A Blink and a Dream

My bestie and me in the Wax Museum at Niagara Falls.

My bestie and me in the Wax Museum at Niagara Falls.

As little girls, most of us had favorite storybook or TV and movie characters who we admired and emulated. We dreamed of being those amazing people when we grew up. The beauty of being a child with a vivid imagination is that it just didn’t dawn on any of us that we couldn’t become Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, Samantha (Bewitched) Stephens or Glinda the Good Witch. Those were attainable goals, and with a bit of practice and a great wardrobe, we could be those women.

If you ask any real woman who her favorite character was when she was young, she will likely be able to immediately and passionately name her favorite, and why. It is fun to now think about those fictional “role models” and wonder what it was that we liked so much about them, and consider if perhaps it says a little bit about who we really have become in our adult lives.

For me, my favorites were Wonder Woman and Jeannie. Did I really think I could become one of them? Well, probably not Wonder Woman, I mean NOBODY could be like her!   But Jeannie? You betcha – I used to roam around the house with my arms crossed, blinking and nodding and trying to make things move. Just ask my brother who considered me to be crazy. Hmpf, this from the boy who used to run around the house with a cape announcing he was Under Dog.

Thinking back now, I remember that I loved Wonder Woman because she was strong, athletic, and those bullet-deflecting cuffs were totally cool. She really was in a man’s world, having to fight bad guys with the rest of the Justice League, and work in partnership with some pretty big ego’s like Superman and Artemis.   Yet she was taken seriously as one of the gang. Eventually she had her own TV show, starring Lynda Carter. I still believed her to be larger than life, and even at that age, I admired her awesome boots and that her hair still looked great even after chasing and catching crooks.

As for Jeannie…. She had the cute and slightly clueless blonde factor. But she really wasn’t helpless, because she had that whole blinking thing going for her. How handy and time efficient it would be to be able to blink and clean the house, or blink and move something. She was sweet, and consistently happy and cheerful. Everyone adored her, no matter how much trouble she created. And even though she had to live inside a bottle, that bottle was pretty darn groovy, with its circular velour purple couch and all those throw pillows. Who wouldn’t like a comfy little hideaway like that every now and then?

So…flash forward. I’m no amazon, and I certainly don’t look like, or have the body of, a young Lynda Carter. But I do try to be fit and strong, and I have spent much of my adult life working in male-dominated industries. I’ve worked hard to gain the respect of my peers, and I like to try to look good at the same time.   I don’t wear my hair in a pony tail on the top of my head, or have to call anyone Master, but I am blonde and tend to be a positive and happy person. However I still have not, unfortunately, mastered the art of doing the dishes by simply nodding my head.

Maybe when we are young, we aren’t quite so crazy to think we can become like our favorite characters. It certainly can be argued that young girls today have stronger, smarter and more successful fictional role models than we did as kids. And that’s a good thing. It should also be pointed out that of course these beloved characters don’t need to be any particular gender or even species. Fiona is an ogre, but she knows how to kick butt.   As long as these imaginary heroes get active minds dreaming and believing that the world is wide open to possibility, then Bravo.

So…. Who was your childhood favorite?

Decisions, decisions, decisions

menu decisionsIn the labyrinth that we navigate every day, there are a myriad of twists and turns. At each bend or intersection, there are decisions to be made. Unlike the board game of Life, real life doesn’t give us a colorful wheel to spin and cards to tell us what to do. When it comes to the big decisions in life, about relationships, family, careers, finances and home, I’ve often thought it would be tremendously handy to have that pile of cards to give us direction. How often have any of us in frustration thought “I wish there was someone who could just tell me what to do!”

Alas, that is not the way it goes, and we must do our own research, weigh the pro’s and con’s, and make our own decisions, hoping for the best. For the most part, we come out ok. We make the big choices and move on. However, as real women, there are about a million little decisions and choices we make every day. We have ongoing narratives in our heads about even the most seemingly trivial matters in life. Men don’t seem to have as much of an issue. For them, their decisions are mostly based on a) what they want to do, and b) what won’t make their wife or partner angry. But for us women? We have to analyze the dickens out of everything, as if we have those proverbial little spirits, the angel and devil, hanging out on our shoulders and whispering in our ears.

