Ditching Shampoo, Tales of a Greasy Head

Michigan winters are especially cruel to 5th decade skin, so along with stocking our pantry and medicine cabinet, my winter prep routine includes stocking up on shower oil, body cream, sugar scrub in oil, and tea tree shampoo.  In a quest to retain dissipating moisture, I shampoo my hair every other day and can slip in a third pin-up day if I don’t have anywhere to go, but still, I fight dry scalp all winter.

Driven by this quest to keep the scales and itchy urges at bay, I decided to try cleansing conditioner in lieu of shampoo.  At one week in, doubt has taken root as I pin-up the hair I “washed” with cleansing conditioner yesterday, complete with a headband to keep the heavy greasy mass away from my face.

I wonder… is this yet another failed beauty experiment, the first of which took place early in the 2nd decade.  There is a sweet spot in the 3rd and 4th decades when our hair and skin is as healthy as it will ever be and the same products work for a long while.  Then the time to pay for our youth in the sun begins and hormones once again go wild, unsure if they are coming or going.   And again, the experiments begin, not as stupid as those of the teen years (I once steamed my face beet red), but more expensive.

The cleansing conditioner may work better on thicker, curly hair.  Frustrated with my greasy pin-up, I am now off to shampoo my hair, probably twice.  Maybe if I wear hats I can use up the rest of the bottle.

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Closet Purge: Saying Goodbye to Previous Decades

The older I get the more ritualistic I become, finding meaning in simple and mundane moments.  Perhaps it is poetry and an abundance of unscheduled time which makes me feel sentimental about this closet purge or maybe it is that this year’s give-aways belong in a bygone era.  While I do not subscribe to those stupid lists of what women over 40 should never wear, I admit those short shorts no longer bring me joy.  I have been asking myself what brings me joy for months and have now graduated to the Konmari concept of purging past items that no longer serve a purpose.  I kept the torn acid-washed blue jeans of my early twenties because those concerts were wildly fun with a friend who is not here any longer.  I got rid of them because as much as I loved her, I need space in my mind and heart for new friendships.  Besides,  those memories are like smooth stones that I take out of a pocket and worry between the fingers in my mind at my leisure, always there, whether I still physically possess the ripped jeans or the Salvation Army trench coat I bought when I was 16.  They are a part of me.

The older items I’ve carted from place to place are tougher to let go of than those I chose in this decade because I am a thrower by nature and a mindful buyer most of the time. Moving on is my habit now, motivated in part by over a dozen apartment moves and a fear of wearing outdated styles too young or too tight for my burgeoning … personality.  Change is inevitable, and thank God for that, because I am aiming for a much higher evolution than where I currently stand.

Not only did the articles I purge this year no longer serve my purposes, but they might bring joy to someone who would wear them.  Rather than the dark corner of my closet, the red satin pants were made for a good time and are surely promoting happiness.  The 1950’s black dress with a full skirt will adorn someone’s hips and she will feel pretty and put-together, garnering compliments from admirers.  The smart blue blouse with white cuffs will impress during an interview and give the wearer just the edge they need to land a new opportunity.  And each person that chooses these items will pay much less than I did, adding exponentially to the joy quotient.

A goal of utilizing the Konmari method is that you are left only with items you love, so I hung on to a black rock-n-roll sparkly tank with a zipper down the back because it pairs nicely with leather pants that I have yet to find.  Just the thought of it brings me joy.

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paul Coelho

New Traditions for a New Year

This year I felt enhancements to our New Year traditions were in order.  Our ritualistic purging is commonplace; out with the old dust bunnies and unworn clothing, make room for the new year’s new dirt, new ideas, and new fashion.  2011 was anything but commonplace in the Schultz household, and I have a strong feeling that 2012 will be chocked full of more surprising, yet positive, change.  While I did not want to give up our tried and true merrymaking recipe,  I did want to add more symbolism to the mix following a more dramatic purging than in past years.

Every time I clean out the closets I spy my wedding dress languishing in plastic and think what a waste it is to have such an exquisite gown that I just cannot bring myself to use as a  zombie bride costume.  Our daughter married in 2011, giving us a new appreciation for the cost of a wedding.  So, this year my dress is in the donation pile hoping to be worn again by a happy bride on a budget.

Not purposely, I purged my job, and more importantly my paycheck in 2011.  I naïvely asserted my rights under the American with Disabilities Act, urged onward by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who assured me that it really was the right thing to do.  Not the practical thing, but the right thing.  I think some of the dressy items I wore to work will be appreciated by a woman who does not have associated bad memories attached to these blouses and jackets.  My next job is still unknown, but surely it will require a new-to-me wardrobe.  In the meantime, I received comfy clothing for Christmas that better fits my current writing persona and requires the space taken by old items reserved for annual events I will no longer attend.  Out with old, out with the old, this year’s purging may take a couple of weeks.

