The Marriage Milestone: A Mother’s Viewpoint

I imagine that for the mother of a girl, there are years of tulle wrapped fantasies starring their daughter as a bride. But for those of us with boys, it’s a whole different ballgame. The wedding itself is not even part of the scenario. It’s the wondering: will my son ever find a girl good enough for him/who really appreciates him/or even, who can tolerate him?!

So although the wait seemed interminable, when the day finally came that my 41 year son, Adam, announced he’d found THE ONE, I felt relief and yes, euphoria.

I had already had ample exposure to THE ONE and witnessed how smitten they were with each other. Maybe besotted captures it better. Anyway, they were madly in love. Even better, they seemed perfectly matched and so happy and at ease in each other’s presence. My son and I were totally in sync for a change; PJ was everything I could have wished for in a daughter- in- law.

Once he put a (vintage) ring on it, the next step was meeting her family, who live in Atlanta. Shortly after they had made it official, we were invited to join the whole clan for Thanksgiving. It was clear that her family was a warm and welcoming one who seemed as delighted with our son as we were with their daughter (sister, niece, granddaughter etc.) and when I dove in to help with the dinner, we all got very comfortable very quickly. The highlight of the weekend for me was being present at the initial search for The Dress. As a mother of sons, I relished being included in this ritual usually reserved exclusively for the mother of the bride.

As the months went on, PJ and I forged a connection. Again, she invited me to join her and her bridesmaids in the hunt which took us to the legendary Kleinfeld’s in NYC. Suffice to say, it was not a rapturous “Say Yes to the Dress” experience. But PJ continued her search, undaunted, and finally zeroed in on a dress that she loved, fulfilled her desires, fit her budget and made the most of her assets.

Having been to umpteen weddings, Adam and PJ took the reins themselves and planned it all down to the last detail. As mother- of- the- groom, I had to learn restraint, which does not come naturally, and when to shut up entirely. Forwarding emails of Vogue-ish weddings was not welcomed. Little ideas were politely spurned. They were clear in what they wanted and emphatic in what they didn’t. The learning curve had started for “How to be a Mother- in- Law who does not induce eye rolling.”
The destination was chosen: Stowe, VT, a sentimental choice having been a frequent vacation spot for our family over many years. Fortunately, the bride responded to the natural beauty of the locale as much as my son. It was, quite frankly, a schlep for her family from Atlanta and ours from Washington State, California, New Orleans, Dallas, D.C. and Santa Fe but everyone got on board, most for their first look at Vermont and the glorious Fall color experience.

The time honored advice for the mother- of -the- groom is “Shut up, sit down and wear beige.” The first and second were possible. The third? Not a chance. Given the bride’s blessing to wear what I wished, I went the hunt for the ultimate mother- of- the- groom dress. Early October in a Vermont meadow suggested floral to me. But not summery, and not black.

I spent hours poring over websites looking for something that would capture my imagination and I found it at Neiman Marcus, god bless them, online, a Badgley Mischka gown of navy lace. It was sleeveless, the bateau neck and squared arm holes edged with faggoting, the fitted torso flowing into one long, slender pour to the ground. The back was cut out, but not too provocatively, and it swished into a train. The whole thing was covered with delicate hand painted flowers and embellished here and there with discreet clumps of navy sequins. Elegant, feminine, and just a bit sexy. Having not been made available yet, it had to be ordered and altered to the max, my 5’2” frame somewhat smaller than the designers had probably envisioned. When it was done, it was perfection. But SO perfect, that I dared not gain a pound before the wedding. Which was months away. Will anyone ever appreciate my sacrifice and deprivation? Unlikely. But I had extra strength Spanx at the ready for insurance.

I think I had as much fun making my fantasy come to life as the bride. As the day drew near, we were all glued to the weather projections. It was going to be cool. I was going to need a wrap. The dress was so gorgeous, the last thing I wanted to do was cover it up with a jacket or shawl. Enter my friend, Johanna, who took my somewhat vague comments about shrugs and stoles and came up with several websites with options. Ultimately, I chose a navy marabou stole that skimmed my shoulders and fastened in the front. It came from England and I sweated a bit the possibility that it might not arrive on time. But it did and it was sublime.

