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.


(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 Betsey Johnson Watch, or, Why You Need to Look at EVERYTHING in a Thrift Store

Last weekend, Dean and I went thrifting. We had a free day and decided to spend it bumming around town looking at antique and thrift stores for anything interesting and unusual.

You know, that’s the main reason we thrift and antique. It’s not that we necessarily need anything. It’s truly the thrill of the hunt that keeps us going.

Our local Goodwills were having a special deal on all clothing last weekend. Georgia didn’t participate in the “sales tax-free weekend” this year, so Goodwill was running a great deal on all clothing for those looking to save some money on back-to-school purchases. $3 for adult clothing. $1.50 for children’s clothing. What a bargain, considering the wide assortment of things to sort through.

This day’s visit was meant to be, in oh-so-many ways.

For this post, I want to concentrate on a last-minute discovery and stress the importance of looking at every case, rack and shelf at every thrift store you visit.

Dean took off to the men’s department and I ran back to shoes and purses. As is usual for me, I came up short there. No shoes in my size that I liked. No purses at all to speak of.

Not a problem.

Next, I moseyed over to the jackets. I’ll admit, I have a weakness for outerwear. Crazy, since I live in a portion of the country where we typically have mild winters. Over the past two years I have collected some amazing jackets and coats. I don’t think I’ll get to the place where I won’t at least look.

And look I did. Holy cow the find. There will be a post on this very soon.

I grabbed the jacket for dear life and tried it on. Perfect fit. Perfect color. Perfect fabric. The angels sang, the heavens opened and the thrift gods once again bestowed me with an item to match and coordinate with nearly everything I have in my little mostly-thrifted wardrobe.

Dean had found a tie. Not much, but hey, we’ve discovered that men typically hold onto their clothing and don’t have as much turnover in their closets as women sometimes do. A tie is a big deal, especially since it is retro and will fit in with his gig attire.

Score, for both of us.

We got in line at a register where our favorite cashier was helping a customer. The customer chose to pay with a $100 bill and the cashier didn’t have enough change. We looked to our left and saw another register open with only one customer in line. So, we moved to that register.

There was a jewelry case at that register, a well-lit glass and metal case that held all kinds of trinkets. As I’ve been on the hunt for a watch, I thought that maybe I should take a peek to see what might be lying there.

Holy moly.

There was a wide gold and black animal print watch band, and on that watch band was an oversized golden watch encircled with tiny rhinestones. On the second hand was a bright pink heart. Across the mother of pearl face was written the name Betsey Johnson. The second hand wasn’t moving. Was it a broken watch, or just a dead battery?

Oh. My. Goodness.

I stared at it, my over-50-year-old eyeballs straining to see if this was a real Betsey. How would I know unless I asked to see it?

So ask I did.

The cashier pulled it out of the case. The watchband just fit my big wrist, and the watch itself was heavy. Quite heavy. The band was leather and stamped Betsey Johnson. If this was a fake, it was a damn good one. I noticed the price of watches listed on the jewelry case.


“Would you like to buy that?” the sweet cashier asked.

“Yes, please,” I replied, trying desperately not to look too excited. Someone at the Goodwill didn’t know what they had when they put that watch out on the sales floor.

I offered up a prayer of thanks to the unknown staff member, whoever he or she may be, and decided that if it was indeed broken, I’d still wear it as a groovy piece of jewelry.

We left the store with our treasures, and as soon as I got in the car I had to post on Facebook about my stroke of incredible luck.

betsey watch 2

Dean suggested we find a place to go have the battery replaced. After a couple more stops, we drove to Windsor Jewelers and walked in with it.

I was very nervous, standing in this jewelry store where cases of $21,000 Mikimoto pearl necklaces met me the moment I walked in. Here I was, holding a thrifted watch that hopefully only needed a battery to be functional again.

The store was beautiful and filled with jewels of every kind. The diamonds blinded me in their jewelry cases. I had to avert my eyes, but before I did so, I took a moment to check on the price of a pair of diamond encrusted hoop earrings in one of the very full cases.



An employee greeted me and took the watch back for a battery. I stood there, looking at the pearls and diamonds. Though happy for those who can afford and would purchase such things, I was thinking, “man, that pearl necklace is a brand new car…”

After a few minutes, the employee came out with my watch in hand, a smile on her face. She asked if we needed anything else. All I could do was smile at my watch. It was working. There were no blemishes on the face, no scratches on the case. It cost $16 to replace the battery. The watch came in at $21, a total cost that was a whole lot less than the price of a brand new Timex timepiece I had been thinking of buying for the sum of fifty bucks.

I share this little story to say that no matter what thrift store you go to, always look at everything. Enter the store knowing that you will be spending a little more time than usual in order to scout out the entire place. Keep your mind open to any possibility. You never know when a perfect item may fall into your path, so be keen and observant.

Happy hunting!

betsey watch

Photos by Betsey Venom




Thrifting with Debra Rapoport

Oh man, this video is everything. I can’t even begin to imagine the treasures that can be found among the thrift stores in New York City. Even if I spent a month up there, I probably wouldn’t have enough time to do my treasure hunting.

One day I will get there. Oh, to thrift with Debra Rapoport. That would be a dream come true for me. She’s one of my style icons and I absolutely adore her.

For now, please enjoy this short video from Ari Seth Cohen and Advanced Style!

Here We Go…Where We End Up, No One Knows!

Welcome to the first blog post…the first installment in Betsey Venom’s “Venomous Vault!”

As I sit here typing these words, ideas form in my mind about where I want to take this blog, what I’d like to share, how I want to reach others. There are too many ideas vying for the chance to be the subject of this post, so I’ll pick and stick with one.

The subject? It’s pretty simple.

The sky’s the limit!

Do you enjoy making wearables? Do treasure hunts thrill you? Have you a passion for fashion? If so, you have found a friend here. Betsey Venom is all about creating cool things to wear and share, thrifting treasures and groovy threads, and fearlessly expressing one’s personal style.

Here you will find posts & pics of things I make, places I visit, treasures I thrift, and music I adore. I will also more than likely introduce you to the wildest rockabilly band in the land, King Cat and the Elders. I mean, after all, my hubby plays bass for the boys and rehearsals almost always happen here in my house. Why wouldn’t I want to brag on my man, as well as the five-piece band? 😉

Anywho, thank you for stumbling upon my little space in the blog-o-sphere. Let’s have some fun!

~ Francie