Thursday, 22 June 2017

She's a Day Tripper

I began this post complaining about what the motorcycle helmet does to my hair and how poorly the protective clothing fits me, but it did come across as a bit whiny.  Or more than a bit since I also ended the post on that note.  In reconsidering this wording I simply have to acknowledge that I enjoy day tripping with the motorcycle but I am vain enough to be disappointed by the same fit difficulties I might have with regular clothing.  I am, however, well padded against any close meeting with the asphalt, warm enough when riding at highway speeds, comfortable, and I don't have anything in black.   It's probably asking too much that these garments should also be flattering. 

We took a day trip to Denman Island and then Coombs, BC with plenty of photo opportunities provided by wild flora and fauna as well as the domesticated.  A day trip always involves a picnic and a picnic always involves ants.  Ours was no exception but we were determined to find a lovely, quiet, private place away from the noise of the power tools so beloved of human beings.  No pressure washers or leaf blowers, just birds, lapping waves and some very busy ants making off with bits of cheese or blueberry muffin three times the size of their own bodies.

                                   Our Ride:  vintage Honda named Rhonda

                                               Bill Mee Park, Denman Island

                                            Bill Mee Park, Denman Island

The Market in Coombs has goats on the roof.  It's a bit of a tourist trap sort of place but still fun to poke around and have a coffee there, which we did.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

I'm Still Here...If You're Interested

My apologies to the very sweet people who read my blog, I have been quite caught up in life changes and not ready to write anything.  I think it is still somewhat an odd concept to me that there are readers and people who might wonder why I suddenly fell off the face of the earth.  For the past month and a half I have been very occupied with the process of making my home ready to be shared with my longtime boyfriend, transitioning from a long distance relationship to full time living together.  I don't know if I can even describe the emotions involved and I wasn't even aware of how intense they were for me until a day after he moved in and I had a bit of a physical collapse.  My body just gave in and I thought at first that I had a virus.  I was hot and chilled and I shook.  I ran to the bathroom often and then I collapsed in bed again.  It wasn't the way I imagined beginning the process of cohabitation, but I know I am with the right guy because he was just very sweet and soon I was back to my normal self again. 

My partner and I have been in a long distance relationship for nearly seven years, spending hours a day together online and developing a friendship and a relationship without ever having expected or intended to at first.  As time went by it was obvious to us that we had something we didn't want to lose but there were lives to sort out, there was a great distance to traverse.  By the time we decided to live together we were also meeting in person for the first time.  That's not the way most people do things but who wants to be ordinary?  We knew we were too well suited and too much in love not to be able to make things work out so we took the chance.  He got on a plane....three planes actually....and arrived at the end of May.  The time that has passed so far feels like minutes and also like years.   As someone who quite enjoys her space, likes living alone, values her independence, this felt like a very big step for me but I felt sure of it.  I knew it might be slightly difficult to adjust but that it would be worth it to share my space and time with a man who is my best friend, a soul mate, a partner and lucky me quite romantic too!   Two and a half weeks in and I have to say it feels completely normal and right.  Phew!

We both come from dysfunctional and abusive marriages, both happy to now be with someone who loves and values us for who we are but we aren't young and delusional either.  We are middle aged and set in our ways.  We know that there will be times when compromise, tolerance and forgiveness are needed.  While very much alike in many ways and very compatible there are some ways in which we are very different.  We also both live with chronic illness which allows for sympathy and understanding but we may need to cross our fingers that we have our bad days at different times so there is at least one person available to put the kettle on.  Mostly we hope to be able to help and support each other cope with physical setbacks and limitations and to some degree heal physically as much as we have helped each other heal emotionally already. 

