Monday, February 11, 2013

Rules for "Women of a Certain Age"

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Do you believe in rules? You know...the kind of rules that say things like "Women over 30 should have short hair" or "Don't wear white shoes before Memorial Day." I used to be a "rule follower" when it came to what people thought about me or "the way things should be." My fairly traditional Southern upbringing demanded all kinds of rules like, "Marry a man who can support you in the lifestyle to which you've become accustomed" (I never did that) or "Wait until the boy calls you; never ask a boy out" (that one I did listen to---I waited for them to pick me. I learned the hard way that I should have picked them.) But when I was 22 and fresh out of college, rules seemed to not only make sense but they kept life in order. If you followed the rules, good things happened. Nice girls who follow rules finish first. Hah!!!

It didn't take me too long to realize that all rules were not created equal and that there's really no benefit to being the "nice" girl. There are rules that are created to actually improve one's life and well being and there are rules designed to keep people in their places. I'm all for rules when they make sense but when they don't....well...they just don't! These days, I only follow rules that help me look better, feel better and help me lead a good life. Here are some of them.


1. Have an opinion. Even if it's not the same as your parents, spouse, significant other, family or friends. Speak it loudly and proudly. Be respectful but own it.
2. Stand for something. Whether it's world peace, education or abolishing paper cuts, do something that furthers your cause.
3. Do the right thing.
4. You get to complain about something once. Maybe twice. After that, either do something about it or be quiet. No one likes constant complainers.
5. Don't try to be superwoman (or supermom, super daughter, super wife, etc). You won't be happy and you'll make everyone else miserable in the process.
6. No one wants to hear you complain about how busy you are. If you're frazzled, take control of your schedule and look for things that you do that you can let go. There are no prizes for being busy, stressed and taking it out on your family. You just piss people off with your attitude. No one likes a martyr.
7. You don't have to do everything. Your family can do their own laundry, cook their own meals, do their own shopping, etc. Your husband/wife/partner and your kids are not helpless. See #5.
8. If you can, hire someone to clean your house. Again, see #5.
9. If #5 is an issue, don't volunteer for every activity at your kids school or at church (see #6). But if you still think you have to do it, see #7. It's all about balance.
10. Ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is someone says "no."
11. Using profanity always makes you look ignorant. Just don't.
12. Always have a Plan B

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1. Always know the status of your family's finances. Know where the money is kept and how much debt you have. Never turn all the financial responsibility over to anyone else.
2. Make sure you and your spouse have enough life insurance.
3. Take responsibility for your own retirement savings. This should be your #1 priority before paying your bills or saving for your kids college. Make sure it gets top priority during your budget process.
4. Have a will written. You never know when your time has come.

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Your Social Life

1. Take time for yourself and be alone, no matter what. Your family will thank you.
2. Write thank you notes/emails or, at the very least, pick up the phone and thank someone verbally.
3. If you're ending a long relationship (dating, marriage, etc), give yourself at least a year of time alone (see #1) before entering into another relationship. You need time to figure out what you learned.
4. Don't forget about your friends. Make time to get together, to talk, etc. It will save your sanity in the long run.

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1. Take responsibility for your health and find a good doctor that you see regularly.
2. If your doctor doesn't listen to you, find a new one.
3. Stop worrying about your weight and instead, focus on your health.
4. Don't yo-yo diet. It's very destructive to your health and metabolism. Strive for a balanced diet and one that works for you. For example, I eat very little meat because I feel better than when I do. Instead, I get my protein from legumes, some cheese and a small amount of meat protein (fish and a tiny bit of chicken). That works for me.
5. Take care of your eyes and eyesight. If you have eye diseases (like macular degeneration) in your family history, see an ophthalmologist or optomitrist for regular checkups.
6. Get enough sleep---whatever is the right amount for you, make sure you get it. If you think you are too busy to sleep, see #s 5, 6 and 7 in Section 1, above.
7. If you can't sleep, don't get refreshed sleep or sleep too much, get a referral to a sleep clinic. If it turns out your problem is due to a sleep disorder, you'll be amazed at how much better you feel once it is corrected (I speak from personal experience).
8. Find an exercise routine that works for you and do it regularly. The goal is to de-stress and keep yourself fit, not to obsess.
9. Exercise like yoga (and pilates, etc) is a good thing. Whether it's a slow moving form or vinyasa flow, which is more aerobic, anything that strengthens the core will help your lower back. You'll thank yourself later if you make yoga part of your routine.
10. Floss your teeth every day. You won't be sorry.
11. See your dentist every 6 months for a checkup and professional cleaning.
12. Don't smoke. It wrecks your skin (not to mention what it does to your health).
13. Don't sunbathe. If you're working or playing outside, always wear a sunblock.
14. Get a colonoscopy on a regular basis once you turn 50. This is important! Seven years ago, I lost my best friend (she was 57) to colon cancer. She'd never had a colonoscopy and had a family history of colon cancer. My friend was afraid of the procedure so when she finally had it done at age 56, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer. Before she died, she made me promise to get them done when it was time. Her death was a huge loss to all of us and it could have been prevented.

