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A Visit to the Dermatologist

Be like the Teva Diva of Heels and Tevas—not like the Uber Driver. Watch those spots and get them early.

Barb here.

The other day I took an Uber ride out to my physician’s office. Charles (his real name) is an older gentleman, retired, married to a younger self-employed woman. (You find these things out when you talk with people. Lynnelle is always kind of amazed with how I engage pretty much everybody.)

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A Cautionary Dermatological Tale

I mentioned I was seeing the dermatologist to have him look at a couple of suspicious (and I suspected “pre-cancerous”) spots and so the rest of my sunlight exposed body could be perused by a professional spotter of things cancerous and pre-cancerous.

“Do you know that for skin cancer now, they remove it and go test to see if they got all of it and come back and cut some more if they didn’t get it all?” Charles asked. This type of scary stuff is not really necessary when one is going to the dermatologist. I may have murmured “No,” and Charles continued.

“The last time I was in for a spot on my nose. I got in at 7 AM and he cut me 7 times. I didn’t get out of there until 7 at night.” Ugh. “Yep. They freeze ya, but after a while it doesn’t work. The last time he came in to cut more I told him it was his last try. So I think he took a larger hunk that time. This is a big skin doctor practice and they have a whatchamacallit working with them.” I pondered. “Lab?” “No. Well, yes, but that’s not what I meant.” After two more false leads we settled on plastic surgeon. “Yep. That’s it. She was nice enough. Came in to the room took one look at the hole in my nose and said, ‘I don’t know if I can cover this.’ I told her to do her best. Problem was, the freezing thing no longer worked on me so I felt every stitch. She did a good job, though.”

Yes, one part of me wanted to ask him to take me back to the marina, but I persevered, knowing that this visit was to prevent cutting down the road.

My Voluable Dermatologist

My dermatologist has a main office in Jacksonville and a part-time office in my physician’s practice where we’d met a couple of times when I did some professional work for the office. He’s a fast moving, fast talking, no holds barred kind of doc. I like him. (Which is a good thing, or I might have injured him.) Once we established that we knew each other, here are the things he said while I was largely silent. (Rare, but it happens.)

“Oh yeah. That’s precancerous. We’ll take care of that.”

Hey, here’s another one.”

Looking at my face, “That’s a mole, that’s a mole. You have a lot of moles. Age spot. Age spot. That’s an age spot, too. How old are you?”

61.

Oh. Getting up there.

“HEY!”

He ignored that and moved on to my legs. “Mole. Mole. Mole. You have a lot of moles.” We’d established that. I do. “What’s that?” “Oh, I nicked myself shaving this week.” “Guess I can ignore that, then.”

He checked my shoulders and down to my bra from the top of the Fresh Produce dress I had chosen for easy access. Once he seemed to be done, I said. “Do you mind just lifting my dress and checking my back? I’m never sure my husband knows what to look for.” “No problem. I do this all day,” he said as he whipped up my skirt. And a few minutes later, “Just a lot of moles.”

He used that freezing spray on both moles. (Cryotherapy.) Told me they would “Be as ugly as hell for a couple of weeks.” And I was done.

Most entertaining and effortless medical procedure I’ve had in years and after the cautionary tale from my Uber driver, this is an appointment I’ll be sure to make on a regular basis—even when I get “up there” in age for real. (Whenever that occurs.)

So, Heels and Tevas Tribe, we love you. Please remember to get your skin checked on a regular basis. Know your body and know what to look for. In my case, I’ve had these exact type of bumps in the past and I recognize them quite easily—which does not mean that I’m complacent about checking for other types of skin cancer.

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Capsule Wardrobe – Part One

Lynnelle here.

Moving is a good impetus for decluttering your closet and fine tuning your wardrobe. So is gaining 10 pounds or retiring from the corporate world.  When you happen to have gained 10 pounds, moved your home AND retired from the corporate world – well, capsule wardrobe or not, your closet needs to be blown to hell and reconstructed.

This Is Your Life!

So many images come to mind with that sentence.

