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IT’S NOT ME

IT’S NOT ME

I love dresses. But dresses in the New England winter are not as convenient as they are in the warmer spring and summer days fast approaching. I have found myself in a bit of a fashion conundrum- totally hip and happy in the non winter months and, eeehhh gads, yoga pants and turtle necks in the blustery cold. I make no excuses. I like comfort and once I crossed the fifty mark and oh yeah, those pesky cancer diagnosis, comfort always prevails. I like comfort and ease, but I also like to look nice and let’s face it, yoga pants are not a fashion icon.

The month of May brought me to the five month mark of no shopping and I am pretty proud of my accomplishment, but as I looked around at my closet, I realized that with all of my cleaning out, what was left behind was a dismal collection of darkness. The lovely summer go to dresses of my past glorious travels to Spain and Israel were starting to have some wear and tear. With my son still having two more years in college to pay for, another trip other than a visit to Florida to see my grandfather is not part of the plan. Besides, I know how pretentious it sounds that I can only buy replacement dresses when I travel to Europe and Israel, but goodness their dresses are the best. So with no prospects that lay ahead, there just had to be a dress shop I can make my own.

Oh wait, but I am not shopping. A predicament. So I dropped the idea and blasted off to the new butcher shop that took the place of Persimmon Provisions in Barrington, RI. Barrington Butcher Shop. As it turns out, the proximity of the dress shop I have aimed to go into for a few years, happened to be right next door. So in my dingy yoga pants and Life is Good tshirt that I had been wearing for my gardening clothes all day, I walked in bright eyed and bushy tailed forgetting that I likely looked like a homeless person or one of those salty old money women from Bellevue Ave in Newport who used to come in to Cherry and Webb’s makeup counter for free samples. I worked behind the Estee Lauder counter in the early eighties fresh out of esthetic school and it was a trip down old Newport lane that I didn’t realize as a twenty two year old.

The woman at the dress shop behind the counter was clearly unimpressed with my potential as a shopper but I prevailed. “I always wanted to come in here, but never have!” I exclaimed happily to her giving her some bait so she could sell me some of her wears. No bite. She hesitated sizing me up as probably “not a chance.” I kept at it though because there have been so many milestones since last year. The breast cancer, the adjustment to the new boobs, the permanence of realizing that I am past the point of easily dropping even five pounds now that I have gone through menopause. All of the emotional and physical ins and outs that have been part of my last three years plus just a different person when I look at my reflection in the mirror. All of it was carried in with me when I walked into Zuzu’s all unbeknownst to the innocent salesgirl who had no idea who she was about to engage with. This is what I love about sales, you never know the stories of the people who walk in and it becomes your job to figure it all out without a preconceived notion that can make or break the whole experience. I decided not to go rogue in my usual fashion trying to teach her a sales lesson and just kept at it. When she finally came out from the counter realizing that I could actually be serious, she started to tell me a little about the mass of highly patterned dresses surrounding us. Judy something or other, and a variety of women’s names who apparently make the dresses that meant nothing to me frankly. I am standing there in hiking shoes and yoga pants- highly unlikely I was going to be the type of shopper who shops based on name recognition unless I am standing in the middle of a Lululemon store. I went along with her though because she looked so excited to let me know her knowledge of the clothes and the designers who made them. I kept thinking, Could I really wear these dresses? They are not me.

I love boutique shopping because it is so easy when you have a salesperson who understands client care. It took the saleswoman a few moments to warm up, but once she realized that I was truly interested in trying on clothes, she began the ascent into the glory land of my personal stylist. I tore off my clothes and began trying on dress after dress. I have a weird rule in the dressing room ( I am pretty sure those of you who know me are not surprised), that if the first item I try on looks great, it is going to be a successful shopping experience. First dress? Check! It looked stunning if I do say so myself. I felt amazing as I traipsed out of the dressing room into the bright light of the store and gazed at my reflection staring back in the big mirror. Then ‘the voice’ kicked in. It’s not me, it said. This dress is not me.