Let’s look at a few examples of how some of these internal dialogues go:

  • Should I push the snooze alarm, or get up? I’m so tired, maybe just a few more minutes. But then I’ll probably fall back to sleep even harder, and it will be worse when the alarm goes off again. Plus those 9 minutes will mess up my whole morning routine. Oh, but this bed feels so good
  • I want those cute new boots. I don’t need new boots. Well, I kind of do, because those would go great with a couple of my outfits. I shouldn’t spend the money. But that is a pretty darn good price. Then after purchase: Do I tell my husband about what a great deal I got? Or do I sneak these into the closet and pretend they’ve been there all along?
  • Gotta go to workout. I’ll feel so much better. Ugh, it is so dark and cold out, I just want to go home and wrap up in a blanket and watch TV. But then I’ll feel like a schlub. These ten pounds aren’t going to magically melt off on their own. Come on, get your butt moving. Do I have to?
  • That’s it, I’m done with this extra weight. Time to get back on the diet. Knock out those sweets, bulk up on the veggies and fiber… you know you feel so much better when you are eating right. Wait, did someone just suggest pizza for lunch? Wow, that would taste awesome right now…after all, life is short.  No, got get a glass of water and an apple instead. My body is my temple. Hmmm, winter is coming, I have a craving for comfort food. I should bake some brownies tonight.
  • My partner and I haven’t had playtime in a while…I really should make it happen tonight. Oh, geez, that means I should shave…and I was really looking forward to reading before bed…and I’m exhausted. But it is kind of like going to the gym, once I get there I’ll be glad I did. But look, my favorite ugly old jammies are clean and waiting for me.. 
  • This outfit? Or that one? Maybe if I add a scarf.. no, too much. How about a jacket? Wait, does this make me look frumpy now? Ok, change again. Add some heels…now I look like I’m trying too hard. Back to the first outfit. Maybe I should just go out in my sweats.

Remarkably, we all are able to come to some conclusions on each of these mini life choices in a matter of minutes. Which is a good thing, because there will be ten more decisions to make at the next bend in life’s road. Perhaps it was easier when we were babies and all decisions were made for us…or, perhaps it would be easier if we were men and didn’t question every move we make. But really, wouldn’t that just take all the fun out of it?

 

 

 

Legacy Lessons

SunsetI had the honor today of joining loved ones to bid adieux to a pretty amazing Real Woman. My Aunt was 87 when she passed, and heaven is lucky to have her now — even though we weren’t ready to give her up.

Really, that is what grieving is all about. Even for lives long-lived, death still comes as a shock. We want to keep everyone here with us, and we don’t want to let them go, even if they feel ready to move on themselves. But, as the song reminds us, such is the Circle of Life, and we have to let go at some point, pray that they are headed to some place wonderful, and cling to the memories they leave behind.

As I move into my mid-years, and experience the loss of older loved ones, I’ve learned a few lessons that we Real Women should consider…. these are simple steps we can take now, while we are healthy, alive and perky, to help our younger generations – our kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces, friends – be able to cope better when it is our time to move on.

