Positive at fifty

Minimalising

Oh my wordicles! Everyone appears to be decluttering, minimalising, scandivising and just generally chucking their lifetime’s accumulation of stuff into the metaphorical and often actual bin - yikes! Surely I will need that incomplete set of twelve cocktail glass stem rings that aunty whoever bought me for my twenty first? (Why is it always aunties that are picked on?). Anyway, what if I hate minimalism and all these boring old white walls and drawers with no nobs on (how impractical)?

Minimalst interior styling - bathroom

Minimalizing as Streamlining

Well let me clarify two frequent misconceptions here; firstly, some people like and need a lot of things around them; we all differ in what brings us comfort; secondly, minimalising is NOT necessarily about adopting a minimalist lifestyle nor is it about minimal décor. Whilst those things are, well … things, they are not for the majority and are a separate subject.

Beauty in simplicity

Beauty in simplicity

One could be living in a minimally decorated house with one of fifty shades of white on the walls and monochrome cats, yet still have an impeccably ordered dressing room with cupboards accommodating the largest collection of clothes, toiletries, beauty gadgets, cosmetics etc, many of which are simply gathering dust. That is not a minimalist lifestyle, it is minimalist décor. They often go hand in hand and although my aesthetic preferences lean towards an uncluttered, but still cosy look, that doesn't have to be your bag.

Whenever I have moved house, the best part has been sorting and discarding stuff I no longer need, never really needed or that has outlived its use - fleecy lama pants? Be gone! Contraception no longer required here! (Sniggers unapologetically). The process has been cathartic and strangely liberating. Aren’t we bizarre creatures? We feel great when we get rid of stuff, then feel even better when we go out and buy more stuff!

Marie Kondo, Appreciation and Sparking Joy

Minimal interiors small window

Personally, I like to settle for a kind of compromising ‘cosy minimalism’. This means that I do not like to be surrounded by unaccounted for stuff; I have to know what is in every drawer and do not want things that are neither beautiful nor useful. For clarity, if something is neither aesthetically beautiful nor practically useful yet makes you happy, it may well, on reflection, deserve both labels. Beauty is not limited to aesthetics and anything that adds personal value should be considered useful. As Marie Kondo herself advocates, the things we own, the things in our homes should ‘spark joy’. Therefore, if your ‘back end of a donkey’ costume from the only pantomime you ever starred in sparks joy, and you need to have it in your life, then keep it! However, put it somewhere where you are able to see it, sometimes, and enjoy it. I will leave that one with you my friends, so no elaborations in the comments please?

If you have no idea where or how to start, then you could do a lot worse than read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Even if you choose not to follow her method, just reading it fills you with positivity and good intentions. You can then go and do your thing, your way.

What are the Benefits to Decluttering?

Easier to find things - less stress, less timewasting, less duplicate purchases;

More chance of noticing things you love and enjoying them - the idea is not to get rid of as much stuff as possible, but to get rid of stuff that no longer serves or delights you; you are then left to enjoy what is meaningful and/or useful;

Less decisions to be made when there is less choice - who needs five spare pillows and three potato peelers in different colours anyway?

More physical space - things that should not be out, should have a home, eliminating the need to navigate an obstacle course just to retrieve aforementioned potato peeler (the blue one matches today’s outfit please?);

More head space - excess clutter can cause actual stress, whereas a calm uncluttered physical space is mirrored in the mind. To allow the mind to breathe, is to allow it to either rest, play or create according to its needs;

Calmer life - stress causes all manner of undesirable things to happen to our bodies, from frown wrinkles and hot flushes to hormonal mayhem, all of which are ageing; my tip for ageing positively? Streamline, declutter and enjoy your chosen possessions;

Easier to manage anxiety and brain fog - clutterfree spaces equal a clutterfree mind; that must surely help to lift some of the fog and facilitate..

Clearer thinking - this deserves its own line; for some, turning fifty and going through the menopause can hinder clear thinking; trouble sleeping, migraines, anxiety, hot flushes and hormone fluctuations to name but a few of the possible reasons behind this;

Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fuelled by procrastination
— Christina Scalise, Organise Your Life and More

Promotes appreciation and gratitude for what we have in our lives - now that our ‘spark joy’ pieces are not stifled by excess;

Better for the environment when you buy less and buy mindfully - using up existing products and only when they run out, replacing with thoughtful sustainable choices is the way forward;

Easier to keep your house clean and tidy - well it is simple really, less stuff equals less to tidy, less to clean and less to find a home for;

Less dust mites - well, ‘things’ are dust traps are they not?

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‘‘The best way to decide what we really need, is to get rid of what we don’t

Marie Kondo

I have definitely found that knowing where everything is and not wasting time rifling means that I have more headspace to tackle what I need to. The gratitude that accompanies the mindfulness of living with less, may bring about a deeper satisfaction with life and a decreased reliance on having the next ‘new’ thing. Again, it clarifies what you actually want/need, rather than what you think you should want/need.