After cleaning and organizing much of our nest, I turned to my right-hand-man (Google) for symbolic new year traditions practiced around the world.  There is a Scottish custom called “first-footing” whereby after the stroke of midnight a young, handsome, dark-haired man brings coal, money, bread, salt, and whiskey to your door for good luck, wealth, and good cheer.  We could not adopt this tradition because good-looking dark-headed gentlemen are hard to find, while blondes and red-heads are plentiful around here, but are considered bad luck in this Scottish tradition.  As the only handsome dark-haired guy in the neighborhood, I couldn’t have my husband visiting our neighbors all evening giving away our whiskey.  The Ecuadorian tradition of burning things that you do not want in the new year sounded more promising as long as we subtracted jumping over the fire and courting an emergency room visit.  I put out the call to my Mom to print pictures of unwanted 2011 ideals and absurdities.  Throwing joblessness, disease, food lines, and fat cats in the fire pit was as cathartic and celebratory as I hoped.  If we do not wrestle with those problems in 2012 it will be even better.  A new year is a time for new hopes.  In that spirit, I alerted my family and friends to the South American tradition of wearing brightly colored underwear for good luck; red for love, and yellow for money.  Everyone agreed that if they could not find red and yellow underwear they would settle for yellow, perhaps because we are already blessed with love and those that are single figure they can easily find romance once they have loads of dough.  I anticipate how lovely it will be when all of us receive a windfall in 2012 and will let you know when the cash starts rolling in so you too, can wear yellow underwear next year.

Our older traditions of drinking, feasting, and kissing excessively were still loyally held to, a sign that not all old things need to be purged, perhaps just embellished a bit.  I hope that your 2012 is filled with new possibilities and stripped of the 2011 things you no longer want or need.  Happy New Year!

Power on a chain

I instantly wanted my own pistol necklace when I spied Whitney Cummings’ version on TV.  My husband, amused by my Christmas wish, warned me that I would not always want a pistol necklace, meaning that I would not always feel a deep need for justice like I do today. But, the necklace is not a symbol of justice or vengeance, but one of power.  If you have ever felt the frustrating impotence of victimization I highly recommend target shooting.  It is cathartic to load, aim, and shoot a gun, more so when I hit the intended target.  Just so we are clear here: I am not referring to a psychotic break during which I shoot people who have done me wrong.  The calculated process involved in successfully hitting my target requires concentration and discipline, attributes that madmen typically lack.  My mind cannot be sullied with bastards and bitches while focusing on my stance, breathing, grip, sighting alignment, and follow-through.  The experience is all about me and I do not think of anything else while shooting.

To my delight I received a pistol pendant necklace, a sure sign that I was on the nice list despite opposing opinions and that my husband supports me even when he thinks I am a bit crazy.  The pistol pendant symbolizes my approach to 2012.  I began taking a beta-blocker to calm those pesky tremors I had since I was twelve, finally accepting that impressions form other’s reactions to me and my tremor was similar to blood in the water for sharks.  My aim has improved, along with my blood pressure.  Back to the bastards and bitches now; in order to hit my target I must focus on aligning the sights rather than the looking at the target.  What is my goal/bull’s-eye?  If I focus on the bastards and bitches rather than bull’s-eye justice, my accuracy will suffer, not to mention my mood.  Good shooting is firmly methodical rather than knee-jerk emotional and not to be rushed.  My pistol pendant symbolizes a disciplined approach and personal power, but the look of confusion on people’s faces when they notice it will be wildly entertaining, too.  I may not wear it to job interviews, though.

Dakota Fanning is deemed provocative in the U.K.

And ad for Dakota Fanning’s Oh Lola! perfume has been banned in the U.K. by the Advertising Standards Authority because they say it sexualizes a child.  The ASA stated that the following helped form their ruling, “We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality.”  While I would not sport her ultra-girly dress at my age, feminine lace dresses on younger women are a stylish trend created by several designers for the 2011 Fall and Winter collections.  I see them in every fashion magazine I pick up, typically on young stars like Selena Gomez.  In one article I read about the Oh Lola! ad’s ban the author states that Dakota Fanning is wearing a “provocative stare”, which makes me question the author’s vision, as well as my own.  Am I so desensitized to sexy stares that I do not recognize one, or do I not equate sexiness with innocence?  Perhaps a bit of both, but what is deemed sexual is unique to an individual.  That is why people masturbate to images of feet, hands, pudding, or any other seemingly benign photo.