  • Say Cheese: We real women tend to be shy in front of a camera. We see someone hold up a camera and we duck out of the way, or say “ugh, no, I look awful!”. We only oblige when we can primp and pose, or be in total control with selfies. We need to stop that. Let ourselves be photo’d while interacting with others, doing simple daily life events, participating in our favorite activities – because these are the images others will cherish in the future.   I saw some of the most adorable, fun photos of my Aunt today, they made us both smile and cry – but in a good way. I have a scrapbook I work on from time to time with photos of my mom. My favorite images of her show her doing things like setting up a picnic for us kids, going bird-watching with binoculars around her neck, or skiing over mounds of snow in the backyard. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of those – classic mom, she was behind the camera more than in front of it. We all need to step around to the front of the lens more often…Who cares if you don’t have on any makeup, or are in your dirtiest jeans and sweatshirt? Some of those real life images are what others will love the most because they will remind them of the real you.
  • Tell Stories: We have to remember to share the goofy stories of our past experiences with the younger generation… better yet, write them down or do audio recordings. Talk about our childhoods, or siblings, how we met our spouses, any traveling we did, or jobs we’ve had. I realized too late in life that I should have been paying more attention when my Mom and Dad, grandparents, or my Aunts and Uncles would start talking about their life experiences. I started writing some of my Dad’s stories down, but I wish I had started much sooner.   Those tales are literally living history – and once the storyteller is gone, so are those legends.
  • Leave a Trail: Got a special piece of jewelry that you inherited from your grandmother? Or a fabulous portrait of you with your BFF’s? How about a beautiful vase you bought on your trip to Europe?   We can’t assume that those who may some day inherit these artifacts will remember the history of them, or recognize faces or places. Jot down brief notes to either go on the back of the items, or in a file.   My mother was pretty good at this – I have some clue, thanks to her quick notes, about the history on some of the things I now have, and it makes them even more special to me. I know that a pendant I have was given to my grandmother from grandpa when he bought it for her in Switzerland.   An oil painting portrait of an ancestor had a very handy note taped to the back explaining who the painted man was, and how we are related.   On the flip side, my cousin and I tried to decipher some engraved initials on pieces of silver they found in her mom’s possessions. We have no clue who’s initials they are, or the story of their existence. I have several other family pieces that are equally cloaked in mystery. Let’s not leave too many mysteries for our kids. And one more tip? Handwrite some of the notes. You know, with an actual pen and paper. It is remarkable how much seeing someone’s handwriting can bring back fond memories.
  • Stay in Touch: On one hand, this step has become increasingly difficult, yet on the other, it has gotten easier. We live in a world where our relatives have gotten more and more geographically spread out, living all across the country, maybe even overseas. The days of the whole family staying in the same town, or even the same state, are dwindling.   We all get busy with our lives, and our immediate families. We rarely all gather in one place on a regular basis. We start to lose touch, and literally go years without seeing each other in person, gathering only for weddings or funerals. However, behold modern day technology – we have so many ways now to reconnect, at least virtually. Email, FaceBook, Instagram – you name it, we can find each other and share photos, updates and just friendly hello’s.   We can’t forget the importance of family; these are the people we reach out to for comfort and understanding when needed.
  • Be Memorable:   Good news, this is the easiest step of all. Sure, many of us would like to leave some remarkable legacy for future generations – like a successful business, a legendary invention, celebrity status, or maybe even author a best-selling book. But in reality, those things really aren’t that important…which is a good thing, because they are not attainable for most of us.   Our legacy is who we are, how we act, our personalities, our appreciation and love for others in our lives. Not only do these traits move on through heredity (we know we all at some point start to look or act like our moms), but they are what stick in our heads forever about those who have passed. My mom passed away over 20 years ago, but I still have friends who will from time to time share a memory of her with me, simply because she was a memorable woman in their lives. The same goes for my Aunt who we honored today. She is indelibly in our heads and hearts – not necessarily for her life accomplishments, but for her humor, her character, he energy, and her unique outlooks on life.

We all would like to be here on this earth pretty much forever to keep experiencing all life has to offer….but it just doesn’t work that way. Instead, we have to squeeze all the experiences we can out of the time we have, and make a difference in the lives of those with whom we share our time.

How incredible will it be to know that many years from now, somewhere in the future, the generations who follow us will share stories, memories, love and laughter about each of us?

That’s a legacy I know I can be happy with.

 

Red, White and Blue Tradition

vote markI am not a political junkie. I don’t thrive on excitement over elections. I am not “in the know” about every nuance of our local, regional, or national government. I avoid political discussions or getting into arguments about candidates and partisanship. As a matter of fact, I am an independent, unaffiliated voter.

This doesn’t mean I don’t care. And I do completely believe that voting is not only our right, but our duty and an honor.   Perhaps because I am not deeply involved or particularly politically active, I find the whole voting process rather fascinating. There is comfort and pride in this oh-so-American tradition.

