Tag Archives: bloggers 50+

Desire, Anticipation, Realization

Remember the old Heinz commercial with the Carly Simon soundtrack? Anticipation has been motivating people long before it was an advertising theme. I’ll bet Mrs. Caveman found saber tooth stew more appealing after waiting all day for Mr. C to bring home the goodies. (Imagine how a little ketchup would have helped!)caveman-159964_640

I’m not a patient person. But I love pre-planning vacations: reading about my destination; researching places to explore and eat; making and revising endless lists of what to bring and wear; creating a wish list of possible purchases. Anticipation extends the trip well beyond the actual time away if I start enjoying it months in advance.

I also find anticipation half the fun of baking – the long, slow rise of the bread or waiting for some delicious dessert to come out of the oven. And what’s nicer than looking forward to a hot cup of tea or coffee after being outside on a cold, rainy day – or a frosty beer after a blisteringly hot one?

Although it can be frustrating, time-consuming or confusing, anticipation is especially useful when purchasing something expensive. When’s the last time you bought a car or house on impulse before taking the time to decide exactly what you wanted? (If you did, you have far more disposable income than I do; please buy me a Bentley!)

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Psychologists tell us that desiring something is more satisfying than actually acquiring it (scientists call this “habituation”). There’s often a letdown after getting the object, which is why prolonging the process can be so enjoyable. (Check out a fascinating article on this topic in The Atlantic.)

I’ve been thinking about this since arriving at our summer house 20 lbs. lighter than last year and discovering that “I have nothing to wear” wasn’t hyperbole. I had exactly one pair of jeans and three sweaters that fit; everything else down to my underwear needed to be replaced.

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The surprise, for a dedicated shopper like myself, is that mass acquisition isn’t much fun. I’ve pretty much had to blitz-shop online (hello, The Outnet) to compile an instant wardrobe. As a result, I’ve been denied the pleasures of anticipation, window-shopping, weighing pros and cons, etc. as part of the experience.

Years ago, on a trip to Milan, my husband and I watched a group of young women return to our hotel laden with shopping bags from every high end store you can imagine (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior etc.) woman-1329790_640

I’ve often wondered: Did those girls really appreciate everything they bought, after the shopping high wore off? If you could acquire anything you desire without a second’s thought, would it be special?

What do you think — is anticipation more satisfying than acquisition? And what about delayed gratification… does something have more value to you when you’ve saved up for it? Are there things you bought that you love as much — or more — now that you have them?

In other words, does the “high” always fade?

Beauty Adventure: Microneedling

Recently, my daughter met one of my cousins for the first time and commented, “She looks about 80.” Normally, this wouldn’t be a compliment, but my cousin is nearly 95!

One reason Helen looks so good is that she’s always taken care of her skin. In my own quest to keep blotches and wrinkles under control without going overboard, I keep exploring non-invasive procedures that deliver visible results to supplement my small arsenal of lotions, potions and sun block.

Which led me to the SkinPen.FullSizeRender 13

Let me say at the outset that there are devices such as the Derma Roller you can use at home, and they seem to do a nice job of making the skin glow. However, they don’t penetrate as deeply as tools used by professionals so are less effective at treating fine lines.

The idea behind microneedling is to create thousands of micro-injuries (tiny vertical channels in the dermis) to initiate the body’s wound healing process. It sounds scary but is actually pretty cool, as the body responds by breaking down underlying damaged tissue and producing healthy new cells. These repair the injured tissue, creating more collagen and elastin.FullSizeRender 14

As a side note, Fraxel will do the same thing, although it’s more aggressive.

Lasers, chemical peels and other invasive methods are considered ablative, meaning that they remove tissue to start collagen production in your skin. Lasers such as Fraxel or CO2 fractional laser either remove the top layers of skin or remove only small parts/fractions of the skin. Your skin care professional will know what’s best for your particular situation.

Both microneedling and lasers result in collagen production that slowly continues months after treatment, but the lasers remove tissue. Microneedling creates micro-injuries without using heat and without removing layers of skin, so the skin heals more rapidly compared to the recovery time from lasers. It’s also much less prone to infection.

Sign me up.

Microneedling is a two-step process. During the 28-day remodeling period following treatment, specific nutrients such as Vitamins C, A, E and copper peptides are applied topically to ensure proper cell nutrition. The makers of SkinPen offer a full line of post-procedure products (surprise!) or ask your derm or facialist for other suggestions.

Stephanie, my skin whisperer, recommends a series of three treatments spaced a minimum of one month apart. I can continue treatments indefinitely if the budget allows; she has one well-heeled client who comes in every six weeks but at a couple hundred a pop that’s out of my league.

