Friday, September 8, 2017

Tiara Post - Finis

Happy French Friday! Here we are - with fifteen total tiara posts detailing the "Summer Tiara Challenge." How'd we do?

In North Carolina, it's drop-dead gorgeous (rather like the Fife Tiara, which is dazzling the post this week). We're enjoying a few days of clear weather with just a hint of coolness in the air. Perfect convertible weather! Pick your music and let your hair just waft in the wind . . .

Now get real. Before people have even dried out from Harvey, leviathan Hurricane Irma is determined to wreak havoc on Florida and even out here people are stripping the grocery shelves bare in case we lose power for a few days. I enjoyed the weather too much and wound up leaving my ragtop open to the elements when a thunderstorm rolled in. And letting your hair - ever your super-cool cobalt and amethyst hair - waft in the wind means it turns into a mass of snarls when you bring the car to a stop.

Never forget. Your outside is one thing, but you flat-out have to tend to your inner self as well! And that is best done with truth. So let's take another look, shall we?

During this challenge, I did well on some things - bullet journaling and trying new foods in particular - but making even mild exercise an everyday thing didn't materialize the way I planned. Water intake is up to where it ought to be (most days), and I've tried water infused with berries and mint and even made sun tea during the eclipse. I'm better at "treating myself like company," too. The "ruthlessly winnow out my closet" part - well, I wasn't quite as ruthless as I'd like to have been. In fact, I have quite a few ruths left.

Sloth with Tiara. Perfection! 
But I do catch myself saying, "It's time to push back from the desk. Get some more water. Hey, why not eat outside in the sunshine today?" And while I have days where I look like an escapee from the pages of PeopleofWalMart, some other days I manage to pull an outfit off with a certain élanThose are usually days when I go simple, instead of fussing so much. Today, for example - dark jeans, a crisp white blouse (worn untucked) and my darling Target-found leopard ankle boots. I'm getting closer to being a true "une femme d'un certain âge," I think. And I'm having a blast making the journey - thank you for taking it with me!

Fall is beginning soon. Make sure you write yourself into your calendar of obligations. Scrunch through leaves. Buy real apple cider. Eat a pear so juicy that you're nearly indecent. Remember to be kind to those around you - a lot of folks are going to be needing serious help this season. You don't have to join the Cajun Navy, but be sure your thoughts and prayers come with casseroles, gas cards, bottled water, diapers, and/or other expressions of "I know you need some help just now. Here."

We don't sparkle because someone else crowned us. We did that ourselves and part of wearing a tiara is knowing that not everyone has our good fortune to live a life that can lend itself so readily to humor and joy. Therefore, we have an obligation to help the world find its own sparkle - and you can't do that with an empty belly or filthy drinking water.

So straighten that tiara and roll up your sleeves! This world needs what we've got - which includes a willingness to work hard, demonstrate kindness, and demand justice.

Go forth, my sisters!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Lucky Thirteen!

A little late, so we'll call this one the "Sunday Funday Tiara Posting!!!" (I figure the enthusiasm of the  extra exclamation points buys me some slack on the two-day-late post!)

Our tiara picture this week, by the way, is a lovely example of a modern piece - this opal, emerald, and diamond piece was designed for Joanna Newsom's 2013 wedding to Andy Samberg (of Brooklyn Nine Nine - a hilarious show, if you haven't been watching it).  I love the riot of color in this one.

So - checking in. How's your tiara balancing? For me, this week has been crazybusy - one of my college classes is taught at a local high school, which means that I'm shuffling two class schedules. While I enjoy the students, I hate the different schedules (no college class meets five days a week for nine weeks!) and much of the first week is given over to things that traditional college classes just don't have to deal with. I appreciate the opportunity that is given to the students here - free college, yay! - but . . . well, let's just say my tiara was not always squarely set on my head this week. That means it's even more important to center myself, which explains why last night was spent having an amazing dinner with PopTap (we were supposed to see Wonder Woman again while our husbands were gaming, but we enjoyed the conversation so much that we missed the movie! So we bought tap shoes for her upcoming dance class (from a bull rider - there's always a story, if you just take time to listen) and browsed the pop culture section of a bookstore. (I now have knee socks with cats in a fuzzy shrub - pussy willows, if you will!) Today was intended to be a pajama day, but I'll have to go out at some point, which will require swapping slippers for shoes.