First, of course, are the weeks or months of hearing from, and about, the candidates. The campaigns are truly my least favorite part. If they could just stick to a handful of debates, and basic statements of their positions, I’d be happy. But no. The ads flood our TVs and radios, the mud-slinging and slander pre-empts any real information, and the phone rings off the hook with automated calls from people we’ve never heard of. This morning I did a happy dance, not because it was time to cast our ballots, but because we’ll finally get a break from the noise.

Voting is one of the only American activities that the majority of the population can participate in, where everyone is on the same level playing field. As we real people go to our voting places, we are all equal, and the actions we take while there all carry the same weight. It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned CEO of a Corporation with years of voting experience, or a young adult scraping by on minimum wage, still new to the voting process – we all stand in the same lines and take our turns with the exact same ballot forms.

Tonight, as always, my husband and I had our “voting date.” Each election, we wait until we are both home from work, go to the polling place together, check in, vote, then head home. Each time, the experience is the same.   Our polling place is the Middle School, which happens to be my son’s current school. We followed the line of cars and pulled into a parking spot just vacated by someone else. We headed in the same door that we just weeks ago had entered for the school Open House. We walked into the gym – but this time we weren’t there to cheer on a team or attend a school presentation or a book fair.

We had the same discussion as every time, because we apparently have short term memories and can never remember what Precinct we are in. He says 4, I say 3, we go to the first table and find out hubby was right. So we get in line with the rest of the 4’s. The room is full of other town residents and inevitably we see a neighbor or parents of school friends and stop to chat. Some parents have brought their children, other folks are clearly on their way home from work. I remember as a young girl, going to a polling place with my mother, and being fascinated by the mystery of it all. I watch a couple of younger folks and wonder if this is their first time voting, and want to say “yay you!”

The check-in tables are staffed by seniors, who are volunteering their time to ask for your street and your name, make a big red check-mark next to you on the list, hand you a ballot and remind you to read and complete both sides. My co-worker today said that when she voted this morning, there were several people reminding all voters to complete both sides of the ballot. It made us wonder, has there been a rash of people submitting incomplete sheets?   Why would you not think to look at both sides?

Once we have ballots in hand, we wait for our turn to go to little mini-tables with three-sided pop-up walls on them, and a black pen on a string. I miss the old days when we used to go into a booth, pull the lever for an old curtain to close us in to our private chamber, and flip switches on the wall in front of us.   Somehow the magic is lost by leaning on a little desk and filling in circles.

As a dutiful good girl, I review and consider the candidates and issues on the ballot before venturing out to vote. But I still re-read the information, because I’m worried I’ll get confused and indicate a no when I meant yes, and vice versa – so hubby always finishes before me and waits and people watches until I’m done.

The last step of course is to head over to the ballot-eating machine, with a friendly person leaning against it to make sure we actually put the sheet in the right way, and feed in our papers. We then stop at the check out table with a senior couple who are practically identical to those we saw at the start of the line, sitting with identical town list and red pens. I wonder if they ever really do compare the check-in and check-out papers at the end of the night. Is there ever anyone who got missed at check out? Do they scour the now-empty gymnasium to see if anyone is hiding behind the bleachers, afraid to give up their ballot?

Hubby and I walk out hand-in-hand to head home, talking about any of the friends we saw along the way. We wait until we are safely in the car to discuss our decisions and votes.

Invariably, even though I thought I did my homework, there are some candidates on the ballot that I have never heard of – and I have to make my best educated guess, or hope for some mystical vibe to come to me simply by virtue of someone’s name.  Tonight there were apparently three candidates for Treasurer. At risk of offending them, I had no idea who any of them were. Since I am not married to one party or the other, I had no strong feelings based on their affiliations. When hubby and I got into the car, I came clean and made a confession. I told him I voted for the guy with the last name of Heffernan, because the name reminded me of the character Doug Heffernan on King of Queens, a show and character I loved. My husband looked at me and started laughing, and said “me too!”  Then he said “hey, I didn’t get a sticker.”

