Tag Archives: Vanity

Mirror, Mirror! Louise Hawes on Writing and Aging, Plus a Free Novel Giveaway

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Black Pearls

A post by writer Louise Hawes:

When you’re a working writer/teacher, you have more occasion than some to mark the passage of time—in your own face!

With each new book launch , conference gig, or writing workshop I commit to, there is always the request for a bio and “recent photo.” Ackkkk!

While I sometimes wish I could send out an airbrushed, retouched, ageless portrait, if I did it’s unlikely anyone at the event to follow would recognize me!

Botox? I’ll pass.

Face lift and tummy tucks? My body and I came to a mutual agreement years ago: we’re in this for the duration, and we’re in it together.

Hair color? Now that menopause has ended regular visits from my “friend,” I’ve decided to spare myself that other monthly pain as well. If I never inhale peroxide again, or wrestle with plastic gloves, or wonder if I put in so much toner my hair will turn purple, well, as the ad says, I’m worth it!

Snow White’s evil stepmother worried a lot about her image.

But it seems to me, her mistake wasn’t putting in all that mirror time; it was the way she looked at herself.

For Queenie, it was all about comparisons: who’s the fairest?

In other words, how do I stack up against my younger self, my daughter, the models in magazines, other women my age, how I looked yesterday, the women I pass on the street?

If you play that game, you’re bound to lose.

But what if looking in the mirror was a win-win?

What if each time you checked your reflection, you laughed out loud? Or cheered? Or clapped? Or cried.

That’s what I do, and it’s not because I’m early onset, either. Thanks to my sister, who’s a painter and teacher, I’m learning to come to the image in my mirror with fresh eyes and an open heart:

When her students start critiquing their work instead of responding to it, Helen asks her students to take a fresh look, to study it as if they’re seeing it for the first time.

“Close your eyes,” she tells them, “scrunch them tight, then open them and see your whole painting at once. Don’t focus on just one part, and don’t worry if some detail is right or wrong. Listen, instead, to what this brand new experience is telling you.”

That’s how I try to look in the mirror now—with my eyes, not my head.

I don’t zero in on the fact that one side of my mouth turns down further than the other, or on that tiny age spot shaped like Bolivia on my right cheek.

Each morning, I introduce myself to me, the me who’s here NOW, not in the past or the future.

I don’t fault find or take out my mental airbrush.

Instead, I smile and say hello. When we look at each other with that unconditional friendliness, my reflection and I?

Mostly, we like what we see.

And hey, if not, there’s always the sign I’ve taped to the glass: “At least, I still have my teeth!”

*  *  *

Speaking of Snow White (writers are sooo good at segues, aren’t we?!), I hope the winner of this book drawing enjoys dark fairy tales.

Black Pearls features all the old favorites, told from angles you’d never dream of!

Booklist called it, “Twisted, clever, and artfully written.” Named to the Hall of Fame of teenreadstoo.com and chosen as a Best Book of the Year by the Austin-American Statesman, this collection was written for both adult and YA readers.

You can watch the trailer here:

http://www.yatrailerpark.com/2012/11/black-pearls-by-louise-hawes.html

Giveaway! To enter the giveaway for a copy of Black Pearls, post a comment by May 6 saying you’d like to win. Winner will be chosen at random.

Louise

Louise Hawes is a founding faculty member of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. Her short fictionhas appeared in anthologies and journals in the US and Canada, and is collected in Anteaters Don’t Dream, and Black Pearls, a Faerie Strand. Her novels for young adults include Rosey in the Present Tense, Waiting for Christopher and The Vanishing Point.

Louise has a grown son and daughter, as well as four grandchildren (not yet grown, but shooting up fast!) She lives in North Carolina and travels frequently, often to give Four Sisters Playshops with Helen (mentioned above) and her three other sisters. These creative retreats explore film, music, writing, and painting, and have been held all over the world.

For more information on the Sisters retreats and a look at Louise’s books and lectures on writing, please visit www.louisehawes.com.

Photo of Louise:  The un-retouched, all-natural photo above was taken by writer and photographer Mamie Potter.

The Cover of Black Pearls was created by Rebecca Guay.

Guest Post: To Be or Not To Be–Grey Hair, That Is

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young-skunk-closeup

A guest post by my friend Gail Crane:

When I was in high school, my friends always commented on the grey hairs I already had.  Not many, but just enough for people to notice.

In my early 30’s, my Mom commented that I needed to dye my hair as I had too much grey for someone my age.

So I began the every 5 week task of dying my hair.

At first I had it done by my hairdresser when I would get my hair cut, but finally I decided it was too expensive and my stylist told me how to do it myself.

So for 30 years I’ve covered up the increasingly grey, or rather, white hair on my head.  At first I colored all my hair at 5 weeks.

Then as I got whiter and whiter, I had to also put color on at 2 ½ weeks–but only on my part, around my face and at my neck.  Otherwise I started looking like a skunk!