Well this was not a typical post for me, but I have nothing to say about colour, personal style, growing out a pixie cut or about being an INTJ.  I have dabbled in painting but nothing new to share has emerged in the past month.  Life right now is a strange and wonderful sort of domestic honeymoon.   We have a motorcycle, a Honda Goldwing, which we take out on day trips sometimes and anticipate taking on a longer trip this summer.  Future posts may be motorcycle related at times.  My partner is working on weight loss and I am helping by providing a nutritious and varied low carbohydrate diet so as I experiment more with low carb cooking I would like to share some recipes here also.  I expect this blog to continue to be the usual mixture of my thoughts, experiences and efforts to live a full and rich life despite limitations.  It astonishes me really that there are actually people who read and follow along but as always my hope is just to connect with others and to inspire those living with chronic illnesses.  We all just keep on keeping on, meeting life's changes and challenges with a positive attitude and the hope of making the world a better place even in small ways. 

                             I recently turned fifty and had some help celebrating.

                                    We had a lovely short vacation in Tofino, BC

Friday, 5 May 2017

Coral Red Lips and Growing Out a Pixie

I've never really experimented with the colour coral before, but for anyone with a bit of warmth in their colouring there is a flattering coral.  Peach and coral are better on me than pink, or one could say they are my best versions of pink.  When coral is deep it can even be a coral-red.  The sweater I am wearing is a coral pink and I've got a new lipstick that looks coral red in the tube and is named Rich Girl Red, but it looks more like a deep warm pink on me.   Where does pink end and red begin?  Sometimes that's difficult to say.

Really true red lipsticks always seem a bit overwhelming on my face and I need a bit of a muted effect, warm and earthy, not warm and bright.  That's why I go for the browns.  Revlon has lots of reds and some of them are obviously warm but  although I have a couple in mind to some day try,  a bold lip isn't really my comfort zone.  

                                           Lipstick:  Revlon Rich Girl Red

This lipstick is a sheer, creamy texture which I like.  The lipsticks I have felt quite heavy for warmer weather and lighter clothing and this morning I wasn't happy with any of them.  I have one in this same sheer formula that is a lighter colour and a bit more of a nude but I found myself wanting a colour with a bit more punch.  Revlon is my go-to for quality, price, availability and no strange taste or fragrance.


Growing out a pixie cut yet again.....

I didn't get past the awkward ear-muffs stage a couple of years ago and I gave in to the people who like a pixie cut on me.  I MUST NOT DO THAT anymore.  I feel the need for hair.  While I love a pixie in theory and I like the way it looks on me from a front view, I am generally not happy with it overall and don't feel flattered by it.  In part that is because I feel like a pin-head on a larger body when I have very short hair.  But growing it out is difficult and the awkward stages along the way have made me give up more than once.

The photo above goes back to summer, and is already a growing out pixie.  It's a month or two since the haircut and there are so many whispy layers at the side it's no wonder it has taken 10 months to grow them out to something that resembles a bob.  The hair is shorter around the ears than the bits you can see at the front. so growing that out into something with a more even length takes time too.

I'm in a reasonable stage right now but awkward stages are coming again because once the the length gets down to jaw level it's not as flattering.  It drags my face down, emphasizing and enlarging the lower half of my face.    I have to get past that stage for that effect to end so must remember it's just an awkward stage, just as I've already been through one or two of those. 

Some more layering might help take out some of that bulk so I am telling myself that I will see a pro in six months.

Speaking of layers......

My hair is very fine in texture and there is a lot of it.  This means that when it's cut short it is cut with a lot of detail, a lot of thinning, and this also makes growing it out awkward.  I was wondering if my hair grows particularly slower compared to others.  There are images and blogs all over the internet on how to grow out a pixie and most people doing so get to a layered bob within six months.  I've been growing out awkward layers for ten months and only now have something that sort of resembles a very short, layered bob.  I've had to do lots of little trims  to avoid the mullet, but also evening up layers a little bit.  It seems some people have hair that can be cut quite simply and it grows out easily.

So this is where I am at with my growing out pixie.  My last professional haircut was July 2016 and I've been doing my own trims to cope with strange shapes, mullets, thin or thick spots and the inevitable situation where one side of my head grows faster than the other.

Bangs, fringe, whatever you call it there is the question of do I keep it or grow it out too.  I can never decide.  Most people think I am best flattered with bangs and I generally worn them for the past 40 years regardless of whether or not they are in style.  I will probably keep them.

