Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bead Journal Project -- January 2009

Radiance...


January is my birthday month and last month I turned 44.

Frankly, I think that 44 is a lucky number...double 4s, a "hard 8" for those of you like to gamble. I've always won money when I played a hard 8 so I look at all of that as very positive. After all, 44 is still really young!

But this birthday, when I looked in the mirror, I realized I was one of those women whose friends should write to a makeover show and say "Please, take her...". I say that only because I've gotten a bit stuck...a bit "behind the times"...and it surprised me a little bit.


My hair has no special cut and I'm forever putting it into a ponytail before it even dries. I spend less than 10 minutes getting ready in the morning. Since I stopped working a few years ago, I've found myself spending most of my days in my workout clothes -- dress to walk or run and then just stay in those clothes all day long. I've also been plagued with adult acne in my forties which is a big pain since it covers not just my face but my arms, chest and back. So sleeveless tops or anything which reveals any skin makes me self-conscious. Even though it's a bother, I'd much rather have acne now than when I was a teenager. Don't worry, I'm really not a "Woe is Me" character and I tell you all this as background for my January Bead Journal piece.

All that being said, this birthday I felt, for the first time ever, like my days of looking Heidi Klum-esque were numbered. Now, don't get me wrong, I've never been one to like it when women be-moan their birthdays and complain about getting older. I have always viewed aging as a badge of honor to be embraced and worn proudly.

But, back in my head somewhere, I always felt like I had time... I had time to lose those extra pounds, to find the right shades of makup and buy JUST THE RIGHT DRESS...and I could still be a knockout. I mean, it's possible that I could still pull it off. I hadn't yet crossed it off my beautiful long list of possiblities...I mean, I would have LOVED to be Halle Berry the night she won the Oscar and she wore that beautiful dress so beautifully and looked so beautiful in it. Wow. It's just a fabulous site to behold when it all comes together like that.


I've always loved fashion and the red carpet and clothes but I've rarely indulged in them myself. It's not that I didn't want to...I just hadn't gotten around to it yet. But now I'm thinking that, even though I may still get a chance to wear that Red-Carpet dress, my days of having it look like a stunner are severely limited, if not gone. I've passed into the "She looks good for her age." or "She doesn't look so good for her age." And given my past love affair with the sun and no sunscreen, you can guess my fate...

I really am very happy in this place but I think it's fair to mourn a dream for yourself that you know won't come true. So, there you have it. My January BJP is an homage to the dream of the beautiful dress that every woman would love to wear and very few get to.


The irony is that back in the day when I really could have worn a beautiful dress...I wouldn't have chosen to wear one if my life depended on it. I was a tom boy; I was athletic; and, I thought dresses and skirts were impractical.

Now that I'm older, I find that I am smitten with the elegance, the beauty and the grace of The Dress. Movies with great dresses have a new allure; Project Runway is my favorite show and I'll watch re-run after re-run. And, it's true, I'm ashamed to admit it but People Magazine's Best and Worst Dressed issue is one I actually pay money for now...

What happened? Why now?

I can't answer that for you but I can tell you this. I'm not throwing in the towel. This year, I will give myself my own makeover. I will cut my hair in a modern style and I will find a dress that looks beautiful on me and I will wear it down the stairs of my home and my husband will turn to look over his shoulder, get a glimpse of me, and think I'm stunning.


See, I'm blessed to have married a man who already sees me in the dress. And I know that it's not the fabric and the style that he sees when he looks at me -- and I am so very grateful for that.

I know that what makes someone irresistible as they age is not how they look but how they act. Life coach Martha Beck says that, in all the small choices you make every day, choose the ones that make you feel warmer and more alive.


If I choose love, kindness and generosity... If I smile and meet my fellow man with true joy...If I give of myself without reservation...If I choose light over dark...then I know, I will be radiant. I will be dressed to the nines and it won't matter a lick what I'm wearing. Can you imagine the reporter: "And who are you wearing this evening, Susan?" And I would reply, "I'm wearing Radiance." And the the whole world would want to wear it too and the world would be a better place...

