Overcoming Writer’s Block & Fashion Ennui: 12 Steps to Cheer up Older Women
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
If you’re a fan of my fashion articles, you may have noticed a time lag between this article and the last one. If I were smart, I would say I’ve had writer’s block for the past month. In truth, I started thinking like an old hag. I decided to feel sorry for myself... and worry about death... and spook myself about old age. Of course, this was not a conscious decision. I just sort of fell down into a huge pit of ennui.
I started to feel lost and desolate... and I felt like everything was hopeless. I have no solid reason to explain it.
Well, Ms. Fixer that I am, I realized I could come up with some "steps" to cheer myself up.
The following "12-step program" is written in first person (for myself), but it could work for any woman over 50 who's feeling down. Just substitute "you" for "I"... and so on.
Tina Boomerina’s 12-Step Program for Fashion Ennui (and General Malaise)
- Step 1. Look at Photos of Cute Outfits (Window Shop)
- Step 2. Shop for New Clothes
- Step 3. Play Dress Up
- Step 4. Try New Makeup
- Step 5. Buy a Hat
- Step 6. Forget My Age
Now, here's where it gets heavy...
- Step 7. Ignore Everything I May Never Accomplish in Life
- Step 8. Concentrate on What I CAN Accomplish in Life
- Step 9. Learn to Paint (or something creative)
- Step 10. Go to Church (maybe something like my neighbor's alternative church)
- Step 11. Volunteer (experience the world outside myself)
- Step 12. Write About my Ennui to Get Rid of It
Of course, I just made up this 12-step nonsense on the fly. I have no idea if it will work, but it gives me an excuse to look at cute outfits and a reason to start writing again. Also, it may help you someday when you're feeling old and sad.
Old Lady-itis & Fashion Ennui: Get Over It!
This is not my usual type of article, but I have to do something to purge my mind of a wicked truckload of debilitating thoughts that have had me on the brink of giving up for the last few months. And, you have to indulge me… because almost no other writer understands you, Baby Boomerinas (boomer women over 50), enough to give you honest information while making you laugh… or cry… So, you HAVE to bear with me. (Trust me. This article is the only thing that might get me writing again. And, I promise not to be maudlin.)
So, here’s the Reader’s Digest version of my personal 12-step program.
Step 1. Look at Photos of Cute Outfits for Women Over 40, 50, 60:
Whenever I feel old or I look in the mirror and see my sagging jowls, I immediately think of finding Hillary _____'s plastic surgeon. (Insert name of choice, depending on age: Clinton, Duff, whatever.)
Then, I get real... and I realize I'm not going to get a face lift because I'm too chicken spit.
Immediately afterwards, I force myself to think of other ways to change my outward appearance. Of course, the obvious and realistic answer that usually bubbles up into the consciousness of my mind is that I need to find new ways of wearing (new or old) clothing to camouflage my flaws and/or draw attention away from anything that makes me look old.
The easiest way for me to come up with new ideas is to look at trendy outfits.
I can't tell you why looking at outfits cheers me up, but it does. Even when the models are 12 years old, I get a rush from thinking about different ways to adapt a current look to fit my softly deteriorating body. Looking at fashion is almost as good as chocolate and definitely less fattening. Weird, I know... but it might work for you, too.
Step 2. Shop for New Clothes
I like to use the "shopping gene" to fluff up my dampened spirits.
Of course, you and I don't actually need to buy new clothes to get a lift. Sometimes, just looking around (online or in an actual store) and putting cute things onto our wishlists is good enough to give older women a small rush.
And, sometimes, just frolicking around one's local thrift store is enough to turn on those major shopping endorphins.
Unfortunately, for those of us living off interest income or static pensions, the best rush still comes from actually buying something. It's called retail therapy for a reason. What can I say? It may be the hunter-gatherer instinct in women or it may be the thrill of opening a "gift" from FedEx... even though we realize we've purchased the gift ourselves. (Note: Small doses of shopping therapy are fine. Just don't depend on shopping alone to drag yourself out of a black hole... for obvious reasons.)
Step 3. Play Dress Up
Remember when you were a little girl and you put on your mother's huge dresses and sweaters, piled on all her jewelry, and clomped around in her oversized heels? Well, I hope you had a chance to experience that. Maybe you spent your whole life at daycare or in front of the boob-tube babysitter. However, if you had a childhood like mine, you'll remember the joyous feeling that comes from trying on your mom's elbow-length gloves and proper little mink hat.
Sure, mom got angry at you when you smudged a little lipstick on her favorite suede shirtdress from San Francisco (we didn't mention that a little sister secretly did the damage), but let's forget about that scene. And, let's remember the playful attitude of trying on different clothing combinations that made you... and your mother... smile.
Those same types of wild, carefree, outrageous fashion faux pas are all the rage these days. So, step number three involves putting all your separates and accessories together into artfully naive combinations.
What are you looking for? A new way to wear everything in your closet.
Try layering short over long and long over short. Put a winter coat over a summer dress... or a swimsuit. Wear your purple slip under a short coat and add Chanel-like pearls. Make up your own flipping fashion rules. (If you discover a new and "unusual" outfit that might be good, wear it to the grocery store to try it out. No one judges last minute outfits worn to the market.)
When you go through all the stuff you own, you may find tons of clothes and accessories you forgot you had. And... if nothing else... you'll definitely get a good laugh out of this exercise.
Step 4. Try New Makeup
Go ahead! Try some new colors that you never thought you'd wear. Cosmetics are not tattoos. Your new makeup will wash off.
And, hey, the worst thing that could happen is that people might think you're a drag queen... haha... but I promise you'll survive. Why not have a little fun with different shades of eye shadow and blush and lipstick and nail polish? Heck... make your hair pink if you can figure out how to do it.