Hats, headbands, hair pins..... these come in handy when growing out hair and the hairpins certainly prove useful when I can't decide about the bangs.  If I let them grow too long I need to pin them off my face.  I have grown out some of the bangs and left a smaller section short, so using the hairpins helps with that process too.

Hair spray comes in handy.  Sometimes I just need to plaster sections of hair back off my face and there is nothing like hairspray for achieving that.  Stiff hairstyles are not my style preference but over the next year style preferences are not always going to be achieved.

I haven't got any magic tricks for growing out a pixie and there are plenty of sites online offering advice.  All I have to offer is the reassurance that for those of us who find it a laborious, it is possible.  I've done it a few times before and intend to manage it again.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Less and More

One has to be careful when writing about decluttering and downsizing on one's blog.  One's soon to be cohabitation partner reads the blog and could get the idea that one is a minimalist and thus he should not bring any clutter into the home or relationship.

One is not a minimalist.  One is making room for what is important and HE is important.  Co-decorating is potentially fraught and I have to admit I have very definite opinions about what is tacky and what I want in my rooms and on my walls.  I am fortunate to have a partner who is not particularly concerned with decor, happy to leave that sort of thing up to me.  For someone like me that is the definition of compatibility.  Compatible taste would also be ideal but I suspect it could be rare.  Compromise is required in a relationship.  Some give and take and respect for what the partner values is a must as is re-visiting and reconsidering what we value ourselves.

That's why making room for someone else requires letting go of things that I do not love or use.  It isn't about declaring less is better or more is better, but that the goal is a just right amount.  Is it called The Goldilocks Principle?

And speaking of too much or not enough.....

I am trying to find my own personal balance of less and more in my art.  I often over-paint, finding my way by adding more, covering it up if I don't like it, changing it a little or a lot.  Sometimes I completely cover over a canvas and paint something else on top.  Sometimes I regret this but most of the time I don't.  Sometimes I paint something quickly.  It's simple, and takes maybe an hour.  I like it so I stop and yet I wonder how can it be any good if it was so quick and easy? 

The painting on the bottom is now buried under the painting on the top.   I wasn't achieving what I wanted.  There were three incarnations of the painting above and I didn't like them so I slapped a ton of paint on top and obliterated it, creating the painting above it.  Now that I look at it in a photo I like it.  I wonder why I was upset with it.  But there's a life lesson in there somewhere.  Maybe more than one.   And I can paint again.  Perhaps the painting on the bottom was meant to teach me something.  Probably it was meant to teach me not to be so impatient and so hard on myself, but do I ever learn that lesson?  

In the photo I really like the bottom painting but in reality it irked me.  It looked over-painted.  It looked like too much.  As a photo it is inspiration. I painted my way into it, not knowing where I was going.  Now that I know I want to go there, perhaps I can again, more directly, with more purpose next time.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Let Go and Just Paint

                                                      When We Parted

I haven't painted in a few months and now that I am in a time period of restless anticipation this is a very good time to pick up my brushes again.  When I think of the three activities I am most passionate about, reading, writing and painting, I realise that painting is very special.  Reading and writing are things I have to do.  I must feed my brain and I must pour out my thoughts and ideas or I get tangled in a mental mess.  Painting is different.  When I paint I lose myself in the way one is supposed to with meditation.  I am detached from my thoughts and most of my senses and the only thing I know is what is happening on the canvas, what I want to do next in terms of colour and brush strokes, and the tension between what I am intending to create and what is being created despite me.

My art isn't particularly correct and that's also something that really takes me outside myself because I tend to put great stock in knowledge.  In general I crave knowledge, I want to know things that I do not yet know, I want to understand the universe I live in.  I seek to learn what, why and how and in general am a very big fan of science.  There are truths and facts in this world that can be known, there are things not yet known but within sight and they inspire awe.   I am someone who favours knowing but painting is about not knowing.  I am someone who takes few risks but painting is very risky.  Every time I finish a painting I like I am terrified that I cannot do it again.

Painting teaches me things I have difficulty articulating.