Here’s what the makers of SkinPen say:

  • A procedure that helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and smooth wrinkles, SkinPen® may be used on all skin types
  • A safe solution with little recovery time
  • Results from a minimally invasive procedure
  • A procedure for ongoing maintenance of healthy skin
  • The advantages of your SkinPen® microneedling procedure include:
    • SkinPen® microneedling is minimally invasive and a quick procedure, performed in-office
    • Little recovery downtime makes SkinPen® ideal for a busy lifestyle, and a great place to start for aesthetic procedures
    • Support of healthy skin
    • Skinfuse® post-procedure protocol by Bellus Medical ensures you receive all the right vitamins and minerals to your skin, with none of the wrong ingredients
    • Results are generated from your own skin’s natural collagen remodeling and elastin
    • SkinPen® may be used on all skin types
    • Ideal for assisting in reducing the signs of aging
    • A versatile, precision design for use on most all parts of the body including face, neck, and décolletage. The SkinPen® helps reduce fine lines and soften the signs of aging. By tightening pores, your skin will look refreshed and have a youthful glow!

It’s now about 3 months since my first treatment and the lines around my lips do seem to have diminished. It will probably take another 3 months to see the true results.

TREATMENT #1

First, Stephanie applies a numbing cream and I wait 20 minutes for it to take effect. Perfect time to catch up on the office’s trashy celeb magazines! Using a gel for glide, she moves the little machine (which indeed looks like a pen) all over, avoiding moles. She goes over the worst areas (around mouth, chin) a couple of times. The SkinPen makes a fairly loud buzzing noise and doesn’t hurt, except for some slight pain in my lip and forehead areas. It certainly hurts a lot less than the IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) facials I get twice a year to zap brown spots. She then applies the company’s SkinFuse Rescue to protect the skin and begin restoring its moisture barrier. I leave with a tube of Rescue to use twice a day (or more as needed), a weekly collagen booster (Surge) and post-procedure instructions.  FullSizeRender 12

  • Day Of: After microneedling my face is dry, shiny, tight and blotchy, as if I have a sunburn. I go straight home, hoping I don’t run into anyone I know. The redness fades a bit after a few hours and I don’t look quite as horrible though it feels rather uncomfortable. Tonight I’m instructed to rinse my face with water only and apply Rescue cream before bed. I notice that the Rescue peels a bit (I’ve now applied it a few times) and resist the urge to poke at it.
  • Day 1: After 24 hours I use a mild cleanser, apply moisturizer and avoid the sun. Most of the redness has faded but my skin still feels very dry, tight and dehydrated. I have a few areas of tiny pinprick blood spots on my cheeks and apply some topical arnica. I would NOT want to socialize with my skin looking like this!
  • Day 2: Better but still dry. I continue putting arnica on the pinpricks.
  • Day 3: Much more hydrated. Pinpricks are fading. Using normal skincare products. By today I could go out in public wearing tinted sunblock.
  • Day 4-6: My skin now feels normal; I can cover the pinpricks with makeup.
  • Day 7 and once a week: Use the Surge collagen booster. IMG_1861

TREATMENT #2 (5 weeks later)

  • Day Of: After I comment that I haven’t seen any improvement yet, Stephanie suggests using PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma; also known as the “vampire facial”). PRP involves extracting a small amount of a patient’s blood from their arm and spinning it in a centrifuge to separate the plasma – the fluid part – from the red and white blood cells. Sounds creepy but is supposed to speed healing. Hey, why not?
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Bwaahaha!

Stephanie is more aggressive with the SkinPen than last time but only my lip area is briefly painful. The plasma drips more than the gel so it’s messier but it only stains the headband she’d applied. After treatment Stephanie uses a new product from Alastin. Their recovery product is a whopping $195 for 1 ounce so, guess what, I don’t buy it.

At home I do some online research and find that the company (founded by 2 guys who used to work for SkinMedica) doesn’t disclose much about their ingredients or amounts so reviewers are skeptical. The products are meant to produce both elastin (hence the name) and collagen but doctors question how much a topical can really do. I’ve also read that it’s difficult to regenerate elastin in mid-to-older skin. Before I spring for the big bucks I’d want to learn a whole lot more.

