Inspiration

Women’s Day? Bring it On.

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What’s that you say, it’s Women’s Day? The Women’s March was a mere 6+ weeks ago. How can that be?

If you follow the political news cycle like I do, the Women’s March happened in the Middle Ages. I won’t bore you with all the political nonsense that’s been eating at me in the interim, but I will share that I was invited to be part of a photo documentary book for Planned Parenthood, shot by the immensely talented, Nadine Robbins.

Nadine is a painter, designer, photographer. Her portrait paintings are beyond the beyond. So when Nadine mentioned she was shooting a Diane Arbus-y black and white photo book with a few local women who marched – and I could keep my clothes on (she paints contemporary nudes) – I jumped at the opportunity.

The book is slated to be mostly photos. So I’m not sure if any of this interview will appear in the book. Nevertheless, I persisted to answer Nadine’s questions, and here they are…

Where and why did you march?

Right after the election, my outraged colleagues and I discussed plans to march together at the Women’s March on Washington. I help run a women-led national organization that pulls me deep into the world of politics. I travel to DC often, so Washington would have been the obvious march for me to attend. But as I knitted pussy hats on the train to and from my Hudson Valley home and Washington, my parental heartstrings tugged me towards my children.

My daughter and I had been having almost daily discussions about women’s issues. We worried Planned Parenthood would take a direct hit from this new extreme right-wing administration.

I remembered a time when women fought for reproductive rights, before woman had control of their bodies, before legalized abortion. It was during the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970’s when I discovered that the personal is political.

Defunding Planned Parenthood, an organization my daughter and I had both used and supported, was personal. So I decided to march in Boston in solidarity with her, near her home, against a sexist, anti-women administration that aimed to take basic human rights away from my most cherished loves, my children.

How did the March make you feel?

At the end of the march, I felt high, like I was floating above a dark cloud. I had accomplished something that was bigger than me. I had joined millions of people sending a strong message that women are listening, we’re watching…and if our reproductive rights are taken away, we will regroup and fight.

With the constant barrage of harmful, regressive policies spewing out of this administration and those who condone it, it’s been hard to sustain the enthusiasm. While a part of me would like to crawl under the covers and wait out the nightmare, the radiance of the march still shines hopeful.

What was the best sign?

There was a young guy holding a sign that said, “Mom would have been very proud of you. Love, DAD” He was smiling, but there was a story there that I’m sure would have broken my heart.

What do you plan to do now?

Acting on conviction is our best defense. I’m writing to ensure we don’t normalize this dangerous administration. And I’m working locally and nationally to vote Trump and his cronies out of office.

My hope is that we can harness the energy of the March into launching a movement that goes beyond the current administration. Change happens when people speak out and demand it. Respecting and protecting the notion that equal rights are human rights is always worth fighting for.

Poster: Library of Congress, Women’s Graphics Collective

It’s Only Rock and Roll

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Had an interesting discussion last night with my brother about the packaging and personality of music — the lost art of album covers and lyric inserts.

My brother is in the music biz. Along with partner, Chuck Leavell — The Rolling Stone’s legendary keyboardist — he’s created irocku, a website that provides online rock music lessons.

We talked about how we’ve wholeheartedly embraced digital music, but cannot remember the words to current songs. Could it be age, or that we don’t watch music videos? We agreed that it was most likely because we read album covers and inserts.

We looked at music differently.

The covers of The Beatles White Album and James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, are indelibly inked in my music memory. The late 1960’s and early ’70’s were chaotic, full of friction and heady introspection. All the coming of age stuff — that moment in time when life changes forever.

This excellent video critiques the intersection of culture, music, art — and its changes:

What’s your most memorable album cover?

Unreal

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“Oh look, there’s Meg Ryan.”

A curly topped slim blond woman in oversized jeans, striped tee, sunglasses and Dansko clogs stood in the lunch line with us.

Peeking out from under a floppy hat like the celebrity I am not, I whispered to my husband, “She looks sweet.”

Of course, I’m appraising this from the soft landings her movies emote — When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle… I have no idea if she is sweet.

Since I wrote the article about cosmetic surgery, I’ve been thinking about what is real and what is not. What’s artificial beauty? Are cosmetic “enhancements” and hair dye unnatural? What about hair extensions?

Meg Ryan looked like Meg Ryan.

In my last post, a reader left this comment about the characters in one of my favorite Netflix series:

“Seeing Jane Fonda on Frankie & Grace and Meryl Streep makes me ill. They’ve aged sooooo well.”

