Fashion. Not just pretty clothes or interesting clothes. I’m interested in what makes my almost 70 year old body look GREAT. I went to the San Francisco Ballet for a Saturday afternoon performance recently and the overwhelming majority of the audience was women. Not only that, but women my age. I’d worn a handwoven jacket and black pants. Almost a uniform, I realized. Some jackets were brightly colored. Some had interesting pleats. Most of them were paired with a scarf. I was not surprised to find, at intermission, that the Ballet Shop was almost entirely taken up by scarves. I don’t like playing it safe. I like to stand out–in a good way. The realization–that I could play it safe, or I could play it POWERFUL–inspired my wish to write about fashion for powerful, sexy, outstanding women who are wise and daring.
What interests me is not so much what I’ve discovered about 70 year old style, but what I learn and want to share about clothes, jewelry, shoes, and occasional other accessories. So here goes. I’ll tell you about the stores I’ve found, the clothes that look good on me with photos and some tips for those who, like me, want to look terrific at our age.
Last weekend I wore a tunic like the pink one here from Bryn Walker with a matching skirt in gray metallic. The fabric literally has wire in it so you can stand up your collar or squinch it into another shape. The skirt has little cords on the inside to pull up one or more gathers in the hem. This look is not for the feint hearted, but my normally conservative husband said I looked fabulous. So, my first recommendation for lovely clothes for older women is Bryn Walker. Stores are in the Bay Area of California, but Bryn Walker is carried by many department stores. I’ll share the metallic outfit when next my husband uses my iPhone.
P.S. If you don’t know about this site, it will make you brave: http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/p/the-advanced-style-documenatry-film-page.html
I’m not sure my title is even a word. But it describes, even by its sound, the state I’m in today. I have two broken toes (after falling down two steps into my own bedroom) and have spent the last four days with my feet up or with an ice pack on my right foot. I cannot get a regular shoe on (even the idea hurts) so have been wearing either my clogs or German hard felt slippers with huge toe boxes. I’ve also been grading papers all week and my mind is a blur with three classes and 76 papers. I want to be outdoors (it’s drizzling out there) and I want some exercise (hard to do unless I walk on my hands).
So I’m futzing–deleting email, going over email I should have answered, and not finishing my grading. I’ve just read my friend Dr. Scott Yorkovich’s blog about windows and mirrors–great blog, by the way. I just don’t want to do what I’m supposed to do today and I can’t realistically do anything else. This puts me in mind of all those who have jobs where they feel this way every day. Without broken toes they are required to sit or stand and do something each day that they find boring or worse. In my case, I have to buckle down and “just do it.” That works if I have an occasional day like today. If every day were like today I’d have to find something else to do.
Futzing is an answer to frustration, a response to boredom, a short-term condition (hopefully) with healing properties as long as it has boundaries. Like whining or spreading rumors, it makes most of us feel better in the moment. Carried too far it can harm performance and self-esteem. How can we deal with short-term futzing? My answer is to put a carrot out there far enough so that I can get done what I need to, and not so far that I forget about it or don’t think it’s worth it. For me, lunch with my best friend should do the trick.
OK, my boundary has been reached, even exceeded. I’m off to get dressed and strap myself into my instructor’s chair. I have a deadline and a carrot to eat.
I was on a conference call earlier with my teaching colleagues, most of whom had won the same award I wrote about in my last blog. There were 900 faculty nominated and 400 recognized. The list was published on the website homepage by school (business, education, psychology). One student emailed me to congratulate me. I showed the list to my husband who said, “Oh, so it wasn’t such a big deal after all.”
I am still thrilled to be recognized by students as a caring and knowledgeable instructor. What feels deflating is the way this award was implemented. First, I was sent a mass email by the president of the school. OK, he can’t call 400 people. I was told in the email that I would receive a certificate (there is an image of the certificate on the website). I was also told that the announcement would be made on the homepage and it was. To open the page and find 399 other names was disappointing, not because each of those other people didn’t deserve to be recognized (I know most of the ones in my school and they DO deserve to be recognized) but because the presentation was akin to posting a list of all the best American Football League players in their respective locker rooms.
