Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A New You.. DIY almost no cost beauty treatments #1...

There are so many lovely and luxurious facial and body treatments that you can concoct for next to nothing, to facilitate a New You. You really don't have to spend a lot of money at all.
Here are some of my favourites. I learned many of these at my Mothers elbow as a Tween and Teen. She was European and greatly interested in Herbal Remedies at a time when information on those things was a little scarce. She was one clever Mama.
Peel Off Mask
These are such a gorgeous way of really feeling like you've had a Spa treatment, without going to the Spa. Of course you can buy these as well, but it's so much more fun (and less expensive) to make your own. This is divine in Summer.
You'll need:
1 sachet of unflavoured gelatin
1/4 cup fresh fruit juice
1/4 cup herbal tea infusion of your choice
To make the infusion, steep 2-3 teabags in a flavour that you love (Jasmine Green Tea is my favourite), in 1/4 cup boiling water. Allow to cool.
Mix the cooled infusion with your fresh juice. Watermelon, citrus, kiwi fruit, apple, and pear are all good selections. If you do not have a juicer or blender, you can mash things like Watermelon and kiwi fruit, and even soft pears. Strain the pulp through a sieve to obtain the juice, even if you're using a blender or juicer. You want nice liquid juice, not pulp.
Add the sachet of gelatin to the combined juice and tea infusion, and stir until it dissolves. Gently heat the mixture on 75% power in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until it's clear and thick. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Apply to a clean dry face, with clean fingers or a soft pastry brush (kept for this purpose only), lay back and relax and allow the mask to dry.
Once completely dry, lift at the top edges (you may have to use a fingernail to start the edge lifting), and peel gently downwards. Finish with a swipe of Witch Hazel on a cotton ball, or simply a splash of cold water.
DIY Facial Serum
This gorgeous potion probably set me back around $100 for the initial ingredients, but that has made me two years worth of luxurious facial oil....or some for me and some for friends and family. Because any time anyone gets close to me when I've used this, they can't help but inhale and say 'You smell heavenly! Where do I get some of that!'
The consistency of this is not oily as such, it's more fluid and silky. It spreads like a dream, massages in swiftly and leaves your skin soft and scented like a warm Spring evening.
If you're going to make this one, please make sure you buy real essential oils, not fragrance oils.
Store this in a little plastic kitchen container (those little cube shaped ones are ideal), in a cool dark place, and decant into your pretty bottle with an eye dropper for easy use. I use about 1/2 a teaspoon or one eye dropper worth, per application. I use it all over my face, including under the eye, on my neck and my chest and décolletage.
My skin looks fresh and plump and I smell lovely, and so will you!
Into your small sealable kitchen container or bottle, combine:
Four tablespoons each of two cosmetic grade oils... I like Macadamia best, paired with Almond or Apricot Oil
10 drops Vitamin E Oil (available at Pharmacies)
10 drops Neroli Essential Oil
4 drops Jasmine Absolute
Decant, using an eye dropper, into a smaller bottle, for daily use if you wish. I keep mine in a little bottle with a glass stopper. It looks just as luxurious as any packaged cosmetic I've owned.
I like to use this in the morning after cleansing or washing with home made goats milk soap, allowing the oil to be absorbed for five minutes before applying 100% pure Aloe Vera Gel as a makeup primer.
Allow the Aloe Vera Gel to dry completely before applying mineral makeup powder or foundations.
Use evenings too, after cleansing or washing with goats milk soap, as a gorgeous night time treat for your skin.
This is also absolutely lush as an oil cleanser if you don't have access to goats milk soap. Simply remove a lightly massaged application of oil with a muslin facecloth, and follow up with another lighter application, massaging gently in an upward motion whilst the skin is still warm.

Herbal Bath Parcels
Into a square of muslin (a Chux cloth will do if you do not have muslin), place the contents of any favourite herbal teabag or two teaspoons of loose herbal tealeaves, plus any other dried aromatics or botanicals you like such as rose petals, rosebuds, dried lavender, chamomile flowers, mint leaves, cinnamon sticks and chopped vanilla pods. Bundle the muslin or cloth up and tie with kitchen string or ribbon. Add to your bath as it's running and enjoy. I do find you need a fairly substantial amount of leaves and botanicals for this to work well, but it's still significantly less expensive than an Aromatics Bath at a Day Spa, which at last check, was $99! Yes! $99 for a bath. Granted you got a fruit smoothie afterwards, and some guaranteed peace and quiet, but that too, can be arranged.