Having found some “statement” earrings, I opted to contain my unpredictable hair for the event to let them shine. I wore it middle parted and pulled back into a chignon which hid the elastic on a braided (hair) headband that matched my own tresses. Dare I say, vaguely reminiscent of the Von Trapp Family? But in good way. Sprayed within an inch of its life, my hairdo was going nowhere during the proceedings.

With the resplendent bride

With the resplendent bride

And then it was THE DAY. The excitement and stress were palpable. But the morning dawned sunny and calm and it all went off without a hitch. I dressed with the bride and her “girls” and after a little bubbly, we were all very sanguine. PJ was a vision of beauty and radiance in her gown, her hair in long, loose curls partly clasped back with a sparkling hair clip. No veil, no jewelry; truly, she needed no ornamentation to glow.

The aisle walk

The aisle walk

My son ultimately decided to have his dad and I walk him down the aisle. It was a transcendent moment in my life, leading my son toward the brink of his future. As the bride glided down the aisle on the arm of her beaming father, my eyes went to my son. I wanted to mentally record the moment he saw his bride. As I watched, his expression of nervous tension transformed into a smile of unrestrained joy. My eyes filled with tears. I saw his life on fast forward, bookended by the first time I held him in my arms with awe and the moment when he joined his bride under the chuppah to launch his own family.

A milestone moment in his life, and mine.

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Say “Cheese”

I have always been self conscious about my teeth. Saying “cheese” was not an option, and the order to do so would simply produce a tight lipped, close mouthed smile. Due to a botched adolescent orthodontia job, an uneven number of teeth were pulled from my “too small” mouth and the bottom choppers became totally jumbled. And as time went on, one of my front teeth crossed over the other. In every photo it appeared that the more forward tooth stuck out and cast a shadow on its twin. It drove me crackers.

Somewhat resigned to this particular flaw, it never occurred to me to try to correct the situation til I met my husband who practiced restorative dentistry in Greenwich, CT for over 40 years. On our first real date, I threw out at him, “So you are a big time dentist, what would YOU do about my front teeth? Veneers? Caps? What?” To which he answered, “Nothing, I think they are charming!” This was diplomatic but not at all helpful.

What WAS helpful was meeting his favorite former student and now orthodontist extraordinaire, Dr. Rosemary Ryan at a (scintillating) dental event. Rosemary is so warm and approachable that before long, I was confiding my desire to present a straighter smile to the world, especially because I now represented my husband. She suggested I try Invisalign, a clear, nearly undetectable solution to the conventional wire system.

Here’s how it works:
A modern approach to dental straightening, Invisalign uses a series of custom made, smooth and virtually invisible plastic trays worn over the teeth. The trays are switched out every two weeks as they gradually shift your teeth into place, based on the exact movements designed for you by your orthodontist.

The process starts with x-rays, photos and impressions of your teeth and then the trays are created. Dr. Ryan was even able to show me the computer generated, gradual moves my teeth would make on their way to a smile I could proudly display. Although each case in unique, the typical time for adult correction is one year. Mine lasted just a couple months longer.

SO what’s the catch?
Commitment. I had to wear my plastic trays 24/7 except for removing them before eating and to brush and floss morning and night. For someone like me who eats little meals every 3 hours that was a royal pain. I seemed to be constantly removing them (not pretty when done in front of others, BTW), rinsing and brushing them. My speech was not as distinct with the aligners in. And they were a real romance killer. (Wait, don’t kiss me, I have to take out my braces!)

Still, I was determined and I persisted. I have very sensitive gums so each time I received a new package of 3 pairs, they had to be buffed and honed for comfort. But I started to see my little pearls improving weekly and at the end of 14 months, my treatment was complete.

Before and After

Before and After

However, I was (am) not done. Following the end of alignment, my middle six top and bottom teeth were secured with tiny wires on the inside (not at all visible or uncomfortable) to hold them in place. And I am required to wear a night guard, very similar to the Invisalign trays that continue to lock in the new positioning of my teeth. For those inclined to fudge the rules, be aware that without retainers, straightened teeth can gradually shift back to their original position, making the whole process a total waste of time and money. The retainer is lighter and fits very precisely so comfort is not an issue for me. Remembering to put it in nightly, however, is!Every morning I clean it in a little warm water bath with Kleenite, no brushing required.