As we go to bed tonight, we’ll tune in to see the early results on the news, all of which will be confirmed at least 50 times on the morning broadcast. We will either be pleased or concerned by who is officially elected, and by the final decisions made on the issues presented.   In the end, all we can do is hope for the best, that the decisions that were made are good ones and that the newly elected officials really will act with all of our best interests at heart.   And most of all, we can take pride in having been part of it. Sure, it is hard to believe that one little black filled-in circle can make any kind of difference. But looking around at all of the real people in that gym tonight, each taking that paper and black pen in hand, and knowing that the exact same thing at the same time was happening all across the country… well, that is pretty powerful.

Besides, now that we’ve done our duties….we will be rewarded by getting a break from the campaigning…. aaahhhh. In my view, that makes it all worth it.

 

 

And That’s The Way It Is…

anchormanI did it again. I caught myself talking to Matt Lauer. Of course he couldn’t hear me when I told him that I thought he was sounding a bit too smug and egotistical in that last interview. Just like how Tamron Hall can’t hear me when I tell her how much I love her shoes. As a matter of fact, neither of them even know I exist. But that doesn’t seem to deter me.

It is a funny relationship we Real People have with Newscasters. We don’t see them as celebrities, really. But clearly they aren’t like us either. Anyone who earns several million dollars a year and spends their days talking to anyone from a Muppet to the President of the United States is not your normal average person. Yet, we somehow feel connected to them. As a matter of fact, without them even being aware, we are in personal, committed, first-name-basis relationships with them. We count on their reliability to be there for us every day, without fail. We look into their eyes, critically review how they look, and yes, sometimes even talk to them. We welcome them into our homes each morning, or each evening, as part of our daily routines.

Because of this personal relationship, we feel we can be critical, and play favorites.   And oh, boy, do we play favorites. I find it fascinating that we each have allegiance to a particular network, or news team, and we become pretty much diehard fans, rarely changing channels to watch any of “those others.”   Want an interesting conversation starter? Ask someone which news program they watch, and why. Our answers can be anything from “I’ve just always watched them” to “I love that particular person” to more in-depth perspectives on which show “really reports news vs. fluff.”   In reality, they all have become about 80% fluff, and they all report on whatever is going to make the biggest headlines and get the biggest ratings… but I digress.

Our loyalty and fascination is not only with the National News….many of us get attached to certain local channels too. And with the local Anchors, we feel even more personally connected to them – likely because there’s a greater chance we may actually meet them, or see them in our communities. Or, maybe, they just seem more “real.”   Just this morning, my husband was passing through the kitchen as we were preparing to head to work; he glanced at the TV, and said “Is Tom on vacation?” I replied that I wasn’t sure. He said “Huh… this woman who’s subbing is ok, but I really like it better when both Tom and Emily are on together.” These sorts of conversations are not new to us. We talk about people we’ve never met as if they are friends, or we just had them over for supper. Last week we discussed how Emily seems to be more happy now that she’s engaged. A few years ago, our favorite local weather man hit the “big time” and went to work for the Weather Channel, then moved on to the Boston market… we have followed his career path as if he’s one of our nephews. “Oh, look, honey, Erik is on, he’s looking good, isn’t he?”

I am reminded of my childhood when I’d watch the Lawrence Welk Show with my Grandmother, and she would chatter on about the cast of that show as if she knew them personally as well. She knew who had gotten married, who had children, how long they’d been on the show. It was rather amazing to me then. Now, of course, I realize I sound just like her. Oh my.

With all of the modern ways we have of staying in touch and up to date on news and events – including social media, cable news networks, getting urgent information pushed to us via our mobile devices – there is still something about good ol’ fashioned broadcast news. Sure, there are some of us out there (especially the younger generation) who don’t watch “The News”, and instead absorb information in other ways.   But a remarkably high number of us still default to our “friends” to keep us informed.   Like the comfort of a well-worn blanket or a favorite old sweater, we automatically tune in. There may be times when we don’t like what we see, and we may get frustrated or complain. I know there have been times when I have gotten extra critical about how they present the news, or the fact they repeat themselves a dozen times in thirty minutes. I have grown weary of how much bad news is presented. Like many others I’m sure, I have been known to even turn them off in disgust.

But at some point, I always go back. And they are still there, still cheerfully pretentious, still telling me what they think I need to hear.   And while I’m emptying the trash, making lunches, feeding the dog, and deciding what to wear for the day, I will get all caught up – not just on the news of the day, but on the talking heads themselves. I’m sure they missed me.