OK, sorry, I'm awake now. And, here you have it...


Radiance will be my new birthday dress and I will do my best to wear it well.

42 comments:

TattingChic said...

What a beautiful bead journal project. "Radiance" is a lovely dress to wear! Stunning project! The post is lovely, too. Happy Belated Birthday to you! :)

Brenda said...

This is a beautiful page! An your post was so eloquent. I have the idea that your inner light still gives the outer you a glow. I think you are brilliant.

Camilla La Mer-Art Dolls said...

I just wrote you such a heartfelt, beautiful response and blogger deleted it!!! The words are gone for me, alas. But I wish you the happiest birthday in preparation for the next 44-88 years! I love your January piece...I will try to write again later if my eloquence replaces my disappointment in technology once again...Much love, Camilla

Sheila said...

I find you inspiring on so many levels. Thank you for sharing.

tirane93 said...

that is just darling!

Maureen in Maryland said...

Oh Susan,
you have done it again. This is just stupendous. I hope you will bring it tomorrow so I can see it in person.
What a wonderful post as well. I have thought of you as beautiful since the first day I met you. You have a beauty that 'radiates' (thus 'radiance') and when you are around, a person just wants to get close to you to feel that beauty and experience the beauty you create around you.

Lynn said...

Susan - welcome to being radiant at 44; I've been here since July and its a great place to be. I too, miss the days when everything and anything looked good on me and I'm still adjusting to that fact, but I see that longing for the past is not the way to live. I have accepted my larger body, freckles and spots that seem to appear out of nowhere (sun worshippers unite!), gray hairs, etc etc, because when the day is done I'm still happy in my skin whatever it looks like! I know you love to read and my favorite children's book is Verdi by Janelle Cannon (Canon?) - about a snake who tries to fight aging- its a must read!! Happy Birthday!

verobirdie said...

Lovely post! I can identify myself with your feelings. I guess it is the age that does that to most of us :-)
That dress is brillant, even more with the story that goes behind.
Oh, Happy birthday!

Lynn said...

Oh for heaven's sake - how could I forget to mention how AMAZING this piece is???? Love love love it - and then when you lifted the skirt and the message beneath - just adorable!!

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings on age and beauty.

If your husband thinks you're beautiful then guess what? You are beautiful.

Your beaded dress is lovely as well.

Heather J. said...

Happy belated birthday!

And the BJP is gorgeous - I'd definitely wear that dress.

Elmsley Rose said...

What a beautiful entry!!!!

Debra said...

I bet there is a dress waiting out there with your name on it. Why don't you go find it? It could very well open some new doors to adventure to you.

flying fish said...

I love your perfect dress! I'd wear it even though I'm still a knee scraped tom-boy at 45!

Lisa said...

Happy belated birthday! This post touches me in so many ways... hard to know how to respond! The dress and beading... gorgeous! Radiant! But lifting the skirt to see the inner character... Priceless and beautiful! Those characteristics will always shine through, no matter the dress (even if it's just work out clothes!)!

Mary Timme said...

There is nothing wrong with wanting to look your full potential for beauty. I'm over 20 years older than you and still want to be the best I can be and not hide behind my fat. I think that is normal.

I wasn't a girly, girl either, I didn't think, but I've had people tell me I'm the most feminine person they know (I think they meant it as a compliment!) so I didn't get it all wrong. Beside your husband doesn't see what we see. Just like we don't see the old guy standing there, (in my case), but the young man who swept us off our feet and we've loved ever since. That's what love does. So, if you want to look your best, my best advice is get a bra fitting. I was so amazed and it has helped me feel better about myself. Weird, but there you are.

GraceBeading said...

Wonderful, wonderful post, I felt it all the way to my bones. I know exactly what you mean.

The dress exquisite, your photos stunning.

My heart is warmed knowing I am not alone. Thank you.

KV said...

Think I will be walking around with a big smile on my face for the rest of the day after seeing and reading your post.

Beautiful work! Happy belated birthday to you, too!!!


Kathy V in NM

Julie said...