Society is so demanding.

In other news - I had an excellent oncology check-up this week - that's one area where it's really wonderful to be boring! PLUS - we received our author copies of A Dream Given Form, the guide to Babylon 5 that has been in the works for three years. (My bout with Junior Auxiliary Cancer pushed that project back a solid year. Blech.) FryDaddy and I have a book launch scheduled for our hometown next Saturday, Sep. 9 - contact me for details! It'll be a fun time, with refreshments that are tied to the show and a chance to chat with the authors (us!) while having your copy signed!

There's only one more week left on our Tiara Challenge - take a good, clear-eyed look at your habits and let's end strong! Scatter some joy in the lives of others and make some time to celebrate the unique, possibly eccentric, individual that you are! No one else on this planet can sing your song, so belt it out, sister!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Tiara the Twelfth

Heavier than some, but still very pretty!
Greetings, We-Who-Sparkle!

Yes, it's not quite a "French Friday" this week - a brush with a stomach bug kept that from being a wise choice - but one of the gifts of learning the "sparkle path" is figuring out that self-care sometimes means missing self-imposed deadlines. (And you really didn't want to read anything I had to say before today! Blech!)

OK - so bugs happen. I hadn't been that puny and miserable for at least a couple of years. It wasn't anything serious, but I've spent the last two days on ginger ale, crackers, and Campbell's Chicken 'n' Stars. (That's my go-to comfort food when I'm sick. It's been that way since I was just a Li'l Sparkle and it's a testament to how long it's been since I've been that curled-up-miserable that I noticed that the company has changed the stars since the last time FryDaddy went out to fetch sickbed supplies for me.) I'm much better today and the sheets are in the laundry on the "boil" setting.

I missed my usual Weight Watchers meeting Thursday night, but went to one this morning. Now, bugs are not the preferred method of weight loss for any sane person, but I'm looking for silver linings here and I can announce that I've cracked double digits and am now down 11.2 pounds from my starting weight three months ago. (That means I've lost the equivalent of a cat or a gallon of paint. Perhaps a painted cat.) That's just under a pound a week (remember there was vacation and the Legion World Series in there, too), which isn't showy, but is certainly respectable. Onward!

In other news, this past Monday night, I helped pull off the "Eclipsing Hate" rally here in town. (My job was mostly securing the location and pushing pastries on people. I quite enjoyed it.) This was a HUGE success, bringing together people of a wide range of ages, political affiliations, religious leanings, and races to affirm a commitment to peace and bridge-building. We were challenged by one speaker (Titus Hopper, who serves as principal to our Early College High School) to not leave the rally until we had gotten the contact information for at least 5 people we didn't know. Over the next three months, we're to get in touch with these folks and sit down for lunch and conversation - not just a text, not just a phone call. What a great idea!

Also this week, I spent a big chunk of time at work "gamifying" my high school public speaking course - I'm excited and deeply nervous about taking this plunge. It's a natural extension of my work to bring relevant popular culture into the classroom, but turning the entire class into a game (students earn "experience points" rather than grades, which they gain through a mixture of "solo missions" and "Guild quests," etc.) is going to require an enormous amount of work. Then again, it's past time to mix that one up. (Hmm - I'm starting to see why my immune system might have let a bug sneak by.)

Seriously - what a cool idea!
Then, when I went by the library, I finally found my first hidden rock! People in my hometown started doing this - people take flat rocks, paint them with bright colors and inspirational messages, then hide them around town. When you find one, you re-hide it. It's a neat idea - and not just for kids.

So, all in all, I'd say it's been a good week. Could have done without the bug part, but without the lows, it's difficult to appreciate the highs. (It's cliched, but it's true. If you are routinely blessed with good health, there's nothing like waking up feeling better after a mild illness to make you aware of and appreciate it. I hate that that is a lesson I apparently needed to re-learn!)

Only two more weeks on this Sparkle Challenge! Let's end strong!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tiara the Eleventh

Happy French Friday, everyone! Do you like the "Eclipse Tiara"? Remember to be safe with your eyes on Monday.