According to recent stats, conventional metal braces cost between $3,000 and $7,000 while Invisalign clocks in at $4,000-$7,500. As an adult female considering the costs of other facial improvements like Botox, fillers, nips and tucks, this price may or may not phase you. To me, the ability to smile and laugh freely without holding back is worth every penny.

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Red Carpet Ready

Ok, maybe not the REAL red carpet, but I am prepping for a big event: the summer wedding of dear friends in a swanky venue. I have to look my best and have less than a week to pull it together! That means body buff, skin glowing, nails immaculate and hair frizz-less.

I have to admit, although I am usually pretty disciplined, I have been off the rails since July 4th, indulging myself in 3 no-nos: alcohol, cheese and sugar. We were entertained by new friends here and it would be rude NOT to drink their wine and nibble their cheese, right? And I offered to bring dessert which was a “from scratch” key lime pie. It was my first ever so I had no idea that it was loaded with sweetened condensed milk, maybe the most caloric-ly dense, sugary food on the planet! But hey, it was great, I enjoyed every toothsome bite, and now I have to pay the price. Since I will be wearing two close fitting frocks this weekend, drastic measures are called for.

Body

Starting the day with lemon water

Starting the day with lemon water

I started last night by skipping dinner and substituting a protein shake, shocking my body into training mode. Now I plan to adhere to my Fast Metabolism Diet which has worked wonderfully and fast, when I follow it. No gluten, no sugar, plenty of fresh veggies and fruit and lean protein with a little quinoa and brown rice thrown in for filler (see previous post that outlines diet). I am starting each day with lemon water; ½ lemon squeezed into warm, not scalding water. The benefits:

  • Daily detox and flushing of toxins
  • Stimulates digestive tract
  • Pectin, a soluble fiber in lemon, aids weight loss
  • Eases bloat and tummy upset
  • Diuretic action
  • Energizing and mood enhancing
  • I’ll be swigging water and green tea throughout each day.

From there, it’s eating the right stuff at the right time, meaning every 3 hours to goose my metabolism. At the same time, I am doing daily cardio, Pilates once this week, and free weights for my arms every other day. I’m going sleeveless or I’m not going at all!

Skin

Dr. Dennis Gross 14 day Challenge

Dr. Dennis Gross 14 day Challenge

Planning ahead, I purchased Dr. Dennis Gross’ 14 Day Challenge, a 2 week, nightly alpha beta peel with a ferulic acid and retinol chaser for the face. Only 3 days left and my skin is looking and feeling great. On order: Gross’ Medi Spa peel, a stronger, once weekly version to maintain my results. I’ve been exfoliating my body daily and applying self tanner after with religious fervor. Since I start from a place of blinding whiteness, I don’t exactly have the JLo glow, but I do have color from head to toe which looks natural and healthy. I will be packing the new Jergens BB Body Cream to maximize my efforts through the weekend.

Hair 

Since I had a cut and color 3 weeks ago, my too dark color has now sun- lightened to an acceptable copper shade. I’ll be lugging my usual glut of hair products to cover shine, frizz removal and volume. Believe me, with my thin, fine, prone to frizz hair, it takes a village! Not to mention a strong hair dryer (I always bring my own) and a flat iron. In case of extreme humidity or, God forbid, rain, I will be prepared to whip it into a top knot, sprayed to the max.

Nails

With all the unpacking and household chores, it’s tough to keep them lacquered. So I am filing my nails super short and will do a DIY the day before we leave. I’m thinking Find Me An Oasis, a pale blue on my fingers, and Trophy Wife, a deep, metallic blue on my toes to go with my navy lace dress. Gotta love it for the name alone! (Both by Essie.)

Underpinnings

Special bra essential!

Special bra essential!

It’s critical to try on your event dress prior to packing to make sure you have the right stuff to cover your ass(ets) and be comfortable. That means the appropriate Spanx for the outfit so there are no lines, no bulges, no muffin top. I purchased the high top version. And since my dress features a cut out back, that means a strapless, backless stick- on bra with extra double stick tape to make sure it’s going nowhere. Be prepared!, the only thing I remember from Girl Scouts.

