From A Dirty Door at ReStore to Unique Desk

People have been requesting an update on the door that became a desk in its next life. The story: Hubster and I headed to ReStore (Habitat for Humanity’s Architectural Salvage) and searched for the door that spoke to me. We found it after pulling out about 234 (just kidding). A nice heavy, solid wood door with glass  in tact.

Solid wood door--two feet cut off the bottom.
Solid wood door–two feet cut off the bottom.

Hubster cut off the bottom two feet, stripped it then I painted it the fun citron green. Added inexpensive hairpin legs with casters from Ikea (they were white, but we painted them black).  Added  dollar buckets from Target painted with  chalkboard paint and hung with hooks on the side, and voila. I love my desk. Here are some pics of the finished product (I think I may go into the door-to-desk business on Etsy! So much fun and so much satisfaction!)

And here we go! Desk--meet world.
And here we go! Desk–meet world.

Here is a full frontal picture.

Perspective in office.
Perspective in office.

Had to pause and slobber over my gorgeous 9 mos. old grandson,  Sawyer!

A close up--clear complexion is important in glass...and Plexi-glass.
A close up–clear complexion is important in glass…and Plexi-glass.

Loading up the desk with necessary items for writing teacher.

Little buckets of fun--highlighters and Sharpies.
Little buckets of fun–highlighters and Sharpies.Ok, I need another desk. Hubster is going to use the bottom two feet of the door to make a shorter table with a shelf underneath to store the massive number of notebooks I have!  I have a tendency to create notebooks for each area that I teach: one for each novel. One for writing. One for poetry. One for AP Literature and Composition multiple choice and writing prompts. On the other side of the desk, I’m going to hang an iron mesh slotted file holder. Function.

That’s it! Coming to Etsy soon–well, after the school year…or maybe I can make a killing on doors? No more teaching for this old chica? I can retire, make desks and play with the most interesting grandson in the world.

A final look.
A final look

Father and Mother: The Duality of God’s Nature

Favorite Philosopher: “Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” –A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Favorite Theologian: “Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.” –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The drugs that keep me from crying.
The drugs that keep me from crying.

If you’ve been following any of my blogs, you know that this has been a rough seven months. (Hey, fellow literary folks–get the symbolism? Seven–Old Testament number of completeness!)  My disease is infecting and affecting everything in my life–relationships with family and friends and the ability to be independent and do the things that are necessary for daily life. My family suffers with me–especially my husband and particularly, my parents. 

Example: My husband spent the last week in Colorado visiting his delightful daughters and getting in some quality time with his grandkids and granddog, Lily. (I was hoping the dog delight might rub off on him and I could broach the subject of adopting a cute, furry bundle of love–man, he’s tough.) Anyway, I was alone for a week which was fine because I’m part hermit. But at one point I needed a break from an empty house full of school work begging to be completed, so off I went to Broken Arrow (a growing town south of Tulsa) and my mom and dad’s house–or the Nave Family Spa. Yes, it is that powerful because God lives there.

Their house equals comfort and hospitality. Beautifully and elegantly decorated by my talented “momacita,” the house feels like a hug. Certain things are so familiar–the antique hall tree and little antique desk that snuggles up to a corner curve under the stairs. The grandfather clock in the dining room. The family pictures of my kids at every age. Pictures of nieces and nephews and brothers and sister with spouses. The Bibles scattered on the coffee table. The soft butter-colored sofas. The chaise lounge (my favorite) covered in soft animal print. Like I said–elegant.  My mom is elegant.

The chaise lounge--spent some delightful time here!
The chaise lounge–spent some delightful time here!

I had a moment. It was one of those bad pain moments that I’d hoped would stay hidden in a forest somewhere while I was with my parents. It didn’t and I’m thankful it didn’t because it acted as a catalyst and reminder of my parents’ love.

