Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Being Prepared for Life...Part One...

You might be slightly confused, thinking that this is a post about stocking your pantry and wondering what's with the glossy pic of Grace Kelly.
It's not.
My lovely friends Annabel at The Bluebirds are Nesting, and Patsy at A Working Pantry as well as my other blogging companions, seen right of your screen are taking care of business there.
It's about a different sort of Preparedness.
Be prepared for Life
Let me explain...and perhaps those of you with children who are grown, or nearly grown, will identify.
Back in November 2017, with my youngest childs imminent graduation from high school looming, I sat down and had a good hard look at self. I'll admit that I found this both illuminating and humiliating in equal measure.
I realised that as much as I love blogging and homemaking, there were some aspects of being out in the big wide world that I missed greatly. Human contact being the big one. 
I wanted to talk to people. To bond with women whose faces I could see and learn to love. As much as I adore you all and can honestly say that I've formed lifelong friendships online, I craved conversation that did not have a time delay. Do you get what I mean? I'd unwittingly created an imbalance in my life, by devoting so much time to my online friends, that I had neglected those in my real life. Some of this was unintentional and could not be avoided, but here I was.
I also realised that I now had an opportunity to revisit an earlier self, because my days of being a full time Mum at least, were over. I realised that the Universe was giving me a BIG FAT OPPORTUNITY, and that rather than sitting around wallowing in the fact that my children no longer need me 24/7, that I would DO something.
 I wasn't PREPARED.
I'd done my best. But as many of us do, I spent the majority of my available funds on my children. A noble cause that did me no real harm, and shaped them into the wonderful humans they are.
I had thrifted, dressed for my station in life (School Mama), and cut my own hair. Or didn't cut my own hair and got creative with up-styles. Does this sound like you too?
But I wasn't ME any more. Not really.
Before my son was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, I was a career girl. Someone who wore heels and dressed for success. I had a degree in Human Resource Management. I was climbing the corporate ladder. I attended soiree's of all kinds and took enormous delight in dressing up as often as possible. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, as I have had messages that suggest this is the case. I apologise if it makes me sound less comfortable. Change is uncomfortable. For me, as well as you.
I pondered where was that 'me'? Where had she gone in the scheme of my life? And was I prepared to bid her farewell without one last soiree?
Not likely, friends.
The Learning
I took the bull by the horns and splurged on a style course. One that actually made sense to me. I knew that I had to get with the programme if I was going to make the changes I wanted to see. I paid my course off over time, and absorbed the knowledge like a sponge, but I still had a ways to go. I had to inject ME into that knowledge. I was done with slavishly following what somebody else told me.
That bit took time. And experimentation.
Remember 27 years had passed since I was expected to present as anything but a 'mum'. But at 57 years old, I decided to be Ready For Something.
I didn't know what I was readying for, but I felt it in my you do sometimes. Something good was coming. I thought it was 'retirement'. How wrong was I!
Have you ever had that feeling? That slight shift in the Universe that whispered in your ear 'get ready...something big is coming...'
I'd learned the basic trickeries of looking well put together, and more slender than my frame belied, but I suddenly realised that it was time to take particular note of how to put an outfit together, beyond what someone elses tastes dictated.
Wear what you love
Do you love the fit and flare type dresses as seen above? I've always loved them. So princess-ish and feminine. But I never understood how to make them work for me.
I saw other petite curvy people wearing them, but for the life of me, could not translate that to my own wardrobe.
Here's where I translated some of that French Chic trickery to my own life. You can too.
I hear friends 'of a certain age' complain often that 'I couldn't wear that', or 'that won't suit me', or 'gosh I wish I could dress like in the *insert era*'.
Well, you can, and a lot of it is just knowing how to make those styles work for you.
And don't you dare tell me that you can't because you'll feel silly. Life is theatre! Dress for the best story you'll ever hear or see....your own!
The Silhouette
Think about the silhouettes you are attracted to. Are they the bouffant fifties prom style dresses? Or the sleek lines of the 40s? Maybe it's the relaxed feel of the 60s, or the shoulder pads of the 80s that appeals to you. Go with it! Just make sure you adapt it to suit your colouring and your own silhouette. I'll keep saying is too short to fit in with other peoples expectations.