But I looked, and more importantly felt, so beautiful in almost every one of them. I had a sudden conflict that needed immediate correction. It’s not me. Why not? Where was this voice even coming from? The no shopping rule went out the door. And so did the commentary running like a wild animal in my brain. All of a sudden, a magic shift came to me like a bright light turned on in a pitch black room.

BUT IT CAN BE!

But It Can Be darted in as a replacement part for my brain. As I tried on the endless dresses and falling in love with each and every one of them, Leah, my new best friend saleswoman showed me a pair of the craziest wild patterned pants. They’re not me, I immediately thought. “BUT THEY CAN BE!” My new improved mind opened up like a peony in the morning. Before I knew it, I was buying three dresses, two pairs of the wildest pants and three tops to the tune of a trip to Europe. So much for not shopping, but this new mind shift was worth every penny. I work my ass off and I have worked my ass off even more these past three years. I have a brand new body, but even better a brand new way of thinking. This in itself was worth all of the tea in China as I can hear my grandmother’s voice saying if she were still alive.

As it turns out today in my inbox from one of my favorite alanon chicks was this daily and perfect quote.

“If you never change your mind, why have one?”

Yep. Now on to the shoe store because we all know that with new dresses one must need new shoes too…. I’m on a roll, might as well go till end of May, I can start my no shopping again June 1, I’m having way too much fun right now creating a new me. Because It Can Be.

Photo does not do this dress justice.
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A FASHION SHOW

A FASHION SHOW

“You are really inspiring, Alayne.” Or something to that effect, my friend Maria said as she coupled the kindness with the request to be part of the Gloria Gemma Fashion Show, named Our Heroes Fashion Show, this upcoming Saturday evening. She has been one of the many lovely women who has read my writings and usually gives an enthusiastic thumbs up when something strikes her.

I write so much and many people read what I write especially around the time of before and after breast cancer. I am one of the lucky ones because there is the after breast cancer I get to write about. What I learned from the cliché gifts many people mentioned when they first learned of my diagnosis is the permission slip to say no to many invites that came my way. In this particular instant, I would have never even considered a no. First off, I met Maria at a RI Hospital breakfast I was fortunate enough to be invited to by my lovely bad ass Dr. W. Maria and I formed one of those instant chick connections, not the kind where we are hanging out and drinking Proseco together every summer eve, though I would love that, as a matter of fact, we haven’t seen each other since. Actually we haven’t even spoken since that lovely breakfast with the brilliant female doctors who RI Hospital is lucky to have so when I got the ask to be part of this fashion show, how could I say anything but a big happy yes. That was like five months ago and here I am, my fashion show debut at the RHODES ON THE PAWTUXET. The west bay version of the Venus De Milo, the mecca event space where weddings, proms, charitable events take place and I am going to be very small part of a really big and impressive effort from all of the people who support the work of the Gloria Gemma Foundation.

I love powerhouse women. I love knowing them, being in their company, engaging with their energy fields and watching their tireless work ethic that their deep passion fuels. I could probably name fifty women in RI alone without so much as a blink of an eye. They are not in it for the accolades; the accolades are the result of their efforts. The efforts come from a deep special space only accessed by passion. I know that feeling and when I am around it, it is magnetic. This is why I said an uninterrupted yes when Maria asked me. This is why I traipsed to David’s Bridal in North Attleboro, Mass on our first 85 degree gorgeous could have been at the beach but wasn’t going to happen day to try on the selection of dresses that awaited. I hadn’t realized until I got there all of the intense efforts by Mandy Zito who was there waiting with a big confident assuring smile to try on the last seven choices left from the other twenty two models who had made their way there prior. The pickings were slim, but as I started to head into that judgmental place so easy to head to I was quickly brought back to the point of this whole event. We are raising money for a powerful and focused grassroots RI organization that does only amazing things for breast cancer and survivorship. Wearing a dress that wasn’t perfect or to my likings was the whole point of this entire breast cancer experience anyway. Releasing control. Allowing the natural unfolding of things to take place for a higher purpose and good. The peaks and valleys along the way are the point.

