|'Endless Summer' hydrangeas from my garden|
I have been lucky, and I have had a nice life so far, but I often find myself swept up in life's sense of urgency (an urgency that seems especially prized in the US Northeast) and I endeavor to remind myself to slow down. However, I always manage to convince myself that I will, just after this next thing I need to do. Once I do that thing, I can finally let myself relax and enjoy whatever. So it's pretty clear to me that the person most to blame for my lack of peace is me.
So how do we make more time for ourselves? I can't be the only one who sees the irony in the many 'helpful' tools invented the last several decades, which are supposed to save time, but which instead compel us to do more, use up more of our time, and which even contribute to a sense of frustration that we might not be doing enough. For example, one reason I avoided Twitter for so long (which is every bit as fun as I knew it would be) was because I did not want yet another online medium that sucked away even more of my time, time where I could be recharging my reserves by just sitting quietly, reading a book with a cat in my lap. I am starting to find it really sad that each passing year sees me spend less and less time enjoying my 3D life.
|Photo credit: Apple|
Last week, I spent the final six days of my vacation building a private office as a birthday present for Mr. Petals while he was away. As I dug into closets and crawled under the eaves on days where temps soared into the high 90s, I felt shocked and then overwhelmed by the amount of useless detritus I had accumulated in the 8 years since we'd moved to this house. Who needs three sets of mixing bowls? Or two crock pots or books from my undergrad years or baby clothes, furniture and books for that child I am not going to have? Or a dead air conditioner? Or (for god's sake) bag upon bag of empty makeup boxes? Truly, how sad and pitiful is an empty box with all that air and unused space sucking up the energy of my surroundings.
So, as you can imagine, I took that opportunity to ruthlessly clear out, and when I had finished, I could not believe what the end of the driveway looked like on trash pick-up day, not to mention the top of the driveway, which was full of small furniture and bags and boxes for Good Donor, who will appreciate all those clothes, books, shoes, and toys.
Speaking of choice, does anyone over 40 remember when we went to the store to buy jeans there was one kind—dark-rinsed straight legs that had to be washed a bunch of times before they were soft enough to wear? Now there's bootleg, wide leg, skinny, tapered, stovepipe, cropped, capri, natural waist, low waist, high waist ... and then each of those styles comes in a variety of colors!
I hate to feel unsettled and restless in my own home, a place that should be a relaxing haven, because of the self-imposed chaos and clutter from empty UPS boxes, piles of paper on every horizontal surface, a mountain of unread magazines that I swear I'll get to, items that belong in other rooms, shoes everywhere, clean laundry that needs to be put away (where a laundry basket stands in for a bureau), makeup and camera equipment scattered all over the place, and so on. And it doesn't help that my job often demands 60-80 hours a week because there always seems to be yet another deadline. Not to stumble too far off track, but what happened to our work life? When did working more than 40 hours a week become a given, a badge of honor? It's a very sad state of affairs, indeed, for we salaried workers, where overtime is unpaid time. Blame the 80s.
Henceforth, I have renewed my commitment to making a concerted effort to slow down, to be happier with less, and to be mindful of what I have and what I experience. When I take the time to appreciate, to put things in their proper place when I have finished using them (not to mention actually having a place to put them away), my surroundings feel much more beautiful, and I feel that beauty radiating from within.
As I worked through the house last week like the Tasmanian devil, I found myself weeding out every place I touched. Everything is in its right place, and I feel so much better—even (and especially) the way I pamper myself. That had gotten out of hand, too, and I found ways to edit that, as well.
Thankfully, I do not have a skincare obsession, and my routine and products have always been relatively minimal. I did take this recent opportunity to edit it down to just a few items, tossing out all the rest. Here's what remains:
- Caudalie Foaming Face Wash. I use this in the shower each morning. Because it is so gentle, it does not require any added moisturizer after, and I get what little sunscreen I need from my makeup.
- Bioderma Crealine H2O Ultra-Mild Non-Rinse Face and Eyes Cleanser. I love this at night in warmer months. Nothing takes off the day as well as this, and so gently. In colder months, I switch to the more creamy Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser.
- Baltic Collagen, a serum that acts as primer, moisturizer, highlighter, and treatment. Love it.
My closet has been pared down to only the pieces that make me feel great, and it's so much easier to get dressed when I know where everything is (and that it all fits). No longer do I give closet space to that chic thing that will look great after I lose those X pounds.
|Hermes Les Jardins d'Armenie|
To help me make wiser, more thoughtful and discerning purchasing decisions, I had a "seasonal" color analysis done, mostly to confirm what I already suspected about my coloring and tastes, but also to get the swatches!
|From top, counter clockwise: Chips for my eyes, hair, and skin|
My chips matched the colors in one of my mother's scarves
(I don't do florals outside the gardena)
Many sartorial experts (and also makeup artists) claim that anyone can wear any color, and while that may be logistically true, why would I want to look good when I can look great? For example, everyone says blue eyes should wear brown eyeshadow for contrast. My eyes are blue, and I get this advice all the time. I even have an amber starburst around my pupil, which makes my irises appear olive green, so I would think this brown-with-blue recommendation is especially true for me, but I look hideous in browns, almost all browns, and especially warm browns. And so despite my gut feeling for what looked good, I'd become confused by the conflicting information, so I went to a place where my skin, eyes, and hair were analyzed, which felt the tiniest bit more scientific and less woo woo.
|My True Summer fan deck|
Ellis Faas (using a fair number of her products). Other favorite brands that are always in rotation are Chanel, NARS, Chantecaille, and Laura Mercier. I still get some use from a few Shu Uemura eyeshadows from the older collection (before the brand was pulled from US retail locations). I used to wear makeup to look older, more sophisticated. Now that I am older, less makeup makes me look younger and more rested.
Just like wearing only specific colors for my apparel, I wear only clear blue-red, deep pink, or mid-toned rose lipstick, so that simplifies my choices, and I can put my makeup on each morning in under 5 minutes. Shopping is also made simple, since there are colors I never even consider (peach, coral, brown, bronze, orange-reds, and so on). But even before the color analysis, which also recommends makeup colors by brand, I had my own technique to see if a color flatters me: I try the item on with no other makeup on my face, and if it is face/eye brightening, it is a keeper. If it creates shadows, or pulls redness or makes my skin look sallow, out it goes. I wrote about my unscientific technique here.
I think that's enough of this hugely long-winded post, so if you are still with me, congratulations! I am curious about what beauty means to you and how you manage it in your lives. I hope I didn't put you all to sleep.
All photos mine except where noted in caption