Research taught me that a little cardigan (brooch optional), added a flattering something to a 50s style fit and flare dress. You also get, free of charge, that all important centre column of colour that is so slimming and youthful. It also taught me that a solid colour next to the face is softer than a print, but that a print disguises figure faults like nobodies business. These are all principles that can be adapted for any era, any shape.

At last count, I have accumulated a dozen of these little cardigans in many shades of the rainbow. They are life savers. Throw a cardi and a scarf over anything, and you're dressed. Well not over flannelette pyjamas as I have seen once or twice, know...most things.  And they NEVER go out of style. I've bought many of mine on eBay, some in thrift stores for as little as $3, and a couple at sales. If cared for, these may well see me through the next twenty years. That's bang for your buck.
The Scarf
Scarves...I've loved them all my life. They may not always be 'fashionable', but they are perennially 'stylish'. And that, is one of the most important pieces of information I gleaned from my French Chic style course. The aim is to be 'stylish', NOT fashionable.
Not only that, but as I wrote here, scarves always fit. You never have to ask whether your behind looks big in a scarf!
I started off wearing mine like this. I don't mind a nice cocktail ring repurposed as a scarf ring....

I educated myself a little further, and now I wear them like this. My style mentor says that wearing them with long tails as in the above pic, is slenderising. But my Cardi takes care of that by creating a centre column of colour, so I can get fancy with my scarves. See, another lesson learned.
I learned this knot here.
Although I do get the 'weave' mixed up sometimes, it always looks good.

The Shoe
 As for shoes, well I was determined to master The Heels. I love them. I love how I feel taller, stronger, younger, more glamorous in heels.
Alas, my feet did not like heels.
I developed something or other with -itis- on the end. One of those things that hurts like a banshee. Or is that screams like a banshee and hurts like a something-else-starting-with-b. Whatever. It hurts.
Instead, I have mastered the feminine brogue.
I wear them with fit and flare dresses, tights in Winter, slim pants, boot leg jeans, pencil skirts. I love them.

My feet love them.

These I splurge on, because let's face it, if our feet hurt, we can't do much at all, can we? 

Also....can't do much about the veiny legs. That's age,! Note: veiny legs are not stopping me from wearing dresses OR brogues. You can too. Seriously...who notices these things but us?

The Rest

Hair. Mine was long. I liked it long. Do you like to wear your hair long too? Finally, I had to admit that for all that I loved mine long, I mostly wore it up. Having it down, was just plain annoying. And sort of ageing. See below.
I cut it. I cut it short. It didn't go well at first. I had trouble convincing the tweenie hairdresser that I could carry off an asymmetrical pixie cut. She gave me a bob. I changed hairdressers, and the rest as they say, is history.

So there I was, PREPARED.
And blow me down, as we say here in OZ, what happened next?
I was offered a corporate role....after a 20 year absence from the workforce. Twenty years! Really! Talk about winds of change. It gave being prepared, a whole new meaning. I knew something was around the corner...
So  here I am cardiganed, brogued, scarved and pixie-cut to the max, doing good things out there in the big, wide world. And believe me, they are good things. Good in a helping people sort of way. Just the way I like it. I've made beautiful new friends who like me, are homemakers at heart, but who love 'doing good things' too. They also love 50s dresses, cardigans, brogues and fab hair. What a joyous addition to my life they are. And what a lesson in opening your heart and mind to new experiences at any age.
I got prepared.
And look what happened.
Is there something around the corner for you too? There may well be if you too, are prepared.
Give yourself some priority in the scheme of things. If an opportunity came your way, would you be in a position to say YES?
I would not have been just two short years ago. I am now.
You can be too.
Stay tuned for Part Two...Being prepared when you work! I think I know a thing or two about that now!
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  1. Dear Mimi, Ive really enjoyed watching your transformation,and been inspired to relook at my own style.A very inspiring and thought provoking post ,thankyou , with love Maria xxx

    1. Dear Maria, it's been a journey, as everyone likes to say these days. But when I started, I promised myself that my key word would be 'adaptable', and that word has kept me going many times. I've stumbled and fallen often, but I've dusted self off and kept going. It's about mindset as much as anything, and allowing yourself to feel worthy is key. Love, Mimi xxx

  2. Thank you Mimi, you have written this beautifully.

    I am afraid that I dress like a mum, although I do enjoy getting dressed up. I have been a mum since my teens, so never got the opportunity to climb any ladders. I wouldn't know where to start now...

