Monday, April 14, 2014

VISUAL NOISE




I'm doing more than mere "spring cleaning" these days. I've begun a full-scale, ruthless purge.

Previous posts have seen me discuss the curios and cheap furniture items that have gone to the Vietnam Veterans of America or Out of the Closet. Now that, thankfully, I've run out of those items, and my living room has breathing room, I've turned my attention to even more annoying things cluttering up my home office and my bedroom.

When I see the number of things in my email inbox--unread, read and "to be answered," spam, etc., etc., my eyes glaze over. Seriously, the count is getting toward the 5,700 mark, and so I've begun my counter-offensive -- making one daily task to "unsubscribe" to at least ten senders, especially when I either don't know them, or "I'll get back to this one later" becomes the knee-jerk response.

Ditto my list of bookmarked websites. As my career and personal lives have wended their ways forward, and my interests have changed, I just haven't kept up with paring down the site addresses cluttering up my PC. Poor thing--no wonder it's slow. So, tonight it's click-delete time! After I've taken in the lunar eclipse, that is.

And then, there's this dress you see. Back in 2006, when I was still on the loose in the dating world, I was swept off my feet by someone. I won't go into details, because the memory of this person would only serve to stir up anger that's best left in the past.

Anyway, I was invited to a full-on gala--dinner, awards, testimonials; in short, it was to have been a "magical evening," even though that term is too often and too easily used.

After work one day, I went to Nordstrom--and I can count on one hand the number of times I've crossed that store's threshold. During a two-hour spree, I bought this Empire-style dress (I know my photos don't show it off properly)--satin bodice, chiffon-y lined skirt. Even though I was still in my size-14 days, it flattered me, and I felt like a princess for the first time since I was a young girl. A pair of black heels (my very last pair, I should add!), black stole, and slinky black hose completed the ensemble. I was gorgeous, and ready to "go to the ball." The fact that this single outfit cost me more than all the clothes--in total--that I'd ever bought in my adult life didn't trouble me at all. This was an important evening, and I wanted to be a proper lady escort.

Two days later, I got a voice mail. In a terse, 15-second message, my date simply said he wanted to take someone else. That was it. And I never heard from him again.

The dress promptly went into the closet -- way to the back. In time, I actually forgot I had it. A few months ago, I was surprised to see the original zippered bag with "Nordstrom" printed across the front, and with the shocking price tag still attached to the dress. So, out it came.

No, I wouldn't wear it. First, I'm happily a few sizes smaller now. And second, I've been with someone--my gentleman friend Chuck--who I believe truly deserves me. I won't stand for being disrespected--ever again. Now, at my age, I can love with my heart and my head.

Tomorrow, during a break, I'll take the dress to a local consignment shop. Let's see how much I can recoup, and silence the visual noise that still resonates.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Being an RA "Newbie" Has Taught Me - Rheumatoid Arthritis - Health Monitor

What Being an RA "Newbie" Has Taught Me - Rheumatoid Arthritis - Health Monitor

Well,golly gosh, even as old and jaded as I am, I still haven't lost the capacity to be thrilled.  Here's me, featured in an article!  Except for the few times in my life when I've written letters to various publication editors and had them printed, this is new for me.  And there is a little talk about the possibility of me actually authoring my own pieces. After all, writing, my beloved means of expression, has taken a back seat lately, and I want to change that.  It saddens me that I have several drafts of things in my computer, slowly ripening, still waiting to be harvested.

My association with Health Monitor Magazine began quite accidentally, when I picked up a copy in my doctor's office about a year ago, and took one of their readers' surveys.  It led to a couple of phone calls, and then this piece. 

Few things make me happier than sharing real-life experiences to encourage others, along with the work I do as a therapist.  "Letting one's light shine" is such a satisfying way for us to help each other enhance our quality of life.

.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Old-looking, slightly distressed, but still beautiful

No, I'm not describing myself at the moment.

This is about my latest obsession. A set of rolling kitchen shelves, to be exact...four casters, a frame, and three spacious shelves should do it.

While I'm waiting, impatiently, to commence work on my house, I'm taking pleasure in finding inspiration wherever I can. TV shows. Magazines. Catalogs. Impromptu reconnaissance missions, like this afternoon's visit to Pasadena's Restoration Hardware store.

