One of my favorite shows to watch is “What Not to Wear” on the TLC channel. I even got so carried away that I bought Stacy London’s new book, and bought myself a belt. That’s really remarkable, because I have no curve between my waist and my hips, even worse now that my vertebrae have become compressed, and I’ve always been self conscious about my huge waist. But Stacy and Clinton seem to think that even the types like me look good with belts, so I’m game to try it. (I’ve actually even found some clothing that work with the belt, amazingly enough!)
But the real reason I love the show, is that at the end, the person who’s been the client, really seems to have a fresh, new start in life. Even more so than your average makeover, maybe because the whole thing lasts for a week instead of a few hours, so the person has the chance to makeover their self image as well. I supposed I am amongst many Americans who love the idea of having a fresh start. I love having the tools for it, I love having the opportunity whenever I want it, and I love having the satisfaction of sometimes saying no, that’s not what I want today.
When I was teaching, I always felt that I had a new start every fall. Most people feel that at the time of the new year, January 1. But I got to feel that when school started, and then again in January. How great is that? Now I don’t have the beginning of school to plan my changes for, in fact, I don’t even go out of the house very much. So I’ve been wondering, how do I get the opportunity to start fresh in this very sedentary life of retirement?
I have come across many answers to this question, and all of them are just as fun, if not more so, than the old ones I was always used to.
One way is simply through clothing, like on the show I love. I have a fun collection of hats, from when I was bald, and I’ve got tons of scarves that I’ve collected over the years. I knit a lot of sweaters and I go to a lot of thrift stores, and last year when I was discovering online shopping, I bought a lot of things from Lands End that really fit me. Now it’s just a matter of playing with what I have and looking for what I want (cheaply) and deciding if it’s a day to dress up or not. That leads to some unusual outfits, some really great ones, and then plenty of days in between where I’m wearing the most comfortable thing in the closet. But I always have a choice, and that’s the real fun. I’ve always been a bit of a thrift store lover, and was crazy about wearing my mother’s skirts, vests, and sweaters from the 1950’s when I was a teenager in the late 60’s and early 70’s. A dramatic felt hat, a long, shaggy coat, and I felt like a queen. (I don’t think I looked like one, however…)
Another way is through makeup. I got a great start on my collection of makeup when I had cancer, (it’s something they do for women cancer patients, give each person a couple of hours to play with a gift bag of good quality makeup and wigs, and then we take the makeup home). My daughter helps me find what works for my skin, so I know what to buy when I run out, and now I also have the choice to put on my “face”, fun eye shadow, blusher, whatever. Unfortunately, I have real trouble with eye infections, so I’ve had to give up mascara and even eye liner, but I’ve learned to live with that. Between the makeup and the wonderful smelling body oil, I feel I can become quite glamorous if I want.
But the best way to get a fresh, new start, is when a new passion takes over my being. Right now that passion is songwriting and recording my songs (and all because of my Coursera songwriting course). During her week off for spring vacation, my partner and I both felt we were starting into a new era of our lives (in April, no less!). She has been working on her blog, I on my blog and songs, and our new emphasis is putting our words, drawings, and songs out to the world, making them public, so to speak. So it’s not just a new me, it’s a new direction for me, which is so much more powerful. We both know that the results of this new focus are unknown, they may be pleasing, they may turn out to be frustrating, but there is no doubt in either of our minds that this is the way to go. And it will continue to be the way to go until it’s not. And then we’ll change again.
The opportunities to start fresh abound in my life, from daily decisions to the longer lasting ones. They always give me fresh hope, and most of all, they give me excitement about the possibilities that lie ahead. They keep me in the present moment, and they allow me to continue to have my dreams that keep me going to the future moments. Although I sometimes imagine that by the time we move all the way to our home at Trail’s End, I will be a fully formed character, recognizable by my style of clothes, hair, and makeup, proficient and “published” in my songwriting, known for my particular quirks, habits, and hobbies, it is equally possible that I will continue to change and evolve (or mutate) so that I turn out to look and act quite different from who I am now. And perhaps I’d even prefer that, being one who loves new starts so much. Any way you look at it, it should be interesting.