Perchance to Dream

Many years ago, too many to count or even admit to, I used to listen to a radio show called America’s Top 40, hosted by Casey Kasem. His sign off phrase was, “Reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground.” This is good advice. Dream big, but stay somewhat practical.

Sadly, as children and even well into adulthood, we are often discouraged to dream at all. Sometimes we are discouraged by people who don’t support or believe in our dreams, and sometimes we’re knocked down just by pure circumstance. Perhaps, however, the reason we’re afraid to dream is because we are afraid to fail, or maybe, just maybe, we’re afraid to succeed. Whatever causes the death of our dreams, I just know it doesn’t have to be that way.

Balance is of course a healthy part of life. It’s good to be smart about life, to be grounded, and of course I always say to have a “Plan B.” And “C.” And even a “D.” Believe me, I’m not telling you to throw your life away in pursuit of foolishness. I’m not telling you to quit your job, sell your stuff, and backpack around Tibet. Unless of course, that’s something you really want to do. Then I’m all for it. Send me a postcard!

The young dream big, don’t they?  I mean, they can dream like we adults can’t even dream of dreaming. So who are we to snuff that out? Don’t we know that one of the cruelest things a person can endure is when someone they love can’t support their dreams? In a sense we’re saying we don’t believe in them. We don’t mean to. We’re just trying to protect them from the hurt we may have endured ourselves.

Plus, we think we know it all. We’re adults, right? We’re supposed to know it all. What we have to realize is that it’s better to let go and pursue our dreams rather than to always live with the ache of what could have been. I for one don’t want to be responsible for that in my life or the lives of my children.

What about us older folks? Those of middle-age and beyond. Do we think we’re too old good to dream? Our dreams are what move us to accomplish greatness and gift the universe with our brilliance… or maybe they just allow us to get through each day as we struggle with overwhelming mediocrity.  I will digress here for a moment to point out that Grandma Moses, pretty much a household name now, didn’t start painting until she was 78.  She painted right up until her death at 101. 101!  Her favorite quote, which indeed seems to tell her own personal tale, was “Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.” Words to live by indeed.

Bram Stoker didn’t create Dracula until he was 50 (Stoker, not Dracula). I mean, seriously, where would the vampire genre be without him?

Donald Ray Pollock received quite a bit of attention for his debut novel, The Devil All the Time, but did you know that he dropped out of high school to work at a meatpacking plant for many years before moving on to a paper mill where he worked for 32 years as a laborer and truck driver?  The same year he turned 55, he took the leap and published a book of short stories – just a year before graduating Ohio University by the way.  Three years later, in 2011, along came The Devil All the Time which won him the Guggenheim Fellowship.  Talk about following a dream.

To digress even further (thanks for your patience!), Laura Ingalls Wilder… well, there’s another one. Even though she was a columnist at the age of 44 and doing fairly well, her Little House books made her a household name, and she didn’t publish those until she was the ripe age of 64.

After the death of her second husband, Mary Delany began creating amazingly intricate paper cut-outs of flowers to help her deal with her grief. She was 68. She created more than 1,700 pieces of this unique form of art and continued with her artwork until she was 88. Her pieces were so delicate and so incredibly beautiful that they now reside in the British Museum’s collection.

My point is, dreams shouldn’t be snuffed out… not in children, and certainly not just because a person has mastered the aging process. If anything, aging gives our dreams greater meaning. Life may throw us curve-balls or set us on a different path than we ever expected to be on, but dreams…dreams can set us free and put a new life in motion.

Beauty Regimen

No one wants to grow old and most of all no one wants to look old. I know. I get it. The cosmetics industry, including anti-aging products, are a booming business and the money these companies make off vanity and insecurity (women’s and men’s) is astronomical. I’m not above it all. I want to look the best I can when I do decide to wear make-up. And while I haven’t succumbed to the siren’s call of anti-aging products thus far, I may still yet.

The sheer number of products available to curb Father Time is overwhelming and quite intimidating if you ask me. I mean, I can’t decide what I want for dinner most evenings for goodness’ sake — and here I’m supposed to choose from among a gazillion different beauty products destined to make me look like the 25-year-old model poised tantalizingly in their ad? Speaking of which, really!? Since when do 25-year-olds need anti-aging creams? Yeah, yeah, sunscreen, moisturizer, you’re done. You’re beautiful. Don’t rub it in (a pun, ha!). But the genius behind the marketing has even the youngest, most beautiful women with nary a wrinkle anywhere on their body, let alone on their face, feeling they need, no, absolutely must have that fine-line diminishing cream.  And it doesn’t end there. Oh no.

There are anti-wrinkle creams, under eye creams, over eye creams, creams that will magically destroy the jowls you’ve been working on since you took the leap into your 40’s. Some of these products are so perfectly ensconced in their pretty little jars that I simply love to stare at their glistening, velvety texture. It seems a shame to ruin that flawless, minuscule Dairy Queen twist by actually using it. Oh hey, didn’t Dairy Queen have a two for one cone special today…!?  But I digress.

Several of the products I’ve seen and have sampled at various counters smell divine while others reek more of the wildlife exhibits at a less than fully janitorial-staffed zoo. I received a makeover once at an upscale cosmetics counter and the neck cream the woman liberally applied (couldn’t complain about them being stingy with products!) was lovely and had a strong perfume-y odor which I suppose is better than an elephant house at the zoo theme, but it was so pungent that within seconds of it being applied, I had an allergic reaction to the smell and my throat closed up. Not exactly the look I was going for when I got there, thank you very much.

Navigating the vast reservoir of choices in a drug store or online are no different. Maybe it’s my age, which would indicate I need a hell of a lot more than just these products on my shopping list, but not only are the ingredients confusing – most of which I cannot pronounce – the promised results are often contradictory.  Oils to reduce wrinkles on acne prone skin? That one just doesn’t make sense to me.  Vanishing cream!? Doesn’t work the way you’d think. I tried. Was greatly, GREATLY disappointed to still be visible, I’ll have you know.

Things used to be so much simpler. When I was growing up, my mother had PHisoderm. That was it. And my brother and I were not allowed to touch it. It was hers. She always had beautiful skin. I guess I wouldn’t have shared with the likes of my brother and me either. They don’t make the original version of PHisoderm any longer. Oh, you can buy the new generation of formulas the company has on the market. But the original has apparently gone by the wayside. Too bad.

Of course Cleopatra supposedly bathed in milk to stay young and supple. But look where that got her. So not sure I’ll be trying that beauty regimen any time soon.

So. You can see the issues I’ve been having with choosing an anti-aging beauty regimen at this stage in my life. Although I’ve tried to be the “modern woman” and get on this whole “turn back the clock train,” I usually just end up slathered in overpriced foul-smelling goo desperately asking no-one in particular “is it supposed to sting!? No, seriously, is it supposed feel like this!?” and then staring in the mirror for over an hour with a magnifying glass looking for minute changes. Who has that kind of time? Not to mention the pain threshold.

and inside look into my nightly beauty routine

an inside look into my make-over attempts