From the day late call I made to plead for two tickets for my only two chick friends who were available to come cheer me on in my coral taffeta as me and my fabulous breasts would be sporting down the runway and Jane not sighing and only smiling to try to help me get the tickets I had procrastinated in ordering. Then there was lovely Mandy at David’s Bridal saying with a perfectly straight face, “You will need to be at Rhodes at 2:45 to have your hair and makeup done.” The event isn’t until six pm, I immediately thought, I have gardening and barn cleaning and a workout to get to on Saturday. There I went, that self-serving mind chatter forgetting albeit briefly that this day was not about me. I was here to serve, not be served. I was here to be humbled and appreciative of all of the care and love that has been graciously offered for the past three years. And to support the thousands of other women who had the diagnosis and needed help and support from their friends, their families, their doctors and Gloria Gemma.

“Yes, of course I will be there.”

“Did you want to do your own makeup and hair?” She asked knowing my business of beauty.

“No of course not,” I said, hopefully without hesitation. I want to be part of the whole event, not just a snippet. When was the last time I got to sit and have someone do my hair in some fun wacky fashion show way, or some crazy runway too much makeup application. Breast cancer from the get go has been an out of the box experience. I joke that it is the gift that keeps on giving. From these events, from the relationships I have formed and the ones that have left me, from the appreciation of the medical professionals we have right here in our own state who have brought me to my knees (and not the way I prefer, haha). I have a softness in my heart that I am not sure I had before and a humility that is now a permanent fixture in most of my decision making. There is a sense of urgency to get shit done, to make life happen and to also try not to over commit to the undeserving time sucking that no longer serves my soul.

I bow humbly to the women I know and I don’t know yet who cheer me on and support everything that Gloria Gemma stands for. And I can’t wait for my recap of what I know is going to be a super fun experience completely out of my comfort zone as I lean in to all of the nuggets that have tumbled towards me since this whole shebang began right after my fiftieth birthday three short years ago.

#Luckyindeed #lovelybadass

the other rockstars in the party.
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THE BEAUTY PARLOR

THE BEAUTY PARLOR

This is what my mother always called the place that we would go to get our hair cut. The connection I feel when I grace the entrance of a hair salon still excites and surprises me. I have been exposed to the world of beauty salons since I was five years old getting my hair cut on Newbury St. in Boston, Mass where my mother used to take me for hip pixie cuts in 1970. 1970 was when the movement of the shampoo blow dry invention took root (pun intended) in mainstream America and women’s relationships to their hair and hairdresser changed forever.

Vidal Sassoon changed hair with the creation of the shampoo blowdry; before this it was the weekly shampoo sets or wigs. Women got their hair ‘coiffed’ and it was expected to last for a week until their next appointment, usually on a Friday after the weekly household chores were complete and they could finally take a rest. All of this was unbeknownst to a little girl of five who grew up thinking that everyone drove an hour to Boston to get their hair cut and then go to dinner at Duberrys where she would sneak and eat the pats of butter put out on the otherwise elegant table. This was all going on as the Vietnam war was still in full swing and the irony of this two worlds apart does not now go unnoticed.

Fast forward to 1976 and local towns were at last catching up to the trend. Pockets of hair salons started to sprout in the neighborhoods making it easier to get a good haircut without the drive to Boston. My mother continued the tradition of taking me to the best places for haircuts and also adding manicures and facials to my list of mandated beauty services. I can say many things about our relationship, but I can never say I wasn’t provided for materially. She exposed me to great restaurants, great food, love of kitchen toys, clothing shopping and hair salons and for this I am grateful. We may not share a close relationship, but we do share these feminine connectors and when I walk into a hair salon like I did this past week, I immediately feel happy. It is no accident that this would end up being my own business in retrospect and I love every single element of the beauty business I am sure because of this young exposure.