 Many things in this world are not subjective.  But art is.  Sure there are people who will say there are certain techniques or methods that must be followed, there are rules that some adhere to, and yes, I've got the bar set too high to ever touch let alone jump over because unless I can produce something to rival Leonardo Da Vinci I will only ever consider myself a dilettante, a dabbler, an amateur.  I am unschooled and I do not practice enough to ever become good.  Sometimes that bothers me because I tend to only want to do things I can be good at.

Quite regularly I have to speak to myself sternly.  Just who do I think I am, and what arrogance this is to imagine that I could or should be good at anything let alone the things I wish to be good at.    There are many people much more skilled or talented than I am and many others with no talent at all dabbing away either believing themselves to possess skills they do not or else not caring.  My inner perfectionist scorns them as I would scorn myself.  No, I am not kind.  I am a harsh critic though in general the criticism is aimed at myself.  While I might easily be critical of others who are also not Leonardo Da Vinci, my energy is not invested in their improvement.  It is invested in desiring my own.  So I paint.  And while I paint I forget to criticise.  I forget everything and I know only colour and texture and a liquid world.  While I paint I hope, I imagine, I believe that my intentions are being deposited on the canvas and that the results might not only please my own eyes but the eyes of others.  I could say that I paint for myself, and I do, but can any artist or would-be-artist truly claim not to hope her work appeals to others too?

I am sure that art is a form of communication and communication is not about releasing ideas into the void.  Communication is meant to happen between conscious beings, beings with sensory perceptions.  I paint to get outside of my own head and yet I also paint to communicate something to others.  I paint to say here I am.  Perhaps I am like you.  Perhaps we are connected in some way.  Perhaps I will understand myself better by painting and perhaps you will understand me and yourself better too.

When I wash up my brushes my thoughts grow a bit more practical and I worry about how much paint I used and can I afford to buy some more.  Can I afford not to?

Saturday, 22 April 2017

When Life Changes Dramatically

Life is about change and...

I'm no stranger to dramatic life changes.  I've had my share of the standard ones, moving to a new town, buying a first home, having a baby, getting a divorce and giving up a career.  Add to that living with a chronic illness which isn't suddenly dramatic until it takes you down a road you didn't expect and brings a lifestyle you hadn't anticipated, then the dramatic life changes are beginning to add up. 

More change is coming my way and it seems to me that it's fairly radical.  I've written very little about some aspects of my personal life because when it involves other people I don't feel I have the right to make public stories that are not purely mine.  At least not without permission.  Although it's supposed to be a blog that attempts to chronicle life with a chronic illness, I really can only give glimpses, snapshots, very controlled peeks into what my life actually is.  Focusing on personal style allows me to keep it relatively impersonal so I stick to that often.

And sometimes I veer away from it....

I've made reference to an abusive marriage, and to being divorced. I sometimes talk about living alone, but I believe I may have referenced a partner or significant other once or twice.  Then I wrote one or two posts about internet dating.  The short explanation for all of that is that a long term and long distance friendship turned into more then fell apart over a misunderstanding that involved a breakup that each thought the other was initiating only neither really was.

Holy Cow, communication is everything.

A close friend thought the way to get me through that was to immerse myself in internet dating.  Hah!  Fortunately for me, the misunderstanding was sorted out and the relationship resumed better than ever and internet dating become merely a five day slightly amusing interlude.

So a long distance relationship is about to become a case of cohabitation which leaves me without any cold feet even remotely, although in bed at night  I am prone to wearing not very sexy fleece socks.  A relationship deal breaker?  Nah. 

I am not a person who seeks relationships or needs to have a partner in my life.  The right one is heavenly, but I I would rather be alone than in the wrong relationship.  I like living alone so you have to be very special and I have to be very sure of you before I am going to share my living space with anyone who is not a cat.