  • Of course the very old (nearly before our time) TV Show… “Susie-Lynn McGillicuddy… This is YOUR Life!”
  • A guidance counselor trying to get us to make a decision about a college
  • Something we try to remember when every cell in our body screams, “I want my real life back!”

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We all make plans and we’ve all had things happen. The company gets sold, a family member gets ill, or the car breaks down. Life Happens. Not S.H.I.T Happens.  L.I.F.E. Happens.  

Because that’s what life does. 

When Life Takes a Turn

Hurricanes happen—whether they are personally devastating or a one or two week hurdle of inconvenience—they sure mess up your schedules and wreak havoc with the To-Do list. Parents, kids, bosses, spouses, and personal tragedies all make us pause or speed up, shift direction or go more determinedly forward, rage unreasonably at a loved one or just sit down and cry.  And nearly every time we create more internal stress by continuing to glorify the life before or imagine the unicorn and rainbow life of the future. And always, we just want to get back to our real lives.

We actually tend to do this during good times as well. Some of us may remember planning our wedding and having a moment or two thinking, “I just want it to be over so we can LIVE OUR LIVES.’ We each know at least two moms who felt that way during their third trimester (and we suspect that most of the others were lying).

Seriously, This Is Your Life

Well, we have news for you—whether you’re 20-something (and if so what the heck are you doing here?) or 60-something or somewhere between—wake up and smell the coffee. That thing that’s going on with you right now? That thing is Your Life. How we handle it when sugar or the brown stuff happens will make a huge difference on what happens down the road.

Of course a plethora of self-help books, videos, programs, religions, and yoga or meditation classes all offer us ways to learn to be “be fully present”. Some people seem to be better at this than others, and perhaps they have something to teach us. For us, it’s something we need to work on continually.  Right now, Lynnelle and her sister and their guys are doing the best they can to take care of their Mom. That’s their focus and that’s where it needs to be.

As Lynnelle said in her elegant and heartbreaking post yesterday, we will get back to our regularly scheduled quirky, smile-inducing, fun, vibrant posts. We encourage you to stick with us if that’s why you’re here.  But if you’re here to be part of something that resonates with all women of a certain age, then you’re for all of it: the good, the bad, and the hurdles. If so, we look forward to learning more about you and to growing together.

If you can, share your story about that one time when couldn’t wait for your “real life” to start up again. I bet we can learn from it.

In the meantime, the sun will  come up tomorrow. Here’s a reminder from a day at sea.

Oh, You Posing Poser; or, how to look better in photos

Barb here:

When did we start posing like runway models?

Seriously?

We used to bunch together, smile, and have someone snap our photo.

Now we line up, stomach in, chest out, and (if we are on the end of the row) with one arm on our hip, seemingly pushing said hip forward just a bit because…Why?

The other day a photo of a three year old in my family showed the same pose.

I am not amused.

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But I am guilty.

As an adult who has begun a new career in business, I had to obtain the dreaded “head shot”. Unfortunately I had to obtain head shots of my head and couldn’t use a stand in.

I’m 60 years old and 20 (sigh) 25 pounds overweight and have been blessed with a second chin.

Head shots are not my friend.

My last official head shot this about 10-12 years ago and I didn’t like the process then, but I didn’t have that chin. Unfortunately, those old shots were deemed unacceptable. Or false advertising. Or confusing.

So, like before, I found a local woman photographer whom I trusted and posed for a number of photos wearing two or three different outfits.

In my late forties, I simply smiled.

At 60, you can bet your bippy I posed. As best I can remember, it involved having the photographer stand above me (on a frickin’ ladder) and telling me to cross one arm over my body in an un-natural stance, while I turned said body partly away from the camera and looked back and up at it.

Voila! No giant extra chin.

Consider me a fan of posing…for anyone of a certain age.

Also, I need to get a selfie stick so I can recreate that pose when EW and I are out and about sightseeing.

Not.

I never remember to put my hand on my hip, either.

Lynnelle here:

The business head shot aside, hitting “the pose” is a skill that has to be practiced to be mastered. You say, “the pose?”.   Yes.   

The pose; one hand on hip, elbow turned slightly away from the camera, hip back, foot forward & leg crossed slightly over other leg.   