So how are we doing this week? For me, this was a strange, odd, quirky sort of week. It was the week before classes began for the fall semester, which always involves a schedule that is whopperjawed. (If you don't know what "whopperjawed" means, just think of it as another way of saying "cattywampus." If you don't know what "cattywampus" means - check this out and you'll soon be up to speed, bless your heart.)

I expected my scale check-in this week to result in head-hanging shame, but just to prove that there is very little logic to be found in the universe, I lost a fraction of a pound. That's despite the ball park eating, the stress sweet tooth, and the desperation frozen pizza night. I'm redoubling my efforts to get back to full-out tracking (it really does make a difference with me) and to add at least mild exercise each day to burn a little extra. I'm within two pounds of my second goal and I'd really like to reach that next week.

I have also discovered the glory that is a long, tunic-style shirt worn over leggings. While I wouldn't wear my ensemble today for teaching, it was perfect for a day of rummaging around the office. (Side note - I wore heels for my first day of class and those shoes are now in the "give away" pile. They seem to be a pair that I bought because they were on sale instead of being perfect for me - I have q raw place on one of my toes that had me ready to scream by the end of yesterday! Remember - regardless of the price tag, it's not a bargain if it's not perfect for you! This is a lesson I keep having to relearn, I'm afraid.)

In addition to the eclipse Monday, a small group of concerned citizens are holding a rally in uptown Shelby called "Eclipsing Hate" to provide a unified visual counterpoint to the shocking violence that rocked Charlottesville. If you're in town, come on out. It'll be held at the City Pavilion (the location of the farmer's market) from 6 to 8 pm. Please spread the word!

What better place to wear a tiara? And really, what's a rally without glitter?

Just food for thought.

Three more weeks to shine, Sisters!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tenth Tiara Check-In!

Pink Topaz Tiara from Prussia
It's French Friday, everybody!

Whew! Not a super-sparkly week (probably a 6/10), but I'm trying to square my shoulders and soldier on. The American Legion World Series is in town, as are my parents, and the rain is pouring down at the moment. Sigh. Baseball is just not a game that gets played in the rain, so I'm hoping this weather moves out quickly.

On the weight front - sigh. Time to double down. I had a slight gain this week and, thanks to my now-ingrained tracking habits, I know why that is. It's frustrating, though - FryDaddy gets way more daily points to play with and has reached a major milestone (20 pounds!). I am, of course, proud of and pleased for him, but - dagnab it, I'm struggling to reach eight pounds! Exasperated and (yes) hungry, I threw caution to the wind yesterday, but am now re-committed to my goal of losing fifteen pounds by the end of September. It's doable, but I need to add exercise on a much more regular basis that I've been doing.

So let's look at the plus side of things. Exercise-wise, I did a light hike this past weekend and thoroughly enjoyed being outside. I tended to my creative fires and spent a couple of hours one night at one of those "paint 'n' sip" events at our local Arts Council creating a Franz Marc-inspired sloth. (I love Marc's work. Don't judge him by my efforts!) I also spent a fun afternoon helping Barefoot and her daughter (my god-daughter) paint her room a lovely pale seafoam as she gets ready to enter high school. (We also went driving one afternoon - it was a hoot and she almost knows how to do a solid three-point turn.) My folks are in town for the next few days and we actually enjoy each other's company. And there are some merry things happening in my life; therefore, when the totality of the circumstances is examined, I'd say the pluses outweigh (ha!) the minuses.

Important to remember how much a change in outlook can change your outlook. Shimmer, sisters!

Four more weeks!!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ninth Tiara Check-In!

Diamonds or sapphires? Why limit
yourself to one or the other?
Sorry the post is too late to be a "French Friday," but summer's not over yet!

In fact, today is the kickoff for a huge event in my town - we host the American Legion World Series which brings together the best Legion-sponsored teams from across the country. My parents usually come in to town for the games and last year, I finally shoved work aside to meet them for some of the games. The reason I had not done this before is simple - I'm not always that bright. I had so much fun at these games and the people-watching is unparalleled! My folks and I had chunks of time to spend together and - honestly - I'm eager to be back there later this next week.

