Fab 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.





Skin Brushing for a Beautiful Body after 50

Still Doing It After 50?

Ooh la la!  What could this be I wonder?  Is this too much information?  Of course not my lovely readers.  I am, of course, referring to the practice of ‘Body Brushing’.  This is something I have executed on a regular basis before showering, since my late teens.  Apart from the odd blip, this has been part of my regular routine almost like brushing my teeth.  Whilst there is no one, single way of maintaining a youthful, healthy and cellulite free body, I believe that regular skin brushing is a worthy contributor to a youthful body at any age, alongside other measures.

What is Skin Brushing?

Simple.  It is, basically, brushing your skin.  Using a body brush, carefully but firmly brush your whole dry body before showering.

How to Body Brush for a Youthful Body

Drybrushing

Always brush towards your heart and start at the bottom.  I begin by brushing the sole of my foot and working my way up the leg using firm overlapping strokes.  Then I do the other foot and leg. You can include some additional circular movements around your thighs and buttocks to really stimulate those areas.  Use clockwise circular strokes on your stomach then brush up your back.  This is when a brush with a handle is the more desirable option (unless you are a contortionist). Try Neal’s Yard Back Brush which can be used all over your body.   I give my hands a good brush, top and bottom then work up my arms, again towards the heart. I then sweep down my neck.

MINDFULNESS

Take it easy and be kind to your body. The pressure you use depends on which part of the body you are working on.  Some areas such as breasts will only need a light whisper of a stroke or to be missed altogether, but go harder on legs, bum and arms if you can.  Your tolerance will increase with regular use.

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Once you have finished, step into the shower as usual, perhaps using Neal’s Yard rejuvenating and toning Frankincense & Mandarin Shower Cream, then dry and apply a lovely body cream.  Find a natural product, preferably organic without harmful toxins and chemicals.  The body brushing procedure assists with the elimination of toxins from your body, so it doesn’t make any sense to apply more.  Neal’s Yard Remedies do some lovely ones including a Detox Toning Oil and a cellulite busting Firming Body Cream to refine and smooth the silhouette.  A richer, creamier option to stimulate collagen and combat aging would be the Toning Body Cream which is just divine with its toning frankincense essential oil.

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Nourish your body inside and out with the best organic ingredients

THE BOTTOM LINE

Body brushing is not a cure all and works best with plenty of hydration, fresh produce and some kind of movement (something bordering on exercise whatever form fits best with you). My body is far from perfect, don’t get me started, however cellulite has never been a major problem for me and now, at over fifty, it is still minimal and does not cause me any great concern.   Additionally, my skin always feels soft and smooth.  For this reason alone, my dry body brush totally deserves its place in my small, space limited bathroom cabinet.

I would like to refer you to an article which you may find informative as it looks honestly at the pros and cons of dry body brushing. https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/dry-brush-guide

If you would like to order any Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic products, they are available from me on https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/teresarenton 

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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.

The 'M' Word and 7 Top Tips for Coping

Glass half full at fifty

Who wants to age?  When we were children, we could not wait until our next birthday to be a year older, a year nearer to being ‘all growed up’.  At what point do we say ‘actually, next year I would like to start counting backwards’?  What makes us say that?  Is it anything to do with how we feel, physically or mentally?  Is it how we look?  Is it how society makes us feel?  Perhaps it’s when we realise we need glasses to see the ingredients list on a packet of rocket tortellini?  … or, more specifically, when we begin to start even beginning to show an interest in the ingredients list!  Oh … gone are those carefree days when the last thing on our minds was a list of ambiguous E numbers or trans fatty acids. 

Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab. And 70 is f*@king awesome!
— Helen Mirren

This is all good my lovely ladies!  This is a glass half full or half empty scenario.  Yes indeed; we could catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror and squirm in horror at the imposter we see trying to impersonate us.  We could say ‘This is terrible, I have to fix this!’  Reactive damage limitation, glass half empty scenario sets in, yikes!  What if, just IF…. we could see this lovely lady in the mirror for who she really is?  Wow!  The younger woman I was has really grown into herself and developed wonderful features that are hers and hers alone?  What if we could adopt an attitude of ‘This is perfect, I want to stay like this for as long as possible’, feeling, looking and being healthy, visible and vibrant? Enter the glass half full scenario.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly at Fifty

OK, it is time for honesty now.  This is a safe place and we can get some issues out of the way.  Just as we would never dream of putting make up on blindfolded, without assessing what we are working with, neither should we invalidate what we feel about some of the booby prizes we were given at a certain age, be it 40, 50, 60 or beyond.  For instance, the ‘M’ word is hovering above us like a flying cow, ready to drop a ton of …… 

champagne in krakow

''Well behaved women rarely make history!''

- Katherine Hepburn

Our experiences of this phase of our lives will differ from person to person, however, from my experience, sometimes it really is rubbish.  Again, it could be that our society does not explicitly nor readily accept the menopause as a ‘thing’ very much and it is given little, if any, consideration by those around us.  These could be made up of employers, friends, family, younger people, pets…?  As oestrogen levels decline, our bodies react like spoilt brats that have had their Xbox taken away from them for half an hour!  We potentially become grumpy, hot and bothered, incapable of rational thought and plagued by inexplicable anxiety.  A simple request such as ‘would you post this for me today?’ becomes the most unreasonable request on the planet … after ‘could I have a piece of your chocolate?’  A myriad of subtasks flashes up and you wonder whether you need to hire the services of a personal PA to organise this?  Just think …. I might have run out of stamps so I have to buy some; if I’m going out anyway, I should get the shopping in; but I usually do the shopping later in the week so I need to prepare a list earlier; I have appointments and other things to do though, so cannot start to plan the following week’s menu …. you get the picture?  Then none of it matters because you missed the reminder flashing up on your phone and you’ve forgotten the whole exercise anyway.  This is clearly a ridiculous scenario and I confess, slightly exaggerated, but totally acceptable for illustrative purposes. 

 

What is on the Horizon at Fifty?

Anxiety and brain fog aside, all of a sudden, your waist looks slightly expanded!  WHAT is going on?  I haven’t changed a single thing!  I eat the same types and amounts of food, I still go to pilates/gym/knitting club?  Yes, this is all a reality for many and of course it will be the precursor for feeling less than wonderful.  However, again, what if we could see all this for what it really is?  Just because puberty was basically rubbish at the time, it was merely a transition to moving on; it was a positive period leading up to further development into a young adult.  Once the spots and hormones settled down, oh what fun we had!

 

7 Top Tips for Maintaining Sanity During the Menopause

Perspective and Middle Age

"The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.  The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before."

- Albert Einstein

I believe this is an exiting time, albeit challenging.  It is all about perspective.  Look after yourselves in every way that you can, given your individual responsibilities and commitments. If you do, your body will thank you for it.  Here are my top tips for navigating through these fascinating, yet unpredictable waters:

1.   Speak to people or find someone to confide in.  The menopause is grossly ignored and therefore not on peoples’ radar, no matter how well meaning they may usually be.  I cannot stress enough how much difference doing my research and speaking to those closest to me made. Not only is it a relief to speak with friends who are going through the same process, but it enables other family members, significant other or even your children to understand you.  This makes a difference to how you will ultimately feel.

