often clothes for plus-size women of my age are modeled by women 40 years younger and 40+ pounds slimmer! I’m getting ready to campaign for older, heavier, and more beautifully mature models. YES!

On a search for the fashion that suits me, I recently came up with the belted shirt look. 

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I found the shirt in the pajama section at PRIMARK (9 Euros). It’s a soft flannel that is perfect for this time of year in Belgium ~ it’s starting to get chilly, but you wouldn’t want to wear a sweater yet. It’s long enough to cover certain areas 🙂 and big enough to wear something underneath when cold weather arrives. The belt (Carrefour, 6 Euros) is a nice contrast, and accentuates the smallest part of my figure ~ my waist. I love the way I feel when I’m wearing this look. It’s super comfortable and totally casual, and I can forget completely about myself and still feel confident that I’m looking good.
I think a long tunic top looks best paired with slim or skinny jeans and flats. Try it and let me know if you feel as good as I do!

Here are a few other looks I found on the internet ~ all with the same idea:

shirt

shirt dress

A THING OF BEAUTY is a joy to behold

La Desserte, Harmonie Rouge, Matisse, 1908

La Desserte, Harmonie Rouge, Matisse, 1908

 

I’ve always been making something with my hands: finger painting when I was 3, paper mache at 6, hay bale fortress building at 9, guitar fingering and strumming at 10, needle-threading and sewing at 11, crepe paper flower-making, more paper mache, and stringing beads at 12 (remember that, Adele?), Moonlight Sonata and stretching fingers to make an octave at 13, chair and building drawing at 14, calligraphy at 16, face drawing at 18, pottery making at 20, photo developing at 21, hubcap sculpting and other “found art” gathering at 22, pick-up truck camper building at 24, house painting at 25….the list goes on, and that’s just the first 25 years. But I think you get the picture.

Needless to say, seeing beauty and responding to it in my own personal way has always been like second nature to me. I love creating things, but I never really considered myself an artist ~ until now. Just today in fact. I said it for the first time to a man in the hospital waiting room where I was also waiting. When he asked me why I was taking pictures of the Matisse print on the wall above his head, I barely paused before the words came out, clear and calm: “I’m an artist. I think it’s wonderful to see artwork here in this otherwise very drab waiting room. It’s something beautiful for patients to look at, and I’m going to write about it on my blog.”

I want to record beauty. Especially when I find it in unlikely places. I am an artist, and I not only record beauty, I create it. I can’t help it. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I’m creating something, and in my eyes, it’s always beautiful.

My office at Kookmin just popped into mind. It was like a home, and when people walked in, they were always taken aback. “Wow! Your office! It’s so beautiful!” To me, it wasn’t just an office. It was a place to MEET, to BE, to THINK, to FEEL, and to REFRESH.  It was a place of beauty.

A few pottery pieces from college sat artfully on the bookshelves. An earth-tone carpet with a sort of Indian design that I brought from home because we got a new one made the floor warm and pretty to walk on. Hanging from the ceiling two paper parasols from Beijing, one blue and one yellow, transformed the florescent light filtering through them and swayed ever so slightly overhead.

On the door was a welcome sign, and right inside the door the tea and coffee pots were always ready to serve, along with an assortment of teas and unusual teacups and mugs gathered from my regular forays to the Beautiful Store.  In the front part of the room was a large conference table that sat 6 comfortably, good for meetings with students and friendly get-togethers with colleagues. Anna and I kept a stash of Choco Pies at the ready for such occasions, and sometimes they managed NOT to get eaten before the guests arrived.

Behind the folding screen were our two desks, and what I always referred to as the ‘inner sanctum.’ Only intimates were invited to come through the screen to sit on the pink velour loveseat or the sling chair with the throw pillow and footstool.  You could let your hair down there. You could take off the teacher persona, and RELAX. You could look out the window at the Bukak Mountain forests below and dream. It’s a wonderful memory, and comes along with the happy thought that Anna is still there to enjoy it.

Which brings me to the point about leaving something beautiful behind. When I came to Belgium I left my office to Anna, our apartment to Chiara, and the Coffee Morning to the IWK members. Life changes. We move on. It happens, and when it does it often feels like dying. But then there’s the satisfaction of knowing that someone is still being moved by the beauty left behind long after the creator has gone. 

This summer was spent working intensely on moving out of our old place and settling into a new one. The new apartment needed “refreshing,” yes, but it also needed to be “beautified.” Whoever lived here before didn’t seem to have cared much about that. For me, it was impossible to ignore. From the moment I saw the place I was already redoing it in my mind. Then came the manual labor of turning the vision into reality: scraping, cleaning, measuring, cutting, tiling, painting, wallpapering, laying new carpet and linoleum, rewiring, and finally furnishing. My hands were confident, but my body was getting tired. 

It was a DIY project from the beginning ~ one we’ve done over and over again wherever we’ve found ourselves living. When you start beautifying one area, suddenly the spot next to it looks worse than it did before, and you have to keep going.  Four months and 700 Euros later, we’re basically done and we can live here now.

Jean has his office, and I have mine. I love my new studio/office/living room. It’s the most spacious room in our house. It’s where we meet friends and neighbors, and serve them coffee and Belgian tartes or chat on the couch (the inner sanctum). It’s where I make my Tea Talks, do artwork, talk on SKYPE to YOU, upload my photos and write in my blog. It’s where I pick up my guitar and work on new songs, where I sit and think and write in my journal, and where I light my candle and get down on the floor to pray.

It’s a place of beauty, and a joy to behold.

The Inner Sanctum

The Inner Sanctum

The "office"

The “office”

BEAUTY AT ANY AGE

After taking some pictures of her daughters and one of their friends this weekend, I asked Marietta to let me take her picture (I loved the pants-skirt she was wearing). She responded with girlish excitement. I would probably feel the same if someone asked me to pose for the camera, although I never think I look good in pictures. Here are a few samples of our photo shoot. When we finished, she remarked that she was not a “fresh beauty” any more. I was thinking about it, and answered, “You may not be young anymore, but beauty can be found at any age.” We may be older and wiser, but we’re still beautiful!

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Her daughters and a friend pose for my camera. BEAUTIFUL!! Her daughters and a friend pose for my camera. BEAUTIFUL!! IMG_0043

LADY IN RED ~ Today’s Street Fashion

LADY IN RED ~ Today's Street Fashion

I met this Russian mother and her daughter in the park outside our apartment today. They didn’t speak French OR English! At first they didn’t want me to take a photo, but when I said, “Dasvidanya” (one of the only Russian words I could remember) they both smiled widely and agreed to the shoot. It was the mother’s red dress that caught my eye. I always admire women who dare to wear red. It’s a powerful color, and makes a bold and beautiful statement. I want one!! Anyway, I hope she enjoys the picture. Thank you, lady in red!