Natural or not?

posted on: Thursday, 25 July 2013

I saw some images of Andie MacDowell today where she looks fabulous, and there I was thinking: how amazing it was that a woman of 55 can look great and confident without having had surgery. I just never put her in that category - then I googled it and found, oh, she has! This got me thinking, who in the over 40's celebrity world hasn't had surgery?! I so wanted to discover a bank of women who had aged gracefully and who looked natural and pretty but without intervention. Julianne Moore? Kate Winslet? Julia Roberts? I hope that these women really do stick to their word and don't stray into the plastic arena. There is nothing sadder than seeing that puffed up look of the 'before' and 'after' pictures.

I used to have a very different attitude to plastic surgery. When I was a little younger I used to think I would have all sorts done to preserve youthfulness. Then I had children and figured I would wait and see what I was left with, after the ravages of pregnancy and birth. A few years passed and in my mid-thirties I started to age. I am 39 now. In the interim time I started to experience pain in my face and jaw, which has been largely unexplained, but that I have truly struggled with. Many dental procedures have ensued and with that, a certain fear has developed of worsening the pain and of disrupting the very fine balance of health and well being. I am now staggered by the lackadaisical manner in which my contemporaries have procedures that are not absolutely necessary. I think differently if someone has a long-running psychological attachment with changing a certain part of their body, but for those who simply don't want to age, I wonder how they could reconcile their circumstances if they were left with a bad result or residual pain. How would I explain that to my daughter for example, who I want to embrace natural beauty? Even too much make up on her young face sends chills, let alone going under the knife or being injected. But nevertheless, the fade of youth is so...sad...isn't it?

The fact remains that I hate what ageing does and I wish there was a way to side-step it. I am interested in women who seem to defy it with good genes and skincare regimes. Hell, I even started making my own skincare oils in an attempt to utilise natural beauty. And it's working :-) I think a lot about why women start to look old and feel it has much to do with so many factors, from how they dress to their haircut, their attitude to their general health. All I can wish for is to stay young in my mind (after all, everyone says when they are 70 that they feel like they are 30) and fit in my body. I know that over time it will get increasingly difficult; I am not 40 yet, and there will be many women my age who look better and somehow manage to keep hold of that elixir of youth. I wish there were more who did so naturally.

I so don't want to succumb to that stage I see so many women go through where they cease to look any age - they could be anything from 45 to 75; the only indicator is their degree of frailty, not their appearance. Grey hair, beige clothes, drabness and invisibility. This scares me! I quite like Bobbi Brown's philosophy and have read her books 'Living Beauty' and 'Pretty Powerful' which really did help me get some perspective on getting older. You've got to keep on trying and stay healthy, yes?!

via here

Totes amazeballs...

posted on: Thursday, 18 July 2013

Thinking of re-runs of Dawsons Creek whenever I hear Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran's new song - it is so Joey Potter-esque it makes my heart ache.

Katie Holmes as Joey Potter...

Doors and windows open - summer streaming in. Walks in the fields. Heat and warmth and sun! Happy-making.

I had an 'I carried a watermelon' moment when I was given a really kind compliment by a school mum.

Watching 'American Pie' in all its raucousness -  it reminded me of being twenty-something, visiting best friends in Boston for the weekend...'this one time at band camp...'

Hugs with Boo - each day she seems to be getting closer to my height. Baffling.

A little cheeky trip to Russell and Bromley for sandals - ooops.

The prospect of having no work to do come August 5th. Hurrah.

Memories of Floridian holidays of my youth - sand dollars and shell shops and Gulf Boulevard sunset drives to air conditioned malls, billboards whizzing by.

Letting go of regrets.

Getting back into running; painful but worth it.

Going with my pregnant sister in law for her 20 week scan; all healthy and an everyday miracle on the screen.

Getting with the programme.

Pedicures - this time: Bordeaux red.

via brown dress with white dots
Blonde boys, cousins together.

Setting out my first chapter.

Bare feet - did I mention it was hot?

Lisbon tips from blog comments - the best way to travel.

Thinking ahead.

A keeper...

posted on: Tuesday, 16 July 2013

I am in pensive mood - despite my imminent exit from the corporate world, longed for and life-appropriate, I still get moments of minor freak-out when I think: '...whaaat!! what am I doing??' I recognise this existential angst and know it will pass, but nevertheless it has the capacity to derail my thoughts, provoke a deep breath, even a little tear when I contemplate walking away. I am not that good at walking away - you might say I am a keeper. Same town, same childhood sweetheart, same hairdo. I stick at things. But I know with this, once a few weeks pass, I will come out the other side and wonder what all the hesitation was about.

via patterson maker
Most of all I am sure, with a wry and knowing nod, that every time I read an article about working mothers - either for or against - I will empathise. For so many years I fought that cause, no matter what, and now I look back and wonder why was I fighting so hard? A bit like a marriage that isn't going to last the distance; should it really be that hard? There are many reasons why this is right for me now, but I hope that the lesson from it all will be that I work out when to quit something that has become too hard. Not because I am failing, but because there are always choices.

via patterson maker
This warm weather gives a glimpse of what life would be like in a proper, warm country. The scope it gives to be outside and to live life differently amazes me. So many options when there is sun; the extent of the British deprivation of it now becomes clear! I am lured by the summer sales - this whiff of balmy weather makes me rush for a whole other wardrobe of rarely worn items. Those that lurk at the back of the wardrobe and only get outings when on holiday. I have to exercise some restraint from buying more as deep down I know: it may not last!

