The Curse of Being “One of the Guys”

I’ve always been a bit perplexed and bewildered at those few, rare guys who somehow in some small way find me somewhat attractive.

I’m neither blonde nor a bombshell. I’m in my 50s now and still on the chunky side. All that said, I’m starting to get noticed more, and that’s beginning to freak me out.

The reason for this, I think, is simple.

See, I have always been “one of the guys.”

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve gotten along better with guys more than with gals. A boy was my first ever best friend and throughout the years I have had more guy friends than gal friends.

As a child I loved playing with Matchbox cars, collecting baseball cards, riding my Big Wheel, listening to hard rock music, and doing things that boys were traditionally expected to do.

I had my share of Barbie dolls and girly toys, mind you, but certainly I wasn’t what you could call a girly-girl.

As I grew older, I continued being one of the guys.

My first two jobs were in retail, and even though I was quite shy back then, I had a lot of guy friend coworkers. They liked me because I could work on my car (thanks, Dad!) and because I had a strong interest in astronomy, among other things…

Oh yes, I had their attention, but not the kind of attention I wanted.

I was one of the guys, which meant I was surrounded by guys. But there seemed to be a line none of them wanted to cross with me, and the reasoning, I think, was this.

Nobody in their right mind ever dated one of the guys.

So strange and painful for me to accept. I mean, what was wrong with me? Could I have been THAT ugly?

(Me, mid-1980s at home in Atlanta)

In the past year or so, it seems that I’ve been getting a lot of attention.

I don’t know what has happened, but it seems like guys “see” me now. Like, really see me. I’m no longer a guy in girl’s clothing. The attention I’ve been getting lately is a bit jarring.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just unsure how to understand and accept it after a lifetime of being one of the guys.

Who knows? All I do know is I feel good about myself for the first time ever. Maybe that’s something to do with it? I dunno. Just living my life and learning to roll with the changes.

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Boots. I got it bad. Really bad. And I like it.

When the summer begins to fade and August rolls into September, I come alive. And by coming alive, I mean to say I’m on the verge of bursting at the seams. Feeling like I’m about to explode. The force is strong and I have to fight it.

The prospect of cooler weather brings with it the itch to pull out all of my fall and winter clothing. This year is no different than the last.

Late summer in Augusta, Georgia is not the time to grab the leather jackets, pull on the velvet leggings and lace up the knee high boots.

Just saying.

Over the past three years I have curated an eclectic collection of clothing from my many excursions to thrift stores in both Georgia and South Carolina. All of my hunting trips have scored me some incredibly cool and unique pieces. My clothes define me.

I’ve collected enough to get me through the season, so any thrifting I am doing now is just to find anything to complement my wardrobe. There are enough clothes in my closet to keep people guessing on what I’ll be wearing next.

That said, I’ve not been shopping much for clothing. The only difference for my wardrobe and me this year is that I’ve been collecting footwear.

Yes. Betsey’s been busy, stockpiling shoes and boots and waiting for the appropriate weather to wear them all.

This season’s white boot trend is exciting to me. For years, I’ve been dying to find the perfect white boots. A pair of 8-eyelet Doc Martens have lived in my closet for at least the past 10 years. Cool as they are, they don’t have that certain something I’ve been craving.

Enter Target and their A New Day line of clothes and shoes.

I found the most amazing white kitten heel booties at my local Target many months ago and had to have them. Like, I literally had to. My sartorial life depended on my purchasing those babies. So I found my size, grabbed the box and headed straight to the checkout. Once home, I hesitated for a second before trying them on. Being a formerly morbidly obese girl, I wasn’t sure if I could even get the damn things on my feet.

Boom, on and zipped up and ready for business.

I’ve been wearing them off and on since I got them. A friend and coworker even called me daring for wearing them to the office in the winter. I didn’t care. I’d found the perfect little white boots and I was going to wear them. Period.

Enter the spring and summer of 2018. Always eager to thrift, I could be found on weekends scouring the local stores and hoping to run into something amazing. I did find some great items this year. In fact, I found several scarves, shirts and skirts to match what I’d already collected. Joy and bliss.

As back to school season rolled around, I was ready to start looking for a new pair of black lace up boots. Each year, I allow myself one brand new pair of tall boots to add to my collection. While browsing some of the online stores I decided to check on a plus size store I used to shop at on a regular basis years ago.