Finally do not underestimate feeding your skin and soul from within. If you feel well, and your body is functioning at optimum levels, then this will be reflected in the way you look. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, an occasional treat, and lots of water. In fact, most of us could forgo many expensive beauty treatments, if we just gave up caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks, and instead, just drank water. I once had to, on medical advice, drink nothing but water for a week, and the difference in the way my skin looked was absolutely astounding! Try it and see!

What's your favourite DIY beauty treatment?

Friday, January 27, 2017

A New You...Shopping your Wardrobe and Thrifting for basics!

Hello! How are you all? I've finished my first week of my New You challenge on a high note.
In assessing my body shape (Petite Plus sized Apple) and my body proportions (petite, short waisted), as well as my colour palette (cool), I've had some real revelations. Suddenly I understand why so many of my choices based upon what I 'thought' my shape was, still did not flatter my figure, age or proportions.
Fifties style dresses with gathered waistbands? No. But yes if they're flat at the waist. Ankle length maxis? I think not! Ripped comfort fit jeans? Nuh-uh. Scarves tied up around the neck...no, sadly and this is one I'm still coming to grips with as I love my scarves. But apparently I can wear them untied, and draped so that they create an illusion of length. Who knew, right? Likewise short necklaces, which I always thought drew attention to my face. Long pendants and strands are the way to go, equally to create that illusion of length. Talk about a revelation!
Yes to A-Line and pencil skirts (so long as they're just above the knee), dark coloured boot cut jeans, long earrings (think long and lean for everything for Apple shapes!), simple shaped slimline bags (you don't want to add bulk or thickness if you're an Apple), nude wedge heels to add height to my frame, nude patent pumps to lengthen the leg, black patent low wedge pumps to give a continuous look when wearing black pants, and so it goes on. I'm learning something new almost every day!
The top right photo in my collage above caused some lively debate in the French Chic Facebook group. I asked the question 'how could I adapt this look to make it more French Chic?' and the responses were wide and varied, shall we say ;-)
The second photo was considered acceptable, if a bit casual, and the third was eventually voted the ideal, although many commented that they wouldn't wear white jeans simply for practical reasons.
So armed with this information, and having decluttered my wardrobe, discarding anything that did not fit my new ideal self, I had a re-think.
My own closet yielded a pair of black bootcut jeans that fit the idea perfectly, but I needed a few other items. Most of my bags needed an update not because they were old, but just because they needed a clean, or did not fit my idea of 'neat and structured'. Thankfully they were almost all thrifted, so I did not fear re-donating them. I think the most expensive one was $8!
A trip to my favourite thrift store rewarded me with a slimline tan leather shoulder bag, a long strand of faux pearls (see the real ones I rewarded myself with a few months later, here), a pair of one carat sized cubic zirconia studs, a pair of nude patent medium heels, and a pair of black patent wedge heels (low). After my $20 loyalty discount, that lovely haul set me back just $17!
A quick venture into the local department store then saw me sourcing a light cotton white blouse, with fine blue pinstripes for just $15, and a lovely Ponti black blazer that is the perfect length for petite me, for $25. I love pinstripes. They are slimming and just look classy, I think.
So a total spend of just $57, and I have several new classic basics on which to build my new French Chic self.
How was your week? Did you follow your Self Care Maintenance Plan? Did you add something special to it? Have you had a wardrobe re-think based upon your new found knowledge of your own body type and proportions? It's fun, isn't it?
Here's my beauty tip for the week.
Now this is one that I first saw on a Vogue forum, a few years ago. My friend Annabel at The Bluebirds are Nesting swears by it, and I think it's a winner.
Note: Do not use this if you are allergic or sensitive to Aspirin or Salicyclic Acid.
Aspirin Mask
Crush 2-4 aspirin finely, and mix with about 2 teaspoons of water. Apply this to cleansed skin, and leave to dry. Once it's dried, dampen with your fingertips, rub gently to exfoliate, and rinse off. Now this works because Aspirin is basically Salicylic Acid, and that is the primary ingredient in those expensive BHA facial peels. It sloughs the dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, revealing a soft smooth complexion beneath. Finish with your favourite moisturiser and enjoy! This can be a little drying if you overdo it, so we ladies with Sensitive Dry skin, go easy, okay?
Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A New You....Annual Self Maintenance Program...downloadable PDF...