Where to Start with Decluttering

Streamlining my wardrobe is a work in progress

Streamlining my wardrobe is a work in progress

Marie Kondo advises to start with your wardrobe, and I would agree. This involves gathering every item you own and making a pile, then the sorting begins. Why clothes first? Well, the reasoning is that clothes are generally the things we attach the least sentimentality to (there are exceptions of course; exibit A: back end of donkey costume). We tend to create the least attachment to clothes so it is probably the easiest category to start with. Believe me, I have not yet regretted any of the items I have sent to charity shops, given away or sold.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
— Leonardo da Vinci

I have some ideas for you about making a start on your wardrobes and I am happy to share them, along with a list of my favourite bloggers in this area. Click ‘comments’, and send me a message or go to ‘contact me’ and send me an email stating that you would be interested in this and I will forward you a list of handy tips that helped me, when I started to streamline my wardrobe. I am very much on a journey with this myself and am following advice from others who are nailing the living with less philosophy. You are invited on my journey and encouraged to offer your tips for simplifying your life and parting with things that you have grown unnecessarily attached to. Send me a message to say ‘Hi’ and introduce yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts.





The Instagram (Fiftygram) Party - How Our Authentic Style Can Be Compromised for the Gram

It often works like this: you sit on a Saturday morning in your fleece pyjamas (OK, your elegant White Company loungewear) and see an image of the perfect outfit on Instagram. ‘This IS ME!’ you declare to no one in particular. ‘This is SOOO me, I now know what I need to buy to make my wardrobe perfect and complete YESSS!’ All that is required is a purchase of 8 of these vests, because I will want to wear them EVERY day and an extra one just in case (of what exactly?); I will of course require those elegant pants in two colours and that long cardi for layering. Then of course there are the accessories - the cheek kissing earrings, the tantalising necklace that sits just so on your décolletage and the statement bangle. Finally, there is THE bag! The bag that will finish off the outfit, serve you every day and indicate to everyone WHO you are.

Are you a ‘keep it simple, play it safe’ kinda lady?

Are you a ‘keep it simple, play it safe’ kinda lady?

Curating Your Perfect Image in Mid-Life

Having acquired the necessary items through various means - shopping spree, eBay, charity shop or even a ‘as good as damn it’ similar item lurking in the deepest crevice of your wardrobe (it ended up there for a reason?), you excitedly attire yourself in said perfect garments to create the look of your dreams …. or not! Oh dear, what is this, at best uninspiring, at worst, f@?>+$%g ridiculous concoction of garments before you?  Where will I where this?  It’s certainly not an evening outfit but would I go shopping in it? Hell no! Would I even meet a friend for coffee in this?  Yes, if I am prepared to sit bolt upright with carefully choreographed arm movements in order to even feel comfortable. Then there’s the issue of never removing the long cardi because you forgot to buy the appropriate underwear for these pants which are tighter on your ass than you bargained for. The bangle is a pain as it bangs on the table whenever I pick my coffee cup up, the earrings get caught on my scarf and the back flies off. There is an innocent victim, a man in the corner with a strategically placed earring butterfly on the top of his head. The necklace is giving you a rash because it is made of the devil’s metal. As for the bag, well I can’t put it on my shoulder because there’s no strap, I can’t hang it on the chair for the same reason, and it doesn’t accommodate my phone, my purse and my facial reconstruction kit? 

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go?

On reflection, if I stand in a certain pose, look in a specific direction, bend my knee, half smile and tilt my bum/head/ shoulder just so, and on no account … walk, this outfit is perfect for what exactly? …..

… INSTAGRAM! YESSS! …

That’s it, I have the perfect look for an Instagram party! Let’s pour a glass of prosecco (that we are not going to drink at 11am) to complete the look (why open a new bottle, sparkling spring will do - they’ll never know) and let’s party!

Life is a party. Dress for it
— Audrey Hepburn

Style Matters at Any Age

There is an art to curating your perfect wardrobe at fifty or any age, and it takes practice.  I’m still practising, exhibit B: slightly yellowed T-shirt for wearing under things – Really?  If you are looking at decluttering and minimising your stash of clothes, carefully considering what works for you is key.  Otherwise, you will never feel ‘lagom’, not too much, not too little, but just right.  That place is different for everyone.  There is the further complication that your efforts to simplify your wardrobe will become futile as a steady stream of new items enters your life to fulfil the dissatisfaction you experience.  Sometimes we feel comfortable, sometimes we feel we look good; our unicorn moment is when we feel both.  The latter is of course subjective, and it only matters that ‘we feel we look good’. 