 

A New Perspective on Bliss

Di backyardIt doesn’t really take much to make us Real Women happy. Really, it doesn’t.   Sure, we’d all love to win the lottery, hire a butler or housekeeper, become ladies of leisure and spend our days shopping or having lunch or travelling the world…. But for the most part, we are able to distinguish fantasy from reality, so we set our standards for happiness at slightly more attainable levels.

Treat us with love and respect, make us laugh, and once in a while, let us go “off the clock” – and we are well on our way to contentment. Sure, our younger, more high-maintenance selves may have in the past needed a bit more than that… but as time goes on, our perspectives change.

This past weekend, I traveled to visit a couple of BFFs. It was one of those very rare occasions when I was driving by myself. Just me, myself and I in the car. And although I was not looking forward to the length of the drive, and was worried about the boredom factor, I soon realized that it was just fine. As the miles ticked by, I allowed myself to go off duty. Rather than try to solve all of the world’s problems in my head, or worry about whatever I wasn’t getting done, I attempted to practice some mindfulness. The colors of the foliage along the drive were spectacular, so I soaked the sights in. I considered such lofty conundrums as why the first windshield bug splatter is invariable at eye-level on the driver’s side. I cranked up, and sang too, my 70’s channel on Sirius. (Play That Funky Music).   I daydreamed. I did some writing in my head.   And though I wouldn’t call the drive heavenly, it was not all together unpleasant.

Upon reaching my destination, we three lovely ladies immediately went into sloth mode. The hosting girlfriend lives in a beautiful home in the woods, at least 9 miles from the nearest town. It is like stepping into a woodland resort. So it is easy to become one with a comfy couch while gazing out at the trees. We talked, we laughed, we caught up on each other’s lives. We watched trash TV. I mean real trash. Programming we otherwise would not be caught dead viewing. We made drinks and sat out on her deck and watched birds. Really, we did.

20 years ago, we would have been all about going out to a funky bar, or out to a party, or gathering a big group of friends, or going to a club to dance – or even hitting the theater for the latest new movie.   But now, what we crave the most is just….relaxing. Having no time constrictions or must-do responsibilities.   Dressing up and going out on the town on a Friday night was fun then.   Lounging around in fuzzy socks with a few close friends is heavenly now.

Now before any of you (especially those who are still young and trendy) are completely appalled, I will tell you we managed to summon enough energy and desire the next day to take a nice walk in the morning, followed by some fun shopping, and then went out to dinner that night.   We even got out of our sweats and put on real clothes… at least for a few hours.  But we still stuck to the theme of the weekend of no rushing, no game of beat-the-clock… we roamed wherever our whims took us. It was lovely.

I had the added bonus of being able to visit with my brother and his family before heading home at the end of the weekend.   My timing was great, because both of my nephews were home – so I had the joy of catching up with them, and get their updates on the trials and tribulations of high school and college. Sitting around their dining room table, listening to stories and laughing a lot – yup, it was family bliss.

As Real Women, we can find enjoyment and delight in the simplest moments in life. We don’t need jewels and designer clothes and yachts with cabana boys….well, ok, those things would be pretty awesome. But time to slow down and enjoy just “being” —  those are the moments that mean the most. Sadly, we don’t take them often enough.

Let’s all try just a little bit harder to fit a few moments of bliss into our days.

 

 

Color My World… Please

colorful_candies_womens_shirtLike most Real Women in the Northeast, I recently packed away my summer clothes and dug out my fall and winter wardrobe.   After successfully making the switch, I stepped back to survey my closet. And got depressed. 95% of what is behind that door is black, grey or brown… with a few bits of navy mixed in for excitement. Bleh. I decided that since I had filled a bag for goodwill of clothes I’d never wear again, I could treat myself to a little shopping. I ventured out in search of color.

