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Don’t Wait Until You’re 80 Years Old to Be an Eccentric Dresser Tags: Don’t Wait Until You’re 80 Years Old to Be an Eccentric Dresser

Image result for becoming the eccentric you as you age

Iris Apfel was involved in even more fashion collaborations this past year than her fellow ubiquitous fashion-spokesperson Alexa Chung. Linkups with Happy Socks (socks and underwear), Macy’s INC line (ready-to-wear), WiseWear (wearable tech), Tane (jewelry), and even her own line of emoji were added to her existing lines with HSN (more jewelry) and Eyebobs (oversize glasses). She’s also a “friend of the brand” for Swarovski, making public appearances on its behalf, and a brand ambassador for the Citroën DS — yes, the car. Apfel has been canny about taking what she calls her “geriatric starlet” persona multiplatinum while still preserving the appearance of being an outlier.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a vintage store in a Texas strip mall trying on a pair of oversize sunglasses. The shop clerk said, accurately, “Those are sooo Iris Apfel,” and then launched into a monologue about her love for the fashion icon, recommending Albert Maysles’s documentary on her. She loved, she said, that Apfel didn’t care what anyone else thought. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Apfel isn’t the only “geriatric starlet” to gain a beachhead with millennials, just the most famous. Advanced Style, the blog-to-book-to-documentary juggernaut helmed by Ari Seth Cohen, highlights rare birds of fashion d’un certain age, including Apfel herself, who leave no fascinator unturned. It’s of a piece with the Instagram accounts celebrating the ’80s-grandma lunacy of Angela Lansbury’s outfits on Murder She Wrote or listicle tributes to the Golden Girls. But there seems to be a kind of wistfulness in the veneration of elderly style by young people — a couple of years ago, several women in my office were talking about how they wish they could dress that way. One pointed out that we could, if we simply “lower the legal age of not giving a f—.” Our enshrinement of these women is part jealousy: wishing that we could be free of the need to be attractive to potential partners, to not scare away new friends or employers, to draw attention away from ourselves. What is today’s athleisure-bot uniform but a kind of camouflage, telegraphing an overwhelming sameness — the fashion segment of the bland global-minimalism design ethos that writer Kyle Chayka called Airspace? The acceptable years for eccentric dressing shouldn’t fall only during tutu-sporting childhood and blue-haired senescence.

Luckily, there are some women in my age cohort who aren’t waiting until they qualify for Social Security to stunt Apfel style. Susie Bubble has been doing girlie maximalism long before Alessandro Michele was a name on anyone’s lips; Leandra Medine built an empire on the transgressive appeal of “man-repelling” fashion. (When a woman dressing for herself constitutes a rebellion, you know we’re dealing with some screwed societal norms.)

Katharine Zarrella, the founder of Fashion Unfiltered, has a style outlook as unfiltered as her criticism: wacky hats and turbans, and lots of Comme des Garçons. Zarrella says that she really eased into the eccentric thing when she moved to London in 2010, inspired by the city’s embrace of weirdness. Since then, “I haven’t gone out in about six years without some form of cranial accoutrement — I feel naked without something on my head.” Another watershed moment was CDG’s 2-D collection for fall 2012. “I loved how powerful I felt when I wore it, and I thought to myself, why save this for special occasions? Why shouldn’t I feel like this every day? That was it.”

“Life’s too short to be boring, and I think people should find happiness and excitement in whatever ways they can,” she adds. “For me, it just happens to be through fashion … my understanding of my aesthetic has helped me develop a further understanding of myself — of who I am — and, in my opinion, it’s better to have a grasp on that by the time you hit 30 instead of waiting until you’re 60.”

My friend Piper Gray is another one of those women — she basically treats leopard print as a neutral. “I spent a lot of time as a kid in Tennessee drawing future-me in clothes I’d wear when I’d fully control my wardrobe,” she recalls. “It was outlandish stuff I’d see on Miss America contestants and Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame. (Those caftans!) I still go for the slightly outlandish, I guess, something a little bit bonkers. I recently took a personality test that said my defining trait was cowardice (rude), but I rarely second-guess what I wear. Aren’t we all striving for self-possession? Give me animal print and something shiny — that’s the closest I get.”

If anything, it’s the perfect uniform for unfettered youth. “I don’t have to worry about baby spit-up or kid crumbs,” she says, “so I can afford to be a little not-precious.”
18 Fun Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids & Adults Tags: 18 Fun Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids & Adults

Every year, around this time, I start dreaming of warmer climates. Images of sunshine, bare feet, and tropical thunderstorms haunt my daydreams. And I know I’m not the only one.