I have played with different colors.  My original hair color was dark brown.  I’ve been dark brown, light brown, reddish brown, and that brassy blondish brown that happens from putting color on your whole head each time instead of just the roots.  Now I mix two together to get the color I want.

It really doesn’t take that long to color my hair, but every time, I dread the process:

Covering up the counter top,  spreading towels on the floor, and putting on old clothes with a towel pinned around my neck to keep any color drips off of my clothes, skin and especially the floor.

No matter how hard I try though, I still seem to drip some of the mixture (which starts out white so you can’t see it) onto something.  Then voila!  You have a black spot on your floor which is unable to be removed.

We’re waiting until I finally decide to go grey to get new flooring in our bathroom.  No reason to do it yet.

I often toy with going grey. I see many women with beautiful white hair and wonder how I would look.

My sister, who used the same color as I did for years, said she was going to stop coloring her hair when she retired.  And she did, going through looking like a skunk to get to her pure white hair.  She likes it except for the pink scalp that shows now.

Sometimes when I start seeing those white roots appear, I think it would be nice to not have to bother with the messy coloring process.

Sometimes I wish I had never started coloring my hair in the first place.

But for some reason, I just am not ready to be grey.  Will it make me look old?  Make me feel older?

I don’t think I’m ready to go there yet.

Maybe, just maybe, when I retire in four years.

But maybe not!

Gail at Reunion

Gail Crane is a long time friend of  mine. She lives in Hillsborough, NC with her husband Joe and her two cats.  She says she’s a little more vain than she wishes she were, but even though she admits to being officially old, she’s just not ready to look it!  Her two grown children don’t want her to go there yet either.

Decided to go grey?  I’d love a post about your decision. Shoot me an email!  Thanks!

A Mirror Fast: Could You? Would You?

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Mirror

The idea of mirror fasting has hit the blogosphere!

Here’s an article in the New York Times giving you the reflective scoop:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/fashion/mirror-fasts-help-take-the-focus-off-yourself.html?_r=0

I probably need  a chocolate fast more than a mirror fast, but the concept of NOT looking in the mirror is intriguing.

But give up the mirror?  Even for six months?

Could you?  Would you?

The bloggers in the story aren’t menopausal, yet.  I think we menopausal beauties need the mirror to mark the years, to see the wrinkles inching their way in.

I don’t want to suddenly be old and not know it happened.

I have a friend who says her smile lines are symbols of all her happy moments. Another who says crinkles around your eyes represent your deep thoughts.

Hmm.

Not sure I’m there yet, but the concept of using the mirror to celebrate a well-lived life is an appealing one, that’s for sure.

What about you?

Interested in a mirror fast?

Photo:  My daughter Laura found this mirror at the Durham Arts Festival. It’s made from a spacer on a big, big truck. I’m not sure what a spacer does for a truck as it speeds down the road, but it makes a funky mirror. So here’s another question: If you were a spacer, would you rather be rolling down a highway or shining from a wall?

Guest Post: Vein Vanity!

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Judy Brown writes about the art of the vein:

The mosaic of tiny capillaries and purple veins.  It is yet another sign of our womanly aging. Every time I see an ad for a vein clinic, I hesitate.  I was really bothered when a friend of mine said she was going to a clinic to have all her protruding leg veins removed. I am sure many of you have also contemplated this procedure.

It is another decision.  But it is not a hard one for me because I have a phobia of needles. I look at my 82 year old mother’s colorful legs and see my future. I have several works of art already on my upper thighs: moles, freckles, sun damage, red dots, purple veins, other discolorations and undefined splotches.  Sometimes I stare at them.  Are  they all that bad?  

Are these intricate designs on our legs not works of art, perhaps, masterpieces?

A colorful curve in the capillary run might be the time you paced for hours in the middle of the night waiting for your teenager to come home.

The large and bulging upper thigh vein might be from stomping on the ground trying to make your point during the  “big fight” with your spouse.

Or the lacework patch of pinkish blood vessels might be the daily commute to your first job in the city.

I bet one burst was from running after your toddler at the mall!

These mini paintings show the wisdom of our years.  They show active lifestyles and miles of adventure. They show hard work and fun times. They show stress and pleasure. They even come in rainbow colors. Most amazing is that they are unique to each woman. We are each our own art piece.

What is the point of being perfect?  Of having perfect legs? How have you decided to reconcile this point of vanity?

**(Not being a medical expert, I do know that some cases of vericose veins are serious and painful, so the procedure is a life saver. I am referring to cosmetic options.)

Judy Brown grew up in Rio. Here she is basking in the sun during her senior year in high school with no worries of unsightly veins.

Stocking Photo:  These funky stockings are sold by a French company.  In case you don’t have bad veins yet but want to pretend, you can purchase a pair.   Learn more about them here.