Here is the downloadable self maintenance plan I promised you all. You'll find it at the bottom of this post. I hope you'll use it well.
Many people think that self maintenance is all about fitness and exercise and staying slim, and yes, that is part of it. But that does not mean that those of us who are carrying a few extra wobbly bits, should just give up. That's no plan at all!
Did you take a good hard look at your real self, unadorned, and find a list, even a short one, of your prettiest qualities? Maybe it's a dimple, a soft shoulder, a welcoming embrace, long eyelashes or beautifully shaped brows. If so, then I am proud of you. We are taught not to be 'vain', and it can be difficult finding something appealing about your own face and body when you've aged a little.
If your list was somewhat brief, I promise that my Self Maintenance Plan will help you add to it.
It will assist you in establishing life-long routines for good health and wellbeing. It will serve as a reminder for what needs doing and when. And most importantly if you are the busy type as I am, it will prevent you from neglecting yourself, when others needs take over from your own. And that I think is one of the more important reasons to keep this somewhere where you can see it every day.
Download it, print it out and put it somewhere prominent. For me, that is next to my bathroom sink. I keep mine in a plastic document sleeve and tuck it behind my pretty jars. Then it's always on hand as a prompt when I'm showering. For me, that is morning AND evening. If you have a different routine, then place it somewhere where it will act as a prompt for you.
Then start tomorrow and continue until this time next year, and I promise you, you will look and feel different.
You will feel in control of your life and the way you look. You will take the edge of some of your internal aggravations because you will be looking after number one, and in doing so, you'll become more adept at caring for others. You will find features to add to your list in your journal. Qualities about YOU, that are becoming and valuable.
Let's do this together.
Let's start tomorrow, and check in a week from now. Let's share how we are feeling, how we are looking, and whether our attitudes are changing.
Let's do this...for ourselves.
My Self Maintenance Plan

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A New You....Bonus Post...Your Health and Beauty Calendar Part 1...

Why do five star hotels feel so luxurious?
Is it their pared down décor, and minimalistic approach to colour schemes?
Is it their selection of toiletries, always displayed with pride and of impeccable manufacture and origin?

