Aging, Menopause, Skin

Guest Post: Vein Vanity!

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.

Aging, Skin

Skincare: One Girl’s Trash Is Another Girl’s Treasure

For many women (most?), aging skin is a heartbreaker.  We make upbeat remarks about our laugh lines and the happy moments they represent, but all in all, seeing your skin crinkle and spot up can cause some real frowning.

But what’s almost as bad, or worse, is FEELING your skin change.  Menopause does nasty things to the skin’s moisture.  Dry skin, especially when I come out of a hot shower, can turn me into a grump faster than you can say, “Sahara Desert.”

What’s tricky is figuring out what works to fix the dryness.

I have a confession:  I’m a Noxzema addict.  My great-uncle founded Noxema Canada, and so you see, it’s in the blood.  My girls are mortified.  They have read the label on the blue plastic  jar and know the product is marketed as a face wash.  But it works for me, and has for my family for several generations.

Which brings me to this blog post’s title.  A balm for some skin types can feel like wind burn to others.  I’ve had bad luck with more elegant brands, so  I keep blobbing on the Noxzema.  What my daughters and most skin care experts trash, I treasure.  I thank my menopausal stars I have a husband who doesn’t complain about its unusual smell  (L’eau of Cedar Chips, perhaps?)

What about you?  Has your skin gotten dryer as you’ve aged?  What’s your favorite skincare product and/or routine?  Let’s start a list.  That product you treasure may be the perfect solution for another reader too.

Photo:  The old cobalt blue glass jars above would certainly be trash to some, but my mom saved them.  Now they grace a shelf in daughter Kath’s home.  My guess is the taller octagonal jars on either end are Noxzema jars.  Any blue glass experts out there?

Aging, Children

Ah Skin, Ah Youth


There’s something sad about a mother who is jealous of her own children.  That’s not me.  If my children succeed where I have failed, I celebrate.

The girls got better report cards than I did—Happy Mother Check Mark.

The girls made varsity sports and I didn’t—Happy Mother Check Mark.

The girls went to their Senior Prom and poor old me did not—Happy Mother Check Mark.

The girls can read maps, are techno whizzes, and know how to use eyeliner—Happy Mother Check Marks.  I could go on and on.  Check. Check. Check.

But the other day, I was looking at Kath’s complexion.  She swears she is getting wrinkles around her eyes, but it would take a mega magnifying glass to find them.  Her skin is beautiful.  In fact, hers might be the skin older women praised me for forty years ago.

Bad Mother Alert!  Jealousy reared its nasty head and flashed its green eyes.  Jealousy tried to leap into her body and make that skin mine. But I stopped it in its slimy tracks.  Motherly pride prevailed.

It’s my turn to do the admiring of young skin.  This concept has taken a while to settle in, and I’ve had to squash my jealousy on a few more occasions.  Now every time I see skin worth trading an entire fall wardrobe for, I give that young lady a Happy Mother Check Mark, no matter whose child she is.  (And if I’m feeling extra motherly, I remind her how much younger I might look now if I had not let myself get suntans in my early years—It’s true; we used baby oil!)  Aging with grace includes embracing and championing people in all stages of life, especially the young–beautiful skin and all.

The portrait is Kath and Laura’s grandma, my mom, Nancy Wenger Kiehne, as a student at Duke University in 1944.  It was painted by one of her boyfriends.  She had lots of them.  Ah youth.