Newcastle in cable jumper

“Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it”

Audrey Hepburn

True Elegance is Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Ultimately, we only need to please ourselves.  Over fifty style is whatever enables you to walk, talk, drink, chat and stay upright without thinking about it. In my humble opinion, feeling comfortable is more conducive to engaging with our environment and the people around us, feeling at ease and smiling more; that ultimately makes us far more attractive.  We are all different, and if we are meant to wear an elaborate flamboyant unusually cut garment, we will wear it often and with ease.  It will feel right, and it will feel like YOU; if it doesn’t, why build that internal wall between your body and your mind, between your body and your authentic self?

Dress as if you are already famous
— Audrey Hepburn
Who am I kidding? I should have worn a jacket … it was freezing!

Who am I kidding? I should have worn a jacket … it was freezing!

An Outlet for Creativity

Instagram is healthy if it is viewed as art.  A beautifully curated feed with skilful photography and engaging aesthetic can be viewed as a piece of artwork.  It may serve as an inspiration for stylish interiors, yoga practice, a vegan diet and many other things.  Recognising the reality of an Instagram account’s purpose, is a healthy way to enjoy and participate in the community.  There are things I can learn, ideas I can try and beautiful words and pictures for me to enjoy.  When I’ve done that, I’m putting on my favourite jeans, top and earrings (with one butterfly missing …. Oops!) and going for a coffee ….

 

September

Rag Mill Window

For me, this is the month of exciting anticipation.  Summer is over, we have rested and warmed our bodies - some fried, baked or toasted even, and the freshness of Autumn is lifting our spirits.  Often there is still sun, using up the remains of its warmth before settling down for the colder months of the year in the UK.  I will always miss the sunshine, but for me, and perhaps many us, September is a fresh start.  Children go back to school or university and routines are re-established.  New books, new uniforms, new weekday suppers and maybe a few new items of clothing for the new season (if we need to replace anything).  For me, September really feels like a New Year, much more so than January when we are still full of baubles and John Lewis adverts, and New Year feels like an anti-climax, an end to all the fun.  

Whilst in summer, I have more motivation to rest and play, in autumn and winter, I want to keep moving and be productive.  This is the time when I am more inclined to make new year's resolutions.  This is the time when I feel motivated to make fresh starts or realise ideas that have been rattling around in my head.  The new term at school has started today and I feel ready to tackle unfinished projects, start new ones, get back into yoga and generally kick ass.  

Fire and Scones

It has been a busy and trying year for me.  Despite my advice to everyone else, I have not been taking as much care of myself as I should have been; basically, I have been the pot to your kettle.  With the onset of menopause, I have noticed that not all of my previous behaviours work for me anymore.  Changes in my body have been noticeable and I have been at war with the 'why bother?' attitude.  Why not wait for winter with its cosy chill, and sit by the fire with a mug of the mulled stuff and read a good book?  You are all with me aren't you?  I can hear you scuttling away to log on to 'Just Eat' and fiddling with the Netflix controls.  Why not have it all?  We have the gift of experience, the capacity to grow and the wisdom that comes from making many mistakes.  I want to eat well, have fun, exercise, travel and look after myself ….. then, sit down with a good book and glass of wine, by a crackling fire. 

With Happy in White

"You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be"

Marianne Williamson

 

 

With the onset of this new year, I am ready to thank my body and thank it for going through the processes it needs to go through.  It has progressed from childhood, navigated its way around adolescence (albeit the long way around ha ha) and blundered through the maze of young adulthood with all of its expectations and disappointments.  I can make this stage easier by gratefully acknowledging the changes that turning fifty brings, making appropriate adjustments and adopting new strategies.  Who knows what exciting new things I will learn along the way and what amazing people I have yet to meet?

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope September is an awesome month for you and that it is choc full of promise and excitement! 

Send me your comments by clicking on 'comments' and then writing in the box.  I would love to hear your experiences and when you feel the year starts.

Being Yourself at Fifty

Are you in your 40’s or 50’s and feeling just a little lost?  What is expected of you now?  Maybe you have had a successful career so far or maybe you are finally ready to launch one but feel guilty investing time in yourself?  Do you look at photos of a younger you and think ‘this is it, I’ll never look or feel that good again, just have to stumble on as best as I can’?  Or are you optimistic about your future but wonder what is acceptable to pursue?  Can I have fun, start a new career or venture, invest time in my health, body, looks?  Do I have to start eating chia seeds?  These are questions that I would like to explore with you.  

Walking near Jagiellonian Uni

"Be what you are.

This is the first step toward becoming better than you are."