What a beautiful dress. I am listening to your words right to my core. Thankyou so much for your wisdom. You are just a baby and your insides are are far ahead of me who has strugdled for years with Eating Disordered thinking and behaving. I, 54 am just coming around to where you already are. Congratulations and have fon with your makeover. A great haircut always helps. Julie C

Cindy said...

This is adorable!

happyjacqui said...

Yet again you have WOW me with your BJP, your writing and photography.

Happy belated birthday. I remember wasting so much time when I was younger worrying about what people would think about about me, so I hid behind too big fisherman smocks and maternity dresses, all the time wanting to wear those pretty clothes the pretty girls wore. Imagine my amazement when my eldest daughter (not fat or skinny, just right) tried on a skirt I had worn before she was born, only to find it was too small for her. I had wasted so many years on NOTHING! So I say, own your 44 yrs and wear that dress!

Robin said...

Susan, you wear radiance and joy and generosity very well indeed, better than most. Your beautiful heart is always radiant whether covered in sweats or dressed to the nines. You have every right to mourn a dream, especially since you recognize it for what it is and are at the same time awake to your real beauty! Happy birthday dear, beautiful friend! Robin A.

Diane said...

I've really no idea what you look like in person, but through your writing and your wonderfully creative projects, I know you are a beautiful person. And, you know, 44 is very young. You have loads of chances to wear the dress. I wish you a very happy birthday and many, many more.

Carol said...

Happy Happy Birthday.

The page is exquisite. Your thoughts, thought provoking.

I never liked dress up when I was a child. In my 20s, I dressed to the nines, always very sexy.

Later I found my world in casual clothes and jeans and NEVER looked back.

I never worried about aging, because like you, my husband thinks I am beautiful as I think he is handsome.

But now at 57, I look in the mirror and wonder where my long lashes have gone...should I buy false lashes? no. I pull the skin at my cheeks back to see how I used to look...o well.

Nope, at 57 I am what I am and that's what I will be. And happy.

black bear cabin said...

first, i want to thank you for sharing something so personal that i think most of us feel...but rarely talk about!
I think thats the beauty of reaching your 40's...
honesty...which in turn is quite beautiful :) Gowns, purses, jewelry, shoes...all fun to look at and admire, but nothing i bother with. Living in a log cabin in the mountains...those things dont matter(or make it) up here. But its important to find the time, even if once a year, to dress up...lay on the make up and have fun! (thats probably why i play in the SCA)
Anyways, i enjoyed your blog very much! Happy Belated Birthday to you!
Your bead project is lovely, as are you! :)

Chris said...

Another stunning project to enjoy. I so love your creativity. 44 has been a wonderful year. (45 in March) I love my life. I am who and where I am supposed to be. Susan, you look at least 10 years younger than I. I never would have guessed. You are elegant. It is obvious to see that in you through your posts. You sound like me at that milestone too. When I turned 44 I told my husband if I ever got the weight off he needed to nominate me for What Not to Wear. I have been working at home for 7 years now. All my career clothes went to Goodwill years ago. In the winter I often find myself in PJ's until lunch time. I miss fashion but where I live a sweatshirt with flowers on it is considered dressy. Hmmm, where to wear that cocktail dress? Thanks for putting my thoughts into words. Chris

a2susan said...

Thank you for another beautiful bjp piece and the thoughts you share. Happy belated Birthday!!

Susan

pam T said...

OMG Susan - gorgeous page, inspiring and incredible post and happy January birthday to you, my friend! Your post is a lovely way to start the thoughts for the day and last me all week. You are courageous to write it all out loud! I feel every word you write and think "oh wow - I KNOW!"
Thank you so much for sharing....
about those jeans and that barrette - I'll be emailing you! :)

Barbara C said...

What a lovely post! Happy Birthday! One the wisdoms that comes with age is that we can appreciate the beauty of today.

And your piece is lovely. I love the words you placed under the skirt.

abeadlady said...