Makeup

I swear, it sometimes takes me as long to pack my makeup and skincare as it does my clothes! But I don’t want to arrive without the right shadow or custom mixed base color (see last week’s post). With heat and humidity guaranteed at the ocean front venue, I will be going very light in texture with my base, shadow and blush. Nothing worse than having your maquillage melting off your face (think “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”). Blotting papers are a must in the evening clutch and gloss trumps heavy lip color bleeding into my lip lines.So although I don’t have “glam team”, facialist and personal trainer like the stars do before hitting the kleig lights, my version has gotten me through many an event. And once I’m dressed, coiffed, cosmetically enhanced and aglow, I have a glass of champagne, hold in my stomach, and smile for the cameras.

 

 

 

Posted in beauty at any age, diet, hair, increasing metabolism, makeup, skincare, Sunless tanners | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mixing It Up

I was  all thumbs in high school chemistry, but when it comes to blending ingredients in my bathroom, I’m rather brilliant. Since summer snuck up on me while moving, it is time to fine tune my summer mixtures, all designed to give me the kind of glow I can only get the “better living through chemistry ”way.

I am normally pale, pallid, freckley; the polar opposite of the bronze, healthy look I covet. But I have learned to fake it with various products which I am only too happy to share with you.

Summer mixers

Summer mixers

Last year’s Eureka moment was the discovery of Clarins Golden Glow Booster. Just 3 drops mixed with your moisturizer, serum or sunblock turns it into a subtle self tanner. But we’re just getting started!

Australian Gold Sheer Coverage 45 Faces sunscreen does all the mixing for me, combining a robust, water resistant SPF 45 with instant bronzing and gradual self tanner. But why let my face have all the fun? I am now slathering it on my arms and legs before I hop in the convertible.

Everyone knows that white legs are the anathema of a sexy summer look so I have to dedicate more attention to my glaringly white limbs.  St Tropez Self Tan Luxe Dry Oil is great for legs but I found it too strong on color and too difficult to control a streak less application. Then I hit on mixing it with a body lotion and voila!, it worked like a dream. Just shake well to mix (being careful where you do this, the stuff stains) and add some to your cream or lotion mixing well. I keep empty sample jars for just this purpose.

Recently, I succumbed to a TV come- on from Jane Seymour and Dorothy Hamill for Crepe Erase, which they touted for its ability to firm up lax, crepey skin on arms and knees, the bane of the after 50 woman. After using up the tub I cannot say my skin has regained its former elasticity (I wish!) but I have to admit, it looks more moisturized and smoother. So it became my conduit for combining firming and self tanning. But anything will do.

My Armani's

My Armani’s

I am a huge fan of anything in the Armani cosmetic line. Since falling for the Maestro featherweight liquid foundation, I have added the Maestro Fusion Blush . A single drop dotted on cheeks and melted into skin with a damp makeup sponge or brush yields an easy to blend, believable and lasting flush. Now that classy Italian has added Maestro Liquid Summer to his arsenal. It comes in 3 shades and a dropper bottle like the others. Although you can use it “straight” as a bronzer, I love to add to either my liquid base, BB cream or sunscreen, turning any and all into a glow-y version of itself. No need to purchase foundations in various colors anymore when you can create your own bespoke version. And don’t stop at your chin! Continue your glow onto your neck and décolleté for  seamless, authentic color.

The latest entry in this market of chameleons is Cover FX Custom Cover Drops. The weightless and highly pigmented drops instantly infuse any water, oil or silicone based liquid product with sheer color. The more drops, the more coverage. With 24 shades, one is sure to duplicate YOU! It’s on my “lust list.”

My last mixer is Paula Dorf Transformer. I’ve used this for years to transform any eye shadow to a liquid liner. A teensy drop blended into shadow and applied with a skinny liner brush gives you custom color that lasts through blood, sweat and tears.

For summer when of less is most definitely more, a swipe of colored liner, a flick of mascara, sheer bronzy skin and soft peachy, pink or coral lip gloss will take you anywhere you need to go.