 Is it the Zen style floral arrangements and peaceful ambience?
Or is it the fact that wherever you go in a five star hotel, or on a cruise ship, where we've just been for two weeks, you see some sort of maintenance going on? Rooms are 'rested' and given a makeover and an update, railings are freshly painted and given time to dry and look their best, gardens are constantly groomed and manicured and revised as seasons change.
I believe it's all of those things, and one of my missions this year, is to show you how you can use the same principles of simplifying, choosing to pamper yourself with the best you can afford (which may mean some very special DIY recipes), including a bit of Zen in your day, resting well and regrouping, grooming and manicuring, and a year long programme of self maintenance and seasonal upgrades, can change your life for the better.
Here's me. A shot taken on the cruise by the cruise photographer, just three weeks ago.
I don't kid myself that I look 20 any more, or even 30. I'm 57 years old in just 28 days. But I have finally found a peace with who I am and how I look. And looking around me, I'm doing okay for 57. There are those who carry their age better than I, but there are plenty more who do not.
I've wrestled with all kinds of faults, perceived and imagined, over my lifetime, but no more. This shot was taken without the benefit of a suntan (real or salon generated), eye makeup, hair products (I took none with me), or flashy clothes. And no digital enhancing either...lol! I've had naturally silver hair for a couple of years now, and straightened it for quite a while, thinking that the curly silver hair aged me. Well, maybe it does. But I'm okay with that all of a sudden. I tinted my eyebrows before we left, or they'd be non-existent, but apart from a dust of Mineral powder, and a clear lip gloss, there's no makeup involved here. My wardrobe for the cruise was simple, and this top was worn with a slim black pencil skirt, the nude wedge heels and slim envelope clutch I featured in my post a couple of days ago, here. The drop earrings were a purchase en route, and feature a Chanel-esque camellia on the end of long slim silver pins, with a sparkling crystal set behind the flower. That was my only jewellery.
I feel like I've turned a corner. I've been lamenting for years, in my 50 & Fab posts that I could not find my style. And suddenly, it found me. Funny how it goes, sometimes in life.
Can I share my own personal Health & Beauty calendar? I was going to save it for a later post, but I'm so excited about this new phase at A Tray of Bliss, that I couldn't wait.
Here's my suggested routine. I guarantee that if you follow this for the next twelve months, there truly will be a New You, at this time next year.
Morning...cleanse face in shower (I just use water and a microfiber cloth in the mornings), ice cube to face and under eyes to tone and diminish bags under eyes (works wonders...those under eye bags virtually disappear!), brush teeth and floss, drink water, moisturise face and body, wash hair and apply mousse and allow to dry naturally
Exercise...walk, yoga, Zumba at home with a DVD (alternating), drink water
Meditate for 10-20 minutes (that's my Zen), drink water or herbal tea
Evening...cleanse face with cream cleanser, ice cube run over face, or cold water splashed on face to tone, facial exercises (I'll share these soon), home made serum or night cream, deep conditioning moisturiser to hands and feet before bed, drink water
Manicure...I use Jamberry vinyl nail wraps and can't recommend them enough...a Jamberry manicure will last 1-3 weeks without any risk or chipping or any need for maintenance
Deep condition hair (a must when you embrace the Grey!)
Walk with friends
Tint eyebrows
Shave legs and underarms
Toner to hair to eliminate any brassiness in the Grey
Pedicure (Jamberry again!)
Weigh self and adjust diet and exercise programme if things are getting out of hand
Breast examination
Trim hair...I do it myself as it's all one length anyway.
Self pampering treatments like a coffee grain scrub, loofah brushing and body oil, olive oil and socks to feet, olive oil and sugar scrub and gloves to hands
Six Monthly

Assess Grey hair and decide if the current cut and style is still flattering and manageable. Change if not.
Routine medical checkup
Pamper day with friends at home or at a Day Spa
This schedule was drilled into me by my European mother from a young age, and I have never deviated from it. From time to time, I've had to take on more DIY than I once did as a young career woman with cash to burn, but you know what? I DIY almost all of that now (bar the medical visits...can't imagine doing my own Pap Smear...lol!), and I actually enjoy it. It's calming. And it's rewarding.
What do you think? Could you embrace my routine? Or do you already have your own in existence? Do share!
I'll be converting this routine to a PDF overnight, for you to download. Sit tight!


Saturday, January 21, 2017

A New You....Learning to love yourself...