As I got older, I still went to Newbury St. because this is where ‘real’ hair salons still were- the best and most current unless you wanted to drive to New York. Great hair dressers morphed into great hair stylists as they started to be called who knew the latest trends and had the best salons around. Hair salons have a pulse. As more women began getting their hair cut, their visits changed from weekly to monthly and additional services began being added like manicures, facials and waxing services. This helped get these women back in the salon more frequently or gave opportunities for them to get additional services while they were getting their hair colored or permed. I don’t think we realize how significant the history of beauty salons are in women’s lives. Hair dressing and beauty have been fast tracks for any woman to become entrepreneurs and many great careers and empires were started by women who saw opportunity. Estee Lauder, Mary Kay, Helena Rubenstein, Elizabeth Arden, Bobbi Brown all started with their two hands and an idea. Let’s face it, most every woman has an interest in some element in beauty.

I was watching an interview this past week with Dr. Laurie Glimcher, who is the CEO of the Dana Farber Institute. As I listened to her brilliance, I also noticed her lovely hair color and style, her makeup and how everyone across all levels is part of the tribe of women who get hair services, buy makeup and skin care. The industry is massive and not a day goes by when I am not grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. We are a feel good industry and these types of businesses become more iconic as less and less people are physically connecting.

When my cousin decided to move on to do her own thing, I realized that for the first time in sixteen years, I would have to figure out an alternate plan for my regular pedicures. I knew that it would be difficult to get an appointment with her as it surely was when she worked for me so I had to find back up. I found that right around the corner at a colleague’s salon and sold my pedicure beds to her, pronto. This is where I have been landing for my pedicures and it has been fun being a client for a change for a beauty service. I have had the luxury of getting beauty services whenever I want because of my business, but now I could be a client. So when I went in to get my monthly pedicure, I asked if there was time for a manicure, too. Check. Yes. So I sat myself down at the manicure station old school across from the manicurist and as she filed and buffed and polished, I was twelve again sitting at Rams Head Salon in Brick Market in Newport, RI. I forgot how much I love being in a hair salon. While I waited for my nails to dry, I thought, what else could I get done? “How about a blowout?” Nicole asked. “YES!” I exclaimed with a jubilance that even surprised me. I felt old fashioned. I felt like I was in the 1939 movie THE WOMEN with Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. I made the trek back upstairs to wait for my nails to dry because as I said to Nicole, “it is too quiet in the nail area, I want to watch the hair salon action.” From my female perspective, the buzz of a hair salon is like nothing else and it has been a part of me for almost fifty years.

I have worked in beauty since my first foray at a beauty supply store in Framingham, Mass then as the only white employee as a receptionist at a primarily black hair salon in the same town when I was 21. Working in beauty seemed like my destiny after all of my exposure as a young client and it is no wonder I ended up going to esthetics school. I have worked at Cherry and Webb at the Estee Lauder counter when I was twenty three after school, apprenticed a very hip woman in Newport for about six months out of school where I really learned about the skin business. I worked at the very hair salon I started at, Rams Head as my first skin care job and then went on to Judy’s where I landed for almost eight years and learned the business of skin and hair from a woman who built one from the ground up. I worked for Aveda Corporation learning from a man who built a business and learned more about running a company as I found my way in my twenties and early thirties being exposed to an element of business I could have never learned at business school.

Owning a beauty business and being a client at one is a dive into female psyche. It is a place of comfort and camaraderie. It is a place to take a deep female breath. When I worked for Judy, Fridays were my favorite. Fridays were the day of standing appointments for women who back then were likely in their late sixties and seventies who hadn’t given up their weekly shampoo set for the easier shampoo blowdry. I often thought it was because they enjoyed the connection they had with the other women who they had built unlikely relationships with on those Friday jaunts in rain, sleet or snowstorms as they shared their lives over a cup of coffee waiting for their appointments. Nowadays as these generations of women lessen, our connectors as the younger generation have become yoga and exercise classes. We always find ways to connect and if my business gives that excuse for real human interaction I am in the right business. From the time I got my first pixie cut in 1970 to what I have built with my own two hands. From my first facial in a tiny treatment room in a tiny salon in 1987 to a full blown company employing twenty women; there is nothing like a beauty parlor.