2.   Eat healthily.  Avoid too much refined sugar, alcohol, refined grain products such as bleached white flour, over-processed anything and denying yourself treats.  Do include plenty of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, food made from scratch, matcha green tea, healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocadoes, and limited amounts of oils such as coconut, avocado, hemp, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and of course, treats.  Eat organic as much as you can.  Some pesticides have been linked to endocrine hormone disruption.  This is something we wish to avoid because it means that potentially, the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal, pancreas, thymus, and ovaries could be adversely affected.  A nice website to look at is Alisa Vitti’s https://www.floliving.com/pesticides-hormone-health/  She is a bit of an expert in women’s health and hormones and writes in a way that is accessible to non-scientists.  In addition to containing more anti-aging antioxidants, organic produce is required to comply with strict regulations on pesticide use and is therefore a safer option.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away
— Maya Angelou
Beautiful sunset

3.   Consider HRT or alternatives.  It may not be for everyone and is safer for some than for others.  However, that said, I would strongly advise conducting your own research around this subject in addition to speaking with your healthcare practitioner; it may be the relief that you need and can protect against some forms of cancer. A good place to start would be Menopause & HRT: Q & A With Dr Louise Newson on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwjLP9O1inw

4.   Exercise.  Now I am known to be averse to overexerting myself, but even I concede to the benefits of appropriate and regular exercise.  It releases feel good hormones, it keeps your body supple and toned and your heart healthy.  Although I sometimes vary what I do, (I get bored easily) I am consistent in my devotion and belief in pilates, yoga and brisk walking.  I have a couple of hand weights which I use sporadically as and when I feel like it. Bingo wings are never pretty, so prevention is key.

5.   Use a broad spectrum SPF.  I cannot emphasise this enough.  There is no shortcut to youthful glowing skin but protecting it from the sun is the single, cost effective and most effective anti-aging strategy you can adopt.  Start now! I know that we require our vitamin D however, rest assured you will still benefit, as this vitamin will get through. This is largely due to the fact that sun protection is generally applied neither thickly nor frequently enough to block it; see more on this in the vitamin D consensus statement from British Association of Dermatologists, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Heart Forum, the National Osteoporosis Society and the Primary Care Dermatology Society: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Documents/Concensus_statement%20_vitd_Dec_2010.pdf.  A huge amount of time in the sun is unnecessary to generate sufficient levels of this vitamin; casual short bursts of exposure during the summer months is adequate.  Furthermore, the PHE (Public Health England) advises that everyone should ‘consider’ taking a vitamin D supplement as sunlight and food alone may not be sufficient. See https://www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/the-new-guidelines-on-vitamin-d-what-you-need-to-know/

6.   Nourish your emotional wellbeing. 

Lagom

'Lagom' - a Swedish word loosely meaning 'just the right amount, not too little, not too much, just right'

This doesn’t have to be an exotic spa weekend on some island of Paradise (but if anyone is offering?).  Think of the simple things that energise your body and mind, such as spending time outdoors in nature or meeting a friend for a coffee and chat.  Chocolate cake is a non-negotiable essential in this matter.  There are so many healthier options for treats nowadays too; I personally love the raw chocolate OM bars, and I find that the better quality the treat, the less I actually need.  Conversely, if you need that slice of white toast with chocolate spread (there is a bit of theme there methinks), go for it.  Ultimately, doing a little of what you fancy (ahem) is free medicine for the soul and will put a spring in your step.

7.   Think yourself young!  Avoid negative resignation talk – ‘I don’t do dressing up any more’, ‘The days of doing xyz are in the past’ or ‘I just wear comfy cotton M&S knickers, no more lace for me’.  You are NOT past your sell by date and the world is still as much yours as it is anyone else’s.  Respect yourself, embrace your changes with grace and make your contribution to society.  You deserve to have fun, share your knowledge, put on a chic outfit and wear black lace whenever you like! Take care of your manners, your health and your appearance but most of all, take care of your attitude; put on some lipstick, grab yourself some sass and sashay your chic into the world, or at least … the local cocktail bar.

I know I said 7 tips, but there is a sneaky bonus one for free!  Follow, as much as you can, a whole food plant-based diet!

This not an exhaustive list by any means and I am more than happy to share more tips, strategies and advice that I have incorporated into my life.  Please feel free to comment below and ask any questions.  I would love to hear from you. xx