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Stepping Up My Game

Runners World

Now that I’m feeling better I finally have the motivation and physical ability to stick with a diet and exercise program.  Unfortunately my Fitbit has informed me that nothing I’ve done for the last five months has made one bit of difference!  It’s that dreaded Middle Age Curse, the one that thinks I should be 140 pounds forever. I want to see results I’d better step up my game.

I need to  do some serious cardiovascular work, but I’d rather flush the contents of my wallet down a toilet than buy a gym membership. I read someplace that running is the best exercise because it supposedly “requires no special equipment” and is therefore inexpensive, but I looked into running, and . . . nope, it takes gear. Running requires special shoes, a full-metal-jacket combat bra, and special sunglasses that won’t bounce off my face. If I’m going to actually sweat I’ll need to buy a few running sets made from high-tech fabrics that will air-dry quickly and not get stinky.

Walking is so much cheaper.  To walk all I need is street clothes, comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and regular sunglasses.  I only wish walking were enough to help me get in shape.

Are you wondering about the cost of a running habit?  Here, give it a whirl.  It’s still cheaper than a gym membership. Still, I think I’ll go sit on the sofa and read a book instead, because even though I invested in expeditionary grade thermals for that extra no-excuses push out the door it’s STILL too cold outside to even walk, let alone freeze my lungs from running. Fortunately spring is just a few days away!

Hanging On

Image found here

I’m keeping my New Year’s resolution simple this year. Sometimes it’s enough to just keep hanging on. 

Fortunately I think I’m closing in on a primary diagnosis for my transient dysautonomia:  A salt wasting disorder in my kidneys, just as I’d suspected.  I had my genome mapped by 23andMe and sure enough a few of my solute handling genes are all messed up! I’m drinking 3 liters of salt water per day, taking prescription strength potassium, supplementing with OTC magnesium, and feeling better today than I have in ten years.  I have also not passed out since last September(ish)!   I’m seeing a kidney doctor who’s been very supportive, even though I don’t have any symptoms during my office visits and my labs look fine. Of course my labs look fine, because I feel fine.  My symptoms are like the Michigan T Frog:  They make a big display when I’m at home, then disappear in the presence of authority.

By mid-March I will know if my new doctor thinks my genetic data is enough to warrant an official diagnosis.  Even if he doesn’t think so, the treatment appears to be working, and that’s really all that matters.

La Mer The Radiant Concealer vs. Dermablend Cover Creme

It’s time for another side-by-side product test!

I care a lot about makeup and skincare performance, and am willing to spend whatever it takes to get the best product for my face. However, I’m not really an experimenter.  I overhaul my makeup kit only every other year, and I throw away products only once they harden or start to smell funny.  I still have eye pencils from ten years ago.

Finding the right face color, however, seems to be a never-ending quest. My skin is perfectly neutral, which means neither the “yellow” shades or the “pink” shades work for me.  When I feel as though I must cover my face with something  I usually mix an ivory shade with something darker and make due with the result.

I never needed a good concealer before my late 40’s. I spent the first 20 years of my adulthood makeup-less, and even today I’m barefaced at work unless I know I’m getting photographed. I don’t have dark under-eye circles, and at least until peri-menopause I used to have very good skin, so never had to worry much about a concealer’s effectiveness. Any drugstore product was fine so long as the color was close enough.

Even a cloudy day at the beach calls for full makeup now

Well?  As they say, that was then this is now.  I’ve always been pale, but age has made me practically transparent!  I’ve also started using makeup as sunscreen, since really don’t care for the way sunscreens feel or look on my face. Being with Spooky means I spend a lot of time in outdoor fields and football stadiums, so my makeup needs to be FULL coverage or I’ll burn.  It also means my makeup foundation has to match my skin tone perfectly, and look natural in bright light.  That’s a tall order.  I don’t think I’ve found the perfect foundation yet.

But concealer?  I got this.  Ladies, don’t bother with elite brands.  Don’t make my expensive mistakes! Just buy Dermablend.  It’s made for people with serious skin problems, so the coverage and performance can’t be beat.  Why did I try to switch?  I just got bored, that’s all.  I thought a new product might be better, more luxurious, more . . . something.  I should have saved my money.

Dermablend means business.  Now watch him take it off!

I bought the La Mer Radiant Concealer ($70) last spring at Nordstroms while waiting for my personal shopping appointment.  I had my Dermablend at home, but it was two years old and I figured it was time for a replacement.  I loved La Mer’s other products, so why not splurge? Sigh.  Six months later, and . . . I guess the LaMer concealer is OK.  It’s a little dry, which is fine if you want to cover a zit. It comes with a little brush that works nicely.  It passed the “nose blowing test” with flying colors, so that’s good. But in terms of overall coverage and performance, I expected more for $70.  It settles into my pores and gives me a spotted look when viewed under 10X magnification.  It’s ever-so-slightly orangey, a problem I associate with cheap cosmetics.  When I used it on a big patch of skin – such as my cheeks when I had a rosacea flareup – it looked pasty and fake, so I never did it again.  Mostly it sits unused in my makeup drawer.