It’s like golfing or tennis or anything else requiring multiple physical contortions. It takes practice, practice, practice until it’s second nature. In golf, maybe you practice the grip and forget about the stance the back swing, the follow through. Once you get the grip, then you move on to the backswing – forgetting all the other stuff.  And so on.  

Kurt has 3 beautiful daughters; Crystal, Shandi, and Brooke. All are good at “the pose, but the professional is Crystal. I’d put her up against any red carpet walk, any day. She has it down. Pat. I on the other hand, try really hard, running through all the instructions as I spaz my way into position.

Compare for yourself.

Kurt and Crystal

The Heels Diva 

Lest you think this was a one-off, here are a few more of Crystal striking the pose.

Perfectly.  Every time. 

Posing to promote your best self. It’s a practiced skill. At this stage in my life I think I’ll spend the time practicing to keep my eyes open when the flash goes off and holding my stomach in. If I can master that, I’ll be happy.

If you’d like to practice your posing, here are some helpful tips. 7 Posting Techniques for Non-Models

Simplify Your Life? Fondle Your Belongings.

Barb here:

Simplify your life? I’m enjoying the Tiny House Craze with tongue in cheek because, been there, done that. In 2002, we sold our 1400 square foot home, and sold or gave away the furniture, large power tools, winter gear, and assorted masses of junk. (Some precious things were stored for our old age on shore.) As near as I can tell, a sturdy sailboat is much superior to 90% of those tiny homes, and has a heck of a lot more storage. We have never regretted moving aboard and found we didn’t miss most things.

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Now, about the storage. Boats are unlike tiny homes in two ways (well three if you count floating). First, boats are not ever square, and second the hull (that’s the outside wall to you) curves inward from the top down. Boat builders accommodate this by building interestingly shaped storage compartments along the inside of the hull. They aren’t large, but they are numerous. 

Tiny, TINY floating house

Also, boat builders wisely don’t worry about squeezing in a dining table or a real sofa. Every piece of furniture is built in and has storage under it, behind it, or both. If you had asked me in 2002 (as many did) how in the heck I had successfully downsized to a boat, I’d have told you it was easy. “It felt wonderful to let so many things go. Freeing! Energizing! Plus, our boat is pretty big (47-feet) and there are storage spaces I haven’t used yet.” Fifteen years later, our boat was still pretty big, every nook and cranny is packed, and I can’t find things. The photo above is not my LaLuna, but you get the idea of the space we’re dealing with.  

In 2015, I knew it was time to simplify and I had found just the book to help: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo  First of all, if she’s so great at decluttering (and she is) couldn’t she come up with a shorter book name? If you’ve read it, you’ll know why EW and I call it “Getting Joy”. And let me be clear, I’ve gotten more “Joy” out of this than EW has. 

Here are the things I took from the book: 

  1. Take a number of months, don’t rush.
  2. Go through every blessed thing, one category at a time.
  3. Handle (EW interprets that as fondle) each item and ask yourself if it brings you “joy”. 
  4. If it does, keep it, if not, thank it for good service and get rid of it immediately.

EW: “This makes me nervous, my tools don’t bring me joy and you aren’t going to throw them out.”

Me: (rolling my eyes): “What we accomplish with those tools brings great joy. Of course we will keep them. Well most of them.”

It was not a great success, though we did get rid of bags of clothes and did use her folding method to make better use of our space. If you watch it, you will learn and you will probably chuckle a bit. You will also understand EW’s skepticism. 

Before fondling

After fondling and Zen folding

This year I’m going for a more drastic approach: The Anti-Zen and Joyless method. We have moved off the boat so that EW can do a whole bunch of messy renovations. Most personal items are with us in an apartment and pretty much everything on board is in boxes. First, I will clean each room, and then I will renovate a few lockers to provide better storage.  Finally, every blessed item will be “fondled” as it is removed from a box. No joy? Out it goes. 

After all projects have been completed and EW is ready to put his tools away, I’m going insist he does the same thing. Do NOT tell him. (He’s under enough stress right now.) But we are going to get “Joy” if it’s the last thing I do! (She said with gritted teeth.)