How does life change when you are sharing space, sharing time, and pursuing together-activities?  I'm about to find out, or re-explore that.  Anticipating this change has become a full time preoccupation and the days cannot pass quickly enough.  I have five weeks left to wait, five weeks of not needing to consider the needs or comfort of another person.  Five weeks of erratic sleep patterns, eating whenever I feel like it and considering only myself when I spend money.  If I am worried about anything these are the things I'm worried about.  Can I adjust properly?  Time will tell but I do know I've been smart enough to be in love with someone who tells me to stop worrying.   It will be fine.  I will not be a bother, he will not tell me I am not good enough or my ways are wrong.  That was my old life, a different partner.  Now I am with someone who is my best friend, who loves me for who I am, not what I can (or cannot) do and who, like me has to contend with chronic illness so understands.  "It's fine", he says.  "We will just hold hands and cross the bridges."

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

My Minimal Standard

I spend a great deal of time just at home and I am always aware of the chronic illness I live with, aware of the fatigue, the aches, the limitations it imposes on my activities and abilities.  A life spent in lounge wear with unwashed hair and no effort at all put towards self-presentation would be too constant a reminder of what has been taken from me.  So with this in mind I have a minimal standard which I break only on those days when I am really feeling awful and might get out of bed only to find food or make tea.  Some days it's more of a struggle to meet that minimum standard but  by simplifying it and my personal style I have achieved something that approximates effortless chic, if I do say so myself,  and it really is minimal effort.

There are days when I pick and choose carefully what I will expend energy on and in all honesty that means I do not shower and/wash my hair daily.   I think that we've gotten to a point in western culture where that might almost be shocking to some people.  A daily shower and daily washed hair has become a norm and I was once someone who participated in it.  Given that I don't do much intense physical exertion and the climate where I live is rarely so hot as to make me sweaty, a daily shower isn't really  needed and a quick sponge bath in between showers will do.  At the moment, while my growing out hair is in an awkward stage, I usually will soak it in the sink and comb it into some sort of reasonable shape but sometimes, a good brushing and some hair pins will get me through the day.

Looking intentional is the secret to looking pulled together, but intentional stopping short of too much effort is my goal. 

My Minimal Standard

My wardrobe is pared down to easy to wear, mix and match pieces that flatter me and I love ( as much as I can love clothing which isn't much compared to most other things )  so that anything I put on looks intentional.

I always wear earrings.  I generally sleep in a simple pair so that I don't have to think about putting them on in the morning.  If I want something a bit more impactful then I can change them when I get dressed.  I never leave empty holes in my ears but if I want to wear a necklace for going out I make the earrings small.  I find I don't feel as comfortable in necklaces so I am more likely to put on a bracelet just before going out but I don't wear one around home.  Going out I will probably add a scarf but I don't wear one around the house. 

I think that earrings, a hairstyle that feels right and a little bit of makeup are the key factors that can make me feel ready to face the day as a properly functioning person.  And since my life does not involve wilderness hikes, gardening or mucking out the barn, this little bit of polish also feels appropriate.

I have a uniform style of dressing, suited to my lifestyle and it consists mainly of jeans and various tops-sweaters, blouses, tee shirts, with some accessories to round out the look and some variety in cardigans and jackets. 

My minimal standard makes it easy to go out without having to do much.  I am most likely to brush my teeth, reapply lipstick and grab an accessory or two.  Very little thought needs to go into footwear or jackets because it is dependent on the weather and my clothing.  Every jacket or shoe goes with more than one clothing outfit but every outfit looks best with a particular jacket or shoe.  This makes it easy to get out the door knowing I look pulled together and like I put some thought into what I am wearing but it's all premeditated.

Internal Nagging

If I don't go out at all, which is likely, I've got my basic uniform on, a simple hairstyle and my minimal makeup which makes me feel like I am participating in life.  There is a little voice in my head that wants this to be a world where women don't 'need' makeup.  This voice sometimes needles me for participating in this game and demands to know what is wrong with my face as it is.  Nothing is wrong with my face.  We live in a culture where it is entirely acceptable and often expected that a woman's face will have a bit of makeup on it and I could choose to fight that standard if I want to.  There would be no consequences but it would also be a moot point.  Nobody cares if I put on makeup or not.  It is only my own concern.  I do not have a job where it is required of me or where the lack of makeup might prevent a promotion and thus my not wearing makeup contributes nothing to changing that situation.  I do live in a culture where at least a little bit of makeup is the norm and I think that the very purpose of my minimal standard is to give me the feeling of participating in that culture because being ill and rarely leaving home can cause feelings of isolation.  Isolation is perhaps great if it is by choice.  I can imagine myself sometimes choosing it.  The goal is to find my personal balance between being one of the herd and standing alone.  For now, what I have chosen as my minimal standard gives me that power, a power that could easily be taken away from me.