Whether you battle Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms or just get a mild case of the winter “blahs,” chances are – unless you live in Maui or Miami – you’re not getting outdoors as much as you should.

I for one hate being shut inside with the windows closed, but I also don’t like being cold. So I’ll admit, it’s hard to drag myself out for fresh air and exercise. And here in Michigan (and other northern climates), winter lasts a very long time. So it’s important – for our health and sanity – to find some fun excuses to get outside.

There are so many benefits to doing so: being active outdoors is a good way to cut calories and lose weight, the fresh air makes us feel better, and it’s a lot more fun and inexpensive than watching TV or surfing the Internet all day.

Be Prepared for the Cold

If you want to enjoy yourself, then make sure you won’t freeze outside. Don’t just head out in sneakers, jeans and a sweater under your coat. Think layers. Wear thermal leggings and several layers under your sweater. Wear a hat and gloves. If you’re not cold and uncomfortable, you’re more likely to have fun and not run back inside after 5 minutes. It’ll also help prevent you from having to come up with natural cold and flu remedies and treatment.

18 Winter Fun Ideas

Here are 18 fun (and cheap) outdoor activities to get you motivated.

  1. Go ice skating.
  2. Build a winter bonfire and make s’mores.
  3. Rent some snowshoes and go snowshoeing.
  4. If you have the equipment, go winter camping. If that’s too ambitious, check out your state parks for cabin or yurt rentals. Once you’re there, go on beautiful winter hikes (afterwards, a cozy fire is definitely in order).
  5. Take your dog for a walk. It’s one of the main benefits of having and owning a dog.
  6. Go cross-country skiing.
  7. Attend a dog-sled race. You don’t have to live in Alaska to see one of these – check your state’s Department of Natural Resources page, they usually have a list of upcoming events.
  8. Go sledding.
  9. Build a fort and have a snowball fight with your kids (or your spouse/partner). Or buy a snow block maker and build an igloo.
  10. Take a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa and sit outside on your front porch swing with a good book.
  11. Shovel paths in the snow.
  12. Feed the birds or go birdwatching. Make your own birdfeeders out of pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed.
  13. Go ice fishing.
  14. Go on a winter picnic. Take blankets, sandwiches and hot soup in a thermos. This might give you some fun, cheap date ideas for couples as well.
  15. Head out on a photo expedition to take pictures of the winter landscape. You can even take photography classes online through Coursera to improve your skills.
  16. If you live near a big city, set off on foot to explore it! You might want to check out some of the group buying daily deals sites like Groupon and LivingSocial to find new things to do in the area for cheap too.
  17. Have kids or dogs? Set up an obstacle course in the yard with jumps, tunnels and other challenges.
  18. Make snow paint. Simply add food coloring to water and put in a spray bottle, then go out and paint your yard!

Final Word

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s challenging to get outdoors in the winter. During the summer you can’t drag me inside. But the winter? My natural inclination is to turn into a hermit.

I get out of this mindset by making myself go outside. And, having an arsenal of fun ideas at the ready helps a lot.

Do you have any fun or unique ideas that motivate you and others to get outside when the temperature drops? Please share them here!

The Lost Art of Silence: Get Quiet and You’ll Know What You Need to Do Tags: The Lost Art of Silence: Get Quiet and You’ll Know What You Need to

“Silence isn’t empty. It’s full of answers.” ~Unknown

Last week I was visiting the Scandinave, a Scandinavian-style bath spa, with my mom, when it struck me how rare true silence has become. By true silence, I mean silence in the form of not speaking, but also silence in the form of reflection, pause, a capacity to become still, a capacity to just be and not do.

The art of silence was lost. Even at these baths, where the goal was to disconnect and enjoy the stillness of nature, there was constant chatter among groups with voices audible across the pool. It didn’t matter that signs were posted around the area, encouraging silence:

Honor Silence.
Speak Quietly.
Absolute Silence.

As a society, we have forgotten how to become quiet, how to become still. We are always on the move, always busy, always doing. We’ve forgotten how to just be.

This lack of silence pervades our lives. It’s in the moments filled with meaningless small talk about the weather to avoid simply sitting in silence. It’s in the moments on the subway, filling our ears with music, busying our minds with our phones, to avoid simply sitting in silence.

As a yoga teacher and practitioner, I have seen it showing up in the form of teachers filling classes with an endless stream of cueing. I have seen it showing up during savasana, the final resting pose, which gets cut short to avoid the anxiety of watching students fidget in the uncomfortable silence.

To me, this is a tragedy.

Silence creates space in our lives. It allows us to pause between moments, to process and reflect, to see beyond the surface into the depths of our lives. When we cut out silence, we cheat ourselves out of the fullness that life has to offer. Only in the silence can we truly hear the whispers coming from within us, urging us towards our highest potential.