some pixie cuts from yesteryear along with some great pictures of my mother from 1970 and finally a hilarious picture from the eighties of me.
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EIGHTEEN LIPSTICKS AND BACKUP

EIGHTEEN LIPSTICKS AND BACKUP

There is that moment in time when you slip on a pair of pants or jeans or in my case the perfect Lululemon yoga pants and they slide on like Cinderella’s glass slipper. Comfort, fit, smoothness and you say to yourself, damn, if I had known these would be my go to comfort pants, I would have bought at least three more pairs. This is equally true with shoes, underwear, bras, a great summer dress and so many other items in our lives, my life. The countless conversations I have had with the family of women I get the privilege of calling clients for the past twenty years in business have proven the notion to me that we women when we find something that fits perfectly, we are willing to invest in more because we love things that feel great. This does not just apply to clothing items. The perfect pen or pencil, the on point size journal for writing, a great size coffee mug, the list goes on. My grandmother, Isabelle was the backup queen. Soup especially, toothpaste, weird food items maybe from her Depression era days, who knows, but my mother was like this too and Isabelle was not her mother, but her mother in-law so I can’t necessarily blame it on genes. Sometimes the list applies to products too. I have used a face oil from a company of products I sell at my business and fell in love with it. Like so many perfect products, the company decided to discontinue it so in good old-fashioned supply and demand consumerism, I bought up all I could for backup. I realize this just postpones the inevitable disappointment I will inevitably have to face, but it is the bridge while I conserve the precious droplets as the bottle lessens daily.

Then there is the never ending discontinue of the perfect color lipstick. Lipstick serves a higher purpose for me, I love a great red or a startling pink on a plain face, but that is for cosmetic. Lipstick for me is about keeping my lips moist and not chapped and finding a lipstick that does this is a priority. I like a little color, but to be able to swath it on at a mirrorless drop of a hat to keep my lips moisturized and also have a slight color is the perfect combination. I love the lipsticks I sell, but I haven’t found one yet that replaces my go to lip product by Mac. Pervette glaze. A frosty whitish pink that really does nothing for me in the winter, but because they discontinued my winter color, High Strung (yes the irony does not go unnoticed here) I have been forced to make my summer color my year round color. I wish the beauty counter would send out a spoiler alert when they are discontinuing a color, but I am guessing there are no lipstick Google algorithms yet. There probably are, but we are talking a fifteen-dollar tube of something. I also realized in my ghost of Christmas past moment that I had turned into the “old” lady I used to wait on when I was nineteen working at Cherry and Webb on Bellevue Ave in Newport at the Estee Lauder makeup counter. The disappointed array of women who were likely looking for their go to color learning from me as my younger verison that the color would be no more played back like an old vcr tape. I remember my lack of empathy for their plight working my early sales skills in trying to get them to step out of their comfort zone and try a new red or a different pink. Seldom would this work because I likely did not understand the importance of consistency when it came to go to colors back then at nineteen. It was unlikely that I understood the need for steady non-change and reliability that is more than just a discontinued lip color.

As I traipsed off to the Mac counter to purchase my allotment of my favorite color, the electrified makeup faced Mac counter artist tried to soothe my noticeable disappointment by showing me another color that was close. I felt like saying, “If it is so close, why didn’t they discontinue this one!?” But I kept my composure and begrudgingly tried on Fabby as it was called, hesitant because in the past when I have broken my rules of staying with the go to color (anticipating that like all good lip colors in the makeup world they go away) my lips have dried out maybe because of a pigment or some horrible chemical I have ingested that caused the BRCA 2 gene to turn on and therefore caused my we caught it early breast cancer. Yes my brain does go in this direction on more than one occasion, but then I relax and take some deep breaths and realize that for the most part, lipstick colors and my breast cancer is likely a stretch. So when the counter lady gave me the bad news I moved to my summer color, Pervette and she tells me that this too has been discontinued. “Would I like some Mac 1–800 number to call that specifically deals with discontinued colors?” “Sure.” I said knowing damn well I was not going to call Mac and likely pay three times more for a color. I would just have to be a grownup and try Fabby and keep my fingers crossed. I made my purchase of three of them (one for my coat pocket, one by my writing area and one by my bed) and trudged on like I had just been told my cancer was back for the third time. (not really, but trying to make my point of disappointment, you get this right?)