Have you determined your body shape yet? Did it surprise you?
And what about your proportions? Was that a revelation too?
Now dear Reader, before I go any further, can I just say this. If you are perfectly happy with your appearance and your wardrobe, perhaps what will follow over the coming weeks and months with my New You posts, will not be for you. I promise to continue to post on gift creation, and my other favourite topics, regularly and often. If you are fortunate enough at 'a certain age' (usually 40+), to be the same size you were at 20, then I'm thrilled for you. But what will follow over the coming weeks and months, may not be useful for you either. What truly saddens me though, is that so many of us lack self esteem for whatever reason, and I can assure you that nurturing our self-esteem will figure largely in the discussions here as well.
It goes without saying though, that at least initially, I'll be focused on we ladies, who were once the well presented type, and now we're not, or at least not as well presented as we'd like, so that's where we'll start.
So...I had this idea for years, that I was an Hourglass shape. That was the closest I could come to with my unusual petite plus sized figure. I had a bustline, hips and a little kink in my sides, where my waist used to be. Then I wondered why oh why, the recommendations for Hourglass figures didn't suit me. A belt to accentuate my waist? Goodness, no. What waist? Sure I had one 30 years ago, but my tiny waistline is no more. Dresses a la 1950s with full skirts and tight bodices...eek! Awful for me, just awful. Ditto to the advice on wrap dresses, ruched bodices (supposedly to trick the eye into thinking my middle was ruched, not fat...nobody is fooled by that!), and padded shoulders to balance my silhouette. What??
So I did what we all do when we are lost and frustrated. I gave up. Not completely. There was still a little of the Glamour Girl in there, and she wouldn't shut up. Instead I refused to indulge in the hideous prints and ugly nightgowns found in the so-called 'Plus Size' specialist stores, and haunted thrift stores for special finds, whilst hiding in my sewing room with miles of fabric, praying for inspiration.
Then a couple of years ago, I started to think I was more of an Apple shape. I recalled my Mums figure being more of that ilk, and figured, that surely genetics would be playing a part in this game. I forget who introduced the Apple shape into the mix. Maybe one of the reality TV gurus. That piece of information has flown the coop, I'm afraid! 
I attacked Pinterest and Google with a vengeance. Sadly, advice for any Apple shaped lady (and I do mean 'lady'), of a certain age, is thin on the ground. Some of the recommendations by Sweet Young Things on how we more mature and wise women should adorn ourselves, were, and continue to be, utterly laughable. What's one to do? I was back to being exhorted to wear belted dresses with full skirts and wide legged pants. Both of those on me, just made me look like I'd forgotten I was fat!
One course of action was to enter into the never ending cycle of weight loss and gain, that so many of us fall prey to once we've entered and exited the Menopausal years.