Julius Charles Hare

Just to be clear, my Lady Chic Pea blog is not concerned with dishing out unwanted advice; it is not designed to control how you go about your life.  The honest truth is, Lady Chic Pea is unashamedly about ‘me’.  The content is purely to share how I go about ‘doing me’ and what works for me (and what does not).  It has taken a long time to learn to be me, so I am going to celebrate the fudge out of this!  If anyone likes anything they see, then please go ahead and copy or adapt what I do to suit you and I am honoured to have been of service.  Thank you (takes a bow).  Ignore what you do not like.  Please feel free to share what YOU do and what works for you; I would love for this to be a conversation and supportive platform.  There are however, certain considerations I wish to draw your attention to before you go ahead and blindly follow where I am stumbling along.  These include:

1.  I fully accept that my way may not be everyone’s way

Just because I feel that metallic platform thigh boots are not a stylish accessory for a fifty year old young lady (or maybe for anyone??), that does not constitute a scientific fact, nor even part of our general social contract for what is or is not acceptable.  There is much we can learn from each other. 

2.  We are all different so go at your own pace

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Yes I know, this is not a profound statement, however, how often have you had to listen to advice from someone regarding what is ‘good’ for you?  If you have great legs, then your ideal skirt length will differ from mine.  Training for a marathon* when you have a heart condition or eating walnuts for their good oils when you have a nut allergy could easily put you in the nearest A&E.  Tread with caution when following advice and of course, consult your health care professional as necessary.

 

3.  I don’t always follow my own rules

Well I never professed to be a saint did I?  I do stuff that I am fully aware goes against what I would advocate; this could be due to lack of willpower or resources, laziness or sheer defiance.  We all have our ‘couldn’t give a f***’ moments; hello chocolate mousse cake (well it’s vegan so it’s fine right?).

These will do for now.  I think you get the point?  Having said that, I do think it is important for every woman, whatever her age, to feel confident, beautiful (in every sense of the word) and good about herself.  We are awesome human beings who have accomplished the extraordinary in our journey as friends, sisters, wives, mothers, teachers, counsellors, carers, engineers, doctors the list goes on….  All this whilst fighting for our right to be seen, heard and respected as equals in our society.

Tattoo and Bikini shot

"She wore her sexuality with an older woman's ease, and not like an awkward purse, never knowing how to hold it, where to hang it, or when to just put it down."

Zadie Smith

Who Am I at Fifty?

Be you!  There, that should be easy should it not?  If only….  If, like me, you have come to realise that trying to please everyone else never works (Mary Poppins cracked it, but don’t set yourself up for failure), you may have come to the conclusion that adopting a degree of selfishness may make you a better person to be around.  That, in itself, may well do more for others, than foolishly second guessing what you think is the right thing and consequently upsetting everyone.  If you are comfortable in your own shoes (or metallic platforms), then people around you will not only be comfortable around you, but also may well gain much from your calm and level headed presence.  Being kind to yourself facilitates kindness to others.  I believe that kindness is more than just an act; it is a state of being and thinking.  Acts can be carried out for point scoring, popularity, promotions, climbing social ladders or simply to quell guilt.  Harbouring kindness towards others from within involves humility, acceptance, forgiveness and positive energy towards others.  Wishing others well removes hate, jealousy and insecurity from the equation.  This is not an end state of course, and we can all be judgmental (you take your child to McDonalds??) however, it is the awareness and the intention to be better that resonates with our higher selves and improves us.  As I have said before, I reiterate – I am not trying to be Mother Theresa, but a better version of myself.  Looking after myself and my needs enables this process, and it is very much still a work in progress.

Meditating on bench at saltburn

Confidence first, then comes beauty

The unintended consequence of this is that the confidence that comes with pleasing yourself** enhances your beauty and allure.  It gives you youth, vitality and a confident beguiling sense of style and self-assurance.  Only when I look after myself properly, internally and externally, can I be of better service to others.  That may be simply having the emotional energy to support them or the physical energy to assist them with some practical difficulty.  We all deserve to grow and flourish, and this, lovely people, includes those of us going through our middle years.  Many of us are in a position to unfold untold talents that have been lying dormant during the years of partying, working and raising families, among other things.  When wishing others well, please do not forget yourselves;  if you do, you may become invisible and the whole world misses  out on what you truly are, even if it’s an elderly neighbour who looks forward to seeing your smile and exchanging some cheerful banter every so often.  Me?  I am still raising a family and trying to develop my writing and photography, but it is very early days.

What Am I Currently Focussing On?

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Decluttering and minimising

Getting back into exercise and finding what is right for me – this is changing as my body changes

Using good quality, organic and vegan skincare

Taking the supplements for my body’s needs and for optimum skincare

Eating a plant based diet – wholefood at least 80% of the time, with around 20% at most, allocated to treats such as vegan ice cream and wine

Developing myself and skill building

 

I would really love to hear what you are working on, how you are developing yourself or how you are handling the middle years.  I would welcome any tips and advice, as I would like this to be a sharing platform where we can hang out together and share our experiences.

 

*you will NEVER EVER see me training for a marathon! 

**without being an asshole – (thanks and acknowledgement to Sarah Knight ‘You Do You’)