Enter Roaman’s online.

Oh my goodness. Whoever hired the buyers for Roaman’s, may I offer you my deepest and sincerest thanks.

I found a tall, black, sueded kitten heel lace up boot. It was the boot of my dreams, something I could imagine Stevie Nicks rocking on stage.

I had to have them, so into the virtual shopping cart they went.

Just a week or so later, I stumbled back onto the Roaman’s website. I mean, why not? I’m just looking.

Or so I thought.

My eye spotted what is quite possibly the most perfect white boot I’ve ever seen.

My mind swirled with images of the 60s, of go-go girls dancing as bands played, of Nancy Sinatra and her signature song, of Twiggy and Lulu and Carnaby Street.

Needless to say, I purchased them.

They arrived today.

boots

I’ve never been much for having a huge wardrobe, but my boot collection has become something of an obsession. I find myself looking at boots, craving boots, hoping beyond hope to run into boots on one of my many thrifting trips.

While I’ve not encountered the perfect boot in my size at a thrift, I know my time is coming.

And when it does, those boots will be mine.

You Are a Work of Art

You are unique.

You are one of a kind.

You are a work of art.

No one can tell me differently, either.

No one can convince me otherwise.

Your face is a work of art.

Your body is a work of art.

How you choose to express yourself is a work of art.

The clothes you adorn yourself with are works of art.

The colors you wear on your face are from the paintbox of creativity.

How you style your hair is an expression of your individuality.

These things are to be honored, adored, championed.

Don’t be afraid to express yourself in the ways you wish the world to see you.

For you have the freedom to be on the outside as you are on the inside.

Be a rebel. Be a tough guy. Be a beauty queen. Be whatever it is that you are.

Be you. Do you. Embrace you.

Let your fiery light shine for all the world to see.

For you matter.

And the world needs you, just the way you are.

 

Photo found on Pinterest.

Embracing My Flaws At Mid-Life: Hair Loss

Flaws. Everyone’s got them. Some have very few. I am one of the lucky ones.

I’m covered up in them.

As I’ve reached my 50s I’ve begun to fully embrace all the things that society suggests I should be trying to fix. You know, those things that can’t be fixed outside of surgery. I was thinking about this just a few minutes ago and thought it’d be kind of fun, and maybe inspirational, to sit down and list out all the major flaws I have and explain how I’ve come to embrace them and actually fall in love with the unlovely bits of me.

This is going to take confidence to share, especially because some of my friends who read this may be scrutinizing me next time we meet. Oh well. Reality is what it is, and I feel like I should share my story in hopes that it’ll inspire others with the same flaws to see them in a different light.

That said, what should I pick to be my first flaw? What flaw is the most obvious? That is easy to answer.

I’ve lost a lot of my hair.

Yes, it’s true. I’m one of the lucky ones. My once lush mane of hair is now half of what it used to be.

I was in my 30s when I noticed the hair loss. No, wait. It wasn’t me who noticed. It was my hairstylist. Eek, talk about embarrassing. I can still hear him whisper in my ear: “Honey, did you know that you’re losing your hair?”

No. I sure didn’t. But thank you for telling me.

I fell into depression and for a time just couldn’t look at myself. I’d been getting my hair cut into a cute pixie style with long bangs for several years. It was the best haircut of my entire life. However, as time went on I noticed I was seeing more scalp than hair. Even though the cut looked great on me, I decided to grow it out. In so doing, I discovered that long hair hides the balding much better than a short cut.

Thus, the nearly-to-my-waist wavy mess that is now on my head.

For almost twenty years I’ve been trying to cover up the bare patches of scalp, trying to make it look fuller, trying to do everything I could to trick the world into believing that I still had the hair of my youth. If not for the product Toppik, I wouldn’t be able to go out of the house.

To whoever came up with the formulation of Toppik, thank you. I owe you. Here’s my wallet. Take what you need.

Due to the introduction of Toppik into my life, I now feel a lot more confident about my hair. Just a sprinkle of the hair building fibers onto the thin places of my scalp then BOOM…instant illusion of a full head of hair. It’s a miracle worker, I tell you.