Lynnelle here:

What is it about getting rid of stuff that causes stress?  For me, going through cabinets and closets weeding out the unnecessary and redundant is incredibly stressful. Making the decision to get rid of most anything makes me anxious. Not even GOOD stuff, but stuff I haven’t seen in years. A perfectly good frying pan – even though I have 4 other perfectly good frying pans, letting go of one makes me sweat. I have three boxes of perfectly good, relatively new, somewhat expensive clothing. For over 2 years I’ve not been able to button nor zip any of them, but I’m keeping them because… I spent a lot of money on them! They are all so nice! If only…!  

So here I am in a brand new home Kurt and I built. As Barb noted above, we also had the perfect opportunity to sort through belongings, one at a time. We had the perfect opportunity twice, actually. Once, going into the moving box; and again coming out of the box. “How’d that work out?”, you ask.  It didn’t.  Just look at my huge, wonderful new closet.  It’s just as big a mess as the small messy closet from Dallas..

Messy closet - pre tidying up

Before fondling -left side of closet

messy closet - pre tidying up

Before fondling – right side of closet

What IS it?  This makes me crazy. Unlike Barb’s “Before-After” images above – I have no “After” image. Yet.

I, too, have the Tidy book. (If you don’t already have the book, there’s a summary of The Art of Tidying Up that will give you the gist of it in less time. How’s THAT for simplification?) Her instructions to hold each possession, one at a time, to determine if it gave me joy was difficult. EVERYTHING gives me joy! That 4th frying pan is cool! I don’t need it, but I’m sure joyful when I look at it!  Those 3 boxes of clothing 2-sizes too small for me? Whenever I lose enough weight and fit into them again – boy will I be joyful! 

What’s a girl to do? I have to take the emotion out of it. For me, joy or no joy; if it hasn’t fit for over 2 years, it should go. If I have several of the same thing and I rarely use ANY of them – at least 1 should go. 

I do need help with this, because I DO want to simplify my life. In May I quit my 8 to 5 job. In addition to simplifying what I do, trimming down what I own is key, too. 

This book, Real Life Organizing, seems to be a better fit for me. I’ll let you know. Today is the first week of September. By the end of September  I’m committed to, at a minimum, having distilled my wardrobe down to what I’ll call a “capsule wardrobe”.  Not sure exactly how to define that, but will work on it. I’ll post updates on a weekly basis. If anyone wants to go through this with me, let me know. I’ll send out an email at the end of the week next week about it. In the meantime, comment here with tips and ideas. I’m serious. 

Who’s in??  

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Weight: Time: Fortitude

…the nicer “WTF” of weight management after 60

Barb here.

A long, long time ago (five years) I wrote a post on fitness and aging for another blog. It was hilarious and brilliant. The premise was a warning to younger women that now, right now is the best time to get in shape.

Why now? Because, trust me, it only gets harder. I don’t care how old you are, if you’re an adult woman, it will be easier this year to lose weight and get in shape than it will be during any time in your future.

With the wisdom of age sprinkled with 20/20 hindsight that old post may have been brilliant and funny, but it only told half the story. I did get in shape when I was younger.

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  • Thirty-eight years ago as a new college grad I started running 5 miles a day, actually competed in a road race, and climbed Maine’s Mt. Katahdin.
  • When I was a sales manager, wife, and stepmom 25 years ago I somehow found the time and energy (perhaps motivated by enjoying a bit of quiet) to get in shape and I still fondly recall my size 10 dresses and suits from that era. I called that my “Mo’s in High School Weight”.
  • A number of years later after another few months of diet and exercise, my “Marc and Jenn’s Wedding Weight” was five pounds heavier and the dress was a 12.
  • A few more years after that, the weight I reached for another wedding was another 5 heavier still, I wore a modern foundation garment under that size 12 dress, and while I didn’t name the specific poundage it has become my goal weight for all future attempts.

Now, at 60, I stand behind my statement: Get in a healthy shape now; it only gets harder as we get older.

However, I missed the most important lesson: Once one gets in shape, it would be good to remain in shape. (Now there’s a concept.) As I look at my current size 16 self I realize that it wasn’t enough to get it off if I didn’t keep it off.