The pain monster bit about midnight. Pain started rolling down through my shoulder and arm. Nerve pain. It’s hard to describe–think dentist picking with that torturous pick thingy and hitting the edge of a nerve. Yep. That’s it, only it doesn’t stop.

I was in the middle of this pain and I was scared. It scared me because I couldn’t (and can’t)  control it. I stumbled down the stairs and barged into my parents’ bedroom. Dad immediately woke up–he sleeps lightly like me. He moved into action, providing pain pills while clad in his boxers. My 75-year-oid dad jumped into action to help his 55-year-old suffering daughter. I was a child again. Dad was going to fix me. He wasn’t thinking about anything but fixing my pain and making me safe.

Enter my mom. She guides me upstairs carrying toast and a Sprite so I don’t take medicine on an empty stomach. Tucks

Their love is inspiring.
Their love is inspiring.

me in and fusses a bit over the heating pad I have to basically wear on my arm. She leans over me, beautiful in her pj’s and well-cut white hair. She prays–holding my hands and crying. Her tears land on my arms. I cry. We both cry out to God. And then she does what moms do–she sits with me. I slowly wind down and assure her I’m going to be fine, but she refuses to leave. Instead she sits down on an antique chair covered in velvet and says, “I’m just going to sit here and pray until you go to sleep.”

And she did.

My beautiful and loving parents.
My beautiful and loving parents.

That night I saw two aspects of God: the “jump into action and fix things” Father who hates to see his children suffering and the “I will sit with you and never leave your side” Father who knows things will hurt, but I will hurt less with the assurance that He sits with me.

It was a night I’ll never forget. I hold onto their unconditional love as a perfect example of God’s grace, mercy and presence.

Isaiah: “He (God) tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11

Amen. Grace and peace to all.

 

A switch in direction: Here are some of the books I’m reading right now. The

Some books I'm reading. If you've read any of them, please share your thoughts!
Some books I’m reading. If you’ve read any of them, please share your thoughts!

Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is beautiful–small, non-fiction. The author, Elizabeth Tova Bailey, went through a period of dangerous illness that left her bedridden. During that time, she moved into a small cottage and tried to recover. A friend brought her some wild violets and then found a tiny snail to live in the potted violet. Bailey is able to create metaphor, reveal personal history and give us a bit of insight into the life of a snail. Example: “Each evening the snail awoke and, with an astonishing amount of poise, moved gracefully to the rim of the pot and peered over, surveying, once again, the strange country that lay ahead.”

*I apologize for not editing well. Hopefully I fixed things.

Breaching: The Movement of Whales: What it takes to move out of fear and live bravely

A pod of whales cavorting around the San Juan Islands in Washington state.
A pod of whales cavorting around the San Juan Islands in Washington state.

*I originally published this in my older blog, “Pray, Read, Teach” directing it towards my senior girls who struggled with purpose when faced with college. I’m re-posting it for all of us that are in our middle years and facing a wall of fear that strangles us like the roots of tree, dragging us down into despair and weakness. Though I’ve taught for 20 years, every year is a challenge. This year I fear I won’t be able to do my job due to chronic auto-immune diseases that continue to knock me flat on my tush.

Lost Dreams

In my 20s and 30s, life seemed so possible. I was young and healthy. Sure divorce knocked me and my children for a loop–a loop like one of those upside-down roller coasters that leave you screaming like a banshee–and sure, I had to go back to college so I could support myself and my kids–and sure, I had to depend on my parents to help me with my children while I was working and going to school–and sure, I had to teach my mom how to give my four-year-old her insulin shot so she’d stay alive–and sure, I faced loneliness unlike anything I’d ever experienced, BUT I was young. I felt like life was still out there somewhere. God was leading me to something wonderful.

Reality Check

Why in the world did I think that I’d be immune from the suffering that the majority of the world goes through? I guess I thought I’d paid my dues: divorce + infidelity; daughter diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes; moving from Littleton, Co. back to Oklahoma and my parents’ property; watching my children get on a plane by themselves to go back to Littleton to spend a summer with a dad that stayed uninvolved and a step-mother who disliked them passionately (a helplessness only those who have been through will understand); watching my oldest son disintegrate into darkness and depression; watching helplessly while my middle son got stitched and casted after falling face first from a cliff; struggling in a new marriage when you have no history together and no children to irrefutably join you to each other; watching my now-grown daughter suffer through a divorce of her own (the pain is so acute–you feel like your sins have been regenerated in your children’s lives)–I guess I figured I’d fulfilled my quota of bad stuff. “Ok God, now for the good stuff.”

At 55 my dreams have never found a place to bloom. I keep thinking, “This summer, Lord. This summer I’ll write and complete my book–just one book.” And now this. Cervical disks ruptured and rubbing across my nerves, psoriatic arthritis pretending it’s rheumatoid arthritis by copying RA’s pain patterns, dealing with allergic reactions to Humira that cause my eyebrows to fall out and me to faint on a regular basis (even at school). THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MY SUMMER OF RESTORATION! 

I did get in one week of biking. Did several hours of graphic design for next year’s classes. And that was it. Going on seven weeks now and just received MRI results (not good) and preparing for my next epidural steroid shot that will hopefully alleviate some of this pain and give me back the use of my left arm.

Husband in Colorado for a week, taking the vacation we were supposed to share. Instead I curl up in a ball in bed and cry because of the pain. Then I read all the wonderful blogs out there by published authors that aren’t me and I settle into a bout of self-pity.

Where did the joy go? 

I’ve lost my vision. I’m still in the middle of this. I wish I could say that through prayer and Bible reading I’ve grown stronger and more faithful to the Lord, but I haven’t. I’m floundering this way and that…waiting on God to show me if I’m going to be able to work or not (and not working full-time is not a good option for me). I have no idea what is going to happen in the next few weeks. Surgery? Not being able to teach? Then what, Lord? LORD, THEN WHAT? Sigh heavily. 

So this parable that I wrote about dreams and purpose is relevant now as I wallow in fear and uncertainty. I’m reading Lauren F. Winner’s Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis and Margaret Feinberg’s Wonder Struck. I’m listening to Jeremy Camp and MercyMe and Audrey Assad and Lara Landon and letting their lyrics and music soothe the fear I grapple with like one of those bears on Mountain Men (my hubster loves that show). 

Maybe you are in the same place. You’ve reached the middle of life and you feel invisible–like you don’t count anymore. That sounds terrible and selfish. I have a wonderful grandson that I adore and wonderful children who love me and care about me, and exceptionally gracious parents who pray faithfully and cry with me when my body hurts. I have so much. And still I’m scared. Who will take care of me if I can’t work? What if I never write? And the biggie: what if this pain is my new normal? If you are there with me, this parable is for you. I hope you enjoy it!

A Parable About A Girl by Cindy L. Camp

She lived small. A small room in a small house on a small island with a small grandmother. She loved her small room. It smelled of living things like moss and ocean water and lavender blossoms. She had very little furniture: a twin bed covered in a plum quilt her grandmother had made for her. She had crafted it from her granddaughter’s “plum period” tee shirts when the only color that Annie would wear was plum. Not purple and certainly not lavender. Rich, earthy plum.

A small cabin on one of the San Juan Islands.
A small cabin on one of the San Juan Islands.

She also had a chair. It was old and tapestry-covered. Something she and her grandmother had found at a garage sale on the mainland. She remembered watching it sway in the back of the pick-up truck as they crossed Puget Sound on the ferry. It was faded and softly green and she could rock in it. It was her favorite place to sit when she was inside. It faced out to the ocean and the forest and a cropping of stones where birds would sit and the occasional feral cat.

In one corner of her small room was a dresser with a mirror. The mirror was lined with shells and rocks she’d gathered on her excursions around the small island. Her grandmother let her glue them to the mirror. She was wonderful that way. She let Annie be Annie.

The only other things in her small room were a few rugs and hundreds of journals and books. The books were stacked according to color. The journals were stacked according to year. She had journals from 10 years ago when she was 8.

Inside each of her journals was always some sort of plan or map in which she would draw or write out her future. Her favorite journals were maps. She loved maps. On the small island there was a nautical store full of useful things for the fishermen who dominated the island’s population, but the owner, Bud, had trunks full of old maps that he’d let her have for a dollar or two. She’d take them home, cut them apart and create new worlds in her journal. Then she’d draw in her island. Sometimes her island would be next to Africa (which now rested where China once was). Sometimes it was over by Scotland (now relocated to the Mediterranean). Once she had placed the pieces of the map throughout the journal and decided on a location for her island, she would mark off her journey in red marker. She created jobs and adventures in each place. She was a nurse sometimes. Always somewhere dangerous and beautiful. Sometimes she was an artist living on her island now relocated somewhere near Sweden. She would sit by the water and paint the colors of Sweden. Sometimes she was a photographer in the mountains of Nepal or a missionary in Kashmir. Sometimes she was a shepherd in Israel, her island carefully moored in the Jordan River.

Sometime around the age of 16, Annie stopped buying maps and creating adventures. She started trying to figure out what she really wanted to do with her life. She attended a small island school, but her grandmother was the one who really educated her. She read and read. Everything from Melville to Kingsolver. She read Darwin. She read the Bible. She inhaled books like air, each one of them leaving a particle of themselves behind. Her newer journals were full of magazine pictures from National Geographic. At 16, she was going through her “I want to be a photojournalist” period.

At 17, her journals started showing her doubts and fears. She’d paste in a picture of a woman working as a nurse with AIDS babies in Africa and try to visualize herself doing that kind of work. Something so meaningful that she could dedicate her life to and feel that when she died, she would have mattered. But she was afraid. She was afraid she’d never finish college and especially nursing school, so she drew a big red X across the picture.

She added a picture of a teacher working with migrant workers in New Mexico, teaching English to the children so they could have a future in a new country. Another big red X. She was terrible with Spanish. She barely made it through two years of it in high school.

At 18, she read a book about a missions organization that worked with women and girls around the world–helping them to escape sex-trafficking. She even emailed the writer/missionary and asked her about it–but they said they needed someone who could do graphic design for them from the United States. They didn’t need another traveler. Annie didn’t own a computer. She used the island’s library when she needed to access the outside world.

Graduation loomed and passed. Still Annie sat with her journals debating her life. She worked at a small bookstore in Anacortes full-time and took the ferry to and from work. Sometimes she’d see a pod of whales breaching one by one moving towards the place in the center of the world where whales gather.

Her grandmother never pressed her about college. She never pushed her towards a career off of the island. She knew that Annie had to find her own way. She watched her granddaughter struggle with herself, but she didn’t intrude. Not then. She watched. Like the whales, Annie needed to go to the center of her world and gather her thoughts, dreams and wishes into one cohesive purpose.

Finally when Annie turned 20, her grandmother decided it was time to make a few things clear. Annie was still working at the bookstore and still writing her journals in her small room in the small house.

The grandmother met Annie at the ferry one evening. They rode their bikes quietly to the small house. Then the grandmother took Annie by the hand and led her to the bench where they could watch the ocean breathe and gather itself up and then drop itself down flashing against the shore.

“Annie, do you ever want something more than this island and the bookstore?”

Annie looked shocked. Her grandmother never asked her the heavy questions except about God and about the boys/men she occasionally dated. Now she was asking her about the one thing that she had never been able to decide upon despite hundreds and hundreds of journals.

“I don’t know.” And she didn’t, so the grandmother prodded a bit deeper.

“Do you feel restless?” Annie nodded.

“Do you feel trapped?” Annie nodded again.

“Ok, Annie be honest–what do you love to do more than anything?”  Annie looked up and smiled.

“I love to write. I love maps. I want to write about what I see. I want to pick up a soft-covered book and look inside and see my words describing something ordinary that people might miss if they aren’t looking closely.”

“Like what?”

“Like the blue-green mist that hovers around the woods on Lopez Island, or the glassy calmness of the water when I’m kayaking around the east side of the island. Or the miracle of seeing the orcas breach. Or even the market and farms on Lummi Island.”

“So why don’t you? Why don’t you use those journals of yours and travel and write.”

“But that takes money and time.” Annie sighed. “And a decent camera…and a publisher.”

“Yes. It takes all that, but is any of it going to happen if you don’t try? Is a camera and a publisher necessary right now? Can’t you just write?”

“I can’t, grandmother. I…I’m not that good of a writer. And I can’t leave the bookstore–they need me and I need the money. Plus, I’ll never afford a camera on my salary and I do need one. And besides that, there are dozens of books about the islands. We certainly don’t need another one. Who would want to ever read mine?”

“Ok.”

“Ok, what?”

“Just ok. It sounds like you are going to stay where you are and dream your dreams, but never pursue them because you don’t think you’re good enough or special enough or rich enough–when really, Annie, you’re just not brave enough.” 

Annie looked at her grandmother. Her grandmother got up and left Annie sitting on the bench looking out at the water watching the gentle movement of the eternal tide. She turned over and over the things her grandmother had said. She made it sound so easy. Just do it. Quit waiting. Stop letting fear jam you up and keep you from moving forward.

That night in bed, Annie got out her Bible. She read her regular night-time readings. A little Old Testament (Isaiah), some Psalms, and some New Testament (Thessalonians).

This time she decided to read a little Ephesians. And just like that, God spoke. It was a spirit-crunching awareness that made her catch her breath.

While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master,I want you to get out there and walk–better yet, run!–on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline–not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences…You were called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together , both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. BUT that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his/her own gifts.” 

The words touched her heart and Annie felt a bit of bravery rise to the surface like a whale catching its breath or flaunting its beauty. My gift…she thought. He gave me my love for writing. He gave me this love for words. He gave me a gift of seeing His beauty in nature. He’s given me a home I can return to when I grow weary. He’s given me a job that allows me some freedom.

Annie knelt beside her small bed. She laid her head on the plum quilt and cried a bit. She was scared. It was a big step and she might fail. She heard a voice say, “So what?” Ok. She would fail. And so what if she did? She’d keep going and learning all along the way. That was bravery. Knowing you’d fail sometimes, but doing it anyway–whatever “it” is.

“Lord, I’ll start right here–on this island. And I’ll just draw the pictures if I need to–just little sketches. Or maybe I can borrow someone’s camera…” Her mind was whirling as she fell asleep.

When she woke up the next morning, she re-read the passage in Ephesians 4 and looked at her journal. She had a choice. The glow of excitement had faded and reality settled in quickly. She could either put last night’s God-moment aside or she could act on it and see what happened. 

She could hear her grandmother in the kitchen waiting for her…waiting for Annie to decide that she had purpose and vision. Annie walked into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee with a little creamer–and then emptied the whole thing into a traveling cup. She picked up her battered backpack and stuck in a few pens, pencils and her journal.

“I am going to cover the west side of the island for a bit and just see how it goes.”

Her grandmother smiled and gave her a hug. “You are gifted for one purpose: to glorify God. Your writing will do that–now go–get out there. Do it. Don’t wait. I’ll be here. I’ll always be here.”

So Annie went.

…IN WHICH I CONCLUDE THAT THERE IS NO SAFETY NET

Image
Forget the Disney image–E.H. Shepard’s capture A.A. Milne’s story so much better. Timeless.

To quote my philosopher of choice, Winnie the Pooh: “I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” 

 To quote my spiritual mentor of choice, C.S. Lewis: “Aren’t all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?”

 To quote the source that guides my life, the Bible: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12

 Another one from the Bible–this time from James (one of Jesus’ younger brothers…same mama; different papa): “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” James 1:2 (The Message)

The writing…

Ahh, you say to yourself. She’s going to go all whiney-butt on us and then talk about how suffering is a good thing…and… you’d be wrong. Suffering is an ever-present part of life. Few of us escape it. Some have more than their share.

I live close to a hospital. There is a brand new children’s hospital connected to it and a Ronald McDonald House near by. They act as reminders to pray–reminders that there is suffering far greater than I can fathom.

A personal pet peeve that I believe Jesus would agree with me on: The brand of Christianity that denies suffering and instead insists that healing is available for the asking. The one that says, “Follow Jesus and life will be easy and you’ll get rich because he wants you to prosper and you’ll never be sick because he wants to heal you!” (Take my word for it: these are out of context!!)

Case in point…or cases in point: The disciples. None were rich and drove the most pimped out camel in Asia Minor. None wore a lot of bling or anything made by a Jewish Versace. They lived dependent on the kindness of strangers who were also believers. They made their way (like Paul) practicing a trade. They spent lots of time in prison under the oppressive and really nasty Roman Empire. And most were martyred–except for John who was exiled to the island of Patmos.

ImageConclusion: Why am I surprised by what I am going through? Even though there is no “safety net” of protection, there is this assurance: “Abide (remain) in me, and I will abide (remain) in you…as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now ABIDE in my love.” Jesus, John 15

For the third time this week, I’ve written the word “abide” on the inside of my left wrist as a reminder.

A MUCH NEEDED CHANGE OF SUBJECT:

Sounds I love:

  • The gentle creaking of 60-year-old hardwood floors when I prowl through the house at midnight.
  • The cooing of mourning doves.
  • Children’s voices playing outside.
  • Lawnmowers on Saturday afternoon
  • The scratch of a new pen hitting a new journal.
  • Typewriter keys (Apple should create a typewriter sound option for my Mac keyboard)
  • And my favorite…the deep, rolling belly laugh of my 9 month old grandson, Sawyer.

A BOOK I AM ENJOYING: 

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Skinner — I read her first one, Girl Meets God, and was Imagehooked. Skinner grew up “at a synagogue in a small college town in Virginia.” She goes to college in NYC and converts to Christianity. Her books are clever, witty, but loaded with mature observations about faith and its practices in the United States.

This is a tiny, precious book that I got from the library and have now ordered (used copy, of course!) for my personal library. My fingers are itching to annotate!

Grace and peace to you, Cindy

What are your favorite sounds? Books? Winnie-the-Pooh quotes? C.S. Lewis quotes? Verses to sustain you?

No Photoshopping Allowed!

Image
My door/desk/table. I’ll be adding plumbing pipe legs and casters! Woo hoo!

It’s been an interesting day–and it’s only noon. First I’m going to whine a bit. My auto-immune disease (psoriatic arthritis–blech) and osteoarthritis combined with seven bulging cervical discs deciding to pinch a nerve that leaves my left arm numb, tingling and radiating with pain have put me really far behind in planning for school this year.

I teach PreAP Sophomore English and AP Literature and Composition to seniors. It’s fun. It’s demanding. it takes tons of planning and tons of grading. I feel another blog coming. I’ll save it. Anyway, I woke up today and had to take a stinkin’ pain pill. Slow motion movement and so many things to accomplish. Did some Greek yogurt with cinnamon and a few nuts, did some yoga stretches to Good Morning America, kissed the hubster good-bye and decided to work on painting my newest DIY discovery: the door desk/table. Found an old door at ReStore, and hubby stripped it for me yesterday. Today I planned to add my citrus green spray paint for that “pop” of color every HGTV addict knows so well. I’m spraying away–got my rhythm going–when I look up and there’s this dude walking up my driveway.

I live in a mid-town area of Tulsa, Oklahoma in a 50’s ranch style house that is always in perpetual rehab. Lots of older folks in my neighborhood and lately we have had some crime–garage doors left open apparently invite people to just wander in and take whatever appeals to them. I’m painting away in my baggy drawers (that any type of britches for you folks who don’t live in Oklahoma) and my sleep t-shirt and my flip-flops and my bandana to distract sweat from my eyes and this guy comes sashaying right up to me. Has a sad story about his dead car (right around the corner that I can’t see) and he says he lives just over there (a vague gesture past John and Joan’s house–that was a big fat lie) and he’s called a tow truck and his mom had to leave (I don’t even know what the mom thing was–just another “trust me” ploy) and if I didn’t give him money, he was going to have to go pick up his car from a blshioofwhig. At least that’s what it sounded like.

I’m not a sucker, but nor am I unsympathetic. However, I kept thinking about the Quick Trip down the street and the stores just a couple of blocks away (a 10 minute walk) and I got a bit wary, Why didn’t he go there for help instead door to door? I told him sorry–no cash. He kept pushing wanting me to tell him where he might find some money…I AM FREAKING INSIDE!! He finally left and I closed the garage door and the blinds in the house and called the police. I’m not sure he was casing houses, but he certainly was lying to get money and I started thinking about all the elderly people in my neighborhood who would just fork over cash to be nice–or let a stranger in their house–thus, the police. Like I said…not my typical Monday.

I decide to dig into schoolwork when my friend, Debbie, texts me, and we end up having a long literary texting session discussing the necessity of 19th century literature and her love for Thomas Hardy. When I finally got around to a shower, it was already nine. I was hours behind my mental schedule. As I squinted at my face in the mirror, an idea came to me–I’m going to bare my boring 55-year-old face to the blogging world and talk about the realities of over-the-hill beauty. WARNING: THESE PICTURES ARE PAINFUL TO LOOK AT. VIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Once upon a time, I had a window of cuteness. It was a small window, but I had one. Not beautiful, not lovely. Cute. Now I am entering the Winston Churchill  era of beauty. Sagging jowls. Droopy eyes. Dark spots. Maybe more Bassett hound than Churchill. Hard to tell. I get on Pinterest and look at “Middle Aged Beauty” and I scoff a bit. Those women may be middle aged, but they still look like models with their high cheekbones and thin waists and unwrinkled necks…I can’t relate. They intimidate. (Notice the rhyme? I can’t help it. Poetry is my life! Stage Directions: “Hand to forehead”)

In a spurt of audacity, I decided I’d blog about my beauty woes and show how I try to defeat them via Ulta, Sephora, and Target.

1. Fading. I put on my make-up, go to school and by lunch I am the same color as the walls. Virtually invisible. My former auburn hair is fading, too. Hair color isn’t punching it up like it used to. Not much grey yet, just some white around the front.Blah.

2. Sagging. My eyes are round and now drooping slightly. The skin under my eyes is thinning and is always slightly purple. I’ve never had any cheekbones (despite being 1/4890216 Cherokee), but now my cheeks have meandered south and may end up on my neck.

3. Albino eyes: I’m a fair-skinned chica and have always had white eyelashes, but now they are white and skinny. AND my eyebrows are thinning and turning white. AND apparently all these medicines for my decrepit body are causing chunks to fall out. Literally disappear. I keep thinking of those women who pencil in their eyebrows and I’m scared.

4. Glasses. I have severe dry eyes so no more contacts pour moi. No Lasik. Glasses. Men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses. I’m thankful I’m past passes, but the glasses still dominate my face. And of course, I want the nerdy black ones because…well, I’m a nerd. Plus I need giant fat lenses due to my almost blind status.

I figure that I’m not the only woman in the world who is faced with these particular dilemmas, thus I’ll share what I do in order to maintain some confidence and not become completely invisible.

THE ROUTINE

Image 1
The basic ingredients.