After trying Fabby for about a week, yep, you guessed it, chapped lips, just in time for the five below New England wind chill factor. I decided to have an online chat (whoever invented the online chat should get a Nobel Peace prize, one of the greatest inventions of all times!) with some Mac person on their website and they informed me that I had received some incorrect information, Pervette was not discontinued! Be still my beating heart! I immediately ordered as many as Mac would let me (nine in case you are wondering) Mac has this weird rule that you can’t order more than this and actually in the past when I have gone into the actual Mac store counter they have only allowed the purchase of five. Maybe they think I am going to open a Pervette black market lipstick counter. On the website though, I was able to purchase nine so of course I did. After about a week after receiving my glorious happiest day ever (not really, but for the moment when I opened the compact black box with nine freshly packaged lip colors lined up like soldiers it was a moment for sure) I started to panic a bit. What if they really decided to discontinue this? Maybe I should buy another round just to be sure, just be on the safe side, so yes, I did.

When they arrived yesterday, I did feel a little silly about all of these backups, but not enough to reconsider. I like backup, it gives me a sense of order and very false but glorious security that at least my lipsticks and my now highly moisturized lips are predictable. I realize that the whole notion of backup anything is entirely superficial and I am a lucky lady for sure to be able to buy eighteen lipsticks. I probably should be slightly embarrassed to write this aloud, but I also know that I donate happily to pretty much any cause that comes knocking at my door. I also work really hard so spending a week’s worth of groceries on lip color to give me some added joy is a part of who I am. I know I am slightly nutty when it comes to this notion of backup, but at least this is one area in my life I can totally count on for at least the next eighteen lipsticks. This is comfort as I get ready to face 2018 with new 36 D boobs, no more cancer to have to think about for the time being or ever hopefully and glossy zinc pink non chapped lips. The New Year is looking brighter by the minute.

no words necessary.
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JUST WAIT

JUST WAIT

I have been teaching and talking the beauty business since I was in my late twenties. I remember like it was yesterday, women who are my age now, saying, “Just wait.” I looked in the mirror as I do everyday and have done for most of my life and realized, it has happened. The “just wait” has happened. The weird lines forming in places I swear weren’t there yesterday, the hairs sprouting from places other than my head, eyebrows and eyelashes. The white wiry hairs showing up in my eyebrows, my eyelashes and yes my vagina hair, what the fuck.

I somewhat defiantly decided to stop coloring my hair over ten years ago and it is whiter than ever, quite the beauty trend these days, who knew? At least this is one part of my hair growth I can say I love. People regularly tell me how much they love my hair. I often reply that there has to be some benefit to the quantity of hair growth because along with this thick attractive mane I am blessed with, comes regular appointments in the magnifying mirror with the tweezers. I keep the local electrologist in business and thank goodness I own a beauty business because waxing is like a full time job. Have I mentioned that when I decide to tweeze one of those wiry white eye brow hairs, my eyebrows lose their shape pronto.

With all of this obsession of hair removal which by the way will never be finished, comes that pesky problem of a weaker eye sight. Perhaps part of the divine order of things is that the weakening eyesight means I can see less so therefore can stop obsessing about the perpetual removal of the never ending hair supply. Could this be an unintended blessing? Doubtful, since now nighttime driving is becoming more and more challenging. So much for divine intervention.

The other life changes that fall into the ‘Just Wait’ category are the belly bloating that happens after one glass of wine and seems to now last well over a few wine free days. Then there is that weird creppy dry skin no oils or creams seems to remedy and believe me when I tell you I have access to the best. Though in all truth here, the rose and jojoba oil I sell is hands down the best I have found. The weird skin texture change, thought is in the infancy stages and I am guessing my years of continued sun exposure have something to do with its residence and there is simply no stopping it.