Although Dakota Fanning is 17 years old, they say she looks under the age of 16, which piqued my interest in British teenage style.  On the BBC’s teen fashion site Slink (a provocative title, don’t you think?) it seems on the other side of the pond sequined mini skirts are all the rage on the teen scene .  I would not have allowed my teenage daughter to wear what I term a hooker skirt, even with a grunge t-shirt, but perhaps the hookers in the U.K. wear little lace dresses and go around staring provocatively to lure in their clients.

Also deemed provocative by the ASA is the placement of the perfume bottle, which I chalk up to a natural male tendency to see phallic symbols everywhere.  A woman is more likely to note the blossoming flower atop the bottle.  While I strongly believe in protecting young women from exploitation, the written opinions of the ASA and media exploit Dakota Fanning more than Marc Jacobs with over-the-top sexual descriptions such as the Daily Mail’s “she tilts back lasciviously”.  What they have accomplished is to direct pedophiles to this ad by tying enticingly illicit  and child-like descriptions together.  The below photos of Emma Watson are from a complimentary article in the Daily Mail about her modelling career and a Burberry ad with her little brother in which I easily recognize provocative stares.

What to wear with 40-something legs

A sky-high sexist quotient must be a job requirement for morning DJ’s on Rock n Roll radio stations.  Channel flipping is my mode operandi in the car, but in the morning I am
a bit slow so every once in a while I am subjected to their stupidity.  One slow morning the insidious worm-like opinion that women over 40 should not wear shorts burrowed into the insecure center of my brain.  There are no longer any Rock presets on my dashboard because outrage does not set a good tone for the day.  Besides, I have Whitesnake and AC/DC in my CD player.

At the beginning of the summer I noted that my inventory of shorts has been slowly replaced by Capri’s and the few pairs of shorts I still own belong in the gym.  I wondered if the fashion industry agreed with that DJ when I hunted for shorts that I could wear, meaning they covered my ass but did not have elephant-wide legs.  I settled on one pair of jean shorts from the juniors department and 3 new pairs of Capri’s.  The stores had racks of maxi dresses and strappy cotton sundresses that pretty young things wear without bras.  Bag-like garments do not flatter my small frame and I am only comfortable going bra-less when there are cups in the top.  My lower half has always been my stronger suit.  Can’t a woman in her 40’s still take a small amount of pride in at least one part of her body without reconstruction?  I rebelled this summer by wearing a red bikini… once.  Although I was truly offended by the new trends and their collaborative relationship with a morning DJ, I found that Capri’s and cap-sleeved knit summer dresses did not ride up like shorts do when I sit down.  Strappy heeled sandals paired with either still turned heads and the cool currents circulating under my dresses were much appreciated.  I have relegated shorts to workout wear, but will reconsider if designers create them with 4 inch inseams and narrower legs.

Fall is upon us, so I begin to pack away my summer wardrobe and inventory my collection of tights.  Who would have guessed that the colder seasons would be a preferable time of year to display my 40-something legs?

Leg lingerie

Shoes: A lifetime love affair

My passion for unique and beautiful shoes mirrored young love: frenzied, excessive, and lustful.  I felt a rush every time I slid my slim feet into a pair of high strappy heels, sexy and statuesque, emboldened by inquiries about where I bought them.  My beauties were scattered throughout our home, not because I was too lazy to put them away, but so that I could admire them and prolong the memories of how I felt when they adorned my feet.  As girlhood infatuation segued into serious love, I spent days shopping shoe sales, trying on dozens and returning home exhausted and sated by my newly found favorites.

As in any long-term relationship, my shoes and I changed over the years.  They became more expensive and less comfortable as I became more demanding.  I renewed my committment and became willing to give more.  We moved into a less exciting, though no less loving phase.  I adjusted my expectations and accepted that not only did four-inch heels hurt my widening feet immediately upon standing, but more importantly – they did not look good.  Cheap shoes cut their stiff material into my heels and did not compromise over time.  I began to experiment with better quality, defined arches, and wider toes.  My initial fear that beautiful shoes were not meant for women my age faded as I discovered the elegance of two-inch heels and charm of patterns and off-beat colors.  The harmony of comfort ratings and beauty emboldened my steps in a way that only a grown woman can understand.  I am confident that my love for shoes will endure because I am willing to compromise in exchange for that feeling.  Finding one perfect pair gives me a rush beyond those when our love was new.