*A special shout out to my friend Susie Kane who finally taught me how to provide links to the products I mention. Hey, I’m old, it took awhile!

Posted in beauty at any age, makeup, protection, resources, Sunless tanners, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

When Life Intervenes after 50

I know, dear readers, that I have been M.I.A. for awhile. What happened to Zoe?, you may ask. The answer is LIFE intervened.

After having spinal surgery in January, I needed a second surgery in late March to revise an issue from the first. Don’t ask! While recovering, we were preparing for two major life changes: my husband’s retirement and a subsequent move. It was the height of bad timing.

Some major changes after 50 are voluntary; others sneak up on us and some just hit us like an oncoming train. We got ourselves through the rigors of packing up and then the  day of the move, I had a rather spectacular, banana peel type fall on the mover’s ramp, landing right on my lower back. Within days, I was squarely back where I started pre-surgery in terms of pain. And in the past few weeks, I have been too busy, too uncomfortable and too bummed to write. But I’m attempting to make a mental and physical comeback with a new cadre of medical professionals.

The day after we moved in, exhausted, surrounded by boxes, and overwhelmed by all that needed to be done, that train slammed into our world. Richard’s sister had a massive stroke in Arizona and within 12 hours, he was on a plane there. We were reminded in tragic fashion that life turns on a dime. Now we are adjusting to this new reality and how it will impact us.

With Richard suddenly gone, I was overwhelmed by being alone in a new house and new place with so much on my head. But I rallied, determined to have the house looking like a home by the time Richard returned. I threw myself into the task, having truly nothing better to do, and whipped the place into shape.

5 Moray Ln Ipswich, MA

The other aspect of the life change was retirement. Although I walked away from a 25 year career in real estate 5 years ago with a huge sigh of relief, Richard loved the practice of dentistry and mourned the loss of clinical practice and the many generations of patients he served happily and with tremendous gratification.

Doubtless, adding a physical move to the equation doubled the impact. Both events are way up there on the trauma scale. One involves redefining your life, the other creating a new life. I faced that head-on when we moved back to Connecticut from Santa Fe and can’t stress how difficult and depressing it was, leaving a job that filled all my hours and a large social circle of great, supportive friends. Now Richard was squarely in the same situation.

So preparing for the move was anxiety producing for both of us. How would he adjust to not having patients to serve? How would we, as individuals and a couple transition to this next phase of our life and relationship?   Leaving good friends behind is always difficult. Would we easily make new friends in our new community? Would we like small town New England, an essentially rural life, better than the bustling and populous area we were leaving behind? How would it feel being closer to Richard’s daughter and family yet further from my two sons? These were/are all potential issues of a retirement move. Yet we jumped into our new house with a spontaneity that can only come with a gut feeling of being in the right place at the right time. Sort of like we jumped into each other’s lives in the first place, and a little like jumping off a cliff hoping for a safe landing.

So at 67 and 73 respectively we are starting over. Having lived in MY house and HIS house, we now have OUR house and it feels good to be shaping it, and our new life together. However, I deal with physical change far more easily than my husband. While he spent his entire life in Connecticut with the exception of our four years together in Santa Fe and a stint in the army, Massachusetts is my 8th state of residence! I’m like that plant with legs that creep everywhere, a literal wandering Jew. I’ve live in a duplex, split level, lots of apartments, a Dutch colonial, tract colonial, English Cotswold, adobe hacienda, water view condo and now a Nantucket style cottage. Stylistically, I’ve covered a lot of ground. And I admit it; I get bored and welcome change. At least this kind of change. Am I done? Who knows. In 10 years, our infatuation with Santa Barbara may beckon us to a Grand Finale in the Golden State. Never say never.

Physical change has impacted us to0. I was a mere 59 when we met and he, 64. Since then, I’ve seen him through two major heart procedures and he’s nursed me through five orthopedic surgeries. So are we still the same couple that met and had a fairy tale romance in late life? Not hardly. Too much of real life has intruded: the loss of both my parents, the passing of several friends from devastating disease, financial ups and downs, and now two moves. That’s in less than 7 years of marriage.

Yes, aging is NOT for sissies.