I went back to using my 2-year-old Dermablend, hoping I could eventually find a replacement in my color.  I tried to find it online to no avail.  I went to the local Ulta and either they didn’t carry if anymore, or they were out of it, or . . . don’t tell me it was discontinued! Dermablend has a new line of concealers I unfortunately don’t care for, and the new line of foundation colors that were supposed to match Sand (Camel and Bisque) are much too dark for me. But I did like their classic Cover Creme in Almond Beige!   I also bought their new Liquid Camo foundation in Cream, and the Setting Powder in Cool Beige.  I’ll report back in a few months and let you know if they’re destined to be my new standbys. They all perform better than the LaMer concealer.

For work I chose Urban Decay’s Naked Beauty Balm.  It was time for new eyeshadow, so I bought the smaller, Basic 2 version of the Naked 2 Palette. I like the natural look and gravitate to matte tones of fawn and taupe, even when playing dress up, so I grabbed an extra single eyeshadow pot in Naked. Some Naked blush/bronzer in “Streak,” some Anastasia eyebrow gel in Brunette, and some plain lip balm and I was done makeup shopping, hopefully for a long time.  I’m covered now, for at least a year, or maybe even two!

Naked 2 Basics

Escape from the ER

So, here we go again.

After almost 2 years without an incident I’m passing out again. It’s been random as usual. It’s also very confusing as usual, since the medical bills keep coming and it’s hard to keep track.

The other day, shortly after the base ambulance dropped me off at the local emergency room, I escaped with Spooky at his urging.  A nurse helped us sneak out.  So long as we hadn’t seen a doctor yet, she said, it was OK for us to leave.

My car is still on the base and I’ve been working at home, or riding to work with a colleague. The downside to not being able to drive is that so many errands go un-run. I have to rely on other people and feel bad about it.

The upside to not being able to drive is . . . not blowing all my money at TJ Maxx?  Actually, the best part is working at home on days when I can’t carpool.  Without no commute I get an hour at the end of my work day to read outdoors in the cool air.

Whether or when to get on the road is my judgment call, as there are no restrictions with my condition.  I should be able to drive safely, in the sense that I ought to feel crappy enough before a spell to stay at home.  At least, that’s the theory: If it were actually true I wouldn’t have gone to work that day.  Actually, I did feel like crap that day. I should have known better.

Kelly Gray circa 1999

During random dissassociative moments I find myself googling for vintage St. John ads.  I do it in part  because pop culture has destroyed my mental image of the midlife female with “Cougar Town” and reality TV, and I may be trying to scrub Hollywood’s Disgraceful Older-Woman imagery out of my brain with more appealing images.  The old St. John ads were purposeful design parodies, and they were fabulous, and the sophisticated look was in vogue in the late 90’s when I got divorced and started buying my own clothes.

The other reason is, I just bought my first St. John dress:

Isn’t it ordinary looking?  It’s really not: The department just store picks the wrong models for their established designer lines. On a middle aged woman with some shape St. John knits are perfect:  Professional, forgiving, just right, worth the price, but only on clearance.    I was lucky enough to be in a store that had my size: One of their stylists picked it out for me and I fell in love with the quality and the fit.  There is a reason the St. John Tribe is so devoted:  It’s one of the few design houses that cater the midlife body. Customers scream bloody murder when new designers try to “update” the style or fit.

As a woman at midlife, I find that if I want notice, I must command it. Waiters can be slow to respond to my black Banana Republic pantsuits. But they “ma’am” my St. John.

My first St. John was a $1000+ splurge, but I’d just gone through a period of extreme wardrobe aggravation. My super-abundant closet space had been overstuffed with clothes I loved but couldn’t wear, not because I’d gotten “fat” but because my body had changed shape without my permission.  My ribcage expanded, which made button-up shirts out of the question. All of a sudden I had hips . . . which was good in a way, since I’d never really had them before, but DAMN, I couldn’t button my tailored pants anymore.

Much in the way one’s eyesight fails in one’s forties, there is nothing that can be done about middle aged spread except buy new clothes.  This is why women in their forties wear yoga pants all the time:  We don’t want to admit we’ve reached the elastic-waistband-pants stage of our older female relatives, who we swore we’d never look like.  Unfortunately Time doesn’t care what we think.