    Like you, I love the fifties style so I might see about getting more cardi's to go with my outfits. For now I am off to practice the new way to tie scarfs, it looks so good on you.

    I have enjoyed following your journey and your motivational talks.


    1. Dear Tania, me too! Mum since my teens I mean. I'm so grateful for my corporate experiences though, as I learned skills that have been invaluable to me in my married life, and in managing my disabled sons affairs. It would have been a very different scenario were it not for that decade and a bit of career girl life. I bet you too, have experience under your belt, that stands you in good stead, day in, day out. You are one resourceful woman! I encourage you to adopt a style of clothing that you love. I felt weird at first, but the other thing that being in the workforce again has taught me, is that my unique-ness is embraced and valued. Yours will be too. Not saying you're! Life is so very short. I learn this more and more. Be what YOU want to be. Even if that's different or quirky. Much love, Mimi xxx

  3. I love this post! As someone who recently reentered the world of working outside the home, I agree that it's invaluable to be prepared;and sometimes the world seems to send you signals before a big change!

    1. Dear Allison....truth right there! Be ready, be adaptable, embrace change. It's invigorating, and exciting, and helps you stay young I think. Well done you on your new role too. Love, Mimi xxx

  4. Mimi, there are all kinds of preparedness, aren't there? One of the things that drew me to your blog years ago was your sense of style and the fact that you show us that growing older doesn't mean we have to be frumpy! I really enjoyed this post on this different type of preparedness and thank you for the mention!

    1. Patsi, what a lovely compliment, thankyou. And yes...older does not necessarily = frumpy! Mimi xxx

  5. Dear Mimi, What a wonderful post, thank you very much. I totally agree with you about scarves. I love wearing them and they can lift an outfit like you wouldn't believe. I always seem to get a comment when I wear one. Love your blog, look forward to part 2.

    1. Yes I love scarves Dennise. I've always loved them. And now I can afford to indulge in more scarf! Mimi xxx

  6. Great post! I love scarves - they can really dress up a plain top.

    1. I agree Pam! I love a nice bright one :) Mimi xxx

  7. Great post, Mimi! I'm running with the cardigan idea..."solid column of color in center is slenderizing" fits me to a "T"! You look great, too, btw. Oh, and do I love your brogues!! Cracked me up about hurts like "something else that starts with a 'b'!" hahahaha! Yep.
    What an amazing journey you're having.
    Mary B

    1. Lol's descriptive! Yes, you won't believe the magic that cardi centre column of colour creates! It's an amazing illusion! Glad you like the brogues. I luuurve them! Mimi xxx

  8. It's been inspiring following your journey. I totally agree that you need to listen to your instincts and follow them (within reason). We have been trying for the past two years at work to find new premises. I suggested that we prepare by decluttering and looking at everything so we are better informed. I got a few people looking at me like I had two heads but carried on with decluttering with 'the believers'. We have now secured a really great space. I think planning and believing are very strong factors in life.

    As far as shoes are concerned, I'm a comfort over style in the first instance but there are some very stylish and comfortable shoes these days. So important not to be working with unnecessary pain.

    I have to say I love your fashion posts. It is great to place it high on the agenda for self care and interest. There are so many inexpensive ways to add some glam.

    Love Janiebabe x

    1. Jane congrats on the new space! I do believe that we sort of 'will' things into our lives with our actions too. This is a perfect example. Whether it's because one action follows another or whether it really is the Universe looking out for us, it seems to work. I'm glad you like my 'fashun' posts. They're a lot of fun for me too. Mimi xxx

  9. Fabulous Mimi, you are always an inspiration to me, both at home or out in the world! The other day i had enough of my job with a company that had no money and was stingy. I thought, right, Ok universe I am ready! And you would believe it but the very next morning at 9am while in the supermarket after school drop off ;-) In came a call for work with a company that has a lot of money and more prospects! I felt a bit of that career girl come back, and I can do my at home domestics as a hobby lol! Thanks for posting as it helps make me feel more confident :-) Alexis xx


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx