Smoke Update

Don’t look now, but there’s actually a bit of blue sky spotted with puffy white clouds overhead. It’s the first shot of color we’ve seen in a week, and it’s a welcome hue. We can only hope that more clearing will take place over the next few days.

In the meantime, we’re off to San Francisco for some brief R&R…

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Deck the Walls: The Power of Paint

I have absolute confidence in my ability to dress myself. I owe a lot of the positive results to my stylist buddy Sam, but I think I also inherited the elegant-and-fashionable-with-touches-of-original gene from my mom. However, when it comes to dressing my nest, my faith in my taste has always flown right out the window.

I’ve wanted to be creative. Different. I’ve wanted people to walk into my home and be dazzled by what they see, but I’ve always been just a little bit afraid to let go. Until recently.

I’ve been collaborating on two design books with women whose talents and taste are off the chart. They’ve taught me a lot, particularly how to access the brave-and-daring me who lives somewhere behind a tree in the neighborhood of the I’m-terrified-to-try-this me. The b-and-d me went out and bought a quart of very orange paint and did this:

And I love it. I think it’s the perfect background for all the design books I’ve been collecting to inspire me for future projects.

Now that I have a single success to my credit, I’m on a roll. As I type, the second coat of paint in the most amazing shade of kiwi is drying on the family-room walls.

Trace and Kristan, you would be proud. (I hope…)

An Ode to Aging

Aging is a state of mind
Be wise—avoid the mental bind
There’s really nothing new to fear
It’s just another stinkin’ year.

Okay…it’s true your boobs will drop
Your bones will start to crack and pop
Your brain goes soft, your gums recede
You can’t remember if you’ve peed.

Your hair goes thin atop your head
And sprouts up someplace else instead
Your vision blurs, your hearing fades
You’ve lost the point of panty raids.

You’re gray in places no one sees
Small mounds of fat embrace your knees
Your feet get wide, your butt keeps pace
You’re winded if you hum in place.

But keep in mind it could be worse
A gypsy could intone a curse
A witch could cast an evil spell
A warlock damn you straight to hell.

Instead it’s just an aging thing
With many years to dance and sing
Your book of life’s not nearly shut
You’ve still got lots of stuff to strut!

A New Brand of Youth

The aging process. Dontcha just love it? As women, we spend years convincing ourselves that we look good—better than good, dammit!—and then one day the mirror reflects back a face we hardly recognize. (“Mom? Is that you?”)

We realize we can no longer pretend that the eighteen-year-old supermarket checker finds us mysterious and intriguing and sexy, albeit in a Mrs. Robertson sort of way. (Okay, I’ll own that one, and it happened a very long time ago.) We have crow’s feet, laugh lines, and jowls. Sure, we’ve earned them. And yes, they are indeed a testament to a life well lived. But they are also visible proof that we are no longer young. On the outside, anyway.

It’s time for denial to pack its bags (of course, it will graciously leave behind the ones under our eyes) and slip from our mindset for good. We’re older. We’re different. It’s a fact of life, and it’s not going to change.

Basically, we have two choices. We can spend gazillions of dollars on cosmetic surgeries—or we can genteelly slip into a new brand of youth. The latter is all about being open to new things…to listening to what others have to say…to being willing to consider a different perspective…to reflect an inner spirit that absolutely shines with agelessness and wonder.

Sounds to me like it’s worth a try.

More things I miss about the LA area

• Tea at the Hotel Bel-Air—so wonderfully self-indulgent and girlie
• Pedicures with Yelena at Amadeus Spa at The Grove
• Kobe beef burgers at Whist in the Viceroy
• The Viceroy’s amazing key-lime martinis
• The view from Yamashiro (touristy…yep, I know…don’t care)
• Movies at the ArcLight
• Training with Marcella
• Extraordinary, superb, incredible, magnificent, over-the-top dinners at Ortolan, including violet-infused champagne and lobster three ways
• Evening walks to Mani’s on Fairfax to buy cranberry-walnut scones for the next day’s breakfast
• Mercilessly teasing Joseph about loving the La Brea Tar Pits

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Northern California is choked with smoke today. The Department of Forestry is calling the fires the Lightning Series—the result of bizarre thunderstorms that have been moving through the region for the past few days. Thirty-four fires have been reported in the area where I live.

On Saturday, I watched in amazement from my driveway as dense black clouds obscured the sunlight. The thunder was deafening, but only a few drops of rain fell. If I hadn’t seen them on the windshield of the car, I probably would have missed them completely. It was an eerie feeling—à la Ray Bradbury meets Stephen King meets Mephistopheles.

Today, the sky is an eerie yellow-white color. On most days, when I drive over a nearby bridge that crosses Highway 49, I can see all the way to the Sierra. This morning, I could barely see the freeway below.

How to Avoid the Invisibility of Aging

As “women of a certain age,” many of us fear the curse of invisibility. Our challenge is to find ways to move past the wrinkles and age spots and gray roots and get people to actually see us—and all the wisdom and talent we have amassed over the years. Ours is not a culture that universally celebrates its elders. When the outer shell begins to wither and fade, the glory and beauty that remain inside often go unnoticed. We know we’re still fabulous…and the people who love us realize it…but what about everyone else? What about the generations coming up behind us? Do the women who are not our daughters even see us?

By the time we reach our fifties, most of us have moved past the competitive phase of our femaleness. When we see an attractive younger woman, we admire her beauty instead of envying her blush of youth. And perhaps it is within these vibrant women that we’ll find the answers to our questions.

Take Angie, for example. She’s a striking young woman in my spin class—tall, slender, and leggy—with a figure that does great justice to fitted bike shorts and little tank tops. For months we spent two days a week in the same room at the same time, yet we never spoke. One day after class, I approached her and announced straightforwardly (and perhaps a little goofily), “Excuse me, but you have the body I’ve wanted since fourth grade.” She grinned, then laughed, then said my compliment came at the perfect time because she’d been having a difficult day. Now Angie and I chat on a regular basis, strangers no longer.

Then there’s Carolyn, a lovely Scandinavian woman who’s forty and looks about thirty. Nearly young enough to be my daughter, I assumed I’d never even trigger her friend meter. But one day before spin, as she was about to take her little boy into the daycare room, I commented on how much he reminded me of my own blond-banged son at that age. We ended up mounting side-by-side bikes and chatting during the parts of the class when we could actually speak without gasping. After that day, we sought one another out at the beginning of class. Within a week, we’d made plans to socialize beyond the gym. One event led to another, and we decided to take a chance and introduce our husbands. Now the four of us are frequent companions, and Carolyn and I rarely go a day or two without speaking. She has, in fact, become one of my closest friends.

As time has passed, the act of reaching out to younger women has evolved into a way of life. I relish sharing their attitudes and energies, and I love the wonderful generational overlap that allows our lives to traverse and mesh in such mutually rewarding ways.