I finally boxed my old size (4) and put them in the attic for some future when I magically reverted to my old weight, as if that would ever happen. I decided to give them to my niece. A year later, I boxed my size 6 clothes, and will probably give them to my younger sister.  Today, some of my 8’s don’t even fit, unless they’re knits, which means my wardrobe is now 95% knits. I’ve come to terms with it, and found a way to make it all look professional.  The smartest tactic was to go high-end retail on important items, and fill in the rest with stealth.  I went crazy during Coldwater Creek’s going out of business sale, and returned to my old online standby, Boston Proper’s slowly-morphing travel collection. Some recent acquisitions:

One would think I’d find solace in my shoes, because at least feet don’t get fat, right?  WRONG.  Feet expand and contract when hormones go whackadoodle.  For a year or so my feet shrank a whole size.  Then they grew back.  Now even they are tight.  Consequently my closet is full of shoes I can’t wear on any given day so . . . My advice?  Unless they are adjustable, shoes are NOT an “investment.”  DO NOT DO THIS:

So am I finally reconciled with my new body and my new closet? More or less, since Spooky doesn’t give a flip either way.  I can get through a work week without headaches now, and my old clothes no longer taunt me from their hangers. Out of sight, out of mind!  The shoes though . . . both my feet and my pocketbook say “Ouch.”

Emergence

femme

Finally framed my Merglenn print! Isn’t it interesting where the flash hit?  Looks like I haven’t quite reached the third frame yet. But soon . . .

I was going to write a post with my *new* New Year’s Resolutions but got sidetracked.  It’s no big deal: Besides the generic “get organized, get out of debt and save money” I didn’t really have any.  I had purchased a scanner and planned to go paperless, but that would be a multi-year project.  I planned to spend more time on crafty/artistic pursuits, but had no specific goals, just a “do it already, get busy, do stuff.”  Meaningful stuff. Whatever that meant.

I took a loan from my 401K for my new roof

Last year’s resolutions were mostly met but for the financial ones. I have a good reason though: I was partially furloughed last summer and had to take a 20% pay cut. I was fully back to work after about a month and a half, but it was a setback nonetheless.

Things have been tight but I can finally see daylight at the end of the tunnel, so long as I’m not derailed by another medical emergency. First order of business after certain debt payoffs is a financial cushion, one I’ve not fully enjoyed for at least fifteen years.  Getting out of debt completely is second on the list, though it will take longer than a year to achieve. Still, the path forward is clear, and I look forward to a bright, sunny, debt-free existence in the near future.

crow-585x272 (1)

One thing I have “resolved” to do – which I suppose qualifies it as a “resolution,”  –  is spend more time in the sun. This decision came to me seemingly unbidden a few days ago, when I was  . . . well, doing whatever I was doing, minding my own business, probably housework.

While busy with this mundane whatever, something that *felt* like the last stanzas of a poem invaded my thoughts.  Something about putting my face to the sun before I die.  The thought, and the image it evoked, felt important, magical even.  So as not to dwell on it I quickly put it in a mundane context: “Okay,” I thought, “I will put my face in the sun. I spend too much indoors, could probably use the vitamin D.  In fact maybe it will prevent me from dying sooner.”

Jose Marti

Of course I Googled the phrase eventually, and found this poem by Jose Marti, the poet who inspired the Cuban independence movement:

I wish to leave the world
By its natural door;
In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.
Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun.

A Morir [To Die] (1894)

To the best of my knowledge, I’d neither read nor heard this poem before.  I’ll do my best to remain unperturbed that the poem is about death, which is *not* on my list this year.  Stepping outside to enjoy the sunshine, however, finally is.

This is always on my list

Drinking more wine is ALWAYS on my resolutions lists. A nightly glass of low-alcohol table wine really does seem to help my digestion.  My insides feel “healed” now, and I have a gut feeling (haha) that it’s due to important changes in my intestinal flora.  There is even evidence for this being the case, so . . . that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

WebMD: Drinking Wine is Good for Gut Bacteria

Enough about the resolutions. So what’s new? Bunny is getting ready to graduate from UArts and recently announced a move to California with her boyfriend. Thinking about it feels a bit like the wind being sucked out of me.  Then I take a deep breath and remember that this is the way life is supposed to go:  Kids grow up, learn trades, find mates and fly the coop, not necessarily in that order.  My child is right on schedule, and all is as it should be.

Hiatus

I do math all day at work

For those of you who attempted to comment while I was on hiatus from blogging, THANK YOU and SO SORRY I it took me so long to find you! All comments are now approved.

Where have I been? I wish my answer were more interesting: I’ve been working late nights. I was approved for a “reasonable accommodation” at my job, due to my morning dizzy spells. Now I get to work when I can and put in my time. When I get home from work it’s usually well past dark, and Spooky (bless him) usually has dinner on the table or is about to. No time for blogging! After dinner, I look after the cats and go to bed.

As Time Goes By . . . still a lot of catching up to do

On weekends we play catch-up, same as any 2-career couple with full lives.  No time for blogging! On my days off I’m at my other house, painting and spackling and sanding, getting it ready for a sale this spring. Yes, I’m selling the house!

I’m exhausted. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see Judi Dench staring back at me. Which wouldn’t be a problem – I mean, she’s a great actress and looks great – but she’s 78 years old! I’m fortysomething!  I hope she was fortysomething when she did As Time Goes By, because I swear I can relate to her character.

Will I keep blogging? I want to, so I believe I will.

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