So I’ve been thinking about how recognition should happen in organizations, and why it is so important. First, I think the person’s immediate boss should make a personal call or visit to the winner. For those who don’t like public fanfare this serves as a genuine interaction without the hoopla. It also informs the winner that the boss knows about and values both the award and the person. Then, I think the department or school needs to publish parts of each nominating letter so everyone in the school knows why that person was nominated. I know neither who nominated me or why. How can I build on my strengths if I don’t even know which strengths were perceived as valuable to learners (or colleagues or executives)? Finally, the school or organization needs to find something more portable or showy than a piece of paper. I have to spend the money to get it framed. Otherwise it goes in a drawer or circular file. Spending a bundle isn’t necessary. I’d like be be able to wear a pin that says I’m a star teacher, or have a paperweight in the shape of a star. (Stars are important to our organization.) Otherwise, I’m just a name among 400 other names representing 400 teachers who’ve done something right.
It’s Sunday and I feel like the kid who’s not supposed to be excited about something in the future, because it may not really happen, but is excited anyway. The “may not happen” part is in fact not fair because I was notified by the president of my school, Capella University, that I had won a teaching award for which my name will be listed tomorrow under my department, the School of Business and Technology, on the Capella University website. I will also receive a piece of paper telling me that I have won this award.
Let me hasten to say that there are many higher awards at Capella that come with money (mine does not) and Oscars. Let me also say that there will be other people who will win this same award, and be listed right alongside my name. But it is important to say that of all the things I could win at Capella or anywhere else, an award, nominated by students, for quality teaching, means the most to me. Would I like to have money–sure. Would I like to be the speaker at Capella’s graduation–sure. Would it mean any more to me–no.
I love my students. I’ve learned so much from them. As an armchair liberal for most of my life, I looked down my nose at the military. Many of my students are military. They have taught me about commitment, taking care of their troops/family/class/department, sucking it up when what they have to do is right, but not fun or pleasant, and about a kind of leadership (my specialty) that appreciates everyone under one’s command and looks actively for what they do well, so that they can be encouraged to do that thing better and better. None of my students, including my military students, is without thoughtful criticism of the environment in which each works. All of them want to be appreciated, feel proud of what they are doing to better themselves, and shine in someone else’s eyes as well as gaining confidence and pride in their own performance.
Thank you all for recognizing and appreciating that I want to shine on you, and help you to be proud of your struggles and your triumphs, whether they are educational, professional, or personal.
I just took my daughter Lindsay, her husband, Kelly, and my adored grandson Lachlan to the train. After almost a
month of being grandma day in and day out, the boy I love the most left to go home to Minnesota. He leaves a big hole. It is a hole made bigger by the death of my mother exactly one week before Lach came home with me following her memorial service. Now there is quiet in my house. Now there is time for me to think. Now there is time for me to mourn.
Lachlan went to day camp the first two weeks he was here. He got his face painted. He got to play with new friends and one friend he’s known for four years. The weather in northern California was perfect–foggy in the morning and then blazing sun by noon. He took over my iPad in the evenings and mornings before camp. He played tennis with Grampa, and I took him to a Vietnamese restaurant we both love. We went to the library and the pool. His Auntie Blake and her friend Jennifer wanted to entertain him as much as I did and, for a while, we struggled like dogs over a piece of meat. (Sorry for such an un-kid friendly analogy.)
While Lachlan was here our erstwhile contractor painted our living room and plastered, sanded and painted its ceiling. Lachlan asked, fairly I think, “Grandma, why did you decide to paint your house while I was here?” I hadn’t planned it. It just happened. More chaos kept me from my feelings.
Now there is quiet in my house. I want to feel my feelings. I don’t want to feel my feelings. I want to give them space. I want to crowd each day with things I love to do. Perhaps I will find that my own mourning for Lachlan’s leaving and mom’s death will have its way with me, whether I plan it or not. For now, all I know is that the quiet is oppressive.