As you may well know, that in itself is exhausting and demoralising, and can severely impact how you feel about yourself. I, for one, focus now on being healthy and fit, and if that ultimately means that I am several kilos heavier than I was 30+ years ago, then so be it. That's not to say you should take risks with your health....no, no, no! This idea does not mean it's a free-for-all and you can eat and drink what you want, and not exercise, all under the umbrella of 'accepting yourself'. That's a copout too.
Embracing a healthy lifestyle, with a clean diet, an occasional treat, and a daily gentle walking, swimming or yoga programme, will work wonders for your internal wellbeing, your cardio health, your skin, and your general attitude.
I'm saying though, that the focus shouldn't ALWAYS be losing weight. To a certain degree, I believe it's empowering to embrace how you look NOW, and learn to make the most of that picture, no matter your dress size.
I am doing this very thing. Sure I'd like to lose 15 kilos (about 33lbs), but I'm not going to live my life based on some point in the future, that I may never reach. I want to reclaim my Glamorous self today, now, not tomorrow or next year.
If this sounds like you, then welcome. I hope we can enjoy this journey together.
Having made that decision, I searched for resources, to enable me to make the most of me as I am right this minute. Not next week, next month, next year, or when I lose 15 kilos. Now.
I finally found some advice that went like this....
"Apple shapes can wear empire line, wrap tops, and A-line skirts...BUT...not if you are a plus sized Apple. These styles will only emphasize your round tummy."
"Apple shaped women with round tummies should not wear belts at all".
Because you see, there are Apple shaped women out there who are slender enough for the belts, the wrap dresses, the A-line skirts and the fitted bodices and flounces. But they are not short waisted petite plus size Apples, like me.
Light bulb moment! So really, the rules DO change if you are plus sized, and even moreso if you are petite and short waisted. Honestly it was like a weight off my shoulders....no pun intended.
Here's another thing. Have you ever admired an outfit on someone else, be it a friend or a model in a magazine, bought the same outfit, and then wondered why you don't look as fabulous? There could be a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, your body shape and proportions are completely different to theirs. Secondly, perhaps there are elements in the outfit that are not to scale for your figure. Thirdly, is it possible that the style is actually a little complicated in design, fabric, colourway, or fit, and that it was only ever going to look good on a model? I'm thinking number three is the most likely. This has happened to me often in my life. You too?
Over the next couple of weeks, we'll talk about this more. As I said, I have now discovered that I am a Petite Plus Sized Apple shape, and most of my posts will be dedicated to this most neglected body shape. I know there's more of you out there, so hi!
Let's learn something new about ourselves this year. I am currently studying Marie-Anne Lecouer's e-course, titled The French Chic Academy, and I'm astounded at what I have already learned. If you can find the dollars in your own budget, I can highly recommend the course to you. For me, now that my daughter has scaled back her extra-curricular activities to focus on her final year of school, I find myself with a little spare cash to invest in self. So I am fortunate in that respect.
Marie-Annes recommendations have also led me to create a new Pinterest board, solely dedicated to Petite Plus-Sized Apple shape women like myself. You can find that here.
If you do not find yourself currently in a position to join Marie-Annes French Chic Academy, do at least read her blog, and also investigate another blog that is an eye opener for we, the style deprived, called Inside Out Style. Whilst Imogens advice is not specific to French Chic, and her blog takes a little more effort and energy in seeking what you need, there is still much helpful information to be found.
Meanwhile, knowing now your shape, and your proportions, I am going to ask you to do something that may help you appreciate how lovely you already are.
Each and every one of us, has many qualities that are beautiful. Yet as we age, and perhaps gain weight, we forget what those qualities are. Instead we worry about our lost youth, and settle into a premature old age, dressing and presenting ourselves to the world, likewise.
When you shower or bathe tonight, stop and look at yourself in the mirror. I mean really look. Don't give a cursory glance (possibly cringeing as I do), and race to dress in your nightgown. Take a moment. Love the body you're in, and thank it for what it does for you. It breathes, it loves, it gives you the ability to care for yourself and your family, it mobilises you.
Is your skin particularly lovely? Are your eyes the most beautiful shade of blue? Do you have especially long eyelashes, or elegant hands, or beautifully manicured nails? Maybe your ankles are particularly pretty, or you love to show off your wrists with bangles and bracelets (we often unconsciously adorn ourselves to draw attention to our best features without even realising it!), or you have enviably long fingers that you use to play the piano beautifully or curl your childrens or granchildrens hair. Is your own hair your best feature? Perhaps it's an unusual colour or you use a shampoo that makes everyone think of sunshine or apples. Do you have a signature scent, perfume or body lotion, that instantly makes you memorable? Are you proud of the condition of your skin, facial and body-wise? Do you have athletic shoulders, or well defined calves, or sweet earlobes that you like to adorn with pearls or other pretties? Is your décolletage` smooth and glowing, or are your particularly proud of your toned upper arms, made that way through gardening, or caring for your loved ones? Do your eyes crinkle at the edges when you smile, or do you have sweet dimples? Maybe you're proud of your stretch marks or your Caesarean or other surgical scars, as they are evidence of a life well lived and children gifted to you and your husband. In this day and age, it's not unusual to have a special tattoo that celebrates a date or a person or other significant event in your life. I'm not a tattoo person, but I make no judgement of those who love them. Acknowledge each of your special features, one and all.
Get out the journal I suggested you have at the start of the year. If you don't have your journal yet, just use a slip of paper, but make sure you keep it! Note down as many positive features as you can. LOOK for things to write down. Don't be shy! This is not vanity, and is not for viewing by anyone but yourself. It has nothing to do with being fabulously good looking or not. This is about giving thanks for what you've been gifted in this life, and moving forward from there.
Here's a sample of my list...
Well moisturised skin
Long slender hands
Naturally curly hair
Well looked after fingernails and toenails
Strong shoulders
Large eyes
Small wrists
You get the idea. It's not about blowing my own horn, or gloating about what I have compared to someone else, or conversely, lamenting what I do not have. It's about consciously seeking those elements of my appearance that are a positive.
You can do this too.
Let's start on this positive, and stay there. Even on our worst days, let's open our journals, look at our lists, and remind ourselves that whilst we are not perfect, (and who is!), we have much for which to be thankful, no matter our financial status, age or stage of life, or body shape.
Let's learn to love ourselves. Whether for the first time or the second, third or fifty-third. Let's be comfortable with who we are, and how we arrived there. Let's celebrate our curves and crinkles, and make the most of them. Most of all, let's find our inner joy, and let our most beautiful selves, glow from within. That alone is better than the most expensive designer outfit.
See you Monday with your body shape and proportions in one hand, and your journalled loveliness in the other.
I'll be offering inexpensive ways to pamper yourself, and a routine for self care that anyone can implement.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A New You....The First Step...