1. Primer–it’s not the same as spackling paste! You can get primers to go under foundation by any number of cosmetic manufacturers. I like Smashbox. A tad pricey, but lasts for a good long while. After moisturizing, I use my primer. I switched to a CC cream primer because it supposedly helps with age spots. I’ll let you know if it helps. So far it just feels good. I think my brown spots actually like it.

2. Concealer–some of you are blessed and don’t need to use much of this. I use Benefit’s Erase Paste but it doesn’t erase–it just sort of mellows the purple. I put some around the corners of my nose and dab a bit on my happy brown spots.

3. Foundation-I tried a new one because I had bonus points at Ulta and I’d researched and found that Too Faced’s liquid foundation was great. I’m going to go back to L’Oreal’s Visible Lift Serum foundation. It’s luminous. And cheaper. Use a sponge and dab on the foundation, blending carefully. Use a big soft brush for powder (I love love love Too Faced’s Candlelight powder–I think older women need a bit of glow–at least I do.)

4. Highlighter and blush-I don’t like to wear blush because my skin is dry and cream blushes never last and powder ones are dull. Since I don’t like to spend money on them, I buy e.l.f. blushes at Target because they are so cheap (about 3 dollars). Dust on a bit of blush and watch out. No harsh lines. No apricot splotches. No hairline color mixtures of foundation, powder and blush. Just be simple. A bit on the apples of cheeks. Then add a touch of High Beam highlighter by Benefit (a small bottle will last you a year) at a place on your cheekbones that doesn’t meld into a wrinkle or crease. Avoid highlighter on your face if you are crinkly. I have my Grandma Helen’s skin–she didn’t have many wrinkles–even in her 70s. I’m blessed. You can add a touch of highlighter under your brow, as well. I think older women should be luminous and not dried-up looking.

5. Eyebrows- You need them. They frame your face. There are tons of products out there that have fibers in them to help fill in the blank spots. I’m using a Smashbox powder and gel routine. It stays on well and doesn’t look fake. I hope. Seriously though, you’ll be surprised how great you look if your eyebrows have some shape and definition. Now when mine completely disappear, I have no idea what I’ll do.

6. Eyes: color, liner, mascara-I don’t like lots of color on my eyelids. I

The almost naked eye. Notice the purple cast and drooping lid. EESH
The almost naked eye. Notice the purple cast and drooping lid. EESH

don’t think we “mature” or “well-seasoned” or “ripe” (don’t you just love society’s attempt at euphemisms for middle-aged women?) should splatter gold frosted eye shadow across our lids. Subtle grays, plums, browns look so much better. Target is my homeboy for eye shadow. I usually go with browns. And I usually only use one color in the daytime. Sometimes a darker color in the creases if I want to attempt a smokey eye. For me eyeliner is essential. Gel. Liquid. Pencil. it doesn’t matter. I don’t have a “lash line” because my eyelashes are

Instant eye! Eyeliner will do that! Avoid lining your eyes all the way around–it closes them up and looks hard.

blonde at the roots, so I make sure to get the eyeliner as close to the lash line as possible. I like my Revlon felt tip brown/black. It lines thinly and cleanly and lets me do a baby cat-eye (which helps my eye droop). Add a serum-infused mascara (I use Urban Decay) and done.

7. Lips-I’m a lip balm girl. I like the lip balms made by Revlon and L’Oreal. You can get every shade and they are subtle and creamy. I wish I

Add mascara.
Add mascara.

could do a bright red lipstick, but I’m too self-conscious.

That’s it. Now I look less invisible and more ready to take on potential burglars and empty spray paint cans.

Voila. Finished product! Less invisible, but still me.
Voila. Finished product! Less invisible, but still me.

*Note: please excuse the really awful pictures. I gave my good camera to my daughter as a wedding present, and haven’t picked up a nice “point and shoot” because I’m broke due to so many DIY inexpensive home rehabs!

 

Women out there over 50! Any great tips?