I'm sure I could easily pick up an easily-to-assemble unit at one of the mid-range stores, but the thought of putting a particle-board, or worse, plastic thingy in a kitchen that I've crafted to be rustic Spanish--appalling!

At 4 PM today, I saw it -- my inspiration, at Restoration Hardware. Yes, it was in the form of a coffee table, but it had the appealing distressed-looking wood top. And I didn't dare look at the price. Restoration Hardware is a gorgeous dream store, but it's way out of my league, price-wise. But, hey, there are no monopolies on dreams...the faded tint of the wood was just right, sigh...

Adding to my nostalgia-driven decision process was the 1920s music playing over the store's sound system...a very savvy marketing technique, if you think about it. I was carried away, swaying to the music of another time.

So my solution? Build my shelf unit myself! Time to visit my local Home Depot to get some advice, and bum the nail gun from a good friend. I'll take some measurements, and put together a sketch in the notebook that's getting filled up with all my projects. I've already looked up prices of casters, and addresses of some recycled lumber businesses where, hopefully, I won't be laughed at when I go in and ask just how much (or little) wood I need. But I can also tell them about the wood I'll need for the floor patch when the floor heaters get taken out.

Seems do-able, and fun.

And that in-store music really got to me. I've been listening to it for the past couple of hours. Here's some to share:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rebellion!

The way I feel with my new "bod" is having some unexpected ripple effects.

Resolved: to ditch my overly-long, circus-tent skirts, and buy some of those sleek pencil skirts! And soon! There! It's on record on the internet. No backing down now.

In my travels the other day, I saw a woman who, shall we say, has a shape not unlike mine. She was wearing a pencil skirt -- and a pretty damned short one at that! And she, as Rod Stewart would croon, "wore it well."

So, I thought, what am I doing hiding behind my old rags? I'm seeing women of all ages, and shapes, stepping out and being bold. Even my favorite magazine, More, aimed at a "mature woman's" readership, is showing some good-looking threads.

And isn't that a lot of what I've been talking about in my blog posts -- boldness and confidence?

The TV ads for Ross, Burlington, and TJ Maxx are calling to me, louder all the time.

Since I'm pushing toward some new goals in 2014, it's time to step forward -- in colorful revenge beauty. And with my new red lipstick, which garnered quite a few compliments yesterday.

Maybe I'll post some pics soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When Life Bites, Buy a Lipstick

Life hasn't been going the way I'd like lately. Among the frustrations, I've begun to despair that my beloved homestead will not get her long-deserved facelift anytime soon, and even if it does happen, the plans may be drastically altered. Not something I want!

Until about two months ago, my tantrum might take the form of binge eating. Now, I've found another way to channel any anger...

Revenge beauty!

Because of some potentially serious health concerns, I've been in consultation with my primary care doctor for symptom relief. He has been the first doctor to frankly confront me about my excess body mass, and its connection to my aches and pains. I got on board with his recommendations, and I'm almost 20 pounds lighter as a result (and more to go before I reach my goal weight). Even my face has lots its chubby-chipmunk contours already. Cue the West Side Story song, "I feel pretty...".

Today, I felt particularly grumpy; not a good frame of mind for the business I'm in. During a much-needed break, I was in Magnolia Boulevard's "Burbank Village" cluster of antique shops, not to empty my wallet, but to window shop for ideas for the house. I'm a woman who couldn't care less about shoes (gender traitor!), but stores with "old stuff" just beckon and reel me in. Unfortunately, the store I'd specifically driven over to visit was closed for the day due to redecorating. Now what?

Standing at Magnolia and Avon, I almost headed back to the car, until I saw a high-placed neon sign in the next block down, with the word "Besame." What was this? Why not find out while I was there?

Opening the front door, I felt as if I'd stepped into a parlor set in the early 1920s. There were chairs almost identical to some of the furniture I have in my living room, dark hardwood floors, posters of lovely ladies of the Silver Screen era, and matching paneling on the walls. A slender, dark-haired woman named Gabrielle was presiding over the counter, featuring displays of antique cosmetic packaging in the case below. They all looked exactly like some of the lipstick tubes and compacts I grew up seeing on my mother's and grandmother's dressing tables. They had always tantalized me as a child, if for no other reason than I was forbidden to touch any of them. But Mom's and Grandmother's sitting in front of their mirrors seemed like such a serious ritual, and I wanted to be part of that so badly. I wanted admission to this mysterious sisterhood of full-on femininity. Mom used to watch the Loretta Young Show in the afternoons. I always longed to be like that lady, floating toward the camera in her yards and yards of gauzy chiffon... Never mind that I didn't like little girls' sewing projects, regularly got my Sunday School dress dirty playing in our basement coal bin, or had three rowdy neighborhood boys as my best pals...I wanted to feel beautiful.