So here’s the kicker:

It’s not just about what you or I do at this age, it’s what we do after we’ve achieved some success.  It’s about:

  1. Getting off your butt & moving
  2. Snacking less
  3. Choosing healthy alternatives
  4.  Acting today (and every day) in a manner that helps us be healthier today than we were yesterday, and more active and able next month than we were this month.
  5. Knowing our triggers and telling our beautiful, smart self that the chocolate we crave will not help us to actually achieve our goals for health OR make it easier to get through whatever task has us stymied.
  6. Learning to plan ahead for healthy snacks and walking away from emotional eating.

Because just as I can tell you when I lost the weight, I can tell you when I gained it.

  • When I moved to the “city” of Portland.
  • When my mom was ill.
  • When my dad died.
  • When we sailed in to St. Augustine in 2015 and had a challenging year.

I do not want to be a size 16 for the rest of my life and this is the easiest it will ever be for me to lose weight and get in shape.

And this time, I plan to keep it off.

I hate to imagine my vibrant, funny, and oh so revered 80-year-old-self wearing caftans on her size 18 body and plotting a weight loss regime friendly to 80-year-old-joints that have been asked to work too hard for 25 years.

I think I just threw up in my mouth a bit.  If that doesn’t motivate me, nothing will.

Lynnelle here.

I think most of us have “Marc and Jenn’s Wedding Weight” markers.

1st Wedding – 115#

Mine are:

  • 1st wedding weight – 115
  • 1st divorce weight – 125
  • 2nd wedding weight – 119
  • 2nd divorce weight – 130
  • 3rd wedding weight – 120
  • 3rd divorce weight – 133
  • burying Dad, moving mom to memory care; moving from Dallas to my sister’s; building a house in the country; moving into said house in the country; quitting my job, turning SIXTY, starting this blog… – 139+/- (which we all knows that is 140-ish… trying not to put that in print too much.  Although it grossed me out when Barb said this earlier – I think I just threw up in my mouth a bit…)  

Post 3rd Divorce 133# ~139#-ish 

If I can get back somewhere between my “3rd wedding weight” and “3rd divorce weight” I’d be ecstatic! But even getting back the 3rd divorce weight, I’d still be happy.

My dress size might not be 16, but the issues Barb notes are the same and the points she makes are universal. Being aware of and avoiding your triggers for mindless eating; the discipline to say no to a craving – just walk away; regular exercise; life goals versus date driven goals (i.e. 4th wedding).

Something that helps me is accountability. Some might call it a guilt partner; others maybe “a partner in pain”. Whatever you call it, having someone or something to check in with can give your goal a structure – and failing to work on the goal an embarrassment. Maybe; although I am pretty good at managing the embarrassment as I mix my evening cocktail instead of meeting Karen for our Barr workout. Maybe your guilt partner should be someone other than your sister.

To help me stick with it and to provide more structure, I like trying workout / fitness apps. It can get expensive if you don’t watch it, but most have free versions, so you can try before you buy. Some require your credit card info when signing up for the free version so you’ll need to watch the calendar and cancel before the deadline if you don’t want your card to be charged. Regardless, there are many you can try. If one works for you it may be worth spending a few dollars – no?. Here’s a list of apps I’ve tried / am trying.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these, what you think, and if you have others you like. I’m likely not using these to their full potential so I’m interested in your experience.

FitBit in the HaT Tribe Teal. Nice!

Also, I’m trying to use my *iWatch to track steps, exercise and sleep. My sister uses this *Fitbit. It seems the Fitbit online system is way more informative and easier to navigate than the iWatch, but unfortunately you can’t even check it out without signing up. Good news is you can sign up for free, even if you don’t have a Fitbit yet. I’m not sure if all Fitbits are the same, but I think I’d like to try one. I haven’t found an iWatch dashboard similar to the Fitbit’s. Anyone have feedback?

* FYI, FitBit & iWatch links above are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of them and actually buy something, Heals and Tevas will get a % commission. You can see our Disclosure and legal stuff for more details or let us know if you have any questions.