Events start today with a big, kid-friendly street festival capped off with a free outdoor concert. This year, it's Charlie Daniels, and I'm thinking about taking a sign that says PLAY "UNEASY RIDER"!  That was his first real hit and it's just a great song and one that you might not associate with Charlie Daniels, given his more recent politics.

I would rate this week at 8/10 sparkles. I'm working to get classes set up so I have time to spend at the Legion games without worrying about how to manage that later. (This year the festival ends just before classes begin, which is nice. Usually, there's some overlap, which is a pain to schedule around.) I got back on track with my healthy (well, "healthier") eating habits and worked in a couple of light walking sessions. I'm headed to a local trail later today for some shade and quiet before the "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" festivities crash over me. I plan to be mindful of ballpark food and hit my next "number on the scale" goal this week. I also got to spend some time this week with people who I value and love, which is always worthwhile.

With the beginning of August, I made a few adjustments in my bullet journal (which I've been keeping for nearly a year now - wow!). I use this journal as a quick way to take stock at the end of the day, so I can easily look back over the past week/month/season and make goals and adjustments. This month, for instance, I'm not only tracking how many days I work on my French and drink enough water, I added in "didn't eat at my desk." I'm hoping to hit five working days out of five on that one. I have found bullet journaling to be incredibly useful as a quick shorthand to see the development of certain habits - be careful of Pinterest, though. People get WAY into perfection on these things!

Got to go figure out how to rig a tiara up to a baseball cap . . .

Go forth and shine! Five weeks to go!!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Eighth Tiara Check-In!

French Friday!!

We've still got about six weeks left on our "Summer Tiara Challenge" - how's your sparkle this week?

I had a week that served as a reminder that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I wasn't happy that I turned into the Voracious Craw for a couple of days and threw off my painfully-slowly-developing good eating habits, but it had some learning moments. For instance, you hear much about "don't keep junk food in the house," which is good advice. But you know what? The day will come when you grab your keys, get in the car, and go get it! Don't beat yourself up - it'll happen. In my case, the mass quantities of cheap candy I mindlessly snarfed didn't even taste good and afterward - blech! So file it away as a lesson. To go with that lesson - don't let yourself get hungry-starved! I had some busy days this week and I fell into old habits, which includes thinking, "Oh, I just need to finish this before I eat. And this. Oh, look - there's another task over here."

Stop that! It's pert-close to madness and no one benefits from that.

When this happens (and it will), do not despair. Wash your face, say your prayers, go to bed. Then start over the next morning. Square your shoulders, Daughter of Shine! Treat yourself gently and do the same for others.

That's really the other point I want to address in this post. This week, I changed my mermaid hair to a much darker base - it's really back to "galaxy hair" for the rest of summer. The colors are rich, and deep, and thoroughly artificial. You do not "go galaxy" if you don't want people to notice the look.  Why, as a respectable, tax-paying, middle-aged woman, would I do this?

The answer is quite simple, but was a long time in coming.


To begin with, I think in contemporary American society, there's an idea that women my age ought to quietly go out to pasture. We're considered "past our prime," which seems to be measured almost solely in sexual attractiveness (I could use a far more vulgar term, but I was gently reared, so I won't) and a large swath of society seems to put an expiration date on that.

Nope. I am more comfortable in my skin than I ever was in my twenties and thirties and that is a fact with which others simply will need to learn to deal. Their discomfort is not my problem.

Secondly, as a child, I was nearly painfully shy. Really - I think I was attracted to working backstage on theatrical productions because the crew is so often invisible. I nearly never felt comfortable interacting with people, which is one reason I'm sure I developed my love of language and my (occasionally) sharp-edged tongue.

It's taken me years, as in decades, to learn how to stand up and be seen - and to holler if necessary.

I'm not giving that up to make other people comfortable.

There's a philosophy that claims we'll all have to answer, not only for the wrongs we did in this life, but for the joys we refused to partake in. I want both lists to be as short as possible. That doesn't mean I don't know how to wear a demure strand of pearls and a twinset, but to quote a costume designer I once knew, "All clothes are costumes." Why do we insist on only one version of ourselves?

Go shine. The world needs your light.