Silence breeds deep connection, not only to ourselves, but to the world around us. The energy of a silent room filled with people is almost palpable. In silence, we are all powerfully connected to our higher selves, to the universe, and to each other.

For one moment at the spa, I felt this. Sitting in absolute silence in the sauna, silence brought a group of strangers together. We were all present, sharing the same moment, connecting with the world and not with our phones. It gave us space to turn inward, to take stock of our internal landscape, to let go of what no longer served us, and to renegotiate who and how we wanted to be in the world.

Without silence, we keep moving forward, not really knowing where we are or where we want to go.

I came away from that day of silence and quietude with a new awareness of what was happening in my life. In those moments of silence, I could hear my inner voice growing louder. Where it was once only a whisper, easy enough to ignore, it suddenly became deafening.

After a day of silence, I had no other option but to face it. I went home that day and had a hard conversation. Potentially one of the hardest I’ve ever had.

I realized that I hadn’t been honoring myself in my relationship because I had been afraid of losing something that I loved. My partner and I weren’t on the same page with what the relationship meant to us and what we wanted from it. Unintentionally, I lost pieces of myself to the relationship—by being the one to compromise, by being the one to follow, by being the one to give in. In this way, I put my relationship with myself last.

I stopped cultivating things I loved that were separate from him, in order for us to spend time together. I didn’t go out of my way to make my own plans on the weekend.

In the silence, I heard my inner voice becoming louder and clearer. I couldn’t go on feeling this way or being this way. The silence gave me the space to hear what my heart was saying and the strength to listen. Something had to change.

I had to stop sacrificing my own needs and desires just to please someone else. I had to start standing up for myself and making it clear that what I wanted mattered too. I had to start making my own plans and doing things just for myself, and not always waiting to see if he had other plans in mind. I needed to be me, wholeheartedly me, first.

It was scary to have that conversation, to feel like I might lose it all, by voicing what was in my heart. I was scared of what would happen if I stopped going along with it, if I started putting myself first. But I couldn’t avoid the conversation anymore. The silence roared.

Perhaps that is why we avoid silence—because once you hear the voice in your heart calling out, you can’t ignore it. You can’t go on denying what’s in your heart once you create the space to hear it out. And that can be scary.

Usually the voice within wants you to do the hard thing. The voice doesn’t want you to settle. It doesn’t want you to give up. It wants you to live to your highest potential. It wants you to climb mountains. It wants you to dream big and live big. And living that way isn’t always the easy thing. It’s not always the comfortable thing.

Leaning into silence might seem scary. It might even be painful at first because your mind and body will fight it. But I urge you not to run from the silence any longer. Embrace it. Allow it to create space in your life, because it will transform your life. Ultimately, the silence pushed me farther into the life I dream of, into a life of passion, of meaning, of giving myself my best shot.

Here are some ways you can rediscover the lost art of silence:

1. Start small.

The more time you spend in silence, the more powerfully it will impact your life, but diving straight into a ten-day silent retreat might not be the best approach. In fact, it might have the opposite effect.

Instead, slowly introduce small pockets of silence into your day-to-day life. If you drive on your daily commute, try turning off the radio. If you take public transit, take out the headphones and put away the phone. Feel this silence and notice what’s happening around you and within you.

2. Set aside time for meditation.

Block out a specific time in your day or week for a meditation practice. Perhaps it is first thing in the morning, or before you go to bed at night. Set a timer for five or ten minutes, sit or lie down with your eyes closed, and simply breathe. Watch your breath move in and out of your body.

3. Use mantras.

While at the baths, I used mantras to move into the silence. My mantra of the day was “Life flows through me with ease.”

In the silence, I heard myself fighting against the ebbs and flows of life—holding on to expectations, worrying about how things might turn out, resisting where things were going.

Sometimes our minds see silence as an opportunity to berate us with thoughts, thoughts about not being good enough, about missing out, about being in a hurry, about not having enough time. Our minds will be particularly active if we aren’t used to the silence. Your mind will fight the silence. A mantra can help you to quiet the mind and settle into the silence.

4. Use movement, such as yoga.

If our minds are particularly active and we have a hard time just sitting in silence, we can start with gentle, mindful movement to ease ourselves into it.

If we aren’t used to sitting in silence, our bodies can get very antsy. Silence can make us anxious. By using movement, we can soothe our nervous system and our minds, to make it easier to ease into a state of being.

When I first got to the baths, I used a few neck and shoulder stretches to relax my body for stillness. This focus on the body in turn helped ease my mind into the silence.

Embrace the lost art of silence. Your highest self will thank you.

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