We are going to Portugal in a few weeks for our annual trip - although this year we will be going to Lisbon too, taking the children for a few day's city time. Very much looking forward to it - and everything else in the post-corporate world.

via patterson maker

Pouring and Poring...

posted on: Tuesday, 9 July 2013

My Dad emailed me to tell me I had made a spelling mistake in my last blog post. Good to know - I have corrected it! Nice that he's reading along. I'd written I was 'pouring over Pinterest' when in fact it should have been 'poring'. This word is apt right now; meaning to read or study carefully or attentively. I am reading and studying everything carefully and attentively, to the extent that I am feeling ever so slightly tired. I would like to tip my brain upside down and sieve it out. It's one thing to notice the details, but it's quite another to obsess over them.

...walks along the canal with Boo...

...this year's crop; sweetcorn...

...wild rose on our shed...


...picket fence...
I wrote about how the year had passed and how I could compare and contrast then with now. But as you know, with too much analysis comes a certain kind of madness!

What I do know is that I have learned a lot about myself - some of it I suspected, some of it surprising. I didn't realise for example, that in some areas I really lack confidence. I didn't realise that there is a perverse part of me that will assert what I like, even if it alienates me. I didn't realise that what really matters is not what happens, but how you react to it.

It's all somewhat new territory ahead and that is enormously exciting and strangely - for a change-a-phobe like me - not that scary. I guess if you prepare enough, change, when it finally comes can be welcomed on your terms. I feel like I am finally on my terms - ditching the job and devoting myself to my home and family. I think a lot about integrity and what is right in life. I have reached the conclusion that although I long to be slick and rich and envied - what is actually more 'me' is to be charming and to have heart in what I do and how I come across to others. The same applies to L'Apothecary, no matter how much I could engineer it, at its heart it is pure and simple.

...perpetual longing for a lie in...

...bedroom window view...
For a really long time I have had pain in my teeth and my jaw - and for a really long time I have searched for solutions to it. It has recurred with alarming regularity; always waiting in the wings. I have read that fellow pain sufferers have come to regard their pain as a friend;  they have known it well and expected it when it arrived. They have studied it carefully and attentively. I wonder if this is the best approach, although I understand the impetus to pore over pain, as if to understand it, is to, in some small way, face it and own it. Right now - splat bang in the middle of a recurrence (and why? no obvious trigger? so frustrating...) I wish I didn't know the pain, I wish it was a distant memory. Maybe one day it will be...

Meanwhile the beautiful summer weather continues as some sort of meteorological blessing that every day I want to acknowledge and be thankful for. I keep saying to my children 'this is the sort of English summer I remember as a child; a proper summer holiday!' as if to reassert that all of my stories of paddling in rivers and walking in hayfields on endless, sun-soaked days in the 1980's were not complete fabrication! I spend my last few weeks of work in a slightly half-baked fashion (don't tell my boss) as I wait for my new life to start.

A year already...

posted on: Friday, 5 July 2013

Today my children break up from school for the summer holidays - honestly - where did that year go? Unbelievable. If I think back to this time last year, I see the changes that have taken place have been huge, but weirdly imperceptible until now, when I look at the contrast. Now - as two whole months of summer holiday stretch out ahead - I will try to take stock. The weather has turned and it is sunny, and according to the BBC it's going to stay for July. This very fact has become my most happy-making thing as the prospect of beach days and being outside become a real possibility. Never before have I been so grateful for a period of high pressure.

In bizarrely regular fashion (you'd think I would learn...) I have got all busy and stressy in recent weeks and yet again it's had consequences for me physically. I feel now that I must get back to where I was before I got undone; taking time out, yoga, good food, enough sleep. I am staggered how easily I let it all slip and how quickly the effects make themselves known. I want to keep the wisdom of my experience and instill it daily - why is it so hard to do that?!

We have decided to go ahead with some house renovations sooner than we thought and so all of a sudden we are planning and thinking ahead to having more space. As we hurtle towards the teenage years, Boo seems to be growing daily - literally before my eyes. We need more room. We need a house that fits better for the life we have now. Of course I am poring over Pinterest and planning, planning, planning my white-washed new space.

I've been thinking a lot about confidence - having watched end of term concerts and shows and sports days - I am struck by the supreme confidence of these children. It seems privilege grows confidence and confidence grows privilege. I ponder this and look back to my school days when frankly, there was no way near as much support and opportunity. Lucky, lucky children.

And meanwhile - I am awaiting the full story of the most romantic engagement that took place this week - from my friend Sophie - whose charming George proposed in Sydney. Sometimes love can surprise us and I love that :-)

And so to some good old fashioned things of beauty...

via crush cul de sac

Have a fabulous weekend!!
Lou xxx