Add to the abundant supply of visual body changes all of those sun spots showing up on my face, my hands and my chest. I can just hear my grandmother Isabelle’s unsolicited stay out of the burning sun advice I will likely pass on to my granddaughter if I ever have the good fortune to have one in my life.

Of course no matter how much I work out, eat better, my body shape is forever different. One because of my age and my life experience, but also because of four surgeries in two years. Scars, indentations, lumpiness all contribute to this new body shape I have come to really admire and embrace like a warrior wound. At least my breasts are upright and super rocking. Not too many of my fifty something girl friends can say this. (On this note, thank goodness.)

The deep inherited lines that seem like a genetic rite of passage and not necessarily in a good way, have also been a new observation. There is this grown up woman in the reflection staring back almost daring me to question their placement.

“Stop frowning,” I can hear my mother saying when I was a child (back when Ann was speaking to me), “We’ll never find you a rich Jewish husband if you have frown lines. It makes you look old.” The fact was I wasn’t frowning, I was squinting because my eyesight since I was in second grade was always weak and I just squinted to see better. Oh yeah, and then there was the actual commentary that likely requires its own separate writing at a later time. How about instead of looking for a man to supplement me, giving me a message of my own ability to take care of my own lovely bad ass self? I am guessing that this would have required my mother to feel this way about herself and this was likely not the case in her twenties, married with a six year old and a newborn. There was always an underlying half joking/ half seriousness to the one liners like this. They undoubtedly found their way into my belief systems forming opinions of myself as I foraged my own self worth and my ability to provide for myself. Instead I got married way too early and no, he wasn’t Jewish or a doctor, but his kind heart was spectacular, certainly a most important criteria for a partner at 24.

In my cleaning of the closets and of the stuff, I came across a book that my mother had given me when I first opened my business and it seemed as our relationship was in the ebb and flow of better for a moment. The book was, The Easy to Read, “The Little Engine That Could,” by Walter Piper. I opened it knowing there would be an inscription. Her familiar writing stared back with its kind encouraging words, “Dearest Alayne, Whenever you doubt your decision, just read this book. I love you, Mom.” Even though it was a children’s book, there is definitely a memory of this book in my early childhood. I often wondered if my mother gave me this book because it triggered a memory of a happier time in her life where she remembered the love she had for me then, before it got all wonky and foggy from years of alcohol abuse. There were times in the ebb and flow my mother probably tried just like there were probably times I tried too, it’s just that at the times each of us made the attempt, it was in gestures, but never a healthy discussion to repair the wounds. Gestures are like bandaids, at some point you have to take them off and let the air in and we never did that.

My hair and skin texture have changed, but so has my personal texture. These physical changes that have become a regular occurrence in my exterior are ironically creating a deeper meaning on my insides. I amaze myself at how much I have come to really enjoy the changes. This has surprised me the most.

Maybe this is the point of aging and releasing the peripheral image of our youth we have equated with beauty, the work of letting go of what we thought of was beauty at one point in our lives in fact goes within simply because there is no alternative. My hair is not going to get darker, my stomach is not going to be a six pack, my eye sight will not improve and the spots on my face from too much sun worshipping that I still continue to indulge in will surely not lessen. The only thing I can do is to work on my insides with patience, love and admiration. The calmness and joy I feel just by looking up and looking out these days is both refreshing and liberating. I recently hired three new employees who are in their early twenties. As I speak with them often and listen to their language about life, I realize our huge age gap. Not just in numbers, but in outlook and thought patterns. I can say with absolute truth that I would never want to go back to that time in my life. This is a wonderful aspect of aging, knowing that you couldn’t pay me to go back to that age, no matter, no matter how smooth my skin was and how tight my ass was. I way prefer my aging and peaceful head any day.

Though I haven’t said it aloud, I have found myself thinking, Just Wait.



The book from Ann and my bad ass lovely 52 year old self. Just Wait.