Step 5. Buy a New Hat
I remember watching an ancient episode of I Love Lucy or some similar black-and-white sitcom, in which the husband told the wife to go out and buy a new hat, because it would help her get over her depression. Well, I was about six years old at the time, so I didn't understand how a new hat could possibly make anyone's mom feel better... but these days I totally get it. And, now that I have a better understanding of the mood-altering capabilities of hats, I have a serious case of QEE (Queen Elizabeth Envy). Actually, I have something even worse. My doctor thinks it's either RFE (Royal Family Envy) or HAD (Hat Affective Disorder).
Seriously, it is truly amazing how the simplest of hats can help transform the way people perceive you. And, this change leads to a transformation of how you perceive yourself.
Step 6. Forget Your age
I'm not saying you should forget your age when it comes to fashion. I'm saying you should forget your age when it comes to everything you do. Sure, your little aches and pains will creep in and try to remind you that you're not a kid anymore, but do your best to ignore those signals... and to ignore the stares of immature salesclerks and huffy boomer cohorts.
I've found that when you dress (just a tad) too "young" for your demographic, you feel just a tad younger.
Steps 7, 8, 9. Forget the Past, Concentrate on the Future
Read the title above for the next three steps. It's self explanatory.
Sure, you may have spent half your life taking care of your children and other people. No, you haven't accomplished everything on your list. So what? You're not dead yet. There are lots of places to go and things to do before you croak. And, you're never too old to become the next Grandma Moses... or Georgia O'Keeffe... or Petra Max... or Martha Graham... or Billie Holiday... or Dale Evans... or whomever you wanted to be as a child.
Keep reading the steps. You will see that shopping and accomplishments are not the only things of value in life. Sure, fame and goodies are fun. And, it's helpful to your disposition if people treat you well because you don't look old and faded and decrepit. However, possessions are just a means to an end. For example, ownership of clothing will help you maintain your good name... by keeping you from being arrested for indecent exposure.
Yep, walking around buck naked would scare the young 'uns so much they'd need new underpants.
Step 10. Go to Church
Even though I'm a spiritual person and I love sitting in old cathedrals, I'm not a big fan of traditional churches with all their archaic rules. (Who coulda guessed that?) However, my neighbor says her church is loving and accepting of all people. Well, I haven't gone to any of the services yet, but I've seen the beautiful new facility and it feels like 'home'... in a good way.
I also met a few of the congregants when I checked the place out, and they seemed very open and friendly. And, although I didn't spend much time chatting, my instincts tell me that those people are not the types who want to push their dogma on me or try to buy their way into heaven with converts. This will be my third serious attempt at finding a religion that's somewhat compatible with my own idiosyncratic beliefs, which consist of an amalgam of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, science... and a few other things.
Step 11. Make Someone's Life Better by Volunteering
You don't need me to explain this. However, if you're already volunteering, you can tell me where you like to volunteer... especially if you live in Bend, Oregon. I haven't signed up for anything, yet.
Step 12. Write About Your Feelings
I've just written a little about my feelings in this article, and even though I won't be seeing either or my kids for Thanksgiving (again), I do feel I can go on after writing this stupid article. Yep, I was so bad I slept for three days. I was hoping I would just disappear if I didn't eat anything... or do anything.
Unfortunately (well... fortunately), I woke up... probably because I was hungry. And, here I am. I'm back at my desk writing. (So, if I haven't answered your email from three weeks ago, you now know why.)
I guess it's okay to get old. It kinda sucks, because I don't feel like I have enough time and resources to do all the things I'm capable of doing. But... screw that. All I can do is my best.
What should you do if you don't have a blog? I suppose you could get the same cathartic feeling from writing in a secret journal. You probably won't want to publish your thoughts online, but let me know if you DO. I may put it on here (anonymously if you want). And, there's something about writing things down. The process of scratching out symbols helps you let go of whatever it is that's bothering you. And, if it doesn't, it helps you clarify your situation.
Blah blah blah... buy something if you have the money. You'll help the economy of China and the act of doing so will help you feel better. (Yes, that's supposed to be a joke. I'm trying to make you smile.)
Articles to Cheer up the Lives of Baby Boomer Women:
Shopping Tips for Chic Baby Boomer Women by Carolyn Hirsch
Colorful Fashion: Lively Colors to Spark up Fall & Winter (this article is from last season but I still love looking at the cheery colors)
Photo Credits: Prshots.com, Flickr.com, Wikimedia Commons, Tina's painting room.
- Main Photo: Mike Licht Flickr Creative Commons.
- Play Dress up in Your Closet: Accessorize.
- Look at Cute Outfits Women Over 40 50 60: La Redoute, Long Tall Sally.
- Spring Dress & Winter Jackets on my Wishlist: House of Fraser, Hobbs, Barbour.
- Play Dress Up by Mixing New Outfits: Littlewood's Ireland, White Stuff, Debenham's.
- Try New Makeup to Combat the Blues: Accessorize.
- Buy a New Hat: Accessorize, La Redoute.
- Don't Dress or Act Your Age: Lipsy, Dorothy Perkins.
- Happy Freaking Thanksgiving: Watercolor of Chief Joseph (detail). I didn't really give my painting that name. It just seemed appropriate because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and my kids are far away. (There must be some trick to photographing paintings. This thing looks way better in person.)
- Find a Religion: Rose Window Richmond, Buddhist Art, Illuminated Manuscript of the Pentateuch, all Wikipedia.
- Volunteer: Christmas outfit Primark UK.
What do you think of this article? I know it's a bit weird, but it knocked out my depression. Leave a comment at the bottom of the page.