And it lasts until you wash it out.

Even though my hair is thinner, the length of it gives me lots of options for hairstyling. I can wear it in a low ponytail, loose & free, or I can rockabilly it up in a bandana for a Rosie the Riveter look.

No complaints there.

Another plus? Now that there is less hair on my head, I no longer need more than one bottle of hair dye when it’s time to color my locks. One box and that’s it. Score!

So instead of hating my hair, I have embraced it because I have found ways to conceal the hair loss. I am not afraid to admit that I love my thinner yet messy and kinky hair. I couldn’t say that just a few short years ago.

There is something about turning 50 that makes a person reflect on what’s important. Hair isn’t as important as good health and, thankfully, I am in good health. Therefore, I’ll take the thinning hair over illness any day.

If you are experiencing hair loss and are looking for help, grab a bottle of Toppik and give it a try. This blog post is not sponsored by the product’s company. This blog post is sponsored by the good hair days I now have because of Toppik.

And that is a sponsorship to believe in.

Photo credit: rapunzels.co.nz

 

Synesthesia, shingles and art: a strange trifecta of synthesis, beauty and pain.

This is a blog post I started in March but never completed. Oh how I can remember the agony of those long, miserable days and nights.

I never finished this post but feel compelled to share what I wrote weeks ago so that if you or someone you know comes down with the shingles, you will have a bit of insight as to the intensity of the pain. Thanks for reading.

As I type this, I am on day six of suffering with the shingles.

Not many people in my life know about this sudden onset of pain and itching that’s befallen me. Heck, I didn’t even have a clue what was going on with my health until last night.

That’s when the stabbing, burning pain under my lesion drove me to tears and forced me to check Google for my symptoms. The best way to describe the pain is this: it felt like my muscles were being torn apart and my rib bones being broken, over and over and over again.

At first, when I started feeling itchy, I thought this was simply a case of ant bites, or spider bites, or something else that could cause such a rash.

Then the weekend came and with it appeared the sharp, biting, burning pain. Nerve pain. Deep, ripping, bone-crushing nerve pain.

Oh. My. Goodness. And, last night was the absolute pits.

Normally I have a very high threshold for pain. When I had my wisdom teeth and one molar cut out of my head years ago, I didn’t need a pain pill. In fact, I didn’t feel much of anything.

This, however, tops any pain I’ve ever experienced.

After discovering that I had shingles, I got up out of bed last night, took some ibuprofen, got back in bed, and after midnight finally fell asleep.

When I awoke this morning, I realized that I’ve just got to manage getting through one day at a time and let this virus run its course.

 

Where does art come to play in this?

Well, since this past rainy and dreary Sunday I’ve begun painting again. Sensing an urge in my soul to get crazy with the colors and let myself express the color/number combination of my synesthesia, I took up the brushes and started experimenting with color and texture.

Painting has opened up a well of inspiration in my heart and, at the same time, has helped me to deal with having the shingles. The act of creating has taken my attention and diverted it away from the pain I’ve been feeling. Creativity has allowed me to tap something deep within and reconnect with a passion I’d long since forgotten.

On Saturday, I went to a local craft store and purchased some gloss fluid medium and some cheap canvas. I’d bought some modeling paste a week prior and had yet to experiment with them. So, Sunday afternoon I gathered my supplies and decided to try out both mediums on a small 5×7 canvas.

 

When you’re “too much” for some people

This is going to be a bit of a stream-of-consciousness post, but something I need to get down on paper. (Or would that be “down on computer?”)

I’ve had something on my mind a lot lately. It is the fact that I am “too much” for some people.

Do you ever feel that way? Do you know what I’m even talking about?

Sometimes, in certain situations, it becomes glaringly obvious that I do not fit in. Well, make that more than sometimes. It’s true. I’m not mainstream nor do I want to be.

Couple my not-fitting-in with a fiery passion for what makes my soul sing and you’ve got a psychedelic peacock flashing her glittery feathers at the world.

The-eternal-trance-for-web

(Photo credit: louisdyer.com)

Not everyone likes that.

For a long time, this bothered me. In the 80s, I was me. Big hair, goth music and heavy black eyeliner defined who I was on the inside. I reveled in the 80s. The fashion and the makeup of the times spoke to my soul.