So the ONLY constant after 50 is that life as you knew it will change. And the best you can do is roll with the punches and keep your sense of humor. Take care of yourself. Communicate; share your anxieties (and your Xanax) with your partner or trusted friends so they don’t overwhelm you. Focus on your priorities for a gratifying last act. Get to the Bucket List while you still can.

Once we are done feathering our nest, we will be focusing on our new life, opening ourselves to new people, places and experiences.

I look forward to growing, not just growing old, together. With whatever that brings.

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Dance, Ballerina, Dance

“Dance Done” pastel ©Johanna Bohoy, LightCaught.com

“Dance Done” pastel ©Johanna Bohoy, LightCaught.com

We all receive a lot of useless, time wasting email enticements, but occasionally something piques my interest and I go for it. A couple weeks ago, it was the draw of finding out what was the #1 song on the charts the day I were born. Ok, I’ll bite. So I plunked in my birthday (1/28/1948 in case you’re interested) and the result was “Dance, Ballerina, Dance” by Vaughn Monroe. Mildly interesting, meh,whatever. Or so I thought.

Then the other night I woke at (my usual) 3 a.m. with the lyrics on a continuous loop through my head and it hit me; the thread of dance throughout my life, beginning with Day One. According to my dear, departed mother, who dubbed me The Ballet Dancer, I continually slept from infancy with one leg extended and the other bent, toe touching the opposite knee in pirouette position. Still sleep the same way!

Sure I would be a tiny dancer, she enrolled me in ballet and tap dance lessons for which, sadly, I had no aptitude whatsoever. Although I dreamed of tutus, they were not in my future. Piano was my forte and I learned “Swan Lake” so I could accompany my more nimble cousin, Shelley so got the dance gene. Never mind, I was in love with dance. Mom shlepped me from Sioux City to Omaha to see my first live ballet and I was hooked.

From there it was on to the movies, where dance was a staple. My older sister (grudgingly) took me to the movies every Saturday afternoon where we thrilled to all the movie musicals of the day. The incomparable elegance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the ebullient athleticism of Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain” (my all time favorite), Donald O’Connor, Frank Sinatra, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, and the tragic “The Red Shoes” with the gorgeous Moira Shearer; I was enthralled my them all.

Fast forward to Houston, TX., 1972, where I snagged my first substantial post- college job as Promotion Director for the Houston Ballet. Every day I got to hang with the dancers, watch them practice and occasionally take class with them. Wish I had a picture of my pint-sized self amongst all those long, languid dancers! I was there for every performance, including umpteen “Nutcrackers”. My husband and I became friends with the Finnish stars of the company; I ferried around visiting guest artists from New York like Ted Kivitt and Cynthia Gregory from ABT. It was divine!

Much later, when I moved to Santa Fe, I was invited to join the board of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and again indulged my love of dance with a great regional company. Santa Fe drew many other companies and I delighted in performances by Hubbard Street, Paul Taylor and others.

Once we moved near New York, world class dance was available 24/7. I would see it all, if finances allowed. Most recently, we were able to take in “An American in Paris” on Broadway with Robert Fairchild of NYC Ballet and Leanne Cope. I am a sucker for a sexy pas de deux and their climactic finale to the sumptuous Gershwin score was sensual to the max.

Next anxiously anticipated performance is my lovely and leggy step-granddaughter, Micaela, in June doing the Spanish dance from “Nutcracker.” Can hardly wait!

Micaela Tobin

Micaela Tobin

So, “Dance, Ballerina, Dance”. A chance occurrence or a significant link to a life-long love affair with dance? You decide.

If you want to check out what was #1 in Pop music on the day of your birth, go to  http://www.thisday in music.com

For more artwork by Johanna Bohoy, go to

http://www.lightcaught.blogspot.com/

 

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Deja Vu All Over Again

Dear Readers,

As luck would have it, my California Idyll was interrupted by a recurrence of nerve pain which came back with a vengeance. Unable to walk, I was forced to return home early, and an MRI revealed I needed more surgery, which took place yesterday.

Unfortunately, spending hours at my computer blogging is not part of my prescribed recovery so I will be silent for a little while. But am already thinking of my return with fresh material.

Soon.

Promise.

Love,

Zoe

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