  • Day 1 (24 hrs later): The redness is fading and my skin is taut but less so than the first time. I have fewer pinpricks but in the same (left cheek) area. Apply arnica.
  • Day 2: Notably more hydrated. My skin is too blotchy to go out in public without makeup (I use tinted Elta MD sunblock) and there’s some peeling from the products but it feels way better.
  • Day 3: Almost 100% normal. Still applying arnica to red spots and using normal skincare.
  • Day 4: Totally healed and my skin feels hydrated and supple. I’ve added Elta MD Barrier Cream to my skincare ritual (as of Day 1 night), which may be helping.
  • Day 8: Add Surge to my nighttime ritual (and will continue to use once a week).

TREATMENT #3 (after 4 weeks)

  • Day Of: PRP again. Nurse draws blood and spins to extract platelets. The SkinPen is painful around my lips, ok on my forehead/neck. I notice more redness/blotchiness/ blood spots than the previous two sessions. Stephanie applies Alastin and Rescue before I leave.
  • Day 1: Today the redness is like a fading sunburn and my skin is taut. I only need Rescue twice (afternoon and at night). I apply arnica to blood spots (left cheek), take oral arnica 3x and add Elta barrier cream to my night ritual.
  • Day 2: I use a hyaluronic acid mask, which adds moisture, and I can go out in public if I cover spots with Elta tinted sunblock. My skin feels slightly dryer than normal but not taut. I add vitamin C to my daytime ritual after applying Rescue.
  • Day 3: Back to normal. I still have faint red spots on my left cheek and continue to use arnica.
  • Day 7: Spots are finally gone.

One final note: The less you’ve cared for your skin, the more dramatic the results will be. If you’ve been diligent about sun block and retinol or use professional-level skin care products with good concentrations of vitamin C, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid etc., the results will be more subtle: smoother skin, less blotchiness and a softening of fine lines.

So far, I think it’s worth it.

(Note: Not a sponsored post — I wish!; sunrise image from Pixabay.com)

The Upside of Bad Relationships

This year, two friends have become widows at a young age and I’ve been thinking how hard it must be to lose your partner, especially if you were together for a long time.

This in turn has led me to contemplate the opposite situation: how liberating it is to get rid of a bad relationship. Let’s talk about that instead of something sad.

Think about it: there’s a lot to appreciate about a crappy relationship!

The Upside While You’re In It

  • You can concentrate your anger and frustration on one individual instead of spreading it around
  • You develop a rich fantasy life, often involving that person being hit by a car or falling off a cliff
  • Your own faults pale by comparison
  • Your life is much more dramatic
  • There’s always a new story to share with your friends
  • You become much more knowledgeable about alcohol
  • You can be sure your tear ducts are working
  • There’s usually ice cream in the house

And When It’s Over

  • Your murderous rage subsides
  • You don’t have to watch endless sports/chick flicks
  • You’re no longer subjected to someone else’s bodily functions
  • You’re free from your partner’s annoying friends and family
  • You can wear, eat and do whatever you want
  • You can have sex with yourself, which is probably an improvement
  • You have lots more free time
  • You only have to attend your own boring business events
  • You’ll really appreciate a GOOD relationship

Old Before Your Time?

They say, “You’re only as young as you feel”.  Is the opposite, “You’re only as old as you look”? While aging is inevitable, some little things we do every day can make us look older than we have to. Luckily, they’re easily avoided; no medical intervention necessary!

Commuting. If you spend a lot of time in the car, the left side of your face gets extra sun exposure – the #1 cause of old-looking skin. Slather on the sunscreen, and don’t neglect the backs of your hands.

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Stress. Whether from road rage or other causes, chronic stress accelerates premature aging by shortening telomeres, the specialized DNA sequences and associated proteins that maintain the integrity of our chromosomes. Whole books have now been written about harnessing the power of telomerase, the enzyme that protects telomeres. If you don’t feel like reading all that, meditation, deep breathing, exercise, vodka and Xanax are also highly effective.

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Tech neck. Did you know that constantly looking down at our devices and computers encourages slackening of our jaw and neck muscles? Obviously we’re not about to give them up but people who care about these things suggest we keep them at eye level whenever possible.

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Sleep. Sleeping is good. Smooshing our face into the pillow is not so good, leading to additional wrinkling. If you can’t sleep on your back – and many can’t – try a silk or satin pillowcase, or use a sleep mask.

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Dry Climate. Dryness saps moisture from your skin. Use a humidifier, especially during the night. If you live in Texas, buy two.

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Straws. I was all about drinking my coffee through a straw to minimize staining my teeth until I realized that pursed lips accelerate wrinkles around the mouth. (Look at any chronic smoker.) And if you drink a lot of bottled water, you might want to pour it into a glass with a wider opening.