Gabrielle allowed me to try on a bit of American Beauty red lipstick. Red? Timid soul that I am, I'd always stuck with purchasing mauves, deep pinks, and brownish hues. But this was different. With such a brief, simple act, I felt Loretta Young-glamorous. My day turned around at that moment. I got it; a simple bit of primping did work wonders. Sold!

We chatted some more, Gabrielle and I, and then I felt I had the wherewithal to get back to my day.

So, I've been converted. I'm now a red-lipstick girl. Never mind this current trend toward "nude" make-up. That reminds me too much of the whitish lip gloss of seventh grade. Besides, I don't want to look anemic.

I've read at various times that during difficult times in history--the Depression, immediate post-911, the recent recession--cosmetic sales, particularly lipstick, have actually increased. With my own sweet experience this afternoon, I can see why. To discover (or be reminded) of one's own beauty is such a transformative, deeply personal moment.

I promised Gabrielle I would post about my experience. And no, of course, I will not gain anything by it, save for the enjoyment of sharing it with others. Visit www.besamecosmetics.com.

The lipstick is still on, and I'm almost reluctant to wash my face tonight. But I will enjoy this American Beauty as much as I did my first lipstick, a frosted pink tube from Yardley, a gift for my 13th birthday in 1967. Such sweet memories.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rethinking my Stewardship

I've been considering shutting down my Facebook professional page for some time, and today I have taken that step. Perhaps, in the future, when the dust settles in other areas of my life and I can rethink some of my goals, I will bring back "The Turbo-Charged Rocking Chair" with a sharper focus.

Life and time is increasingly precious for me. Even when leaving Mom's caregiving out of the equation, I'm finding myself vacillating between the two extreme states of being either in frantic motion or exhausted unconsciousness.. So lately, I've been considering the parable of the stewards in Luke 16:1-13. I want to maximize every moment, and get more done without feeling that I have to sacrifice accuracy--or more importantly, my physical and emotional health. Perhaps the concepts of mindfulness and efficiency might be useful here.

I owe this to God, my family, my friends, my profession--and to myself.

I wish you all a blessed and productive day.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Learning a New Lexicon


Often, magazines like AARP Magazine and others suggest "learning new things" as a way to keep one's brain sharp. For example, there's taking an art class at the local Parks and Recreation center, or becoming more fluent in Spanish at adult school. Well, my brain should be really stoked come the end of the year, if I can successfully navigate my latest adventure.

*Drum roll, please* My newest obsession is my long-overdue, very-needed home renovation. Not merely a vanity exercise of seeking matching pillows and drapes, this project will involve addressing things like replacing the original 1923 wiring, installing energy-efficient windows (to eliminate the draftiness and cut my utility bills), and finally installing air conditioning. Seriously, I don't think I can survive another summer, nor have friends or business contacts visit, when the temperature tops 90 degrees in the living room. I also can't endure being embarrassed over the appearance of cracked tile in the kitchen and bathroom.

I also seek to maximize the 1,300 square-foot space by knocking out three walls.

"Down to the studs," joists, load-bearing. These are only a few of the terms I've learned in the past 30 days while interacting with various professionals related to this endeavor. I already knew knob-and-tube wiring from growing up in a home with my electrician father.

In addition to my presence on Pinterest, including my board "For my 1923 vintage house," I've gotten hooked on Houzz, and plan to use this as yet another resource for revamping Casa Cascadden. I pre-record and watch HGTV and DIY networks whenever I can, including "Rehab Addict" with Nicole Curtis.

And, to add to the fluency in Construction-ish, I've downloaded an online construction dictionary, to assist me in being an informed and intelligent home improver.

Take a look at my profiles below, if you will:

http://www.houzz.com/user/valarie-cascadden. Follow this link to see more of my evolving thoughts on my project.

http://www.pinterest.com/vcascadden57/

And, first and foremost, it's important to me that the home's 1923 vintage character be preserved and enhanced. Stay tuned for eventual "Before" and "After" views. It's time for Casa Cascadden to be escorted into the 21st century as the grande senora that she is.