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1. If you want long hair and can pull it off, have it. Just get regular cuts and keep it in good shape.
2. Ditto for short hair.
3. Gray hair can be beautiful so if it's right for you, rock it! Make sure it doesn't "go yellow." 
4. If you want Botox, fillers or plastic surgery, do the research, find a good doctor and get it. There's no need to tell anyone unless you want to but don't be ashamed of it.
5. Wear sunscreen 365 days of the year. Face, chest and hands.
6. Figure out what skincare products work for you and use them. A good routine for aging skin includes a cleanser, moisturizer (you don't actually need a separate day and night cream unless you have really dry skin), antioxidants and collagen creating ingredients (Vitamin C, E, retinol, etc).
7. Dry, aging skin looks better with a dewy foundation.
8. Don't overdose on face powder. It can settle into fine lines and make you look old.
9. Be careful about wearing very shimmery eyeshadows above the crease. They can look dated and emphasize crepey eyelids or hooded lids. That being said, light, shimmery shadow placed in the inner corner and inner third of the lid can really open up the eyes.
10. Cream blushes and eyeshadows are your friends.
11. Dramatic eyes or dramatic lips but not both at the same time. You don't want to look like a clown.
12. Take care of your nails. Even if you don't wear polish, make sure your nails are clean and at an even length.
13. Your face and your chest/neck should always be the same color. To get there, use a face/body makeup on the chest if you have a significant difference in color due to discoloration/sun damage and/or use bronzer lightly on the face. 
14. Subtle highlighting looks great on aging skin.
15. Not everyone needs to wash their hair every day. If you've got dry or coarse hair, every couple of days will do. If it's oily or fine, you may have to wash every day.
16. False lashes can be worn every day if you want. Just get the right length (shorter, natural strips for day wear---or apply individual lashes, which look more natural) to wear at the right time.
17. If you haven't changed your hair or makeup since high school, update your style to something more contemporary. Or, wait it out and it will eventually be in style again. Own it either way.
18. Groom your eyebrows. If they are bushy, either embrace the style as your trademark or get them shaped so that they suit your face. Use pencils, powders or gels (in the right color) to fill in any gaps. You will be amazed at how much younger and lifted your face looks with visible, well defined eyebrows.
19. If you want to wear red lipstick, wear it. There's a perfect red for everyone.

I love Helen Mirren! Photo Credit via
1. Know your body type and what looks good on you. Then wear those types of clothes.
2. Pants that fall between the knee and the lower calf don't look good on anyone. Ever.
3. When choosing quality over quantity, always choose quality and buy less. It will be cheaper in the long run.
4. Shoes and bags---see #3
5. Always keep your shoes and leather goods in good shape (polished and heels in good repair). 
6. Foundation garments are your friends (at any weight). Spanx are great and so are the Assets brand (made by Spanx) which is available at Target.
7. Don't dress like a 20 year old. Dress like a hot 40+ year old.
8. Show legs or boobs but not both at the same time.
9. Find a pair of jeans that fits your body well and looks good. Tailor them, if necessary but don't wear them too tight or too loose.
10. Speaking of tailoring, ignore the size on the tag and buy the size that fits the biggest part of your body, then tailor it. No gaping waist bands, front plackets or seams. Make sure that the skirt/dress isn't too long for your body (or too short). Tailoring is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
11. Learn to accessorize. This is an area I struggle with and I'll probably be learning for the next 20 years.
12. Dress for the occasion. 
13. If you have thick ankles or lower legs, and you're wearing a skirt or shorts, a slight heel will look better on you than a flat.
14. If you want to wear high heels, do it. Just make sure you can walk in them.
15. Do not wear pants that have anything written across the ass.
16. Don't wear yoga pants "out" unless you are on your way to/from yoga class or on a longhaul airplane trip.

I love the blog where this photo is from!

Above All...

Know how fabulous you are and live it every day!