It was the first time in my young adult life that I felt real.

Later in life I felt like I needed to fit in, so throughout the 90s I did everything I could to conceal my inner sparkle. The job I held at the time required a certain look, you know, business suits and panty hose. No fun can ever be had wearing that kind of outfit.

When we were allowed to have casual Friday, I started wearing blue lipstick to the office.

Imagine walking into the Commissioner’s office of a State agency and encountering a secretary in blue lipstick. Yeah, that didn’t last very long…

Fast forward to now.

When I turned 50 a few years ago, something inside of me flipped. I had recently dropped a significant amount of weight and was about two sizes away from where I was in my 20s. This sparked a real change in my attitude about myself. I was entering the second half (or last third, who really knows) of my life…and I was smaller and feeling like a new person…so guess what?

I decided it was time to let myself shine.

Something about hitting 50 made me realize that I am okay just the way I am, right now, especially since I took the initiative to change my lifestyle and make self-care a priority.

What you see is what you get.

Though I had already been inching toward full self-expression, it took turning 50 to make me see that life is short and I have got to be, do, see, and experience everything right now. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow…and this becomes glaringly obvious once you hit the mid-century mark.

This particular morning I woke up thinking about how I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. This used to bother me tremendously, but now I don’t care.

So what if someone thinks my long, black hair is too much for a woman my age? I like it. I’m going to keep it, thank you.

So what if I decide to wear dark green lipstick out on the town and someone smirks at me? I don’t care. I like the lipstick and it looks good on me.

So what if society tells me I should be demure, cut my hair, wear pink, and do my best to fit in with what’s expected? I have a few choice words I could say here, but to keep this family friendly I’d like to say to those people: “Buzz off, mainstream drones, and buzz your opinions while you’re at it.”

Being too much for some people is something I’m learning to accept about myself. Day by day, it gets easier to embrace my eccentricities. After all, I’m an artist, a writer, a sometime ukulele player, and the publisher of a zine. I’m not, by nature, someone who chooses to shrink into the wallpaper at a function.

And, I treat my face like the canvas it is. You never know what I’m going to look like when we meet. That’s the beauty and power of makeup, and God alone knows how much I have in my possession.

Lipstick is a weapon, and I have an arsenal.

When you’re five feet nine inches tall, curvy, have hair that cascades down your back, and have an unusual face, you can’t fade. I tried years ago. It doesn’t work.

I’m fierce and I’m frightening, and I am okay with it. If someone doesn’t like me, they can keep walking. I don’t need anyone’s approval.

So, today and every day I wake up and decide just how I want to present myself to the world. And each day, I find great joy in being me and pushing the envelope just a little bit more.

While I don’t wear blue lipstick to work, I’m not afraid of purple.

And so it goes.

My hope for those reading this, those who feel the critical eye of the world upon them, is that you, too, will begin to feel freer to express who and what you are regardless of what society thinks.

We are living in a very good time, in one sense. We live in a world that is becoming more and more open to things that were once considered taboo, weird and unacceptable.

Because of this, take a moment to evaluate where you are in your life. Are you happy with the way you express yourself? Do you long for a chance to cut your hair, wear an entirely different wardrobe or take up the artistic endeavor that your heart has desired for years?

What’s stopping you? Do it. No matter what it is, do it. Do it now. Plan it out and go for it.

As you know, we aren’t promised tomorrow. That said, we can promise ourselves that no matter what may happen tomorrow, or even the next moment, we can be the authentic, colorful and fearless selves that we were born to be.

Who knows? If more of us did this very thing what kind of changes would we see in the world around us? Let’s work together to bring much needed color and love into the world.

Let’s show others that it’s our birthright to be unique. Let’s encourage each other to be our fully authentic selves.

Claim your birthright now, and let that freak flag fly.

 

 

 

The Books Are Here!

Copies of my first little book of poetry arrived today and I am so excited.

It is cool to see these poems put together in book form.

Flash Boom Bang is available now at Amazon.

Some of these poems came to me in the 1980’s and never left me.

Others are freshly written.

All show a side of me not often seen by the world.

My hope is that this little book of poems inspires the reader to create their own works and share them with the world.

Life is art. The world needs art.

Make your art and allow yourself to shine.