I know your DH sees that beautiful inner woman that we all do. I, too, live in jeans and shirts. My lifestyle doesn't lend itself to dressing up. Be comfortable with who you are. At 65, dressing to the nines is even less important. Do what you do to make you feel good about yourself. Don't worry about the rest of the world.

Arline

Tracey N. said...

Wow this is stunning. I am so awestruck by your honesty, your confidence and your talent with your beads, expressing yourself and your photography! You are one amazingly talented woman. I am going to be 50 the end of this month, and i am struggling with the same issues as you. I have always been told I look very young for my age, but I am seeing the signs of age in my face. I too and happy to just be wearing comfortable cloths, and not wearing so much makeup. I always feel good when i do dress up and do my hair and wear more makeup. I just would rather spend my time being me, comfortable and plain! I think you would be stunning in that dress!

Judy S. said...

Wonderful post, Susan. Your mom would be so very proud of you! Your January BJP is fabulous and seems, to me to reflect the real you, a lovely young woman in the prime of her life. Happy Belated Birthday, and may this be the best year yet with many more happy, healthy ones to come.

heidibeads said...

Happy Happy Birthday! I wouldn't wear a dress now if I had to but to create on like this is great. Your attitude of joy and love come right through with this page. Your jouranl entry is honest and you are so lucky to have a wonderful husband who sees you in this dress anyway! He must be a keeper!

Marty S said...

I love the dress! You are wearing it in spirit. What a nice comment about your husband.
Marty S
Crackpot Beader

freebird said...

Happy belated birthday. You are right, 44 is not near to being old. And you really do have time to look nice in a dress. Maybe not the dress you might wish to but still nice in a pretty dress.

Your page and story were both great. That would be a very fun dress to wear but then you have to have somewhere to wear it to so you could show off a bit.

Leah said...

what gorgeous work! i love the words stitched under her skirt.

and i agree, project runway is such a fabulous show.

Cathy W said...

WOW! How can I possibly add more to what's already been said before me. This piece and your thoughts about life, birthdays, aging -- such eloquence and insight. I have only just discovered your blog and know I will be back often.

Love your photography too -- I must read back through previous posts to discover what else I have missed. I can hardly wait to see what I find & also look forward to your next BJP piece.

May I ask one question -- what size is this one?

Hélène H said...

Ooooh, I love that dress ! And I am so happy to hear about your makeover. Happy belated birthday and many happy returns !

denise said...

Susan, I have been anxiously awaiting the unveiling since I found your blog last week. I was enticed by your pics and words of gowns and I have not been disappointed in this beautiful gown on the cover of a journal that should only hold beautiful words.

44 is a great age (been here since June) and have collected vintage gowns for the last few years. I'm daily in paint clothes and often feel the unprettiness of that, but sometimes I put those gowns on just to parade around the house and I feel sexy, radiant! and light. A nice pair of high heels and a man that loves you that is nearby is a definite plus! Definitely good for the ego.

Many days ago I thought to send you a picture of a beautiful chartreuse gown I have from the 50's and will try to get that under way....I think you'll love it!!

I've always loved the glamour of the Award Shows, didn't care as much about who won what, just wanted to see the gowns and the up-do's.

So I order you -- go, go, go -- to a thrift, vintage, or consignment shop to find a beautiful gown to put on when mood strikes. I ask once in awhile to be taken out in said gowns, I don't even care what HE wears!! I just want the feeling of glamour and prettiness! Do it for yourself, life is tooooo short!!

Much happiness to you!

Jes said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes - it was so inspiring. Nowadays, just after my 25th birthday, whats constantly on my mind is - hows life going to turn out for me. On reading this, my prayer is that, 20 years on, I be able to say, like you, that I'm happy and blessed, that I be able to celebrate the years pass and have hope and joy in the future.

Muriel said...

I don't know what is the most beautiful...your dress or your post?
I had a little tear when I read it , then a smile. Thanks to talk about something that we feel too!

Colleen said...

I saw your work on the bead journal gallery page- It's so beautiful and joyful! It made me smile to see it! And you have such wonderful skill, but the subject matter was just so joyful. Thanks for sharing!

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