So far I’ve visited four women’s clothing stores. And in each, I have seen… a sea of black, grey, brown and navy.   It is dark outside in the morning when my alarm goes off. Soon it will be dark by the time I leave work in the evening. Winter is around the corner, with grey stormy skies and cold temperatures to match the short daylight hours. So I ask you….why in heaven’s name do we want to mirror that in our clothing choices? Why do we also want to be dark and dismal?   Shouldn’t the opposite be true, and have the stores filled with bright cheerful colors to lift our spirits?   Surely flannel, wool and fleece can be created in colors with some life to them. The one lively color I’ve found in most stores is what I can best describe as bright apricot. I have nothing against this color, I think it is very pretty. But on a fair-skinned blonde? Not a great option.

This weekend one of my BFF’s and I took a couple hours to venture forth in search of color and style. We are continuing our campaign to “stop the frump” and went bravely into the world of retail. I was focused and determined, aiming only for tops in bright colors that would fit and flatter. I came away with a white blouse (at least it wasn’t black or grey), a grey and tan flowy long top to wear with leggings, and a dark purple and black tunic. Hey, at least it has some purple in it, right?   Pathetic.

As she and I roamed the racks, we decided that this world is in desperate need of retail clothing stores targeted to a very specific demographic: peri-menopausal real women. If we had the funding and ability, we’d open one ourselves.   First, there would be no heavy sweaters in our store. Just looking at sweaters makes us sweat. The only sweaters that we’d offer would be light-weight cardigans that are easy to remove for every hot flash. Tops with stripes across the bosom would be taboo as well. Heck, let’s just eliminate all horizontal stripes.   While we are at it, enough with the glitter and sequins. Somewhere along the way, someone convinced us that we mature ladies look good in loose, patterned shirts that have been bedazzled.  Sure, one or two in the closet can be fun – but really, stop after two.

What we would include in our store would be comfortable yet funky styles. Clothing that lands somewhere between extremely fitted, and mu-mu’s…. made out of fabric that drapes smoothly without being binding or lumpy. And hello, let’s have some color. Not blinding look-at-me-I’m-fluorescents, but colors that have life to them, that will perk us up and make us look alive and healthy, not sallow and depressed. Perfect wardrobe options. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

One area where clothing manufacturers seem to be starting to make headway into meeting the needs of mature women is with pants. More and more I’m seeing tags that read: curvy fit, modern fit, comfort waist, even ‘magical balance tummy control’. Lord knows we can all use some magic in controlling our tummies. Browsing through a display of jeans now is like navigating a denim jungle…. This one offers to slim my stomach but boost up my bootie. That one has stretch denim for added comfort. These are mid-rise boot-cut, and those are relaxed fit, straight leg, at-the-waist. And that is all just about the fit – then there are the colors, ranging from faded and torn to dark and crisp. With decorative stitching or, yes, here too, bling and sparkles on the pockets. The possibilities are relatively endless – and yet it can still take just about forever to find the perfect pair that looks good and feels good.

I caught a story on the Today Show recently (granted, it was on the weekend, when most of their stories are human interest and lifestyle focused – aka, fluff) that was about purchasing and caring for jeans. The wizards they interviewed enlightened viewers by suggesting we think about our body types, and where we will wear the jeans (work vs. out with the girls) when we are out shopping. One even suggested heading to the back of the store to the clearance rack for better deals. Really?? I ‘m a bit concerned that there would be any R.W. out there who wouldn’t already know all of this. But then they threw me for a loop when they gave tips for the best way to care for your jeans. They said jeans should be worn 4 -5 times before washing, and when necessary, to wash inside out, in cold water, gentle cycle, line dry.   Wait, whut???   Silly me, I’ve always viewed jeans as durable items, made of denim, which purposefully ages with time. Core clothing items that I can throw in the wash. I have enough clothing that needs special treatment, I can’t be expected to baby my jeans! Now, granted, I never spend $150 on a pair of jeans. Perhaps if I did, I’d give them special attention…. Right after I had my head examined for investing that much in jeans.

This weekend, I will take a short trip to visit a couple of my BFF’s. In preparation, I will pack some of my black, grey and brown clothing options, and throw in a couple pairs of jeans that I have recently yanked out of the dryer.   And perhaps, while we are together, we will do a bit of shopping and continue our search for color, comfort, and non-frump style.

It is a noble quest – and we are up for the challenge.