Remembering the scene where Grace (Jane Fonda) takes off her makeup, hair extensions, and the little clips on her face that give her a surgery-free facelift, makes we wonder whether passing judgment on what is real and unreal has any merit at all, especially in the entertainment business, an industry so inflated, so distorted.

Maybe Meg Ryan had facework like the tabloids claim. Maybe not. To me, Meg (apparently, we’re now on a first name basis since we stood in line together) looked like the other 50-something-year-old women waiting for sandwiches.

She looked sweet. She looked real.

Is it real when you feel comfortable in your skin?


A few extra notes:

Note #1 Eco-design followers: I haven’t forgotten you! Here’s Meg’s design philosophy:

“The whole idea is to keep things as simple as possible; I like everything pared down to its purest form.”

Check out how she puts this into practice in her Martha’s Vineyard beach house.

Note #2 In my summer travels, UNREAL candy — “reUNventing your favorite candy” — has been popping up — and into my mouth. Is candy with “real” ingredients and less sugar UNjunk?

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A Trend. A Pushback. A Change.

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A Trend.

“Take any girl in her twenties and then check back in with her 20, 30 or 40 years later. I guarantee that you will see a stronger, smarter, better version of that woman later in her life.” ~ The Prime Book

Stronger, smarter, better…

Resonates, doesn’t it?

A Pushback.

Many of you know I decided to grow out my long, dark chemically-dyed hair. All transitioned now, it is a flowy silver mane. I love it. Yet, for decades I dyed my hair the color of coal. In fact, one of the main chemicals in my old hair dye, PPD, para-Phenylenediamine, is derived from coal tar!

The Green Divas invited me to write about the roots of our obsession here: 3 Questions About Hair Dye & 3 Reasons To Ditch It .

Now… my mother, my best friend and most of you color your hair. So believe me, I get it. The barrage of age-appropriate hair behaviors we ascribe to is a tough nut to crack, and no one wants to find themselves on a hairdresser’s hit list.

Speaking of hairdressers…

I chuckled reading about the flap on the other side of the pond between Sarah Harris, the feature fashion director at British Vogue, and Nicky Clark, “UK’s leading celebrity hairdresser.” Silver-haired Sarah responds with just the right fervor to Nicky’s urging the Duchess of Cambridge to cover her gray roots — or else — it will be a “disaster.”

Nicky: “Until you’re really old, you can’t be seen to have any gray hairs”

Sarah: “To cast such trite aspersions is like saying that women can’t have long hair the other side of 40, or that a 57-year-old man can’t have a blond, flowing, tinged (?), highlighted (?), backcombed (!) bouffant, whether they’re a celebrity hairdresser or otherwise.”

A Change.

As we get older, women can defy the notion that we need surgical procedures to disguise ourselves into looking youthful. But when roadblocks present a picture to younger women that they better do something quick or else the ravages of time will surely take their toll, I am reminded of this,

“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” ~Rosa Parks

And that is why I wrote a rapid response to the recent TIME cover article, Nip. Tuck. Or Else: Why You’ll be Getting Cosmetic Procedures Even If You Don’t Really Want To? Here’s my take on this trend:

Nip, Tuck…and What?

There’s a sea change in the way we see ourselves and are seen. While it may seem like we live in a culture that prizes youth above all, in the miles ahead we can renounce those who tell women to tuck up, cover up or shut up — and become living proof that with age we are stronger, smarter, better.

The Sun Sets, The Mood Changes

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Often places and objects that transform, reveal a visible pace of change. This shack, called the Lucid Stead, is an installation created by Phillip K. Smith III on a 70-year-old wooden residence in the California High Desert. It wears its heart cleverly on its sleeve, as you can see right through it. While quietly changing its mood as the sun rises and sets, it settles into its surroundings.

It endures. It thrives. It fascinates.

This reminds me of another house I’ve written about, the Mondrian House. I revisited it last month on a brisk morning, pausing to watch it live, breathe and shake off the difficult winter. The house cautiously takes in the ocean air, while gazing out over this Aquinnah landscape:

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The homes we take for granted rise and fall as we do. Taking with them bits and pieces of the past, present and future with variable degrees of wear and tear.

As the sun sets and the mood changes, a big birthday rises this week. There are no clear aging guidelines, only ones derived from instinct. It’s not really the age I feel. I could remodel, but that doesn’t seem authentic to me.

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I’m summoned towards nostalgia for the freedom of the good old days, while looking out over the changing landscape and seeing things as if viewing them for first time, with fascination.

Photos: Mirror House: Steven King Photography, Landscape: Ronnie Citron, Water image: Gabrielisak Photography