For some women, daily life is about putting on a makeup mask, a uniform that is not of their choosing, and participating in a public life which they are happy to shed when they return home.  For them, claiming some power over their own appearance might mean the opposite of what it does for me.  It might mean taking off their makeup and putting on pyjamas or lounging clothing.  Claiming some power for ourselves means having a choice and getting away from something that is either imposed on us, or is so frequent that we need a change.

I have no problems with being seen in public bare faced.  I'm not even sure that my minimal makeup makes much difference to my appearance except perhaps an obvious lip colour.  That isn't really the point.  The point is that it makes me feel that I have gotten ready to take on the day.


I've had a good time playing with makeup over the past year, finding the best colours and exploring products, but one thing that has always been true of me is that I am not interested in makeup trends, in trying different looks or colours, taking more than five minutes maximum to apply it, in wearing makeup that I can feel or that I must touch up or generally worry about.

I'm aiming for a healthy, awake, me-but-better look and given the face I start with, that may look more tired or more vibrant depending on the day.

This is a minimal face with a bit of oomph added by a swipe of lipstick.  My lipstick home is in the browns, so I've got brown-oranges and terra-cotta colours in my makeup bag, the one in the photo is Revlon Toast of New York, blotted.  I'm quite tired and it shows, so there is a bit of concealer under my eyes and a bit of medium brown shadow on lids with one swipe of brown-black mascara.  It looks like no makeup on my eyes but just wakes them up a little to balance the lip.

In my photo-taking efforts the lipstick took a dive, while open, right onto the floor.  Thankfully it was not carpet.

I have allergies too and at this time of year wake up with swollen, red, watery, itchy eyes.  Cold compresses, eye drops, antihistamines and a prescription nasal spray are all required but a bit of makeup can help to eliminate the look of spent all night crying. Too much makeup can make the effort look obvious though.

I've used a little bit of neutral powder on the T-zone of my face because it gets very shiny in photos but if I'm not taking a photo for this blog I tend to ignore the powder.

 Other options for my basic day look.....

I have liquid blush in a browned-peach colour for days when it seems I need it.  For the sake of fun I've got some gold eye shadow though I mostly use a matte medium brown and a bronze-brown pencil.  I don't do jumbo lashes, so mascara is just to darken my lashes a bit and I never put it on the bottom lashes as I don't like the look of spider eyes.

I sometimes do a bit more with my eyes but because my eyes are small and deep-set  I don't get too dark with this and always use a medium brown-taupe colour.  With more makeup on my eyes I do a lighter lip but a nude-beige look doesn't suit me so it's a creamy terra-cotta colour, Revlon Rose Velvet, which is a very natural look for me.

                      I should have cleaned up that eye pencil but it would be too much trouble to take more photos.

This is a close up of my eyes looking down so you see the eye makeup better.  It's very subtle and this is as much as I ever use.  I'm convinced it makes a difference even though it's so minimal.

My Makeup Basics

Not only do I want a minimalist makeup look on my face, I want makeup minimalism in my makeup bag.  A few options are nice for a bit of variety, but I've discovered I am the type to have a preferred look and to stick with it.  I tried some more obvious colour for eyes but didn't like the look.  stick to a bronze-brown range, though finding a light, medium and dark in exactly the colours I want is a bit tricky, especially with drugstore options.  I really dislike having a quad or trio of shadow where I only use one or two of the colours but sometimes that's the only place I can find the colour I want. I currently own four lipstick shades and I use them all equally.  They are similar colours but have different qualities in texture or finish.

For Every Day:

liquid concealer
brown eye pencil/shadow

For Extra Special:

liquid cheek colour
gold eye shadow

As always this is a long post so it's time to stop.  I will stop right HERE.