Today is the first day of a new you.
Let's work together to be better.
Let's stop throwing on the first thing that comes to hand because we're only going to be at home today, and nobody is going to see us. Let's put a stop to driving the children to school in our pyjamas or gym gear because it's just easier. Let this be the last time you wear your gym gear to the supermarket, because you're in too much of a hurry to shower and change before leaving the gym.
 Does this sound familiar?
Let me say this....
I want today, to be the last time you put yourself at the bottom of the list.
You have to believe it though. I can almost see some of you nodding and agreeing, knowing that in a minute, you're going to get up from the computer, and forget everything you've just read.
I would like to say to you, that if you start today, by this time next year, you may well be a very different person. Not only will you look better, you will feel better. Your relationships will improve, your self esteem will too, and you may well find an inner peace, because you'll no longer be putting your own needs on the back burner in order to fulfill everyone elses.
Women are notorious givers. We think of others before ourselves, often with consequences that affect our health, well-being, and self-esteem. So we get to 'a certain age', and find that the hopeful young thing with a spring in her step, who never left the house looking less than her best, and who saw a lazy day at home as a reason for a self-pampering session, has up and left the room.
Many of us use having children as a reason to pay less attention to self, and certainly child rearing in the early years, say, birth through to school age, has it's challenges. I know. I've been there four times! I know it's hard to find a minute to even shower, never mind take any additional care with your hair or what you wear. I accept that.
But this stage of intensive Mothering does pass, and for some of us, those habits formed during that era, never leave us, and we remain forever stuck in the 'that's good enough' frame of mind when it comes to self. For some of us, husbands and partners may even encourage this, as it allows them too, to relax with their appearance and well being. Dare I say, having a wife who has relaxed her own standards of appearance, helps them feel more secure. That's not to say ALL men are like that, but I've certainly met quite a few who were in my lifetime! Be honest, I bet you have too. And that applies to children as well. It's human nature to feel threatened by change, and you, looking your best, exercising, trying a new hairstyle or colour, or dressing well all of a sudden, can be confronting for them for all kinds of reasons.
The thing is, that it's about having a long, healthy life too. It's not just about looking nice in what you wear. My family are a bit notorious for telling me that I'm not fat, and that I'm beautiful 'just the way I am'. Well. That's lovely of them, but I refuse to use that as an excuse to stop exercising, eating healthfully, and looking after myself. Neither should you. The sentence 'My husband/family love me just the way I am', has become a bit of a catch-phrase for giving up. If that's the case, then your husband and family will continue to love you no matter what. That's implied. So why not give them the best version of yourself?
Today, I want you to make a promise to yourself, that just for the next 12 months, you will prioritise YOU. That by this time next year, you will look in the mirror, and like ....no... LOVE what you see. This is not about losing weight, or changing yourself completely. It's about making the most of who you are, and being the best you can be, no matter your age, weight, body shape or budget.
Todays task is to determine your Body Shape.
Here is a Body Shape Calculator...
Then I'd like you to try to determine your Body Proportions by using this guide...
This will help you decide whether you are short waisted, petite, long waisted and so on. All of this makes a difference, and the lack of this piece of information, is one of the reasons I've been so confused myself, for so long. Imogens blog at Inside Out Style, and Marie-Anne Lecouer at the French Chic Academy and her Facebook group at French Chic, have opened my eyes!
Find a journal, a blank book, or something else to record your thoughts and revelations in, and let's get started.
Work out your body shape, and write that in your book, along with your current weight. Then record your body proportions.
Tomorrow we'll discuss body shape further, and move on from there, and I'll share how the nude wedged sandals, envelope clutch, and pendant at the top of this post, have changed the way I dress and how I feel about myself.
I'm so excited. I've already learned so much this year, and I'm reaping the rewards. I hope I can help you do the same.