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Inactivity. According to a 2010 Australian study, every hour spent watching TV after age 25 cuts almost 22 minutes off the viewer’s lifespan. Yikes. Does my pounding heartbeat when I watch a show like The Americans or Man in The High Castle count as exercise, though?

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City Living. Here’s something interesting from a Harvard School of Public Health study: Women living in the greenest areas, as measured by satellite, were 34 percent less likely to die from a respiratory illness than women living in the most paved-over areas. And women living amidst greenery were 13 percent less likely to die of cancer. If you live in a city, get some houseplants!

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Sugar. Really want to wreck your skin? Eat sugar! It causes inflammation, which breaks down collagen and elastin, the building blocks of healthy, plump skin.

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Heavy makeup. Kind of a no-brainer, but wearing more makeup as we age is actually, well, aging. Go easy on foundation, substituting a tinted moisturizer with a broad-spectrum sunblock, dab a little concealer only where you need it, and skip under-eye liner and mascara, which cast a shadow and make older eyes look tired.

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How about a quick way to look younger? Every year our skin and hair tones change subtly, so what used to be flattering may not look as good now. Color experts recommend wearing one of these four universally flattering shades.

NEW BLACK Black is my go-to. But I admit it’s often too severe for mature skin, making fine lines, under-eye circles and wrinkles more obvious. Much more flattering are softer shades like charcoal grey and navy. And when you do wear black, consider adding a scarf to bring color near your face.

PERIWINKLE Even the name is charming! Hair and skin tones become “cooler” as we age, so one color that looks pretty on most women is this medium blue with a touch of violet or purple.

TURQUOISE Turquoise looks great against every skin tone. To figure out whether to go bluer or greener, one color expert suggests looking at the veins in your wrist and choosing a shade that leans in that direction. On medium to darker skin, either will be beautiful.

RED VIOLET This vibrant color is more flattering than pastel pink, especially on lighter skin. Fuchsia, raspberry and magenta can brighten your face and still look sophisticated.

I Miss “Miss Manners”

Lately, my husband and I have been wondering, “Was he/she raised in a barn?” This week, I was particularly reminded that manners in general are going to hell in a hand basket. (And what the hell IS a hand basket?)

Too bad more people haven’t read Miss Manners’ (aka Judith Martin’s) Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, a beacon of civility in an increasingly uncivil world.

As she might tell you, manners aren’t arbitrary rules dictated by some humorless expert; they exist to make people more comfortable. By knowing how to behave you put others at ease and everyone gets along with at least the appearance of grace and mutual respect.

When I was a kid, my parents bought my sister and me copies of a book called Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers. Written by Walter Hoving, former chairman of Tiffany’s of New York, it’s a delightful step-by-step introduction to all the basics, from the moment the meal begins. Sample: “Remember that a dinner party is not a funeral, nor has your hostess invited you because she thinks you are in dire need of food. You’re there to be entertaining.”

Miss M would also insist upon a proper dress code to honor the host’s wishes and the occasion.

Recently, I attended a lovely afternoon interfaith tea, where each of the 10-seat tables had been dressed to the nines (an Old English or Scots expression dating back to the 1700’s, possibly a corruption of “thine eyes”, though no one seems certain). The women were also dressed nicely, in appreciation of the event itself and the time people spent planning it.

Later that evening, my husband and I attended a memorial service at that same synagogue. I’d have thought this would be a more formal occasion than a tea. Nope. Some attendees wore jeans and sneakers and most of the men — including the rabbi– didn’t even bother to put on a yarmulke. Call me a fuddy-duddy but I think death is one of those instances where people should make an effort, especially in a house of worship.

While I’m on my manners hobbyhorse, here are a few personal experiences that get my goat:

– Guests who bring uninvited extra people to a sit-down dinner and don’t even apologize; guests who show up hours late to a dinner party (not an open house); guests who don’t send a “bread and butter” thank-you note or e-mail. Is it just me?

– In December, one guest showed up at his colleague’s black tie holiday party – knowing full well that formality was important to the host – in faded jeans. The implication: “My comfort is more important than your wishes”. My grandmother would have said, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

– And have you ever sent a gift to someone and not received a thank you card or acknowledgment, making you forever wonder whether it arrived, or if they hated it?

-Also on the subject of gifts: There’s a wealthy woman we know who attended the wedding of a young woman who’d worked for her — and whose parents were close friends  — who gifted the happy couple with a $20 picture frame she’d probably picked up at the drugstore on the way to the wedding.

Strictly speaking, this might not fall under the heading of “manners” but… isn’t a gift supposed to match the occasion?

I’m not advocating a return to white gloves, bustles, or waiting to the point of silliness for someone to open a door for you. But wouldn’t the world be a little bit nicer if everyone made a bit more effort?

 

Bragging Rights

The other day I was called out in an online forum for daring to suggest that many women’s obsession with Hermès Kelly and Birkin bags is related to their exclusivity and expense. The writer was affronted and claimed that she only loved her Kelly because it “fit [her] style.”

Hmmm; color me skeptical. You can’t tell me that any number of ladylike bags wouldn’t be equally suitable for her life and wardrobe.

There’s nothing wrong with conspicuous consumption or searching out something exclusive, assuming you don’t have to sell a kidney to afford it. But for heaven’s sake, own it — and don’t kid yourself that you’d love “x” just as much if it were widely accessible.

Our collections can include tangible items, knowledge or experiences. Maybe your passion is finding an undiscovered indie band or movie and being the first to tell your friends about it. Or happening upon a gem of a restaurant or a less-traveled exotic destination.

You might seek out limited edition small-batch bourbon, top-of-the-line chef’s knives, up-and-coming artists, or words of wisdom from an obscure philosopher whose works haven’t received mainstream attention. Your ultimate acquisition may even be a handbag with a long history to match its price tag, which makes you feel chic even when you’re in jeans and an old sweater.

Familiarity breeds selectivity as we become better informed and more discerning. We identify ourselves – if only to our secret selves – with descriptors like “foodie”, “fitness guru”, “car maven”, “tastemaker”, “aficionado”, “intellectual”, etc.  — a shorthand for pride in our hard-earned expertise that also resonates with people who share our interests.  Isn’t it human nature to want to blend in and stand out?

I have many indulgences and intend to enjoy what I enjoy — fully, and without apology. It’s all part of the glorious fun of being alive. Still, I try to acknowledge the subtext in any purchase and be honest with the person in the mirror.

That’s what really fits my style.

Ready. Set. Purge.

The 45-minute closet clean up

One of the best ways to clear my head is to clean up my surroundings. It’s a no-brainer to toss the stuff I hate. What’s harder to identify are stealth garments that lurk among my favorites: clothes I used to love but barely wear, items that are serviceable but not exciting, expensive mistakes, and anything that doesn’t quite fit.

Weeding out things that no longer work — whether clothes or noxious elements in your life — can seem overwhelming. So start small. You can do this whole purge in under an hour.  Or if that’s too much, attack just one category a day. Spend 5 minutes on each and be ruthless!

  1. Fixer-Uppers: Broken zipper? Sleeves too long? Put anything that needs to be fixed into a bag. If you don’t take it to the tailor or shoemaker within a week, you’ll know that you don’t love it enough to keep it.
  2. Pants: Do they fit perfectly? Can’t wait to wear them? If you don’t feel attractive, you’ll always pick another pair. The exception: jeans that used to be flattering and are now too tight, but ONLY if you are serious about losing those extra 5-10 lbs. Save one pair and re-evaluate in three months.
  3. Shoes: Too big, small or tight? Gone! Not really your style? Had them for months and still haven’t worn them? Odds are, you never will.
  4. Duplicates: If you own multiples of the same style, only keep the ones you wear the most. Even among five black sweaters, you undoubtedly have one or two favorites. Ditch the rest.
  5. Fill-Ins: Do you have clothes, shoes and accessories that are nice enough but you always gravitate towards something else instead? If you’re not ready to toss them, make a list of the pieces you want to upgrade and when you buy that perfect jacket, shirt or belt, get rid of the fill-in.
  6. Sad Sacks: Underwear, socks, t-shirts…. Throw out everything that’s stained, shapeless, faded or has holes. Check collars and cuffs – that’s where the wear shows up first. Even if you’re only running to the grocery store, why look like a hot mess?
  7. Fantasy Island: If you can’t imagine wearing a particular item or outfit any time in the next year, get rid of it. Exception: your favorite LBD or a timeless designer piece that will always make you look and feel great.
  8. Guilt Trippers: We’ve all had buyer’s remorse after spending a lot (usually on sale) on something we just don’t wear. Donate it to charity and you’ll feel good about yourself instead of guilty.
  9. Old Loves: If you can’t bear to part with something for sentimental reasons, box it up and store it somewhere outside of your closet. Even better: enjoy the memories without letting unnecessary mementos take up precious space.

A final note on fit: Clothes that are too small make us feel like failures. Clothes that are too big make us look frumpy and imply we’re going to backslide.  Limit your wardrobe to fewer items that fit right now. You’ll feel more attractive, confident and in control.